Chocolate Boozy Cakes

Hello! I’m Kristen, guest blogger and Sina’s website designer. I hope everyone’s enjoying the site. Sina is a great friend of mine. There’s never a dull moment when we hang out, and last night added to our list of adventures.

While enjoying a bottle of red, we decided to open up Booze Cakes — a cookbook my mother-in-law, Jill, bought for my husband for his birthday (of course, I’ve gotten plenty of use out of his gift ;). For those that love sweets and spirits, this is a book for you.) We chose to make the “Mexican Chocolate Cakes with Tequila Cajeta Caramel Sauce” for the dark chocolate flavor and ‘big smily face’ booze meter. After Sina’s post on facebook, we received a few requests for the recipe. Here it is!

Flourless chocolate cakes with tequila caramel sauce

Flourless Chocolate Cakes

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 9 ounces semisweet dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 tablespoon coffee liqueur
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease and flour a 12-cup cupcake pan.

  1. In a soucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter with 1/4 cup of the sugar. Stire in chocolate and cook until melted. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat egg yolks and remaining sugar until thick and pale yellow. Beat in coffee liquor (we did not have Kahlua, so we used Port wine instead). Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture and blend well.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites with salt until stiff. gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Pour batter into the pan. bake 15 minutes.

If you have cajeta or caramel sauce: combine 1/2 cup tequila and 1/2 cup cajeta or caramel sauce in a glass measuring cup; microwave 2 minutes or until melted. Stir until smooth.

For the homemade sauce recipe, follow below:

Tequila Caramel Sauce

Original recipe by Jamie at; our recipe includes the tequila, and should settle for 12 hours before use.

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or corn syrup)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • ½ cup heavy cream, heated until warm
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup tequila
  1. In a saucepan (at least 5 cup capacity), stir together the sugar, syrup, and water until the sugar is completely moistened.
  2. Heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is bubbling. Stop stirring completely and allow it to boil undisturbed until it turns a deep amber (like the color of Bass Ale). Immediately remove it from the heat and slowly and carefully pour the hot cream into the caramel. It will bubble up furiously.
  3. Use a high-temperature heat-resistant rubber spatula or wooden spoon to stir the mixture until smooth, scraping up the thicker part that settles on the bottom. If any lumps develop, return the pan to the heat and stir until they dissolve. Stir in the butter and salt. The mixture will be streaky but become uniform after cooling slightly and stirring.

Allow the sauce to cool for 3 minutes. Gently stir in the vanilla extract and tequila.

Let the sauce sit for at least 12 hours to thicken.

Keep at room temperature for up to 3 days; refrigerated, about 3 weeks. To reheat, simply place in a microwave safe container and heat for about 45-60 seconds. Stir well.

Carrot Cake Muffins

I’m so blessed to have a sister in law that I truly adore. Not only is she a great friend she is also a certified pastry chef (talk about amazing). I find myself yearning for her ability to bake without measuring and create such delicious items from scratch. Her creativity and intelligence are too good not to share.. I hope you enjoy her dishes and writing as much as I do.


March is rough on the imagination. As the sun begins to peek out from 6 months of Seattle cloud oppression, I can’t help dreaming. Peaches! Raspberries! Rhubarb! Juicy, ripe morsels just waiting to be baked into slumps, tarts, and cobblers. Sadly, when I go to open my CSA box, all I see are more carrots, apples and potatoes. I think the box contents can sense my impatience.
This week I decided to treat my produce to a farewell celebration. Instead of being roasted in olive oil yet again, these carrots cried out for a last hurrah. Inspired by my husband’s love of carrot cake, I tried my hand at a healthier, breakfast version. Most carrot cakes get their moist texture from a lot of oil, and their sweetness from sugar. These muffins use applesauce in place of oil, and I cut down on the sugar  with the addition of pineapple. (The carrots didn’t mind taking a quick vacation to the tropics).

You can use any blend of flour with this recipe. Personally, I like a half/half mix of King Arthur’s White Whole Wheat and All Purpose. For a denser, “healthier tasting” muffin, use more whole grain flour. For a lighter, fluffier muffin, All Purpose is the way to go. If you’re feeling a little bit naughty, these would be delicious with a smear of cream cheese frosting. Or just plain cream cheese. As is, they are a perfect way to start the day. The last bite of winter while we await the splendors of spring.
*One of my guinea pigs wanted me to mention that they were so good, he didn’t realize when he took a big bite of wrapper. Enjoy!

Carrot Cake Muffins

yield: 18 small muffins, 12 large muffins


  • 1/2 cup diced pineapple (canned pineapple is fine, just drain the juice)
  • 1 lb. of carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1 1/3 cups unsweetened applesauce (homemade or store bought)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, or a mix of the two
  • 3 extra large eggs
  • 1 TB. extra flour
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin tins with paper liners, spray lightly with cooking spray or butter.

1). Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
2). Using a Kitchen Aid or a hand held mixer, beat eggs, sugar and applesauce until pale yellow and creamy.
3). Mix vanilla into egg mixture.
4). Add flour mixture to eggs, being careful not to over mix. I mix this by hand.
5). Sprinkle extra tablespoon of flour over pineapple and carrots, coat evenly.
6). Add carrots and pineapple to batter, stir to incorporate.
7). Fill lined muffins tins with batter. I fill the tins completely; for smaller muffins, fill 3/4 of the way.
8). Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.

Healthy Carb Dishes

Since I seem to be craving carbohydrates a lot during this pregnancy I decided to feature healthy ways to satisfy those cravings today on Twin Cities Live. Not only will you fill up on carbs, they will be the healthy kind and you will also get some servings of fruits and vegetables in with these three dishes. So, indulge away with this edamame garden salad, couscous salad with dried fruit or delicious whole wheat raspberry bar.  I make the edamame salad a lot and can tell you it’s delicious. The couscous salad was a new recipe for me but I taste tested it last night. I really liked the spices they added to the couscous, it has a middle eastern taste with a sweet finish from the dried fruit. I am yet to try to raspberry bars but the smell has been taking over my house and I can’t wait to try one. I can only imagine how tasty they are! To find out what other pregnant woment think of the foods watch Twin Cities Live today on Channel 5 at 3pm.

Here are the original recipes with my modifications in red.

Edamame Garden Salad



  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup natural flavor rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice (I usually do 1/2 to 1 whole lemons juice)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups edamame, cooked according to package directions (see Note)
  • 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped (I only use 1/4 of a red onion so the onion flavor won’t take over)
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


  1. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, rice vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and black pepper; mix well and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Pour dressing over salad and toss until evenly coated. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serves 12. Nutritional Information (I calculated the calories/fat from :

Nutrition per Serving (yields 12) = 154 calories, 10g Fat

Couscous Salad with Dried Fruit

Source: Cooking Light 2003


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon Hungarian hot paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Dash of ground cinnamon
  • Dash of ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup uncooked couscous
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green olives
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 3/4 cup onion; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add paprika and next 7 ingredients (paprika through allspice); cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add broth; bring to a boil. Gradually stir in couscous. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork. Place couscous in a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon oil, tomatoes, and remaining ingredients; toss well. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serving size: 1 cup, serves 6

Nutrition Information: 258 calories, 7.5g Fat, 6.7g Protein, 4.6g Fiber

Raspberry Bars

Source: Eating Well



  • 3/4 cup white whole-wheat flour or whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (I was a little shy of 1/2 cup so I filled the 1/2 cup with pecans and topped with oatmeal to get to 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons ice water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Raspberry Filling

  • 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 cups fresh raspberries, divided
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons nonfat cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese instead)
  • 2 tablespoons low-fat milk
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar


  1. To prepare crust: Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat an 8-inch-square baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Place flour, pecans, 2 tablespoons sugar and salt in a food processor; process until the nuts are finely ground. Add butter one piece at a time, pulsing once or twice after each addition, until incorporated. Add ice water and vanilla and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. Transfer to the prepared pan. Press evenly and firmly into the pan to form a bottom crust.
  3. Bake the crust until it looks set, but not browned, about 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
  4. To prepare raspberry filling: Sprinkle gelatin over 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl; let stand, stirring once or twice, while you prepare the rest of the filling.
  5. Reserve 16 raspberries. Puree the remaining raspberries in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a medium saucepan and stir in 1/2 cup sugar. Cook over medium heat until bubbling. Stir in the gelatin mixture and cook, stirring, until the gelatin is melted, about 1 minute.
  6. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Pour the raspberry mixture into a medium bowl and set it in the bowl of ice water. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of loose jam and is beginning to set around the edges, about 30 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, beat cream cheese, milk and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth.
  8. Spread the thickened raspberry filling evenly over the crust. Dollop the cream cheese mixture over the filling. Draw the tip of a sharp knife or skewer through the two fillings to create a swirled effect. Nestle the reserved berries into the filling, evenly spacing them so each bar will be topped with a berry when cut. Refrigerate until the bars are completely set, about 3 hours. Cut into 16 bars, one raspberry per bar.

Nutrition Per bar (serves 16): 101 calories; 5 g fat ( 2 g sat , 2 g mono ); 6 mg cholesterol; 14 g carbohydrates; 2 g protein; 2 g fiber; 94 mg sodium; 64 mg potassium.


Gluten Free Cookies

I’ve had the pleasure of having Lauren, a student from Eagan High School, shadow me twice a week for the past three months as part of Eagan’s Mentorship program. It was so much fun to help her learn more about nutrition and join me in studio at Twin Cities Live and Fox 9 news and also teach her more about clinical nutrition. Lauren has many reasons why she is interested in nutrition but having Celiac’s disease and having to avoid all gluten in her diet is on the list. While I’ve made plenty of gluten free meals I’ve never personally tried to bake something gluten free. I was struggling to find a way celebrate her soon to be graduation and completion of her mentorship and a cookie fell in my hand…literally. I was at a meeting recently and someone brought gluten free cookies for the group. Not only was I excited that I could bake something for Lauren, I was excited because they were delicious. I asked for the recipe and here I am now, waiting for the second batch to come out of the oven.

A few things I’ll say to the recipe after preparing them tonight. First, they are very hearty! If you have a kitchenaid mixer beware that a full batch will not fit at the end. I ended up creaming the sugar and butter and adding the eggs, peanut butter and 1/2 the oats in the blender. I then moved the mixture to a large mixing bowl to stir in the remaining ingredients. Also, unlike regular cookies they don’t expand a lot in the oven so you can put them closer together. I made a full batch and used my Pampered Chef medium cookie scoop which gives a 2 Tbsp round ball and it made 62!!! Yes, I know have 62 cookies stacked in my kitchen waiting to be eaten. I think in the future I’ll cut the recipe in half .

Gluten Free Minnesota Whopper Cookies

Source: Coworker (makes ~ 62 cookies if you make 2 Tbsp dough balls)


  • 2/3 cup butter-softened
  • 1 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanila
  • 1 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 6 cups of oatmeal
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 10 ounces of chocolate chips
  • 2 cups dried fruit (I used dried cherries)
  • 1 cup walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix 6 cups of oats with baking soda in a bowl
  3. Place soft butter and both sugars in blender and cream (~4 minutes)
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla to blender and mix. Next, add the peanut butter and mix until incorporated. Now, blend in ~ 1/2 of the oats (at this point I moved the batter to a larger bowl but if you do a half batch you may be able to add all the oats to the blender now. If you move to a larger bowl add the rest of the oats to the mixture).
  5. Lastly, fold in the dried fruit, nuts and chocolate chips
  6. Roll into balls with ~2 Tbsp of dough and place on a cookie sheet
  7. Bake for 17 minutes or until lightly browned on top.
  8. Cool and Serve!




Crop Share Box #2

I realize I have box #3 from our crop share and I haven’t posted about box #2 yet. I just finished up the supplies from box #2 so I can share all my recipes. Most of the vegetables I added to our normal dishes and a lot of it was used for salads. I found the ingredients in this box more difficult to use than the veggies we received in our first box. The Hon Tsai Tai I ended up throwing away since it wilted before I figured out what to make with it.

What this Box Contained

Spring salad mix, Garden herb pack for planting (basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, savory, parsley), spinach, red radishes, asparagus, rhubarb, Egyptian walking onions and green garlic.
Pictured Items from Left to Right: 
BACK: Spring mix, Garden Herb pack, Spinach
FRONT: Red Radishes, Asparagus, Hon Tsai Tai , Green Garlic, Egyptian Walking Onions, Rhubarb
This picture was taken before I split the items with our neighbor so you can see what the size of a full share would look like.

New Recipes I made from this Box

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Recipes Source: Whole Living Magazine
Ratings: Sina: 4.5, Ryan: 3.5 (he’s a hard critic)
Comments: This recipe was super easy to make. It took me about 5 minutes to prep it and the rest of cook time was for baking. It was delicious: very fresh and not too sweet.

Tex-Mex Salad

-Spring salad Mix topped with grilled seasoned chicken breasts, avocado, diced red peppers & tomatoes, canned no added salt black beans (drained and rinsed), canned no added salt corn (drained and rinsed) and topped with crumbled tortilla chips:
-Dressing: A mix of light sour cream, lime juice, avocado and taco seasoning (I didn’t measure the ingredients)
Ratings: Sina: 3.5 (Ryan wasn’t home for this meal. I had it with my friend Heather)

Fresh Egg Scrambles

Before I even write about this let me tell you about my egg scramble morning. My dear friend Brent came over for one of our routine brunch dates. We were really excited to do egg scrambles and diced red potatoes with herbs. We spent about an hour chopping everything before we turned on the oven to hear a constant DING, DING, DING noise. Even after hitting the off button multiple times it still kept coming back. So, we find the oven manual which tells us to turn the oven off. Not knowing how to turn a gas oven off we have to call my husband who’s at a bachelor party and get step-by-step instructions from his very handy friend on turning the gas line off and unplugging the appliance.  We thought about going out for brunch at this point but we were too determined to cook since all our food was chopped and ready to go. So, what comes to my mind but to use the grill.  Of course that didn’t go as planned either since  it wouldn’t heat over 275 (I found out later the gas connection was kinked). Check out the picture below. All I can say is thank you for the Cheez-it’s we bought on an impulse at the store since we had about 3 hours of waiting, cooking, stirring and more waiting before we had our slow cooked egg scrambles, which by the way were amazing. The slow cooking definitely paid off because these were the most fluffy tasting eggs I’ve ever had (although I can’t say I plan to make more eggs on the grill anytime soon).
So what were in the scrambles?
Egg scramble #1: Eggs whipped with skim milk and mixed with chopped green garlic & Egyptian walking onions then topped with sharp provolone cheese
Egg scramble #2: Eggs whipped with skim milk and chopped chives mixed in with leftover white cheese added at the end (not sure the type).
Breakfast Potatoes: Diced red potatoes, chives, herbs, salt, pepper and olive oil.
Rating: Sina: 5 (Ryan once again was gone for this meal)

Chocolate Overload

This post is for all the times I’ve been told that since I’m a dietitians I don’t eat dessert or chocolate. No and No. Actually, dietitians have an obsession and love for food and dessert is the cherry on top of it all. When your job is centered around nutrition you are inevitably forced to think about food all day. My love for food makes me wonder what I’m going to eat for dinner while I’m eating lunch. I’m constantly excited to cook something new, eat something different or decide my next recipe to try.

My chocolate overload and new obsession with cake began the weekend of my father in law, Scott’s birthday. Since I love to cook and my husband and I love to host we decided to treat them to a homemade dinner at our house instead of going out. We started with grilled vegetables. This time it was a medley of red peppers, onions, eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms with parsley, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a dash of salt and pepper. This was accompanied with dry rubbed ribs, my moms brown rice pilaf and a healthier version of my friend Erin’s corn bread casserole. Dinner was delicious but I think we’d agree that the most exciting part of the meal hadn’t been tasted yet.

I love baking for Scott because he has a sweet tooth just like me. When it comes to dessert the richer the better! Knowing that Smitten Kitchen is always a great source for recipes I filtered through her cake options until I found the perfect choice, a chocolate sour cream cake with peanut butter cream cheese frosting. Mmm…just reading it makes me want to bake it again. You may be wondering why I’m sharing a cake recipe or you may think the reason I’m writing this post was because it was a lower fat version of cake. Was it low fat? No (although I did make a few changes to make it healthier). Was it AMAZING? That one gets a unanimous yes (even from my husband who rarely wants dessert). The reason I wanted to share this was to further prove “Everything in Moderation” even delicious chocolate cake. It was designed to be a three layer cake but since it was just my husband, mom and Ryan’s parents we only made two layers. My mom and I did the cake in the morning and then layered it with the peanut butter cream cheese frosting before dinner. Then, as if that wasn’t enough we topped it with a chocolate peanut butter glaze. It was decadent: moist, rich and creamy all in one bite. The perfect mix of peanut butter and chocolate. Although mine didn’t turn out nearly as pretty as hers I was very proud of the outcome. For those of you who haven’t been to the Smitten Kitchen blog I recommend checking it out now or clicking on the recipe link below. You won’t be disappointed.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Adjustments I made: In place of regular ingredients I used a light sour cream, 1/3 less fat cream cheese and reduced fat peanut butter
If you don’t have 3 circle cake pans you can also make it in a 9 x 11 cake pan (which I did the weekend after for my friends fiancee’s birthday. Make the full recipe, pour it in the 9 x 11 pan and bake it for 45 minutes. FYI: since it’s in a 9 x11 pan without layers you won’t need as much of the frosting.

Pudding Parfaits

Growing up one of my families favorite desserts was pudding. I remember the excitement I had when I opened the refrigerator and saw our colored kids cups filled with pudding and chilling for after dinner.  I felt like it was Christmas morning and I’d run to tell my brother the exciting news. We usually had chocolate, vanilla, banana and pistachio pudding and occasionally my mom would give us the royal treatment and top them with bananas and cool whip. It’s funny how some things never change. I’m still a sucker for pudding dessert recipes and pudding cups and I’ve always loved fat free sugar free instant pudding since it’s low in calories and fat and rich in calcium.
To bring back those great memories I decided to make pudding parfaits for my Valentine’s day date with Greta since she’s pregnant and calcium is a must have for her and baby (and truthfully because I was craving the delectable dessert myself). Knowing my food of the month is chocolate I went on a search for chocolate pudding to realize I only had banana and butterscotch on hand. I chose to make the butterscotch pudding and top our parfaits with banana slices, cool whip and chopped walnuts. They were the perfect balance of smooth, sweet and crunchy to fill us up as we watched The Bachelor. The best part was the total prep took less than 5 minutes and they were guilt free! A great treat for last minute company or a late night sweet tooth.

Our Christmas

My family is filled with people who love to cook and when we go home we’re always treated to great food. My Aunt Nancy knows how to cook everything, from traditional Italian food (my dad’s family is 100% Italian) to wholesome vegetable dishes from her garden. Then we have my mom and I who both love great food and new recipes. We’re also graced with my brother’s fiancee, Sara, a culinary school grad and professional pastry cook. After much deliberation, we decided to split cooking honors on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Today, Christmas Eve, Sara undertook the pivotal task of making a traditional four course Italian meal. Assisting is my dad, an eager culinary pupil, and my brother who has turned into our resident sous chef. Below they are seen creating the Butternut and acorn squash ravioli.

My dad’s favorite meals consist of many courses, conversation, and wine. My two cousins, Maddi and Emily, are vegetarians so we have both meat and veggie dishes tonight.

Our Christmas Eve menu:


  • Plate of Italian Meats, Cheeses and Olives from Tenuta’s (a great Italian market in Kenosha, WI; definitely worth a trip).
  • Winter Vegetables Panzanella (Italian bread salad)

Primi Piatti

  • Squash ravioli with butter sage sauce

Secondi Piatti

  • Braciole (Round steak flattened then layered with prosciutto, pine nuts, mozzarella and raisins rolled up, browned and simmered in marinara sauce for 6-8 hours)
  • Stuffed Peppers for the Vegetarians


My mom, Aunt Nancy, Maddi and I will have our turn in the kitchen tomorrow, Christmas Day. In order to spend Christmas with friends and family we brined the turkey and prepped our dishes today. Here is our list of sides:

Curried Cauliflower with Capers Source: Cooking Light

  • Recipe changes: doubled the curry powder

Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin Source: Smitten Kitchen 

  • Recipe changes: substituted skim milk for heavy cream

Corn Bread and Broccoli Rabe Strata Source New York Times

MMmmm…I can’t wait to eat. May your holiday be filled with family and finger-lickin’, lip-smackin’, melt in your mouth food just like mine. Buon Natale from the Postorino/Teskey/Reeves family.