Monday, September 23, 2013

Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins - Low Sugar

Healthy can truly be delicious! are yummy. I think I could even get my granddaughters to eat these (and they would not touch zucchini with a ten foot pole!)  Of course if I made these for them I would grate the zucchini finer so it would be WELL hidden!!

Another thing  I did was change the chocolate chips to Ghirardelli premium baking chips that are 60% cacao. They have a higher concentration of cocoa butter so they melt really well and even after the muffins have cooled, the chocolate still has a wonderful gooey texture.  YUM!

I hope you love these too!!

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup Truvia Baking Blend
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup Ghirardelli premium baking chips (60% cacao/bittersweet chocolate)

Preheat oven to 325.  Spray the muffin tin with a non stick spray or use muffin liners. Set aside.

Beat butter, unsweetened applesauce, and Truvia baking blend in a large mixing bowl.  The mixture will be lumpy - almost curdled in appearance.  Add the eggs.  Mix to combine.  Add the vanilla and buttermilk and mix again.

In a separate small bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients  slowly - adding 1/3 of the dry each time and blending in between. Do not overmix.  Add the zucchini and chocolate and stir just until combined.

Scoop the batter into the muffin cups, filling about 3/4 full.  Bake for 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool on a wire rack for 3-5 minutes and then remove to the wire rack to cool completely.

The texture of these muffins is almost brownie like, especially when you get a bite of that melty gooey chocolate! I hope you enjoy these!!

I think I need to make another batch.  YES.... they are THAT good!

Who says chocolate isn't a breakfast food?  Zucchini makes everything healthy!

You can see how these are brimming with zucchini.  

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mexican Chicken Salad a la California Style!

In southern California, summer finally hit - with GUSTO!! It has been hot and humid and just plain miserable.  Now if you live in the East or the South you will laugh at my intolerance of CA humidity. But we are spoiled - I admit it.  And when there is moisture in the air, it is just plain miserable unless you have the ocean breeze. I am just inland enough to miss that cooling mist...

I have been feeling so icky in the evenings that dinner has often been yogurt, frozen  yogurt,  mozzarella slices and tomatoes - in other words, anything easy!!  So I was determined to actually MAKE something and I did - from beginning to end, without a recipe. Granted, making a salad does not require a recipe, but I created a marinade for the chicken breasts and a dressing for the salad and it turned out delicious!!  So I just had to share.......


Cilantro, roasted red peppers, roasted garlic olive oil and lemon juice = best Southwestern marinade
(Disclaimer - totally forgot to photograph the white wine vinegar - oops!!)


1/4 cup roasted garlic olive oil (found this at Costco and love it!!)
1/8 c. white wine vinegar
1/4 c. roasted red peppers
2 cubes frozen cilantro (Trader Joe's) or several Tablespoons of fresh, chopped
juice of 1 lemon

Combine all ingredients and mix with a stick blender.  I have the one from Cuisinart and  use it often!

Place two chicken breasts halves in a ziploc bag with the marinade and put in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.  Turn over occasionally to be sure it is distributed well.

Light ranch dressing, wholly guacamole and taco seasoning (with chives) = perfect dressing!


2 packets of individual servings of Wholly Guacamole! (you can certainly make your own, but I only had a few avocados and wanted them for the salad.)
1/2-3/4 c. ranch dressing - to taste
1 tsp taco seasoning (to taste)

Mix and refrigerate so the flavors can meld.


romaine lettuce
black beans (rinsed and drained); kidney beans would work well as an alternative
orange pepper, sliced and chunked
yellow pepper, sliced and chunked\
fire-roasted corn (about 1 cup - I use the Trader Joe's brand)
tomatoes, chunked (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 avocados, chunked
black olives, sliced
1 bunch green onions, sliced
*cheddar cheese, grated (optional)
*jack cheese, grated (optional)
tortilla chips, crushed for garnish

* I used a shredded Mexican blend


Grilled chicken breasts after marinade - YUM!

Grill the chicken and slice or chunk depending on your preference.  You can either mix all of the ingredients like a chopped salad, or layer on a plate with slices of the chicken on top (pictured below).

This was beyond delicious and made enough for several nights. I shared with my neighbor and we both had leftovers. The beauty of this salad is that you can use as much or as little of any of the ingredients as you want.  There are no hard and fast rules. This was fun and I will definitely be creating new salads in the future.  I wish I would have started this earlier in the summer as it's a great solution to eating healthy when it's just....... too....... hot!!

Salad in process...

The finished dinner serving - or several servings!!

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

August and September Birthday Cards

And there are more!!

The burst of inspiration is still with me so I am taking FULL advantage of it.  This card was made from one of the designs from Birds Cards.  I do love her card backgrounds and it was fun to use some patterned paper again - but even though I chose an entirely different brand of patterned paper (First Edition), I still ended up with purple being the accent color.  It's surprising to me how many times I end up with a card that highlights purple.  I will try to break into a new color family with the next card! (see below - I did it!!)

This card utilizes several designs from Birds Cards: the Circle Square Frame, Flowers 2 and 6 and the stamens.  I also uses her digi stamp in the center of the card and did a print and cut with SCAL and the Silver Bullet Professional.  I took the sentiment one step further and used the FoilMaster to add purple foil to the greeting. I love the sheen of the foil - it is just so darn hard to photograph!

I think this frame has a lot of possibilities.

You can see how detailed the cut is -  even with it still on the mat!

And here is a much better example of the detail.  Look at those little triangles!!!

Love the foiled greeting.    The papers from Paper Temptress are Kunzite and Amethyst 
from the Mica line

Another card that went together easily (and kicked me out of my purple rut) was this one.  Monica's files are so detailed but I never have to worry how my Silver Bullet Professional will handle them.  This is her spring season file and I altered the separate tulip file in SCAL to make it shorter and two sizes.  The paper is my favorite line from Paper Temptress - the mica line (aka Stardream). It cuts like butter and I love the shimmer.

Another intricate cut from the Silver Bullet Professional Cutter.

I really like how this amber color pops on the red.

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Skinny Banana Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins - Low Sugar

It's muffin time again.  I know that the fresh fruit of summer will be gone soon, so I want to take advantage of every tantalizing combination that I can!

My bananas have been ripening faster than I can use them, so this recipe was the perfect one to pair my mushy bananas and super sweet and LARGE raspberries!  My neighbor loved the combination so much that she made the recipe using white chocolate chips.  That was a great change and I will do that next time (see picture at the bottom!)


2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. Splenda brown sugar blend
1 cup mashed banana (about three medium bananas)
1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt (I used Yoplait honey vanilla)
1 egg, beaten (I use x-lge)
3/4 cup milk (I used 1/2 cup vanilla coconut milk & 1/4 cup Coffeemate GS Caramel & Coconut Creamer)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used a combination of dark and milk chocolate chips)
 1 3/4 cups fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 325.  Spray regular muffin tin with non cooking spray.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together.  Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk the honey and Splenda brown sugar blend together. It will be VERY thick.  Add the mashed bananas, yogurt and beaten egg. Gently pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold them all together. It will be very thick.  Add the milk slowly and continue to gently fold the ingredients together. The milk will thin the batter a little.  Then fold in the chocolate chips.  Finally fold in the raspberries just until blended so they don't crush and turn the batter red!  Overmixing will cause tough muffins.

Divide the batter into 12 muffin cups.  Fill them to the top.  Sprinkle the tops with sparkling sugar if desired.

Bake for 17-18 minutes or until golden brown.. Allow the muffins to cool on a wire rack.

 These are chock full of raspberries and chocolate.  The flavor combination is soooooo good!

Sparkling sugar makes everything better!

Brimming with raspberries. You can see the steam on the plate!

Spotlight on this muffin with the white chocolate chips.
I love all of the photo editing you can do with Pic Monkey.


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Saturday, September 7, 2013

"Healthy" Blueberry Coffeecake! - Low Sugar

I have so enjoyed experimenting this summer with fruits of the season and blueberries have been at the top of my list.  I needed a break from the muffin madness that has taken over my kitchen so decided to give this already healthy coffee cake recipe a try.  I substituted greek yogurt for sour cream and used sugar baking blends to make it even lower in sugar. I am really pleased with how it came out.  It is flavorful, soft, very moist and just plain delicious.... and it made my kitchen smell wonderful.

Now the one thing in question is why would I want to bake when the humidity is up and it's supposed to be 90 degrees today??  Well the answer is simple - why not?? I started relatively early so the heat inside would dissipate before the heat outside took over!  It's crazy but I don't claim to always make sense!  I have learned that during the summer I need to keep my baking to early in the day or late in the evening - anything else truly IS crazy!!

I hope you will try this and be as delighted with the results as I was.  I love the creations of Marlene Koch and have never had one of her recipes fail, even when I shift the ingredients a bit!

Can you see the size of those blueberries??  They were super-sized!!


adapted from "Eat What You Love" by Marlene Koch

Ingredients for the Cake:

3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 c. applesauce
2 Tbsp. sugar
1  egg
1 egg white
1/4 c. Truvia baking blend
1 1/2 c. flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
3 Tbsp. butter
1 cup fresh blueberries

Gently mixed batter...

Ingredients for Crumb Topping:

1/2 c. flour
1 Tbsp. Splenda brown sugar blend
1 Tbsp.  Truvia baking blend
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. butter, melted

Cinnamon Crumb Topping

Preheat the oven to 350.  Lightly spray or grease an 8 inch square pan and set aside. (I use EverBake spray from King Arthur Flour - I love it!)

In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, applesauce, egg, egg white, sugar and Truvia baking blend.  Whisk together.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and baking powder.  Add the 3 Tbsp. butter and cut in with a pastry blender or fork until well combined and crumbly.  At this point I like to toss in the blueberries so they will get a light coating of flour and not sink to the bottom when baking.  Then make a well in the center of the bowl and add the yogurt mixture.  Gently mix with a spatula or wooden spoon just until the ingredients are combined. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.

Mix the dry topping ingredients together and then add the melted butter and mix with a fork until everything is crumbly.  Sprinkle over the top of the batter.

Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack and wait 10 minutes before cutting (if you can - the temptation is overwhelming!!)

I have been making a LOT of blueberry recipes this summer, and there are undoubtedly more to come, but so far this is my absolute favorite one!

This is one of those times I wish I could share the out of the oven smell.......Mmmmmmm!!

It's as good as it looks!!

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Day Long Card....

Wouldn't you know that when I have a day set aside to make a lot of cards and get so many things accomplished that fate would intervene and turn my plans upside down?? Such was the day I tried to make a birthday card for a friend who is turning sixty in a couple of weeks.  I literally destroyed at least 5 sheets of card stock and twice as many text weight sheets to get this card to even start to look right.  And even though I was tempted to stop with each  disaster, I was determined to make this card work.  And I think I finally made something that I can accept as good enough!  That is hard for me - I want my cards to be perfect but they just aren't all going to be fabulous or easy!!

The file is from Birds Cards and it is an accordion card. It didn't help that I had never made an accordion card before so I had NO clue what I was doing!!  And there were a lot of parts to this card - several card bases, acetate panels to go behind each cut out section, and frames to cover both sides of each cut out!  Could I have made it more difficult??  I also used her Flowers 1 file.

I finally utilized some digi paper from Sassy Designs - Rosanna and I love the colors.  I have been collecting digi papers for a while so it was fun to put one to good use.  It was a perfect match for the blue paper I was using  - the ice blue sorbet from Paper Temptress.

I  also have a new tool for making bows - it is called "the Bow It All".  It makes bows from 1/2" to 9". I have used a lot of bow makers over the years and up until now my favorite has been the Bow Easy - because it was just that  - EASY!! But I was limited in size to what I could do.  Some others were just too complicated and I am bow-challenged enough without having a gadget sabotage me even more!  If you make a lot of bows, I highly recommend this.  Watch for a sale as it is a little pricey - I was lucky enough to find it at about 50% off. I know I will be using this a lot as I get more comfortable with all of the styles of bows I can make...

An accordion fold card all spread out so you can see the panels.There is acetate behind each cut 
and the patterned paper is on both sides of each panel.

Tried to separate the panels a bit so you can see the word on each section.
These are two separate sections that are joined by a tab connecting them.

The final card. Not sure I would jump to do this soon, 
but I am glad I stuck with it!!

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Monday, September 2, 2013

Peach Melba Cobbler

I don't know about where you are living, but, but the peaches that have been available here this year have been incredible.  I am not always a huge peach fan, I think because I have had my share of mushy flavorless peach mpostors. You know the kind? They look so good on the outside,but you cut into them and you just know that first bite will not be memorable, at least not in a good way.

But this summer has been an entirely different experience.  Ohhhhhhhhh goodness....... they have been juicy and sweet and just plain delicious, bite after bite........pound after pound!  So I have been eating them for snacks and cooking with them.  And when I saw this recipe on Iowa Girl Eats (love her!), I knew I had to make it with a twist. She used peaches and blueberries, but I reverted to my Peach Melba obsession and used raspberries.  AND...... I made it low sugar.   It was so delicious. The only thing I would change is to put it in a smaller, deeper dish so the fruit layer has more depth and then the cobbler would cover it completely - or at least almost!

It is delicious plain, with whipped cream or Cool Whip, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or Healthy Choice vanilla bean yogurt (see pictured below) and works either hot or cold.  You just cannot go wrong!!

And in my world,  when it is mainly fruit, it works for breakfast too! :)

Low Sugar Peach Melba Cobbler

adapted from Iowa Girl Eats Peach A Berry Cobbler

1 c. flour
1/4 c. Truvia Baking Blend (or 1/2 c. sugar)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. butter, softened
1/8 c. Splenda Brown Sugar Blend (or 1/4 c. brown sugar)
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 c. cold water
3 c. sliced fresh peaches, skin on (3 large peaches)
1 c. fresh raspberries
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. Truvia Baking Blend (or 2 Tbsp. sugar)
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350.

Topping Mixture:

Combine the flour, 1/4 cup Truvia baking blend, and baking powder in a large bowl and stir to combine.  Add milk and butter and stir until relatively smooth and set aside.

Fruit Mixture:

In a large saucepan, whisk together the Splenda brown sugar blend, cornstarch, and water until smooth.
With heat on medium, add the peaches and raspberries,  and cook until mixture is thick and bubbly, mixing with a wooden spoon.  Add the remaining butter (1 Tbsp) and lemon  juice and stir until the butter is melted.

Pour mixture into an ungreased 1 1/2 quart baking dish (I used a 10"x10" glass dish. Next time I would use a smaller, deeper dish for more fruit concentration and a better coverage of cobbler batter.)  Spoon topping mixture over the top of the fruit.  It does not have to be even or cover completely.  Blend the cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over the top.

Place baking dish on a cookie sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the dough comes out clean.

Are these not the most beautiful peaches???

Peaches and raspberries simmering goodness...

All cooked and waiting  for the cobbler dough!

Ready for the oven with a sprinkle of  cinnamon  sugar.

All cooked and ready for a taste test!!

This is delicious on its own, with vanilla frozen yogurt or ice cream, or whipped cream or topping.

I love the individual serving cups of frozen yogurt from Healthy Choice!

Who wants the first bite???

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