Monday, December 27, 2010

Cranberry Spice Muffins

For a festive breakfast while my step-daughter was visiting, I customized a basic muffin recipe with flavors of the season.  Served alongside cheesy scrambled eggs and thick-cut bacon, they were a great way to start the day!


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 teaspoons apple pie spice


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Spritz a 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick buttery spray.
  • Stir together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and apple pie spice in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center.
  • In a small bowl, beat egg with a fork.
  • Stir in milk and oil.
  • Pour liquid mixture into flour mixture.
  • Stir until moistened but do not beat.  Batter will be lumpy.
  • Fold in dried cranberries.
  • Pour into muffin cups.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Chocolate Chip Eggnog Pie

This rich pie is a wonderful addition to the holiday dessert table.

  • 1 tube refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough.
  • 1 cup eggnog
  • 3 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1 container Cool Whip
  • Reddi-Wip and dark chocolate chips for garnish


  • Spritz a torte pan with non-stick buttery spray.
  • Press cookie dough into pan evenly and bake according to package instructions.  Let cool completely.
  • In a saucepan over medium heat, melt white chocolate chips into eggnog, blending thoroughly.
  • Let mixture cool slightly.
  • Fold in Cool Whip until fully incorporated.
  • Pour mixture into cooled cookie crust.
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Top with Reddi-Wip rosettes and chocolate chips immediately before serving.

Funky Chocolate Dipped Pretzels

Chocolate-dipped pretzels are yummy and easy to make.  I wanted to kick things up a notch by giving them some funky flavors.  So, for a Christmas party, I created Whiskey Praline Pretzels, White Chocolate Chili Mango Pretzels and Chocolate-covered Sunflower Seed Pretzels.  They were all really good, and it was fun to watch people try out the unexpected combinations.


  • Pretzel rods
  • Light chocolate candy melts
  • Dark chocolate candy melts
  • White chocolate candy melts
  • Dried chili mangoes, chopped into small pieces
  • Chocolate-covered sunflower seeds
  • Jack Daniels pralines, broken into small pieces


  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Melt candy melts according to package instructions.
  • Dip pretzel rods into melted chocolate, tapping off excess back into the bowl.
  • Drop mango pieces or pralines or sunflower seeds onto pretzels.
  • Drizzle with alternate flavor of candy melt if desired.
  • Place in freezer for 10 minutes or until hardened.

You can also make candy bark by blending candy melts and toppings in a thin sheet, freezing it and then breaking it up into chunks. The Whiskey Praline Chocolate Bark, pictured above, was especially tasty!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cream of Rice with Mixed Fruit, Goat Cheese & Toasted Pine Nuts

I am a huge fan of Amy's frozen foods.  They are super healthy convenience foods.  I especially enjoy their breakfast cereal bowls: the cream of rice and the multi grain bowl.  I got thinking these bowls would be a great base for a savory side dish.  This dish isn't quite as savory as I thought it'd be; it'd still be a great choice for the morning meal.  But, it's a good start - and I think it'd be fantastic with a Quorn cutlet for dinner.


  • 1 package Amy's Organic Cream of Rice Bowl
  • 1/8 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/8 cup dried mixed fruit, unsweetened, chopped
  • 1 ounce of goat cheese, crumbled


  • Warm cream of rice bowl in microwave according to package instructions.
  • Mix in dried fruit, goat cheese and toasted pine nuts until well blended.
  • Top with crumbled goat cheese and few pine nuts before serving.

Makes 1 serving

Nutrition Stats: Calories 395, Fat 17.5g, Fiber 6g, Protein 8.5g

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Spicy Salmon & Corn Flatbread Pizza

I had an odd craving for salmon salad, but I wanted something hot.  So I decided to turn the salad into a pizza topping and see what happened.  It was good... and surprisingly spicy because of the salsa.  I had no idea how much kick that salsa had!  I don't normally like spicy stuff, but this was tasty.  The cheese wedges gave the topping a nice creaminess, and the flatbread was pleasingly crisp because I kept it in the oven while it was preheating.

The only thing I'd do differently next time is to use shredded mozzarella, rather than the string cheese I had in the house.  The string cheese didn't melt as well as I'd hoped, so shredded is the way to go.


  • 1 Flatout Healthy Grain Flatbread
  • 1 packet Chicken of the Sea Pink Salmon
  • 2 Laughing Cow Light French Onion spreadable cheese wedges
  • 6 tablespoons World Table Sweet Corn Salsa
  • 1 Frigo Light String Cheese 


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • While oven is preheating, spritz a pizza pan with non-stick olive oil spray.
  • Place flatbread on pizza pan and spritz with olive oil spray.
  • Place pan with flatbread in the oven as it preheats.
  • While the oven is preheating, use a fork to mix together cheese wedges and salsa, blending well.
  • Mix in salmon and blend thoroughly.
  • When the oven is done preheating, remove the pan with the flatbread and flip the flatbread over.
  • Evenly distribute salmon mixture on the flatbread.
  • Pull string cheese into strings and criss-cross on top of the salmon mixture.
  • Bake for 15 minutes.

Makes 1 serving.

Nutrition Stats: 345 calories, 34g protein, 10g fat, 11g fiber

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Double Chocolate Cookies

It's been unusually cold here in Vegas, and I've been craving something chocolaty that's warm from the oven.  I  had a scant 1/4 cup of flour remaining in the house and didn't feel like braving the chill to get more.  So, I turned to the always-handy Internet and found a flourless cookie recipe that would make use of the cocoa and unsweetened chocolate I had on hand.

This super simple recipe uses only 5 ingredients and whips up in minutes.  As a bonus, these cookies are gluten- and dairy-free.

These are quirky treats, crispy on the outside and fudgy on the inside.  Despite being made with a full box of confectioners sugar, they are not overly sweet.  In fact, they would be delicious with a small scoop of premium vanilla ice cream.


  • 1 pound confectioners (powdered) sugar (approximately 3 3/4 cups)
  • 3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 5 large egg whites


  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, cocoa and salt.
  • Stir in chopped chocolate.
  • Stir in egg whites until just blended.  Be sure not to overmix.
  • Drop by tablespoon-fulls on parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving room between cookies.
  • Bake for 15 minutes or until the cookie tops are dry and crackled.
Makes about 16 large cookies.

This recipe is adapted from the Bitten Word's Flourless Double-Chocolate Cookies recipe.  

Monday, November 29, 2010

Slow Cooker Mixed Berry Bread Pudding

On a chilly, blustery Vegas day, this was the second of the two slow cooker recipes I made, using Dawn Hall's super simple, fantabulous guide: Busy People's Slow Cooker Cookbook.

As I frequently do, I made several ingredient changes to the recipe, to slim it down just a tad and hopefully add nutrients.  Enjoy!


  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup Just Like Sugar (Dawn uses Splenda in the original recipe.  I am trying to get away from using artificial sweeteners, and I've found Just Like Sugar to be a terrific, no-calorie, natural sweetener.  You can get it at the Whole Foods or online.  To me, it's virtually indistinguishable from sugar, with only a teeny tiny aftertaste depending on the recipe. Of course, you could also use plain old sugar if you'd like.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice (Dawn uses only cinnamon.  You could also use pumpkin pie spice.)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (Dawn uses non-fat milk. I almost always sub unsweetened vanilla almond milk for any milk called for in a recipe.  It's only 40 calories for a cup, has a gram of fiber, and is richer tasting than non-fat milk.)
  • 1/2 cup fat-free French Vanilla non-dairy liquid creamer
  • 4 cups French Bread, torn into approximately 1/2-inch cubes (I would like to try using whole wheat French Bread next time.)
  • 1/2 cup Sunsweet Antioxidant dried fruit blend of blueberries, cherries, cranberries, and plums (Dawn calls for dried cranberries or raisins.)


  • Preheat a slow cooker to high.
  • Spritz with non-stick buttery spray.
  • In a bowl, stir the egg whites, Just Like Sugar, apple pie spice, almond milk, and creamer - until well blended.
  • Gently stir the bread pieces and dried fruit into the egg white mixture.
  • Pour into the slow cooker, and cook on high for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  • Serve hot.

Serving size: 1/2 cup
Makes six servings

Nutrition stats from the original recipe:

  • Calories: 142
  • Fat: 1g
  • Carbohydrate: 26g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sodium: 191mg

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

On this chilly, blustery day in Vegas, slow cooked comfort food seemed the way go to.  I found the most amazing slow cooker cookbook at the Barnes & Noble: Busy People's Slow Cooker Cookbook by Dawn Hall.  Each recipe is seven ingredients or less and is very easy to prepare.  Although not all of  the recipes are low-calorie, Dawn uses healthier ingredients whenever possible.  Each recipe includes full nutrition information, too, which is great.

I made a couple of substitutions to increase the protein in the dish and add a few more nutrients.  It's delicious and tasty fare!


  • 1 1/2 cups of uncooked elbow macaroni (Dawn recommends Mueller's brand.  I used Barilla Plus because of the extra protein, Omega 3s, and fiber.)
  • 1 14-ounce can fat-free, low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 12-ounce can roast beef
  • 2 teaspoons of minced garlic
  • 1 6 1/2-ounce can of mushroom stems & pieces
  • 1/2 cup of non-fat Greek yogurt (Dawn uses fat-free sour cream in her recipe.  I increased the protein by subbing Greek yogurt.)
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  • Spritz a slow cooker with non-fat olive oil spray.
  • Turn the cooker on high. Put the pasta and the beef broth in the cooker, making sure all the elbows are covered with the broth.
  • Cover and cook on high for 1 1/2 hours.
  • Stir in the roast beef, minced garlic, mushroom, and Greek yogurt.
  • Cover and let sit for 5 minutes or until everything is heated through.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Serving size: 1 cup
Makes 7 servings

Nutrition stats for Dawn's recipe are below.  Mine will be higher in protein and fiber and lower in sodium.  The calories should be the same.

  • Calories: 183
  • Fat: 4g
  • Carbohydrate: 22g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 15g
  • Sodium: 825mg

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pork & Beans Bread

Isn't this a kooky-sounding recipe?!  I simply couldn't resist making it for Mike when I read about it in Joanne Fluke's "Plum Pudding Murder".  It was just too odd not to try!  Turns out, it's really good: moist, not too cakey, subtly sweet with a hint of spice.  Perfect with a cup of tea.  I waited to tell Mike what it was called 'til he tried it. No need for preconceptions, right? :)  He loved it.  I plan to make it for everyone for Christmas this year.  Everyone should have Pork & Beans Bread at least once in their lives! :D

  • 1 15-ounce can of Pork & Beans
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup of vegetable oil (not canola or olive - be sure to use vegetable oil)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 3 cups flour

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray 3 loaf pans with non-stick spray.
  • Pour the Pork & Beans into a blender and puree until they're smooth with no lumps.
  • Pour the beaten eggs into a large mixing bowl and mix in the pureed Pork & Beans.  Blend thoroughly.
  • Mix in the vegetable oil and vanilla.
  • Mix in the sugar.
  • Mix in the baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Blend thoroughly.
  • Add the flour into the batter, one cup at a time, blending thoroughly after each cup.
  • Divide the batter evenly among the three loaf pans.
  • Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the bread.
  • To freeze it, let the loaf cool completely.  Then wrap it in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag.  It can be frozen for up to three months.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Super Simple BBQ Chicken Pizza

This is a super quick, very simple recipe that's nice on a weeknight when time is short and you want something tasty with a 'comfort food' feel.  You can make it healthier by using reduced-fat cheeses and low-sugar BBQ sauce or adding veggies.

  • 1 refrigerated pizza crust
  • 1/2 cup original barbeque sauce
  • 1/2 - 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 - 1 cup of shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup white chicken meat (I use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.)

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Spray a pizza pan with non-stick olive oil spray.
  • In a small bowl, blend cheeses together.
  • Spread pizza dough on pan.
  • Top with barbeque sauce.
  • Sprinkle with cheese mixture.
  • Top with chicken.
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes.

White Chocolate Walnut Blondies with Maple Butter Sauce

I have been so busy with two amazing - but time-consuming! - projects that I've had very little time to cook.  So I couldn't miss the chance to try something new when Mike and I were invited to a house warming BBQ at our friends Jen & Dave's new crib.  I stumbled across this recipe through the Pioneer Woman's website, and I decided it was too decadent to pass up!

These blondies are soft and chewy, with extra creaminess provided by the white chocolate chips.  They are not overloaded with walnuts, which is nice.  They are fantastic without the sauce, but if you want a true "Wow!" experience, serve 'em with a drizzle of the maple sauce.  They are outta this world good!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Kooky Cocktails - Funky Monkey

The second drink I created for Lee Ann's party, using Lisa Lillien's "Hungry Girl Happy Hour" as my template, was the Funky Monkey.  You can NEVER go wrong with chocolate and banana!  Especially when it only sets you back about 200 calories.  Not bad for a creamy alcohol indulgence. 

Interestingly enough, this one was the most popular at the party, although not with Miss Lee Ann, the birthday girl.  That's why it's important to have more than one bodacious beverage in your repertoire.  Tastebuds vary!

  • 1/2 Trader Joe's 100 Calorie 70% Dark Chocolate Bar
  • 4 ounces unsweetened vanilla almond millk
  • 1 ounce sugar-free vanilla non-dairy liquid creamer
  • 1 ounce almond tequila
  • 1 ounce sugar-free vanilla syrup
  • 1 teaspoon banana extract

  • In a microwave-safe dish, break chocolate into chunks and pour non-dairy creamer over the pieces.
  • Microwave for 15 to 30 seconds.
  • Stir to blend chocolate fully into creamer.
  • Fill a cocktail shaker about 2/3 full with ice.
  • Pour all ingredients into the ice-filled shaker.
  • Shake until thoroughly blended, and pour into a glass.
  • Serve immediately.

 Makes 1 serving. Approximately 200 calories.


Kooky Cocktails - the PB&J

So inspired was I by my experience with Lisa Lillien at the recent Hungry Girl book signing, that I decided to make some low-cal cocktails for my good gal pal Lee Ann's birthday celebration.  With Lisa's fab book "Hungry Girl Happy Hour" and a bottle of delish almond tequila from my honeymoon at my side, I stirred this and shook that until I came up with two beauteous beverages that met the tastebud test. 
The PB&J is the first of the two.  It really does taste like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich... without the doughiness.  This was Lee Ann's fave.  Get ready to get your yum on!
  • 4 ounces unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 ounce almond tequila
  • 1/2 ounce sugar-free peanut butter syrup
  • 1/2 ounce sugar-free raspberry syrup
  • 1 ounce sugar-free vanilla non-dairy creamer
  • Fill a cocktail shaker about 2/3 full with ice.
  • Pour all ingredients into the ice-filled shaker.
  • Shake until thoroughly blended, and pour into a sassy glass.
  • Serve immediately.

Makes 1 serving.  Approximately 150 calories.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Spinach & Feta Chicken Sausage with Berry Drizzle Broccoli & Cauliflower

Looking for a super simple summer meal?  This is it!  It's only got four ingredients and comes together in about 15 minutes total.

Busy people trying to eat healthy *and* yummy meals have to take advantage of any and all appropriate shortcuts, such as stocking up on great premade items like flavored sausages.  I found these chicken sausages filled with spinach and feta cheese at Whole Foods.  Wowsa!  They are gooood!!  Even better, they're only 140 calories and 1 gram of carbs each.  Cook 'em on the George Foreman Grill to make the flavors pop!

Another tip for making your tastebuds tingle is to use high-quality accent foods.  The broccoli and cauliflower are lightly grilled and modestly seasoned with garlic salt.  Add a drizzle of artisan berry jam, though, and you've got a gourmet side that didn't take a culinary school degree to create.

  • 1 chicken sausage stuffed with spinach and feta cheese
  • Chopped broccoli, about a 1/2 cup
  • Chopped cauliflower, about a 1/2 cup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons berry jam
  • Preheat a George Foreman Grill (or sauté pan).
  • Slice sausage in half lengthwise.
  • Place sausage and vegetables on grill (or in sauté pan) and heat until cooked through.
  • Warm jam in microwave for about 15 seconds.
  • Sprinkle vegetables with garlic salt and drizzle with jam.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"Chicken" and Veggies in a Garlic Almond Sauce

This is another recipe that seems like it just wouldn't taste good... but it does.  In fact, it's really good!  The garlic, almond butter, and almond milk combine to make a rich, voluptuous sauce to ladle over the "chicken" and blend of stir-fry vegetables.  Quorn is a great substitute for chicken breast.  Except for the appearance, I can't tell the difference when tasting.  This is a flavorful low-calorie, low-carb meal.  Try this dish, and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. :)

  • 1 Quorn breast
  • 1 cup frozen mixed, stir-fry vegetables
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • garlic salt and pepper to taste
  • green onions, if desired


  • Spritz a sauté pan with non-stick olive oil spray and heat on medium.
  • Spoon minced garlic into pan, stirring periodically.
  • Preheat the George Foreman Grill.  (Quorn is hard to cook in a sauté pan, especially frozen, without it coming out dry.  The George Foreman Grill cooks it perfectly so that it's got nice grill marks on the outside but retains its juiciness.)
  • Place Quorn breast on grill and close lid.
  • Warm almond butter in the microwave (1 to 2 minutes, depending on strength).
  • Steam veggies in microwave.
  • Whisk unsweetened vanilla almond milk and softened almond butter together with minced garlic in sauté pan.
  • Keep whisking until thoroughly blended and thickened.
  • Whisk seasoning in to taste.
  • Place veggies on a plate, lay Quorn on top.
  • Spoon sauce over everything and sprinkle with green onions if desired.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Grilled Pork with Asparagus and Blueberries

Asparagus and blueberries are everywhere right now, and for about a month, I've had this nutty idea to combine the two in some sort of recipe.  One night after work, I decided to go for it.  The contrasting textures of the crisp veggies and softened fruit, plus the sweet versus savory taste, made the dish surprisingly yummy.  It was the perfect side for the unseasoned porkchops, which would have been too bland on their own.

  • Extra thin, extra lean porkchops
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 1 cup of fresh blueberries
  • Garlic salt, pepper and sugar/Splenda, to taste

  • Preheat a George Foreman grill, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spritz a baking sheet with non-stick olive oil spray.
  • Spread the asparagus in a single layer across the baking sheet, and spritz with more olive oil spray.
  • Sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper as desired.  Feel free to add any other seasonings you'd like.
  • In a small bowl, lightly mash the blueberries with a little bit of sugar/Splenda.
  • Spread the blueberries over the asparagus, and spritz again with olive oil spray.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on how "al dente" you like your asparagus.
  • While the asparagus is cooking, grill the porkchops on the George Foreman Grill.  (I did not season them in any way, but you could, of course.  You could also grill them in fry pan if you don't have a grill.)
  • Plate and serve.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Festive Fruit Pizza

Take fruit to the next level for all your summer BBQs with a colorful fruit pizza.  I made this one with a chocolate cream cheese "sauce", but you could readily omit the cocoa or try a whipped cream variation.  It's super simple to change up every element of this easy-to-assemble treat, so the possibilities are endless!



Chocolate Cream Cheese Layer

  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa
  • 3 tablespoons sugar or Splenda or 'Just Like Sugar'
  • 4 ounces fat-free cream cheese, broken into chunks
  • 1/4 cup of heavy cream, plus 8 tablespoons
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Fruit Layer

  • Assorted fruit, sliced if appropriate, as desired.


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spritz a round pan or tart pan with non-stick buttery spray.
  • Combine all ingredients as per almond cookie recipe.
  • Spread evenly in pan.  The mixture is fairly sticky, so it may be easiest to spread it with your fingers.
  • Bake for 15 minutes and set aside to cool.
  • While the crust is baking and cooling, prepare chocolate cream cheese layer.
  • Whisk cocoa and sugar/Splenda together.
  • Combine cocoa mixture and all other ingredients in a blender.
  • Whip until fully blended.  
  • Keep chilled in refrigerator until ready to assemble pizza.
  • On cooled crust, evenly spread chocolate cream cheese mixture.
  • Layer fruit on top.
  • Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day Dinner

Mike likes simple food, so for Father's Day, I made him Tacos with Homemade Parmesan Shells and Homemade Vanilla Spice Ice Cream with Cherry Sauce.  

Both dishes benefitted from produce found at two different farmers markets: Chinese tricolor hot peppers in the Chunky Chinese Salsa that I mixed into the ground beef and fresh dark cherries.  It was more work than eating out but so good.  And, best of all, Mike loved his special dinner!

Cherry Sauce

  • 1 generous cup of fresh dark cherries, rinsed and pitted
  • 1/4 cup sugar or Splenda or 'Just Like Sugar'
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

  • Mix all ingredients except the Xanthan Gum in a saucepan, stirring thoroughly.
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  • Before mixture begins to boil, sprinkle Xanthan Gum over mixture and whisk to blend in.
  • Continue to stir as mixture boils and thickens.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Chunky Chinese Salsa

Chunky Chinese Salsa

Chinese Tricolor Hot Peppers

Black, Yellow, Red & Orange Grape Tomatoes

At the farmers market this morning, I stumbled across the most adorable peppers: Chinese Tricolor Hot Peppers.  Miniature and colorful... I was a goner; I had to buy them and use them in something.  That was when I spotted the grape tomatoes at the next table over... in an array of bright hues, and the idea for Chunky Chinese Salsa was born! 

This was my first time making salsa, and I didn't measure a thing.  So, this is going to be one of those rough recipes that requires you only to toss in whatever quantities seem good to you.


  • Grape tomatoes, chopped
  • Diced red onions
  • Diced green peppers
  • Chopped Chinese hot peppers (just a few; these are hot, and it doesn't take much.)
  • Minced garlic
  • Garlic & Pepper Seasoning to taste
  • Salt & Pepper to taste


  • Mix everything together and refrigerate.
  • The longer it sits, the hotter it gets!

Almond Cookies

These are not the prettiest cookies.  Think of them like the somewhat homely girl, standing in the corner, whose beauty suddenly shines through when you start talking to her.  One bite of these babies, and your taste buds will be very happy.  They are especially tasty warm from the oven accompanied by an iced coffee.

  • 1 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup sugar or Splenda or 'Just Like Sugar'
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spritz a baking sheet with buttery spray.
  • Whisk flour, sugar/Splenda, baking powder, and baking soda together.
  • Add remaining ingredients and blend thoroughly.
  • Form into small balls and flatten slightly, sprinkling with additional sugar/Splenda if desired.  (These do not spread, so the shape before baking will be the shape after they're done.)
  • Bake for 8 minutes until set but not brown.
  • Let cool slightly on pan and remove to a wire rack.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Funny Little Nutty Muffins

These muffins are "nutty" because they are made exclusively with almond flour.  The almond flour makes them dense, leading to their compact, slightly funny-looking shape.  Accented with pumpkin pie spice, they have a pleasant taste, especially with butter, and they're nicely filling.  Take small bites to really savor the texture. This recipe is adapted from one by George Stella.
  • Non-stick buttery spray
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar or Splenda or 'Just Like Sugar' (found at the Whole Foods)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk or heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup club soda


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Spritz the muffin tin with buttery spray.
  • In a bowl, whisk all ingredients together until thoroughly blended.
  • Fill the muffin cups about 2/3 with batter.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and let muffins cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the muffin tin.
  • Refrigerate leftovers.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Homemade Mozzarella Sticks

My husband and I recently embarked on a low-carb lifestyle.  Considering that I have been following a healthy diet and fitness routine since 2002, I know how important it is to have as many options as possible on whatever plan you're following.  Being successful on a low-carb diet will not work if you only eat bun-less cheeseburgers.  Variety is key, so finding alternatives to carb-laden favorites is critical.  This recipe is adapted from one by George Stella.  It was my first time working with a deep fryer, which was kinda nifty. :)

  • 3 to 6 cups of canola oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 3/4 cup of Egg Beaters Southwestern style
  • 1/4 heavy cream
  • 2 1/3 cups of soy flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Table Blend
  • 12 individually-wrapped light mozzarella sticks (I used plain light mozzarella sticks and light mozza/cheddar blend sticks.)

  • In a bowl, whisk Egg Beaters and cream.
  • In another bowl, mix all the breading ingredients together.
  • Cut the mozzarella sticks in half, for 24 sticks total.
  • Dip the sticks in the egg mixture and then the breading, coating them as completely as possible.
  • Place the sticks on waxed paper on a baking sheet, using waxed paper between layers and topping with waxed paper.
  • Freeze for 2 hours.
  • Fill deep fryer with oil according to manufacturer's instructions.
  • Heat the oil to 350 degrees.
  • Carefully fry sticks for about 2 minutes for each batch.  Be sure not to leave them in too long, or the cheese will ooze out.
  • Drain on paper towel and serve with a low-carb Marinara sauce.

Chopped Veggie Scrambled Eggs with Peppered Turkey Bacon

A lazy Sunday morning calls out for breakfast in bed, and what can be easier - or tastier - than scrambled eggs and bacon!

  • 1/2 cup Egg Beaters (or other egg substitute)
  • A splash of cream
  • Assorted chopped veggies (I used a fab find from the Whole Foods deli: raw zucchini chopped salad, which includes zucchini, yellow peppers, red peppers, onions, celery seed, tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice, carrots, garlic, salt, cilantro, pepper and basil.  This made it hugely healthy and super simple.)
  • Shredded cheese to taste
  • 2 slices packaged pepper turkey bacon
  • Chopped green onions

  • Spritz two skillets with non-stick olive oil spray and warm over medium heat.
  • Whisk together Egg Beaters, cream and veggies.
  • Pour into skillet and let cook.
  • While the eggs are cooking, fry bacon in the other skillet.
  • When egg mixture starts to firm up, use a spatula to scramble the eggs.
  • Mix shredded cheese into eggs.
  • Plate with bacon and top eggs with chopped green onions.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Pecan Shortbread

This recipe uses almond flour, a gluten-free, low-carb flour (3 grams net carbs per 1/4 cup) that comes with the bonus of additional protein.  This was the first time I've used almond flour, and the results were delicious, although the texture was rougher than I expected.  This makes a very rich and satisfying shortbread.

  • 3/4 pound butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar or Splenda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 3 1/2 cups almond flour (sometimes referred to as "almond meal")
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 2-ounce package chopped pecans


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spritz a tart pan with non-stick butter spray.
  • Cream butter and sugar/Splenda together.
  • Add extracts and mix again.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk almond flour and salt together.
  • Pour flour into butter blend and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined.
  • Slowly mix in chopped pecans.
  • Spoon batter into tart pan and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Turn the oven off and let pan sit in oven for another 20 minutes or so.
  • Let he shortbread cool slightly and then refrigerate until firm before cutting into wedges.

Note: Most recipes for pecan shortbread (using all-purpose flour) call for chilling the dough before baking it.  I bypassed that step because the almond flour seemed firm enough.  However, the shortbread was very fragile, even after the post-baking chill, and it crumbled easily.  So, you may want to chill it for 30 minutes or so before baking.  That's what I plan to do next time.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Homemade Raspberry 'Soft Serve' Ice Cream

A super simple frozen concoction to enjoy on a mellow summer evening.  For this recipe, I used a Rival Electric Ice Cream Maker.  It does not require salt or ice, which is why this recipe is so easy.  The recipe is also very adaptable to whatever diet plan you may be following.  Doing low-carb? Make it entirely with heavy cream or a combination of cream and unsweetened vanilla almond milk.  Following a low-fat regime? Use non-fat milk.  It's entirely up to you!


  • 3 cups of milk or heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup of sugar or Splenda
  • 1/4 cup Torani raspberry syrup, regular or sugar-free
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • Dash of salt


  • Whisk all ingredients in a bowl.
  • Prepare with ice cream maker according to your machine's instructions.

Bleu Cheese Broccoli Slaw with Chicken & Pecans

This crisp and crunchy dish is a great addition to any summer BBQ menu, and it comes together in minutes!

  • 2 12-ounce bags of broccoli slaw
  • 2 8-ounce bags of fully cooked chicken breast strips, broken into small pieces
  • 3/4 of a 13-ounce jar of Litehouse Chunky Bleu Cheese Dressing
  • 2 2.8-ounce packages of Real Bacon Recipe Pieces
  • 2 2-ounce packages of chopped pecans
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped scallions

  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mixing thoroughly.
  • If time permits, make the dish the night before and let the flavors mingle in the refrigerator.
  • Serve topped with chopped scallions.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Smoked Salmon Salad

This year, one day a month (from October to June) is devoted to a full eight hours of learning about a topic important to the Las Vegas community.  It's the central element of an intensive leadership program which also includes a class project and off-shoot events designed to expand the innovation of the leaders here in the Las Vegas Valley.  All that mental effort requires fuel, so each session day features breakfast, lunch and snacks. 

It's easy to mindlessly munch at these days; there's a lot of information to digest, and "heavy" issues are discussed.  However, instead of chomping thoughtlessly, I focus on high-quality eating and enjoying small tastes of the "good but bad" stuff.

My most recent session was held at the extraordinary new Aria resort & casino, and these dudes now to how make meeting-goers' mouths salivate!  I took advantage of the smoked salmon they offered at breakfast by skipping the bagel and cream cheese and creating this super simple, super tasty, and super healthy Smoked Salmon Salad.  Anytime you're at a business meeting or event, look at a food tables with a fresh eye and create your own fab feast!

  • Sliced smoked salmon
  • Sliced red tomatoes
  • Sliced red onions

  • Layer roughly equal portions of the salmon, tomatoes and onions on a plate.
  • Dice all with a fork and knife.
  • Toss gently until well blended.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Vegas Vittles: Smashburger

In early April, my husband Mike and I met his brother Patrick at the newly opened Smashburger.  I had heard yum-o-licious things about it and wanted to test it with my own tastebuds.

Mike's BBQ, Bacon & Cheese Burger was a decadent delight... more than a mouthful.  The haystack onion strings were a nice touch.

The fried pickles were crisp and tasty, although Patrick was disappointed 'cause he prefers pickle spears.  I liked the tangy buttermilk ranch dressing that accompanied them.

I went with the Classic SmashChicken burger on a multi-grain bun, and I skipped the top bun. It was moist and juicy and nicely seasoned.

The veggie frites were very good: flash fried asparagus, carrot sticks and green beans.  They were a bit oily, so I sopped up some of the excess with a napkin.

The Chocolate Malt shake was superb!  With Haagen-Dazs, how can you go wrong?!?!  Good thing I didn't get one myself and only sampled Mike's.  I'd have guzzled mine down and ordered another in a heartbeat!

Me with my topless chicken burger.  hee, hee, hee

It was crazy busy in there.  The place has a fun vibe, and you can see we had a good time! :)

Turkey Bolognese Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa

A simple, four-ingredient comfort food dish, made healthier with Quinoa in place of rice, turkey instead of beef and reduced-fat cheese.  The Quinoa was a new experience for Mike, and I wasn't sure he'd approve.  Thankfully, he liked it. :)  In the future, I will make the mixture thicker and sprinkle additional cheese on at the end of baking.  

  • Trio of large, multi-colored peppers
  • 1/2 cup cooked Trader Joe's Organic Red Quinoa (prepared according to package instructions)
  • 1 package of Trader Joe's "Just Sauce" Turkey Bolognese (prepared according to package instructions)
  • 1 8-ounce package of Weight Watchers Mexican Style shredded cheese

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spritz a small baking pan with olive oil non-stick spray
  • Prepare peppers by cutting off the tops and scooping out the interior white flesh and seeds.  Rinse thoroughly and dry.
  • In a large bowl, mix cooked Quinoa, prepared bolognese sauce and cheese until fully blended.
  • Scoop Quinoa mixture into each pepper.
  • Spritz peppers in pan with olive oil non-stick spray.
  • Bake, with pepper tops on, for 45 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, remove tops and then bake for another 10 minutes.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Shredded Salmon Sandwiches with Onion & Apple

We recently had a potluck lunch for a colleague who is retiring.  I decided to go with a twist on the shredded BBQ pork sandwich, using salmon instead and adding onion and apple for extra flavor and crunch.

  • 5 frozen wild salmon fillets
  • 1/2 a bottle of Kraft Light Original Barbeque Sauce
  • 1/2 a jar Smuckers Sugar-Free Apricot Preserves
  • Whole wheat hamburger buns
  • Sliced onion
  • Sliced apple, with the skin on
  • Lettuce
  • In a small bowl, stir to combine BBQ sauce and preserves.
  • In a slow cooker, set on low, layer frozen fillets and top with BBQ/preserves mixture.
  • Cook for approximately two hours, until salmon breaks easily into chunks.
  • When ready to serve, layer lettuce on bottom 1/2 of bun.
  • Top with onion, shredded salmon, and apple slices, finishing with top 1/2 of bun.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mini Vanilla Waffles with Grapefruit Ginger Syrup

A colleague recently shared her grapefruit bounty with us office-mates.  I love broiled grapefruit in the morning, but I wanted to do something different with these tasty yellow globes this time.  I stumbled on a package of 365 Everyday Value Organic Vanilla Mini Waffles at Whole Foods, and this recipe was born.

  • Preheat oven according to package directions for mini waffles.
  • Mix cornstarch and Splenda in sauce pan.
  • Whisk in grapefruit juice, grapefruit pieces, vanilla and crystallized ginger pieces.
  • Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens as desired.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Bake mini waffles according to package instructions.
  • Layer waffles and syrup as desired and top with a spritz of nonfat whipped topping.

Cocoa Muffins

After a hectic couple of weeks, a lazy Sunday morning cried out for some baking.  I decided that something chocolaty was required, but I wanted to keep it healthy.  I perused the pantry to see what ingredients I had on hand, and these mildly sweet, subtly flavored cocoa muffins were the result.
To be competely candid, I didn't think these muffins tasted that good.  I found them to be just so-so.  I have a pretty strong sweet tooth, so my reaction was probably due to their lack of sweetness.  I was sure that Mike wouldn't like 'em too much either.  However, he took a bite and proclaimed them "delicious!".  He really, really liked 'em.  He even proceeded to eat most of the batch.  Tastebuds are nutty things!

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup of fat-free Miracle Whip
  • 2/3 cup of non-fat milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla
  • Brown sugar for sprinkling on muffin tops
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Spritz a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick buttery spray.
  • In a large mixing bowl, blend all dry ingredients with a fork.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together Miracle Whip, milk and vanilla, until well blended.
  • Add milk mixture to dry ingredients and stir just until mixed.
  • Fill muffin cups with batter to about 2/3 full.
  • Sprinkle with brown sugar.
  • Bake muffins for about 15 to 20 minutes.
This recipe was adapated from "How to Make Low Fat Cocoa Muffins" at

Friday, April 23, 2010

Entrepreneur Magazine: The 500-Calorie Smackdown

Are restaurants really and truly - finally - getting on board the "guilt-free fast food" wagon?

Read this to find out:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Corn Dog, Re-imagined

My husband and I recently attended a super fun aviation event in Florida: lots of nifty airplanes, very cool people and carnival food.  You can't beat that!

Standard carnival chow always includes corn dogs, the ultimate walk-n-go food.  Since I usually try to eat healthy, I got thinking about 'doin' the dog' differently. The result is still hand-carry friendly; it's bulked up on nutrition but only has about 150 calories (when you add some ketchup).  Nice!

  • Spritz some buttery non-stick spray in a fry pan.
  • Cut the hot dogs in half and then slice them down the middle.
  • Pan fry them lightly in the pan.
  • While the hot dogs are pan frying, microwave the VitaTop for 15 second in the microwave.
  • Carefully cut it in half.
  • Remove the hot dogs from the pan, and re-spritzing the same pan, saute the VitaTop halves.
  • Layer mustard, ketchup and hot dog slices between VitaTop halves.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Nifty Noshing at the Airport

Gluten-free bars in a sundries shop at the Tampa airport
I didn't try these, but I though it was cool that they carried them.

If raw is more your speed, they've got that, too. :)

Don't be afraid to ask for what you want. I had never had a crab omelet before, so I wanted to try it.  But, I also wanted veggies.  So, I customized a veggie omelet, eliminating the cheese and adding crab.  Yummy!

Don't be afraid to try something fun and new, even if it doesn't totally fit with your diet or the portion is too big.  I added sweetened walnuts to 98% fat-free frozen yogurt, ate half of the container, and threw the rest away.  It took willpower, but I did it.  And, I got to enjoy something really tasty: a win-win. :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Springs Preserve Cafe: Munchies that Make a Meeting

The mission of Wolfgang Puck's Springs Cafe, at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas, is to deliver a responsible, sustainable and delicious culinary experience, and it succeeds.  I've attended two events there: a cooking class with Chef Peter Sherlock and a membership meeting of the Water Conservation Coalition (WCC).

If you're looking for great food to make your great event greater, the Springs Cafe is your go-to place!  Every bite I've eaten there has been yum-tastic... and a delight for the eyes as well as the taste buds.  The Springs Cafe is open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and you can break bread indoors or enjoy patio dining outdoors for the fresh air and scenic surroundings.

Below, a sampling of the tasty treats we enjoyed at the WCC meeting.

Tempura Shrimp with Wasabi Glaze

Sweet Maryland Crabcake with Herb Remoulade

Vegetable Empanada with Avocado Salsa