Simple advice for a better life.

Trying new recipes is a lot of fun for me, so I am always on a lookout for something new to cook or bake, and then share my experience with all of you.

Lately I have been interested in new recipes that are on a healthy side, to accommodate my family and readers, who are inquiring about these type of foods.

The Red Velvet Cupcakes recipe originated from a website I visit frequently,  however I modified it slightly to fit the mini cupcakes I was making, to cut down on the total fat and calories per serving.

The icing for these cupcakes is in a form of a little rosette, and made with low fat cream cheese.

This recipe yields 24 mini cupcakes.

Cupcakes Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup cake flour (I used Softasilk)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2  tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/8 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tsp.  egg yolk
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup light buttermilk
  • 2 tsp. red food coloring

Cupcakes Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl mix cake flour, whole wheat flour, salt, cocoa, and baking powder. Set aside.
  2. In another bowl beat sugar, butter, and applesauce.
  3. Add egg yolk and whites to sugar mixture, and beat well until creamy.
  4. Mix in vanilla extract.
  5. Add 1/2 of the flour mixture to the egg mixture, and mix well.
  6. Mix in buttermilk and food coloring, until well incorporated.
  7. Add the remaining flour mixture, and mix well.
  8. In a separate container mix baking soda and vinegar.
  9. Fold this mixture into the batter.
  10. Line a mini cupcake pan with liners, and fill each almost to the top (leave about 1/8 inch space to the top).
  11. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  12. Bake cupcakes for 15 minutes.
  13. Remove onto a cooling rack to cool off completely.

Cream Cheese Icing:

  • 4 oz.  light or fat free cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 Tbs. butter, softened, not melted
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Mix cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Add vanilla, and gradually beat in confectioners sugar until icing is creamy.
  2. Add a drop of water at a time, if needed for creaminess.
  3. Use a cake decorating tool to dab each cupcake with a decorative icing rosette.

 

Enjoy these guiltless, skinny cupcakes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Flower Garden – End of Summer Blooms

It’s that time of the year again.

Summer is coming to an end with Labor Day behind us, students gone back to school, days gotten shorter, my vegetable garden slowly closing in as well, but the cooler nights are very favorable for my flower patches.

Today I will share few pictures of my latest blooms, most likely last ones for the season, until they are nipped by the frost.

This my front entryway patch for this year.  These plants finally got a break from the hot summer days, and the cool night are really making them spread out.

 

 

The East side flower patch, only partially captured, is my largest one, and full of vibrant colors. This year I planted lots of Zinnias which I grew from seeds sent to me from Europe, by my sister.  We exchange seeds, and the flowers unite us while gardening during the growing season.

 

 

Other section of the East side flower patch.  These contain lower growing plants, with smaller flowers.

Chrisentimum, White Asters, Coreopsis, Balsamica, and Purple perennial Asters.

 

Hot pink Zinnias.

 

Light pink and orange Zinnias.

 

Red Zinnias.

 

These are annual Asters from seeds sent to me by my sister.   You can see the intricate and dainty flowers in the close up pictures at the top of this post.  I really noticed their beauty while taking the close up pictures of these flowers.

 

This the corner section of my flower patch.  The Purple Aster bush is a perennial plant, and this year I divided it into several smaller plants and spread them around into other sections of my flower garden to even it out.

The Zinnias and the smaller colorful Asters are all annual flowers, but once the flowers dry up, I pick their seeds, and save them for next year’s planting.  This also gives me a chance to color coordinate my flowers, as I label the seeds for each color separately.

The Canna Lily requires a little more work, since the tubers need to be dug up after the first frost, and stored in a dark, cool place over the winter season, to replant again in spring.

I love the Canna Lily for its gorgeous flowers and luscious foliage.

The Zinnia plants are about 4 feet tall, and branch out into bush like plants, but they make  great cutting flowers for bouquets, and they stay pretty fresh for over a week.

This is why I love being outside, working in my garden, tending to my flowers and veggies.

How could anyone not love spending free time surrounded by such beauty of nature.

 

  

Another exciting birthday party to write about.

My grandson just turned TWO, and since he is really into all the alphabet games, puzzles, and books, his parents chose the Alphabet Theme for his birthday party.

His mom was very creative with the birthday cake, as you can see in the picture above, and below.

Besides being delicious, it was very specially made with lots of effort to create a checkered design.

She chose his favorite colors of blue and green, and a special insert had to be used for separating the different color batters, while filling the cake pans with it, to achieve the checkered effect.  Don’t you agree that it looks wonderful?

The six layer cake was frosted with homemade vanilla butter frosting, and decorated with colorful sugar alphabet letters.  She also baked large alphabet letter sugar cookies, which the children were able to decorate with edible food color markers.

In addition to the cake, there were lots of miniature cupcakes  (skinny recipe), with just a dab of cream cheese frosting, and dinosaur sprinkles.

The Birthday Boy is also fascinated with dinosaurs, so many of his birthday cards and gifts supported that interest.  He will be busy playing with all of these until a new interest springs up by the next party.

 

Besides  his special Birthday Cake, he had a second cake to be used on his “official” birth date (in 3 days), and it sure came in handy as he shared it with his parents and grandparents, just before going to the museum in NYC to check out the display of some HUGE dinosaurs.  Nothing can beat that!!

The HAPPY BIRTHDAY on the cake was spelled out with actual wooden letter blocks. Cute and creative, to say the least.

Since the party was in the alphabet theme, the whole party room was decorated with letters, and each letter had an appropriate picture of the birthday boy’s activities from the past year.


   

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a favorite one of mine:

I refer to this particular picture display ” Like Father Like Son”, since the black and white picture is of the father of the Birthday Boy, at the age of two, also trying on big shoes , as his son did the same this year, with his dad’s shoes.

Isn’t this just so adorable and precious?

   
It was a beautiful sunny day, so lots of play activity centers were set up outdoors; a perfect place for the little ones to have fun.

They loved the swing and slide center, the soccer ball and goal net, and most of all, the numerous cardboard boxes with alphabet letters printed on them.

 

These cardboard boxes had large alphabet letters painted on all sides, and the kids had so much fun playing with them.

I am sure these will be used again in the future months, as fun spelling sessions, as well as building blocks, and scrabble games.  Very creative, inexpensive, and fun idea.

 

The adults and kids  had lots of fun playing the “Cornhole” game, swimming in the pool, and being entertained by the show at the outdoor “ABC Theater” (yes these are the stage curtains, trying to stay down on a windy day).

Very talented cast, garbed in their spur of the moment costumes, entertained everyone with the  reenactment of a popular fable about The Great Big Turnip (Reepka – in Ukrainian), narrated by the  Mom the of the Birthday Boy.

It was lots of fun for everyone, and the little ones were very attentive, while munching on their special snacks prepared for the occasion.

The party favors for the young crowd consisted of cute alphabet letter baskets filled with numerous favors, plus homemade crayola crayon letters, which spelled out the name of the recipient of the favor.

There also was large bowl filled with an assortment of sweet treats for those who were allowed to enjoy them, as some parents are very conservative about their kids sugar intake.

 

Last,but not least, is the display of the pre-party appetizers, which included fruit platter, Nirchi’s Pizza from Endicott, NY, Buffalo Hot Wing Chicken Dip, veggies and chips, Ukrainian smoked sausages (Kabanosy) from East Village Meat Market in NYC, Eggplant and Mint Bruschetta, Tomato Bruschetta, Red Beet Carpaccio, Grilled Shrimp with Zucchini and Avocado salad, freshly baked Frico Chips, numerous other kids snacks, and lots of refreshing drinks.

Our family parties are known for more than enough food to please everyone.

After the cake, there was more food served for dinner…..but I failed to capture it on camera (I must have been all partied out….).

It was a fun party, and I applaud the parents of the Birthday Boy for doing such a wonderful job with the party

planning, and final execution of these plans.

I hope you enjoyed my short synopsis of the Alphabet Theme 2nd Birthday Party.

 

Rosh Hashana – Happy New Year!

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR……to all my friends who are celebrating Rosh Hashana!!!

May your New Year be filled with good health, love, and prosperity.

To add to the sweetness of the new year, here are links to the recipes of the above picture goodies.

 

Honey Cake:

http://suburbangrandma.com/culture/traditional-ukrainian-honey-cake-recipe/

 

Caramel Apple Dip:  

http://suburbangrandma.com/recipes/caramel-apple-dip-recipe/

 

Jewish Apple cake:

http://suburbangrandma.com/culture/jewish-apple-cake-recipe/

 

Anjoy.

If you like egg salad, but don’t care for the mayo in most of them, you will enjoy this recipe.

I personally like small quantities of Hellmann’s Light Mayo in my salads, but some of our family members do not like mayo at all, so I am on a lookout for mayo alternatives.

Today I created a light version of egg salad with Avocado and Greek Yogurt.

I used Light Style Pepperidge Farm 7 Grain bread, which has only 45 calories per slice.

What a great sandwich it turned out to be. Yum!

This recipe yields 1 sandwich.

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 avocado, cubed
  • 1 Tbs. Plain  Greek Yogurt (or Light Sour Cream if you don’t like yogurt)
  • 1 1/8 tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. chopped chives
  • 1 tsp. chopped dill weed (or cilantro if you prefer)
  • 1 tsp. chopped red pepper (or tomatoes)
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Black pepper to taste

 

Directions:

  1. Place 2 eggs in a sauce pan filled with enough cold water to cover the eggs.
  2. Bring to boil and cook until done (check out this link for perfectly cooked hard-boiled eggs).
  3. Peel cooked eggs. (I like to crack the hot egg shells with the back of a spoon, then cover them with very cold water, to cool them off for few minutes, which makes the shell practically fall off the egg during peeling).
  4. Cut eggs into small cubes, and set aside.
  5. Cut out 1/4 of an avocado, peel and cube as well.
  6. Add avocado to eggs.
  7. In a small bowl add the Plain Greek Yogurt, chopped Chives, Dill, chopped Red Pepper, vinegar, salt and black pepper.
  8. Mix all together.
  9. Fold into the egg and avocado mixture.
  10. Serve on your favorite bread, with lettuce leaves, or sliced tomatoes, or both.

Enjoy.

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