Thanksgiving Dessert

I apologize for the late post. I got so caught up and excited about decorating for Christmas, that I completely forgot to post the recipe for the pumpkin cheesecake I serve every year at Thanksgiving.

Healthier Pumpkin Cheesecake

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Ingredients:

Crust:
3 tbsp butter, melted (I used Smart Start)
3 tbsp Splenda blend sugar
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

Cheesecake:
4 packages (8oz) reduced fat cream cheese
1 1/2 cups Splenda blend sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup fat free evaporated milk
1 cup pure pumpkin

Topping:
2 cups reduced fat sour cream
1/4 cup Splenda blend sugar
1 tbsp maple syrup

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter until well incorporated. Press into the bottom (and slightly up sides) of a 9″ springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

In another bowl, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, on low speed. Add maple syrup, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, evaporated milk, and pumpkin. Mix until all ingredients are combined. Pour mixture over crust. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour, or more, until center is set.

In another bowl, combine sour cream, sugar, and maple syrup for topping. Remove cheesecake from oven and top with sour cream mixture. Return to oven and bake an additional 15 minutes.

I then sprinkled with extra cinnamon on top.

Let rest at room temperature for 1 hour. Place in refrigerator for at least 4 hours before serving.

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When I cut and serve, I typically top with a spoon of Cool Whip.

**I wish I was able to take credit for this recipe, but I can’t! I found this recipe about 5 years ago when I was clipping some coupons. I have since held on to that clipping, and made this cheesecake every year since for Thanksgiving.

ENJOY!! 🙂

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Leftovers and Coworker Treats!

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First, let me say, as you can tell from the picture above, our leftover fish tacos and black bean soup were a success!! Click here for recipes. They were just as delicious as last night, but I changed it up a bit.

Instead heating the tortillas and making a traditional taco, I made tortilla chips, as I had previously posted here, and using the shredded cabbage as my base, I made a fish taco salad. It was equally delicious! The crunch of the oven-baked tortilla chips were a perfect compliment to the salad.

So, since I did not make dinner tonight, I felt compelled to make a treat for my coworkers. Only problem was, after being on-call this weekend, I had zero energy to drive to the grocery to buy anything. Therefore, I needed to make something of whatever I already had on hand.

I took to my Pinterest profile to see what I had pinned that I could make, and I discovered these yummy lemon poppy seed cupcakes with lemon glaze. My version altered slightly from the original recipe, in that, I tried to make them a bit healthier and cut down on the amount of lemon zest because I only had a few lemons on hand.

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Lighter Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:

2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup 1% milk
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup margarine, softened (Smart Balance Light)
1 and 1/2 cups sugar (I used the Splenda blend equivalent, which was 3/4 cup, divided)
3 large eggs
1 tbsp poppy seeds

For the citrus glaze:

1 and 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 tsp grated lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
For garnish: lemon zest, poppy seeds

Directions

For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degree. Line a cupcake pan with the liners of your choice.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt into a bowl.

Stir together milk and 1/4 cup lemon juice in a small bowl.

Using a hand mixer, beat butter, 1 1/4 cups sugar, and the lemon zest on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Mixing on low, and add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour.

Beat in poppy seeds.

Divide batter among muffin tins (filling each cup two-thirds full). Made 22 cupcakes.

Bake until golden around the edges, 20-22 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring remaining 1/4 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/4 cup sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Let stand until ready to use

Brush warm cupcakes with half the lemon juice mixture. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack, and let cool for 30 minutes.

Brush cupcakes again with remaining orange juice mixture, and let cool completely.

For the citrus glaze: Whisk all of the ingredients together until smooth. Drizzle on the cupcakes (about 1 tsp each) to cover the tops. Sprinkle with poppy seeds, and garnish with strips of lemon zest if you desire. Let sit for about 20 minutes or so until glaze is set.

Luckily for my husband, I made enough for him to try one tonight! Hopefully my coworkers find them as delicious as he did!

ENJOY!! 🙂

Dessert Duo Continued……

I was so exhausted yesterday, I just did not have the energy to get this one posted too! Yesterday I gave you a recipe for Lemon-Raspberry Cake. It was so delicious!

This recipe will appeal to anyone that loves chocolate!! I found it while perusing Pinterest, but unfortunately there was no original website to give credit to.

Chocolate Chip Brownie Surprise

1 package pull-a-apart chocolate chip cookies
1 box of brownie mix
16 peanut butter cups

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using cooking spray, coat muffin pan.

Press 1 1/2 cookie dough into the bottom of each muffin cup.

Place peanut butter cup on top of cooking dough.

Prepare brownie mix according to package directions. Pour brownie mix on top of peanut butter cup, filling about 2/3 full.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Let cool completely before removing from muffin pan.

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These were delicious and rich! My son was a huge fan!! Repeatedly saying, “cookie, cookie, cookie” when he wanted more!

ENJOY!!! 🙂

Dessert Duo!

Tonight we were having my husband’s family over to celebrate his brother’s birthday. Tonight I was off the hook for dinner, but I was responsible for dessert! Not necessarily my strong suit, but I’m trying to get better.

Deciding what to make was difficult. I really wanted cheesecake, but I new I would not have enough time after work to make that happen. So, thanks to Pinterest, I discovered not one, but two yummy desserts. One is sweet and light, and the other is for all you chocolate lovers!

Lemon-Raspberry Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese and Raspberry Sauce

Cake Ingredients:

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 ¼ cups sugar (I used the Splenda blend equivalent)
3 large eggs
1 lemon, juice and zest
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup canola oil
1 cup fresh raspberries
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoons sugar (Splenda blend)

Raspberry Sauce:

Reserved sauce from the cake
1/3 cup sugar (I again used the Splenda blend equivalent)

Lemon Cream Cheese: from previous post, Zucchini….2 ways!

8 oz reduced fat cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 lemon, juice and zest

Directions:
Preheat the oven 350°F. Spray 8×8 glass baking dish with cooking spray.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla extract, and oil. Mix the buttermilk mixture with the dry ingredients until just combined. Pour into prepared baking dish.

In a food processor, blend the juice of 1 lemon, raspberries, water, and 1 tbsp Splenda blend sugar. Process until smooth.

Using a small spoon, drizzle 2-3 spoonfuls of the raspberry sauce on the top of the cake batter. Use a toothpick to swirl into the batter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

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Meanwhile, strain the remaining raspberry mixture into a sauce pan. Add 1/3 cup sugar (or Splenda blend equivalent), and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Cool in refrigerator until ready to serve.

In another bowl, blend cream cheese, juice and zest of 1 lemon, and powdered sugar. Once combined, place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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Before serving cake, let cool on counter before cutting. Top with lemon cream cheese and/or raspberry sauce.

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**Recipes adapted from: Kitchen Confidante

This was one my favorite desserts that I have ever made!! The lemon and raspberry go so well together!!

Check back tomorrow for the second dessert served tonight!

ENJOY!!! 🙂

More love for zucchini!!!

After the stressful weekend I had, I was in need of an escape from life for a bit. How do I go about that??? I get in the kitchen and make something!!! The kitchen, for me, is my zen place. As I mentioned before, cooking and baking really relaxes me, and helps relieve some stress on days that just seem to be too much. The real reward is seeing the smile on my family’s faces as we all sit and enjoy a meal together.

Right now zucchini is so abundant in markets and grocery stores, and it is also really cheap. I tend to buy a lot of it and yellow squash in the Summer. The two vegetables go so well together.

Another great thing about zucchini is that it can be used in both savory and sweet recipes, just as I had done in a previous post.

This time I went with a sweet recipe! Even though I am not much for sweets, every once in a while I have a bit of a craving. Yesterday was one of those days. So, as my son took an extended nap, I camped out in the kitchen!

Chocolate-White Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

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Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar (I used 3/4 cup Splenda blend)
3 eggs
1 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 packed cups grated zucchini
1 cup white chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin cups with muffin papers (made 20 muffins for me).

In a large bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In a medium bowl, beat the sugar and eggs until light and fluffy. Add the oil and vanilla.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients along with the zucchini and white chocolate chips. Stir just until combined.

Using a spoon, fill each muffin cup.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Remove from muffin pan and let cool on wire rack.

**Recipe adapted from: Babble

I shared some with my family last night after our delicious Stromboli, and shared the rest with my coworkers today. Some of you might be wishing you worked with me?!?! 🙂

ENJOY!!

So much flavor….packed into such a little bite!

My son’s new favorite word is “cookie”!!! I’m not even 100% sure he actually knows what he is saying and what it means. But…his repetitiveness caused me to have cookies on my mind!

The recipe below was originally intended to be made as individual cookies, but I wanted to make it a little different. Also, this is another recipe you can make your own, adding and changing to what suits you!

Oh…and I accidentally made a mistake when I was making these. I forgot to add the 2 teaspoons of vanilla that the original recipe called for. And thankfully, it did not matter.

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Oatmeal-Peanut Butter Cookie Bites

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar (I used Splenda sugar blend, 1/4 cup)
1 egg + 1 yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract (unless you forget it, like I did!!)
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup old fashioned whole oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 c white chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or another type of nut, butterscotch chips, etc.)
Cooking spray

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a saucepan, melt the butter and peanut butter together over low-medium heat.

Add the brown & white sugar to the melted butter & peanut butter mixture and stir. Pour into a bowl, and Set it in the freezer for a couple minutes (I let it in there about 5-10 minutes. You want it to cool before adding the eggs.)

Remove from the freezer and add the egg + yolk , add the vanilla extract (if you want…LOL!) and stir to combine.

In another bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking soda, and walnuts.

Add the white chocolate chips and stir.

Pour cookie dough into a greased 8×8 glass baking dish. Flatten and smooth to help it bake evenly.

Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 20 minutes. Let it cool completely before cutting.

**Recipe inspiration: http://www.loveveggiesandyoga.com

They tasted so delicious, and my son finally got his…..COOKIE(bite)!!!

ENJOY!!!

Good Morning!

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Good morning everyone! It’s always great to discover an alternative to the usual eggs and toast for breakfast. Sometimes I make a breakfast casserole or oatmeal, but wanted something different today. Strawberries were on sale at my grocery store. So, naturally, I wanted to find a use for them. Below is a delicious recipe for breakfast muffins.

Strawberry Walnut Muffins

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (not in the original recipe)
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup light brown sugar (however, I used 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp of the Splenda brown sugar version)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners (for me this made about 18 muffins). Spray muffin cups lightly with cooking spray to assure they do not stick.

In a small saucepan melt the butter and let cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract and sour cream. Add the cooled melted butter and stir to combine.

In large bowl sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the brown sugar.

Gently fold in the berries and walnuts, making sure they are coated with flour.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir only until the ingredients are just combined (it made a rather thick batter).

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Place in the oven and bake about 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clear.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

**Recipe adapted from: Joyful Baker

ENJOY!!

Zucchini…..2 ways!!!!

Tomorrow my father-in-law leaves for India for a couple months. He and my mother-in-law, along with my brother-in-law were joining us for dinner tonight. They had suggested getting food from outside and bringing it back to our house to eat. Well, after being out of town the last 4 days and eating restaurant food everyday, I decided I would much rather cook for everyone.

I was craving fish, but was not sure what to serve with it. I had some zucchini in my fridge that needed to get used soon, so as usual, I took to my iPad to find something online. I came across a zucchini and squash recipe that look so good and healthy!

Zucchini-Squash Bake

Ingredients:

3 peeled zucchini
3 peeled yellow squash
Olive oil, about 2 tbsp
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Peel vegetables and slice into ¼ inch thick slices.

Assemble vegetables to your preferred dish and drizzle olive oil on top (Can also place in single layer on baking sheet).

Top with salt and black pepper to taste.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

**Recipe credit: Bakers Royale

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The great thing about zucchini is that it can be used in both savory and sweet dishes. So, along with the my savory side dish, I decided to also use the zucchini to make a dessert.

Carrot-Zucchini Muffins with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

2 eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 pure maple syrup (original recipe called for honey)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups peeled, shredded carrot
1 cup peeled, shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp baking soda

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 (8 oz) pkg reduced fat cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, oil, honey, and vanilla.

Then fold in the carrot, zucchini, and walnuts.

In another bowl combine the flour, baking powder, ginger, and baking soda. Whisk to blend together.

Add to flour mixture to the wet mixture. Stir just until combined.

Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full. Makes about 24 muffins.

Bake about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

Once the cake is cooled prepare the frosting. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the fosting ingredients with an electric mixer on medium speed until well incorporated.

Spread the frosting over the cooled bars.

**Recipe credit: Real Mom Kitchen

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These were both crowd pleasers!

ENJOY!!

Is it Fall yet??

I have to admit, one of the things I miss most about Pennsylvania (other than my family, of course) is the changing of seasons, especially Fall! The weather is always perfect, and the food is always better! There are so many great flavors and foods associated with Fall, including squash, soup, sweet potato, and my favorite, PUMPKIN!

Let me begin with sweet potato. I did not always like them. I remember as a kid REALLY disliking them. And, man, was I missing out! I could eat them every day now. To be honest, I think what I didn’t like was those candied sweet potatoes always served at Thanksgiving. However, a plan baked sweet potato is delicious, but of course I’m always looking for new ways to prepare them. Below is how I made them tonight to accompany my lemon baked fish (see “Let’s Go Greek” post) and fresh steamed green and wax beans.

Baked Sweet Potato Slices

Ingredients:

2 sweet potatoes
Cooking spray
Salt, to taste

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice sweet potatoes about a 1/2” thick. Spray foil lined baking sheet with cooking spray. Place sweet potato slices on baking sheet. Spray other side with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, turning once to evenly cook both sides.

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Now for the pumpkin!!!

Every Thanksgiving for the past few years, I have been making a pumpkin cheesecake which is absolutely delicious. A couple years ago I came across a pumpkin sausage lasagna recipe (yummy!). And today, on this hot summer day in Florida, I was craving something sweet, but I also wanted it to be relatively healthy. So I took to my pantry to see what I had on hand. I came across a box of angel food cake mix and a can of pumpkin purée. After a search online, I found the recipe below.

Pumpkin Angel Food Cake

Ingredients:

1 box Betty Crocker white angel food cake mix
1 tbsp. Gold Medal all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cloves
1 cup canned pumpkin purée
1 cup cold water

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix until combined. Pour into a greased 13×9 glass baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes clear from center. Let cool before serving. I simply topped it with a spoon of Cool Whip.

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Recipes inspired by: Edible Perspective

ENJOY!