How healthy is frozen pizza?

It’s been a long day and you want to relax over dinner. Popping a frozen pizza into the oven might be perfect. But will that heat-and-eat pizza satisfy your appetite and your nutritional needs? They aren’t exactly the epitome of healthy eating, but that doesn’t mean you have to scratch this delicious, convenient item of your shopping list. 

frozen pizza

Traditional pizza toppings are usually high sodium and saturated fat-filled meats such as pepperoni and sausage as well as basic veggies like mushrooms and green peppers.  However, these day’s you have many more options.  If you live dairy-free, or gluten-free you can now enjoy store-bought pizza as well. Plus, you can now find more nutrient-filled toppings such as arugula and grilled vegetables and multi-grain crusts.  But don’t let the healthier options deceive you.  Even those pizzas contain fair amounts of sodium and saturated fat.  They can still fit into a healthy eating plan, and usually a bit easier than the standard toppings.

Helpful hints for creating a healthy frozen pizza meal.

Consider these tips when your dinner plans include a frozen pizza.

  • Add a salad. To boost your fiber and vitamin intake, and provide longer lasting satisfaction from your meal, pair your pizza with a vegetable-filled salad. This addition will also help you stay within the pizza’s serving size guidelines.
  • Top it right. Another way to increase your nutrient quota is to add more vegetables, such as broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, spinach, and onions, to the pizza before heating it.
  • How you slice it. The suggested serving sizes for pizzas vary greatly, ranging from one-half to one-sixth of the pie. If you double up on servings, you could be feasting on more than 800 calories and almost a day’s worth of saturated fat and sodium in one meal.

Bottom line when at the store. Choose pizzas with more veggie toppings instead of meat-toppings. Check the Nutrition Facts Label to find pizzas with no more than 6 grams of saturated fat and no more than 630 milligrams of sodium.

For those nights when you have a bit more energy, and time, check out my yummy recipe for homemade pizza.


Smoothie Time

Now that it seems the warmer weather might be here to stay, smoothie ideas are spinning in my brain. There’s something so refreshing about a cool, creamy smoothie. Fresh fruit mixed with protein-packed yogurt, what could be healthier, right? But if your smoothies come from restaurants and not your kitchen, its important to know that not all smoothies are created equal, and unfortunately many restaurant smoothies are a far cry from healthy. Some small-sized smoothies contain more calories than one cup of premium ice cream (even Ben & Jerry’s) and more sugar than two and a half cups of the same ice cream (about 29 teaspoons).

Fortunately you can find smoothies at your local smoothie shop with lighter calorie and sugar loads that easily fit into a healthy eating plan. In addition, they contribute a healthy dose of fiber and protein, making them an ideal mid-meal snack. Because even the healthy ones contain fruit and usually a source of dairy, they still contain natural sugars, but it’s a good goal to choose those with the lowest amounts.  A well-chosen smoothie can be a delicious snack as part of a healthy diet or an occasional meal-on-the-go.  However, before you start drinking all of your meals, remember the healthiest diet is one made up of a variety of real, whole foods.

Helpful hints. Think about these tips the next time you need a little bit of fruity refreshing.

  • Stick with small. Even the most nutritious of smoothies tend to be calorie-dense and contain a fair amount of sugar. The larger sizes can easily contain more than 500 calories and well over 100 grams of sugar.
  • Check the fiber. One nutritional benefit of fruit is fiber. Choosing smoothies with adequate fiber–aim for at least 4 grams–is one way you may be able to ensure your smoothie contains a decent amount of fruit, instead of just juice
  • Add-ins.  A basic smoothie may be simply fruit and yogurt, but these days you can add so much more.  Adding vegetables can help boost vitamin and antioxidant content.  There are also various powders such as protein, green, and vitamin to enhance the nutritional profile.  Some of these powders can also negatively impact the sodium and calorie content. 

DIY Smoothie ideas:

Of course, you can always make your own smoothies at home. This gives you total control on flavor as well as nutrition. This is my favorite, go-to recipe because I can change it up based on what I have in the house or what I’m in the mood for. Whenever I have a banana going bad, I peel it and pop it in a freezer bag in the freezer. That way it doesn’t go to waste and its always ready for a quick smoothie.

Mix & Match Smoothie
Serves 1
Cool, creamy, and delicious.
Write a review
  1. 1 small frozen banana (peel before freezing)
  2. 1/4 cup skim milk (or juice)
  3. 1/2 cup frozen blueberries*
  4. 6 ounces plain fat-free yogurt**
  5. dash of vanilla extract*** (optional)
  1. Add all ingredients to a blender but use only half of the milk/juice. Blend until well combined. Check consistency, add remaining liquids if desired.
  1. *Choose whatever frozen fruit you like--blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, peaches, mangoes, or a mix of 2 or more
  2. **Experiment with different flavors of yogurt--raspberry yogurt with peaches, coconut yogurt with pineapple, the possibilities are endless
  3. ***If you like, try different extracts--almond extract with a raspberry smoothie, coconut extract in a tropical smoothie
Foodie Mom, RD
This article originally appeared in Environmental Nutrition.

Mix & match smoothie


The Best Homemade Pizza

I originally I posted this recipe a few years ago, but I realize over time I’ve made a few changes in my recipe so thought I’d update it here. Most Saturday nights we have family movie night when I make pizza and we all sit in front of the TV and watch a movie–It used to often be a cartoon, but we’ve also done the first Star Wars trilogy and several Disney nature/animal movies. Now we’re getting into classics from my youth and we’ve seen the original Karate Kid, Princess Bride, Indiana Jones, and more.

I’m often asked if pizza is healthy. To me, that’s not really a black and white question.  Yes, pizza can be healthy, but to me there’s a wide range of possibilities that can make pizza healthier. But, one of the most important factors to consider is amount. Is eating an entire pizza yourself a healthy choice? Not really. Is a couple of slices as part of a balanced meal once in a while terrible? Definitely not.

Of course, making it at home allows you to control the ingredients and therefore create something more nutritious.  For starters we always use reduced fat cheese, and I’m guessing, probably less than most pizzerias. For the crust, you can easily swap in some whole wheat flour, but I’ll admit I use bread flour because I enjoy the texture it gives the crust. I also make my own sauce, which is super easy, (and yummy!) This helps cut down a good deal on the sodium content vs using a premade sauce, several of which tend to be high in sodium.

Then of course, the toppings. We change it up sometimes, but our go-to is usually pineapple for my son, pineapple, caramelized peppers and onions for my daughter and I, and the caramelized veggies plus some sort of meat for my my husband. Often, I’ll just brown up some lean ground beef, but as a treat once in a while I’ll throw in a wee bit of ground sausage. So we end up with a good amount of fruit, veggies, and even meat, we just keep in lean.

I’ll admit, I use a bread machine for the dough.  For years I tried by hand and certainly had an edible pizza, but once I tried the bread machine I knew I’d found the tool I needed to make it over the top! If you prefer to do it by hand, simply use the ingredients below with the technique from a by-hand recipe.

This dough recipe will make 2 medium size pizzas.  The sauce is enough for 4 pizzas, and freezes well.

Here’s my recipe for the Best Homemade Pizza

Yummy Pizza!
Crisp, slightly chewy crust with a flavorful sauce and your favorite toppings.
Write a review
  1. SAUCE
  2. 2 teaspoons olive oil
  3. 1 to 2 garlic cloves
  4. 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  5. 2 tablespoons sugar
  6. 1 to 2 teaspoons dried oregano, crushed in palm
  7. CRUST
  8. 1 1/3 cups water
  9. 1/4 cup olive oil
  10. 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  11. 2 tablespoons honey
  12. 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  13. 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine or regular yeast
  14. 3 1/2 teaspoons vital wheat gluten* (optional)
  15. Cornmeal
  16. TOPPINGS--choose your favorite
  17. shredded mozzarella, cheddar mozzarella mix, or your favorite cheese
  18. sauteed veggies such as peppers, onions, mushrooms
  19. chopped fresh or canned/drained pineapple
  1. Place olive oil and garlic in sauce pan and heat over medium heat until garlic just begins to turn golden. Add sauce, sugar, and oregano. Turn to low, cover loosely, and simmer for half hour. Set aside until ready to use.
  1. Add all ingredients except cornmeal to bread machine in order directed by your machine. Turn on to dough cycle and start. When done, take dough out of machine, divide in half and place on counter or non stick mat dusted with cornmeal. Cover with clean, damp dish towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
  2. While dough rests, begin preheating oven to 500°.
  3. After dough has rested, shape dough into desired shapes (circle, oval, rectangle) and place onto pizza stone, pizza pan, or lightly oiled jelly roll pan. Top each pizza with 1/4 of sauce, sprinkle with cheese, and desired toppings.
  4. Place in preheated oven and cook 10-12 minutes, until its done to your liking. Let cool slightly, slice, and eat!.
  1. Note: I've found the earlier in the day I make the dough and let it sit in the refrigerator, the better the texture of the crust is. I simply divide it in two after removing from bread machine, put each in an oiled bowl and cover them with a damp cloth, then chill. I take them out about half an hour before I plan to begin to shape it.
  2. *Vital Wheat Gluten helps yeast dough rise more, not necessary but I like what it does for my pizza crust.
Foodie Mom, RD

What toppings would you put on your pizza?



Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Chicken Pot Pie Soup
The weather the last few days has been perfect for warm comfort food, like soup or chicken pot pie. So, I’m reposting this yummy soup recipe. When I ran across a recipe for Chicken Pot Pie Soup on one of my favorite blogs, Chef in Training, I knew I had to try it.

While soup typically is thought of as less than healthy because of its sodium content, the benefit of cooking from home is that you control the ingredients. Therefore you control how healthy you make it. I always want to feed my family nutritiously and most days it’s easy to do with delicious meals. And for that reason the occasional splurge isn’t a problem. Fortunately this soup doesn’t need to be enjoyed just occasionally. It’s both nutritious and delicious.

It’s also fast and easy, win number three in my book.

Before I started anything I turned on the oven to preheat to bake up my pie crust croutons. Of course, these are optional, but they really do take this from a good chicken soup to a delicious pot pie-ish bowl of yum. I used a store bought crust for the sake of time, but you could easily use your own. I rolled the crust out and used my handy dandy pastry wheel to cut it into roughly 1-inch pieces. They browned up nicely in the oven and tasted delicious with a spoon full of soup.

Chicken Pot Pie Soup
A comforting, steamy twist on traditional chicken soup.
Write a review
  1. 1/2 single crust pie crust, homemade or store bought
  2. 2 tablespoons butter
  3. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  4. ½ cup onion, finely chopped
  5. 1 cup carrots, sliced into bite size pieces
  6. ⅓ cup flour
  7. 5 teaspoons reduced sodium Better than Boullion*, dissolved into 5 cups of water (I heat water and whisk Better than Boullion in until dissolved)
  8. ½ teaspooons poultry seasoning
  9. 1 teaspoon salt
  10. 2 cups shredded or chopped chicken, from rotisserie chicken or leftover
  1. Cut Pie crust into bite size pieces. Spread on a cookie sheet lined with foil and bake according to directions until pieces are golden brown in color. Remove from oven and let cool.
  2. In a large pan heat butter and olive oil until butter melts. Add add onion and carrots. Cook on medium for about 10 minutes, until they soften and begin to brown. Add the flour. Cook for another minute and then add water. Stir until smooth. Add poultry seasoning, salt, and chicken. Bring to a boil. Serve and garnish with pie crust pieces.
Adapted from Chef in Training
Adapted from Chef in Training
Foodie Mom, RD
Better than Bouillon is a concentrated source of flavoring. It can be reconsituted and used in place of stock or broth. I love it because I can make as much as I need for a recipe and it lasts much longer than an open box of stock. You can find it at most grocery stores for around $4.00 or you can order it from Amazon here if you can’t find it.

Leave a comment

Hot Cocoa Pancakes

hot cocoa pancakes

Where I live, we’re all preparing for a big time snow day!  The school’s have already cancelled, the fridge is full, and the firewood’s been brought in. I love to start off days like that with a yummy, special breakfast and these hot cocoa pancakes fit the bill for sure.

To look at them, you’d think they’re are extremely rich and decadent. They sure taste that way, but nutritionally speaking they’re about the same actually a bit healthier than traditional pancakes with butter and syrup. Plus you get the bonus of the benefits of the cocoa. Plus the kids LOVE them!

In the recipe below I used a baking mix, like Bisquick, just to be a wee bit quicker, but you can adapt this to fit your favorite pancake recipe too. I also use TruMoo chocolate milk because its low in fat and has less sugar than most chocolate milks. Plus its so creamy and chocolaty. (FYI, they aren’t paying me to say that, we really just enjoy their milk!)

I hope you like these hot cocoa pancakes as much as we do.

Hot Cocoa Pancakes
A sweet, chocolaty way to start the day
Write a review
  1. 2 cups biscuit mix
  2. 2 tablespoons sugar
  3. 2 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa
  4. 1 cup chocolate milk
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  6. 2 eggs
  1. Chocolate syrup
  2. Sweetened whipped cream
  3. Baby marshmallows
  4. Dark chocolate shavings
  1. In large bowl, stir all ingredients except Toppings with wire whisk until well blended. Heat nonstick griddle to 375°F. or 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. (To test griddle, sprinkle with a few drops of water. If bubbles jump around, heat is just right.) Brush with vegetable oil if necessary or spray with cooking spray before heating.
  2. For each pancake, pour slightly less than 1/4 cupful batter onto hot griddle. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until bubbly on top and dry around edges. Turn; cook other side until light golden brown around edges.
  3. Drizzle pancakes with chocolate syrup; top with whipped cream. Sprinkle with marshmallows and chocolate shavings.
  1. I often have a bag of Hershey miniature candy bars hanging around. You can use a microplane grater on the Special Dark bar for perfect chocolate shavings.
Adapted from General Mills
Adapted from General Mills
Foodie Mom, RD
Leave a comment

Cranberry Feta Orzo Salad

cranberry feta orzo saladEventually this cold, wet Spring will begin to warm (I hope). For now the best I can do is look forward to grilling and eating outside on a warm evening. Grilled makes me think of pasta salad and this recipe is near the top, if not at the top, of my favs list. The ingredients are basically what I put in my salad–feta, dried cranberries, slivered almonds, and some balsamic. Then you toss some pasta in, which is never a bad thing, and violá. Delish!

Now’s a perfect time for a salad with dried cranberries too. The latest Dietary Guidelines have advised Americans to consume less than 10 percent of total calories per day from added sugars as a way to help them lower their intake of foods that contribute little, nutritionally speaking. However, they understand that there are some foods with a good deal of nutrition to offer, such as dried cranberries, that do contain added sugar.  Cranberries are naturally very low in sugar as well as acidic, and to help make them edible as a dried fruit, a bit of sugar needs to be added.  However, once sweetened, the total sugar of dried cranberries is comparable to other dried fruits, like raisins and dried cherries. The guidelines say that the American diet has room for nutrient dense foods with added sugars, as long as calories from added sugars do not exceed 10 percent per day. So including a serving of dried cranberries can help you reap the benefits of the powerful little cranberry without fear that you’re going overboard on your sugar.

Cranberry Feta Orzo Salad
Serves 8
A tantalizing pasta salad with a touch of sweet, salt, and crunch.
Write a review
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
  1. 8 ounces uncooked orzo pasta
  2. 2 to 3 tablespoons red onion, minced
  3. 3-6 ounces baby spinach leaves, finely chopped
  4. 1/4 pound crumbled feta cheese
  5. 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  6. 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  7. 1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette
  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add orzo and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse with cold water. While pasta is cooking, place red onions in a bowl of cold water to and let sit (this will help mellow some of the raw onion flavor) Transfer to a large bowl and stir in spinach, feta, and nuts. Drain onions and stir into mixture. Toss with dressing. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve cold.
Foodie Mom, RD


Leave a comment

The Perfect Portion Cookbook: Review

I have to admit, when I was asked to review The Perfect Portion Cookbook, I was a bit hesitant. As a registered dietitian I’ve read countless “healthy” cookbooks in which the authors were more concerned with eliminating all the fat, or sugar, or getting the lowest calorie content possible without much concern about how the foods actually tasted. But when I learned who the authors are, I thought, hmmm, this might be something different. I’ve been familiar with Bob Warden for years thanks to my Mom’s love of QVC–he’s a frequent guest. Then, Anson Williams, I mean come on–Potsie Weber was always my favorite on Happy Days (after Fonzie, of course). So I decided to check it out.

The premise of the book is, of course healthy foods and fresh ingredients, but in addition, for each recipe there’s an example of what 100 calories would be. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to eat only the 100 calorie portion, in fact, in most cases the portions are more than 100 calories. But, if you know how much of a food consists of 100 calories, its much easier to create meal plans within your body’s calorie requirements. This feature also makes it easier to sneak in some extras. For example, say you’re usual daily calorie intake is right around where it needs to be but sometimes you want an extra snack or sweet treat–knowing how many cookies or how many “hot cocoa pretzels” constitutes 100 calories can make fitting that extra in.

The book itself is beautiful with full color pictures as well as graphics of the 100-calorie portion for each recipe. I have to admit, all of the foods look so good, it was hard to choose what to try first. I sat down with my daughter too look through the book and we decided to start the day with Steel-Cut Oatmeal on page 39 with a few of the mix-ins on the following page. It was so delicious and creamy, she had two servings before heading to school.  Here initial serving was less than that suggested in the book. 

The next day we tried the New England Clam Chowder, on page 53, for dinner and it was yummyIMG_6750, and quick and easy to make. It was flavorful, but not overly rich like some chowders made with lots of butter and heavy cream. My son enjoyed it so much he drank every last drop out of his bowl.

We paired the chowder with the BLT Tossed Salad, on page 59. IMG_6749I’ve tried BLT salads in the past, but the technique of pureeing some of the grape tomatoes into the dressing really made this salad stand out. Instead of just having a bowl of BLT ingredients mixed together, the dressing (especially on the croutons) really created that classic BLT flavor of the tomato juice and mayo combination.

And of course we couldn’t end the day without a sweet treat. We thought about several IMG_6754before finally deciding on the Cheesecake Minis on page 295. They were creamy and delicious without being overly dense. I couldn’t make the raspberry sauce described in the helpful tip (another great addition to the book) because my daughter ate too many of the berries, but at least we had enough to top a few with a fresh berry.

There’s a lot to be said for quick and easy recipes, at least for me. And I should tell you that on the night I made the chowder, salad, and cheesecakes my kids and I didn’t get home until about 5:30 and I still had dinner on the table at a very reasonable time–before 6:30.

The book usually retails for $29.95 but is available for pre-order now on Amazon $21.61 . But, it officially launches this Sunday, February 7th on QVC with a special pre-order price of $19.95. That would be a great opportunity to actually see many of the recipes in the book brought to life.

Leave a comment

Don’t forget the Cranberry

cranberryOnce we hit late September and October we’re inundated by pumpkin and apple spice everything, but what about the cranberry. The cranberry’s peak harvest time is September-October, so now is the perfect time to be thinking about all of the benefits cranberries have to offer. Don’t get me wrong, I adore pumpkin and apple foods as well–check out this round up of pumpkin and apple recipes–I’m just saying let’s be sure to include the mighty little cranberry when we start our Fall baking, cooking, and eating.

First just a few facts about this tart-little bites:

  • Cranberries may help reduce the risk of stomach ulcers by reducing the amount of a specific type of acid in those at risk.
  • Dried cranberries are a good source of fiber. You’ll get 2.3 grams (10% of the Daily Value) in just under a half a cup (40 grams).
  • Cranberries resist bacteria stickiness. Bacteria, like the kind that causes urinary tract infections, adhere or “stick” to the urinary tract leading to infection. Cranberries help prevent that sticking and therefore can help reduce the risk of a urinary tract infection.
  • Cranberries also help prevent plaque from “sticking” to your teeth, helping to prevent cavities.

Cranberry juice is often recommended as a way to get more cranberry into your diet. Pure cranberry juice, however can be quite tart. If you’re not crazy about the tartness, you’ll be happy to learn that a recent study in the journal Nutrition Research found that participants who drank cranberry juice cocktail (a sweetened cranberry juice) still obtained the cranberry benefits. In addition, even though they were drinking a sweetened drink there was no link between the cocktail and weight gain. Note that the cranberry juice cocktail contained no more and in some cases less sugar than other commonly consumed 100% fruit juices.

So go ahead and enjoy a glass or two of cranberry juice cocktail. Obviously its delicious chilled, but as the weather cools, we often look for warm drinks. Cranberry juice cocktail is delicious heated up, as you would do to apple cider, to help take the chill off on a cool afternoon.

Of course, in addition to drinking, you can also eat your cranberries. Since Fall is a great time for baking, thought I’d include a couple of yummy recipes for baking pairing apples and pumpkin with cranberries.

Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins
Yields 12
Write a review
  1. 1/4 cup white sugar
  2. 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  3. 1/4 cup canola oil
  4. 2 eggs
  5. 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  6. 1/4 cup water
  7. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  8. 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  9. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  10. 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  11. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  12. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  13. 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  14. 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease and flour muffin pan or use paper liners.
  2. Mix sugars, oil, eggs. Add pumpkin and water. In separate bowl mix together the baking flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt.. Add wet mixture and cranberries.
  3. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
  1. Recipe adapted from
Foodie Mom, RD
Cranberry Apple Cider Bread
A delicious bread with all the flavors of Fall. Makes 2 loaves
Write a review
  1. 4 1/2 teaspoons Fleischmann's Rapid Rise Yeast
  2. 1 cup warm water (100 - 110F)
  3. 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
  4. 2 large eggs
  5. 1 cup apple cider
  6. 1 tablespoon salt
  7. 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  8. 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  9. 6 - 6 1/4 cups King Arthur Bread Flour, divided
  1. 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  2. 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  3. 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel
  4. 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. 1 2/3 cups peeled, cored, chopped Jonathan apple
  7. 3/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries, chopped
  8. 3/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped
  1. 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  2. 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  3. 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  4. 1/4 cup apple cider
  1. 1/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped, divided
  2. 1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries, divided
  1. In mixer bowl, with paddle attachment, combine yeast, warm water, and 2 teaspoons sugar. Let stand 10 minutes. Stir in remaining sugar, eggs, cider, salt, lemon juice, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, and 3 cups flour. Beat on low speed 2 minutes.
  2. Beat in 3 cups flour. Knead with dough hook until moderately soft dough forms, about
  3. 5 to 8 minutes, adding additional flour as necessary. Use remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to grease a large mixing bowl. Place dough in bowl, turn to grease top. Cover; refrigerate dough overnight.
  4. Remove dough from refrigerator and let stand 30 minutes.
  5. To make filling: In a small bowl, stirring with spoon, mix together butter, confectioners' sugar, lemon peel, cinnamon, and vanilla. Set aside.
  6. Punch down dough; divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll each half into a 15 x 10-inch rectangle. Divide butter filling evenly and spread within 1 inch of edges of each rectangle. Sprinkle evenly with apples, cranberries, and pecans. Starting from long side, tightly roll up and pinch edges to seal.
  7. Using a floured knife, cut ropes lengthwise in half. With cut sides up, twist two ropes around each other to form a single piece. Place on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Pinch ends together. Cover loaves, let rise 30 to 40 minutes, until puffy but NOT double.
  8. Bake in preheated 350F oven 30 to 35 minutes or until golden and done. To prevent overbrowning, tent loaves with foil last 5 minutes.
  9. To make glaze: Mix all ingredients with spoon, beating until smooth.
  10. Drizzle glaze over cooled loaves. Garnish by sprinkling each loaf with 2 tablespoons cranberries and 2 tablespoons pecans.
  1. Recipe from the Cranberry Marketing Committee
Foodie Mom, RD
Leave a comment

Recipe Redux: Grilled Pineapple with Sweet Vanilla Butter

IMG_1601While I can’t remember the first time I tried grilled pineapple, I remember how surprisingly delicious it was. And so simple too! Its a perfect dessert for a warm summer evening of barbecuing. 

In order to meet this month’s recipe redux requirements, I needed a recipe that used some sort of alcohol, even vanilla extract (and I LOVE vanilla!) The first idea that came to me was some sort of fruit and vanilla. Add in thoughts of summer and grilling and it all combined in my brain to come up with this yummy, juicy, sweet treat. Perfect for a lazy summer afternoon lunch or a big ‘ole BBQ with a whole gang. 

Grilled Pineapple with Sweet Vanilla Butter
Serves 4
A fresh and sweet summery dessert.
Write a review
  1. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  2. 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  3. 4 slices of fresh pineapple
  4. 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, combine butter and brown sugar. Heat, stirring often, until butter is melted. Once melted, turn to low and keep warm until pineapple is ready.
  2. Heat grill to low to medium-low. Place pineapple on the grill and grill until brown grill marks form on bottom, about 3-4 minutes. Flip pineapple and continue cooking until golden brown grill marks form, another 3-4 minutes.
  3. Place each slice on a plate. Remove butter mixture from heat and stir in vanilla. Spoon a bit of butter mixture over each slice.
  1. I had some extra bananas lying around so I sliced and grilled one up and added it to this--turned out yummy.
  2. This would also be delicious with a scoop of peach or raspberry sorbet.
Foodie Mom, RD
I hope you like this as much as my family did. Feel free to try with peaches, nectarines, or even plums. I’m sure they’d all be delicious.

Check out what my fellow reduxer’s did with the challenge.



Recipe Redux: Lemon Meringue Pie Cookie Cups

From what I remember and hear, my grandmother (Nanny) was a great cook and baker.  I began baking with her when I could barely reach the counter, in fact, I needed a and nanny But my grandmother had 4 daughters, and between them, there are 9 grandkids, so when it came to passing down, things got spread a bit thin. Not that I’m complaining, I have plenty to remember Nanny by–a recipe box, many recipes, and many non-cooking items. So when I saw that this month’s Recipe Redux Challenge was a recipe using a favorite passed down kitchen tool, I had to put on my thinking cap.

I decided to go with using her old wooden-handled scoop that I use in my flour bin.  And, then, thinking of passing down, I also decided to use my kitchen-aid mixer.  While I’m its original owner, I’m hoping to get the opportunity to pass it down myself to one of my kids or perhaps grandkids.  

Using this flour scoop
and my mixer means I’ll be baking, yeah! 

I’d been wanting to make these cute little lemon meringue pie cookies for awhile now. But every recipe I found called for using store-bought sugar cookie dough. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I prefer to make my cookies from scratch. Luckily I finally found a recipe for cookie cups here and then I used it as my base for my mini lemon meringue cookie cups. They came out perfect! I ended up having them for our Easter dinner dessert (that’s why you may see a glimpse of candy eggs in my picture).

Mini Lemon Meringue Cookie Cups
Yields 48
A mini lemon meringue pie with a sweet cookie crust.
Write a review
Cookie Crust
  1. 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  2. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  3. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  4. 1 cup butter, softened
  5. 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  6. 1 egg
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Lemon Filling
  1. About 2 cups lemon pudding/pie filling*
  1. 2 egg whites
  2. 1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
  3. 1/4 cup sugar
For the cookies
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a mini muffin tin with a spritz of canola oil. In a small mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and baking powder, set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually beat in dry ingredients until combined. Roll into 1" sized balls and place in muffin tin.** Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool about 5 minutes, and then turn over onto cooling rack and gently tap to let them fall out. Cool completely before filling.
  2. Once cool, place 1 to 2 teaspoons of lemon filling into each cup.
  3. For meringue: Turn oven to 350 degrees. Place egg whites in a the bowl of a standing mixer or a large bowl. Beat until foamy, a minute or two. Add cream of tarter and beat on high several minutes until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and continue beating on high until stiff peaks form.
  4. Spread about a tablespoon of meringue on each cookie or use a piping bag and star tip to squeeze about a tablespoon onto each cookie. Place on a cookie sheet, and bake 8-12 minutes, until meringue turns golden brown.
  5. Let cool, and enjoy!
  1. *made from your favorite recipe or a box mix if you prefer--the amount needed depends on how much filling you put in each cookie cup
  2. **you may want to press the center of the balls down a bit prior to cookie to create a cup. However, I found if I simply tapped the pan gently on the counter or oven rack as I was removing them, the centers sank a bit creating a perfect indent.
Foodie Mom, RD
I have quite a sweet tooth, but I don’t buy a lot of store bought cookies.   I prefer enjoying sweet treats made with real sugar, butter, etc. that I make for my family when I have time and a holiday is the perfect time to splurge on just such a treat.

Check out what passed on kitchen gadget my colleagues chose to create with, and what they created.