Smarter Than Pancakes

Sunday, March 1, 2009

My all time favorite salad

Filed under: 7-layer salad,Side Dishes,WW Points — shaye3 @ 10:09 am
Tags: , , ,

Every Easter, I make a 7-Layer Salad for dinner.  It’s one of a few traditional dishes that we always have to have for Easter, but it is one that I’ve been known to serve several times in the weeks before Easter too.  For some reason, this salad is the epitome of spring for me.   Steve and I LOVE it.  Simon doesn’t really care for anything that has the word “salad” anywhere near it–which is strange because it’s one of the few things I craved when I was pregnant for him.

Anyway, it started as a recipe from a cookbook called  Mealtimes & Memories, but I’ve changed it quite a bit.  I’ve eliminated iceburg lettuce in favor of the greener and more nutritious Romaine, and added green onions.  I’ve also replaced the quite tasty but HFCS full combo of Miracle Whip and mayo in the dressing for a lightly sweetened mayo that is much healthier–and we can’t taste the difference.


Seven Layer Salad
Servings 12
WW Points 6 (Points determined using Hellmanns canola mayo and real bacon.  Using 4 Tbs soy bacon would make it 5 points.)

10 oz bag baby spinach (You can absolutely use non-bagged and just wash it really well, but bagged spinach is the one bagged green I do use.)

1/2 lbs bacon–cooked & crumbled OR 1 cup soy bacon pieces (Since my family believes that bacon is a vegetable, I usually cut the raw bacon into small strips, cook the whole package, and about half makes it onto the salad.)

10 oz bag package frozen baby peas (I’m serious about the baby part. Get the ones that say “baby” or “petite”.)

3 green onions—chopped (We like green onion so I use the whole bunch.)

1 head Romaine lettuce—cut into bite sized pieces and washed (Sub at will for any lettuce you like.)

6 hard-boiled eggs—sliced (This amount totally depends on the size container you’re using. You need enough slices to completely cover the top, so if you’re using a wide container you’ll need more.)

1 cup mayonnaise (This amount also depends on your dish. You need enough to cover the top of the eggs completely by about 1/8-1/4 inch.)

1/2 tsp sugar—optional (The original recipe calls for 1/2 mayo and 1/2 Miracle Whip. Since MW is chock full of HFCS, I don’t use it. I did like the sweetness it gave the dressing, so I add a little sugar to the mayo for the same taste.)

1 cup shredded cheese (I usually use cheddar or colby jack, but the original recipe called for Swiss)

  1. Layer each item through eggs in order in a trifle dish. (Or any dish you want.  My aunt makes it in a 9×13.)
  2. Combine mayo & sugar and frost over egg layer.
  3. Can be covered tightly and stored in the fridge up to overnight.
  4. Just before serving sprinkle cheese on the top.

This is one of my default pitch-in dishes, so if you invite me to come over and ask me to bring a salad, this is probably the one you’ll get.  It looks impressive, is easy to put together, and tastes amazing!

…And just because I haven’t mentioned any small appliances lately–here is my beloved egg steamer.  I realize that it’s completely senseless for me to have an appliance that  has the sole purpose of cooking eggs, but it is SOOO much easier to just throw some eggs and water into this thing, turn it on, and in a few minutes have perfectly cooked eggs.  It does boiled, scrambled, and poached.  What more could you ask for??    (And in case you’re wondering, this is another one I got from my mom.  I don’t actually spend good money on all of my senseless appliances.) 😉



Monday, February 23, 2009

Homemade Ding-Dongs

Filed under: Desserts,homemade ding dongs — shaye3 @ 10:35 am
Tags: , ,

So we had my friend Laura’s family over a few weeks ago, and I know she likes to cook so I asked her to bring a few dishes.  For dessert, she brought a homemade version of Hostess Ding-Dongs.  They were irresistible!  I couldn’t keep myself from going back and eating more and more!  I think I consumed four or five by the time the night was over.  It was shameful!  (Not to mention the beginning of the end of my progress with Weight Watchers for a time.) 😉

I took a picture of them for you:

So shortly after we had them over, I had surgery.  All I wanted to eat when I got home was one of those stupid Ding-Dongs.  My beloved husband went out and bought me a box of Hostess Ding-Dongs, and let me tell you–they were pathetic in comparison!

So I found out how Laura made them, and immediately set out to make them for myself, everyone at the Super Bowl party we went to, and then again for Simon’s class Valentine party.

Here’s how it goes:


(Laura used normal cupcake pans and I used my fancy, new heart shaped Wilton cupcake pans that I found at Target.  The pictured cupcakes were the ones that went to Simon’s school for their Valentine party.)

Homemade Ding Dongs

For the Cake
(Laura told me to use the Hershey’s Chocolate Cake recipe from the back of the cocoa box, so I did.)

2 cups sugar

1-3/4 cups AP flour

3/4 cup cocoa

1-1/2 tsp baking powder

1-1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease and flour two or three cupcake pans. (You can do it in shifts if you don’t have enough pans.)
    Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl.
  3. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans. (Don’t fill the cups more than halfway. You don’t want them to crown.)
    Bake 20-25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. (I started checking at 15.)
  5. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to towel lined rack. Cool completely. (Don’t leave them to cool too long—overnight is too long. The cake still needs to be a little soft so the filling doesn’t explode out the sides. Trust me on this one.)

While they’re cooling, make your filling.

For the Filling
Laura told me that she uses a 7-Minute Frosting, so I found a recipe. This one isn’t the best, but it worked just fine since it’s really more about the cake. If you have another version that’s better, PLEASE feel free to post it in comments and I’ll give it a try. My friend Jen has a recipe for marshmallow fluff that I’m wondering about, too…)

1 c granulated sugar

1/3 c water

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1 dash salt

2 egg whites

1 tsp vanilla

  1. Combine all ingredients but vanilla in the top of a double boiler or a metal bowl above a pan with an inch or two of simmering water. (I’m told not to let the water come to a full boil, but I’m not sure why. I think mine might have at some point.)
  2. Using your hand mixer, beat it over the heat until definite peaks form.
  3. Remove from heat and continue beating until the frosting is cool to the touch.
  4. Beat in the vanilla. (Use real vanilla, you’d really be able to taste the fake stuff in this.)

When the cupcakes are cool, stick some frosting in a piping bag with a medium tip. (I used a medium star, but I don’t think it really matters.)

Stick the tip right into the middle of the top of the cupcake, and squeeze until the cupcake starts to puff up a little. (That’s a tricky process, too. You have to get enough in there, but if you put in too much the frosting can explode/squirt out the bottom, sides, or top. It took me a couple of tries to figure out how much to squeeze in before it starts to explode.)

After you’ve filled all of them, you can start working on the coating.

For the coating, Laura highly recommends Plymouth Pantry brand chocolate almond bark melted with shortening. At first I kept thinking that there has to be an alternative that would be more natural and have fewer chemicals, but there’s something about the exact combination of all of it that makes it perfect.  So if you want to use a ganache or melted chocolate with some shortening, I’m not going to try to stop you, but just know that the Plymouth Pantry Chocolate Bark and the shortening makes a softer chocolate that has a texture almost exactly like real Ding Dongs–without the waxy flavor that real Ding Dongs tend to have.

So to use the bark, you just break up the squares and put the whole package worth into a microwave safe bowl along with about two generous tbs. of Crisco. (I found that my one quart PC batter bowl works really well.) Melt it for 90 seconds on high, stir, then continue nuking and stirring until it’s melted.  (Don’t let it go too far or it’ll scorch.)

You then take the cupcakes, one at a time, and dip them in the chocolate.

Put them on waxed paper with the bottom of the cupcake up, and the part with the filling hole on the bottom.  (Laura actually has a fancy, Wilton candy dipper thingy to make the whole process much easier, but I just used two forks.  They were far from perfect looking, but I figure they can look rustic since they’re homemade.)

After that, they’re pretty much ready to eat.  The ones I made for the Super Bowl party still had the messy drips of chocolate around the bottoms, but I took a small knife and trimmed up the ones I sent to school for Valentine’s Day. (I have to say the chocolate drips around the bottom might be my favorite part, so I don’t know that I’d trim them in the future.)

I’m warning you now, line up friends to help you eat them or you won’t be able to resist their siren song!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Vegetarian Chik’n Noodle Soup

Poor Steve has picked up a summer cold, and this morning was rainy and almost chilly. (Ok, it was 70 when I took the dog out–but compared to the upper 80s we’ve been having it felt cool!) I have been having a hard time coming up with inspiration for lunches and dinner while Steve and Simon have been home, so inspired by poor Steve’s cold, I asked him if some old fashioned chicken soup sounded good. He said it sounded amazing, and Simon was amenable since my chicken soup is one of his favorite things. The only problem is that I’ve been avoiding meat and meat products as much as possible lately. I think I’ve had meat once in the past week or so, and it tends to sit on my stomach like a rock when I do eat it. Fortunately, the boys don’t mind being vegetarian–which is good since today I converted my normal chicken soup recipe to a vegetarian version. (Don’t worry, they both still loved it!)

Vegetarian Chik’n Noodle Soup
8 servings – 3.5 ww points per serving

As always with soup recipes, all of these measurements are approximate, feel free to use more or less.

For Bouquet Garni

10 whole black peppercorns

2 sprigs flat leaf parsley

1 sprig thyme

1 dried bay leaf

For Soup

2 Tbs butter

1 onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice (I frequently use more)

1 leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced and washed well (Don’t leave this out!)

64 oz Imagine brand No-Chicken Broth (2 32-oz cartons)

12 oz Quorn Chik’n Tenders (These are optional, but we like them.)

3 carrots, cut into 1/4 inch coins

2 stalks celery, cut into 1/4 inch C-shaped slices

2 cups egg noodles (I used whole grain from Ronzoni)

  1. Make the bouquet garni by bundling peppercorns, parsley, thyme and bay leaf in cheesecloth, and tying with kitchen twine.
  2. Heat butter in a stockpot over medium high heat.
  3. Add onion and leek; cook until soft and translucent (About 5-7 min).
  4. Add broth and bouquet garni and bring to a simmer.
  5. Meanwhile add carrots and celery.
  6. The vegetables will need to cook for about 18 minutes, so check the directions on your egg noodles, and let your veggies cook by themselves until you have just enough time on your timer for the noodles to cook. (My noodles needed to cook 7 minutes, so I let the veggies cook for 11 minutes, then added the noodles and cooked the last 7 minutes.)
  7. After the veggies and noodles are finished cooking, add the Quorn Chik’n to the pot until heated through.
  8. Taste and add salt as needed.
  9. Serve with crackers or crusty bread.

You know, I still struggle with the whole non-processed foods vs. imitation meat thing. I know that most vegetarian meats are total franken-foods, but I still buy them. I guess if I’m mostly avoiding processed foods, that’s still better than nothing. Right? (I hope so.)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Rainy Day Picnic

A few weeks ago, we had tickets to Symphony on the Prairie; but just about the time we should have been leaving the house, the sky opened and we considered ark building instead. I’m not kidding you, there was so much rain that all of the neighbors’ yards were under water. The street was even under water a little ways down from us, and that never happens. The amount of water was crazy!

Of course I had already packed a fabulous picnic dinner, so we were forced to have a picnic on the living room floor instead. (It’s probably for the good of the blog that the concert was rained out because it didn’t occur to me to take pictures of the food until I was plating it on boring old plates to eat in our boring old living room.)

But just for you…

Most of our picnic fare on regular old plates!
Goat Cheese & Tomato Salad Wraps, Lemon & Quinoa Salad, and a simple Spinach Salad with Raspberries and a Red Wine Vinaigrette. (We had a few other things, like berries in spiced yogurt and peach lemonade, but I didn’t take pictures of either so I’m not going to post those recipes right now.)

Quick Lemon and Garlic Quinoa Salad
Serves 4 – 6.2 ww points per serving (But you’ll get in your healthy oil for the day!)

This recipe originally came from my good friend Ginny, but I tweaked it just a little to make it easier.


1 cup dry quinoa (Rinse in a fine mesh strainer to get rid of the bitter coating that quinoa sometimes has.)

2 cups water

1 pinch salt

1/2 cup carrot, chopped

1/3 cup parsley, minced

1/4 cup sunflower seed


2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce (I used part Tamari and part Braggs Liquid Aminos.)

  1. Throw the quinoa, water, and pinch of salt in a 3 qt. microwavable container with lid. Microwave on high for 10-12 minutes or until the water is almost entirely gone.
  2. When the water is gone–stir, re-cover, and let sit for five more minutes.
  3. Prepare dressing in a small bowl.
  4. Add carrots, seeds, parsley, to the cooked quinoa, and toss well.
  5. Pour dressing over the top, and stir until well combined.

Simple Spinach Salad with Raspberries and Red Wine Vinaigrette
The Dressing makes 14 (1 Tbs.) servings and has 2.3 ww points per tbs.

My sister Dawn first made a version of this for me about 20 years ago, but I think her version had sliced strawberries and some other salad toppings. I had just gotten the spinach and fresh raspberries from my friend, Costco; and I wanted to keep the rest pretty simple for travel.


fresh baby spinach

fresh raspberries


1/2 cup canola oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup (scant) sugar

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp dry mustard

  1. Combine dressing ingredients
  2. Arrange and serve

Goat’s Cheese and Tomato Salad Wraps

Serves 4 – 4 ww points per wrap

4 1/2 oz goat’s cheese, crumbled

1 1/3 cups tomatoes, seeded & diced (I used one red and one yellow for color.)

1 1/3 cups cucumbers, seeded & diced (I also peeled mine.)

5/8 cup green onions, chopped

2 1/16 tsp extra virgin olive oil

2 1/16 tsp balsamic vinegar

4 flour tortillas — about 25 cm (Nuke them for a few seconds to soften before rolling if necessary)

  1. In a bowl, combine all ingredients except tortillas.
  2. Divide mixture evenly between the 4 wraps, and enjoy!

(Here’s my hint for wrapping—Put the filling in a little line along one side of the tortilla. Fold the short side over and then fold the ends over. After that, fold the sides of the long side over by just a little—maybe half an inch. Then roll it the rest of the way up. It you do it that way, the filling won’t fall out.) 😉

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sweet Peppers Stuffed with Goat Cheese

Ok, so I’m a Costco addict, and I’ve noticed that at my friendly neighborhood Costco (30 minutes away is neighborhood–right?) there are bags of red, yellow, and orange bell peppers for a very good price.  I’ve been buying bell peppers each time I run to Costco, so by now I have bell peppers coming out of my ears.  (Too bad my garden peppers didn’t fare as well.  Maybe next year.)

I present to you…

Sweet Peppers Stuffed with Goat Cheese
Serves 4 as a side dish – 1.5 ww points for 2 pieces

1 oz. soft goat cheese

1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded or grated

1 Tbs. snipped chives

1 Tbs. snipped fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried basil, crushed

2 medium sweet peppers

  1. Combine the cheeses and herbs in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Wash the outside of your peppers, then quarter them lengthwise.  Remove the seeds.
  3. Throw them on your grill over medium heat, and grill them until they start to get crisp tender and brown just a little, turning once. (Maybe 8 minutes?)
  4. Spoon the cheese mixture into the pieces evenly, then put them back on the grill for 2-3 minutes until the cheese starts to melt.
  5. Yum.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Embarrassingly Easy Summer Dinner

Filed under: Uncategorized — shaye3 @ 12:02 am

Ok, so my local Marsh store had green beans, new potatoes AND smoked sausage on sale this week. That meant I had to make the nameless meal that we have several times every summer.

The beauty of this recipe is that there are no rules. Use as much of the ingredients as you want. If your family LOVES beans, use tons of beans. If you’re all over the potatoes, knock yourself out! Simon has been known to pick out all of the pieces of smoked sausage, so I have to make sure to add plenty for him.

The whole recipe is foolproof, so do whatever you want!

First you take your fresh green beans, give them a good wash, snap off the stem ends and break them into somewhat evenly sized pieces. Throw them into your dutch oven or other lidded pot.

Then you scrub your new potatoes, and if they’re big you should cut them in half or quarter them. Throw them in the pot with your beans.

Then you take your smoked sausage, slice it into coins of whatever size you’d like, and throw them in on top of the beans and potatoes.
Next add enough chicken broth (canned or homemade, what do I care?) to almost cover. Or heck, add it to cover if you want. The broth tastes amazing at the end so you’ll drink it.
Cover it and let it simmer until your potatoes and beans are as tender as you’d like them to be.

That’s it. That’s the whole recipe. It’s good hot. It’s good at room temp. Heck, when it’s really hot outside we’ve been known to eat it cold.

(Btw, I know that smoked sausage is seriously processed food, but sometimes I just don’t care.) 😉

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Behold the Croquette!

Filed under: Salmon Croquettes — shaye3 @ 8:49 pm
Tags: ,

Salmon Croquettes

And you thought it was going to be a GOOD picture. Hee!

I was talking to some friends about my lack of mad photography skilz, and they had several good suggestions for me. One of which was to switch from Snapfish to Flickr. I have to say that Flickr has some lovely editing software. Hopefully, someday soon my photos will look less and less like crime scene investigation photos. (Unless you’re into Dexter–then you LOVE my pics!)

While we’re all waiting for my photography skills to improve, here’s my recipe…

Salmon Croquettes
(Makes 12 smallish ones)

4 slices of bread (I used Aunt Millie’s 100% Whole Wheat)

1 small onion, quartered and sliced thinly

1 can of salmon, drained (Wild caught is vital. Red is best, but pink works just fine.)

1 egg

the zest of one lemon (preferably using a microplane zester and only getting the yellow part)

1 tsp dried dill weed (more or less to taste)

1 tsp salt (to taste)

a few grinds of pepper (also to taste)

1 cup seasoned, dry bread crumbs (I think mine are Italian)

  1. Rip your slices of bread into three or four pieces each and send them for a whirl around your food processor until they’re crumby. Pour them into a medium bowl and set them aside.
  2. Throw your sliced onion and egg into your food processor, and whirl them until the onion is minced.
  3. Add your drained salmon, lemon zest, dill, salt and pepper; and whirl until it’s all smooth.
  4. Use a rubber spatula and scrape all of this mixture into your bread crumbs and then mix it all together.
  5. Put the dry, seasoned bread crumbs into a shallow dish to use for coating.
  6. Using your handy-dandy ice cream scoop (or a big spoon if you really wanna) scoop blobs of the salmon mixture into the breadcrumbs and coat. As they’re coated, smash them down a little and put them on a plate.
  7. Get out your skillet and pour in a thin coat of canola oil across the bottom. Heat to about 350°. (I use my electric skillet, but I imagine a medium heat would work fine.)
  8. Place your croquettes in the hot oil, and cook on one side until it starts to brown a little. Flip over and cook until the other side is the desired shade of golden delicious.
  9. Take them out and serve.

This is a total comfort food meal for me. My mom used to make “salmon patties” all the time when I was a kid. Tonight I served them with mac & cheese and green beans. Just like my mom would have done!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Fruit on the bottom (and in the middle and on top) Yogurt

Filed under: Uncategorized — shaye3 @ 4:58 pm
Tags: ,

(In keeping with scripture my recent breakfast theme.)

There are certain restaurants around that have started selling what they call “Fruit and Yogurt Parfaits”.  I looked at the ingredients one time, and trust me when I say you don’t wanna know how little actual food and how many chemicals are involved. I can tell you, however, that their parfaits are not the healthy treat they want you to believe they are.

Mine, on the other hand, are just yogurt and fruit. No yucky chemical additives whatsoever. (Yep, you can actually DO that!)

All Natural Yogurt Parfaits

1 quart of plain, lowfat yogurt (If you’re not using homemade, make sure the brand you buy doesn’t have any gelatin or it won’t drain. I’ll post my homemade yogurt recipe as soon as I make more and take pictures.)

2 Tbs frozen apple juice concentrate – or to taste

1 tsp vanilla (I happened to use vanilla paste, so you can see the vanilla seeds in the yogurt if you look closely.)

Fresh or frozen fruit (I used frozen strawberries and fresh bananas for the one pictured.)

  1. First set up your rig–Put either a coffee filter or some cheesecloth in a strainer and put the strainer in a bowl.
  2. Pour the entire container of yogurt into the lined strainer, cover it, and put it in your fridge overnight.
  3. The next day, take your drained yogurt and throw it in a bowl. (You can use the whey that drains off as a substitute for the water in a yeast bread recipe, or you can add it to a bean dish to make a complete protein if you wanna.)
  4. Add the apple juice concentrate and vanilla and mix well.  (Sometimes I whisk the yogurt if it seems lumpy.)
  5. Here’s where the magic starts!  All you have to do is layer the yogurt with whatever fruit you want.  For the one in the picture, I just threw about five frozen, unsweetened, whole strawberries in my mini-food processor with about half a banana and pureed.  I layered the fruit puree and the yogurt, took a picture, and then offered it to my kid.  (It was gone in about a minute and a half.)  You can also use chopped fresh or frozen fruit or jam if you’re so inclined!  You can even throw some granola in there for fun! Do what ever the heck you want, it’s your yogurt!

In case you’re wondering, my strange child immediately stirred the layers together before he ate it.  He prefers blended yogurt, and it didn’t occur to him NOT to stir it. He thought you were supposed to.  😉

Monday, May 19, 2008

Vanilla-Scented Granola

Filed under: Vanilla-Scented Granola,WW Points — shaye3 @ 9:09 am
Tags: ,
(In the spirit of full disclosure, I actually posted this on my non-food blog a while back, but since I’ve been on a breakfast kick lately, I thought I’d share it over here, too.)
Vanilla-Scented Granola — 11 ww points per 1 cup serving

I don’t remember adding the crack to these, but I swear I had to go back and look at the recipe this morning because Simon and I couldn’t stop eating it.  I know it has a lot of sugar, but I figure at least it’s not hfcs, and I know exactly what all of the ingredients are!

45 min | 15 min prep | 8 cups

vegetable oil cooking spray

4 cups old fashioned oats

1 cup sliced almonds (I used chopped pecans because that’s what I had.)

1/2 cup golden brown sugar, packed

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup honey (I used some honey and some agave nectar because I ran out of honey.)

2 tablespoons sugar

4 teaspoons vanilla extract

(I also threw in one cup of dried fruit right before I put it in the oven. It was a mix of blueberries, cherries, cranberries, and plums.)

  1. Position rack to middle of oven and preheat to 300°.
  2. Lightly spray large baking sheet with nonstick spray. (I put down a sheet of parchment and sprayed that.)
  3. Mix oats, nuts, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon in large bowl.
  4. In a small saucepan, combine oil, honey and sugar, and bring to simmer over medium heat.
  5. Remove from heat; then stir in vanilla.
  6. Pour hot liquid over oat mixture; stir well.
  7. Using hands, toss mixture until thoroughly mixed. (I used a rubber spatula and it worked fine.)
  8. (I added the cup of dried fruit right after I mixed the liquid into the oats, by the way.)
  9. Spread granola on prepared baking sheet.
  10. Bake until golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes (Check after 20 because the sugar burns easily).
  11. Transfer sheet to rack; cool granola completely.
  12. Store in airtight container at room temperature. It will keep for about two weeks.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Healthy Cherry Muffins

Filed under: cherry muffins,WW Points — shaye3 @ 12:18 pm
Tags: , , ,

I’m so sorry I’ve been neglecting you dear internet. There’s some evil pollen out there, and it appears to be in cahoots with my stupid immune system to stymie me! I haven’t cooked anything good in DAYS!

I felt a little better this morning, so I decided to make you some muffins for Sunday brunch!

So, I present to you–

Cherry Muffins!

They may not look like much, at least not with my photography skills, but they are crazy good and pretty good for you! They’re made with ricotta cheese and whole grain flour, so they have over a gram and a half of protein and over four grams of fiber per muffin! But don’t worry, they are definitely NOT like those nasty colon-blow bran muffins that everyone thinks of when they think “healthy muffins”. These are really moist, sweet and fruity! They’re so popular around here that I like to pack them instead of the ubiquitous pb&j’s in Simon’s lunches. They do have 140 calories per muffin, but even that’s not so bad compared to store-bought muffins!

Healthy Cherry Muffins (2.88 WW Points per muffin)
Makes 18 muffins

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (You can use AP, but the nutrition info will change.)

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp baking soda

1 Tbs lemon zest (I didn’t measure, I just used the zest of one lemon–the very outer yellow part only please.)

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup ricotta cheese (I use the lowfat version.)

1 cup buttermilk (I’ve never tried this with ersatz buttermilk. Just buy the buttermilk.)

2 large eggs

1 Tbs lemon juice

4 tsp vanilla (Just FYI, 4 tsp is the same as 1 Tbs plus 1 tsp.)

4 Tbs butter, melted (You can use 1/4 c. canola oil if you’d prefer.)

1 1/2 cups frozen cherries, cut up (I keep a bag of dark, sweet, pitted cherries in the freezer at all times.)

  1. Heat your oven to 350° and spray or oil your muffin cups.
  2. In a sifter or in a small bowl with a wisk, combine your flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, lemon zest, and sugar.
  3. In a larger bowl, whisk your ricotta and butter milk together.
  4. Mix in your eggs, one at a time; and then mix in your vanilla and lemon juice.
  5. Throw your flour mixture and butter in with the liquid ingredients, and fold together a little with a rubber spatula, and then add cherries. (Don’t defrost your cherries before you add them, and don’t overmix if you can help it.)
  6. Distribute your batter evenly between 18 muffin cups, and bake for +/- 20 minutes, or until a tester is clean. (You can try making 12 muffins, but the tops will definitely overflow. Sometimes I go for that, but I like to make more small muffins with this recipe because they’re pretty filling.)
  7. Cool them on a rack before eating. (Cool completely before putting them away or they get soggy.)
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