Easy Apple Strudel (Apfelstrudel)

20160927_144943October is just around the corner and many of the typical fall favorites have already made their annual debut. For most, October signifies the time to use or buy the traditional flavors of fall (pumpkin, apples, & warm spices) in everything from food to candles and soaps. For those with a German heritage, it is also the time to anticipate Oktoberfest. Every year in October, Germany holds an annual festival in Munich called Oktoberfest. The festival hosts attractions and serves up traditional food to visitors from around the world. The most notable feature is the consumption of Oktoberfest beer. Although the main festival takes place in Germany, there are many festivals across the globe that mimic the original and allow people to celebrate the tradition no matter their location.

20160927_150609When attending the Oktoberfest near my home in Central Florida there are three traditional items I can’t leave without trying: a Frankfurter covered in sauerkraut, a pretzel, and Apfelstrudel. Of the three, the Apfelstrudel is the most important to me because it is something I cannot easily replicate at home. The light and flaky dough is so hard to manage that I have only attempted to make the traditional German version twice. You literally need a large table, tablecloth, and a ton of patience to stretch the dough until you can literally read a piece of paper through it but without tearing a hole in it. This is no easy task folks I assure you. That is why most pastry shops in Germany have switched to using phyllo dough to replace the labor intensive traditional way.

20160927_150626To be quite honest even phyllo dough can be tricky to work with, which is why when I wanted an easier version to replicate at home I decided to use puff pastry. You can achieve a similar light and flaky crust as the traditional dough or phyllo, but without all of the hassle. One day when I am feeling more adventurous and I don’t have a preschooler and infant taking up the majority of my time, I will attempt to make strudel again with phyllo in place of the puff pastry. For now though, this will be my easy go to recipe when I want a taste of Oktoberfest at any time of the year.


Easy Apple Strudel (Apfelstrudel)


  • 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
  • ¼ cup Light Brown Sugar; packed
  • 2 tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. Salt
  • 2 pounds (6 medium) Granny Smith Apples; peeled & thinly sliced
  • ½ cup Golden Raisins
  • 2 sheets Frozen Puff Pastry; thawed
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 tbsp. Water
  • ¼ cup Chopped Walnuts
  • 2 tbsp. Granulated Sugar
  • Vanilla Ice Cream


  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, salt, apples, and raisins. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook 10 minutes or until the apples are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, on a lightly floured surface, roll each puff pastry sheet into a 15 x 12 inch rectangle. Using a slotted spoon, place an equal amount of the apple mixture along the long edge of each pastry sheet (leaving a 1 inch margin on all sides). Roll up the pastry in a jelly-roll fashion. Tuck edges under and gently press the seam to seal. Place seam side down on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Whisk egg and water until combined. Brush mixture over top and sides of each strudel. Cut diagonal slits across the top of each strudel for ventilation.
  5. Place nuts and granulated sugar in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Sprinkle each strudel with the nut mixture, pressing gently to adhere. Bake strudels for 25 minutes or until golden. Let stand 5 minutes; slice and serve with desired amount of vanilla ice cream.





Summer Stone Fruit Crisp

20160703_153619Stone fruits are one of summer’s best seasonal produce options. When I spotted some fresh Georgia Peaches on sale along with a red variety of plumcots, I had to bring them both home (plus a few plums that happened to hop on in). Unfortunately, these tasty gems go from remarkable to rotten extremely quick, like overnight quick. I probably should mention that it didn’t help matters that one of my cats decided to taste test one, bruising it pretty good. Of course once one peach gets bruised any near it also get bruised and soft.

20160703_153805Upon first glance, the fruit looked like it deserved a trip to the trash. However, the great thing about stone fruits are they can easily be salvaged. Crisps are a simple, rustic way to save any stone fruits that seem past their prime. My golden rule is if the fruit still smells sweet and you don’t see any mold it can be thrown in a crisp. A crisp is a simple way to showcase the abundance of summer’s stone fruits. All you need is a small baking dish, the fruit, and a few other ingredients that are typical pantry staples. No extravagant shopping trips necessary.

20160703_153738The stone fruits used in this crisp are peaches, plums, and plumcots. I specifically used black plums and red plumcots but you are welcome to use whatever combination you have on hand. I prefer this combination as it provides a mixture of tart and sweet fruits that complement one another. The goal is to add a hint of sweetness from the peaches but keep the flavor remaining tart overall so that it does not become too sweet when paired with the ice cream. The addition of cinnamon and nutmeg warms up the flavor of the stone fruits while the crispy oat topping provides a crunchy textural contrast to the soft fruit base.

I find this crisp to be the perfect end to any summertime meal. This year it will be served at our Independence Day BBQ. It is best served warm with some low-fat vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt. Enjoy & Happy 4th of July to America!!!!!!!


  • If you are preparing the crisp ahead of time and would like to serve it warm to guests, you can place it in single serving bowls then microwave each bowl for approximately 30 seconds. If you would like to heat up the entire crisp at once you can place it in a 350° oven for approximately 5 minutes or until it reaches your desired degree of warmth.
  • This crisp yields about 6 servings, however it can easily be doubled. When doubling the recipe make sure you use a 13 x 9 inch baking pan to accommodate the larger amount of ingredients.
  • The nutritional information is based upon a serving that includes ½ cup of crisp and 1/3 cup low-fat vanilla ice cream.

Summer Stone Fruit Crisp

Fruit Base Ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ cups Sliced Peaches
  • 1 cup Sliced Plums
  • 1 cup Sliced Plumcots
  • 3/8 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 ½ tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
  • ¼ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. Ground Nutmeg

Oat Topping Ingredients:

  • ½ cup Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
  • ¼ cup Light Brown Sugar; packed
  • 1.7 ounces All-Purpose Flour
  • ¼ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter; melted
  • 2 cups Low-Fat Vanilla Ice Cream


  1. Combine all of the fruit base ingredients in a large bowl. Let mixture stand for 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°. Grease an 8 x 8 inch glass or ceramic baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon the fruit mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Drizzle mixture with the butter. Stir mixture with a fork until crumbly.
  4. Once the fruit base has finished baking, sprinkle the oat mixture over the baked fruit. Continue baking another 10 to 15 minutes or until the topping is lightly browned and the fruit is bubbly. Serve warm with low-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt.


(½ cup crisp & 1/3 cup low-fat vanilla ice cream)









Weight Watchers: 14 Smart Points, 8 Points Plus, or 6 Traditional Points





Skinny Sour Cream Coffee Cake

20160409_165243To start the day off on the right foot, the average American wakes up, has a cup of coffee, and may or may not eat breakfast. For those that do want breakfast with their coffee, most coffee shops offer up alluring breakfast options such as doughnuts, muffins, bagels, sandwiches, and burritos. These offerings taste great but they are certainly not a healthy way to start the day. Although I would preferably like to always start my day with an omelet filled with healthy veggies and a handful of cheese, most days that is just not a feasible option. Rather than skip breakfast altogether one must look for more simple solutions.

20160409_165314-1A traditional pairing to coffee has always been coffee cake (hence the name)…because who doesn’t want to start the day off with something sweet. However, a traditional sour cream coffee cake does not fair any better than coffee house offerings. Just a slice of traditional sour cream coffee cake has around 500 calories and 32 grams of fat! Certainly not a way to start the day, especially if you already loaded the accompanying coffee with cream and sugar. In order to continue to enjoy this classic, it had to be slimmed down A LOT.

20160409_165257-1-1Without losing the moist and fulfilling taste of the original, this recipe adds plenty of whole grains and manages to cut off 225 calories and over 20 grams of fat per slice. Sure it is still not the healthiest option in the world but you can feel a lot less guilty eating a slice on days when you simply have no time for anything healthier. Even when you do have time for a healthier breakfast, this cake is sweet enough to be enjoyed as dessert too!

Skinny Sour Cream Coffee Cake


  • 2.5 oz. (¾ cup) Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats; divided
  • 4.5 oz. (1 cup) All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 oz. (¼ cup) Whole-Wheat Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon; divided
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • ½ cup Granulated Sugar
  • ½ cup Light Brown Sugar; packed (divided)
  • 1/3 cup Unsalted Butter; softened
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 (8 oz.) tub Light Sour Cream
  • 2 tbsp. Walnuts; finely chopped & toasted
  • 1 tbsp. Butter; chilled & cut into small pieces
  • Cooking Spray


  1. Coat a 9 inch springform pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°. Spread oats in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until oats are light brown and slightly fragrant, about 6 minutes.
  3. Measure ¼ cup of browned oats and set aside. Place the remaining oats in a food processor, processing until finely ground, approximately 4 seconds. In a large bowl, place the ground oats, all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ½ tsp. cinnamon. Stir with a whisk until combined.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl, place the granulated sugar, ¼ cup brown sugar, and 1/3 cup butter. Beat with stand or hand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in the vanilla and mix until combined. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture, alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the addition of the flour mixture. Be sure to mix until just combined (do not overstir). The batter will remain slightly lumpy due to the oats. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
  5. Combine the remaining ¼ cup oats, remaining ¼ cup brown sugar, remaining ½ tsp. cinnamon, and nuts in a bowl. Cut in the chilled butter pieces with a pastry blender until well blended. Sprinkle the top of the batter evenly with the nut mixture. Bake the cake for 35-40 minutes, or until top is golden brown and cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove cake from pan and serve. Cake is best served warm but can be stored in an airtight container for 3 days.


(1 Slice)









Weight Watchers: 12 Smart Points, 7 Points Plus, or 6 Traditional Points






DSC_0242Winter has officially set in and with the bitter cold comes a desire to stay bundled up in bed under the warm covers all day. Having a daughter that is about to turn two in just a few weeks prevents me from exercising such a dream but it does still keep me indoors. Although Florida is not as cold as the rest of the country, having lows in the upper 30’s and highs in the mid 50’s is extremely chilly for us with thinned blood. I was born and raised in Iowa so I was used to the negative temperatures this time of year, but surely after years of being a Floridian my blood has quickly thinned like the crushed ice pellets of a slushy on a hot summer day.

Being that I am stuck inside it leaves me one of only a few options: bake, write, or watch endless episodes of Sofia the First with my daughter. I have elected to write (and still have endless episodes of Sofia the First playing in the background). The recipe I present to you today is another cookie I baked for Christmas that I hadn’t the time to get posted prior to Christmas. Melomakarona (Greek Honey Cookies) are yet another traditional Greek Christmas sweet. I will warn you these little gems are extremely popular because they are extremely addictive. Melomakarona happen to be my favorite Greek cookie I have tried so far. Unfortunately with such fine gems there will always be a catch and these are no exception. Melomakarona tend to be a little more time consuming than other sweets I tend to post but they are ever so worth it. I guarantee once you take a bite of this moist and flavorful cookie soaked in sweet honey syrup you will surely be satisfied with your work.

DSC_0245Now that I dropped the bit of bad news regarding these cookies I can overcome any negativity with a positive. Not only do these cookies scent the house with a wonderful aroma, they are the most perfect cookie to prepare during the busy holiday season. I know I just stated they are more time consuming than other cookies so you are certainly wondering how I can then say they are perfect for the busiest and most stressful time of the year. I assure you I am not crazy. The reason I say they are perfect is because these cookies, although time consuming, can be made weeks in advance and still remain soft and fresh as the day they were made. In fact, it is best that they are made a bit in advance so that the honey syrup has enough time to penetrate the cookie and regain a bit of structure. If you try to serve these cookies right after they take a bath in the honey syrup they will crumble and dissolve into a mess in your hands the second you take a bite (although it will be a finger-licking, delicious mess).

If you would like to be as authentic as possible with the Melomakarona, you will want to purchase Greek honey. I won’t lie this can be rather hard to find and a bit pricey so check out your local International market or shop for it online. You may certainly substitute regular honey but keep in mind the flavor will not be the same. This is due to the fact that Greek honey is extremely thick and made from bees that harvest most of their pollen from the thyme plant, imparting a specific flavor unique to Greek honey. For the final authentic touch, top each cookie with a sprinkle of chopped walnuts and a pinch of cinnamon and clove right after they are removed from the honey bath. The cookies displayed in the photos however only have walnuts and cinnamon added since I skipped on the clove as my daughter finds the flavor too harsh if it is not baked into the product. Whichever way you choose to prepare these cookies, each will be guaranteed heaven and a joy to all on the holidays (or any day for that matter).

Note: Cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for about 2 weeks. You will have a good remainder of honey syrup after soaking the cookies. I usually use the delicious syrup to top pancakes and toast but if you would not like leftovers you may cut the ingredients for the honey syrup in half to create a smaller yield.


Syrup Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Water
  • 36 oz. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 18 oz. Greek Honey

Cookie Ingredients:

  • 5.5 oz. Thin Semolina
  • 18 oz. All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ tbsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 tbsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. Ground Nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. Ground Clove
  • 3 tbsp. Brandy or Cognac
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 3.5 oz. Granulated Sugar
  • 3.5 oz. Orange Juice
  • ½ tbsp. Baking Soda
  • 3.5 oz. Water
  • 4.5 oz. Olive Oil
  • 4.5 oz. Vegetable Oil
  • 2 oz. Greek Honey
  • Zest of 1 Orange

Garnish Ingredients:

  • 7 oz. Walnuts; toasted & chopped fine
  • Powdered Cinnamon
  • Powdered Clove (optional)



  1. To prepare the honey syrup: In a large saucepan add all of the syrup ingredients except for the honey. Bring the mixture to a boil. Boil until the sugar has dissolved, about 3 to 5 minutes (mixture will foam so pay close attention). Remove from heat and add in the honey. Stir to combine then set syrup aside to cool completely.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the cookie dough by adding the semolina, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove to a large bowl. Stir the mixture with a whisk to evenly distribute the spices. In another large bowl, add the brandy, vanilla, and granulated sugar. Measure out the orange juice into a large measuring cup. Hold the measuring cup over the large bowl with the brandy mixture. Add the baking soda to the orange juice, causing it to foam up and possibly over the rim of the measuring cup (depends how large the measuring cup is). After the orange juice mixture has finished foaming pour it into the bowl with the brandy mixture and whisk vigorously for 10 t0 20 seconds (if the orange juice mixture overflows the measuring cup while it is reacting, begin whisking the second it overflows into the bowl and continue to whisk until you pour all of the orange juice mixture into the bowl of the brandy mixture). Add the water, oils, honey, and orange zest and whisk to combine.
  3. Add the flour mixture into the brandy/orange juice mixture. Knead the dough lightly by hand until the ingredients are just combined and the dough feels smooth and soft. Be sure you do not overwork the dough or add any extra flour because the cookies will become tough. The dough will feel oily and is normal.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. To shape the Melomakarona, pinch a piece of dough about the size of a walnut and shape into a ball. Once in a ball use your palms to shape the dough ball into an oblong egg shape. Place the shaped cookie on the prepared baking sheet. Press down lightly with the tines of a fork. Continue shaping the rest of the dough. Bake cookies until they are lightly brown and cooked through, approximately 20 minutes.
  5. When the Melomakarona are removed from the oven, let them cool on the cookie sheet for about 1 minute so they are easier to pick up. Working in batches, place the cookies into the cooled syrup. Flip the cookies while in the syrup with a slotted spoon for about 20 seconds (longer if you want a more syrupy cookie). Remove the soaked cookies with the slotted spoon and place on a serving platter. Sprinkle them immediately with the chopped walnuts, cinnamon, and clove (if using).






Today was a very overcast blah day which made it perfect for baking. I chose to tackle a famous Greek pastry called Loukoumades, also known as Greek Honey Puffs. A few days ago I tried to make these sweet gems but failed miserably. After translating a family recipe from Greek to English the measurements were not clear and a lot of guess-work was necessary. This guess-work produced a bowl of dense, inedible pastry.


I admit I was rather frustrated. After working hard to translate my boyfriend’s family recipe only to have it not turn out did cause me to lose motivation, especially since the Greek language is not the easiest thing to learn in the world. I have been trying to learn as much Greek since the birth of my daughter as we will be raising her Greek Orthodox and sending her to Greek school so it will be important for me to have a clear understanding of the language and culture in order to help her learn easier. This has been an uphill battle since the only foreign language I know is Spanish and some random German words and phrases, which are not helpful at all in the quest to master Greek.


Sure I have picked up a lot of Greek words and phrases and can even generally decipher conversations I hear based on what I do know but I am nowhere near where I want to be. Since I have a long road ahead to master Greek language I decided there is one thing I can master from Greek culture rather quickly… their food. This will also come in handy since I want my daughter to learn the tastes and flavors of that portion of her heritage all while broadening the horizons of my own palate. Lately I have been succeeding with savory options such as pasta and rice dishes to offer at dinner. It was only natural that I move on to sweets, which Greeks are notorious for.


Having gotten over my initial frustration I remembered my ultimate goal to provide these traditional dishes for my daughter and boyfriend since we are miles from family that would be able to do so for us. I was refreshed with my initiative to learn every traditional Greek dish, savory or sweet, knowing there is no one else to take on that responsibility and make sure tradition passes down to my daughter and eventually her children as well. With this newly lit fire I decided to get to the bottom of my initial failure.


I did some research online as well as cross referencing the family recipe with a recipe I received from the church cookbook of other family’s traditional Greek recipes. It was there I found my problem. The dense nature of my failure had two causes. The first was too much flour and not enough leavening agent. The second was too thick of dough, causing it to remain lumpy and hard to shape.


With my knowledge of what went wrong I went back to the drawing board. Can you guess what happened… that’s right… SUCCESS!!! Having successfully tackled on Loukoumades I can now put that burden behind me and find a new Greek recipe to try.




  • 2 pkgs Instant or Rapid-Rise Yeast
  • ½ cup Warm Water; between 90° to 100°
  • 2 Eggs
  • 4 tbsp. Granulated Sugar
  • ¾ cup Milk, lukewarm to touch
  • 3 ½ cups All-Purpose Flour, sifted
  • 1 ¼ tsp. Salt
  • Oil for Frying
  • Pure Honey; for drizzling
  • Cinnamon; to taste


  1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Be sure to not overheat the water as it will kill the yeast. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until light and fluffy. Add the milk and sugar and mix until just combined.
  3. Stir in the yeast and half of the dry ingredients. Mix until smooth. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well blended. If the dough appears too thick, add water in small increments until the dough is smooth and falls slowly from the spoon. Make sure the dough is lump free. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour.
  4. In a large saucepan or pot heat the oil. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. This will absorb the excess oil after the Loukoumades are removed from frying. Give the risen dough a quick stir. Place a small amount of oil in a cup or bowl. If you desire small Loukoumades, select a teaspoon. If you desire larger Loukoumades like the ones pictured, select a tablespoon.
  5. Dip the spoon you selected in the cup of oil. This will keep the Loukoumades from sticking to the spoon and maintain their shape while frying. Grab a handful of dough and gently squeeze your fist together, causing the dough to squish out through the space in your palm between your thumb and pointer finger. Squeeze out enough dough to cover the surface of the greased spoon and use the edge of the spoon to cut off the dough and create a smooth, round shape. Gently slide the dough off the spoon into the hot oil. Fry the dough until golden brown.
  6. Use a slotted spoon to remove each Loukoumades and place on the prepared pan. Once all the Loukoumades have been fried, transfer to a serving platter. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with cinnamon. Serve immediately as the texture deteriorates once the Loukoumades cool.







Sock-It-To-Me Cake

dsc_0366Sock-It-To-Me!!! If you are anything like me, the phrase jogs a need to belt out a specific tune by Ms. Aretha Franklin. In fact it was her 1967 hit “Respect” which introduced the phrase to most Americans and made it popular. Following the songs popularity, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In added a comedy skit with the same title in which an actress typically ended up being doused with water. Even Richard Nixon once used the phrase while campaigning to be president. It was that much a part of American culture. So it comes as no surprise that in the 1970’s, Duncan Hines would create a cake with the same name and place the recipe on their famous back of the box collection used to market specific cake mixes.

dsc_0351The original Sock-It-To-Me cake from the back of the box recipe is legendary and continues to be made to this day. It uses an easy dump and stir method that incorporates a few extra ingredients added to the back of the box requirements which are meant to transform the typical yellow cake mix into a moist and velvety coffee cake. Too bad the extra ingredients can’t mask the artificial flavor the store-bought mix lends.

To overcome this, a little extra work is necessary but is still simple enough to serve quick and easily at any of your March events. I personally recommend serving this for any March Madness watch parties you may host. It is simple and satisfying to even the pickiest of sweet tooths. Also what better way to root for your favorite team then to have your cake, eat it, and chant for them to sock it to the other team.

dsc_0371The easiest way to prepare this cake is using a food processor, however you can prepare it by hand if you don’t have a food processor. You will lack the finer crumb the food processor gives the cake but it will still taste delicious guaranteed. For the streusel, you will have to chop the pecans finely then mix the rest by hand in a small bowl. For mixing the cake, use a whisk by hand or the paddle attachment on a stand mixer.

This cake serves 12 and looks best prepared in a 12-cup non-stick Bundt pan, but you can also prepare it in a 12-cup non-stick tube pan like I have. No matter which pan you choose to use be sure to grease it with a baking spray made up of a combination of vegetable oil and flour. Doing so ensures a perfectly clean release from the pan. Never trust the deceiving non-stick sales punch lines on your pan products. I have had enough stuck and ruined baked goods in my day to know they are lies😛

Sock-It-To-Me Cake

Streusel Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. Flour
  • 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, melted & cooled slightly
  • ¼ cup Light Brown Sugar, packed
  • 2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • ¾ cup Pecans, toasted

Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 4 Eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup Sour Cream, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 16 tbsp. (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, melted & cooled

Glaze Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups Confectioners’ Sugar
  • 1 ½ tbsp. Milk
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract


  1. For the streusel: Process flour, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans in a food processor until finely ground. Transfer the streusel to a bowl and set aside. Wipe out food processor.
  2. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat to 325°. Grease and flour a 12-cup non-stick Bundt or tube pan. For the cake: Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In the food processor, blend sugar, eggs, sour cream, and vanilla until smooth, about 1 minute. With machine running, slowly pour in butter until incorporated, then add flour mixture and pulse until just combined.
  3. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan and top with the streusel mixture. Cover the streusel with the remaining batter and use a rubber spatula to smooth out the surface. Tap the cake a few times on the counter to remove any air pockets. Place on a sheet pan and bake until the cake is golden brown, about 50 to 60 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes.
  4. As the cake cools prepare the glaze. Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla in a bowl until smooth. Turn out the cake onto a cooling rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the glaze over the warm cake. Cool completely, at least 2 hours. Serve. (Cake can be stored at room temperature, covered, for 2 days.)






Skinny Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

dsc_0265As month two of 2013 comes to a close I am reminded of my new year’s resolution to shed a few pounds. This made me wonder how many others who made the same popular choice to lose weight this year actually stuck with their goal. One hurdle I always face is my craving for sweets, usually something involving chocolate. This post doesn’t involve chocolate but does involve a baked good that is commonly mistaken as being somewhat healthier than other options. The Oatmeal Raisin Cookie is often confused as being naturally the most nutritious cookie out there but this is far from true. In fact, some cookies can have as much as 400 calories and 13 grams of fat per cookie. There are many offerings out there that claim they are low-fat or low-calorie and don’t lose the original taste of the full fat/calorie Oatmeal Raisin Cookies but those are for lack of a better word… lies. They often replace butter and sugar with healthier add ins like applesauce or non-fat sour cream, which create nothing but a tough, flavorless, and visually unappealing cookie.

dsc_0251To make a truly healthier version that will retain its color, flavor, and texture, therefore making it actually disappear from the cookie jar rather than sit untouched, a little bit of fat needs to remain. By cutting the butter and browning what remains in the formula, the flavor intensifies as the nuttiness of the butter becomes more pronounced. Unfortunately by cutting fat you lose the texture that it brought to the oats. In a full fat cookie, the oats become tender flavorful bits that still retain a hint of chew. In a low-fat version, they become tough and leathery, barely cooking at all. To prevent this usual pitfall of a low-fat version, the formula toasts the oats in the butter that is browned. This way, in one step two problems are solved.

3Now for the final problem which revolves around sugar content. To reduce fat further, one would think to cut as much sugar as possible. However, when you cut out even a bit of the sugar, you lose not only sweetness but moisture. Moisture that is crucial to the texture of the cookie. To resolve the final problem, an unusual but simple step is done… take a portion of the raisins, chop them and boil in water until a smooth paste forms. By adding this raisin paste to the cookie dough, the cookies remain moist and chewy despite having a dramatic cut in sugar. In fact, the added raisin pulp created a caramel undertone that enhanced the raisin flavor to even better levels than a full fat cookie.

1When all the tricks of the trade have been applied to a traditional Oatmeal Raisin Cookie formula, the result is a dramatic difference in calories, fat, and saturated fat per cookie. A traditional cookie contains 370 calories, 13 grams of fat, with 9 grams being saturated fat. This Skinny cookie contains only 150 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, with 2 grams being saturated fat. Now you can eat an Oatmeal Raisin cookie without all the guilt.

dsc_0268Note: This formula makes about 20 cookies. The cooked and cooled cookies can be stored in a container at room temperature for about 3 days.

Skinny Oatmeal Raisin Cookies


  • 1 cup Raisins; ½ cup chopped fine, ½ cup left whole
  • ¾ Water
  • 6 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
  • 1 ¾ cups Old-Fashioned Oats
  • 1 ½ tsp. Ground Cinnamon (I use a blend of sweet China, rich Vietnamese, Ceylon, & Korintje)
  • 1 cup Flour
  • ¼ tsp. Baking Powder
  • ¼ tsp. Baking Soda
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • 1 ½ cups Light Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract


  1. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and preheat to 350°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine the chopped raisins and water in a small saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer until the water has evaporated and the raisins are plump, about 15 minutes. Let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oats and cook, stirring constantly, until just golden, about 5 minutes. Add the cinnamon and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Let cool.
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in all the raisins, the toasted oats, and the flour mixture until just combined.
  4. Roll 2 tbsp. of dough into 1 ½ inch round balls and place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Gently press each dough ball down until it is about ½ in. thick. Bake cookies until the edges are a light golden brown and the centers are just set, about 13 to 16 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through the baking time. Cool 10 minutes on the baking sheets then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.