Friday, October 16, 2009



Blueberry season was over too soon, again. But I was wishing for blueberry muffins. Frozen berries do not make the best muffins, but I decided to go ahead any way. I rinsed them with cold water and blotted them dry with paper towels, helping them not to bleed. 016

These muffins are tender, moist and full of blueberries. My fave yogurt,Stonyfield Farm, provided a lot of the moistness, and some grated apple did the rest. (The apple is undetectable in the finished muffin.) The almond crumb topping is a nice complement to the blueberry flavor, and all in all, this is a great muffin recipe for frozen berries that would be even better with fresh.004

Be sure to check out my other blueberry muffin recipes. Just go to the category list on the right side of this blog. Go to Muffins -- Blueberry. You'll find 5 recipes in all, including two that are rated 10 out of 10. Or do it the easy way: just type in "blueberry muffins" in the search box in the upper left of this blog. All five recipes will come up.

Blueberry Muffins with Almond Crumb Topping
Source: Judy’s Kitchen
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Printable Recipe

Topping: 1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose)
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
4 Tbsp. butter, melted

Muffin: 2 cups blueberries, frozen or fresh
1 cup grated raw apple (I used Ginger Gold, but any apple will do)
1 cup white whole wheat flour + 1 cup all purpose flour (or 2 cups all-purpose)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. lemon or lime zest (optional)
1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt (I used Stonyfield Farm)
1 extra-large egg (or large)
6 Tbsp. butter, melted (or oil)

Make topping: In work bowl of food processor, or mini-food processor, process the almonds and sugar till the almonds are finely ground. Add the flour, baking powder and cinnamon and process again till combined. Add the butter and process till combined. Set aside.

Heat the oven to 425F. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

If berries are frozen, rinse them in a colander or sieve with cold water and let them drain; then blot them dry with paper towels, leaving them wrapped in the paper towels. Blot the apple in paper towels also.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and zest (if using). In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, egg and butter till well combined. Add the blueberries and apple to the dry ingredients, tossing till the fruit is well coated. Add all at once to the wet ingredients and stir lightly with a spoon or spatula till combined, being careful to not over mix.

Fill muffin cups with about 1/4 cup of batter and spoon topping over each, pressing topping down slightly. Place pan in oven and immediately reduce heat to 350F. Bake 18-22 minutes or till muffins test done when a toothpick is inserted in center. Cool on wire racks. (Even if you are using frozen berries, you can still refreeze these.)


Wednesday, October 14, 2009



Come fall, I start dreaming about cranberry confections. This recipe, adapted from Food & Wine Magazine’s March 2001 issue, called for fresh or frozen whole cranberries. I really wanted to make these with whole cranberries, but couldn’t find any. So I subbed dried sweetened cranberries instead. I erred in only using 3/4 cup, thinking that when they plumped, they’d double in size. Well, maybe they did double, but I wanted more cranberries. So I’ve adjusted the recipe below accordingly. 051

These muffins are the bomb and are almost cupcake-like! So tender and delicate, so moist and flavorful. I was short on orange zest when I made these, so there was barely a hint of orange; but they were still delicious. Be sure you use the full amount of orange zest for best flavor. The crumb topping is to die for, especially with the glaze made with the leftover juice from plumping the cranberries. (Food & Wine’s glaze was just confectioner’s sugar and water.) 050

Really, these are a winner. You might want to double the recipe, because these will go fast.

Glazed Cranberry-Orange Muffins with Walnut Crumb Topping
Adapted from Food & Wine Magazine, March 2001
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Printable Recipe
INGREDIENTS: 1-1/4 cups dried, sweetened cranberries
4 Tbsp. frozen orange juice concentrate, divided use
4 Tbsp. water
2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided use
3/4 cup sugar, divided use
2-1/4 tsp. baking powder, divided use
11 Tbsp. (1 stick + 3 Tbsp.) Smart Balance 50/50 Butter Blend (or butter), melted, divided use
1/4 cup chopped or broken walnuts , toasted
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1-1/2 Tbsp. orange zest, packed
1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt (I used Stonyfield Farm)
1 X-large egg
1 cup confectioner’s (10X) sugar

Combine cranberries, OJ concentrate and water in small saucepan; heat to boiling; cover; off heat; let sit for 30 minutes to plump.

Heat oven to 425F (400F for dark or coated pans). Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

Make crumb topping: In medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 tsp. baking powder. Stir in 3 Tbsp. melted butter, then add walnuts, pinching mixture into clumps with fingers. Set aside.

In another medium bowl, whisk together remaining 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tsp. baking powder, baking soda, salt and orange zest. Drain the cranberries well, pressing them down in a sieve, but catch the juices that remain. Pat the cranberries dry by rolling them in several thicknesses of paper towels. Add them to the flour mixture, tossing to coat well.

In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining 8 Tbsp. melted butter, yogurt and egg. Pour the flour mixture into the liquids and stir lightly with a spoon or spatula just till barely combined. Do not overmix – it’s okay to have some lumps. Spoon batter into muffin cups and cover with crumb topping. Gently press topping onto muffins.
026 028 032 Bake about 15 minutes, or till a toothpick inserted near center returns clean. Cool muffins on wire rack. While muffins are cooling, prepare a glaze using 1 cup confectioner’s sugar and about 2 Tbsp. of the reserved juice from the cranberries. Use as much of the juice as you need to make a thin glaze. Drizzle it over tops of muffins and let them air dry till the glaze hardens. Serve immediately or freeze for later use. Yield: 12 muffins
Cook’s Notes:
1. To make a lower-fat muffin, use 1/2 cup applesauce + 2 Tbsp. melted butter, instead of 8 Tbsp. butter.
2. Easy way to melt the butter – In large microwaveable bowl, heat ALL the butter on high, covered, till it melts. Prepare topping ingredients using 3 Tbsp. of butter from large bowl. Mix the egg & yogurt with the remaining butter in the large bowl.
3. If you use fresh or frozen whole cranberries for this recipe, increase cranberries to 1-1/2 cups, and toss them with 2 Tbsp. additional sugar before adding to flour.
4. Large egg may be substituted for the X-large egg, if desired.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Today was all about experimenting in the kitchen with my fave yogurt, Stonyfield Farm. It’s the only yogurt I use, because it’s organic and because of the great taste and texture. And, FYI, their website (click on the link above) has coupons you can download. Stonyfield Farm makes Oikos Greek yogurt which I love, but for today’s recipe, I used the low-fat 6 oz. container of vanilla.
Those wonderful cream cheese people, Kraft, published a popular recipe back in the early 70’s for Marbled Cream Cheese Brownies. It was a cakey, milk chocolate brownie with swirled cheesecake batter sprinkled with chocolate chips. I tweaked the recipe, adding Kahlua; and for years, it was my signature dessert for many of our casual family/friend gatherings. People actually requested it. Everyone, but everyone loved this recipe.
But times change. Dark chocolate fudgy brownies are now in. So I decided to update my old fave for the new millenium. The old Kraft recipe is made in a 10x15 pan. For experimental purposes, I made half of the updated recipe in a 9x9 pan, and half as cupcakes. The 9x9 pan had a rocky road topping. Half the cupcakes were topped with a chocolate frosting and sprinkled with toasted walnuts; half were topped with mini marshmallows, then covered with chocolate frosting. I made some frosting with Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa, and some with Hershey’s regular cocoa. I liked both.
This is one experiment that did not go awry. Everything, but everything, was good. Actually, not just good. More like over-the-top great! Most were given away, not just so I can stay on my diet, but also so I can sleep at night. I only ate one cupcake the afternoon I baked them, and I didn’t sleep well that night. Yes, I’m sensitive to chocolate, and these babies are loaded, not to mention the coffee (though I did use decaf). If there’s nothing else you try on this site, you must try this recipe.
Almost forty years later, I have a new signature dessert. And I’m already getting requests for more.
Adapted from Kraft Foods
Rating: 10 out of 10

Printable Recipe
8 oz. cream cheese or Neufchatel, very soft
1/3 cup sugar
3 eggs, room temperature, divided use
Dash of sea salt + 1/2 tsp. sea salt, divided use
1/2 cup butter or Smart Balance 50/50 butter blend
2/3 cup water
1-1/2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 tsp. instant coffee
1-3/4 cup Ultra-Grain flour (30% wholewheat) or all-purpose, if preferred
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups light brown sugar
6 oz. low-fat vanilla yogurt (I used Stonyfield Farm)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 (11.5 oz.) bag of chocolate chips of choice (I used Hershey Special Dark)
3 cups mini-marshmallows (approx.)

Heat oven to 375F (350F for dark or coated pans). In small bowl, beat cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 egg and a dash of sea salt using low speed of electric mixer. Set aside.

In a large, covered microwaveable bowl, heat the butter and water on high till butter is melted. Stir in chocolate and coffee granules and let sit till chocolate dissolves. Add flour, cocoa, and brown sugar, beating on medium speed of mixer till well combined. (No need to clean beaters, either.)

Stir in remaining 2 eggs, yogurt, baking soda and 1/2 tsp. sea salt and mix on low speed just till combined.

For cupcakes: Line about 20-24 wells of muffin tins with paper liners. Using a scant 1/4 cup of batter, fill liners 3/4 full. Drop about 1 Tbsp. cream cheese batter onto each cupcake, swirling through with a knife to make a marbled pattern. Sprinkle with chocolate chips, trying to leave a spot in the center open so you can test for doneness. Bake about 17 minutes, or till a toothpick inserted near center returns almost clean. (If you hit chocolate chips, reinsert toothpick.) Cool cupcakes on wire racks. When completely cool, frost with chocolate frosting and sprinkle with toasted walnuts or pecans. Or, first place about 6 mini marshmallows on top of cupcake, then spread chocolate frosting over, sealing marshmallows in.

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For Rocky Road Brownie Squares: Grease and flour a 10x15 (jelly roll) pan. Pour chocolate batter into pan, spreading evenly. Drop cream cheese batter by spoonfuls over top and swirl with knife for a marbled effect. Sprinkle half the chocolate chips over all. Bake about 25 minutes, or till just about done. Remove from oven. Sprinkle top with remaining chocolate chips, about 2 cups mini marshmallows and 1 cup toasted broken walnuts. Place back in oven for about 5 minutes, or till marshmallows puff up and chocolate chips begin to melt. Transfer pan to wire rack for about 20 minutes, then frost with chocolate frosting.

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Chocolate Frosting: In medium covered microwaveable bowl, melt 1 stick butter on high till almost melted. Stir in 1 tsp. instant coffee granules, 2/3 cup cocoa, 3 cups confectioner’s sugar and 1/3 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed till frosting is of desired consistency, adding more confectioner’s sugar or more yogurt as needed.

Friday, October 9, 2009



Apple cheesecake is one of hubby’s and my faves. Recently, I made an apple strudel cheesecake that was amazing. Last year, I made Paula Deen's Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars, and they were also delicious. But this adapted Kraft recipe is even better. Adding brown sugar instead of white to the cream cheese gives the cheesecake a mild caramel flavor.

I didn’t care to use Kraft’s graham cracker crust though. Instead, I made my own, a mixture of oats, whole wheat flour, brown sugar and butter; and it’s perfect for this cheesecake. Some of the crust mixture is reserved to mix with the apples for the topping.


Kraft’s recipe is made in a 9 x 13 pan; but I opted to cut the recipe in half and make it in an 8” springform pan. You can make it in an 8” square pan if you prefer, or double the recipe and make it in a 9 x 13 pan. The only thing I might change if I make this again is to cook the apples and cool them before topping the cheesecake with them. Cooking apples twice intensifies the flavor and makes such a difference in the end product. But then, one of the things I liked about this recipe is that it’s so easy. Come to think of it, maybe I could give up a more intense apple flavor in favor of simplicity.


Kraft Apple Pecan Cheesecake, Adapted
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Printable Recipe

Crust + Topping: 
3/4 cup rolled oats
6 Tbsp. white whole wheat, whole wheat or all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. white sugar
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups chopped peeled apples (I used Pink Lady)

2 (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese, softened (I used Neufchatel)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream (I used lite)

Heat oven to 325F. In work bowl of food processor, combine oats, flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 2 Tbsp. white sugar. Pulse 2-3 times. Add butter and pulse till combined. Reserve 1/2 cup of mixture in small bowl, adding pecans and cinnamon to it – this will be your topping. Press remaining mixture onto bottom of greased 8” springform pan (or 8” square pan). Bake 9-10 minutes, till set, not brown. Cool thoroughly on wire rack. (Place in fridge or freezer for faster cooling, if desired.)

Wipe work bowl with damp paper towel. Combine cheese, brown sugar and vanilla and pulse till well combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides. Add eggs, one at a time, pulsing after each addition. Add sour cream and pulse till well mixed. Pour over cooled crust. Carefully spread apples over top of cheesecake. Sprinkle reserved topping mixture over apples. Bake about 50-55 minutes, or till center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving. (For an extra-special touch, drizzle caramel topping over each piece of cheesecake.) Yield: about 8 servings

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


oatmeal CC muffins (2)
When I made Quaker Oats’ Prize-Winning Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins with Chocolate Streusel I thought there could never be another oatmeal cc muffin to get my top rating. But this one comes very close. Kari Farwell submitted this fabulous recipe to Allrecipes, and the readers rated it 4-1/2 stars. Even with my lower-fat, part whole-grain version, these muffins are still moist, tender, flavorful, full of chocolate chips, with a nice crunch from the walnuts and just a hint of spice from the cinnamon in the topping. Soaking the oats in the milk for 15 minutes before mixing the batter is a crucial step in developing the tender crumb and light texture of the muffin. You’ll get 12 standard-size muffins, and any that are left can be frozen and microwaved for a quick snack or treat. oatmeal CC muffins
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins
Adapted from Allrecipes
Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Printable Recipe
INGREDIENTS: 1-1/4 cups quick-cooking oats
1-1/4 cups milk (I used 3/4 cup milk + 1/2 cup lite sour cream)
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used Ultra-Grain)
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sea salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, divided use
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup packed brown sugar, divided use
1 tsp. cinnamon

oatmeal CC muffins (7)
1. Combine oats and milk in large bowl and allow to stand 15 minutes. Heat oven to 425F. Spray the wells of a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, chocolate chips and 1/2 cup nuts in medium bowl.

3. Beat egg, oil, applesauce, vanilla and 1/2 cup brown sugar into the oats and milk mixture. Add the dry ingredients, all at once, stirring just till barely combined, leaving a few lumps, if any. Do not overmix.

4. Fill each of the 12 muffin wells about 2/3 full. Sprinkle tops with the remaining brown sugar, nuts and cinnamon. Place muffin tin in oven and immediately reduce heat to 375F. Bake 17-20 minutes, or till a toothpick inserted near center returns almost clean. Cool in pans about 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack to finish cooling. Yield: 12 standard-size muffins
oatmeal CC muffins (6)
oatmeal CC muffins (8)

Monday, October 5, 2009


pumpkin-cranberry cookies with cr cheese frosting (4)

One last package of frozen butternut squash in my freezer begged to be used before new squash moved in. This recipe, from Food Network Kitchens, looked promising, except that the cookies were reported to be cakey. I’m somewhat prejudiced toward cakey cookies. I wanted something fudgy, not cakey. Not knowing if my goal was achievable, I decided to give it a try. By draining the squash, adding dried cranberries and nuts and subbing whole wheat flour for all purpose, enough liquid was soaked up to make this cookie soft and dense like a brownie; hence the title “fudgy.” Adding lemon zest and changing the spices a bit gave these cookies a unique spicy-tart-sweet flavor that played well with the squash. Since I halved the original recipe, my yield was only 19 cookies that disappeared all too quickly. I will make these again, because they are delicious and a perfect treat for fall.

pumpkin-cranberry cookies with cr cheese frosting

Fudgy Pumpkin-Cranberry Cookies with Cream Cheese Glaze
Adapted from Food Network Kitchens
Rating: 9 out of 10

Printable Recipe

INGREDIENTS: 1/2 cup brown sugar (I used 1/4 cup sugar + 1-1/2 tsp. Stevia + 1 tsp. molasses)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened (I used I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter)
1 Tbsp. dark corn syrup
1 large egg, room temperature
3/4 cup pumpkin or butternut squash cooked, mashed and well drained
1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp. lemon juice
1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon*
1/4 tsp. powdered ginger*
1/8 tsp. nutmeg*
big pinch ground cloves*
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1-1/4 cup white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose, if preferred)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts or pecans
(*You can substitute a scant 2 tsps. pumpkin pie spice for the 4 spices. )

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, on low speed, combine sugar, molasses(if using), butter and corn syrup. Stir in egg, pumpkin, seasonings and dried cranberries and mix on low speed till well incorporated. Let mixture sit for 15-30 minutes.

Stir in flour, baking powder, salt and nuts, and mix till well combined.

Drop rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.pumpkin-cranberry cookies with cr cheese frosting (3)
(I like to line my cookie sheets with parchment paper, which can be wiped clean and reused several times.) Bake about 10 minutes, or till a toothpick inserted in center returns almost clean. Cool on wire rack. When cool, ice with cream cheese glaze and sprinkle tops with chopped cranberries and crushed nuts.
pumpkin-cranberry cookies with cr cheese frosting (5)
Cream Cheese Glaze with Cranberry-Nut Sprinkle
INGREDIENTS: 2 oz. cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese, very soft (I used Neufchatel)
1-1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp. finely chopped dried sweetened cranberries
1 Tbsp. toasted walnuts or pecans, finely chopped

In small bowl, whisk or stir with spoon the cheese. Add sugar and zest. If thinning is necessary, add lemon juice, 1/2 tsp. at a time, till frosting is desired consistency. Apply to cooled cookies and sprinkle with cranberries and nuts.

Friday, October 2, 2009


MandM cookies

Gold Medal has a recipe for “Extraordinary Chocolate Chip Cookies” printed on the back of their 5-lb. unbleached all-purpose flour bag. Always up for a new CC cookie recipe, I thought I would try it, especially since they bragged with the title that the cookies are “extraordinary.”

Right off the bat, I made a change, switching from chocolate chips to M&M’s. And instead of using white sugar + brown sugar, I opted to use white sugar + molasses. And, sorry Gold Medal, but I also decided to use up some of my Ultra-Grain (30% whole wheat) flour and add some of my “coffee essence.”

MandM cookies (5)

And here’s a little reminder: Don’t get out your Kitchen Aid for these cookies. Use a spoon or spatula to mix the dough. That way, you won’t overheat the dough, causing your cookies to rise up high, then deflate when they cool. And don’t leave the butter out on the counter too long either. The butter should be at cool room temperature, so plan to leave it out for about 15-20 minutes for best results.

Well, these cookies lived up to their title, because everyone who tasted them raved. They’re crispy, crunchy and chewy, and have excellent flavor and sweetness. They’re not big and fat like a Levain cookie, but they are the kind of cookie that people really like. That chewiness and sweetness with the crispy-crunchiness is a winner. And the M&M’s definitely belonged in these cookies. This one’s a keeper for sure.

Adapted half batch from Gold Medal’s Extraordinary Chocolate Chip Cookies
Rating: 9 out of 10
Printable Recipe

INGREDIENTS: 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter or margarine (I used I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter)
1 cup + 3 Tbsp. sugar + 1-1/2 tsp. molasses (Or, you can use 1-1/4 cups brown sugar, packed)
1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. coffee essence (equal parts of coffee liqueur + instant coffee granules)
1 large egg
2-1/4 cups flour (I used Ultra-Grain)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt
12 oz. bag of M&M’s (or you can use chocolate chips, if preferred)

Heat oven to 350F. In large bowl, beat butter, sugar, molasses (if using), vanilla, coffee essence and egg till thoroughly combined. (It’s okay if you see some specks of butter; don’t worry about getting the butter totally smooth in the batter.) Stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Dough should be slightly stiff. Stir in M&M’s.

MandM cookies (3) Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2” apart on ungreased cookie sheet. (I used my small ice cream scoop.) Flatten slightly with fingers or fork.
MandM cookies (2)
Bake 11-13 minutes, or till a toothpick inserted near center returns clean. Cool on baking sheets at least 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to finish cooling. (Leaving the cookies in the pan to start cooling helps to make them chewy, so don’t move them for at least 5 minutes.) Yield will depend on size of cookies.
MandM cookies (4)