Almond Flour Zucchini Muffins - Healthy and delicious ~

I was looking for a dessert that was healthy, yet tasty.  I'm funny like that.  If I am going to eat a treat, it has to taste very good too!
And I like to make really easy desserts.  This one fit all of my requirements... 

Oh, I have my moments when I go completely over the top and have a very chocolatey dessert.  But, I'm trying to eat a more healthy diet for the most part and these treats are a great "no guilt" dessert.

Made with Almond and  Coconut flour, with not even a pat of butter.  So, I was skeptical at first, but I am now convinced.  Oh, I also took some into work and my co-workers gave them a big thumbs up.

Here's the link to the recipe. It's from PW's Tasty Kitchen.  The only change I made, was to sprinkle with powdered sugar (lightly) and instead of apple pie spice, I used cinnamon.


And I froze all of my muffins after they cooled.  I love baked goods that are very fresh, so that's my tip.  I freeze everything unles I am going to serve it the same day....


Macaroni and Cheese with garden tomatoes and basil ~

This dish is so tasty, creamy and light.  I can't even describe how delicious it is, you'll just have to trust me.  Adding fresh cherry tomatoes and basil from the garden was what puts the flavor over the top. I cut the amount of cheddar cheese and used just milk to lighten up the calories of this usually heavily laden dish.  And by doing so, it makes a great summer dish too!

Macaroni & Cheese with garden tomatoes and basil.

1 (8-oz.) package elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons butter

1 quart of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (sprinkled with a teaspoon of salt).

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk

1 &1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground mustard

4 oz. sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

1 oz. parmesan cheese, grated

 8 leaves of fresh basil, julienned


1. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Keep warm.

2. Melt butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat; whisk in flour until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk, and cook, whisking constantly, 5 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in salt, ground mustard, black pepper, shredded cheddar cheese, and cooked pasta.  Add half of the tomatoes, stir well.

3. Spoon pasta mixture into a lightly greased 2-qt. baking dish; top with remaining tomatoes and grated parmesan cheese.

4. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes and shut oven off. Turn to broil and let broil for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown.  Top with julienned basil and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy ~



Easy Vegetable Stir Fry ~

Isn't this a gorgeous looking dish?  Well it's easy, but you have to follow a few, easy rules for a great vegetable stir fry.  And it's so worth it.

How to Stir-Fry Vegetables ~ Not steaming them colorless...

Don't Crowd your pan/wok ~

. Dry your vegetables well  ~

. Use high heat ~

• And Pay Close Attention ~  All stir-frying is quick, but a stir-fry of just vegetables goes even quicker.  Once the oil is in the pan, a stir-fry needs your full attention. It only takes about 5 minutes, so stay at your stove.

. Don't add Salt ~  At least until you are almost ready to serve, then add it. 

. Use only a tablespoon or so of olive or vegetable oil. 

. Slice vegetables thinly ~  Use any vegetables you want, but slice them thin and you won't have hard vegetables after five minutes.  Crunchy is nice, hard is not.  And don't forgo using lettuce, it's a nice addition.  Just toss it in during the last minute of stir fry.

Now look at my finshed dish, so bright and colorful. I did add a clove of chopped garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper during the last minute of cooking  I served it over cooked basmati rice and it was a quick and fabulous dinner.  Just what I need on a hot summer night, when being in the kitchen is not where I wanted to be.....

Enjoy ~


Ande's Mint Chcolate Cupcakes ~

I am not a professed baker, but love a good cupcake.  I love the richness of good chocolate too.  Cupcakes are just the right size to eat and these cupcakes are delicious.  My oldest son's birthday is coming and his favorite dessert's include chocolate mint anything.  This cupcake tastes like a cross between mint chocolate chip ice cream and a thin mint cookie.

Try them, you'll really like them.  Heck, you may even fall in love..... I did.

Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients
 3 ounces (1 cup) cocoa powder
 5 ounces (1 cup) all purpose flour
 1 teaspoon baking powder
 1/2 teaspoon salt
 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp.
 10 ounces (2 1/4 cups) sugar
 4 eggs, at room temp.
 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
 3/4 cup buttermilk
 4 ounces semisweet chocolate finely chopped

Cupcake Instructions 
  1. Preheat an oven to 350F. Line a muffin pan with 12 paper cups.
 2. Sift together the cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt.
    Set aside
 3. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy,
    about 5 minutes.
 5. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated well.
 6. Add both extracts and mix in well.
 7. Add half of the dry mixture into the egg mixture and mix until
    combined. Add the chopped chocolate to the other half of the dry
    mixture and set aside.
 8. Mix in the buttermilk and mix until combined.
 9. Add the remaining dry mixture with the chopped chocolate into
    the batter and mix until just combined.
 10. Take an ice cream scoop and fill the cupcake batter into a cupcake pan
about half way.

11. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out just barely clean.

Mint Buttercream:
8 oz cream cheese
6 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon heavy cream or milk
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
green food coloring
Cream together butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer on medium.  Turn down to a slow speed and add sugar, in half cup intervals.  Once mixed, add milk and peppermint extract.  Turn off mixer and fold in 2 drops of green food coloring.  Put into a piping bag and frost cupcakes.  Add an Ande's Mint candy to each cupcake.
Yum ~


Freezing Pesto ~

I love fresh pesto from the garden.  It has such great flavor, with the basil, pine nuts, garlic and good olive oil.  It just screams summer time and freshness. 

I have a six cup food processor, so I fill it to the rim of freshly picked basil.  I always have trouble with "tightly packed", so I just kind of fill it to the rim.  And hey, it works...  See?

And then I add about 3/4 cups pine nuts.  I store mine in the freezer at all times, because any nut can go rancid, or stale.  I want fresh, so the freezer holds them well until I am ready to use them.

Then a tablespoon of kosher salt and a teaspoon of freshly ground, black pepper.  Last, but not least, add 2 cloves of fresh garlic.

Put the cover on and pulse a few times.  Then turn the processor to the on position.  And through the feed tube at the top of the food processor add a 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil in a stream.  After a minute turn it off and it should look something like this.

At the point, I don't add cheese because I am freezing it.  But if you
want to use it right away, add 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese,  and cover the food processor again and give it another little whiz. 

Serve over cooked pasta and it's oh so, so good.

But, mine is going into the freezer for now, to enjoy all winter long.

I pour my pesto into plastic baggies, and close them.  Then I flatten it out on a plate and it stores neatly and compactly in my freezer.

Yum ~



This was dinner ~

Well, almost....

It was a gorgeous, sunny day today.  And I didn't want to spend a good part of my day in the kitchen.  So this delicious dinner with really fresh ingredients can be made in about 15 minutes. 

Add 12 ounces of pasta to a big pot of boiling, salted water and cook as directed.  Save 1/2 cup of pasta water in a coffee mug, no need to measure.  When the pasta is ready, toss it with a pint of grape tomatoes, halved, and a cup of fresh basil.  Add two tablespoons of good olive oil, 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground, black pepper.  Toss again.

Add the pasta water and some freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Enjoy ~

And do what most people do in the summer, enjoy a day at the beach...