Glorious Super Hero Muffins (Gluten-Free but Super Cool!)

Would you like a recipe for super yummy, super healthy muffins . . .so good that even if you don’t need to be gluten-free you’ll still enjoy them?

Recently my Chicago kids visited, and Linda helped her oldest (aged 7) make us “Super Hero Muffins,” which were so moist and delicious that it was hard to believe they could also be good for you, but I think they are! 🙂 Want to know how? Here is Linda’s recipe (inspired by but considerably changed from what she could find online):

Super Hero Muffins
(Makes one dozen)

Start by preheating your oven to 350°F. and then grate:
1 cup± carrots (about 2 medium carrots; you can give or take a little on the one cup)
1 cup± zucchini (about one large zucchini)

Place in a large mixing bowl, and then add:
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons melted butter (can replace with 3/4 cup coconut oil if you want your muffins to be dairy-free as well)
1/2 cup sugar (can also use maple syrup if you want)
2 cups almond meal (if you don’t need to be gluten free, you can use regular flour)
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (use gluten-free if sensitive)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark chocolate chips (or 1/2 cup raisins or currants if you prefer)
Optional:
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or other favorite nuts)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Mix in the blender just enough to make sure all the ingredients are well mixed, then scoop out and divide the mix evenly into twelve cupcake liners in a baking tin.

Colorful and flavorful “Super Hero” Muffins!

Bake at 350°F. for about 30 minutes±, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

A Plate of Warm Super Hero Muffins!

Enjoy for breakfast, lunch, tea time, dinner, or midnight snack . . . anytime you need to be a super hero!! 🙂

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.” (Psalm 31:24)

Kathi’s “Dutch” (English) Chocolate Torte Cake

Have you ever had a piece of an Arnie’s “Dutch chocolate torte” cake? Until we moved to Grand Rapids, I always wanted a Mardi Gras cake for my birthday, but after discovering one of Grand Rapid’s best culinary achievements, I began looking for excuses to buy Arnie’s Dutch Chocolate Tortes. They are “the best,” and they’re hard to beat for a birthday party or special occasion, because Arnie’s Bakery also has masterful cake decorators, but if you don’t mind your cake looking less than perfect, I’ve developed a cake that at least competes in texture and flavor, and that’s what really counts, right?—especially if you can save $25 in the process! 🙂

Kathi’s English Chocolate Torte
Serves 12- 18 (very rich!)
(Okay, so maybe it should be “Dutch,” but I’m not Dutch.
“If you’re not Dutch, you’re not much!”
?? 😦 Well . . . I won’t go there . . .)

Bake your favorite chocolate cake. I used a Betty Crocker Triple Chocolate Fudge cake, but make your own or use your favorite. (I find that Duncan Hines cakes are too soft, but home made or most store-bought mixes work fine.)

Use two pans, and after they are baked and cooled, cut each layer in half with a thread just when you are ready to frost.

Fluffy Butter Cream Frosting

Butter cream Filling:
2 pounds plus three cups powdered sugar
1 cup softened butter
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

Frost cake completely: each layer, the top and sides, and chill in the refrigerator until firm (several hours or overnight).

Four-layer chocolate cake filled and frosted with white buttercream frosting

Then, entirely frost the top and sides with chocolate ganache. Here’s how:

Chocolate Ganache:

 1 cup heavy cream, heated until it just starts to boil, then turn off the heat and immediately add 16 oz. (two cups) dark chocolate chips.

Chocolate Ganache

Whisk until it’s totally smooth.

Cool to room temperature, and then carefully drip over the chilled cake, spreading the ganache and smoothing it from the top down as you go.

Kathi’s “English” Dutch Chocolate Torte Cake

Return your masterpiece to the refrigerator and chill until the ganache is also firm.

Take it out of the refrigerator just minutes before serving. It’s easiest to cut if it’s cool, but it tastes best if it’s room temperature, so find the “sweet spot” time wise (maybe 10-15 minutes; if you want to serve it straight out of the refrigerator, try microwaving a single piece for 10-15 seconds to make it just about “perfect!”).

Kathi’s Dutch Chocolate Torte served with whipped cream and caramel sauce

Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good:
for his mercy endureth for ever” (Psalm 106:1).

Hawaiian Pulled Pork Nachos

One day while we were in Disney, we stopped at Captain Cooke’s in the Polynesian Resort for lunch. My son-in-law ordered something I’d never heard of before. For one thing, they were served with kettle chips instead of tortilla chips, and for another, they were made with pineapple and pulled pork. I wasn’t sure what I’d think of it, but it was actually quite delicious, so if you’re looking for a little twist on standard nachos, you might enjoy trying this!

Hawaiian Pulled Pork Nachos on Kettle Chips
(Serves 4-6)

In a saucepan, add:
2 cups shredded pork
1/2 cup your favorite barbecue sauce
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 cup crushed, canned pineapple (with the juice)
1 cup shredded cheese (or your favorite nacho spread)
Salt and pepper to taste (after everything else has melded)

Simmer until most of the moisture has been absorbed and it’s thick enough to serve on a bun. (Come to think of it, I think this would make excellent pulled pork sandwiches too. 🙂 )

Serve over crispy kettle chips with lime wedges. (I bought some barbecue kettle chips for this recipe, and they are good, but I personally think they taste just as good with regular corn tortilla chips too, so suit yourself.)

Add a little guacamole, salsa, and sour cream, then serve with a some fresh fruit and veggies, and you have a mouth-watering lunch, snack, or supper!

I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart;
I will shew forth all thy marvellous works” (Psalm 9:1).

Creamy Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dip (or Spread)

Looking for a new twist on a dip this autumn? My sister passed on to me a recipe for a pumpkin dip she had at a party last weekend, so I thought I’d try it with my grand kids. The original recipe called for nutmeg, which my body reacts to, so I used allspice instead . . . and a little more to bring out the flavor.

Creamy Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dip

I liked it, but I wasn’t sure my grands would, so I added touch of salt and a half a cup of peanut butter. With that bit of kid magic to enhance the flavor, it was a hit, so I’m going to pass it on to you with those modifications.

In a blender, combine:
4 oz. (1/2 cup) softened cream cream
1 cup (8 oz.) pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup (or whatever you use for syrup)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon salt (or salt to taste)

Blend until completely smooth. (I had to open and scrape the sides down once, because the maple syrup didn’t get completely mixed in the first time.)

I served it with red pepper strips, apple slices, and bananas, but I’m sure it would taste great with most any veggie, fruit, or cracker you like. I was going to try it on fresh bread, but the bread disappeared a little too fast last night!

Peanut Butter Pumpkin Spread on a Bagel for Breakfast!

However, I put the leftovers in the refrigerator and tried some this morning on a bagel with some hot chocolate. As a spread, it’s not as caloric as cream cheese or peanut butter, nor as sugary as jam, so it made a very yummy, pretty healthy breakfast! 🙂

He knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined. Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:10-12; Job’s confession . . . and oh, that it might be ours too!).

Traditional Swedish Pancakes

My all-time favorite sweet breakfast at the swank restaurant on Holland America’s Koningsdam during our cruise of the North Atlantic Sea last summer was called “Swedish Pancakes.” Ever heard of them?

Swedish Pancakes with Lingonberries

I hadn’t, but they’re delicate, crepe-like pancakes with a cream filling and lingonberry jam, which is apparently a classic in Sweden, although it’s not something you can buy easily here in America. Lingonberries are tart and taste almost like cranberries to me . . . but they are the perfect compliment to the sweet cream inside Swedish pancakes.

Swedish Pancake Batter with Lingonberries

I found some lingonberry jam online to make the pancakes truly authentic, but you can substitute blueberries, strawberries, or cherries and still have an amazingly gourmet treat! Here’s how:

Filling for Swedish Pancakes

Whip in a mixing bowl:
1 cup heavy cream until firm peaks form, then add
8 oz. softened cream cheese
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Whip until completely consistent in texture, then chill in refrigerator until you’re ready to fill the pancakes. (You’ll probably have leftover filling; I did, and it set almost like a soft mousse, so I served the leftovers as a dessert later.)

Pancake mix
Serves 6 (makes about 18 medium-sized pancakes)

In a large mixing bowl, add:
2 cups pancake mix (I use Aunt Jemima’s Buttermilk but your favorite works fine)
2 cups milk
3 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Beat with a mixer just until well mixed (may be small lumps still). Let it rest a couple of minutes.

Ladle 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake onto a well buttered frying surface at about 375°F. If you have one, use a crêpe batter spreader to smooth out the circle, making it as thin and large as possible. Fry for approximately 90 seconds on the first side, and then about 1 minute on the other side, or just until browning nicely. (I forgot to photo this, but you get the picture!)

To fill:
Assemble your cream filling, some more confectioner’s sugar and either of these items:
a jar of lingonberry preserves
Or, a jar of blueberry, strawberry, or cherry preserves (or better yet, a sauce made from cooking fresh fruit with equal parts sugar until thickened, and then add 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice)
If you have any: some leaves of fresh mint for a garnish on top
Some fresh berries to garnish
Whipped cream for a garnish

You can stack the pancakes up, separated by pastry paper and kept warm in the oven, but make sure you serve them warm.

To assemble:

Lay a pancake on a flat surface and spoon a generous portion of filling diagonally across the middle of the pancake.

If you want the jam inside, add a stripe of jam before rolling them up.

Roll up each pancake, set them on a clean plate, and sprinkle them with confectioners’ sugar.

Crown with a generous serving of whipping cream, and garnish with a mint leaf ± some fresh fruit. Serve immediately. Enjoy!!

The berries can be inside, on top, or mixed in with the cream filling.
They’re good every which way!

The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness” (Proverbs 16:21; may our speech be as sweet as our food)!

Creamy Chicken Alfredo

Ever wondering what to serve for small children who still prefer all things buttery and salty, easy to digest, and preferably some type of pasta or rice? Here’s a dish that’s fancy enough to please almost all palates, but (especially if you leave out the veggies and herbs) will also get requests for seconds from the tiniest spoon feeder!

Creamy Chicken Alfredo
(Serves 6-8)

Combine in a frying pan:
4 oz. butter (margarine or olive oil can also work, but butter tastes awesome!)
1 pound skinned, de-boned chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 medium, finely-chopped onion
2 tablespoons crushed garlic
1 teaspoon fresh or ground rosemary
1 teaspoon seasoning salt (I use Lawry’s, but your favorite works fine)
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon ground basil (or up to 1/4 cup fresh, chopped; it tastes great!)

Creamy Chicken Alfredo with Broccoli

Fry until no longer pink inside (about 6-7 minutes), then add:
4 oz. butter
8 ounces chopped mushrooms
1 small head of broccoli chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 eight-oz. package cream cheese
2 cups light cream (“half’n’half”). Or, you can use 1 cup heavy cream and 1 cup water to replace the light cream; 2 cups of milk also works but isn’t quite as yummy—or caloric, so you can save some cals that way if you want!)
2 tablespoons flour
6 oz. freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or any Italian-blend grated cheese you want)


Simmer, stirring often to make sure everything becomes creamy, until the mushrooms and broccoli are tender, about 10 minutes

Pasta:
In a pan of boiling, salted water (according to the directions on the package), add:
12 oz. of fettuccine pasta. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s al dente. Drain off any excess water, and add:
8 oz. butter (or 4 oz. olive oil if you’re watching your weight)
6 oz. grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Serve with a tossed salad and freshly baked bread and butter
or garlic bread.

Even small children who are hard to please will usually love this mild, buttery delight . . . particularly if you don’t include the onions and mushrooms!)

He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4).

Scrumptious Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Pie

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
(Makes two pies, each of which serves 8+)

(I made one 10″ and one 8″ pie in this photo)

Make two 9-inch pie crusts:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Crush 2 packages of chocolate graham crackers (about 14 oz), then blend in:
1/4 cup sugar
1 /2 cup melted butter
4 oz. chocolate chips (will still be chunky)
Divide evenly, pat into the pie plates, and bake at 350° F. for 8-10 minutes, then remove from oven and let them cool.

Pie with 4 oz. chocolate chips and 1 cup chocolate frosting
added on top of warm crust

For a special touch, I like to sprinkle another 4 oz of chocolate chips on top plus:
*1 cup hot fudge (recipe here: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/08/05/recipe-for-the-best-hot-fudge/
*or 1 cup of chocolate frosting
*or 1 cup of ganache if you like the “death by chocolate” taste

(Ganache can be made by beating together:
1 cup heated (but not to the point of simmering) heavy cream and
8 oz melted chocolate chips; if you make this, use half (warm) on top of the warm crust and the other half on top after the pie is thoroughly chilled or frozen and the ganache has cooled)

Filling:
In a blender, whip
2 cups heavy cream until soft peaks form, then add:
1 eight-ounce package of softened cream cheese
1.5 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 jar (15-16 oz) smooth peanut butter
1 cup milk

Blend until it’s completely smooth, and then divide evenly into the two cooled pie shells. (Make sure they’re completely cool so you don’t melt the filling any.)
Pop into the freezer for at least one hour, or freeze completely (which takes about 2 hours).


Top with:
6 crumbled peanut butter cups per pie
Then cover with either:
1 cup home made hot fudge sauce, or the other cup of ganache (if made above)

This pie can be prepared ahead and frozen for up to a couple of weeks if need be. (Cover it securely with some type of freezer wrap if you do.

Take it out of the freezer to thaw for about a half an hour before serving. It definitely tastes best if served somewhat softened, which really enhances the flavor.

(My grand daughter ate every bite and didn’t get sick . . .
but I didn’t give her very much! 🙂 )

***Warning: This pie is so rich it can make people sick, particularly if it’s served at the end of a large meal for dessert. I’d recommend serving very reserved slices (more like 10 per pie or 2″ at the widest point), and just tell people they are welcome to have seconds if they want more. Think “heavy chocolate torte” or “pecan pie” size. When I served normally big slices, I’d end up wrapping up part of the servings to be finished later . . . but nobody wanted me to throw any of it out! 🙂 )

Remove far from me vanity and lies; give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me only food sufficient for me” (Proverbs 30:8, KJ21)