Monthly Archives: December 2012

Chocolate Gingerbread Muffins….Yum


Gingerbread Chocolate Muffins



  • 2 Cups of AP Flour (spoon the flour into the measuring cup) ( or 1.5 cups AP flour and 1/2 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour)
  • 2 tablespoons of Cocoa powder ( I used 1 TB of Traders Joes brand and 1 of Penzey’s Dutch)
  • 1 tablespoon of Penzey’s Ground Ginger
  • 1 Teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of flake kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Molasses
  • 1/4 cup of skim milk (why use whole milk or 2%, skim is better and favor will not be sacrificed)
  • 2 eggs (farm fresh or egglands best) (friendly note if you want to decrease the fat even more use 2 egg whites in place of every one egg)
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) of butter (unsalted)
  • 1/2 cup of natural applesauce or no sugar added (****best way  to decrease fat in a recipe, adds moisture;plus no one will either know)



Place the first five ingredients into a medium glass bowl and whisk together thoroughly (we don’t want any cocoa powder balls. If your cocoa powder is very clumpy use a sifter for all the dry ingredients.



In a separate medium sized bowl melt the butter in microwave.


After butter is melted whisk in the sugar, applesauce, milk, and molasses.


Once mixed well add the eggs separately mixing to incorporate each egg at a time.



Now fold in the liquid mixture into the dry mixture (be careful not to over mix this will cause tunneling).




Line 12 to 14 muffin tins with cupcake wrappers and spray with Pam or other canola oil spray.


Use a # 16 scoop to divide the batter evenly. I came up with 14 muffins this way.


Place in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes (until toothpick comes out clean).




DSC_0734  Enjoy!

Baklava…a family tradition


Baklava…. A Christmas favorite at our house. No I am not Greek, funny story actually. During my internship we had a culture foods day and I was selected to report on Greece. Growing up one of my best friends came from Greek heritage and this was one of my favorite pastries her family made. So when I was selecting what food I wanted to present to the class, I decided to go with one of my favorite childhood pastries. Since my internship was a non-paid program. My husband and I had little to spend at Christmas for our families, so we decided we would make baklava and place the pastries in decorative boxes for Christmas gifts.  And this is how the tradition of making baklava started at our house. Now every year our families look forward to the baklava treat in our Christmas tin cans. We have been making this recipe and perfecting it for 6 years now and I would like to share the secrets of this divine treat with all of you. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we have.



  • 4 cups finely chopped walnuts or your favorite nut (we used walnuts in the pictures below)
  •  1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground Vietnamese cinnamon
  •  1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 package (16 ounces) frozen phyllo dough, thawed


  •  1 cup sugar
  •  1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  •  1 teaspoon lemon juice
  •  1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla extract







  • In the food processor place the whole walnuts, sugar and cinnamon and pulse until finely chopped.


  • Spray a 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish with some of the melted butter (the best secret is use a washed “I cannot believe it’s not butter” bottle or misto). Melt the butter in a microwave dish and syphon the melted butter into the sprayer (refer to the picture). Unroll phyllo dough sheets (keep dough covered with plastic wrap while assembling).


  •  Place one sheet of phyllo in baking dish; spray with butter. Top with a second sheet; spray with butter. Fold long ends under to fit the dish.


  • Sprinkle with about 1/4 cup nut mixture. Repeat 18 times, layering two sheets, spraying with butter and sprinkling with nut mixture. Top with remaining dough; spray with butter.




  • Cut into 2-in. diamonds with a sharp knife (before placing it in the oven)


  • Bake at 350° for 45-55 minutes or until golden brown.

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  • Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine the syrup ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.


  • Pour honey sauce over the warm baklava. Cool on a wire rack. Yield: 3 dozens



Please note my husband and I now make the equivalent to eight 9 by 13 trays a year so we switched to using half sheet pans (pictures above are using the half sheet pans and doubling the above recipe). This recipe process can go a lot smoother if you have a helper in the kitchen. I am very lucky to have a husband who is such a wonderful assistant in the kitchen.

Cheesecake Remake

We recently celebrated a few special birthdays in the family this past holiday. The request came in for a classic cheesecake recipe. I did a lot of homework and came up this this recipe. I added quite a few of healthy alternatives such as switching out the full fat cream cheese to to the Neufchatel reduced fat cream cheese (no one ever will know!!) I also incorporated more protein by swapping some of the sour cream (which I did use fat free) to fat free greek plain yogurt ( any kind will work but the recipe revealed below   was made with the costco’s brand).

Classic Cheesecake Remake






Serves 10 to 12 people (use a 9 inch spring-form cake pan)


Crust Ingredients:

1 & 1/4 Cup of reduced fat graham cracker crumbs  (about 2 packages plus 2 sheets)

1/3 cup of sugar

5 TB of butter (melted)


Directions for crust :

Place the first 2 ingredients in a food processor and pulse until mixture looks like sand consistency. Once mixture is ground, add melted butter. Pour mixture into 9 inch spring-form cake pan. Using your fingers press graham cracker mixture along the bottom and sides of the springform pan (only go up to 1/4 to 1/2 way up the side). Set aside.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees





Filling Ingredients:

3 eggs (farm fresh or eggland’s best are my top tow choices)  (*special note you can also use 2 egg whites to replace one whole egg)

16 oz  (2 packages of 1/3 reduced fat cream cheese aka “Neufchatel” (room temp)

1 Cup of sugar

½ teaspoon of Mexican Vanilla (penzey’s is my favorite)


Directions for filling:

Softened cream with paddle mixture <(check out mine above)..  it has a built in spatula <(look for beater blade) and you never have to scrape down the sides )>, add one egg at a time. Once combined,   add sugar and vanilla. Beat until well blended. Pour into prepared crust. Please note make sure to wrap foil around the bottom we don’t want any water leaking into the pan).


Place the foil wrapped springform pan in a baking pan with side and do not fill with water until placed in the oven (see picture above).  Bake for 55 minutes in a water bath. Let cool for 10 minutes. Add topping below.


Topping Ingredients:

½ cup sugar

½ cup fat free sour cream

½ fat free greek plain yogurt

½ teaspoon of Mexican vanilla


Direction for topping

Combine ingredients and put on top of cake: return to oven for 10 minutes.



Once cake has cooled and right before serving add your favorite fresh fruit or topping of choice.


Delightful Carrot Cake Cupcakes



These tasty delights are my most requested recipe for special occasions !! You will not be disappointment !! We had an office birthday today so I thought I would share the secrets to this recipe with all of you.  I have been making this recipe since 2008 and it has not let me down yet ! This time the dietitian in me decided to make a few modifications. I like to try and tweak recipes every now and again (really my husband always says “can you ever just follow a recipe?”… yeah right!).  I cut the fat in half in the recipe by using one of my all time favorite tricks by replacing half the oil with no sugar added applesauce ( which really makes the cupcakes super moist). Trust me you will not miss the extra fat.  I also thought I would increase the fiber and increase the amount of whole grains by swapping out half the AP flour for Whole Wheat Pastry flour. Also, I always, (always) use at least 1/3 rd fat reduced cream cheese if not fat free( no one will know). Next time I plan on decreasing the amount of sugar. So give them a try and tell me what you think! Happy Baking !!




  • • 4 eggs
  • • 2 cups sugar
  • • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • • 1/2 mexican vanilla (my favorite is penzey’s)
  • • 1/2 no added sugar applesauce
  • • 1 cups all-purpose flour
  • • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or if you only have whole wheat that is okay but they may be a little more dense)
  • • 1 TB  ground cinnamon (penzey’s vietnamese is my favorite)
  • • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • • pinch of fresh nutmeg
  • • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • • 3 cups very finely grated carrots (the key is use the finest side of the grater)





  • • 1 package (8 ounces) 1/3rd fat reduced cream cheese, softened
  • • 1/2 teaspoon of mexican vanilla
  • • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • • 2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans ( I have tried both just whatever you prefer)
  • • 1/2 cup chopped raisins


  • In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, applesauce, vanilla, and oil.DSC_0098
  • Mix with whisk both the flours, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, allspice and salt; gradually add to egg mixture.DSC_0105
  • Stir in carrots (make sure to finely grate the carrots this really adds to the taste and texture don’t sell yourself short by using the larger side of the grater).

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  • Spray with cooking spray 24  paper-lined muffin cups and fill with 2 ounce of batter (I love using my # 16 scoop or a 1/4 cup measuring cup works well too)
  • Bake at 325° for 20-25 minutes  (my oven they go for 25 minutes but check at  20 and keep checking until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean).


Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Wait until cupcakes have cooled completely before frosting.


For frosting, in a large bowl, beat cream cheese, vanilla, and butter until fluffy. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Stir in the nuts and raisins. Frost cupcakes with frosting spatula or small spatula. Store in the refrigerator. 

Yield: 2 dozen.


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Cinnamon Spiced Donuts

Good Morning!

I like to made donuts every once and a while and instead of the buttermilk pillsbury donuts try these bad boys.

Cinnamon Spiced Donuts




Yields 6-8 Donuts and 8-10 Donut Holes


  • 1 & 1/2 cups plus heaping 1/8 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 cups sugar (plus more for cinnamon and sugar mix)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or ground vietnamese cinnamon
  • 1large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons vegetable shortening or unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 to 3 teaspoons of sprite soda
  • Vegetable oil, for frying



Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of the pumpkin pie spice in a medium bowl until well mixed.


Stir the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and 2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon together in a ziplock bag or my mom prefers a brown lunch bag.



Whisk together the eggs, melted shortening, and sprite in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture. Add the remaining sprite, a teaspoon at a time, just until the dough comes together in a soft and soft ball.


Cinnamon Spiced Donuts

Turn the dough out onto a generously-floured cutting board (it will be a bit sticky).


Dust the top with flour and pat out until it is about 3/8-inch thick ( instead of a rolling pin try a fondant rolling pin; as picture below) .


Cut out as many circles as possible using a 4-inch round  donut cutter (as displayed below) or cookie or biscuit cutter, then cut out donut holes from the center of each with a 1-inch round cutter. Reserve the donuts and holes. Gather the scraps together and pat them out again to 3/8-inch thickness.


Continue to cut doughnuts and doughnut holes, reworking the scraps, until all the dough is used. If you have a deep frier heat according to directions on your model and set temperature to 375 degrees. Once the temperature is ready use a donut hole to test the oil.




Donut holes should take less time approximately 1 minute. Flip the donut hole after 30 seconds. Donuts should take 1 to 2 minutes; flip after a minute or so (just keep watching). The best tool for flipping is spider (picture below).


Line a 2 plates one for the donuts coming right out of the oven and another one for once you coat the donuts in the cinnamon and sugar mixture.

Or you do not have a deep frier following directions below.

Heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until a deep frying thermometer inserted in the oil reaches 375 degrees F. Working in batches, fry the doughnuts and holes until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes, turning occasionally. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain off the oil and cool slightly.







While still warm, toss the donuts in the spiced sugar mixture until well coated.






Key Lime Pie Oh my… Cupcakes



Key LIme


Key Lime Pie Cupcakes

Makes about 16 mouth watering cupcakes



  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh key lime juice
  • 2-3 key limes

  • 1 tablespoon finely grated key lime zest
  • 6-7 key limes

  •  Neon-green food coloring to preferred color of choice
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (room temperature


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line standard muffin pan with 12 paper liners & spray with cooking spray. Whisk both flours in medium bowl. Beat butter with a stand mixer until smooth. Add sugar; beat to fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then next 3 ingredients (batter may look curdled). Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions. Use number 16 (2 oz scooper) to place the batter into each liners.
  • Bake cupcakes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool.



  •  4-ounce package 1/3 reduced fat cream cheese room temperature
  • 4- ounce package of regular cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lime peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon mexican vanilla extract


  • Beat all ingredients on slow at first and increase to medium speed in stand mixer with paddle attachment. Pipe with a Ateco number 848 (in order to look like above)

This recipe was inspired by

***This recipe also makes 56 minis using a size 60 scoop. Bake minis for 10 to 11 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and 350 degrees.

Salted Caramel Cupcakes

I just baked these yesterday! Salted Caramel Cupcakes!!!

Made these for my grandmother's 80th birthday

Made these for my grandmother’s 80th birthday



Salted Caramel Cupcakes                 


Makes 14-15 Luscious Cupcakes



1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt or kosher

1 stick of unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon mexican vanilla

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk



Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line muffin tins with papers and spray with cooking spray. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.


Cream butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until pale fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated.  Add vanilla.  Mix and scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until combined after each.


Divide batter evenly among lined cups (I use a size 16 (2 oz scooper).  Bake for about 25 minutes. When done, transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.



Salted Caramel Filling:


1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter cubed

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoons heavy cream, at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt



Melt the sugar over medium high heat in a large pot.  Whisk the sugar as it melts and cook until it becomes a deep amber color. Add the butter and stir it in until melted. Pour in the heavy cream (mixture will foam) and whisk until you get a smooth sauce. You may have some lumps but keep stirring until they have melted and add salt.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly.


Cut a small round piece out of the tops of each cooled cupcake (use a small circle cookie cutter or opposite end of a frosting tip) and pour in 1 teaspoon of caramel.  Replace the cake piece and set cupcakes aside.


Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting:


Use leftover Caramel from the filling recipe above

1 teaspoon mexican vanilla extract

2 stick unsalted butter 
3/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 to 2 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar


In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and salt together until lightened and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and add powdered sugar.  Mix until thoroughly combined.


Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the caramel and vanilla.  Beat on medium high speed until light and airy, and completely mixed (about 2 minutes). Refrigerate for 5-10 minutes.

Decorate your cupcakes by using an Ateco tip 868 ( This is what I used) or 848.

I used a Wilton squeeze bottle to drizzle the homemade caramel sauce on the top (recipe below).


Salted Caramel Sauce:


1 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 tablespoon kosher salt or sea salt

Additional sea salt for decoration (optional)


1. Add the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a heavy 2 quart saucepan. Heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking it as it begins to melt.  Just keep whisking and as it continues to cook, they will melt back down. Keep cooking until temperature reaches 350 degree. Once temperature reached add butter, once the butter is melted gently pour in the heavy cream and whisk until combined.


Let caramel mixture set for 10 minutes and use a siphon to pour caramel into squeeze bottle and dispense over cupcakes.


Top with course sea salt granules (optional).