Simple advice for a better life.

European cupcakes 2Cupcakes have earned their universal popularity.

Everyone loves them.

Having a cupcake on your dessert plate makes you feel real special, because it’s like having  your personal mini cake.

There are myriad of cupcake recipes out there, to please everyone’s taste.

Today I will share a European recipe for chocolate cupcakes, with cream cheese frosting.

This recipe yields 20+ cupcakes.

Cupcake Ingredients:

  • 1 cup + 2 Tbs. butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp. Rum Extract (or Vanilla if you prefer)
  • 2 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (whipping cream)

Cream Cheese Icing Ingredients:

  • 8 oz cream cheese (regular or 1/3 less fat)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract

Cupcake Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whip the butter and sugar to form a thick paste (about 1o minutes on high).
  2. While mixing, add one egg at a time, and beat in well to incorporate.
  3. Mix in the extract.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, cocoa, and baking powder.
  5. Mix flour mixture into the egg and butter, just to incorporate.
  6. While still mixing at low-speed, slowly add the milk alternating it with the cream.
  7. Preheat oven to 35o degrees F.
  8. Line 2 cupcake pans with cupcake liners, and fill them with batter all the way to the top of liner.
  9. Smooth out the tops, and bake 20 minutes, or until the toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Remove from the pan, and cool completely on a wire cooling rack.
  11. Once cooled, frost them with cream cheese icing.

Icing Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, cream the butter, cream cheese and extract.
  2. Gradually add the powdered sugar, and keep mixing until creamy.
  3. Fill a cake decorating sleeve with icing and decorate the tops of your cupcakes.

European cupcake

Mini Apple Pies – Delicious Recipe

Mini Apple PiesThese Mini Apple Pies look so adorable, elegant and delicious.

I highly recommend them, as an easy and interesting  dessert after a fulfilling meal.

All you need is few basic ingredients for the crust, couple of Granny Smith apples, and you are ready to roll.

This recipe yields 12 cupcake size mini pies.


Pie Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of flour (I use unbleached)
  • 3/4 cup butter (1.5 sticks), cold and cubed
  • 4 Tbs. ice water
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon extract

Apple Filling Ingredients:

  • 4 medium apples (Granny Smith, Gala, Fuji, etc)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 Tbs. corn starch
  • 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice

Pie Crust Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, cut the cubed butter with flour, using a fork , or pastry blender.  You can also work the butter into the flour with your hands, then finish it with a fork or pastry blender.
  2. Add sugar, and work it in.
  3. Add ice water, and mix by hand to form a ball of dough.
  4. Place the finished dough in a sealed plastic bag, and refrigerate for at least an hour, or even over night.
  5. While the dough is resting in the fridge, prepare the apple filling.
  6. Remove the dough from the fridge, and cut into two pieces (3/4 and 1/4).
  7. Place the 3/4 of the dough on a floured sheet of parchment, or waxed paper.
  8. Place another piece of parchment or waxed paper over the dough.
  9. Roll out the dough into a very thin (2 millimeters thickness) rectangle.
  10. Using a round biscuit cutter (4 inch in diameter), cut out 12 rounds.
  11. Fit the rounds into ungreased cupcake tins, and press them gently to fit the cups.
  12. Using a fork, poke holes in the bottom of each mini pie crust.
  13. Generously fill each mini pie crust with apple filling.
  14. Take out the remaining dough from the fridge, and roll out between two pieces of parchment paper to a very think rectangle.
  15. Using a pizza cutter, cut thin strip, to use to construct a lattice design over the top of the apple filling.
  16. Brush the tops of the pie crusts with egg wash (egg yolk beaten with water), or milk.
  17. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F, for 35 minutes.
  18. Remove from oven and cool completely before serving.

These are cute and absolutely yummy.

Directions for Apply Filling:

  1. Peel the apples. Remove the seeds and seed nests.
  2. Dice the apples, and place in a small bowl.
  3. Sprinkle with the white sugar, brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, corn starch and flour.
  4. Toss gently, to coat the apples with dry ingredients.
  5. Fill cupcake mini crusts.

I am sure you will absolutely LOVE the deliciousness of these very personal, mini apple pies.

They are equally delicious warm, as well as cold.

Birthday Party AppetizersWhether you are cooking at home, dining out, or ordering take out, there are almost always some leftovers to deal with after the fact.

There is nothing wrong with having leftovers.   After all, you spent time and money on this food, so you deserve to enjoy it to the last morsel.

Some prepared dishes are not suitable for later use as a leftover…they lose their taste and texture, so it is best to just part with them right there and then.

Numerous others, on the other hand, are still great for at least one or two meals, or even to be frozen for that rainy day when you have no time or desire to cook.

Some people do not like leftovers, and never keep them.  However, if you are like me, you don’t mind them, and feel that you get your money’s worth if you use them.

Most Europeans don’t believe in leftovers….maybe because they hardly ever have any.

They serve their meals already preportioned per plate, and make just enough to feed the crowd they accounted for.  The portions are large enough to satisfy the consumer, so there is no need, or room, for seconds.  Therefore, there are no leftovers.  Any remaining food on each plate, which hardly ever happens, is discarded.  It is almost impolite to ask for a “Doggie Bag”.

Here in the USA we have no problem asking the waiter/waitress to pack up our leftovers to take home with us.

It is very important to keep track of your leftover food in your fridge, which is one of my pet peeves.  I almost feel like I am a fridge police, whether it is at home or at work.

There is nothing worse than seeing “old” food sitting in the fridge way past its safe consumable time.

My personal time line for using up leftovers in up to 3 days…4 being the absolute max.

Now I will share my best way of using up leftovers, and keeping your fridge fresh, and ready for restocking.

Since most of us work full-time, and don’t have much time for cooking during the week, we prepare extra food on weekend, to hold us over for couple of days.  Then by mid-week, it’s time for some take out.  By Thursday we have leftovers to use, or lose.

I consider Thursday  a “Leftover Smorgasbord Dinner Day”.  We pull out all the leftovers from the past few days, and add something new if needed, and call it a day.

Everyone is to create their own plate of food from the smorgasbord spread available.  We also use disposable dishes and utensils that day, to save time on clean up effort.  Whatever food is remaining after this dinner, gets discarded for good.

This is the BEST way to free your fridge of leftover food, and to prevent any food from hiding in there for too long.

Since we have no dishes to wash on this day, we devote our time to cleaning up the fridge, and getting it ready for fresh food from Friday or Saturday shopping.

It works very well every time, and it also is fun, economical, and stress free.

I suggest you try it too, and share your comments.

Have fun!

Cranberry Orange Scones – Recipe

Orange Cranberry Scones - serving 2If you like scones, you will love this recipe.

A while back, I made a batch of healthful scones, using a skinny recipe.  They were tasteful, but not as moist and flaky as these Cranberry Orange Scones.

This recipe from Barefoot Contesa, produced the most delicious scones ever.  I would not call them “skinny” by any means, but they are absolutely yummy.

Since I made some changes to the original recipe, I will post my version.

This recipe yields 20+ triangular shaped scones.

Orange Cranberry Scones  - dough

Orange Cranberry Scones - with egg wash






The dough is rolled out to a rectangle of about 3/4 inch in thickness.  Then it is cut up into 3 inch wide strips.  Each strip is cut again into 4 inch long rectangles, and each rectangle is cut diagonally into 2 triangular scones.

Orange Cranberry Scones - ready to bake

Orange Cranberry Scones - all baked and cooling off





Scones placed on greased parchment paper; tops brushed with egg wash; sprinkled with coarse sugar.

Once baked, they are cooling off on a wire rack, before glazing.


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour ( I used Gold Medal unbleached)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbs. coarse sugar for sprinkling the tops of the scones (I used Cupcake Gems)
  • 2 Tbs. baking powder (I use aluminum-free, Rumford brand)
  • Zest of one medium orange
  • 3/4 lbs. cold butter (3 sticks), diced(I used salted butter and skipped the 2 tsp. salt)
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup heavy cream, cold (1/2 pint)
  • 1 tsp. lemon or orange extract (optional)
  • 1 cup dry cranberries ( I used 50 % less sugar)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (to use with cranberries)


  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbs. water or milk
  1. Beat egg with water/milk.
  2. Brush on tops of scones before baking.


  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar + 2 Tbs
  • 4 tsp. orange juice, freshly squeezed (from the orange you just used for zest)
  • 1 tsp. lemon extract
  1. Mix in sugar, orange juice and lemon extract, to form a creamy substance.
  2. Drizzle over the tops of cooled scones.


  1. Use a large bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a paddle mixing attachment.
  2. Pour in 4 cups of flour, orange zest, sugar and baking powder.  Mix to incorporate.
  3. Add diced cold butter, and mix on low speed, until butter and flour becomes crumbly.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix eggs with heavy cream, and extract.
  5. Slowly add to flour mixture, while mixing, until just blended.
  6. In a small bowl, combine cranberries with 1/4 cup of flour.
  7. Fold the floured cranberries into the sticky dough, by mixing on very low speed.
  8. Generously flour your work area, and scoop out the dough onto it to knead into a soft ball.
  9. Roll it out into a 3/4 inch thick rectangle, and cut out scones (see pictures above).
  10. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  11. Place the oven rack in middle position.
  12. Place scones on a baking sheet lined with greased parchment paper.  Space them  fairly close together, about 1/2 inch apart, as they puff up rather than out, during baking.
  13. Brush tops with an egg wash, and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  14. Bake 2o minutes.  The tops will turn light golden color.
  15. Remove onto a wire cooling rack.  Cool for about 15 minutes, then drizzle tops with prepared glaze.




Nut Horn Cookies – Recipe

Nut Horn Cookies - servingThis recipe is  very special to me, because every time I make these Nut Horns, I think of the two ladies who shared it with me.

Anna and Luba were great cooks and bakers, who also loved hosting parties, and sharing their favorite recipes.

First time I ever made these, was actually at Luba’s kitchen, when she invited a bunch of us to bake together, and have lots of fun at the same time.

Both of these ladies are gone now (way too soon for either of them), but I am so proud to share their recipe, and reminisce a little about the good old times we spent together.

This recipe yields 4 dozen of cookies.


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour ( I prefer the unbleached kind)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder ( I use one with Aluminum Free)
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup butter, cold
  • 1 1/2 oz. Active Dry Yeast (2 packets)
  • 4 Tbs. warm water
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup walnuts, ground up fine
  • 1 tsp. Almond Extract
  • Confectioners sugar, to use before serving


  1. In a medium mixing bowl, add flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. Cut in butter, to incorporate into flour mixture.
  3. Dissolve yeast in warm water.
  4. Stir in egg yolks, only.  Keep the egg whites refrigerated.
  5. Mix in the sour cream and Vanilla Extract.
  6. Blend this wet mixture into flour mixture, to form a soft dough.
  7. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts, and form them into balls.
  8. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.
  9. Once ready to work with the dough, beat the egg whites until foamy.
  10. Gradually add sugar, and beat until stiff peaks form.
  11. Fold in ground walnuts and Almond Extract.
  12. Keep refrigerated.
  13. Use one dough ball at a time, to roll it out on a board sprinkled with powdered sugar, to form a circle about 10 inches in diameter.

Nut Horn Cookies - cut and roll up

14.  Spread the egg white/nut mixture over the rolled out dough.

15.  Using a pizza cutter, cut the circle into 12 even wedges.

16,   Starting at the outer edge (the wide end) of each triangle, roll it

up toward the middle of the circle, to form a horn (like a straight


17.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Nut Horn Cookies - just baked


18.  Place the nut horns on a lightly greased cookie sheet, spacing them

generously to allow enough space for spreading during baking.

19.  Bake 10-12 minutes, or until golden.

Nut Horn Cookies - ready to trim off


20.  Using a spatula, carefully remove cookies onto a cooling rack.

21.  Gently break away the crusty excess filling, oozed out of the cookies.

21.  Before serving, dust cooled cookies with powdered sugar.






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