Archive for the ‘Bring to a Party’ Category

Often times I get frustrated because I cannot find a recipe that is exactly what I want. So what do I do?? Make up my own recipe! Such is the case for this one. I have been craving this kind of muffin since I LOVE cranberries and it is such a festive holiday food, not to mention very good for you. Cranberries are full of antioxidants, vitamin C, fiber, among many other important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Add heart healthy walnuts, vitamin C rich orange juice, and healthy whole-wheat flour and these muffins are a delicious and guilt-free treat. Eat them warmed spread with a little bit of butter and enjoy!


  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Zest of one orange
  • Juice of one orange
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 12 oz. bag fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin tins with muffin cups (of course I use festive Santa ones :))
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, gently combine flour, sugar, and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. Mix together eggs, vanilla, sugar, canola oil, orange zest, and orange juices. Slowly add in flour mixture. Then gently add in walnuts and cranberries.
  4. Scoop into muffin tins- I filled them up to the top using one scoop of a big spoon. It will look like a lot but they do not rise too much.
  5. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes. Test with a toothpick to make sure they are fully cooked.

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We have been having such a hot summer and the last thing that I want is to make something hot for dinner. I made this pasta salad the other night and it was light, healthy, and delicious. The best part was all of the leftovers- I think I got at least 4 meals out of it! I love the crunchiness of the veggies and knowing how healthy it is with the salmon and whole wheat pasta. It would be a fabulous side to bring to a BBQ or party!


  • 2 5oz. cans salmon (in water)
  • 1/2 cucumber, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/ 2 cup mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. dried dill
  • 1 lb. whole wheat pasta
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. While pasta is cooking, mix together all other ingredients.
  3. When pasta finishes cooking, drain and let cool. Gently mix in other ingredients and put in the fridge to chill before serving.

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I made up this cookie recipe last night when I was craving something sweet and healthy. I’ve been trying to incorporate flax into more of my recipes since you can mix it into anything to increase the nutritional value and let me just say these are some of the best cookies that I have EVER made! The oats, flax, raisins, and walnuts add a HUGE nutritional punch to your diet and the coconut and chocolate give the cookie a sweet flavor that will leave you craving more and more and more. I think I ate 4 cookies within 4 minutes! I brought these to work today and they were a HUGE hit. A must-make for a BBQ, potluck, or just because!

Makes: ~ 48 cookies

Oven temp: 325 degrees


  • 1 cup flour (white or whole wheat)
  • 2.5 cups oats
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup ground golden flax (I use Flax USA brand from Costco)
  • 1.5 sticks butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Cream together brown sugar, white sugar, and butter. Add in eggs and vanilla.
  3. In a another bowl, gently mix together flour, oats, flax, and baking soda. Add in slowly to sugar/butter/egg/vanilla mixture.
  4. One at a time, add in coconut, chocolate chips, raisins, and walnuts.
  5. Scoop cookie batter using a tablespoon onto cookie sheets.
  6. Bake for 12 minutes or until cookies start to brown around the edges. Let cool for about a minute on the cookie sheet and then immediately move cookies to a cooling rack- this is the secret to making them chewy!
  7. Serve with milk or crumble cookies over ice cream. Yum!!!

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This appetizer sampler was inspired by a lot of random things in my refrigerator… another time that my scrounging has led to yumminess! Sometimes I will make this for a little dinner for myself or I will make it for a group if I am entertaining. I didn’t list amounts in the ingredients since you can pretty much just make as much as you need! I love cheese and crackers at any time and the salami is an added yummy factor. Asparagus and proscuitto is a simple appetizer that a lot of people think sounds complicated but it it super easy and quick to prepare. Babybel cheeses are little and fun and they have so many different flavors to choose from: Original, Bonbel, Gouda, and White Cheddar (and I may be forgetting one or two). Try this little appetizer platter and you will wow everyone- yourself included!


  • Your favorite crackers (I like the big round whole wheat ones)
  • Sliced deli cheese (I like all kinds but especially Swiss and Cheddar for this)
  • Salami
  • Prosciutto
  • Asparagus
  • Babybel cheese (I love all flavors!)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle olive oil over a large baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cut ends off of asparagus and rinse. Pat dry and roll asparagus in oil, salt, and pepper and place on baking sheet. Put in the oven and cook on both sides until it starts to brown (turn it after about 5 minutes but check in on it depending how hot your oven is).
  2. While the oven is preheating and asparagus is cooking, work on everything else. ūüôā Cut cheese slices into 4 and assemble salami and cheese onto the crackers. I like the big round crackers since the salami fits perfectly on top (I use Safeway brand whole wheat crackers but I am sure there are a ton of other similar kinds).
  3. When asparagus is done cooking, let it cool and then roll it the long way in the prosciutto.
  4. Arrange everything on a large serving plate (or you can have a plate for each appetizer if you are making lots of each). Something else fun that I like to do is make a little plate for everyone that I am entertaining but you can do whatever you want to. ūüôā
Serve with: White or red wine and/or cocktails. This is a perfect starter for an Italian meal- I used it as my starter for a meal of stuffed shells and Caesar salad and it was a perfect pairing. ūüôā

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This recipe is an upgrade on one of my absolute favorite comfort food recipes, broccoli casserole. ūüôā Some of my favorite foods are pasta, cheese, and veggies and the addition of ham to this casserole adds extra protein and LOTS of flavor! I decided to toss ham and mushrooms into the casserole tonight since I had them in my fridge and I am a huge fan of using things in my fridge before they go to waste. This recipe is one of my favorites because you can assemble it in advance, pop it in the fridge, and cook it when you are ready to eat. I did all of the prep, went to yoga, then came home and popped it in the oven, cooked it for 30 minutes and it was piping hot and ready to eat! The best part? LEFTOVERS! After eating my dinner, I put the rest it into tupperwares and placed them in the fridge so now when I need a quick lunch or dinner this week I can pop one in the microwave for 2-3 minutes until hot and ready to eat. A yummy meal in an instant!

Here is the recipe for this yummy casserole:

Serves: 6-8


  • 2 small heads of broccoli, rinsed and chopped
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, rinsed
  • 1 green pepper, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup white onion, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, rinsed and chopped
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese (I buy it pre-grated!)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 12 oz. wide egg noodles
  • 8 oz. chopped black forest ham (I used the sliced deli meat since I had it in the fridge. It was super easy to just chop it up into little pieces to toss into the mix)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Rinse and chop veggies and place in a large mixing bowl. Add in ham. Mix together gently.
  3. Add in cream of mushroom soup and mix in gently.
  4. Cook pasta noodles according to package instructions and mix in when they are done and drained.
  5. Add in cheese and mix in.
  6. Add salt and pepper as desired.
  7. Place mixture into a large casserole dish (you may need to use two since it makes a lot) and put in the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes, until noodles start to brown and casserole is cooked through.

Note: I LOVE veggies and cannot get enough of them. If you or the people that you are cooking for are not huge veggie lovers, feel free to cut the amount of veggies in half that you use. But remember that the more veggies, the healthier your meal! ūüôā Enjoy!

Egg noodles cooking away!

Veggies and ham waiting for the pasta and cheese!

The finished product!

Leftovers for the week!

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I was flipping through Food Network magazine and came across the recipe for this dip and could not wait to go to the store, buy all of the ingredients, and make it! And let me tell you, it is just as yummy as it sounds (as looks). This is a perfect appetizer for a party (superbowl is coming up…) and will definitely win you any man’s heart. Try it and see, I guarantee EVERYONE who tastes it will love it!

Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Total Time: 35 Minutes
Serves: 12


  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups Daisy Brand Sour Cream
  • 3 ounces bacon bits
  • 2 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup green onion, chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, combine all ingredients.
  3. Place the mixture in a 1-quart baking dish. Cover.
  4. Heat the dip for 25-30 minutes or until hot.
  5. Serve with assorted fresh vegetables, crackers and/or chips.

*Serving option: Dip may also be placed in hollowed round sourdough loaf, wrapped in foil and heated in 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Recipe source: Daisy Brand

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The added cinnamon to the classic peanut butter chocolate chip cookie makes it perfect for winter and the holidays. I got this recipe through the daily emails from MyRecipes.com and couldn’t wait to make them. They were delicious and a HUGE hit at work. The huge chocolate chunks and peanuts make them a crowd pleaser and everyone loved the taste that the cinnamon added. I can’t wait to make these again soon!

Here is the recipe, straight from MyRecipes.com:

Yield: Makes 28 cookies


  • 1/2¬† cup¬† butter, softened
  • 1/2¬† cup¬† shortening
  • 1¬† cup¬† chunky peanut butter
  • 1¬† cup¬† granulated sugar
  • 1¬† cup¬† firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2¬† large eggs
  • 2 1/2¬† cups¬† all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2¬† teaspoons¬† baking soda
  • 1¬† teaspoon¬† baking powder
  • 1/2¬† teaspoon¬† salt
  • 1¬† teaspoon¬† ground cinnamon
  • 1¬† cup¬† unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
  • 1¬† (11.5-ounce) bag chocolate chunks


  1. Beat butter and shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; add chunky peanut butter and sugars, beating well. Add eggs, beating until blended.
  2. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients. Add to butter mixture, beating well.
  3. Stir in peanuts and chocolate chunks.
  4. Shape dough into 2-inch balls (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie). Flatten slightly, and place on ungreased baking sheets.
  5. Bake at 375¬į for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on pan 1 to 2 minutes; remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Double Chocolate Chunk-Peanut Cookies: Reduce flour to 2 cups; add 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa, sifted. Proceed as directed.


Recipe Source: MyRecipes.com

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My friend Tanya and I made this dessert for our Cultural Nutrition class project and it was absolutely delicious. The main flavor is coconut and it gives the rice pudding a creamy and luscious flavor that is unlike anything I have ever had before! We topped it with fresh fruit, consisting of mango, kiwi, strawberries, and pineapple. In my opinion, the more fruit the better!

Here is the recipe for this delicious dessert!

Serves 2-4

Prep Time: 8 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 33 minutes


  • 1 cup Thai Sweet Rice (also called “sticky rice”, available at Asian food stores)
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1-2 ripe mangos, cut into bite-size pieces (look for mangos that are fragrant and easily bruised), or 1 pkg frozen mango
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. brown sugar (for a natural sweetener substitute maple syrup)
  • 1 can good-quality coconut milk
  • 1/4 tsp. + pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp. coconut flavoring
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch or arrowroot powder dissolved in 2 Tbsp. water


  1. Soak the sweet rice in 1 cup water for 20 minutes, or up to 1 hour.
  2. The sticky rice can be steamed or made in a pot. To make it in a pot, do not drain. Add 3/4 cup (more) water to the rice, plus 1/4 can coconut milk, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. coconut flavoring, and 1 Tbsp. brown sugar. Stir this into the rice, lifting any rice grains that have stuck to the bottom of the pot.
  3. Bring to a gentle boil, then partially cover with a lid (leaving some room for steam to escape). Turn the heat down to medium-low (#2.5 to 3 on the dial).
  4. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed by the rice. Remove the pot from the heat, place the lid on tight, and leave to “steam” cook for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Make sauce and serve the dessert right away, or store the rice (covered) in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.
  6. To make the sauce, warm the rest of the can of coconut milk together with 1/4 cup sugar, a pinch of salt, 1 tsp. coconut flavoring (optional) and 1 tsp. vanilla flavoring over medium heat (5 minutes).
  7. Add cornstarch (dissolved in the water) to the sauce and stir to thicken it slightly. As it thickens, turn down heat to low. When thickened, remove from heat. Tip: Try not to boil the sauce, or you will lose that wonderful coconut flavor.
  8. Before serving, taste-test the sauce for sweetness, adding more sugar if desired. If too sweet for your taste, add a little more coconut milk.
  9. There are 2 ways to serve this dessert:
  • Place scoops of the sticky rice in bowls (Note that sticky rice can be served cold, warm, or at room temperature, as desired). Ladle a generous amount of warm coconut sauce over the rice (creating an ‚Äúisland‚ÄĚ of sticky rice). Add slices/pieces of ripe fresh mango. (If using frozen mango, be sure to give it enough time to thaw before serving.)
  • For “saucier” rice: Add rice (portion out 1 scoop per person) directly to the sauce pot and stir over low heat, gently breaking apart the larger lumps, but leaving smaller lumps/chunks). Now add the mango pieces and gently stir until everything is warmed through. Portion out into serving bowls, making sure everyone has equal amounts of rice, mango, and sauce. Enjoy!

Zoe’s Notes: This recipe originally just used mango as the fruit part of it. For our class project, we were challenged to make healthy modifications to the recipe, so we added the additional chopped strawberries (1 pint), 2 sliced kiwis, and 1 large can of pineapple chunks. If there are other fruits that you like, I would definitely recommend adding them and please let me know how they taste in the recipe!

Source: About.com

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Just in time for Halloween, here is a super fun recipe for pumpkin cupcakes! I got this recipe via the daily emails that Real Simple sends out and it seemed so quick and easy that I wanted to make them immediately. With only 6 ingredients, you can’t get a much simpler and yummy cupcake recipe!

Here is the recipe:

  • 1¬†18.5-ounce box yellow cake mix (plus the ingredients called for in the package directions)
  • 1/2¬†teaspoon¬†pumpkin pie spice
  • 1¬†15-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 2¬†8-ounce bars cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2¬†cups¬†confectioners‚Äô sugar
  • 24¬†pieces¬†candy corn


  1. Heat oven to 350¬į F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners. Prepare the cake mix as directed but with the following change: Add the pumpkin pie spice and substitute the can of pumpkin puree for the water called for in the package directions.
  2. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tins and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes. Let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until creamy. Spread on the cupcakes and top each with a piece of candy corn.

Zoe’s Notes: Instead of making the cream cheese frosting, I bought it pre-made… you can do it whichever way you like! I also doubled the pumpkin pie spice since I love that flavor… try it and see what you think!

Source: Real Simple

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My friend Tori is truly one of my foodie soul mates.¬† The yin to my yang, she dominates in the savory department while my strength lies in the sweet…I dare say that together we put out quite delicious meals.¬† So of course, it seemed only fitting that I bring a birthday cake to her 30th birthday celebration this past weekend.

A milestone birthday demanded a special effort, and when Tori suggested I give this coconut rum cake recipe a try it

Cake soaked in coconut milk

seemed like the perfect challenge.¬† That was until I read the entire paragraph explaining how to extract the meat out of a fresh coconut (there are hammers and screw drivers involved).¬† No easy task but well worth the effort, I was thisclose to calling around to find me a coconut when it dawned on me that there may be another way….indeed, one quick call to Whole Foods confirmed that they do indeed carry fresh coconut meat in their produce section – yet another plus of living in the tropics!

Although relatively easy, this cake does have quite a few steps and takes a few hours to assemble, so make sure you give yourself enough time.¬† Its presentation is gorgeous and it was quite good, however it lacked the punch of flavor that I was expecting (and also, to be fair, I am not a huge coconut or rum fan and tremendously critical of my desserts – everyone else seemed to think it was superb).¬† Post-cake, the consensus seemed to be that making an additional cake and layering a lemon curd or something similar in between the two might just be the solution….I’ll have to give it a try someday and let you know.¬† Personally I thought the frosting was too rummy (is that possible?) and not thick enough…I’ll most definitely have to play around with the proportions of those ingredients (perhaps more cream cheese and powdered sugar, a little less rum and heavy cream?).

Either way it was a good excuse to try something new and the party was quite the good time as well.  Happy Birthday Tori! xo



  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 large eggs plus 3 large yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3/4 cup well-stirred sweetened cream of coconut (I used coconut milk)

Coconut Slivers:

  • 1 medium coconut
  • 2 tsp confectioners sugar


  • 3 tbsp cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tbsp well-stirred sweetened cream of coconut
  • 1 tbsp dark rum (I used Meyers)
  • 1/8 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar


Cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the middle.  Lightly butter a 9 inch round cake pan, line it with parchment paper on the bottom, and then lightly butter the parchment paper.  Flour lightly and set aside.

Two cakes are ALWAYS better than one! Birthday cake shot & coco rum cake yumm!

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.  Whisk together the whole eggs and yolks, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until combined.  Gradually add in the flour mixture until well combined, and then whisk the butter until just combined.  Pour the batter into the cake pan and rap on the counter several times to expel the air bubbles.  Bake the cake until golden brown and cake starts to pull away from the side of the pan Рabout 45 minutes (mine only took 40).

Remove the cake from the oven and set it on a rack to cool for 10 minutes (leave the oven on).  Next, invert the cake onto the rack and remove the parchment paper, allowing the cake to cool for another 10 minutes.  While still warm, generously brush the top and sides of the cake with the 3/4 cup coconut milk, allowing it to soak in before brushing more on.  Let the cake cool completely.

Coconut Slivers (if you don’t have fresh coconut meat already prepared for you):¬† Pierce the softest eye of the coconut shell with a small screwdriver and drain out and discard the liquid (or drink it as it’s quite yummy and good for you!).¬† Bake the coconut in a shallow baking pan for 15 minutes (leave the oven on).¬† Break the shell with a hammer and then pry the flesh from the shell with a screwdriver.

Thinly shave (preferable) or slice enough to measure two cups and then toss with the confectioners sugar.  Spread the coconut shavings on a baking sheet in one layer and bake until just dry but not golden (some tips may color), 5 to 10 minutes.  Cool coconut completely (it will crisp as it cools).  Shave and bake remaining coconut with more confectioners sugar to serve on the side, or freeze for another use.

Icing:  Beat together cream cheese, cream of coconut, rum, vanilla, and 2 tbsp cream with an electric mixer until smooth, then beat in confectioners sugar.  Icing should be smooth and slightly runny; stir in remaining tbsp cream if necessary.

Smooth icing over top of cooled cake, allowing some to drip over the side, then top with coconut slivers.

*Notes: Cake can be baked 1 day ahead and soaked with cream of coconut, then kept in an airtight container at room temperature.  Cake can be iced 2 hours ahead.  Also, the coconut slivers can be made 1 day ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.

Recipe from Gourmet Magazine, September 2007

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