Almond Joy Cupcakes (reduced fat)

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  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 (3.9 ounce) package fat free/sugar free instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup al natural unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons buttermilk (see homemade buttermilk recipe below)
  • 1 large egg or 1/4 egg beater
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup hot coffee

This recipe makes approx. 30 cupcakes.

*To make homemade buttermilk – combine 4 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice and 1 cup skim milk in a glass measuring cup. Stir to combine and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes.  The mixture will begin to curdle.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Prepare cupcake pans with liners.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, pudding mix, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, apple sauce, buttermilk, egg and vanilla.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until thick and just combined. Stir in the hot coffee until smooth and well combined.

Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 to 3/4 full. DSCN1372 - edited

Bake for 18-20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Let cupcakes cool on wire racks for 15 minutes.  Remove the cupcakes from the pans and return to wire rack, allowing to cool completely.

While the cakes are cooling, prepare the frosting.

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Coconut Cream Frosting:

  • 8 ox reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Beat cream cheese and butter for 4-5 minutes. Add vanilla and coconut extracts, beat to mix well. Turn the mixer off and add powdered sugar, beating in one cup at a time, scraping bowl down between additions until you reach your desired consistency. Spread coconut cream on cupcakes and roll in shredded coconut, top with a few sliced almonds.

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Roasted Beet & Citrus Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

This was the healthy addition to our Superbowl feast.  I am slowing introducing more salad options to my husband and I was pleasantly surprised that he really liked this.  The flavors are crisp and fresh and the dressing was a perfect compliment.

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 I got the inspiration from www.snixykitchen.com/2013/06/10/roasted-beet-and-citrus-salad-with-mustard-vinaigrette/ theirs is much prettier and had a better variety but a bit of improvising with the ingredients I had on hand still made a very tasty salad.

DSCN1341Salad

  • 2-3 cups mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup shaved Fennel
  • 1 fresh orange, peel removed and segments removed from membrane
  • 3 small or 2 medium roasted beets chopped or sliced
  • 2-3 tablespoons pistachios, coarsely chopped

Dijon Vinaigrette

  • 1 tablespoon dijon or honey mustard
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey (not pictured)
  • ¼ cup olive oil plus more for coating the beets
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Scrub beets well and place on top of foil.  Drizzle with olive oil and wrap the foil tightly around the beets (seem on top) to create a bundle.  Place the packet on a baking sheet and roast for about 45 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Let cool.  Once cool the skin can be peeled easily with a vegetable peeler or pairing knife.  Slice the beets.

Layer together the mixed greens, beets, orange and shaved fennel.

To make the dressing – whisk the mustard, vinegar, honey olive oil, salt, and pepper together. The original dressing did not include honey but it feel it really brings the flavor together nicely.  Drizzle the dressing over the vegetables.  Sprinkle with pistachios and serve.

Baked Buffalo Chicken Taquitos with Homemade Tortilla’s

Round One of our Superbowl Feast!

These are very tasty and can be altered to suit your tolerance for heat.  Adding fresh herbs will really enhance the flavor.  Mixing in some blue cheese is a nice touch as well.  This recipe is a party favorite for us and great because they can be made in advance and baked just before serving.

Baked Buffalo Chicken Taquito’s

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 Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3  to 1/2 cup Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Wing Sauce
  • 4 drops Louisiana Hot Sauce (we like heat so I added about 8 drops)
  • 2 cups roasted chicken (shredded or diced)
  • 1 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar or Mexican cheese blend
  • 2 tablespoons sliced green onions
  • 8 small tortillas (homemade recipe below)
  • cooking spray

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, buffalo sauce, hot sauce and shredded cheese.
  • Once combined, add the chicken.  Using a fork mash the chicken into the cheese and mix thoroughly.

(This can be done in advance.  Refrigerate the mixture at this point until ready to continue.)

  • Working with a few tortillas at a time, slightly dampen a paper towel and cover the tortilla and wrap them slightly with the paper towel.
  • Microwave, uncovered for 15-25 seconds (start with 15) or until warm, then cover to hold heat while serving.
  • Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture onto the lower third of a tortilla. Roll the tortilla as tightly as you can.
  • Place the rolled tortilla seam side down on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas until the mixture is gone. This mixture is enough for 8 taquitos.
  • Make sure the taquitos are not touching each other on the pan. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray.
  • Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until crisp and golden.

Serve with salsa, sour cream or blue cheese dressing.

Tortilla’s

FJC9NAs I have mentioned I feel strongly that if there is a healthier option there is no going back.  While there are certainly items in the grocery store that I buy which are processed I do my best to go all natural whenever possible.  When I am buying something pre-packaged I look at the list of ingredients.  Generally speaking, the longer the list, the more chemicals.  Since we are what we eat I would prefer to reduce chemical intake as much as possible.  That said, below is the list of ingredients in store bought flour tortillas.

La Banderita Soft Flour Tortillas

  • Enriched Bleached Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin and Folic Acid),
  • Water
  • Vegetable Shortening (Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oils or Palm Oil or Corn Oil),
  • contains 2% or less of the following:
  • Salt
  • Baking Powder
  • Distilled Mono and Diglycerides
  • Calcium Propionate
  • Sorbic Acid
  • Gum Blend
  • Fumaric Acid
  • Sugar
  • Dough Relaxer (Sodium Metabisulfite, Corn Starch, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Dicalcium Phosphate).

And below is the list of ingredients you will need for wholesome, homemade tortillas… you will taste a difference and will hopefully appreciate the lack of chemicals.  I won’t buy them in the supermarket anymore.

Homemade Tortilla’s

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup warm water

Directions:

This is best made in a stand mixer with a dough hook.  Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in the bowl.  With the mixer running on low add the oil and water.  Scrape the bowl and increase the speed to medium.  Mix until the dough comes together and begins to form a ball. Continue to mix for 1 minute or until dough is smooth.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for just a minute until it is smooth. Form the dough into a ball. Divide the dough in half, then in half again. Continue until you have 8 equal portions. Form each piece into a ball and flatten with the palm of your hand. Cover flattened dough with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rest for 15-30 minutes.

After rest period, heat a griddle to medium high. While the griddle is heating roll each flattened ball into a rough circle, as thin as possible, about 6-7 inches in diameter.  It’s ok if they are not perfectly round.  If you prefer that they are round you could use a large round cookie cutter after the ball has been rolled out.  Keep the work surface and rolling pin lightly floured. Don’t stack uncooked tortillas on top of each other or they will stick to each other.

When pan is hot, lightly spray with cooking spray and place the dough onto pan.  Allow it to cook about 1 minute or until bottom surface has a few pale brown spots. (My griddle is large enough to fit 2-3 tortilla’s at a time.  You could also use a large stove-top skillet.)

The uncooked surface will begin to show a few little bubbles. Flip to other side and cook for about 30 seconds. The tortilla should be soft but have a few small pale golden brown spots on surface.  Remove each from the pan and stack them on a plate and cover with foil, adding to the stack as you cook the remaining dough.

Since there are no chemicals in the dough to keep them pliable it’s likely they will harden quite fast.  If they are too crisp when you are ready to use them place a slightly damp paper towel over the tortilla and wrap them lightly around the edges.  Microwave, uncovered for 15-25 seconds (start with 15) or until warm, then cover to hold heat while serving.

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These will keep for 24 hours.  Store in an airtight container or zip-lock bag.

These are a few of my favorite things…

The Superbowl is one of the few days of the year that I am not a complete pain in the rear (in my husband’s eyes) about making sure we eat healthy.  Normally if we cheat with dessert we will at least have a low fat, healthy dinner.  The big game is his night to request whatever he wants.  Well this year we didn’t go quite as crazy as prior Superbowl’s but we certainly had our share.

The menu included Buffalo Chicken Taquito’s, Baked Ham & Cheese Sliders, Chicken Nuggets and Waffle Fries, oh and a…salad LOL.  I snuck that right in there.  I had to find a way to fit some veggies in.  We had I a citrus and roasted beet salad with a dijon vinaigrette – he loved it!

As I was preparing for it all I really cared about was making a decedent chocolate dessert.  My brother in law recently mentioned that he loves a good chocolate cake with a nice mousse.  This idea got my taste buds in motion.  I decided to combine a few of my favorite things and my, oh, my, was it yummy!  It starts with a chocolate pecan crust.  I have to admit the pecans were a last resort because I didn’t realize I was low on chocolate graham cracker but I was so happy with the result that it will be my new go to crust.  The next layer is a chocolate cake which is from another three layer cakes recipe that I love.  The pudding layer is a simple homemade chocolate pudding that I make with skim milk.  The skim milk makes the dessert just a tad (teeny tiny tad) less sinful, right?  Top it off with some homemade whipped cream and call it a day!

Chocolate Pudding Cake with Chocolate Pecan Crust

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DSCN1297CHOCOLATE PECAN COOKIE CRUST

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 cups chocolate graham crackers (about 1 1/2 sleeves)
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lightly spray a 9-inch spring-form pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Place cookies and pecans in the bowl of a food processor; process to fine crumbs. Add melted butter and mix until combined.

Pour crumb mixture into prepared pan and press evenly into bottom and up sides, leaving about 1/2 inch between the top of the crust and top of the pan. Bake until dry to the touch, about 10 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool.

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CHOCOLATE CAKE

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 70 percent), chopped
  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee (decaf was used in this recipe) dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, plus 2 egg whites, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees.

DSCN1310Add a couple of inches of water to a pan and place a heat safe glass bowl over the pan to create a double boiler.  Be sure the water is not high enough to reach the bottom of the bowl.  Add the chocolate and butter to the bowl and bring the water to a simmer.  Stir occasionally, until melted and combined well.  Remove from heat and allow it to cool a bit.

In a small bowl, whisk together espresso powder, coffee, salt, and vanilla; set aside.

In a separate bowl beat egg yolks with sugar until light and almost doubled in volume, about 5 minutes. Add the coffee mixture and beat until combined.

Add melted chocolate mixture and beat until just combined. Scrape down sides and bottom of the bowl and mix on low speed for another 5-10 seconds.

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DSCN1321In a separate bowl beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually increase speed to high beating until soft peaks form.

Transfer 1 cup egg white mixture to chocolate mixture and gently fold using a spatula to combine. Add remaining egg whites and continue gently folding until they are almost completely combined; do not over mix. Pour into cooled cookie crust and bake until cake is set but still jiggles slightly, 35 to 40 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool completely. The center of the cake will deflate quite a bit in the center as it cools. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours.

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CHOCOLATE PUDDING

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 1/2 cups milk (skim was used in this recipe)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 70 percent)

In a medium bowl add butter, vanilla, and chocolate and set aside.

In a medium saucepan add sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk together until it creates a paste. Add egg yolks and whisk until combined. Slowly whisk in the milk and mix until combined.

Place the saucepan over medium heat whisking constantly to prevent it from burning on the bottom of the pan. Cook until bubbles form around the edge.  Continuing stirring another 1-2 minutes. Immediately pour the pudding mixture over the butter and chocolate.  Whisk until combined and cooled slightly. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate 3 hours.

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Once cooled, stir pudding to loosen and spread on top of cake. Do not spread it all the way to the edge of the cake layer. The cake layer will help to hold the cakes form when you slice it.

WHIPPED CREAM TOPPING

  • 1 1/4 cups whipping cream
  • 1/4 confectionery sugar

Chill a mixing bowl and whisk attachment for mixer in the freezer.  Once chilled, add the whipping cream and beat until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.  Be careful not to over beat. Spread whipped cream over chilled pudding layer.

Remove band from spring-form pan, transfer to a platter – Serve and enjoy!

I wish I had better pictures of the finished product but I couldn’t wait to eat it.  You will just need to take my word for it – YUM!  Creamy, chocolaty, decadent – YUM

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