One Smart Little Cookie is a collection of everything that brings inspiration, comfort and beauty into my life and home.
I love to create a beautiful home and enjoy it with my family.
It is sharing
what I love to do; baking and cooking in a healthier way without sacrificing flavor
, crafts,
party planning, activities, organization, and home decor.

Being a "Smart Little Cookie" is not about being perfect, it is about knowing how to enjoy life and family to it's fullest~to your fullest.
Due to my creative process, my home gets messy, my kids play in their jammies-all day sometimes (the terribly relaxed days tend to be my favorite),
and my hubby has become much more patient and supportive over the years with all of this.
In fact, he often has his own creative ideas and we both find ourselves anticipating our upcoming projects together~love him!
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE a clean house, but I've rejected denial, and with a toddler who is a budding creative type herself,
I feel accomplished when the dishes are in the dishwasher before naptime (not mine, hers).
I've accepted the fact that "spotless" cannot mean what I have always
envisioned in my mind, at least not with kids,
and I would rather enjoy my kids and beautiful home, than a spotless, sterile home.
I have learned to take each day, one day at a time, and everyday should leave us feeling inspired and more contented.
The day should leave us, whispering in our ear, "the day has been as well as it could have been done, and it has been done well."

Go ahead and take a bite, indulge yourself and try my recipes and crafty creations in your own home.
I hope to inspire you to feel like the "Smart Little Cookie" you are!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chocolate Covered Gumdrops and Snow-Capped Gumdrop Mountains

This deliciously fun recipe came from a simple mishap while baking Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies for a holiday party my family and I recently attended.  While reaching for my peppermint extract, I accidentally grabbed the mint extract from my spice cupboard.  Without realizing it, I added it to the cookie batter and noticed it smelled like mint which is quite different from peppermint.  It was too late to fix the mishap, so I went ahead and continued mixing, hoping they wouldn't taste like chocolate-mint flavored toothpaste (I'm now wondering why haven't they marketed that flavor yet?)  Once they were baked, I took a bite and surprisingly they tasted like how I would imagine a chocolate covered gumdrop would taste!  
That's when the idea came to me-Chocolate Covered Gumdrops-Yummy! 


 The Recipe

1 Bag Spiced Gumdrops
(I found 2 lbs for $3 at Big Lot's in the holiday candy section)

Bittersweet Chocolate Chips

Melt chocolate chips for one minute at a time, stirring after each minute until chocolate is melted.  Using a toothpick, gently pierce the side of a gumdrop and dip in melted chocolate until completely covered.  Lightly tap against edge of bowl until extra chocolate has dripped away.  Place gumdrop right side up on parchment paper which has been placed on a cookie sheet.  When parchment is filled, transfer to freezer for about 10 minutes, or until chocolate has set.

Snow-Capped Gumdrop Mountains
Dip top of gumdrops into melted chocolate and place right side up on parchment.  Freeze for about 10 minutes, or until chocolate has set.

Smart Little Cookie Tip:
Try using milk chocolate or white chocolate.  I'm sure each would be delish-and look very pretty at your holiday party!

I hope this Christmas Eve you have sweet sugarplum dreams along with chocolate covered gumdrops of course!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Smart Little Cookie Tip-Cooking with Butter Substitute vs. Real Butter

I don't have anything against butter, if it's 100% Real Butter.  It definitely has it's place in cooking and baking and is a great flavor in many foods! 

I'm sharing with all of you my long time baking light secret-I use I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Light Spread (ICBINB-Light Spread) in my baking recipes; Light being the keyword. I love using this spread, it already has the creamy consistency of softened butter, and it lightens up my recipes with only 5 grams of fat and 50 calories/T, as opposed to 11 grams of fat and 100 calories/T in butter. And if you've heard or read, like I have, that you shouldn't use butter substitute spreads in baking recipes, don't listen! They work great!
I use real butter when baking breads, rolls and occasionally when cooking; but I use half the amount called for in the recipe. When baking, I substitute all of the butter in the recipe with ICBINB-Light Spread. Sometimes, I like to substitute all of the butter minus 1 T with ICBINB-Light Spread and add 1 T Real Butter, melted. When used in cookie recipes, they come out dense and chewy-my favorite! 

You can have your cakes and cookies and eat them too!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Maple-Walnut Cupcakes with Spiced Maple Frosting and Honey-Candied Walnuts

 Fall is in the air and I had an undeniable craving for maple this afternoon.  I could actually smell maple throughout my home and thought the scent was being carried in by the breeze through my windows! Summer is coming to an end and graciously handing the season over to Fall, like good friends.

I love the Honey-Candied Walnuts on top, they look like lovely little candied flowers.

The Recipe

2 3/4 c unbleached flour                                         1 c sugar plus 1/2 c pure maple syrup
1 T baking powder                                                  1 large egg plus 2 egg whites
1/4 t salt                                                               1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 t cinnamon                                                    1 t vanilla extract
1/4 t nutmeg                                                          1 c milk
1 c I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spread                   1 1/2 c walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line standard muffin pan with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Set aside.
In a large bowl beat sugar with butter until creamy.  Add egg and egg whites, one at a time and mix.  Add applesauce and vanilla and mix until combined.  Add flour mixture alternating with milk, starting and ending with the flour mixture.  Stir in chopped walnuts.
Scoop batter into muffin cups until 3/4 full, bake until top bounces back when touched, about 18-20 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.  Frost with Spiced Maple Frosting and top with Honey-Candied Walnuts.

Spiced Maple Frosting

4 c powdered sugar
1/2 c pure maple syrup
1/4 c milk
1/4 I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spread
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg

Mix all ingredients until combined, add more powdered sugar, as needed until thick and creamy.

 Honey-Candied Walnuts

1 c whole walnuts
1/4 c honey

Place walnuts in a pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray, drizzle with honey, bake in oven at 350 degrees F, until honey is bubbling and golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.  Let candied walnuts cool on parchment paper on a flat surface.

Smart Little Cookie Tip:
I love adding vegetable purees into recipes when I can, so my kids get extra nutrition without some of the fuss.  They happen to love sweet potatoes, so I like to add 1/2 c sweet potato puree into the batter, along with 1/4 t ginger.  So Yummy!!

I hope you enjoy these wonderful treats with a good friend 
while welcoming this lovely season!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Smart Little Cookie Tip-Hulling Strawberries

I love late summer; the sun is still out, the temperature is dropping a bit at a time and strawberries are everywhere! But oh, the daunting task of hulling the strawberries, what's a girl (or guy) to do?

I found this great tip on how to hull strawberries in a 
Real Simple magazine, one of my favorites! 

The Basics

All you need is a simple straw.  After washing the strawberries, insert the straw into the bottom center of the strawberry and push up to the stem.  So simple!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Coconut "Shortbread" Cookies

These scrumptious cookies were created by making a cookie that had the flavor of a shortbread cookie, made with honey in place of sugar, used oat flour in place of all-purpose flour and real dairy butter for my husband.  He loves cookies, but only when they're wholesome little goodies.  This is how they turned out, pretty good I'd say by the picture below...

He was very happy, and so is the little hand reaching up 
to grab her cookie at the bottom left of the picture.  
A happy family is baking at it's best.
Makes 2 dozen

The Recipe

2 c unbleached all-purpose flour                              1/2 c butter
2 1/2 c oat flour                                                    1 egg plus 2 egg whites
1/2 t salt                                                               2 t vanilla extract
1 t baking soda                                                      1 t almond extract
1 t baking powder                                                  1/2 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c sugar                                                            1 c raisins
3/4 c honey                                                            1 c shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine flours with salt, baking soda and baking powder, mix well.  In a separate medium bowl, combine sugar, honey and butter, mixing well until combined.  Mix flour mixture into butter mixture in two parts, adding walnuts and raisins with the second addition of flour mixture.  Pour shredded coconut into a small bowl.  Scoop cookie dough into balls and drop into shredded coconut.  Coat each cookie dough ball evenly with coconut and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake around 10 minutes, or until coconut and bottom edge of each cookie are golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack and watch them disappear!

Smart Little Cookie Tip:
You can easily make your own oat flour by pouring rolled oats into a blender and grinding it.  You can use this two ways: Substitute oat flour for all-purpose flour, or, use half all-purpose flour and half oat flour in any recipe.
Also, try different mixes of your favorite raisins! We love to use Trader Joe's Jumbo Raisin Medley.  It's a combination of seedless golden light raisins, flame raisins, and jumbo raisins.  Delicious!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Chocolate Bavarian Creme Cupcakes

These scrumptious little goodies are a take on two of my favorite childhood donuts, Chocolate Bavarian Creme and Chocolate Old Fashioned.  Mmm...I've lightened them up and put them in cupcake liners for the yummiest, creamiest, chocolate treat.  
You won't be able to eat just one!
Makes 2 dozen

The Recipe
Cake:                                                                   Filling:
2 c unbleached flour                                              1 pckg french vanilla
3/4 c cocoa                                                             instant pudding mix
1 t baking powder                                                 1 1/4 c skim milk
1 t baking soda                                                    
1/2 t salt                                                             Frosting:
1 c I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spread                 basic chocolate frosting
1 3/4 c sugar                                                        chocolate sprinkles
2 t vanilla
4 large egg whites                                
1 1/3 c skim milk

Prepare french vanilla instant pudding according to package directions and chill in refrigerator.  When set, scoop into a pastry bag fitted with a small circle tip, refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare muffin tin with cupcake liners.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.  In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and egg whites two at a time and mix until combined.  Alternately add flour mixture and milk, starting and ending with the flour mixture, while mixing.  Scoop into prepared cupcake liners and bake about 20 minutes, or until tops are firm.

As soon as cupcakes come out of the oven, insert tip of decorating bag into the center of each cupcake and fill pudding to the top of hole in each cupcake.  Scoop away any pudding above the surface, if needed.  Refrigerate cupcakes.
When cupcakes are chilled, frost with basic chocolate frosting and dip in chocolate sprinkles until completely covered.

Smart Little Cookie Tip:
You might like to add chocolate chips into the cake batter for an extra chocolatey treat!

Sit back, Relax, and Enjoy your Bavarian Creme.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Happy Fourth of July!

I love this vintage picture of a Lady Liberty.  There is something very comforting to me when I see her waving the American Flag, beside the fact she's not messing around with that sword! 

A BBQ, s'mores, ice cream, fireworks and family.  What could be better on Independence Day?
Thank you to our brave forefathers and soldiers, my love and gratitude always.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

I'm back! I've been very busy unpacking and setting up our new beautiful home.  In the midst of it all, my darling daughter Cecelia had her 3rd birthday! So, of course, I loved the opportunity of taking a break to bake her a Chocolate Peanut Butter Birthday Cake for the Celebration!

My daughters LOVE chocolate peanut butter, in fact, I made this same cake for my oldest daughter Sophia, in January for her 6th birthday.  My youngest, Cecelia, has been talking about it ever since-for 6 months! Both of my daughter's helped me make the cake, which was a lot of fun! While our birthday girl was taking her nap, I decorated it.  
Needless to say, she was really excited to see our creation when she woke up!


The Recipe

2 round layers chocolate cake                                peanut butter
powdered sugar                                                    vanilla
cocoa                                                                   milk                   
butter                                                                  chocolate chips

I baked a homemade chocolate cake in two round layers, however, any cake will do for this super easy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake. Before baking the cakes, mix 1/2 cup peanut butter with 1/8 cup sugar and 1/2 t. vanilla.  With a small teaspoon, drop little spoonfuls around the cake batter before putting them in the oven to bake.  This will give the cake a fun peanut butter polka dot look when the cake is sliced.

When the cakes are cooled, wrap them individually in saran wrap and place in the freezer.  This will make it easier to frost without breaking the cake. 

To frost, I made a basic chocolate frosting and added peanut butter to the mix.  I don't follow a recipe when making a basic frosting.  I eye it until it is the right consistency and flavor-the best way to make basic frosting, in my opinion.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting:  

Mix together powdered sugar, butter, cocoa, peanut butter, vanilla and milk. 
Add less milk than usual to make the frosting a little thicker, this will be used as a Smart Little Cookie-Quick Crumb Coat.

Take the cake layers out of the freezer and place one layer on a cake stand or plate.  Frost the top of this layer with frosting.  Place the second cake on top and frost both top and sides of the entire cake with frosting, reserving about 1/3 of frosting for later.  When the entire cake is frosted, mix milk into the remaining 1/3 frosting until it is a medium consistency and spreadable.  Spread this on the top and sides of the cake making the cake look smooth and yummy.

In a small bowl, melt 1/2 cup peanut butter in the microwave until smooth and silky.  Using a fork, drizzle on top of cake.  Next, in a separate bowl, melt 1/2 cup chocolate chips.  With a clean fork, drizzle over the peanut butter drizzles.  

Next, decorate however you'd like!

Smart Little Cookie Tip:
It's always fun to decorate a cake! On this Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake, you could sprinkle chopped peanuts, chocolate chips, malt balls (I used chocolate peanut butter malt balls on top), or caramel...mmm!

Oh! le chocolat!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Please hang in there, Smart Cookies! I'm about to move into my first home-Yay!! The above picture shows what I'll be thinking of while I'm away.:)
My favorite thing to do when we move into a new home is to bake a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies, then it feels like home.  I'll post more yummy recipes as soon as we're moved in.  
So I'll be back in a flash!
In the meantime, bake a batch of your favorite treats and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

White Chocolate-Polka Dot Zebra Striped Peanut Butter Rice Krispies

It's a mouthful to say-and even yummier to eat! This is a whimsical favorite at my house.  The skies the limit with any kind of addition you might be craving.
On this particular day, my daughter's really wanted chocolate and peanut butter, but not just any chocolate peanut butter creation; they wanted it to have peanut butter chips with yummy white polka dots.
What if zebra's came with white polka dots and chocolate stripes? 
I think they'd look Fabulous!
These are super yummy and so much fun!

The Recipe

6 cups crispy rice cereal                                          1/2 cup peanut butter chips
4 cups miniature marshmallows                               1/2 cup dark or milk chocolate chips
1 T I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, or 1 T butter        1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Spray 8x8 inch square pan, large cooking pot and spatula with non-stick cooking spray.  Melt 1 T butter over med-high heat.  Add marshmallows and stir until melted, take off heat and mix in crispy rice cereal.  Mix in 1/4 cup peanut butter chips, reserving the remainder 1/2 cup for later.  Mix until combined, pour into prepared 8x8 inch square pan, spread evenly and press down firmly with spatula, compacting the mixture.  Set aside to cool.  Melt remaining 1/4 cup peanut butter chips in microwave until melted, about 20-30 seconds, frost on top of cooling rice krispies.  Immediately sprinkle the white chocolate chips over the melted peanut butter chip frosting.  Melt dark or milk chocolate chips in microwave until melted, about 30-40 seconds.  With a fork, "sprinkle" the melted chocolate over the mounds of white chocolate chips.  Transfer rice krispies to the refrigerator until everything is set.  Before serving, take rice krispies out of the refrigerator and let stand on the counter for about 10 minutes.  Slice into squares and serve.  These are deliciously thick and dense.

Smart Little Cookie Tip:
This is a decadent treat, however, 1 T I Can't Believe It's Not Butter adds 5 g fat to the whole recipe, even if you use 1 T regular butter, that would add 11 g fat, as opposed to the traditional Rice Krispie Treat recipe which calls for 3 T butter at 33 g fat. This is a pretty good replacement and your waist won't regret it!

Something about rice krispies brings the simple things back into perspective.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

My New Blog Design!

I am one lucky girl.  I have the most Wonderful friends! One of which, is my wonderful and amazingly talented friend Heather, who created my Fabulous blog design.  It's so fun to see something I have such passion for, be complimented and come to life with the talents of someone who can take what I've imagined in my mind, and create it on the computer.  Thank you SO much my dear friend Heather, you're the best!! I hope you all enjoy it as much as I am.  If you have a blog that you'd like to customize, contact my friend Heather at, or, click on her blog button on the left side of my blog-Rita's Sweet Shop. Each of her designs are brilliant!

Talent used to inspire and uplift, 
is the best talent of all.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

German Brown Mustard Dip

A little odd to see a healthy veggie snack on a sweet-treat blog? Well, I do love to eat my fruits and veggies! This is a Smart Little Cookie way of eating healthy AND enjoy some treats! This is a little something I threw together late this morning for a snack and I want to share it!  I love brown mustard, and wanted to mellow out the flavor just a little to go with my yummy baby carrots...Yum!

The Recipe

1 T German Brown Mustard
1 T Fat Free Ranch Dressing
Cut up veggies

Combine brown mustard and dressing together, mix well. 

Smart Little Cookie Tip:
Use your favorite brown mustard in place of the German Brown if you'd like.  I purchased my yummy German Brown Mustard at Whole Foods. In place of the ranch dressing, you could use sour cream or plain yogurt.  This is an equal parts recipe, so you can easily make more or less.

So Simple, and So Delish!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Almond Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

 Today, I wanted to make my daughter's some yummy cookie dough for a fun after school treat.  I was ready to whip up a batch, and sadly discovered I'm out of vanilla extract...
so, after much thought, my 2 year-old daughter and I decided almond extract would be a wonderful substitute for vanilla.  
I've lightened up the recipe...a girl should be able to eat her cookie dough without all of the guilt, right?
I also made this completely egg-free, making the cookie dough safe to eat.    
Almond extract is the perfect flavoring in this recipe! 

The Recipe

1/2 cup I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spread       1 cup plus 1 T unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar                                                    1/4 t salt
1/3 cup brown sugar                                          1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t almond extract                                          1/2-1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Combine flour, salt and baking soda together, mix well.

Beat the butters and sugars until well blended, add almond extract.

Add flour mixture to the butter mixture until just combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Smart Little Cookie Tip:
This recipe is very versatile.  If you would like to store the cookie dough, place it in a covered container to refrigerate, or, in a freezer safe container or freezer bag and freeze. These also bake beautifully into delicious, soft cookies! Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes.
To use this recipe in ice cream, use your favorite sweet cream base and follow your ice cream makers manufacturers instructions.

For the original Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream recipe,

Fabulously Delicious!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Luscious Lemon Cupcakes

Some days are just meant to have the flavor of lemon in them, and these pretty little yummies are the perfect treat for today.  They will sweep you off your feet!
Makes 2 dozen

The Recipe
1 lemon                                                                1 3/4 cups sugar
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour                        2 large eggs
2 t baking powder                                                 2 egg whites
1/2 t salt                                                              
1 cup skim or 1% milk
6 ounces non-fat lemon yogurt                              Frosting:
(or, 6 ounces non-fat plain yogurt with                  3/4 cup I Cant' Believe It's Not
 2 t lemon zest mixed in)                                                    Butter Spread  
1 t lemon extract                                                  16 ounces confectioner's sugar  
3/4 cup I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spread          2 T lemon juice (from zested lemon)     
1 T butter, softened                                             1/2 t lemon extract            

Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line muffin tins with paper liners.  
Zest lemon peel (about 2 teaspoons).  Juice lemon, set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Mix well with a whisk until completely combined.  In a measuring cup, whisk together milk, yogurt and lemon extract, set aside.  In a large bowl, beat butters and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs and egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each.

Mix flour mixture into the butter mixture in three additions, alternating with milk mixture.  Start and end with flour mixture, mix well after each addition.  Fold in 2 t lemon zest.  Divide batter evenly into each cupcake cup.

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of one, comes out clean.  Cool completely.

Beat butter, confectioner's sugar, reserved lemon juice and lemon extract.  Mix until smooth, adding more confectioner's sugar as needed for desired consistency.

Smart Little Cookie Tip: 
If you like, or even love the flavor of lime, like I do, substitute 1 lime in place of the lemon in this recipe for both the cupcakes and the frosting.  You could also use 4-5 key limes for the equivalent of 1 lime-You can never go wrong with the flavor of key lime! Yum!!!

Avoir un jour succulent de citron !
Have a luscious lemon day!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Pumpkin Custard

Today is April Fools Day, one of my favorite holidays, and it has been snowing for two days where I live.  Apparently, Mother Nature has a very good sense of humor.  So, when Mother Nature gives you lemons on April make Pumpkin Custard!   I love pumpkin, and I for one, do not believe it's to be enjoyed only a few months out of the year.  Why not in April, and May, and June, and July?  
This is one of my family's favorite desserts.  It's Absolutely Delicious, 
and, Oh! My home smells so Heavenly, and yours will too! 
What better way to enjoy this fun day of trickery!
8 Servings

The Recipe

1 1/4 cups sugar                                                     2 large eggs
1 t salt                                                                   4 egg whites
2 t ground cinnamon                                               1 15 oz. can 100% pure
1 t ground ginger                                                         solid-pack pumpkin
1 t pumpkin pie spice                                              1 12 oz. can fat free
                                                                                      evaporated milk
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In small bowl, lightly whisk eggs and egg whites, set aside.  In large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, egg mixture, sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and pumpkin pie spice.  Mix well with a whisk, until completely combined.  Add evaporated milk slowly to pumpkin mixture while mixing until completely combined.

Using a ladle, pour pumpkin mixture into 8 individual ramekins.  Place ramekins on cookie sheet and place in oven, baking at 425 degrees F. for 15 minutes.  Turn oven to 350 degrees F. and bake for 30 minutes, or until toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.  When cool, place in refrigerator until ready to serve.  Top with whip cream and place a pecan, walnut or a dusting of cinnamon on top.

Happy Indulgences!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Greek Easter Bread

With Easter on it's way, I've made one of my favorite Easter recipes, Greek Easter Bread.  This bread is not only Delicious (it tastes very similar to Hawaiian Bread), it is Absolutely Gorgeous! It will look Beautiful on your special Easter table at breakfast or dinner.  It also makes a delicious french toast, when sliced.
Bon Appetit!  
 20 Servings

The Recipe

1 t. allspice                                                             1/2 sugar
2 t. cinnamon                                                          3 T. butter
1 cup warm water                                                    2 large eggs
pinch of salt                                                            2 egg whites
pinch of sugar                                                         1 t. salt
2 packages yeast                                                     1 T. water
4 3/4 cups unbleached flour                                      1 large egg yoke

Combine water, pinch of salt, pinch of sugar, and yeast in a large bowl, stir with a whisk.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Add 1 cup flour to the yeast mixture and stir until combined.  Let stand 20 minutes.

Place sugar and butter in a large bowl and mix until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and egg whites, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Stir in the allspice and cinnamon.  Add the yeast mixture to the butter mixture and mix with a whisk until well combined.  Stir in 1 t. salt.  Add 3 1/2 cups flour, 1 cup at a time.  The dough will be sticky.

Place the dough in a large bowl, coated well with cooking spray, coat the top as well.  Cover and let rise for 1 hour or until size has doubled.

Divide dough into 3 equal portions.  Shape each portion into 14-inch-long ropes.  Place the ropes lengthwise on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Pinch the ends together at one end to seal.  Braid the ropes and pinch the end pieces to seal.  Lightly coat with cooking spray.  Cover and let rise 45 minutes or until size is doubled.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine 1 T. water and egg yolk, stirring with a whisk.  Brush half of yolk mixture over the loaf.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Repeat with the remaining egg yolk mixture.  Bake for 30 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped.  Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes.  Mmmm...!

This recipe is from Cooking Light, so the recipe has already been lightened.  I have cut a tad more fat and cholesterol in the recipe by using 2 egg whites, along with 2 whole eggs.  This does not compromise the taste or texture of the bread. 


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Somewhere Over The Rainbow Cupcakes

These are the best little rainbows you'll ever eat! They're worth the effort and are a lot of fun to make. They're definitely worth their weight in gold!!
Makes 2 dozen
The Recipe

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour                 2 1/4 cups sugar
2 t. baking powder                                        1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 t. salt                                                        1 cup skim milk
1 stick unsalted butter                                   8 large egg whites
1 cup unsweetened applesauce                       food coloring~red,
                                                                    yellow, green and blue       
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two standard 12-cup muffin pans with white paper liners.  Into a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt (I love to use Redmond Realsalt sea salt, found at Target or your local health food store).  Set aside.

In a separate medium size bowl, beat together the butter (I like to use natural and organic unsalted butter, such as Tillamook-found at Walmart, and Archer Farms-found at Target), applesauce and 2 cups sugar (I like to use organic Florida Crystals brand sugar, found at Walmart), until light and fluffy.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; mix until just combined.  Set aside.

In another clean medium size bowl, beat egg whites on low speed until foamy.  With the mixer on, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar; beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form.  Do not over beat.  Gently fold a third of the egg-white mixture into the cupcake batter mixture until combined.  Gently fold in the remaining egg whites.

Divide the batter by 1/2 cups into 6 separate bowls.  Add food coloring in each bowl making the colors of the rainbow-red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.

With a small cookie scoop, scoop a half-scoop of purple batter into the bottom of each muffin liner.  Rinse scoop, add blue on top of on top of blue...yellow on top of on top of on top of orange, rinsing the scoop before each new color is added.  Liners should be about 3/4 full.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, and until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Move cupcakes to a cooling rack.

White Cloud Frosting

2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup skim milk
1 T. natural or organic unsalted butter, softened
2 t. almond extract

Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl, adding extra powdered sugar until desired consistency.  Frost each Rainbow with White Cloud Frosting.

Keep an eye on your pot of gold while eating this treat, leprechauns are very aware of how distractingly yummy these are!

My two-year old daughter, excited to eat her first rainbow!