Monday, April 24, 2017

Strawberry Orange Muffins #RecipeMakeover #MuffinMonday

This first day of Recipe Makeover by the ladies of The PinterTest Kitchen just happens to fall on Muffin Monday, a group led by Stacy of Food Lust People Love.  So naturally, the first recipe that I a sharing today is for a delicious and healthier muffin that I adapted from Eating Well.

Recipe Makeover is a sponsored event.  You can read all about our sponsors and enter to win a fantastic giveaway over at my Welcome Post.  Our sponsors are very generous.  Not only did they supply great items to be raffled off to you, our readers, but Barleans also sent me some butter flavored coconut oil and a package of their Digestive Blend.  I am under no obligation to use these products for recipes developed for this event nor did I receive any monetary compensation from this or any other of the sponsors.  All opinions are 100% honest and mine.

I did choose to adapt the recipe from Eating Well slightly by substituting the butter flavored coconut oil for the canola oil in the original.  Only 2 Tablespoons were used in the nut streusel so there was not a pronounced butter flavor but there was the satisfaction of using a product that has different nutritional value,  according to
 Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides, and this type of saturated fat could be beneficial for increasing energy without raising blood sugar levels, notes nutritionist Dr. Jonny Bowden.
The article went on to say that a combination of both types of oil, coconut and canola, in moderation provides the best health benefits to your diet.

Other components that makes these muffins healthier is using lowfat buttermilk instead of milk and butter in the batter.  It also swaps out some of the AP flour to White Whole Wheat flour which has the same nutritional properties as regular whole wheat flour. Adding fresh fruit juice, fruit and nuts to the batter also gives you sweetness with a minimal amount of added refined sugar.  I chose to not add any additional oil to the batter for the muffins as included in the original recipe.  I found that they still baked up moist and tender and released easily from the pan.

The final result?  While these were not the most beautiful muffins I have ever made, they were one of the tastiest.  They were light and moist and I loved the nutty streusel topping.  

This is a muffin that I can enjoy guilt free for breakfast or a snack and feel good about serving to my family and friends as we visit over a cup of coffee.  Life doesn't get much better than that!

Strawberry Orange Muffins
adapted from Eating Well

Streusel Topping

3 T. raw almonds
2 T. All Purpose Flour
2 T. brown sugar
zest of one orange
pinch of salt
2 T. coconut oil, melted


3/4 c. All Purpose Flour
1 c. White Whole Wheat Flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 c. brown sugar
Juice of 3 oranges plus low fat buttermilk to equal 1 cup
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1 qt. strawberries, chopped

For Streusel

Place almonds, flour, brown sugar, orange zest and salt in a food processor and pulse until finely ground.  Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the coconut oil. Set aside

For Batter

Whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  Whisk together the brown sugar, orange juice/buttermilk mixture, egg and vanilla.  Add, all at once to the dry ingredients and stir just until blended.  The batter will be thick at this point.  Stir in the chopped strawberries and their juices until combined and divide between a 12 cup muffin pan that has been liberally treated with baking spray.  Sprinkle the streusel over the batter and bake in a preheated 400* oven for 18-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted removes cleanly.  Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before removing from the pan to cool completely on the wire rack.  Print Recipe

More Amazing Muffins

#MuffinMonday is a group of muffin loving bakers who get together once a month to bake muffins. You can see all our of lovely muffins by following our Pinterest board.

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about Muffin Monday, can be found on our home page.

Let's see what recipes the others are sharing for Recipe Makeover today

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Welcome to #RecipeMakeover Week and enter our Fantastic #Giveaway

Recipe Makeover Logo Square

After a long winter of snowstorms, stews, and sweets, spring is the perfect time to get back to the basics - delicious, whole foods and dishes packed with fruits and veggies that are great for your overall health.

To eat a healthier diet, you don't need to make drastic changes (unless recommended by a doctor). It's not about denying yourself that occasional treat; it's about taking baby steps to reduce the amount of sugar, carbs, red meats, and empty calories in your meals.

This week, I've joined forced with 40+ of my food blogger friends to present #RecipeMakeover. During this week, we'll all be sharing our favorite better-for-you alternatives to unhealthy dishes. Follow along on any of the blogs below or with the hashtag on social media to find nutritious dishes that are packed with flavor.

A huge THANK YOU to our sponsors, who have made #RecipeMakeover possible! They've provided a number of awesome products that you can win by entering our #RecipeMakeover giveaway below. Just follow the instructions below, and you could win the following prize pack:
  • Butter-flavored coconut oil and digestive blend from our sponsor Barlean's - Barlean's butter-flavored coconut oil is an organic, dairy-free alternative that can be used as a 1:1 substitution for butter. Their digestive blend is an organic, vegan combination of flaxseed, chai seed, quinoa, unsweetened shredded coconut, and a proprietary pumpkin blend, that is delicious sprinkled into salads, smoothies, oatmeal, and more.
  • Sampler pack of original, mesquite, and applewood Smokin O's from our sponsor Smokin O's - Instead of frying, choose a healthier cooking option like grilling! Smokin O's is an innovative new product that allows you to add a natural wood taste even if you are using a propane grill, and they work great in charcoal grills and smokers too. No soaking, no mess, no wait - just delicious wood flavoring from a 100% natural product with no binders or chemicals.
  • 4 flatbread pizzas from our sponsor American Flatbread - Choose from any of America Flatbread's 15 all-natural, handmade pizza varieties, available at your local grocery store. These pizzas feature 100% organically grown wheat crusts and are topped with fresh herbs, vegetables, and cheeses (no rBST growth hormone!). They’re all-natural, with no preservatives, artificial colors or flavors, and handcrafted from scratch and par-baked in wood-fired ovens.
  • 5 containers (48 oz) of ice cream from our sponsor Turkey Hill - Ice cream for a health food event? Try out their line of no-sugar-added products for a sweet treat without the guilt or their line of light ice creams, which have a rich taste with a fraction of the fat. They also have a rainbow sherbet option, which is Vitamin C and naturally low in fat. These all make great dessert options for special occasions. Turkey Hill also believes in implementing green initiatives to cut down on waste, reduce packaging, and minimize outputs into the environment.
  • 15 tuna creations pouches from our sponsor StarKist - StarKist tuna pouches all have at least 13 grams of protein, and their BOLD line now includes three gluten-free varieties: Tuna Creations® BOLD Thai Chili Style; Tuna Creations® BOLD JalapeƱo; and Tuna Creations® BOLD Hot Buffalo Style.
  • Mueller Spiral-Ultra 4-Blade Spiralizer from blog hosts, The PinterTest Kitchen - this 4-in-1 gadget allows you to spiralize your favorite veggies, and it also has extra attachments for a juicer, mandolin and grater.
This prize pack is valued at over $200, and one lucky winner will get it all! This giveaway is open world-wide except where prohibited. A winner will be randomly drawn on April 29, at the conclusion of #RecipeMakeover, and the winner will be contact via email.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you to all of our participating bloggers. Click the links below to find out what recipes they're cooking up for #RecipeMakeover: 

The PinterTest KitchenFix Me a Little LunchRosie Discoverscrave the goodZesty South Indian KitchenThat RecipeThe Domestic DietitianAuthentically CandaceEat, Drink, Be Healthy!Body RebootedCindy's Recipes and WritingsFaith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered AccompliceFeeding BigNatural ContentsSeduction In The KitchenEveryday EileenFamily Around The TableFairyburgerJane's Adventures in DinnerKitchen Counter ChroniclesKate's Recipe BoxKelly Lynns Sweets and TreatsChocolate SlopesLittle House Big AlaskaMakes, Bakes and Decor2 Cookin' MamasMeadoe Out on a LimbStrawberry Blondie KitchenMel ClaireCookaholic WifeFor the Love of FoodThe Saucy SouthernerCook's HideoutTwo Lazy GourmetsInk and SugarCookingwithsapanaThe Chef Next DoorSarah Cooks the BooksChef Sarah ElizabethFrankly EntertainingPalatable PastimeOur Good LifeThe Food Hunter's Guide to CuisineA Day in the Life on the Farm

Stay tuned to see all of the delicious recipes bloggers create during #RecipeMakeover!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sunday Funday and the Weekly Menu

Hi Folks.  Sorry I didn't get the Weekly Menu out to you earlier but it has been a very busy weekend.

My menu for Friday night from last week was changed. We had Frank's brother and his wife over for dinner and she is allergic to shellfish so the crab went into the freezer for another day.  I made a couple new dishes including this soup for them that I will be sharing at a later date. Our main course was Chicken Piccata.

Yesterday we attended a surprise 21st birthday party for the Benda's Ukranian daughter, Nataliya. When Nataliya was last at our house for dinner, I asked what food she missed most from home.  Her response was Borshch.  As luck would have it, our Cook the Books selection this period featured a Borshch recipe from the Ukraine.  It is different from the Polish Borscht soup that I have shared with you in the past.  I will be sharing this Borshch recipe, that I took to her potluck party,  along with the book review next weekend.

Today, we are hosting our Dominica Dive Party get together.  I made up a pile of pasta, marinara sauce, meatballs, Italian Sausages and a Smoked Salmon Fettuccine.  Everyone else is bringing a dish to pass.  It will be a great can't go wrong with this group of friends.

Monday is Tingting's birthday.  We are picking the Angel Face up from school and meeting her mama, Aunt Amy and Uncle Doug at a Fishbones restaurant for a dinner celebration.

Tuesday is Chuck's birthday, unfortunately we can't celebrate with him because he is in Virginia but I am making one of his favorite meals and Frank and I will toast him, praying that all his wishes come true this year.

Wednesday, Frank is holding a CPL class for our close friends, the Greens and their daughter and future son in law.  I am cooking up a Mexican Fiesta for their lunch.  Dinner will be leftovers from Sunday. Our German son, Max, celebrates his birthday today. This week is filled with birthdays of those we love.....unfortunately Max, too lives far away.

Thursday, our Cocoa goes in to  be spayed. After we drop her at the vet's we are heading down to help our friend, Karen, move to an apartment in the next town over from us.  We are excited to have her closer.  Thursday night we return to choir practice after a hiatus to recover from Easter week.

Believe it or not....there is nothing on the schedule for Friday...of course that is always subject to change.  So here is the Weekly Menu. We are celebrating #RecipeMakeover this week and I have a lot of delicious, nutritious recipes that I have made, so please stop by and take a look at what I and the others are sharing.

Saturday-Potluck Surprise Birthday Party
Pickled Shrimp

Sunday-Potluck Dive Party
Pasta Bar

Monday-Ting's Birthday
Out for dinner

Grilled Steaks
Mushrooms and Onions
Baked Potatoes
Grilled Asparagus

Wednesday-CPL Class

Strawberry Orange Muffins
Fresh Fruit Bowl

Jicama Salad
Chicken Fajitas
Salsa and Guacamole
Green Rice
Almond Orange Cookies


Dinner out before choir

Fish Friday
Spinach Salad with Strawberries
Scallops with Garlic and Cilantro
Leftover Green Rice

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Dolmathes (Stuffed Grape Leaves) inspired by "A Touch of Spice" #FoodnFlix

What an amazingly beautiful movie.  Beauty in the scenery.  Beauty in the food.  Beauty in the relationships.  Beauty in the telling of the story.

"A Touch of Spice" was chosen for this month's Food n Flix by Cam of Culinary Adventures with Camilla.  You are welcome to join us by following these Guidelines, starting with watching this movie about Fanis and his family.

Image result for A touch of spice

The movie starts with "Appetizers" taking place in Istanbul, where Fanis lives with his mother who is native to Istanbul, his father, who is from Greece and his maternal grandfather with whom he is very close.  His grandfather owns a spice shop and develops in Fanis a love of gastronomy and astronomy using the smell, taste and texture of spices in the lessons he gives.  You see many people walk through his doors, all of whom have a lasting impression on Fanis.

The movie moves onto the "Main Course" with Fanis and his family being deported back to Greece as there is now dissension between the two countries.  Fanis' beloved grandfather remains behind with the promise to visit but the reminder to look at the sky each night should his visit be delayed. Fanis becomes so engrossed with his cooking and spices that his family resorts to calling in a priest for an exorcism and locks him out of the kitchen.  Fanis' responds to this by living in the bathroom for two years.  So, yes there is some beautiful humor in this film as well.

The movie finishes with "Desserts" which finds Fanis back in Istanbul with his grandfather and his first love.  Hence we finish with the beauty of relationships that hold both joy and sadness.

I quit taking food notes during the first 5 minutes of the film.  There was way too much food to ever keep track of.  There was food being served, eaten, discussed, made and shared in each and every scene.

Dolmas (stuffed vegetable dishes) were everywhere.  Stuffed tomatoes, stuffed peppers, stuffed eggplant and the dish I finally decided to make, stuffed grape leaves.

I love stuffed grape leaves.  Our son in law, Pierre, is from this region and his mom makes the best stuffed grape leaves ever.  I requested her recipe and she was kind enough to share it.  Like most cooks who are sharing a traditional food from their childhood, it was a loose translation.  It had all the ingredients but no measurements.  Those of you who are cooks, understand this dilemma well. Those dishes that we learned from our Moms and Grandmas that have some of this, some of that, a pinch of this, a dash of that....and time measurements....forget about it.  How long to cook it?  Until it is fork tender, of course.

So I turned to a gorgeous cookbook, written by Debbie Matenopoulas called "It's all Greek to Me". Debbie has taken the recipes handed down by her family and has written instructions that any home cook can follow.  Her recipe for Domathes Gyalantzi  had all the same ingredients as the one from Pierre's mom so I combined the two recipes and was pretty pleased with the results.

Stuffed Grape Leaves
adapted from a recipe by Marlaina Kamel 
and It's all Greek to Me by Debbie Matenopoulos

1 (16 oz) jar grape leaves
Good olive oil
1 lg. Vidalia onion, finely chopped
3/4 c. long grain white rice
1 1/4 c. water
1/4 c. chopped parsley
1 T. chopped dill
2 leaves of mint, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
juice of half a lemon

Remove the grape leaves from the jar and rinse thoroughly, separating the leaves while rinsing and placing them in a colander to dry.

Boil a large pot of water.  Add the rinsed grape leaves and submerge in the boiling water.  Cook for 3 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon to a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.  Set aside.

Heat 2 T. of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook for a few minutes, until translucent but not brown.  Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until translucent, about 4 minutes.  Add the water, parsley, dill and mint.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Set aside to cool.

Place a small amount of the rice mixture onto the bottom side of the grape leave (the veins are more pronounced on the underside of the leaf).  Fold in the sides and roll into a neat little package. Continue until all the rice is used.

Place a layer of grape leaves in the bottom of a dutch oven.  Add the stuffed grape leaves in an even layer, seam side down, stacking layers if necessary.  Pour 1/2 c. of good olive oil over the rolls and then cover with a heat proof plate.  Add enough water to cover the rolls and the plate, season with salt, pepper and the juice of half a lemon.  Cover the dutch oven and cook over a medium low flame for 30-40 minutes.  Carefully remove the plate, and use a slotted spoon to remove the stuffed grape leaves to a platter.  Serve at room temperature or refrigerate and serve cold.  Print Recipe

Friday, April 21, 2017

Shrimp Fried Rice #FishFridayFoodies

Welcome to Fish Friday Foodies.  This fun group gets together on the third Friday of each month to share a fish/seafood recipe based on a theme chosen by one of our members.  This month, our friend, Karen of Karen's Kitchen Stories asked us all to share One Pan Dinners, saying "Fish Friday for April is One Pan Dinners. Sheet pans, Dutch ovens, skillets, or casserole dishes. Make a meal with fish that can be prepared in just one pan, and perfect for the busy cook."

If you would like to join Fish Friday Foodies just leave a comment below with your blog name and email address.  Next month Cam of Culinary Adventures with Camilla is hosting "Marinated and Raw".

Who doesn't love One Pan Dinners?  They are easy to throw together, delightfully delicious and clean up is a snap.  Perfect for a Friday night.....Let the weekend begin!!

One of my favorite ways to create One Pan Meals is in my wok.  I love making stir fry.  They are quick, easy and great way to use up whatever ingredients are on hand.  You can use any vegetables, any meat and serve it with rice or noodles or just as is with some sweet dinner rolls.

Today, I am using up some rice that was leftover from a meal earlier in the week.  When making fried rice, you want to start with rice that is at least a day old.  I wanted to make this meal even simpler so I used a package of frozen mixed vegetables instead of chopping up a mixture of fresh.  I had dinner on the table in less than half an hour.  Now that is the way to start a weekend!

Shrimp Fried Rice

12 oz. large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 T. peanut oil
4 scallions, white and light green, sliced
1 1/2 t. garlic paste
1 t. ginger paste
2 c. leftover rice, chilled
3 T. low sodium soy sauce
2 eggs, beaten
1 (4 serving) package frozen mixed vegetables

Place 1 T. of oil in the bottom of a wok placed over med high heat.  When oil shimmers, add the shrimp.  Cook and stir until the shrimp turn pink.  Remove to a plate and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the wok with the scallions, garlic and ginger.  Cook and stir until fragrant about 30 seconds. Add the rice and stir to coat.  Cook for a minute or two until rice starts to crisp. Stir in the soy sauce and cook, stirring until absorbed.  Push the rice to the side and add the eggs to the wok.  Scramble the eggs, incorporating the rice into the mixture, until eggs are set.  Add the frozen vegetables and reserved shrimp.  Cook and stir until warmed throughout.  Print Recipe

More Amazing One Pan Dinners

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Strawberry Margarita Bundt #BundtBakers

Sometimes I'm lucky and am able to cover 3 events with one post.  That is not the case today.  Three events.  Three desserts.  Three posts. Each one just as delicious and exciting as the next.  You will see that I have already posted a Banana and Coconut Cream Pie for Improv Cooking Challenge and a Carrot Cheesecake for Crazy Ingredient Challenge.  Both were creamy and delicious but this Strawberry Margarita Bundt is mine and Frank's personal favorite.

Our friend, Patricia, from Patty's Cake, is hosting this month's Bundt Bakers event and has chosen the theme "Cocktails".  YUM!!!  Patricia left it up to us whether we wanted to add actual alcohol to our recipe.  You know me...Pass the Tequila!

I knew, as soon as I heard the theme, that I was going to go with Strawberry Margarita.  This is because I had a jar of homemade Strawberry/Tequila jam that our son, Anthony, had made for us and I knew it would be the perfect glaze for this cake.

This was one of the desserts I offered up after Easter Dinner.  It was a great addition to our table and the best was easy peasy!  I started with a boxed cake mix, substituted packaged Strawberry Margarita Mix and Tequila for the water and baked it up. You could easily make this non alcoholic by using a full cup of Margarita mix and deleting the Tequila and substituting plain strawberry jam for the Strawberry/Tequila jam that I used. 

When the cake was cooled, I melted the entire jar of Strawberry/ Tequila jam and poured it over the cake.  Now, if you are not fortunate enough to have a son that provides you with Strawberry/Tequila jam you can just use 8 oz of Strawberry Jam.

I served it up with a dollop of whipped cream and a cute little Easter cookie.  It was a great ending to a perfect Easter feast.

Strawberry Margarita Cake
1 box yellow cake mix
3/4 c. strawberry margarita mix
1/4 c. tequila
3 eggs
1/3 c. canola oil
8 oz. Strawberry/Tequila jam

Place all ingredients into large bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment.  Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Pour into a bundt pan that has been liberally treated with baking spray.  Bake in a preheated 350* oven for 35-37 minutes, until a skewer inserted removes cleanly.  Remove to a rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing the cake from the pan onto the cooling rack.
When cake is cooled completely, place onto a cake platter.  Melt the jam in a small saucepan over low heat and drizzle over the top and down the sides of the cake.  Print Recipe

More Fun "Cocktail" Bundt Cakes


#BundtBakers is a group of bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bundts with a common ingredient or theme. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme or ingredient.

You can see all our of lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest board. Updated links for all of our past events and more information about #BundtBakers, can be found on our home page.

Carrot Cheesecake for #CrazyIngredient Challenge

The vote came in over at Crazy Ingredient Challenge and the winners were  Carrots and Graham Crackers.  CIC is a fun little group where each month the members vote on 2 sets of 4 ingredients. The ingredient with the most votes from each group get joined together to give us the mandatory ingredients to be used in a recipe.  It is fun and you can join us by emailing Lori at

I was extremely pleased with this month's ingredients and immediately knew that I was going to make a cheesecake to serve up after Easter dinner.  Carrots and Easter just seem to go together so well...I guess because of that cute little bunny rabbit that hides eggs all over the world.

I found this recipe at Taste of Home and knew it would be perfect.  I adapted the recipe slightly by using frozen carrots that I thawed and pureed instead of cooking my own.  I also omitted the streusel topping and added a dollop of whipped cream to each slice before serving.

The cheesecake is baked in a water bath so the top was perfect without a crack to be seen.  The recipe recommends allowing the cheesecake to refrigerate overnight which was perfect because I certainly had enough to do on Easter Sunday and was happy to have as much prepared as possible beforehand.

My friend, Rob, who joined us for dinner said that it was "the best cheesecake" he had ever had. Music to every cook's ears.  

Carrot Cheesecake
adapted from Taste of Home

2 sleeves full size graham crackers
1/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. butter, melted
3 packages cream cheese
1 1/4 c. sugar
2 T. brown sugar
3 eggs
1/4 c. heavy cream
2 T. cornstarch
1 T. sour cream
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1 t. lemon juice
1/2 t. ground cinnamon.
1 (12 oz) package frozen carrots, thawed and pureed
1 pint heavy cream, whipped

Place the graham crackers in a heavy duty gallon sized bag that zips shut.  Using a rolling pin, smash and roll the crackers into crumbs.  Add the 1/4 cup sugar and butter to the bag.  Shake and knead to combine.  Press this mixture into the bottom and 2" up the sides of a 9" springform pan.  Bake in a preheated 350* oven for 6-8 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.  Leave the oven on.

While crust is cooling, beat cream cheese and sugars in the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth.  Add the eggs, cream, cornstarch, sour cream, vanilla, lemon juice and cinnamon.  Beat at medium speed until well combined, scraping as necessary.  Add the carrot puree and mix in on low speed.  

Pour filling into crust.  Place pan on a double thickness of foil and securely wrap the foil around the bottom of the pan and up the sides.  Place the springform pan into a flat bottomed roasting pan and add hot water to come up to 1" on the sides of the pan.  Bake for 60-70 minutes, until the center is just set.  Cool on a wire rack for half an hour.  Remove the sides of the springform pan and cool to room temperature.  Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight before serving with a dollop of whipped cream.  Print Recipe

More Carrot and Graham Cracker Creations