A Practical Guide To Healthy Living
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Category — Baking

UPDATED! FLF Cheesecake Variations – Low Carb, Sugar-Free, High Protein!

cheesecake whole

I’m not going to lie. I can get crazy around sweets. Sugar does bad things to my joints, though – once I started down the anti-inflammatory diet road, I noticed that when I went on a sugar bender (which USED to be a fairly regular occurrence), I’d get all swollen and achy again. So I revised my position on stevia and started to use it to get my “fix” once in a while. And I’m proud to say that I’m not nearly as beholden to the sweet stuff as I used to be – cutting down on carbohydrates generally and upping my protein has evened me out enough that I don’t have those highs and lows that left me trolling the cupboards for ages-old Halloween leftovers. [Read more →]

February 5, 2014   14 Comments

It’s Berry Time!

Berry season is in full swing . . . what better to do than make a berry crisp? You could bring it to that 4th of July thing you’re going to! [Read more →]

June 28, 2012   1 Comment

Got Zucchini?

Hi Sweeties! Coming up for air here to check in with you and to share my cooking exploits of this morning. Feeling very domestic. One of the “benefits” of impending surgery and subsequent rehab is you have the ultimate incentive to get ducks in a row. So I’ve been madly filing, tidying, organizing, prepping . . . and as of this a.m., that extends to food.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t intend to (and really can’t) put up all the meals we’ll need for almost 8 weeks post-surgery (for that, I’m relying on the kindness of friends and family), but I can do little things – things with more of an eye toward when I’m cleared for activity and can cook again. Because then it’ll be late-fall and I will be mourning the end of the summer bounty from my CSA.

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August 5, 2011   4 Comments

Chocolate-Espresso Snowcaps


You can say what you want about Martha Stewart.  She might make you feel small, or she might not be the friendliest woman around, but the gal can cook, dammit.  Her stuff’s reliable.  Martha’s recipes are well written and they work.

This weekend I used two new Martha recipes – one that’s sure to become a staple in our Christmas cookie rotation, and one that I might make again for a crowd, but probably not just for the three of us.  I’ll explain that one later in the week.  Since we’re on the brink of Christmas, and ya’ll might be noodling around for something else to add to your dessert plates, today we’ll do the sweet stuff!  [Read more →]

December 20, 2010   5 Comments

Of Cookies & Skinny Jeans & Robbing Peter to Pay Paul


Are you a fan of Semi-Sweet on Facebook and Twitter?  If you’re not, you should be – you’ll have access to all manner of “bonus content,” including links to interesting health- and nutrition-related articles, delicious-looking recipes I find, news about goings-on around town, and many days, updates on what I’m eating (you might find something new to try!).  A couple of days ago, I posted some tips for making it through the holidays while still fitting into your skinny jeans, and also about baking cookies.  And a few people commented – surprised comments like “Hey, idiot! The two are incompatible!”

Well I argue they’re not.   [

December 2, 2010   5 Comments

Tuesday Tidbit: What to eat Thanksgiving morning


Yikes?!  It’s TWO DAYS until Thanksgiving?  What? Are you all set?  You probably have dinner nailed down by now, but don’t you want something a little special for breakfast?  I made these muffins last weekend and they are the perfect seasonal breakfast item.  And so easy.  And because these are even better the day or two after you bake them, why not get ahead of the game and whip these up tonight or tomorrow, so you can wake up to a delicious homemade treat on Turkey Day? 

Apple Pumpkin Muffins with Streusel Topping (adapted from Allrecipes.com)

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. light brown sugar
1 T. pumpkin pie spice
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 c. canned pumpkin puree
1/2 c. vegetable oil
3 medium apples, peeled, cored and chopped
For Topping:
 2 T. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. light brown sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
4 t. unsalted butter


Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease 18 muffin cups or use paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, pumpkin and oil. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture; stirring just to moisten. Fold in apples. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons flour, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle topping evenly over muffin batter.

Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

After these cool, store them in an airtight container in the fridge.  Or freeze them.  Whatever you do, warm them slightly before you eat them, and if you like, slather with a little softened butter or whipped cream cheese that’s been sweetened with a little maple syrup. 

November 23, 2010   2 Comments

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread


And now for something completely different . . . not a soup, or a stew, or a Crock-Pot dish.  Not a chicken thing or a tofu scramble.  A desserty/snacky/breakfasty delight. 

I usually try to minimize my baking efforts.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy it.  And L. certainly digs getting her mixer on and crackin’ a few eggs.  But then we have the product, and it’s delicious, and, well, hard to resist.  So we eat it all up and then we (well, D. and I) pay the price on the hips, the belly and with the corresponding uptick on the scale. 

But we love us some baked goods in this house, and so when I was faced with a bunch of really brown bananas, well, I couldn’t resist trying out this new recipe for banana bread.

My recipe makes two full-sized loaves.  The Greek yogurt helps add moisture without added fat (there’s butter for that!).  We made one chocolate with chocolate chips, and one plain with chocolate chips.  They’re both damn good, although I think the choco/choco is a little too much . . . and I would’ve loved nuts, but the weirdospeople around here aren’t into those in their quickbreads. 

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Bread (adapted from Savory Sweet Life)

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened to room temp.
1/2 t. salt
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
4 large ripened bananas mashed 
2 t. vanilla
2 c. flour (preferably 1 c. whole wheat pastry flour + 1 c. white flour)
2 t. baking soda
2 T.  cocoa powder per loaf
1 c. non-fat Greek yogurt
2 c. chocolate chips
*optional 1 c. chopped walnuts per loaf


Preheat over to 350°. Lightly grease two 9×5 loaf pans with cooking spray or butter. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Stir in egg, mashed bananas, sour cream, and vanilla until well blended. Add baking soda, salt, flour. Mix everything until well incorporated. Add chocolate chips, cocoa powder (if you want both loaves to be choco/choco) and nuts (if using), and split the batter in half.  Add cocoa to one-half of the batter.

Pour batter into loaf pans and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the loaf – if it comes out clean, your loaves are done.

Makes 2 full-sized loaves, and this stuff freezes like a dream – pack one away for your next coffee-klatch.

November 8, 2010   No Comments



One last cookie recipe for you this season – the grand-daddy of them all. This is the most praised cookie in my battalion of cookie recipes.  I am not exaggerating when I tell you that people fall all over themselves for these rugelach.  Lifetime rugelach-lovers have confided in me that these are better than any they’ve ever tasted before . . . . so if you want to make some friends (maybe influence some people?) this season, whip up a batch or two of these and be generous.  And read to the end for a shortcut that might make these less daunting to bake.  


8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
½ lb. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 c. granulated sugar plus 9 T.
1/4 t. Kosher salt
1 t. vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
3/4 c. raisins
1 c. walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 c. apricot preserves, pureed in a food processor
1 egg beaten with 1 T. milk, for egg wash


Cream the cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light. Add 1/4 c. granulated sugar, the salt, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and mix until just combined. Dump the dough out onto a well-floured board or countertop and roll it into a ball. Cut the ball in quarters, wrap each piece in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make the filling, combine 6 T. of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, the raisins and the walnuts.

On a well-floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle (a nice way to get a neat circle is to place a 9-inch pie plate upside-down over the dough as a stencil, scoring the dough around the edge with a small knife). Spread the dough with 2 T. apricot preserves and sprinkle with 1/2 c. of the filling. Press the filling lightly into the dough. Cut the circle into 12 equal wedges, cutting the whole circle in quarters, then each quarter into thirds. Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge. Place the cookies, points tucked under, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Combine 3 T. granulated sugar and 1 t. cinnamon in a small bowl.  Remove the cookies from the fridge, brush each cookie with the egg wash, and sprinkle each cookie with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.

Yield:  approximately 3 dozen cookies.

Note:  the possibilities for fillings are endless.  I usually make at least 2 batches of these, half with apricot and half with seedless raspberry preserves.  You can use a chocolate spread, like Nutella, or chocolate and raspberry together.  I’ve heard of people using fig jam, some just use cinnamon-sugar and nuts.  Think of what flavors appeal to you and go from there – the dough is neutral and will showcase whatever’s inside.

Next – these are a lot of work: mixing, rolling, filling, chilling, yada yada yada.  If you want to make “lazy-man’s rugelach,” you can roll the dough into a rectangle instead of a circle, insert your fillings, roll it up into a log and cut slices.  Then chill them and brush them as you would traditional, crescent-shaped rugelach.

December 22, 2009   1 Comment