Pink Velvet Cupcakes

31 Jul

The summer baking is in full force in my kitchen! Which, while sweet and delicious and challenging, is also VERY hot. But no worries. The outcome is well worth the increased temperature reading on the thermometer (we don’t have AC, and live on the 3rd floor).

My friend and former colleague asked me recently to bake cupcakes for her daughter’s baptism party…100 cupcakes! We set out to develop the best flavor and color combinations to match the theme of the party, and I got to work.

Pink Velvet Cupcakes |

Our final choices? Fluffy, tangy pink velvet with a rich cream cheese buttercream and Tres Leches Cupcakes topped with fresh whipped cream.

Baking doesn’t come without its lessons! Did you know that for a cake to be considered a “velvet,” it simply has to be baked with buttermilk. All these years, I thought it was the red dye and cocoa powder, but now I’ve seen the light! The light yet filling cake, that is. I don’t generally like buttermilk, and instead make my own with a mixture of skim milk and lemon juice. The acid from the juice curdles the milk, which creates the same result in baked goods as traditional buttermilk…but with much lower fat content!

Also, these are pink, so you KNOW I loved them. Any chance I can bake my favorite color is a good time for me :)

So, whether you have a baby shower coming up, Valentine’s Day party, or any day of the week (yeah, cupcakes are that awesome), whip up a batch of these beauties.

Pink Velvet Cupcakes |

Pink Velvet Cupcakes, adapted from Blahnik Baker
Makes 12

  • 1 ¼ C all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ⅛ tsp baking soda
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • ½ C unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ C granulated sugar
  • 2-3 drops red food coloring
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ C skim milk mixed with 1/2 tsp lemon juice


  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake tin with paper liners, spray with PAM and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy on medium speed, about 3 minutes. Add in the food coloring. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well before each addition. Scrape bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Reduce the speed to low and slowly alternate the dry ingredients with the curdled milk. Mix until just combined.

Divide batter into prepared baking liners. Bake for 10 – 13 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let cool in the tin until you can touch them. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For Cream Cheese frosting:

Beat butter and cream cheese on medium high until completely smooth, about 2-3 minutes.

Reduce speed to low and add sugar, one cup at a time. Beat on low until combined. Add vanilla extract and beat to combine. Increase speed to medium and beat frosting until smooth and fluffy. Let sit in the fridge until you’re ready to frost the cupcakes.

Spoon frosting into a piping bag fitted with a tip of your choice. Frost cupcakes and voila!

Pink Velvet Cupcakes |

Final display at the party!

Protein Carrot Cornbread Muffins

30 Jul

Sometimes all you want is cornbread. But the fatty, carb-loaded version just won’t cut it. Especially when you’re bringing a snack to a friend who just had a baby. In her case, health, protein and nutrients are key with all food choices. So I knew I had to step it up a notch.

Protein Carrot Cornbread Muffins |

These cornbread muffins are far from ordinary. They’re loaded with shredded carrots, have tons of protein from a powder, are vegan, and crazy flavorful. Oh, they’re also low in fat, gluten free and wonderfully moist! You can pretty much please anyone with these bad boys, new moms included :)

Protein Carrot Cornbread Muffins |

Of course I had to bust out the corncob-shaped silicone baking mold! There are only so many uses for that thing :P

Protein Carrot Cornbread Muffins, adapted from SuzLyfe

Makes 12 muffins

  • 1.5 C shredded carrot
  • 1 C gluten free cornmeal
  • 1/2 C gluten free all purpose flour
  • 1/2 C vanilla protein powder of choice (gluten free)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 2 packets stevia
  • 1 tsp cream of Tartar
  • 1 C skim or nondairy milk mixed with 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed meal mixed with 6 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 350° and spray silicone muffin molds with PAM.

Spread shredded carrots on a pan lined with aluminum foil. Place in oven for 5 minutes go reduce some of the moisture.

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a medium bowl mix together the wet ingredients.

Add wet to dry, mix well, then add in the carrots.

Scoop batter into prepared silicone muffin molds. Make them full to the brim! You should get 12 muffins. Optional set filled silicone molds onto a baking sheet – this will make it easier to put into and get out of the hot oven.

Bake 20-22 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool down enough to pop them out of the molds. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Eat immediately, and store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

Protein Carrot Cornbread Muffins |

Soy Chorizo and Garden Veggie Bolognese

22 Jul

Summer is a time for fresh vegetables, plump fruit and the freshest herbs. This month’s Recipe Redux challenges us to create a dish featuring the garden’s jewels. This bolognese recipe combines a myriad of vegetables that while you can get year-round, taste infinitely better when grown locally and in the summer.

It also uses a soy version of chorizo, which I recently discovered and fell in love with. This faux-meat is not only much better for you than real meat, but is so flavorful and versatile, it can be used in many ways, from quesadillas to breakfast scrambles, to this delicious bolognese sauce. Cook together a bunch of fresh, spicy veggies, some black beans, and chorizo, mix in a simple tomato sauce with southwestern spices and you’ve got a perfect vegan dinner.

Soy Chorizo and Garden Veggie Bolognese |

Soy Chorizo and Garden Veggie Bolognese

Serves 4

  • 10 oz soy chorizo, such as Cacique
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 bell pepper, finely diced
  • 3 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 2 jalapeños, finely diced
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 3/4 C plain tomato pasta sauce
  • 1 can peeled whole tomatoes
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 8 oz spaghetti or angel hair pasta (whole wheat, gluten free, whatever your fancy)

Heat a pan over medium-high and cook the soy chorizo until it’s shrunk down in size and is thoroughly cooked, about 5-7 minutes.

In a pot, heat oil and saute onion, peppers, celery and black beans until the veggies are translucent.

Puree the whole tomatoes, and add that plus the pasta sauce to the veggie mixture. Add the spices and stir well. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer, developing the spices, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cooked soy chorizo and let simmer another minute.

While that’s cooking, boil your pasta of choice in salted water.

Divide pasta into bowls and top with chorizo and veggie bolognese. Serve hot and enjoy!

Soy Chorizo and Garden Veggie Bolognese |

Check out below to see what the other Recipe Reduxers did with this fun challenge!

As the first and only recipe challenge founded by registered dietitians, The Recipe ReDux aims to inspire the food lover in every healthy eater and inspire the healthy eater in every food lover. Thank you for visiting. We hope you enjoy!

(Please note that this is a closed link-up for Recipe ReDux posts only. Any links added to this collection for non-ReDux posts will be deleted.) 

Sauteed Chickpea and Vegetable Couscous

16 Jul

Couscous, that wonderful pearlized pasta, is often overlooked when dinner rolls around. On its own, it’s pretty bland. But mixed with sauteed vegetables, chickpeas and spices, couscous takes the dinner table spotlight!

Or in the case of me and my boyfriend, the beer garden spotlight. Yeah, this turned into another picnic dinner! We don’t have much of a backyard or balcony, and with a gorgeous beer garden two miles from home, it’s become our go-to on a warm summer evening.

So, make this for an indoor OR outdoor dinner. The family will thank you.

Sauteed Chickpea and Vegetable Couscous |

Sauteed Chickpea and Vegetable Couscous
Serves 4

  • 1 1/2 C boiling water
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube (or boil 1 1/2 C vegetable stock)
  • 1 C Moroccan couscous
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 C red wine
  • 1/2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 C red wine vinegar

In a large bowl, dissolve the bouillon cube. Stir in the dry couscous and cover with a lid or plate. Let sit at least 6 minutes.

Heat oil in a large pan and cook together all the veggies, until fragrant and translucent, 7-10 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas and spices and cook another 3 minutes.

Deglaze the pan with the red wine (or use broth or water). Stir and let cook for 2 minutes more.

Fluff the cooked couscous and mix in the sauteed veggies and the vinegar.

Taste and add salt or pepper as needed. Spoon into bowls and serve hot. Enjoy!

Orange Creamsicle Avocado Protein Smoothie

13 Jul

It’s official: I signed up (read: paid) for a half marathon! It’s part of the Milwaukee Running Festival and will take place November 1. And the date seems closer than anything else.

There are a lot of negative thoughts constantly plaguing my mind about this:

  • I’m terrified
  • How crazy am I?!
  • Why do I think I can run 13.1 miles in one go?
  • What’s the mileage on tomorrow’s run?
  • Am I training right?
  • Do I need new shoes?
  • What if I can’t finish?

But also some positive ones:

  • I love a good challenge
  • My body is capable of amazing things
  • Each run makes me feel stronger and more alive
  • My training plan is solid
  • I am filled with motivation – internal and external (thanks, Chris!)
  • I’m going to feel amazing crossing that finish line
  • It’s so gorgeous outside, I picked the right time to train
  • I am quickly making running friends to help me along the way

Really though, I’m excited to conquer this next milestone and look forward to both the journey of training, and the experience of running! Please leave any advice you might have for me in the comments :)

Oh, and a recipe! Right, this is a crazy good smoothie. It’s perfect for post-workout refueling, especially when you want something cold and refreshing. The flavor is completely that of a creamsicle, but with the surprise ingredient of avocado for a healthy dose of fats with the protein powder. It’s delicious and easy, just the meal you need after a run!

Orange Creamsicle Avocado Protein Smoothie |

Orange Creamsicle Avocado Protein Smoothie
Serves 1

  • 1/2 C orange juice
  • 1/2 nondairy milk or skim milk
  • 1 serving vanilla protein powder
  • 1/3 C cubed avocado (about half a small one, or 1/4 a big one)
  • 5 ice cubes

Blend all ingredients together until completely smooth. Pour into your favorite big glass and enjoy! You earned it :)

Here’s an exhausted post-running selfie for your enjoyment. This was after an hour+ of yoga AND a 4 mile run!

Orange Creamsicle Avocado Protein Smoothie |


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