Red Beet Cupcakes

Red Beet Cupcakes

We have an awesome cupcake store in our neighborhood and every now and then we take the kids by to enjoy a special treat. Without fail, their eyes are always drawn to the most colorful cupcakes in the display case. My kids may have no idea how a red velvet cupcake made with crimson food dye actually tastes, but put something like it in front of them and their immediate response is, “that one”.

Red Beet Cupcakes from weelicious.com

My take on these cupcakes have a rich flavor, and while they aren’t as artificially red as the red velvet cupcakes which use chemical food dyes (and of course chocolate which this one doesn’t include), they (and their icing) get their bright, reddish-pink color from a surprising, delicious and 100% natural guest, roasted beets. Especially given the never-ending speculation about the connection between food dyes and hyperactivity in children, having smart alternatives for the artificially colored food that kids crave means I don’t have to deprive my little ones.

This doesn’t mean we’re not frequenting our local cupcake store any less often, but I always like reminding myself that whenever there’s something out there I may not be thrilled about my kids eating, figuring out how to make a healthier version is not at all impossible.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 large beet, roasted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Beet Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup beet puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Sift the first 4 ingredients into a bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients.

4. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet and combine.

5. Pour about 1/3 cup into lined muffin tins and bake for 25 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean.

6. Cool completely before frosting.

Beet Cream Cheese Frosting (Make 2 Cups)

1. Place all the ingredients in a mixer and beat on medium to high speed until fluffy. 2. Spread on cupcakes.

 

 

Red Beet Pancakes

Red Beet Pancakes

Red Beet Pancakes came to me courtesy of my husband.

My better half has discovered a passion for cooking. For me, this newfound culinary obsession of his is both a blessing and a curse. While on one hand it’s a huge relief because I don’t have to cook, it can also be a total pain in my tush (and not just because of the potential mess I likely find afterwards) because while he is completely focused on his latest creation, I am left in charge of two cranky, hungry kids.

It’s hard for me to get upset though. Hubby gets so excited about the whole process and the two hour mental voyages he takes while focussed on a new dish are kinda hilarious to watch. It’s like witnessing a 4 year old trying to finish a 50 piece jigsaw puzzle for the first time. Plus, I love watching how jazzed the kids get seeing Daddy work in what they consider to be Mommy’s turf.

One recent Saturday morning, Daddy decided to make a beet pancake recipe he had seen in Good to the Grain, a fabulously gorgeous book by Kim Boyce. As soon as Kenya heard the words “beet” and “pancakes” he said, “no way, that’s gross”. It didn’t take long for Chloe to jump on the “yucky” bandwagon. It seemed like this experiment was going to leave two out of four of us with empty tummies, but as soon as the kids got into helping Daddy stir, mash and measure, they apparently forgot all about their initial aversion. By the time the beautiful ruby discs finally came off of the griddle and onto everyone’s plates, the kids downed about five a piece.

My favorite part of this story though, came later on when my husband asked Kenya why he was so resistant at first to the beet pancakes. Kenya just looked at him and said, completely matter of fact, “who knew they were going to be that good!”

I’ve simplified Boyce’s recipe here, adding some whole wheat flour, more pureed beets to further brighten the color and some Greek yogurt too, making these red beet pancakes a breakfast that will make everyone’s eyes as big as their stomachs when you set them on the table.

He may make a bit of a mess and take a while finding his way around the kitchen, but I have to say it’s unbelievably charming watching hubby take over what I usually think of as my kitchen….and make it more of ours!

 

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 Cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 Tsp kosher salt
  • 2 medium beets, roasted and pureed (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 1/4 Cup milk
  • 1/3 Cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tsp vanilla extract

Preparation

1. Sift the first 5 ingredients into a bowl.

2. Place the rest of the wet ingredients in a separate bowl and whisk thoroughly to combine.

3. Add the dry ingredients into the wet and stir until just combined (you don’t want to overstir the batter — some lumps are good).

4. Drop about 2 tbsp of the pancake mixture onto a greased griddle or pan over medium heat and cook for 3 minutes on each side.

5. Serve with desired accompaniments.

* To freeze: Place the pancakes in labeled zipper bags and freeze for up to 3 months

 

Waffle Heart Sandwiches

Waffle Heart Sandwiches

Nothing says I love you quite like these Waffle Heart Sandwiches for Valentine’s Day! Crunchy, creamy filled heart sandwiches full of deliciousness that kids and adults simply love.

If you know anything about me you know I love coming up with fun, creative ways to make lunch for my kids. If there’s a holiday, you better believe I’m going to try to make their lunch box holiday themed! Valentine’s Day is no exception. In fact, it’s one of my favorite holidays! Every year I make these Waffle Heart Sandwiches for Kenya, Chloe and Gemma’s bento boxes and they absolutely love them!

These sandwiches are a fun treat to make with your kids too. They love cutting out the bread into hearts with a cookie cutter, filling them with cream cheese and raspberries, and finally, popping them into the waffle iron! I love these sandwiches too because they’re totally customizable. You can add any filling you want and they’ll be equally delicious!

We’ve made these with peanut butter and jelly before and they are absolutely incredible! The way they get crispy from the waffle iron cannot be matched. And it’s so easy! If you haven’t been making sandwiches in your waffle iron, this is your sign to do so asap!

I love any excuse to use my waffle maker too. There are tons of weelicious recipes for your waffle maker you’ve got to try like Waffle French Toast, Rainbow Waffles, and even Waffle Iron Eggs! There are endless way to use your waffle maker and it’s so much fun!

Valentine’s Day is one of the most fun holidays to come up with recipes for! We make these adorable Raspberry Cream Cheese Heart Tarts, Puff Pastry Berry Hearts and this really cute Valentine’s Day Snack Board. They’re great if you have a school party too and look adorable on any table!

 

Ingredients

  • 4 slices sandwich bread
  • 2 tablespoons whipped cream cheese
  •  honey, to taste
  • 6-8 fresh raspberries

Preparation

1. Preheat waffle iron.

2. Using a large heart shaped cookie cutter, cut the bread into hearts.

3. Spread half the cream cheese on 1 heart and drizzle with honey to taste. Flatten the raspberries by opening them up with your fingers. Place 3-4 raspberries on top of the cream cheese and top with another plain piece of heart bread. Place the sandwich in the waffle iron for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown.

4. Repeat with remaining ingredients and serve.

The Best Banana Pudding Recipe

The Best Banana Pudding Recipe

If you’ve never had good old fashioned Banana Pudding then you are seriously missing out!  This creamy dessert is so popular that there’s even a 2 day festival in hour of it.  I kid you not; there’s a National Banana Pudding Festival the first week of October in Centerville, Tennessee!

It’s generally associated with the Southern part of the United States but it’s popular in all parts of the country.  It’s not really known exactly how the dessert became a Southern Icon but it’s been a Southern specialty since the 1940’s if not longer.

Old Fashioned Banana Pudding is pretty similar to the English Trifle in that it’s layers of creamy custard, fruit, and a soft spongy cookie which can be topped if desired with a dollop of whipped cream, or in some homes meringue.

This iconic dessert was further popularized by the Nabisco company when it published the recipe on the box of every Nabisco brand Nilla Wafers, which of course is featured as Wone of the key ingredients.

So back to the beginning, if  you’ve never had good Old Fashioned Banana Pudding you’re missing out.  So to rectify that here’s  a recipe for this yummy dessert.  And no instant Banana Pudding from a box doesn’t count!

Old Fashioned Banana Pudding

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Tbs. Flour
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1/4 Tsp. Salt
  • 4 Cups Whole Milk
  • 4 Egg Yolks
  • 1 Tsp. Vanilla
  • 4-5 Ripe Bananas
  • 1 Box Vanilla Wafers (the Nabisco brand are called Nilla Wafers)

Instructions
 

  • Whisk flour, sugar, salt, milk, egg yolks, and vanilla in a saucepan.
  • Cook on medium heat about 15 - 20 minutes or until thick.  Keep stirring mixture as it cooks so it won't scorch and stick to the pan.
  • Remove from  heat.
  • Layer vanilla wafers in the bottom of a dish or bowl.
  • Add a layer of banana slices, one on each wager works well.
  • Pour 1/2 of  pudding over the layers.
  • Repeat a layer of wafers and bananas on top of the pudding layer.
  • Pour the other half of the pudding over that new layer.
  • Top with crushed wafers if desired.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Key Lime Pie Recipe

Key Lime Pie Recipe

Key Lime Pie is my favorite.  It’s sweet tartness is very refreshing, specially in the summer.

The first time I had Key Lime Pie was at a small local restaurant in Key West, Florida.  It was love at first bite!   Of course there it’s a very popular dessert; Key West has long claimed the pie originated on their tiny island using the small thin skin limes associated with the island.

You might be wondering what makes the Key Lime so special.  It’s a citrus hybrid that is smaller, rounder, and seedier than the usual larger more oval limes.  Key Lime, also known as Mexican Lime, Omani Lime, and West Indian Lime, also have a stronger aroma, more acidic, and thinner rind than its larger counterpart.

Whatever the case may be as the famed ingredient in Key Lime Pie it’s delicious!  Of course you can substitute other limes to make Key Lime Pie, but seriously it isn’t quite the same.  But in many places finding fresh Key Limes is not always easy. However you can buy Key Lime Juice in some stores and definitely on Amazon.  Living in Hawaii I rarely find fresh Key Limes and must resort to using the bottled juice.  I do garnish my pie with a slice of fresh lime, whatever type I manage to find.

There are many Key Lime Pie recipes out there, and believe me I’ve tried more than a few.  But for me easy is best.  This mean I do not like to make pie crust, it’s one chore I avoid whenever possible.  Now Key Lime Pie is usually made with a Graham Cracker crust, of course you can make your own, there are many recipes for this, or be like me and use store bought Graham Cracker Crusts.

You also need Whipped Cream, which of course you can buy spray cans of in your grocer’s dairy section.  That would be the easiest.  But although I’m always looking for the easy way, I make my own whipped cream.  I prefer homemade whipped cream simply because I love the taste of freshly whipped cream.  I like to pipe the whipped cream on top of the pie using a large star tip, or sometimes just around the outer edge and a large dollop in the middle.  But if you don’t what to make your own whipped cream the spay cans will do just fine, you won’t even need a star tip and piping bag to decorate the top of your pie.

So having said all that here’s my recipe, it includes instructions on homemade whipped cream.

Key Lime Pie

Ingredients:

1  9″ Graham Cracker Pie Crust (homemade or store bought)

1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk

1/2 Cup Sour Cream

3/4 Cup Key Lime Juice

1 Cup Fresh Heavy Whipping Cream – cold

1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar

1 Tsp. Vanilla

Fresh Lime Slice

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Whisk condensed milk, sour cream, and lime juice together in a medium bowl.

Whisk until smooth.

Pour into prepared crust.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool on counter for about 30 minutes.

Chill pie in refrigerator at least 3 hours.

Before serving make whipped cream:

Using the whipping attachment to your standup mixer or the beaters of a hand held mixer beat cream and sugar until stiff peaks form.

Beat in vanilla.

Pipe on top of chilled pie.

Garnish with a slice of lime if desired.

 

Mango Cream Cheese Cake

Mango Cream Cheese Cake

Mango, the king of fruit as it’s known in many parts of the world, is not high in calories and is an excellent source of beta carotene, vitamin A, and potassium.  It’s also very delicious!

Now that we are in peak mango season my husband has been bringing home loads of this sweet juicy fruit.  We love them fresh but also love to make them into different desserts.  This year’s bumper crop has allowed me to whip up all the recipes my family loves and create a few new ones.

This Mango Cream Cheese Dessert is a long time family fave!  I got the recipe years ago from a cookbook my aunt gave me.  It’s one of those loosely bound cookbooks the local churches publish every so often to sell in a fund raiser, it contained a compilation of their members’ favorite recipes.  This cookbook was published in 1985.  My cherished copy is in poor condition, missing it’s covers, grease stained, fading, and taped up; it’s moved with me from Hawaii to Texas and back twice!  Old as it is the recipes are still our favorites.

This dessert takes a bit longer to make as it is made in 3 layers and can take all day, you have to wait for the crust too cool and the layers to set.  I tweaked it a bit to make it a bit simpler.  It is definitely worth the effort!  You end up with a refreshing creamy dessert on a cookie crust that is perfect for summer barbecues or any other time!

I make it in a 9″ x 13″ pan, the number of servings will depend on the size you cut it, in my house that means it will barely serve 6.  Whenever I make this it never stays in the fridge for more than a day or two, it’s that good!

If you can’t find fresh mango you can use peaches or your favorite fruit, just change the jello flavor to compliment the fruit.

Mango Cream Cheese Cake

Ingredients:

3/4 butter – softened

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 cups flour

3 boxes (3 oz. size) lemon jello

4  cups boiling water (divided into 1 cup & 3 cups)

1  8oz. cream cheese – softened

1 cup sugar

1  8oz. container cool whip – thawed

1 envelope Knox unflavored gelatin

1/4 cup water at room temp.

4 cups sliced mangoes (about 3 medium sized mangoes)

Directions:

Mango Cream Cheese Dessert

Crust:

1.  Mix butter, brown sugar, and flour in large mixing bowl until it is crumbly.

2.  Press into 9″ x 13″ baking pan.  Be sure you get it all the way to the sides and into the corners or the other layers will seep under the crust and you will end up with an upside down mess.  (It will still take great, but will look unappetizing)

3.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool completely before proceeding to the 1st. layer.

Mango Cream Cheese Dessert

1st. Layer:

Before you start this layer dissolve 1 box of lemon jello in 1 cup of boiling water.  Let cool completely to room temperature.  Stir every so often to keep it from hardening.

1.  Beat cream cheese with sugar.  Fold in Cool Whip.

2.  Slowly pour COOLED jello into the cream cheese mixture.

3.  Gently stir the jello/cream cheese mixture.  It will be a bit loose with a few clumps but that’s ok.

4.  Pour into the crust.  Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 -3 hours.

Mango Cream Cheese Dessert

2nd. Layer:

Before you start the next layer dissolve 2 boxes of jello in 3 cups boiling water; soften unflavored gelatin in 1/4 cup water at room temp.; add softened gelatin to jello until dissolved.  Let cool completely to room temperature.  Stir occasionally to keep the bottom from setting.

1.  Arrange sliced mangoes on top of 1st. layer.  It doesn’t have to look neat as the fruit may float when you pour the jello over it.

2.  Pour COOLED jello mixture over mangoes.  BE SURE your jello is completely COOLED before pouring over the mangoes!!  If the jello is hot or warm it will dissolve the cream cheese mixture and you will have a mess on your hands.   Refrigerate until firm, I usually leave it overnight.

Cut into desired size and serve.  Lifting the first piece out of the pan is the hardest part, be sure you cut clean thru to the crust and use a cake server to get under the crust and lift the whole piece out.
My first piece usually falls apart so I use it to “taste” the dessert.  Once you get that first piece out the rest is easy, just remember to cut thru to the crust every time.

This dessert will keep in the fridge for several days, that is if you can refrain from snacking on it.  At my house this dessert rarely lasts more than a day!