Rhubarb and Lavender Muffins

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Rhubarb and Lavender Muffins

Lavender is an ancient herb from the mint family known for its sweet floral fragrance. The flowering buds are dried and can be used in essential oils, fragrances, and cooking. In cooking, culinary lavender is used in both sweet and savory recipes. Grinding the lavender helps to release the flavor. Lavender can have a very strong flavor and it is best used in just small amounts. For this muffin recipe lavender pairs well with rhubarb, lemon, and honey to make a moist, light, and flavorful muffin.

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Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons culinary dried lavender
  • 1/4 cup grape seed oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups all purpose white flour (sifted)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups rhubarb cut into 1/4 inch pieces

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I used a mortar and pestle to grind the dried lavender . A small food processor, herb or coffee grinder will also work.

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a 12 cup muffin pan with cupcake liners

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together the sifted flour, baking powder, and baking soda and set aside.
  2. Using a mortar and pestle grind the dried lavender. In a small bowl stir the sugar and lavender together.
  3. On medium speed with an electric or standup mixer beat butter and lavender sugar until smooth, add the grape seed oil and honey and continue to beat until light and fluffy about 3 minutes.
  4. Add vanilla, then eggs one at a time blending in between.
  5. Mix in lemon zest and lemon juice.
  6. On the slow speed of your mixer, in 3 additions, add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately just until the flour disappears.
  7. Using an ice cream scooper spoon muffin batter equally among 12 muffin cups.
  8. Place on center rack of preheated oven and bake for 22-24 minutes or until lightly brown and the top of the muffin springs back.
  9. Allow muffins to cool in pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
  10. Once completely cooled drizzle with a vanilla glaze if desired. Recipe to follow.

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Vanilla Glaze

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons milk or half and half

In a small bowl mix together powdered sugar and vanilla, gradually add milk and stir to a smooth consistency

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Chai Latte Bundt Cake

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Chai Latte Bundt Cake

My new favorite bundt cake is inspired by the flavors of Chai tea. It is mildly spiced and slightly sweet, warm comforting flavors, this bundt cake is perfect for any occasion. Chai tea offers a variety of health benefits, is heart healthy, reducing blood sugar levels, aiding in digestion, and boosting the immune system.

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Chai Tea spices: cinnamon, ginger, cardamon, and allspice.

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My new Nordic Ware 5 cup Duet mini bundt cake pan

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Chai Latte Bundt Cake

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup grapeseed oil
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup chai skinny latte concentrate (I used Tazo)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
  • 1/3 cup low fat buttermilk
  • 2 cups all purpose flour (sifted)
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 6 cup bundt cake pan  (or a 5 cup mini bundt duet pan) with baking spray.

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together, sifted flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and allspice. Set aside.
  2. On medium speed with an electric or standup mixer beat butter and sugar until smooth, add grapeseed oil and maple syrup and continue to beat until light and creamy about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add vanilla, then eggs one at a time mixing between each addition.
  4. Add chai skinny latte concentrate and mix well, then add the freshly grated orange zest.
  5. On slow speed starting and ending with flour mixture alternate with the buttermilk just until flour disappears.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared bundt pan, bake for 30-35 minutes or until cake is set and lightly springs back. Cool in pan for 15 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Lightly dust with powdered sugar.

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Mini No Bake White Chocolate Cheesecake Tarts

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Mini No Bake White Chocolate Cheesecake Tarts

Unlike traditional cheesecake recipes that are high in added sugar and fat, these mini cheesecake tarts have natural ingredients and very little added sugar. Instead of the traditional graham cracker crust I made a gluten-free crust using healthy ingredients like old fashioned oatmeal, pecans, maple syrup, and coconut oil.  In place of sour cream in the cheesecake layer the yogurt provides the additional nutrition benefits of protein, calcium and probiotics. This recipe is completely no bake and easy to make. The mini mason jars are also the perfect portion and add a beautiful presentation for any occasion.

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The inspiration for these healthier cheesecake tarts come from the Food & Nutrition Magazine Test Kitchen Recipe Contest. The goal was to create a recipe using Siggi’s yogurt, that was easy to follow with the Siggi’s theme- simple ingredients, not a lot of sugar.

Mini No Bake White Chocolate Cheesecake Tarts

This recipe makes 10 mini tarts

Crust

  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  1. In a food processor , add pecans and roll oats and process until very fine.
  2. Add the melted coconut oil and maple syrup and process until blended and crust comes together.
  3. Spoon by tablespoon and press into the bottom of each desert cup.

Cheesecake layer

  • 8 oz. cream cheese softened
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • one 5.3oz container of Siggi’s nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate chips melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl with an electric hand mixer beat at medium speed the cream cheese and powdered sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the melted and slightly cooled white chocolate, the yogurt,  vanilla, and espresso (if desired) and mix at medium speed until well blended.
  3. In a separate medium size bowl that has been chilled, whip the heavy whipping cream until soft peaks appear.
  4. Gently fold in the whipping cream into the cheesecake mixture in two batches.
  5. Spoon cheesecake batter evenly over prepared crusts.
  6. Cover with the lid or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 4 hours.  Top with fresh berries and chocolate chips before serving. Store cheesecake tarts in the refrigerator.

 

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Red Velvet Beet Cupcakes

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These cupcakes have all the rich dark chocolate flavor and the color of red velvet cupcakes without the artificial food coloring. Recently I tasted a red velvet cupcake from a local bake shop. It was very sweet and the ingredients included artificial red food coloring. I started searching for recipes that would be healthier and not contain red food dye. I found many bakers have substituted beets for red food dye in their recipes. As a dietitian I know beets are a super nutritious food. I have added carrots and zucchini to my recipes but adding beets? I admit skepticism. The result was amazing, my cupcakes were moist had a beautiful deep red color and did not taste like beets at all.  My first time roasting beets was easy but a little messy. After a few tries I found the technique that worked best for me was wearing disposable gloves when peeling and slicing the beets  and using a food processor to puree the beets.

Happy Valentine’s Day !

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Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup roasted and pureed beats
  • 1 teaspoon of canola oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour sifted
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter (divided)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 ounces Ghirardelli 70% cacao bittersweet baking chocolate chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

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First prepare the beets. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. You will need 2 medium or 3 small red beets trimmed of their greens leaving about 1/2 inch of the stem.  Thoroughly rinse, clean, and scrub beets under running water. Place each beet on a piece of aluminum foil and brush lightly with canola oil. Seal up foil and place beets on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Roast until beets are tender when pierced with a knife, about one hour. Remove beets from the oven . Open the foil and allow beets to cool completely. Use a paring knife to peel beets. Place cooled beets in the bowl of a food processor and puree to a smooth consistency.

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Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line  cupcake pans with paper liners. This recipe makes approximately 15 cupcakes.

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together sifted flour, cocoa powder, ground cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda.
  2. In a small microwave-safe bowl slowly melt together chocolate and 1 tablespoon unsalted butter. Add espresso powder and mix well.
  3. Using a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer on medium high speed, beat unsalted butter, canola oil, and granulated sugar until light and fluffy.  Add maple syrup and continue to mix well.
  4. On medium speed add eggs one at a time mixing  just until yolk disappears. Add vanilla  extract and melted chocolate mixture and blend well.
  5. On slow speed of standing or hand-held mixer,  add the flour and buttermilk alternately to the batter beginning and ending with flour in 3 additions.
  6. With a spatula gradually fold in pureed beets until well blended.
  7. Fill each cup cake to 3/4 full.
  8. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Allow cup cakes to completely cool before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting 

2 tablespoons unsalted butter softened at room temperature

2 tablespoons cream cheese softened at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 to 1 cup powdered sugar

In small bowl with a hand-mixer beat butter until light and creamy, add cream cheese and vanilla and continue to beat until well blended. Gradually add powdered sugar until desired consistency.

 

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Carrot Blueberry and Pecan Bundt Cake with a Cream Cheese Glaze

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I enjoy creating new recipes from traditional favorites.  In this variation on the classic carrot cake recipe grated carrots are combined with fresh blueberries and pecans to deliver a delectable and moist but not too sweet bundt cake.  A light cream cheese glaze is used in place of the traditional high sugar high fat frosting. Carrot Blueberry and Pecan Bundt Cake with a Cream Cheese Glaze  is my new favorite bundt cake recipe.

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Carrot Blueberry Pecan Bundt Cake

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick) at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups all purpose white flour sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cup finely grated carrots
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (plus additional pecans for sprinkling on top)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a non-stick baking spray, coat a 6-cup bundt pan.

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon.
  2. Using a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer on medium high speed, beat unsalted butter, canola oil, and granulated sugar until light and fluffy.  Add maple syrup and continue to mix well.
  3. On medium speed add eggs one at a time mixing  just until yolk disappears. Add orange zest, vanilla  extract, and mix well.
  4. On slow speed of standing or hand-held mixer,  add the flour and buttermilk alternately to the batter beginning and ending with flour in 3 additions.
  5. With a spatula mix in the grated carrots.
  6. Gently fold in blueberries and chopped pecans.
  7. Pour and spread cake batter evenly into the prepared bundt pan.
  8. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean or cake is lightly brown and springs back.
  9. Allow cake to cool in pan for 15 minutes. Gently remove cake from pan by placing cake up side down on a cooling rack. Continue to cool thoroughly before glazing.

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Cream Cheese Glaze

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk or cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon cream cheese softened

Whisk together softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Gradually add 1 tablespoon milk or cream. Drizzle glaze over cooled cake. Top with chopped pecans.

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Pecan Shortbread Cutout Cookies

IMG_0608Pecan Shortbread Cutout Cookies

Shortbread cookies are a favorite holiday tradition.  This twist on the classic holiday recipe adds pecans. Ground pecans add richness and enhance the butter and vanilla flavor.  Egg yolk helps to bind the cookie dough together, resulting in a crispy but still tender cookie that keeps its shape after baking. To make these cookies, I finely ground the chopped pecans in a food processor being careful not to end up with nut butter. To make extra fine granulated sugar place regular granulated sugar in the bowl of a food processor and blend for one minute. Rolling out your cookie dough is easy between sheets of parchment paper by helping to prevent the dough from sticking without adding flour.

Ingredients

3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (1 1/2 sticks) cut into 1/2 teaspoons

3/4 cup extra fine granulated sugar

1 large egg yolk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup finely ground pecans

2 1/4 cups sifted flour

white sanding sugar

dark chocolate

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Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together sifted flour and finely ground pecans.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat unsalted butter and sugar at medium speed until light and creamy, 3-4 minutes stopping to scrape down sides of bowl. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla.
  3. With mixer on low speed gradually add flour and pecan mixture in 3 additions. Mix until dough comes together, it will still be crumbly.
  4. Divide dough and form into 2 disks, wrap each in parchment paper and refrigerate for one hour. Soften dough at room temperature for a few minutes before rolling out.
  5. With a rolling pin roll out dough on parchment paper to 1/4-inch thickness. Use small cookie cutters to cut dough and place onto prepared cookie sheets. Sprinkle with white sanding sugar.
  6. Bake 8-10minutes or until edges begin to brown. Cool in pan for one minute and transfer cookies to a cooling rack. Allow cookies to completely cool before decorating.
  7. Drizzle with melted chocolate and finely chopped pecans.

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California Chicken and Avocado Puff Pastry Flat Bread

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California Chicken and Avocado Puff Pastry Flat Bread

This recipe is inspired by our recent trip to Newport Beach on the beautiful southern coast of California. California is the largest producer of Hass avocados in the United States. Avocados are super nutritious, rich in potassium, magnesium, vitamin E and K, and fiber. They contain heart-healthy fats helping to lower harmful LDL cholesterol while increasing heart protecting HDL cholesterol. Avocados have many health benefits helping to absorb nutrients especially fat soluble vitamins (A,D, E, and K) from plant foods and antioxidants important in eye health and cancer prevention. Avocados have a mild flavor and a creamy texture that can be added to many recipes including main entrees, side dishes, salads, sauces, and desserts.  A light puffy pastry crust provides the base for this flat bread recipe that includes a list of healthy ingredients, fresh avocado and avocado cream.

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Ingredients

  • 5-6 ounces of skinless, boneless baked or grilled chicken breast sliced into 1/4 inch pieces.
  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry dough thawed at room temperature for 45 minutes
  • 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Dried Italian seasoning
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 avocado cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
  • Avocado Cream (recipe to follow)
  • Balsamic glaze
  • Freshly chopped cilantro

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Gently roll out thawed pastry sheet to approximately 10 inches by 12 inches.
  2. With a pastry brush spread extra virgin olive oil evenly over pastry sheet. Lightly sprinkle with Italian seasoning.
  3. Sprinkle  with shredded mozzarella cheese and top with cooked chicken pieces.
  4. Place on center rack of oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned and cheese has melted. Make the Avocado Cream while the pizza is baking.
  5. Remove from oven. Top with avocado pieces and chopped cherry tomatoes. Spoon small amounts of avocado cream over pizza and drizzle with the balsamic glaze. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Cut into individual servings.

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Avocado Cream

  • 1/2 of a whole avocado
  • 1 clove garlic peeled and chopped
  • 1/8 cup fresh cilantro leaves chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, blend to a smooth consistency. Add water to thin as desired. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

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