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.


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



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.




California Chicken and Avocado Puff Pastry Flat Bread


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.



  • 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


  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.


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.



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.


  • 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



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



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.



Strawberry Rhubarb Bundt Cake


  • 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.



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.



Cranberry Coconut and Almond Oatmeal Cookies




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.


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.


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

Cranberry Coconut and Almond Oatmeal Cookies


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


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


  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.



Banana Coconut and Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake


Making the perfect bundt cake is easy when your have all your ingredients measured and ready and have the right kitchen tools. One of my favorite kitchen baking tools is my stand mixer. It can be expensive, but if you love to bake, a stand mixer is well worth the investment. It’s the ideal kitchen tool for baking cakes. It is simple to use and allows you to be hands-free while adding ingredients. and mixing up the cake batter. A stand mixer has many attachments making it more efficient at making cake batter than a hand held mixer. I like to use the flat flex-edge beater blade when I am making cake batter. It continues to beat and mix ingredients together inside as well as along the bottom and sides of the bowl.



Banana Coconut and Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake


  • 3 cups sifted white flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup mashed well-ripened bananas (3-4 small- medium size bananas)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso
  • 1/4 cup 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used the mini chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Chocolate Glaze 

5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup 2% milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup Toasted Coconut 


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Use a non-stick baking spray or lightly spray and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together the sifted flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
  3. Using a stand mixer on medium speed beat oil, unsalted butter, and granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla.
  4. On medium speed add eggs one at a time mix just until yolk disappears
  5. In a separate small bowl warm the milk in the microwave and whisk in instant espresso. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  6. On slow speed of standing mixer add the flour and milk and espresso mixture separately to the batter beginning and ending with flour in 3 additions.
  7. On slow speed mix in banana and sour cream.
  8. With a spatula gently fold in mini chocolate chips and shredded coconut by hand.
  9. Pour and spread cake batter evenly into the prepared bundt pan.
  10. Bake 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean or cake is lightly brown and springs back.
  11. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes. Gently remove the cake from the pan by placing the cake up side down on a cooling rack. Continue to cool thoroughly.
  12. Prepare the chocolate glaze. In a small sauce pan slowly melt the semi-chocolate chips and 2% milk together, add the vanilla and stir until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cake.
  13. To make toasted coconut, spread 1/2 cup shredded coconut evenly on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high in 30-second increments until coconut begins to turn lightly golden brown, between 6 and 7minutes. Allow to cool and sprinkle over cake.








Chicken and Spinach Enchilada Casserole


In this healthy updated version of a chicken enchilada casserole, I made a homemade cream sauce and added spinach which boosted the nutrition while still keeping the comforting taste of the original recipe. Making a homemade white sauce is easy and much healthier than typical  store-bought white sauces that are high in sodium and processed ingredients. This white sauce uses a “roux” as the foundation and thickener for the sauce. A “roux” consists of equal amounts of fat (butter) and flour. It is a classic cooking technique to make sauces, gravies, and soups.

Chicken and Spinach Enchilada Casserole


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 -4oz can of mild chiles
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 10 ounce package frozen spinach thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
  • 15 (6inch) flour tortillas cut in half
  • 2 cups cooked and shredded chicken breast
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1/4 cup  fresh chopped cilantro

1 whole avocado



Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Coat a 9 inch by 13 inch baking pan with non-stick spray.

  1. Begin by making the white sauce. In a sauce pan heat the butter over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the flour and using a whisk stir until smooth and the roux begins to thicken and bubble.
  2. Gradually add one cup of the chicken broth and continue to whisk until blended well. Bring to a gentle simmer.
  3. Add remaining chicken broth , green chiles, and cumin. Continue to stir and simmer until slightly thickened for 2-3 minutes. Add the Greek yogurt or sour cream and mix well.
  4. Reserve one third of the sauce. To the remaining sauce add the drained spinach and mix well.
  5. Assemble Enchilada Casserole, by first layering 10 flour tortillas halves evenly on the bottom of your casserole pan. Next layer 1/2 of the spinach sauce , then 1/2 of the shredded chicken, and sprinkle with 1/3 of the shredded cheese. Repeat the layers and top with the reserved sauce and remaining 1/3 of the shredded cheese. IMG_0158IMG_E0079
  6. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for additional 15 minutes until lightly brown.
  7. Garnish with chopped avocado and cilantro.