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 !

IMG_0767Red Velvet Beet Cupcakes

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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Pumpkin Latte Muffins with a Streusel Topping and Maple Espresso Glaze

IMG_E0446Pumpkin Latte Muffins with a Streusel Topping and Maple Espresso Glaze

These healthy muffins get their moisture from pumpkin puree and the natural sweetness from maple syrup. Maple syrup can be used in a variety of recipes instead of granulated sugars. Maple syrup is nutritious and provides a good source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals including B-vitamins, zinc, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Maple syrup is also lower in calories than honey and other sweeteners. Adding the espresso intensifies the pumpkin flavor. I especially like the maple and espresso glaze.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons Espresso powder
  • 3 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1- 15oz can 100% pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin

Streusel Topping 

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Maple Espresso Glaze 

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon Espresso powder
  • 1 tablespoon half and half cream

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Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line muffin pans with non-stick parchment paper liners to make 16 muffins.

  1. First make the Streusel Topping. In a small bowl mix the flour, brown and white sugars, and ground cinnamon. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or fork until topping resembles coarse crumbs.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and espresso powder.
  3. In a separate larger bowl with a large spoon mix together the lightly beaten eggs, canola oil, sugar, maple syrup, sour cream, and vanilla until smooth.  Stir in the pumpkin puree.
  4. Gently fold the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture in 2 batches just until combined.
  5. Using an ice cream scooper fill each muffin cup 3/4 full with batter to make 16 muffins.
  6. Sprinkle each muffin with streusel topping.
  7. Bake on the middle rack of oven for 22-25 minutes or until muffins lightly spring back.
  8. Cool in muffin pan for 15 minutes , remove from pan and cool completely on a cooling rack.
  9. Make the Maple Espresso Glaze:  in a small bowl whisk the espresso and half and half cream together until the espresso powder has dissolved. In another small bowl mix the powdered sugar and maple syrup together,  gradually add the espresso cream 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon at a time until lightly thickened. (you will have left over espresso cream)
  10. Drizzle the maple espresso glaze over the cooled muffins

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Strawberry Rhubarb Bundt Cake

IMG_0365Flowers are in bloom and it is the season for strawberries and rhubarb. In this recipe for  Strawberry Rhubarb Bundt Cake I used organic ingredients. Organic foods are grown or produced without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, genetically modified organisms, sewage sludge, or ionizing radiation. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are pasture- raised or in their natural environment, fed 100% organic feed without antibiotics or growth hormones.

Organic foods have more nutritional value, are safer for the environment and animals, and have a better quality and taste. Organic strawberries are grown with fewer pesticides and chemicals than conventional strawberries. Organic eggs contain beneficial omega- 3 rich grains and flaxseeds. Grass-fed cows produce dairy products with fewer toxins and have more nutrients compared with those cows fed corn, soy, and other grains.  Organic dairy products have a higher ratio of healthy omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids compared to conventional dairy products. Organic dairy foods also have higher levels of the micronutrients carotene, vitamin A, and CLA. CLA or conjugated linoleic acid helps to strengthen our immune system, and prevent cancer, premature aging, and heart disease.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Bundt Cake

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter softened or at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup half and half cream
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped fresh rhubarb cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

For this recipe I used organic flour, butter, eggs, half and half cream, sour cream, lemon, strawberries and rhubarb.

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Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour a 12 cup bundt pan. I like to use a non-stick baking spray.

For the best results have all ingredients at or near room temperature.

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
  2. In another bowl combine the chopped strawberries and rhubarb with the cinnamon and sugar.
  3. Using a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer in a larger bowl on high speed beat oil, unsalted butter, and granulated sugar until light and fluffy for about 4 minutes.
  4. On medium speed add eggs one at a time mixing just until the yolk disappears. Add lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla extract, and mix well.
  5. In a separate small bowl whisk together sour cream  with 1/2 and 1/2 cream.
  6. On slow speed of stand or hand-held mixer,  add the flour and sour cream mixture separately to the batter beginning and ending with flour in 3 additions.
  7. Spoon one third of the batter evenly into the bottom of the prepared bundt pan, and  then layer 1/2 of the strawberry and rhubarb mixture. Repeat layers ending with a final layer of cake batter.
  8. Bake 45-48 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 20 minutes. Gently remove cake from pan by placing cake up side down on a cooling rack.

 

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Cranberry Coconut and Almond Oatmeal Cookies

 

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Cranberry Coconut and Almond Oatmeal Cookies

Whether you like your cookies crispy, chewy, or cake-like making the perfect homemade cookie requires the correct ratio of ingredients, the right technique, and using the proper baking tools. This oatmeal cookie is more like a mini scone, light and crumbly on the outside with a tender moist cookie inside. It includes healthy ingredients like oatmeal, almonds, flaxseed, unsweetened coconut, and cranberries. This recipe makes 18 (2 inch) cookies, but can easily be doubled. These cookies taste best from the oven and can be stored in a tightly sealed container for up to one week.

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Tips to making cake-like cookies

  1. Use softened butter. Having all your ingredients at room temperature will help your cookie dough to blend together more evenly.
  2. Use less granulated sugar and more brown sugar.
  3. Increase the baking powder and use less baking soda.
  4. Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add milk and mix alternately with the  flour.
  5. Chilling the dough will help the cookies retain their shape. Refrigerate dough for a minimum of 2 hours prior to baking.

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Healthy ingredients: unsweetened coconut, ground flaxseed, dried cranberries, sliced almonds, old fashioned oatmeal

Cranberry Coconut and Almond Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon extra fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons unsalted butter)

3/8 cup light brown sugar

1/8 cup granulated white sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/4 cups old-fashioned oatmeal

1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

2 tablespoons ground flaxseed

1/4 cup sliced almonds

1/4 cup dried cranberries

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Equipment: ice cream scooper (2 inch), parchment paper, stand mixer, small and medium mixing bowl, long handle spatula, cookie sheet, and cooling rack

Directions

  1. In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy about 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  2. In a separate bowl whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and sea salt together.
  3. On slow speed add flour mixture alternately with milk to batter
  4. In a small bowl mix oatmeal, coconut, and flaxseed together and add to batter on slow speed of mixer.
  5. Stir in almonds and cranberries.
  6. Chill dough for 2 hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  8. Using the ice cream scooper portion level scoops of cookie dough 2 inches apart on to the cookie sheet.
  9. Bake cookies for 12 to 14 minutes until edges become lightly brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 3 to5 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.

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