Skinny Chocolate Strawberry Frappé

Skinny Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frappé

Skinny Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frappé

Has anybody besides me come to the realization that it’s time to get serious about shedding some pounds and inches in order to fit into the summer wardrobe.  I mean really serious.   😦  I thought I would begin with this beverage which is delicious, but low in calories, fat and carbs.  The end of this post will give you the specifics on that.  You will be amazed.

This yummy, frappuccino is really rich and flavorful.  It’s a copycat of the McDonald’s one with a fraction of the cost and calories of the original.  Full of real fruit and chocolate, this is one drink you won’t want to miss! It reminds me of chocolate covered strawberries.

Before making it I decided to research the original Strawberry Frappé to find out what it was made of.  Before too long, I learned that this beverage had earned many negative reviews.  Two things became glaringly apparent :  the strawberry flavor tasted completely artificial; and chunks of chocolate clogged the straw, making it impossible to drink.


Ahaa!  I knew I could do better than that.  So, I pulled my trusty blender out and started measuring out ingredients.  Mr. D. was at home and he was willing to be my official “taste tester”.   I have to admit my first go at it left something to be desired…it was very unsweet with a prominent chocolate flavor.  I remedied that by adding more strawberries, and more sweetener.  My choice, and what I had on hand, was agave syrup.   I added about 2 Tablespoons to each drink, and this was adequate for us.

You can whip up this ridiculously easy recipe with only 5 ingredients:   dark, strong coffee, milk, cocoa powder, strawberries, and some sweetener.  You probably have all of these in your pantry -and fridge- already!


I strongly recommend using frozen strawberries instead of fresh ones.  Fresh strawberries, with their juice, will add too much liquid to the frappuccino.  Frozen strawberries are generally picked at their peak of ripeness and flash frozen which preserves their bright fruity taste.  In addition to flavor, the frozen strawberries also act as ice and help thicken the drink without watering down the taste.

To fix the second problem of chocolate chunks clogging the straw, I opted to use cocoa powder instead of pieces of chocolate.  It still adds a whole lot of chocolate flavor, but as a fine powder, it won’t plug up the straw.  Cocoa powder also has a greatly reduced number of calories and fat without sacrificing any flavor.


Yield:  Makes about 16 ounces.  Enough for 1 hugh drink or 2 smaller ones.


  • 3/4 cup double-strength coffee, chilled
  • 1/2 cup skim milk (Any kind of milk will do, I used almond milk.)
  • 1  1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup frozen unsweetened strawberries
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes
  • sweetener to taste  (agave, honey, etc.)


1.  Add only the coffee, milk, and cocoa powder to your blender container to begin.  You want to thoroughly mix those together before adding the frozen ingredients, so the cocoa gets uniformly mixed in, avoiding any little pockets of cocoa powder.

2.  Pour in the frozen strawberries and ice, and any sweetener desired, and blend till smooth.  Pour into a large glass and serve with a straw.   YUM!


Here’s the hugh payoff—-when compared with McDonald’s, my version contains 621 fewer calories, 26.6 fewer grams fat, 89.9 fewer grams of carbs, and 89.8 fewer grams of sugar.

I am also going to keep this recipe in mind when hot weather arrives, and make it to pour into my popsicle molds.  I think this is going to be a delicious summertime cool-down treat.




Poached Pears

Poached Pears

Poached Pears

Necessity is the mother of invention.  You’ve heard that saying before haven’t you?

Well, in my refrigerator were four pears that had gotten quite ripe while I was away, and it was necessary that I find a way to use them up.  I had read an article some time ago about poaching pears in red wine, and thought at the time that they were very pretty because they became tinted pink.  Not having any red wine readily available, I “invented” this recipe for poached pears using cranberry ginger ale.  Since orange is also a good match-up with cranberry,  I added some orange slices and threw in some whole cloves.  The results, as you can see, were tender pears, tinted a nice pink, and further flavored by the orange and cloves.   And the best part?   There’s no sugar in this recipe.  I just relied on the sweetness of the ginger ale and the pears themselves to carry the dish.

After being cooked they are a lovely pink color.

After being cooked they are a lovely pink color.

This is an easy-peasy dessert.  It can be served warm or chilled.  Mr. D. loved these pears, and I must say that I find them pretty darn good too.  If your New Year’s resolution has something to do with weight loss or eating less sugar, these pears are for you!!

This is everything you will need.

This is everything you will need.


Yield:   4 -6 servings


  • 4 medium pears, ripe, but not too soft.  I used Anjou pears
  • 1 orange
  • several whole cloves,  about 6
  • a bottle cranberry ginger ale, or cranberry juice


1.   Peel and core the pears.  Cut each one into eighths.  Place into a medium-size sauce pan.

2.  Slice 3-4 slices from the orange, and cut each one in half.   Juice the rest of the orange and add the juice to the pan with the fruit.

Cut-up pears, orange slices and cloves in the saucepan.

Cut-up pears, orange slices and cloves in the saucepan.

3.  Add the cloves to the pan with the fruit.

4.  Pour in the ginger ale just to the point where the pears are not quite covered.   Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer until the pears are tender when pierced with a knife.  This took about 15 minutes.

5.   Drain the pears reserving the juice, but removing the cloves and orange slices.  Cool and serve pears with some of the juice.

Serve warm or chilled for a low calorie dessert.

Serve warm or chilled for a low calorie dessert.

SOURCE:   Carolyn’s Originals

Kitchen Basics: Making Blueberry Sauce

Blueberry Sauce

Blueberry Sauce

We eat lots of blueberries in the summertime when we can get them at the “pick-your-own” farm.  They are such delightful little blue orbs; sweet, juicy, and so healthy for us with their antioxidants.  They make a fabulous snack right out of your hand–I do that while I pick, but I know you won’t tell on me.   Good as they are in their natural state, something magical happens when you cook with them.  The flavor changes completely and they release a vivid pink-purple juice.   I just love the color.


As beautiful as this looks, it tastes even better!

If you’ve ever eaten a blueberry pie, you know what I mean.   But when you have blueberry sauce on hand, you have dozens of uses for it, all of them so delicious.

So tag along with me while I make some blueberry sauce.  The berries can be frozen or fresh.  Isn’t that great?  because when you run out in the middle of winter, you can make more with frozen berries.  However, since this is prime time for fresh blueberries,  I’m making it now.   Be sure to make plenty, store it in sealed jars or well-sealed containers, and use it any of these ways:

  • pour over vanilla ice creamIMG_4674
  • use on waffles or pancakes
  • swirl into yogurt
  • top a cheesecake
  • use as the filling in a layer cake
  • spoon over fresh sliced peaches
  •  your own ideas…..


Yield:  makes about 2  1/2 – 3 cups


  • 3 cups fresh blueberries

    Blueberries and lemon, so good together.

    Blueberries and lemon, so good together.

  • 6 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup orange or lemon juice

1.  Combine the blueberries and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat.

2.  Dissolve the cornstarch in the orange or lemon juice in a small bowl, and whisk until smooth.

3.  Cook the blueberry mixture, stirring occasionally, until the berries begin to release their juices.

4.  Stir the cornstarch mixture into the blueberry mixture.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 minute more.  The mixture should thicken and bubble.  Do not over cook.

5.  Remove from the heat.  Cover and chill.  Store in tightly covered container in the refrigerator.

We love it over lemon frozen yogurt.

We love it over lemon frozen yogurt.

SOURCE:   Preserving the Abundance,  Hometown Cooking

Strawberry and Apricot Crisp

Strawberry and apricot crisp.

Strawberry and apricot crisp.

I can’t seem to get my fill of strawberries this year, so here’s another dessert I made recently that combines fresh apricots with strawberries.  Fresh apricots are available pretty much thoughout the month of May, so combining them with strawberries is a natural.  I don’t know why I’ve never thought of that before, but I’m glad this recipe brought it to my attention.  The results are crazy good especially when you add on a crumble topping that includes pine nuts.


In this crisp the apricots hold their shape while the strawberries become sauce-like.  Bake it in a 9 or 10-inch baking dish or pie plate for the right ratio of fruit filling to crumble topping.  Served with a scoop of strawberry ice cream takes it over the top.   Just sayin….


Yield:    6 servings

Crumble ingredients:

Make the crumb topping from these ingredients.

Make the crumb topping from these ingredients.

  • 1/2 stick  ( 4 Tbpn )cold unsalted butter cut into small  pieces, plus more for the baking dish
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 ounces pine nuts, toasted  ( 1/3 cup )

Filling ingredients:

  • 4 apricots, pitted and cut into sixths (about 2 cups)
  • 12 ounces strawberries, ( about 15) hulled and halved, or quartered if large (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • pinch salt

1.  Combine all crumble ingredients in a medium bowl and massage together with your fingers until butter is incorporated and mixture forms small clumps.  Refrigerate until mixture is cold, at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

Slice up strawberries and apricots, add sweetener.

Slice up strawberries and apricots, add sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch .

2.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Butter a 9-inch round shallow baking dish or pie plate.  Combine all filling ingredients in another medium bowl.  Transfer to baking dish and top with crumble.

Pour into baking dish.

Pour into baking dish.

Cover with crumb topping.

Cover with crumb topping.

Bake until bubbling in center and crumble is browned, about 40 minutes.  Let cool at least 20 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream or frozen yogurt if desired.

Out of the oven and the aroma fills the house.

Out of the oven and smelling soooo good!

Serve with a little ice cream or frozen yogurt.

Serve with a little ice cream or frozen yogurt.

SOURCE:  Martha Stewart Living

Citrus Waffles with Marmalade Compote

Citrus Waffles with Orange Compote

Citrus Waffles with Orange Compote

Every once in a while I pull a surprise  meal and we have “breakfast for supper”.  The events last weekend provided me with just such an opportunity.  We had plans for Sunday that would have included a meal but at the last minute they were unexpectedly cancelled .  I was then faced with the need to come up with a meal that I had not planned for.  So, breakfast for supper was the perfect solution.

Running in parallel  was my desire to incorporate more citrus into our diet.  So I came up with this idea for adding grated orange zest to my waffle batter and making an orange compote to spoon over the top.  Brilliant, if I do say so myself  🙂  I like to add some whole wheat flour to waffles as another way to get in some fiber, and I also added some wheat germ.  Buttermilk makes waffles nice and light if you have some, but you can sour milk and get the same results just by adding a little vinegar to the amount of milk called for.  A non-stressful Sunday evening supper that turned out better than I expected.


Orange Compote

Orange Compote

YIELD:   Serves 6

Make the compote first and keep warm while you make the waffles.

  • 1/4 cup reduced- sugar orange marmalade  (such as Smucker’s)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 cups fresh orange sections, or any combination of orange and grapefruit.  I used a Cara Cara orange, a navel orange and a clementine.

To prepare compote:   place first 4 ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat;  cook 2 minutes until marmalade melts.  Reduce heat, and gently stir in orange sections;  keep warm.


  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flourIMG_3264
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 1  1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1  1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • cooking spray
  • powdered sugar

1.  To prepare the waffles:  lightly spoon both flours into a bowl.  Add brown sugar through nutmeg and stir with a whisk.

2.  Combine buttermilk and next ingredients through egg.  Add this mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

Wet and dry ingredients ready to be combined.

Wet and dry ingredients ready to be combined.

3.  Coat a waffle iron with cooking spray and preheat it.   Spoon batter onto hot waffle iron, spreading out to edges.  Cook 5 minutes or  until steaming stops.  Repeat with remaining batter, keeping waffles warm in a low oven until ready to serve.


4.   Sift powdered sugar over tops of waffles and serve with warm orange compote.  Maple syrup tastes really good on them as well!


SOURCE:   a Carolyn Original

Vera’s Fruited Sweet Buns

I grew up enjoying all the wonderful things my mother baked using yeast.  At Easter it was hot-cross buns, and Limpa bread, Thanksgiving called for her dinner rolls, Christmas meant stollen and sweet breads.  At other times we had cardamom bread, pizza, cinnamon raisin bread, and the list goes on and on.  My Mom was the one who always baked yeast items for bake sales, or to give as gifts.  Her fingers understood what the dough should feel like when it was “right”, and for her to do this was no big deal.  Unfortunately she did not teach me!
When I was a young mom with three small children, I decided one day that I would make raisin bread.  I had no problem with assembling and mixing all the ingredients, smooth sailing so far.  Now came time for the dough to rise.  I recalled my mother setting her bowl of dough over a pan of hot water and covering it with a towel.  Magically it rose nice and high, so I did the same thing.  After about an hour I checked it, but my dough hadn’t risen, not the tiniest bit … then I realized I had left the heat turned on under the pan, and the water in the pan was boiling.  I think I cooked the yeast before it had a chance to grow.  Well, throw that one away!
Undefeated, I tried again.  This time, to raise the dough, I covered it and put it in a preheated 200 degree oven.  I know what you’re thinking here, but yes, I did turn off the oven, and waited for 1 & 1/2 hours.  When I checked my dough it had risen … a little.  So feeling successful, I put it in a bread pan and baked as directed.  The resulting loaf of bread was small, hard, and tough with little bits of charcoal in it that once had been the raisins.
OK, that was it for me.  No more baking with yeast, I’ll just focus on all the other kinds of baked goods, and be really good at those.  For years that’s what I did,  UNTIL I learned about bread machines.  The next year I got one for Christmas, and that was the turning point for me.  No more fear of yeast after that.
I use my bread machine to mix and bake breads, or use just the dough cycle to mix and raise the dough, after which I remove it, shape, fill, roll or whatever, and bake.  Success at last.
The recipe I have for you today comes from my Mother’s recipe box.  It is for a sweet dough, and my favorite way to enjoy it is with dried fruits added.  I made a few adaptations to the recipe to bring it up to date with today’s dietary life style.
Vera’s Fruited Sweet Buns
  1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup water
1/8 tesp. Instant yeast
Mix these ingredients together in a small bowl.  Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight.  Mixture will become bubbly.
All of the starter
3/4 cup milk
1 large egg
3  1/4 cups all purpose flour
4 Tablespoons soft butter
2. Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tesp. Salt
1 tesp.butter flavoring, or 1 tesp.Buttery Sweet Dough Flavor ( from King Arthur Flour)
1 tesp. Instant yeast
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup mixed diced candied orange peel and diced candied citron
( you may substitute any combination of dried fruits to equal 2 cups)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tesp. Vanilla 
1 Tablespoon water
Put all the dough ingredients in the pan of a bread machine in the order recommended by your machine.  About half way through the mixing , add the dried fruits slowly, allowing the machine to incorporate them into the dough.  Let the machine progress through to the end of the dough cycle, when the dough will be significantly puffed, but may not be doubled.
Remove dough to a kneading surface, and gently deflate.  Divide it into 12 equal size balls.
Place them into a greased 9″ x13″ pan.  Cover and let rise for 1 hour at room temperature.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
 Mix together topping ingredients until syrupy, then drizzle over the dough.  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until golden brown.  Baking time depends on size of dough balls, so start checking for doneness  at 35 minutes and add a minute or two as needed till done.
 NOTE:  Be sure to eat at least one while still warm!