Category Archives: Desserts

Drink of the Month, August 2012: Root Beer Floats

When was the last time you enjoyed a yummy root beer float? For me, it had been quite a while, so I was so happy to learn that August 6th is National Root Beer Float Day. So were the kids – what a perfect treat on a hot summer day!

These are so easy to make – vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup and root beer are all you really need (of course you can add caramel syrup, whipped cream and a cherry if you want.) Or, you can also make an adult version, like I did.  Smiles all around!

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Food of the Month, June 2012: Rainbow Fruit Kabobs with Cream Cheese Dipping Sauce

June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month, so to celebrate I decided to make these festive fruit kabobs with a low-fat cream cheese dipping sauce. These are so easy to make and they’re good for you as well. The dipping sauce has three ingredients and takes just minutes to assemble.

You want to choose fresh, ripe fruit in an assortment of different colors. For this batch of kabobs, I used the following fruit:


  • Strawberries
  • Cantaloupe (I used a melon baller, but you also can cut it in squares)
  • Kiwi (I also used honeydew melon for some of the kabobs)
  • Pineapple
  • Blueberries
  • Red grapes
  • Black grapes


Place the cut up fruit in separate bowls for faster assembly. Arrange the fruit on wooden skewers, basically following the order of the colors in a rainbow. What can be easier than that?

Cream Cheese Dipping Sauce

Instead of buying premade fruit dip (available in refrigerated section in the produce aisle of most grocery stores) consider making this low-fat sauce. It goes great with the fruit, especially the strawberries, melon and pineapple.


  • 8 oz. container low-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 14 oz. can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
  • Juice from a quarter of a fresh lemon


Blend the three ingredients using an electric mixer. Refrigerate for at least three hours before serving.

I served these at Gabe and Lexi’s recent birthday party to help balance the other sugar-laden desserts and the kids loved them! So did the adults! This is a great dish to take to a potluck dinner or brunch.

Bon appétit!

Eat, drink and be merry!

Guinness and Chocolate Cupcakes with Kahlúa Frosting

Here’s a great recipe that calls for beer in the cake batter. Beer in cake? That’s right – beer in cake. But not just any beer, oh no – this calls for Guinness, of course! If you’ve been reading my blog, especially recently, you have probably come to the conclusion that Guinness is one of my favorite beers. I like cooking with it almost as much as drinking it (check out my recipes for homemade Beer-cheese bread, Slow-cooker Irish stew, Shepherd’s pie and Corned beef and cabbage.)

I’ve decided to add dessert to my Guinness recipe collection with these scrumptious and moist Guinness and Chocolate Cupcakes with Kahlúa Frosting. The Guinness does not overpower the cake at all, but rather infuses a soft undertone of rich, full stout flavor and helps make the cake taste a little less sweet. This recipe is based on Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Guinness Cake recipe, except hers calls for a different icing than the Kahlúa frosting I offer here, plus I add chocolate pudding mix to the batter for even more flavor and moistness.

My goodness, my Guinness! This is seriously good stuff! What a heavenly combination – the beer and chocolate gods are smiling.

Cupcakes Ingredients (makes approx. 24)

  • 1 cup of Guinness Draught (no foam) -  drink whatever is left in the can as not to be wasteful!
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup unsweetened dark cocoa
  • 1 ½ cups superfine sugar
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 box (3.4 oz.) chocolate pudding mix (not instant)
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking soda


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the Guinness and butter on low in a medium sauce pan. Transfer to a large mixing bowl as soon as the butter has melted.

Add the sugars and the cocoa and whisk until blended.

In a separate bowl, mix the sour cream, eggs and vanilla until nice and smooth, and add to the Guinness mixture.

Add the flour, pudding mix and baking soda, and whisk until it’s well blended.

Place lining papers in muffin tins. Fill each with the batter, almost to the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from one of the muffins. Cool completely.

Kahlúa Frosting

Kahlúa is a rum and coffee liqueur made of Arabica coffee beans and sugarcane (check out my post on Kahlúa-based drinks by clicking here.) I thought this frosting would add another dimension to the Guinness-based cake, and I was right. So now you can have your cake and drink it too!


  • 8 oz. cream cheese (I use reduced fat), softened
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons Kahlúa
  • 1 ¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • Green sprinkles/frosting (optional)


Blend together the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer. Mix in the Kahlúa. Add the confectioner’s sugar and beat until nice and smooth.

Spread a good amount of the frosting on the cupcakes – the idea is to make them look like little pints of Guinness.

Or, if you’re making these for St. Patrick’s Day, add some green sprinkles, etc., so they look festive.

**Note – I’m a much better cook than cupcake decorator, as you can tell! That’s OK, as long as they taste as great, I’m good.

Bon appétit!

Eat, drink and be merry!

Food of the Month, December 2011: Gingerbread Cake

I usually don’t think about making gingerbread until December, probably because I associate it so closely with Christmas. Gingerbread cookies are so cheerful and happy and I love gingerbread houses, even though I’m not very good at making them.

If you ever get the chance, check out the national gingerbread house display at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C. The winning entries will be featured December 23rd on ABC’s Good Morning America. What a treat for young and old alike! I’ve been lucky to see this dispay a few times, and am consistently amazed at the talent of the artists. The pictures of gingerbread houses in this post are from the competition in 2010.

Since the holidays are such a busy time for most people, here is a great recipe for an easy-to-assemble gingerbread cake that you don’t have to take the time to decorate. The sour cream and molasses make it wonderfully moist. Beware of the smells emanating from your kitchen while this is baking – you’ll be craving this cake before it’s time to come out of the oven!


  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup molasses
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon orange rind


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch square pan.

Cream the butter, add the sugars and mix well. Add the eggs and blend until smooth. Add the molasses and sour cream and beat for a minute or so, until completely blended.

Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and orange rind and mix until smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30 minutes, until a toothpick stuck in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Serve this plain with applesauce on the side or top with your favorite whipped topping (or both!)

Bon appétit!

Eat, drink and be merry!

July 4th Jell-O

Donkey: You know what else everybody likes? Parfaits. Have you ever met a person, you say, “Let’s get some parfait,” they say, “Hell no,  I don’t like no parfait”? Parfaits are delicious. – Shrek, 2001.

My kids love Jell-O - I’ve never met a child that doesn’t. I whipped up these patriotic parfaits for a July 4th treat, and they were a big hit! They are easy to make, but do take some time for each layer to set.

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • 3 oz. Berry Blue Jell-O
  • 3 oz. red Jell-O (I used sugar-free raspberry)
  • Lite Cool Whip
  • Fat free whipped cream (in a can)
  • Fresh blueberries
  • Fresh raspberries


Make the blue Jell-O according to the directions on the package. Pour into four clear dessert trifles (clear wine goblets or tall glasses work well, too.) Refrigerate until the gelatin sets (a few hours or so.)

Spoon in a layer of Cool Whip. Again, refrigerate for at least an hour.

Prepare the red Jell-O following the directions on the box. I use the “speed method” which calls for adding ice to the mix. Add this as the next layer, and refrigerate for a couple of hours, until set.

Top off with whipped cream, blueberries and raspberries. Kids love to help with this part!

Watch these treats disappear!

Hey adults – these parfaits make a great dessert for you, too, but if you want something a little more grown-up, check out my patriotic jell-o shots recipe at:

Eat, drink and be merry!

“Skinny” Strawberry Milkshake Recipe

Don’t let the title of this post fool you. While this milkshake is low on fat (1.5 g.) and calories (197) it is big on flavor, thanks to the fresh strawberries. And it is so easy and quick to make.

As soon as we got home from picking strawberries the other day, I whipped up a batch of milkshakes to reward our hard work. They were bursting with the natural sweet flavor of strawberries, which were less than two hours fresh off the vine. The kids loved them, and so did I. And the best thing about these shakes is not feeling guilty drinking them! 

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Strawberry Tart Recipe


“The Queen of Hearts, she made some tarts, all on a summer day: The Knave of Hearts, he stole those tarts and took them quite away!” – Lewis Carroll

This tart is definitely worth stealing; it is soooooo good! With a cream-cheese base, chocolate and fresh strawberries, who could resist it? On a recent trip to the grocery store, I saw this recipe on the cover of Taste of Home, and was lucky enough to find it online at: I have changed a couple of things in the original recipe, such as using reduced fat cream cheese and more chocolate (and next time I make this I will actually double the chocolate I used.)

The tart is easy to assemble and sinfully good! If you volunteer to bring a dessert to your next gathering, consider making this – it is as wonderful as it looks, and it won’t last long! Yum, yum, yum. I will probably make this on July Fourth, and add blueberries along with the strawberries for a patriotic dessert.



  • 1 sheet refrigerated pie pastry
  • 4 oz. German sweet chocolate, melted (*Note – next time I will use 8 oz.)
  • 2 packages (8 oz. each) reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tbls heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups fresh strawberries, sliced
  • ¼ cup red currant jelly, melted


Preheat Oven to 450 degrees.

Press the pastry into an ungreased fluted tart/quiche pan with a removable bottom. Prick the dough with a fork in several places to keep it flat as it bakes. Place on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 10 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Melt chocolate in microwave until it is smooth (the chocolate I used had microwave instructions on the label – 1 ½ minutes for 4 oz.) Smooth the chocolate on the pie crust. Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes until set.

Mix room-temperature cream cheese with the whipping cream and vanilla extract until smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar gradually, until blended. Pour into chocolate-lined pie shell.


Arrange strawberries over filling. Zap the red currant jelly in the microwave for 20-30 seconds, and brush over the strawberries.

Cover with foil and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (*Note – I would recommend putting this in the freezer first for 30 minutes, and then moving it to the refrigerator. It will set faster.)

Remove the sides of the pan and serve. If you want to get fancy, garnish with some fresh mint leaves.

Love fresh strawberries? Check out my blog post “Strawberry Fields Forever” for other recipe ideas.

Eat, drink and be merry!