Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Black-and-White Cupcakes

  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 10 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp. unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 4 tbsp. light stick butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. low-fat milk
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
Makes 12 Servings (1 cupcake per serving)
  1. To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, cocoa, and water in a small bowl until smooth.
  2. With an electric mixer, beat butter in a large bowl until creamy. Gradually beat in remaining 8 tablespoons sugar. Beat 2 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. With mixer on low speed, alternately add flour mixture and yogurt, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat until just blended. Stir 3/4 cup of batter into cocoa mixture. Spoon half of vanilla batter into prepared muffin cups. Spoon cocoa batter over vanilla batter. Top with remaining vanilla batter. With a table knife, cut and twist through batter to marble. Bake until toothpick inserted into centers of cupcakes comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan and cool completely on rack.
  3. To make glaze, put chocolate and milk in a small microwavable bowl. Microwave on high 30 seconds. Whisk gently until chocolate is melted. Whisk in confectioners' sugar. Spread glaze on cupcakes, using about 1 teaspoon per cupcake.
Note: This recipe appears in the WW Tastier Than Takeout Cookbook. You can have your cupcake and eat it too. This is a healthy gourmet cupcake you can make at home and your family and friends will love them too. Who doesn't love the combination of vanilla and chocolate? The key is what makes this cupcake tastes good is the plain yogurt. Who knew that yogurt could make cupcakes so fluffy and moist? I also love how the cupcakes turned out. They look like a little marble cake topped with chocolate frosting. Once the cupcakes have been cooled and frosted, you can put them away in a Ziploc freezer bag and put them in the freezer so you won't be tempted to eat them all. I know it's not east finding the best cupcake in town but if you make these, you won't be disappointed.

Monday, May 11, 2015

California Turkey Salad with Fresh Tomato-Lime Dressing

  • 5 plum tomatoes (1 1/4 lbs.)
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, thinly sliced crosswise (8 cups)
  • 3/4 lb. lower-sodium smoked turkey, in one piece, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 oz. Pepper Jack cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 avocado, diced
Makes 4 Servings
  1. Cut 2 of the plum tomatoes into thin wedges and set aside.
  2. Quarter the remaining 3 tomatoes and place in a food processor with the lime juice, oil and garlic. Process to a smooth puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Divide the lettuce among 4 plates. For each salad, drizzle the lettuce with 1 tablespoon dressing and top with one-fourth each of the turkey, Pepper Jack, avocado, and tomato wedges. drizzle each salad with 1 tablespoon dressing and serve.
Note: This recipe appears in the South Beach Diet Super Quick Cookbook. Here's another salad that is filling, tastes great and a great way to kick-start your healthy lifestyle. The tomato-lime dressing is homemade and more delicious that store-bought dressing. I highly recommend adding freshly ground black pepper and 2 garlic cloves into the tomato dressing because pepper and garlic always make everything taste better. If you don't have smoked turkey, use regular roast turkey, chicken or crabmeat instead and your salad will still be delicious. The original recipe called for mozzarella cheese but I used pepper Jack cheese instead and it was perfect. The pepper Jack cheese gave the salad a nice kick to it. I also highly recommend using Lime-Infused Olive Oil from the Imperial Olive. For more information, visit 

Tex-Mex Steak Salad with Salsa Dressing

  • 1 1/2tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (1 1/4-lb.) sirloin steak
  • 4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup whole fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup julienned jicama
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1/3 cup prepared no-sugar-added black bean salsa
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 avocado, cut into 1/2-inch dice
Makes 4 (1 1/2 cup Servings)
  1. In a small bowl, sir together coriander, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Rub the mixture into both sides of the steak.
  2. In a medium skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil on medium high. Add the steak and cook for 2-3 minutes preside for medium-rare (longer for more well-done). Transfer to a cutting board and let stand for 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the cilantro, jicama, tomatoes, salsa, lime juice, and remaining 3 teaspoons oil.
  4. Thinly slice the steak, add to the bowl, and toss to combine. Divide the salad evenly among 4 plates and scatter the avocado evenly over the tops.
Note: This recipe appears in the South Beach Diet Super Quick Cookbook. This filling salad can be enjoyed for lunch and dinner. Don't be intimidated by this salad. it may look messy but it's really delicious. It's got lots of protein and vegetables. Jicama is a root vegetable that is often found in the Latin American section or in with the onions & potatoes in the produce section. Use a good vegetable peeler or a sharp pairing knife to remove the brown papery skin before cutting it into matchstick-size pieces. The avocados will get mushy when mixed in with the salsa and tomatoes. The steak is nice and spicy with or without the salad. Don't forget to  season the steak with salt and pepper for taste. I highly recommend using Lime-Infused Olive Oil from the Imperial Olive. For more information, visit

Roasted Pork with Sweet & Sour Cucumbers

  • 3 tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 (1-lb.) pork tenderloin
  • 2 small cucumbers
  • 2 tbsp. minced red onion
  • 2 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. granular sugar substitute
  • pinch red pepper flakes
Makes 4 Servings
  1. Heat the oven to 450 F with an oven rack in the third top. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  2. In a mini food processor, combine the soy sauce, tomato paste and garlic. Process to a smooth puree.
  3. Place the pork between 2 pieces of parchment or wax paper. With a meat pounder or small heavy skillet, pound to a 3/4-inch thickness.
  4. Coat 1 side of the pork with about one-third of the puree. Turn and coat liberally with the remaining puree. Place the pork on the baking sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until cooked through but juicy (an instant-read thermometer should register 150 F). Let pork sit briefly, then thinly slice crosswise.
  5. While the pork is cooking, peel the cucumbers and halve lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds with a spoon and thinly slice the halves crosswise. In a medium bowl, combine the cucumber, onion, vinegar, sugar substitute, and red pepper flakes.
  6. Serve the sliced pork with the cucumbers alongside. If you like, drizzle a little of the liquid from the bowl of cucumbers over the meat.
Note: This recipe appears in the South Beach Diet Super Quick Cookbook. Here is another alternative to Asian takeout. This meal is both filling and delicious. The cucumbers give the dish a nice crunch and a healthy alternative to sauerkraut, noodles or rice. If you don't have pork tenderloin, pork chops will work just as well. You don't have to put the pork chops in the oven; you can broil them or cook them in a skillet and sauté them for 4-5 minutes on each side with the puree mixture on the pork. I highly recommend adding 2 minced garlic cloves to the puree because garlic always makes everything taste better. I also highly recommend seasoning the pork with salt and pepper to taste. One bite of this meal and you'll think twice about ordering takeout. I highly recommend using dark sesame oil from the Imperial Olive in Williamsburg, VA. For more information, visit

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Ginger Chicken Salad in Cucumber Cups

  • 1 large (6 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breast half
  • 2 large English Cucumbers (9 inches long
  • 1 tsp. grated lime zest
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. fresh lime juice (1 large lime)
  • 4 tsp. canola or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. dark sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. minced, peeled fresh ginger
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • slivers of lime zest and red bell peppers, for garnish (optional) 
Makes 16 cucumber cups (4 per Serving)
  1. Place the chicken breast in a small saucepan with just enough water to cover. Bring to a low boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook until mostly cooked through but still pink in the center, about 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the chicken stand in the cooking water for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cut each cucumber crosswise into 8 rounds (about 1 inch thick). With a melon baller or small spoon, scoop out some of the seedy centers to make cups, taking care not to go through the bottoms.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together lime zest, lime juice, canola or olive oil, sesame oil, and ginger.
  4. When cool enough to handle, pull the chicken into small shreds and add to the lime dressing. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Fill the cucumber cups with chicken salad (a scant tablespoon each) and garnish with slivers of lime zest and bell peppers, if desired.
Note: This recipe appears in the South Beach Diet Super Quick Cookbook. This dish puts a sophisticated Asian take on chicken salad. This little treats can be served as starters, snacks or even as a light lunch or dinner. I think it's an elegant dish to serve company or to bring to a party or gathering. I really loved this dish because it was colorful and filling. The combination of lime and ginger mixed with sesame oil and canola oil gives your taste buds a real zing. You can also cook the chicken by seasoning it with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and minced garlic, sautéing it on a hot skillet with canola or olive oil, cool it after it's been cooked and the chicken can be shredded and stuffed into the cucumbers. The chicken, cucumbers and red bell peppers will quickly fill you up because they are filling and REALLY that good. If you want flavored olive oil, I highly recommend using dark sesame oil and Lime-Infused Olive Oil from The Imperial Olive. For more information, visit

Almond-Jam Bars

  • 1 cup unbleached almonds (5 oz.)
  • 1/4 cup granular sugar substitute
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/4 cup sugar-free jam
Makes 27 bars (3 per Serving)
  1. Heat the oven to 375 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. in a food processor, process the almonds, sugar substitute, and salt until finely ground. Add the egg white and process until the mixture forms a paste.
  3. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet and shape into a 14 X 2-inch log. with a moistened thumb, make a 1/4-inch-deep trench down the length of the log. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until lightly golden and set.
  4. A few minutes before the log comes out of the oven, in a small saucepan, heat the jams over low heat until melted.
  5. Once the log is baked, immediately spoon the jam along the trench. Cool the log on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before cutting crosswise on an angle into 27 bars, each a scant 1/2 inch thick.
Note: This recipe appears in the South Beach Diet Super Quick Cookbook. This may look complicated but it's not. I like to think of this treat as a healthy take on PB&J for dessert. There's no peanut butter in this recipe but the ground almonds and any flavor jam will do. ground almonds take the place of  flour so this is probably gluten-free. These bars actually make a nice sweet treat that can be enjoyed anytime of the day. Claire Robinson would enjoy these treats as well because it's a 5-ingredient fix.

Frozen Strawberry Dessert

  • 2 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 8 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 package (10 oz.) frozen unsweetened strawberries, partially thawed
  • 1 cup low-fat frozen whipped topping
Makes 6 Servings
In a medium bowl, gradually blend the mayonnaise and cream cheese; mix well. Add the lemon juice and strawberries, 1/4 cup at a time. Fold in the whipped topping. Evenly divide the mixture into 6 fluted molds and freeze for 2 hours, or until firm. Serve as a sweet dessert salad.
Note: This recipe appears in the South Beach Diet Cookbook. This is what I call a healthy alternative to cheesecake. It feels and tastes like cheesecake in a dish. This dessert has a nice flavor to it and will cool you down in the hot weather and satisfy you after a big meal. I highly recommend swapping sour cream in place of the mayonnaise because you can taste the mayonnaise and the sour cream gives the strawberries and cream cheese a little more rich texture. I also recommend adding a touch of vanilla extract for a sweeter taste. You can use any kind of berry in this recipe wit hthe changes I suggested and it will be a delicious sweet treat.