Heart Fruit Skewers and The Best Fruit Dip Ever

A Last Minute Valentine treat – Heart Fruit Skewers.Heart Fruit Skewers and Fruit Dip
Who can resist fruit cut in pretty heart shapes? Not me.

These skewers make a pretty and healthy-ish platter. And for Valentines’ Day, this dip that I made in the 80’s is a great splurge. And really, the best fruit dip ever. It is light. It is fluffy, sweet and a little tangy. Just perfect. Not healthy, but perfect tasting. I use orange juice concentrate because orange juice makes the dip too runny.

For your Valentine, this is a sweet treat that is a little something different.

Heart Fruit Skewers and Best Fruit Dip Ever

The Best Fruit Dip Ever

Makes 2 cups

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
1 small jar marshmallow fluff

Whisk together the cream cheese and orange juice concentrate. Fold in the marshmallow fluff. Serve at room tempaerature or chilled.

Heart Fruit Skewers and The Best Fruit Dip Ever
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Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 2 cups
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
  • 1 small jar marshmallow fluff
  • .
  1. Whisk together the cream cheese and orange juice concentrate. Fold in the marshmallow fluff. Serve at room temperature or chilled.


Smoked Paprika Pumpkin Fries

Pumpkin Fries

Healthy Halloween just got even more delicious: PUMPKIN FRIES.

I was going to attempt to make butternut squash fries today, but I didn’t have one and I just got back from the pumpkin patch yesterday with the sweetest punkin’ in the patch (see photo below). Ruby picked out a small pumpkin and carried it to the car all by herself. I decided to make it into pumpkin fries and then of course, I’ll buy a new one for her to carve later.

pumpkin patch

My experiment was a huge success! Pumpkin fries are really SO good – lots of flavor and a great texture – and so many less carbs than potatoes. The Hubs and I ate the whole batch after shooting photos. I must add here that if you let them sit, they get a little soggy – so it is best to eat them straight out of the oven if possible.

This is a great healthy treat to make to use up that Halloween jack-o’-lantern that you always feel guilty about throwing away, but don’t know what to do with. Make some pumpkin fries on November 1 – I promise you lots of swoons!

pumpkin fries

Smoked Paprika Pumpkin Fries
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Recipe type: Snacks/ Appetizers/Side Dish
  • One small sugar pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Peel pumpkin, scoop out seeds and strings and then cut into fry shapes - about ⅓ of an inch thick. Toss in oil. Place on a wire rack on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes at top of oven. Then, remove from oven and turn fries over. Return to oven and bake another 15 minutes of so, until fries are fork tender and browned and crispy.
  3. Stir together the smoked paprika, cumin and salt.
  4. Remove fries from oven and sprinkle with spice mixture.
  5. Serve immediately.
  6. (NOTE: Fries tend to get soggy if they sit too long, so eat them right out of the oven - for rave reviews!)

Other Healthy Halloween treats:

Carrot Rice Ball Jack O’ Lanterns, Apron Strings
Boonanas, Eating Richly
Bloody Brains Roasted Cauliflower, Jeanette’s Healthy Living

Six Weeks Raisin Bran Muffin Mix (and Zucchini Bran Muffins)

Bran Muffins

When my kids were little guys, I sometimes kept a container of bran muffin batter stashed in my fridge. I had forgotten about this until recently when I had a craving for these homey comforting muffin.

This mix is perfect for those hectic weekday mornings – you just scoop the ready made batter into muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes. So, while you are getting ready (and if you have kids, you might be looking under couches and in corners for missing shoes and socks), the house fills with cinnamon-y delicious smells.

You can add grated veggies or fruits to me muffins easily. This time of year, I am looking to using up zucchini from my garden. I peel and grate the zucchini and then squeeze it dry with a kitchen towel. You don’t have to peel the zucchini, but it does help lessen the vegetable taste of your muffins. You could also use grated carrots, sweet potatoes or apples.

Then, your reward: you have warm, moist, delicious muffins ready to go with you on your morning drive.

Bran Muffins


Retro Recipe - Six Weeks Raisin Bran Muffin Mix
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  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 4 cups All Bran cereal
  • 2 cups Raisin Bran cereal
  • 1 cup diced walnuts
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • For zucchini version - 8 ounces peeled and grated zucchini
  1. Whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon, cereals and walnuts. Stir together boiling water and baking soda. Cream the sugar and butter and then slowly add eggs one at a time. Slowly stir in the buttermilk. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Let chill in refrigerator for at least 12 hours. Will keep in an airtight container up to 6 weeks.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Butter muffin tins and place ½ cup of batter in each tin. Bake for 20 minutes, or until firm. Let cool to warm.
  4. For zucchini version, place peeled and grated zucchini in a kitchen towel and squeeze as much water out as possible. Stir the grated zucchini into 6 cups of bran muffin batter.


Homemade Marzipan Honeybees

An easy, wholesomely sweet snack that’s fun to make with kids.

Homemade Marzipan Honeybees

Homemade Marzipan Honeybees made with almond flour and honey.

About 8 years ago, I made an extra-special cake for a friend who shares an all-time-favorite comedian with me: The inimitable Eddie Izzard.  Anyone who’s already a fan will recognize the statement “I’m COVERED IN BEES,” but for the uninitiated, I share this here. You’re welcome.

Anyway, the cake was a jelly-roll, styled as Yule Log despite the summer heat, decorated with flowers and (surely you guessed it) COVERED IN BEES. At the time, I used pre-packaged marzipan to roll the little bee-body shapes, and fashioned them just like you see in this recipe’s version, with the sliced almonds as wings.

I was reminded of that cake a few weeks ago, when I finally got to see Eddie live after being an avid fangirl all these years. In homage, I thought I’d recreate the bees all on their own in a homemade whole food version, thinking they’d be a sweet little bite for kids, and a perfect treat for us paleo/whole food types, with no refined sugar, grains, or dairy. …

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Kitchen Confessions from an Imperfect Mom

Flower Cupcakes

My life has not turned out like I had planned. It has turned out much better than that. I have lived an undeserved amazing life. Full of richness. Full of loved ones. Full of passion and joy.

As I am writing today, Mother’s Day, I have many confessions to make. Not only have I not always been a perfect mom, sometimes I have not even been a good one. Sometimes I have yelled and criticized. Sometimes I missed ball games or parties. Sometimes I ==gasp== even gave my kids bad food. There have been drive-through moments in my life, when I just wanted to get little people fed and quiet, and I didn’t even care that the food I gave them was bad for them.

But in acknowledging these imperfections, I also embrace those many more frequent times when I tried. I really, really tried. I did my level best, most of the time, to nourish bodies and souls.

Sometimes my efforts met mixed reviews.

When my daughter Kate was a preschooler, I made some “healthy” soup and put it in front of her. She looked at it. She looked at me. “I’m not going to eat this, even if you spank me.”

Yet another time I fed a “healthy” meal to all and Kate explained “Mom, this tastes like garbage.”

As I look back, the most satisfying times I have spent in my kitchen have been those moments I shared. It is hugely time intensive to let your kids “help” you in the kitchen. But those moments are the best memories my kitchen holds.

There is just nothing like cooking to bind us together as a family. Making candy turkeys at Thanksgiving time. Making Grandma’s enchilada recipe. Feeling warm dough between our fingers making bread. Layering lasagna in an assembly line.

And my kids had many kitchen experiments of their own. Volcano cakes that exploded. Baking cakes without flour. And the time they poured popcorn kernels directly onto the burner just to see what happened.

The passion we have for each other as a family becomes so real in the kitchen. We eat passionate, rustic, flavorful food served as a side of life.

And that has made all the difference.

Happy Mother’s Day from an imperfect mom!

— posted by Donna

Two Ingredient Oatmeal Cookies

Oatmeal Banana Cookies

Two required ingredients – oats and bananas – make these cookies healthy and easy. Flourless. Gluten Free. Sugar Free. Whole Foods. So much goodness!

Feel free to add some goodies – I added raisins and cinnamon, just to jazz them up a bit. But, if you stick to the two ingredients, they taste just great.

I saw this on Tip Hero – a video with a women squishing the oats and bananas with her hands, and it looked too fun not to try. And so much healthier than most oatmeal cookie recipes.

I tweaked the recipe just a bit. I took half of the oats and whirled them in a food processor just a bit. That way the cookies have a more refined texture than just the whole rolled oats.

The cookies do not rise at all, so you need to pat them out to the texture you want before putting them in the oven. I like my oatmeal cookies thin and crispy, so I patted them out to be very thin. And, you need to use a little oil on your baking sheet. I recommend using parchment paper or a silicone mat actually.

I have a husband who just had open heart surgery, and he loves sweets. So, I am on the hunt for recipes that are comforting and a little sweet. He loved these, thankfully. I will be making them again and again!

Two Ingredient Oatmeal Cookies
Prep time
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You won't believe this until you try them. TWO ingredients!
Recipe type: Snacks
Cuisine: Comfort Food
Serves: 12 - 15 cookies
  • 2 cups rolled oats (regular, not quick cooking)
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • Optional ingredients: a teaspoon of cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg, ½ cup of diced nuts, ½ cup of raisins or craisins
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Put 1 cup of the oats in a food processor and whirl until oats are in small bits.
  3. Mix well the whirled oats, the rest of the whole rolled oats and the bananas. Squishing with your hands highly recommended, but a potato masher works well too.
  4. Stir any any optional ingredients.
  5. At this point, you can add a little water if needed to thin the dough a little, especially if you are making your cookies thin.
  6. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, parchment paper or a silicone mat. Spray with a little cooking oil spray.
  7. Scoop the dough onto the prepared sheet in about ¼ cup mounds. Wet your fingers and flatten the cookies out to the desired thickness. (I like mine thin and crispy, so i flattened to about ⅓ of an inch thickness. I also lightly sprayed the fps of the cookies with oil to give them a crispy browned finish, but this is obviously optional.)
  8. Bake at top of oven for 18 to 22 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned.

Other flour less cookie recipes:

Flourless Pistachio Cookies, Kalyn’s Kitchen
Flourless Chocolate hazelnut Cookies, Cafe Johnsonia
Chia Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies, Ambitious Kitchen
Chocolate Quinoa Cookies, The Blender Girl

Berry Cornmeal Cake

Cornmeal Berry Cake

Dessert or a bread for your meal? You decide! This lightly sweetened cornmeal cake is baked in a cast iron skillet and the result is a light, slightly sweet bread / cake that you could serve with butter with your main course, or dollop with a sweet topping to serve as a dessert. Either way, this cornmeal cake is soft and pillowy on the inside and crispy and lightly browned on the outside. I am not a baker, or even a dessert maker, but this cornmeal cake is completely idiot-proof and just perfect for a light touch to a meal.

I love this combo of the corn and berry flavors, they perfectly complement each other. I used a frozen berry mix with strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. Just delilcious.

We sat on our deck and topped slices of this with whipped cream – the perfect end to our spring meal.

Berry Cornmeal Cake
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Total time
Such a versatile recipe - use a sweet topping for a dessert, and slice and spread with butter as a bread for your meal.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 6 to 8 servings
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1½ cups flour
  • ¾ cup fine yellow cornmeal
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 18 ounces fresh or frozen berries (strawberries should be cut into pieces the size of raspberries)
  1. Pre heat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Oil a 9 by 13 baking pan, or a 12-inch cast iron skillet.
  3. Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt.
  4. Cream the sugar and butter. Add in eggs one at a time. Add in vanilla and buttermilk.
  5. Spread in the prepared pan. Sprinkle the berries on top and press them down slightly into batter. Sprinkle with a little extra sugar on top for a crunchy texture to the top of the cake.
  6. Bake for about 1 hour, until set in center. Serve warm with whipped cream.


1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup buttermilk
18 ounces fresh or frozen berries (strawberries should be cut into pieces the size of raspberries)

Pre heat oven to 325 degrees.
Oil a 9 by 13 baking pan, or a 12-inch cast iron skillet.
Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt.
Cream the sugar and butter. Add in eggs one at a time. Add in vanilla and buttermilk.
Spread in the prepared pan. Sprinkle the berries on top and press them down slightly into batter. Sprinkle with a little extra sugar on top for a crunchy texture to the top of the cake.
Bake for about 1 hour, until set in center. Serve warm with whipped cream.

Blueberry Cornmeal Cake, Completely Delicious
Vanilla Citrus Cornmeal Cake, Brooklyn Supper
Cranberry Orange Cornmeal Cake, One Perfect Bite
Cherry Cornmeal Upside Down Cake, Eats Well with Others

St Patrick’s Favorite Popcorn with Matcha and Herbs

Matcha and Herb Popcorn

Have you discovered matcha? As a woman who is “pleasingly plump” and just had her second brush with cancer, I am a huge fan. Why is everyone talking about matcha these days? Because matcha is powerful as a cancer fighting food and as fat burner. One teaspoon of matcha has the same health benefits as 10 cups of green tea – because it is ground green tea leaves, not just green tea from soaking green tea leaves.

And that is why I believe that St Patrick would approve of this popcorn.

Of course this adds a healthy touch to popcorn, but the shock was that it is really delicious. It has a salty, cheesy taste and feel and richness from the matcha. I used nutritional yeast, but Parmesan cheese would work just as well.

So, whip up a batch of this to snack on whilst you’re watching, say Darby O’Gill and the Little People, or any other leprechaun delight. Our family favorite is Darby. The fiddle scene alone is worth the watch!

Luck O’ the Irish to All!

— posted by Donna

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Baked Curly Fries for Superbowl Sunday

baked curly friesI’m hosting my first ever Sportsball Party this weekend, so of course I’m most looking forward to the food. Lucky me, I just got a spiffy new addition to my kitchen gadget collection, the Paderno Spiralizer. Along with making oodles of zoodles, the first thing I looked forward to making was a baked version of a curly fry. The widest setting on the Paderno was perfect for this! It worked with both sweet and regular potatoes, and I plan to experiment with other root vegetables in the future. Perfect lighter fare for your game day plans, whatever other decadence is served alongside them. …

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Fried Black Eyed Peas for a Happy New Year!

Surprisingly delicious fried black eyed peas!

Fried Black Eyed Peas

It’s not too late to have a happier New Year!

Really, it’s not too late. Black Eyed Peas are a traditional food in the south and the tradition is that they will bring you luck in the new year.

The tradition started during the Civil War. In those times, black eyed peas were grown only to feed livestock and slaves, and so the Northern army left these fields alone (no pillaging or burning). So, Southerners were “lucky” to have black eyed beans to eat even when other crops were destroyed. So, the humble bean became a hero.

I watched an episode on Food Network where my culinary crush Alton Brown described eating deep fried black eyed peas. And, yes, in case you were wondering, I do have a poster of my crush Alton hanging in my pantry. He loved the “ca-woosh” of crunching down on them and the crispy salty exterior with the soft creamy interior.

I am not normally a fan of these legumes, but after I saw this I just HAD to make these for New Years’ Day.

I must say they are a hassle to make but SO worth it. The crispy crunch is delightful and the flavor is superb when these beans are tossed with salt and Old Bay. DO make these and you will forget all about luck and get lost enjoying a big ole bowl with your lucky friends and family.

Happy 2015 to us all!

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