Chocolate-Coconut and Toffee Bars

Need a great dessert or sweet snack to feed a crowd? A friend of mine passed me a version of a recipe which I tweaked to create these Chocolate-Coconut Toffee Bars. These remind me of  a cross between S’mores and Hello Dolly bars, but these are a little less fattening.  I used low-fat graham crackers as the base with a toffee layer topped with coconut, pecans and dark chocolate. They are so easy to make, and the kids loved them (especially for a study break snack).

Labor Day Favorites and Beef Kebob recipe

Happy Labor Day everyone! I am sharing my Beef-Vegetable Kebob recipe that I’m cooking up for Labor Day as well as some of my other favorites that would be perfect for this weekend from some great bloggers you should check out.

Loving these:

Blueberry Lemon Corn Muffins Dash of East

Homemade Baked Beans from Chez Us

Summer Pulled Chicken on Pita Bread Reluctant Entertainer

Chicken Apple Salad with Candied Walnuts Barbara Bakes

Pineapple Limeade Cooler Good Life Eats

S’mores Bars from Bakers Royale

Watermelon Frozen Yogurt Popsicles Family Fresh Cooking

Almond Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies Chocolate and Carrots

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches

For Fourth of July weekend, I wanted to share my recipe for Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches from my new cookbook “400 Best Sandwich Recipes: From Classics & Burgers to Wraps & Condiments”. I came up with this recipe last summer while I was working on this book. My three kids were in the kitchen helping me, so I tried to make it as simple as possible. It is perfect to serve this weekend if you are celebrating with friends and family, or anytime this summer. Use your favorite homemade chocolate recipe or store-bought cookie dough.

This recipe is from “400 Best Sandwich Recipes: From Classics & Burgers to Wraps & Condiments” 2011 by Robert Rose Inc. Reprinted with permission and photo credit by Colin Erricson.

Any Occasion Chocolate Cupcakes

This is not one of my typical “lightened-up” recipes, but I had to share these Any Occasion Chocolate Cupcakes with you. My daughter, Leigh, made this recipe for me the night I arrived home from being in Italy for a week. I was so excited to come home to my family and true comfort food. These are so spectacular. You don’t even need to make homemade icing. I wanted to post the recipe for Father’s Day, but I was traveling again this past week. I realized that this recipe is perfect for so many occasions: Father’s Day, birthdays, parties, showers or just because. I thought they would be a great way to start off the week so enjoy.

Part 2 Marche Region: Food, Fashion and Travel

For 4 nights, we stayed at Hotel Emilia in Portonovo in Ancona, Italy which sits on the mountain where you have a spectacular view of the coast. It’s a serene spot that speaks beauty and relaxation. I loved to sit out here overlooking the mountains.

An outdoor bar was the perfect place to sit after a busy day.

The pool was beautiful sitting in front of the rooms of the hotel.

It’s difficult to pinpoint the most exciting part of the trip, but visiting Tod’s headquarters seemed to be the highlight for some of us women. Tod’s is the largest shoe manufacturer in Europe and the largest business in the Marche Region, which is publicly traded on the Italian stock exchange. We saw the entire shoe making process; how they check the leather and why these shoes are such great quality. This is the coolest work of art when you walk in the lobby of Tod’s.

Do you think these boots will be the hit of fall 2011?

After the tour, we went to the Tod’s and Prada outlets nearby. This is also a must stop if you’re in the Marche region :). I love these kid’s shoes.

Next, we were off to lunch in the town of San Benedetto del Tronto at Ristorante Mattia with Chef Marco Cameli. I loved his Miami-style restaurant. His specialty is fish since his restaurants sits right near the beach. This clever way to present an appetizer was a favorite. I call this an Italian version of ceviche.

Next was a pasta course with clams and shrimp. I have never tasted a dish so fresh. I loved that the Chefs don’t over-salt their food.

One of my favorite dishes on the entire trip was this fish dish. It’s monkfish cooked in garlic, olive oil, white wine, with fresh tomato sauce and rosemary. I am trying to recreate this one for sure. Delizioso!

And the dessert was phenomenal and nothing like I have ever had before. Bomboloni (Italian doughnuts) with Chantilly Cream and Limoncello topped with chocolate.

There’s more to come. So much to say…This region is too spectacular for words.


Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Muffins

I wanted to say happy Friday with Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Muffins. I thought I’d leave you with this recipe as I am off to the BlogHer Food conference in Atlanta and to the Atlanta Food & Wine event (I’m a speaker at both events). I am really looking forward to a packed weekend surrounded by foodies. I have never attended a BlogHer conference, and it is the first ever Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, so it should be a spectacular weekend. In the meantime, enjoy these muffins and have a great weekend!

The Best Passover Brownies

Since I have been working with so many brownie recipe variations for one of my food clients, I realized I needed to create the Best Passover Brownie. This ingredient combination worked like a charm. When I took them out of the oven, I took a picture and put them on Facebook (I was so excited how they turned out). I had a lot of people wanting the recipe ASAP so here it is. It is so easy and fabulous. My friend said, “These are the best Passover Brownies I have ever tasted.” I hope that you like them too, and that they sweeten up your holiday.

Banana-Dark Chocolate Chip Muffins (made with Greek yogurt)

I am so excited to share this recipe for Banana-Dark Chocolate Muffins. It’s a twist of my very popular banana bread recipe. What’s great about it besides the taste is that all of the ingredients can be combined in one bowl, and no mixer is needed. I use nonfat Greek yogurt which adds moisture and increases the protein. These muffins are amazing, and my kids went wild over them. I almost wasn’t able to take a picture of them before they ate them all. Enjoy these muffins for a wonderful breakfast treat, afternoon snack, lunch, or dinnertime dessert.

My Top 10 Favorite “Power” Foods

I get a lot of email, and I mean, a lot. So many people ask me cooking questions, nutrition questions, entrepreneur advice, blog advice, social media advice, have comments and more. Sometimes, I get the simple questions such as, “How do you keep so fit? “What do you eat all day?” etc. I thought I would share my top 10 favorite “power” foods. When I say “power”, I mean foods that I love, foods that I feel give me energy, keep me healthy and foods I can’t go without most every day.

1. Greek Yogurt-With 2.5 grams of protein per ounce and hardly any fat or carbs, what could be better? I stir honey into mine with blueberries or bananas, nuts or whole grain cereal, and I eat it for breakfast or an afternoon snack. It is so filling and tastes great (I use the nonfat or low-fat by the way). See Greek Yogurt Banana Bread

2. Blueberries-These have the highest antioxidant value of all fruit plus they have many vitamins: B, C, E, and they boost your immune system. We always have a bowl of fresh blueberries ready to grab. See  Blueberry Pancakes

3. Almonds or Walnuts-These are a great heart-healthy snack filled with protein, vitamins, minerals and good for your digestive system. I don’t go one day without a handful. See Chunky Granola

4. Acai or pomegranate juice-Acai has been said to have antioxidant benefits and anti-aging properties and omega fatty acids. I think it gives me energy as well. You can buy the frozen Sambazon smoothie packs at Whole Foods, in solid bars, or in a bottle (I like the 100% Genesis Today Acai juice).  See Cranberry Pomegranate Granita

5. Salmon-High in the health promoting fat, omega 3 fatty acids, high protein, and low in calories. I prefer Alaskan wild salmon. Salmon is one of my tried and true favorites. The best part of all is that my 3 kids love it too. See Salmon Burgers

6. Edamame-High in protein, fiber and calcium and low in calories and fat.  I can’t get enough of these. I purchase them already shelled in the frozen section and just thaw. They are great served in a salad, as a snack or as a topping. See Edamame Salsa

7. Gold Bars-These bars are my all-time favorite snack bars. With 11 grams of protein from soy, nuts and whole grains, these satisfy my hunger as well as sugar cravings. I love them in the morning with coffee or as a snack. See Grab the Gold Bar

8. Flaxseed-High in fiber and omega 3 fatty acids, I put ground flaxseed in everything from cereal, to yogurt, granola and even as a crust on salmon or chicken. See Flaxseed Crusted Salmon

9. Arugula-High in Vitamin C and K, I love arugula for it’s peppery taste and beautiful color. Try it with golden raisins, nuts and freshly shaved Parmesan or simply topped with grilled chicken or steamed shrimp. I’m a huge fan and can’t get enough of it. See Black Eyed Pea Salad over Arugula

10. Dark Chocolate-Dark Chocolate is said to contain flavonoids so it’s heart healthy, contains antioxidants and may even reduce aging. Try Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Oreo Cupcakes

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone! This is my last dessert for a while, but I wanted to share this recipe for Oreo Cupcakes which has been lightened up. The cupcake part of the recipe comes from Cooking Light magazine. In their recipe, they sprinkled the cupcakes with powdered sugar, and they are great. I love extra chocolate flavor so I slathered mine with chocolate frosting and of course, an Oreo. If you don’t have time to make your own frosting, you can substitute the store-bought icing. The total calories per serving for the cupcake is 150 calories, 5 grams of fat and 24 carbohydrates. Enjoy and have a fun and wonderful Valentines!