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A great summer snack: Honey Yogurt Fruit Dip

15 Jul
This is a great dip for a summer day!

This is a great dip for a summer day!

The summer is flying by! I can’t believe the Fourth of July is well past us and it’s mid-July already.

We have been super busy, celebrating the holiday, Elizabeth’s birthday, spending time with family and even celebrating Christmas in July last week.

My blog posts have been sporadic, as promised!

But, I wanted to take some time to share with you a new dip that we tried out recently. A while back I’d posted a similar dip but it used 1/4 cup of sugar, which I always found to be a lot. It was delicious, don’t get me wrong…I’d eat it with a spoon if I could, but it was a lot of sugar nevertheless.

Recently I found this dip in the April 2013 issue of Good Housekeeping, which uses honey instead of sugar and the flavor is similar. We tried it out with some summer fruits and it was wonderful. I thought I’d share it with you today so that you can give it a try also.

I hope that you are enjoying your summer as much as we are!


3/4 cup plain yogurt  (we use fat free or low fat yogurt)

3 TBSP. Honey

1/4 tsp. vanilla

Serves Four

Fun Friday: Mozaik 48 Piece Mini Dessert Set

17 May
These were so much fun I just had to feature them for a Fun Friday post!

These were so much fun I just had to feature them for a Fun Friday post!

A few weeks ago we hosted our daughter’s First Communion at our house. Besides cake, we had several other desserts and today I wanted to feature one of them.

My friend Paula had sent me this cute little 48 piece mini dessert set in the mail,  a set from Mozaik. When she saw it in a store near her, she said she thought it would be perfect for First Communion, and she was right.

Around the same time, the girls and I had attended an event at our local library that I covered for the newspaper. Advertised as a Teen Cooking Challenge, the kids had to each create their own healthy trifles, using pudding, whipped cream, and fresh fruit.

Trifle picture

I never imagined that I’d find my First Communion dessert at a kids’ cooking event at our local library!

When I saw the kids’ trifles, I knew I’d found my dessert, simple as it was, for First Communion.

And when I say simple, I mean really.simple.

The desserts I made were in two variations: Jello Sugar Free, Fat Free instant cheesecake flavored pudding or chocolate flavored pudding, prepared using skim milk, and topped with a low fat topping from Aldi’s that’s like Cool Whip. I topped the cheesecake desserts with fresh strawberries and the chocolate desserts with fresh blackberries.

Yup. That’s it!

Each little cup has a matching little spoon, which made for a really cute, yet seemingly elegant, healthy dessert! They were such a hit, there were just a couple of them left over at the end of the day.

There are so many cute ideas that you could use this set for, both desserts and appetizers. Picture a healthy veggie dip in the bottom with a few celery, zucchini and carrot sticks sticking out, or picture individual shrimp cocktail sauces with a few shrimp. Perfect, right?


And that, my friends, is my Fun Friday post for today!

Enjoy your weekend!

My new addiction: Four Ingredient Nutella Mug Cake

26 Apr
Nutella is not new, but there's this great little treat that I make with it, which I'm addicted to!

Nutella is not new, but there’s this great little treat that I make with it, which I’m addicted to!

For the longest time, I knew that Nutella existed, but I never bought it.

Yes, seriously. It was not on my all-the-time shopping list.

That was in my old life. My pre-Nutella addicted life.

Recently, Elizabeth came home and said how her good friend had a Nutella sandwich for lunch at school. It got me thinking. There’s so many things you can make with Nutella, and it might be a great treat for the kids’ lunches and mine, on occasion.

Let me just say, it’s a slippery slope, that Nutella. One lunchtime treat has led to many jars of Nutella in my shopping cart.

I love it for breakfast, for lunch, with strawberries, with bananas, with peanut butter and for a late night snack.

I think about it all the time.

And I keep finding bigger jars of it. I first started out with a small jar. I’d buy two at a time. Then I found an even BIGGER jar at Target. I’m on my second one of those. But I hear there’s an EVEN BIGGER jar available at BJ’s. I’m afraid to go see. I’d join just to buy it.

So one day, my friend Paula sends me a link she’d found to a Four Ingredient Nutella Mug Cake. She found it on a blog called Kirbie’s Cravings.

Four ingredients. One of them being Nutella.


Check. Check. Check.

I had all four ingredients.

I’ve made a mug cake before from a different recipe for a coffeecake, and didn’t love it. Never posted it.

This, I love.

I think I’ve made it four times in two weeks or so.

It takes all of five minutes to mix up, if that.

It takes all of one minute and 30 seconds to cook in my microwave.

I kid you not.

So today, for my Friday post I share with you my newest addiction: the Four Ingredient Nutella Mug Cake from Kirbie’s Cravings.  Now pay attention when you read her blog post about this cake. She has taken a lot of ingredients out of her original recipe, which used to be over 1000 calories. Now it’s just over 500 calories. That’s still a lot. But knowing it *used* to be more, doesn’t that make it sound like a bargain?

Yes!! It does!

And she recommends sharing it.

I don’t choose to go that route.

She also recommends waiting to eat it until it cools.

I don’t do that either. I can barely get it out of the microwave and I’m getting my spoon.

I recommend topping it with whipped cream or something like that. My whipped cream is fat free. In fact, most of what we eat is low fat or fat free, so I don’t really feel terrible eating this on occasion.

Multiple occasions.

Here’s the recipe. Try it out!

Four Ingredient Nutella Mug Cake

from Kirbie’s Cravings


4 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup Nutella
3 tbsp fat free milk


Combine all ingredients into an oversized mug. Mix with a small whisk until batter is smooth. Cook in microwave for about 1 minute. Sharp knife inserted should come out clean and top of cake should look done rather than gooey. If cake is not cooked in one minute, add an additional 20 seconds. Let cake cool in mug completely before eating.

Totally Addicting.

Totally Addicting.

Fat Free Strawberry Muffins (vegan)

5 Apr

Happy Easter!

This past weekend was Easter. Normally we host Easter but this year my parents decided to host, and I was looking for something new to bring to add to their spread.

Since embarking on our new fat-free menu plans, I’ve been doing a lot of what we like to call “healthifying” and “defatifying” of our old recipes in order to make them something we can all eat.

It’s easy enough to do to almost any recipe: wheat flour instead of white, or half wheat/half white, egg substitute instead of eggs, fat free plain yogurt instead of oil, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter instead of butter.

Even though it’s not hard to change over a recipe to make it healthy, it was such a great find when I came across the blog Fat Free Vegan Kitchen on Facebook. I was thrilled because it meant the work was done for me. The recipes are already fat free. What a relief.

When Susan posted some yummy looking strawberry muffins on her blog in the week leading up to Easter, I knew I’d found my new contribution for Easter brunch. The recipe called for everything I had on hand, including strawberries. For our brunch I doubled it and it made 15 muffins.

The response to this new recipe was outstanding. Everyone who tried them loved them, and there were only a few left at the end of the day. It’s definitely a recipe I’d make again, and I absolutely loved that for us they were worry-free because they were definitely fat free.

I hope you’ll venture on over to Fat Free Vegan Kitchen and check out some of Susan’s other recipes. And, I hope you’ll try these delicious muffins! You’d never know they were fat free. With summertime coming, we’re heading right into fresh strawberry season. Hang onto this recipe!

**For our modifications, I used skim milk instead of non-dairy. I used a dash of sugar instead of stevia, to sweeten the batter a bit, and I added more confectioner’s sugar to thicken up my glaze a bit. It seemed too runny to me at first.**

I’ve included all of Susan’s instructions as well as her notes and nutritional information. I find her blog very helpful and informative.

The glaze on these was delicious!

The glaze on these was delicious!


  • 1 cup strawberries, whole
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk (as needed)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar (optional)
  • 4 teaspoons strawberry puree or all-fruit spread (optional)
  • a few drops vanilla extract (optional)DIRECTIONS
  • Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a mini-muffin pan by oiling it lightly or filling with paper liners.
  • Place the strawberries in a food processor or blender and process until they are pureed. Measure out 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the puree into a small bowl and set aside any remaining puree for another use. Add the maple syrup, non-dairy milk, lemon juice, and vanilla.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the strawberry mixture. Mix until just blended–do not overmix. Fill mini-muffin cups with about 1 tablespoon of batter each. Bake at 350 F, checking after 10 minutes. When a toothpick comes out clean, remove and allow to cool completely. Frost if desired (see Notes below).


To prepare frosting, combine 6 tablespoons confectioners sugar, 4 teaspoons strawberry puree or strawberry all-fruit spread, and a few drops of vanilla extract. Stir well. If frosting seems too runny, add more sugar; if too stiff, add more puree. Frost center of muffins lightly just before serving (if you use too much, it will drip off), and refrigerate any leftovers.

To make these completely sugar-free, replace the maple syrup with more strawberry puree, and add stevia to taste.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s) | Cooking time: 10 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): about 20 mini-muffins or 6 regular-sized ones

Nutrition (per mini-muffin, without frosting): 35 calories, 2 calories from fat, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 73.9mg sodium, 48.4mg potassium, 7.8g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 2.8g sugar, <1g protein, 1 points.

Nutrition (per serving, with frosting): 47 calories, 2 calories from fat, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 74.1mg sodium, 48.5mg potassium, 10.9g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 5.7g sugar, <1g protein, 1.3 points.

Strawberry Compote for your next breakfast or brunch

22 Mar
We've made this twice already since finding the recipe in a magazine.

We’ve made this twice already since finding the recipe in a magazine.

Being a breakfast/brunch fanatic, when I saw this compote in a FamilyFun magazine recently, I knew I had to try it.  I love compotes of all kinds.  We already have a great recipe for a blueberry compote and one for a peach compote, but I’d yet to try a strawberry compote.

It was shown over crepes, which we love, but right away I could picture it over homemade waffles, over pancakes, french toast and even as a topping for our healthy mini cheesecakes.

The first time I made it, it was a hit right away. I served it with the mini cheesecakes as a dessert, but I spotted a cute little girl who shall remain nameless to protect her identity, eating it right out of a bowl with whipped topping, spoon in hand, no cheesecake in sight.

It was that good.

The second time we made it, it was for crepes, which we are actually having for dinner. We put out a variety of fillings and toppings, (remember our crepes buffet from a past post?) and this strawberry compote was a perfect topper and even a perfect filler, for strawberry banana crepes. I had a combination of fresh strawberries and bananas along with the compote in mine.


So, with many people choosing the brunch option for the upcoming Easter holiday meal, I thought I’d post this recipe today, in case you decide to include it in your menu. The recipe is delicious, fast and easy, a check plus in my book. I keep a variety of frozen fruits on hand so we used a one pound bag of frozen strawberries from Aldi’s for this recipe.

STRAWBERRY COMPOTE *from FamilyFun, February 2013

1 pound fresh or frozen strawberries, quartered plus more for garnish if desired. (I did not quarter them, as they were frozen.)

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Super-easy directions make this a great recipe for a busy day.

Super-easy directions make this a great recipe for a busy day.


1.) In a medium saucepan, stir the strawberries and sugar together. Let the mixture stand until the fruit’s juices release, about 30 minutes. (If you are using frozen strawberries, heat them with the sugar over medium heat until they’re defrosted, about 2 minutes *mine took longer.*)

2.) In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and lemon juice. Combine them with the strawberry mixture. Simmer the sauce on medium-low until it thickens, about 10 minutes, then set aside.

See what kinds of things you can think of to serve this with!

Again, mine took a little longer to thicken, but here is what it looks like when it's done, so cook until it is thickened. You'll be able to tell.

Again, mine took a little longer to thicken, but here is what it looks like when it’s getting thicker, so cook until it is thickened. You’ll be able to tell.

Kids’ State Dinner Part II: White House Gardens Tour

22 Aug

Coming out of this door of the White House was so cool!

In yesterday’s post I gave you the best event first: the actual dinner at the White House, but the day included much more than that. We took a bus tour of DC first, and then after the dinner we went outdoors with White House Chef Sam Kass and toured the White House Gardens.

From what we learned, this presidency is the first one to utilize vegetable gardens since the days of Eleanor Roosevelt. Mrs. Obama planted the gardens with the help of children who volunteered their time and the gardens are tended to by volunteers as well as White House staff. Many of the meals prepared in the White House kitchens feature the in-season items from these gardens.

It was beautiful outdoors at the White House and it was such a cool feeling to go out the door of the White House, into the “yard” and be inside the gates. We could see everyone outside the gates lined up and looking in at us. I waved to all of them and they waved back to me.

Bo, the White House dog

It was fun to see Bo, the White House dog, although he wouldn’t come to me when I called his name, he’s clearly much better

We appreciated seeing the normalcy of a swing set in the side yard at the White House.

trained than my dog is! It was also heartwarming to see a swing set in the side yard for the Obama girls to play on. It made it look so “normal” there, mixed in with all the Secret Service vehicles and all of the fountains and formal flower gardens.

I personally only took a couple of photos of the garden tour because I only have 125 spots on my camera card, and yes, I took about 125 photos of the Kids’ State Dinner event. Therefore, most of the actual garden photos in this post today are courtesy of Caroline herself, unless she’s in them.

At the end of the garden tour, every winner was given a glass jar of honey from the White House bee hives, complete with a patriotic ribbon tied around the rim. Kind of the way one might never want to wash a hand again that’s been shaken by someone famous, like I don’t know, a president….I never want to use that honey.


I have, however, washed my hands.

Enjoy this glimpse “behind the scenes” in the White House Garden, and be sure to check back tomorrow to see the first recipe I’m featuring from our own copy of “The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge Cookbook.”

And we thought *we* had a good garden at our house!!

A beautiful selection of fruits and veggies

Pretty labels for each item

The corn had just been harvested.


I don’t think I’d ever tire of this view out of my window each day.

The Big Salad

31 May

You can load almost anything into a salad.

Anyone out there a Seinfeld fan?

Anyone remember the episode with “The Big Salad?” According to The Big Salad’s very own Wikapedia page, “”The Big Salad” is the 88th episode of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld. This was the second episode for the sixth season. It aired on September 29, 1994.”

So there you go. More information than we needed to know about that episode, and there’s even more if you click on the link to the page itself if you so desire, but that’s not crucial today’s post.

I recently got one of those emails for a Wonderful Berry Salad and when I clicked on it to see, it was a Raspberry Walnut Dinner Salad which looked so good and reminded me of my Strawberry Salad from a few weeks back. But it also reminded me of The Big Salad episode on Seinfeld and the fact that we often will make a Big Salad ourselves either as the dinner or to go alongside the dinner.

The one shown here is one we made a few weeks back. The thing I like about salads is 1) you can put just about anything you want in them and 2) people can eat what they want to and skip the rest that they don’t like, so basically it’s something everyone likes. I often get tired of the traditional lettuce/tomato/cucumber salad, and throwing in random “stuff” makes it more fun to serve and eat. I like hearing my family say that the love this part or that part of the salad. The salad above has lettuce, olives, craisins, cheddar cheese, strawberries and grape tomatoes.

So the next time you’re at a loss for what to make, consider The Big Salad. See what you have in your house and throw it all in there!