Fresh Berries, Pound Cake and Custard Trifle for Easter

I’m so excited that warm Spring weather!

Also, we are all ready to taste all the fresh flavors that come with the sun.

Brightly colored berries and delicate cream go so well together.

This can be so easy to throw together on short notice.

You can use ready made pound cake, instant vanilla pudding and whip up fresh heavy whipping cream for an elegant and so delicious dessert that looks great and extravagant.

Fresh berries make any dessert special and fancy.

The other thing to remember is that you can make this extra special by baking all the ingredients from scratch.

Use your favorite cake recipe, maybe something with a little lemon zest to enhance the flavor of the fresh berries, as well as your favorite vanilla custard.

Be creative or keep it simple, either way, you will have a special treat for you and your guests.

Vegan Chocolate Cream Whoopi Pies To Die For!

“Skinny Bitch” and “Skinny Bitch Book of Vegan Swaps” author, Kim Barnouin has shared this recipe for chocolate whoopi pies.

Read the book if you get the chance but definitely make these sinfully delicious desserts!

Ingredients

1 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1/2 cup Earth Balance vegan butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup evaporated cane juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Method

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the almond milk and vinegar, and set aside. (It will curdle a little; it’s supposed to do that.)

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, arrowroot, and salt. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugars on low speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add half of the flour mixture and half of the almond milk mixture to the batter and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Add the remaining flour mixture and almond milk mixture and beat until thoroughly combined. Drop about 1 tablespoon of batter onto a lightly greased baking sheet, spacing them about 3 inches apart. Bake for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes before placing them onto a rack to cool completely.

Filling

1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
1/2 cup Earth Balance, room temperature
3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup almond milk

In a large bowl, beat the shortening and Earth Balance together until well combined. Add the sugar and beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes. Add the extract and almond milk, and beat for another 5-7 minutes until fluffy.

These will not last very long and I challenge you to miss anything.

I would like to try making these with coconut flour to make them gluten/wheat free, as well

Eating Healthy On A Budget

Is it really to possible to eat healthy food on a budget?

It is a common belief among many that healthy foods are more expensive and some studies have helped to create this misconception.

When you consider that value is often calculated on a calorie per dollar equation then, indeed, calorie dense foods often appear to offer a bigger bang for your buck than less calorie dense foods.

If, however, you are calculating value on a nutrition scale then high calorie often high saturated fat, sugar and sodium containing foods fall short.

In other words, junk food and prepared foods offer a lot of calories per dollar but those calories come at the cost of your health by being laden with saturated fats, high fructose corn syrup and other sugars as well as dangerously high sodium levels while offering little if any nutritive value.

There is also this obsession with protein which further confuses the issue.

Americans have gotten it into their collective psyche that protein equals meat.

While it is true that meat does contain protein it is also true that almost all foods contain protein.

All foods do not offer the full compliment of 9 amino acids needed to make a complete protein profile of 21 amino acids, however, by consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and beans, it can be easily achieved in a meal or throughout the day.

Sprouted Lentils, soy and quinoa for instance, are complete proteins.

While meat can be expensive and add to high fat and cholesterol, eggs, sardines, skim milk and yogurt are healthy and cost effective ways to add protein at very little cost.

These foods used in moderation and as compliments to a diet rich in fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains and brown rice, nutritional requirements should be easily met at little cost.

Here’s the trick: necessary ingredients include creativity, time, planning and a willingness to eat leftovers!

I eat very inexpensively and healthfully and am limited only by time and energy.

Go-to meals are often a hard boiled egg and avocado breakfast followed by a lentil lunch and veggies like cauliflower, broccoli or kale with a baked sweet potato for dinner.

I add coconut oil to cooked dishes to increase nutrition and taste.

Big pots of oatmeal, bean chills and cooked vegetables go a long way throughout the week and keep you full and energized.

The effort it takes to eat healthy may seem overwhelming, especially to busy working moms or moms who have to travel to grocery stores because they can’t find produce in their neighborhoods.

But it is also about reading labels and expanding your knowledge about what good nutrition is and why it is so important.

Eating offers one of the truly few opportunities we have to choose.

Think about it; we may not live in the home we want, love the job we have or be in the perfect relationships but everyday we put food in our mouths.

We can decide in that moment if that food will nourish us by eating something healthy and nutritious or simply entertain our tastebuds for a moment with empty calories, artery clogging fats, unnecessary sugars and enough sodium to send our blood pressure through the roof.

Bill Clinton Embraces His New Vegan Lifestyle!

Once notorious for his love of junk food and his famous stops at McDonald’s, former president Bill Clinton has embraced a vegan lifestyle to prevent heart disease.

Former President Clinton now considers himself a vegan. He’s dropped more than 20 pounds, and he says he’s healthier than ever. His dramatic dietary transformation took almost two decades and came about only after a pair of heart procedures and some advice from a trusted doctor.

Tomato, Basil and Mayonnaise on Olive Oil Grilled Whole Wheat!

I remember growing up in my European immigrant family with great food.

Some from Italy and some from Eastern Europe but all of it driven by the freshest ingredients and much of it, meatless.

My grandmas and aunts always had their own gardens and were “putting up” or canning something at any given time.

For me summertime always means tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches.

These were not gourmet growing up.

They were just any bread with mayo, fresh tomato and “crunchy” salt on top.

I spruced these up a little by grilling artisan whole grain bread with olive oil to give crunch and texture to the bread and I’ve also added big fleshy leaves of basil for that peppery edge that basil can give.

Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise is my favorite with this sandwich.

Even a few slices of avocado would be delish!

Get creative and keep it meatless. The possibilities are endless for a tasty, light and nutritious meal that says, “Summertime” in every bight!

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes for Brunch at Prairie Fire in Chicago!

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

These pancakes were the star of the show.

Fragrant Lemon; light and fluffy, golden and warm with just a hint of sweetness!

Lemon Ricotta pancakes were heaven.

We shared these like dessert.

Smoked Salmon Benedict Two Poached Eggs, Smoked Salmon and English Muffin with Herb and Lemon Hollandaise

Brunch with wonderful friends in Chicago found us at Prarie Fire in the Loop.

A comfy and cozy atmosphere on a Sunday afternoon was a perfect backdrop for delicious food and yummy morning cocktails!

This is a comfort food hangout with a sophisticated twist.

Signature PGC Benedict Two Poached Eggs over Sautéed Spinach, Crumbled Bacon and English Muffin Roasted Tomato Hollandaise

Greek Omlette Feta, Tomato, Spinach and Onion

Look at how fluffy and moist this omlette is!

Fresh Raspberry Preserves and Whole Wheat Toast

The raspberry flavor was so fresh and…..raspberry-y!

This is a great brunch spot.

A must see when in Chicago!

Lunch at Fred’s at the top of Barney’s in Chicago!

What a gorgeous sunny day in Chicago!

What better to do than lunch and shop on a crispy cool Spring day?!

Where better to go for both than Barney’s and Fred’s?!

A seat next to the window with a glorious view of the Gold Coast was the perfect way to enjoy this beet and goat cheese salad!

Fred’s is a cool upscale spot which features organic and local food as much as possible.

The atmosphere is pure Gold Coast; Comfortable luxury!

The salmon was wild caught, tender and juicy.

The spinach was perfectly cooked and flavorful.

This is a great combination.

I can eat salmon and spinach everyday!

The avocado and tomato salsa made this the absolutely perfect meal for me!

All my favorites on one plate with green onion, too!

Very fresh. Delicious!

My honey had the linguine with clams in a very light tomato sauce.

This dish was garlicky and spicy.

Absolutely fantastic!

We were both jockying between the two plates trying to decide which was better.

It was a tie.

We were so full!

But that did not stop us from completely cleaning our plates!

Of course, we walked around Michigan Avenue for a while.

I shopped, he tried to stop me from shopping, and so it went until we stumbled on Tavern on Rush……..

The Biggest Piece of Chocolate Cake, Ever! at Tavern on Rush in Chicago!

The waiter warned me and I just assumed he was a wimp. A supermodel in waiter clothing.

How could he think for a moment that I could not finish a piece of cake?!

It was just lovely! and HUGE indeed!

There was no finishing this cake but it was spectacular!

Not too sweet, moist and a chocolate buttercream landscape of heaven!

It was a brisk and windy Chicago day and we spent it on the patio of Tavern on Rush, sipping coffee and nibbling on this cake!

There was people watching and the luxury of a carefree afternoon with my loved one.

A small pool of creme Anglais, fresh strawberrries and a delicate chocolate sauce created the perfect balance of flavor and texture!

Look at this! From every angle a monument to yumminess!

I can’t wait to go back and do it all over again!

Sunday Brunch at Carpaccio in Bal Harbour! Wine, Women and Linguine with Clams!

Lunch at Carpaccio in Bal Harbour was the ultimate “Miami” brunch experience.

Let’s forget about the food for a moment. Carpaccio is the place to see and be seen.

Sunday afternoon brunch, after a long night of clubbing in South Beach, is the only remedy for what long nights have to offer!

The patio offers the best people watching opportunities.

This fresh mozzarella and vegetable platter was the perfect morning after meal.

Linguine with clams…

Margherita pizza….

Angel hair pasta with basil and fresh tomatoes….

The food was going fast!

Dancing until 4:30 in the morning can make a girl pretty hungry!

Fried calamari and zucchini was the fried food fix we all needed!

These were crispy, hot, salty and delicious!

A long leisurely meal, great friends, and the post-mortem of the night’s shenanagins with a cold bottle of Sauvignon Blanc is the best way to say “Good-bye” to Miami!

Lesley Stowe Raincoast Crisps and Beautiful Cheeses with Friends!

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What is better than cheese and crackers with friends on a sunny afternoon?

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Fruits and olives, beautiful cheeses and fresh whole grain bread and crackers take this afternoon snack to a whole new level!

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Fresh ripe papaya taste like honey and sunshine!

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These crackers are melt in your mouth fantastic. So much flavor in wholesome ingredients makes this guilt-free snacking at it’s best.

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Lesley Stowe, Raincoast Crisps are my new favorite cracker!

These are unique, delicisious and worth the trouble to find!

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These photos with the sun streaming in bring back memories of great conversation and joy with friends.

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Fine dining does not have to be complicated.

Some of my finest culinary moments have been born of the simplest ingredients!

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Don’t forget to put the love into it to get the most of your food and friends!

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