Pumpkin Spice Cake Balls

  I don't know about you, but this time of year is when I get the itch to bake! Expecially with ingredients like pumpkin! Here is a really simple recipe I found on Heidi's Recipes that you can make for your friends and family, or even better WITH your friends and family! (Don't forget to set aside a few of these decadent treats for yourself!)

Pumpkin Spice Cake Balls

1 Spice Cake Mix
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (low-fat or regular)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish.
  3. Combine dry cake mix and pumpkin puree.  Beat on medium speed until fully combined.  Mixture will be thick.
  4. Pour batter into prepared baking dish and smooth surface.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until top is slightly browned.
  6. Cool cake completely.
  7. Crumble the cooled cake into a large mixing bowl.  Break up the cake with your hands or two forks until fine crumbs appear.  Add the softened cream cheese, mixing well with a large wooden spoon or your hands until mixture is fully combined.
  8. Roll cake and cream cheese mixture into small balls (about 1 Tablespoon per ball).  Set aside.
  9. Melt almond bark in double boiler or microwave.
  10. Using two forks, dip each ball into the melted almond bark and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  11. Adorn with sprinkles.

Spicy Black Bean Dip

As the sunshine shows up again this spring, so are  backyard barbecues . A great hostess is always looking for  yummy appetizers and sides for her guests as they wait for the entree to come off the grill. This black bean dip is the perfect third in a trio with garden salsa and guacamole. All the ingredients are economical and make it a great choice for a gathering in your own home or to carry with you to a potluck. Ingredients

3c.  cooked black beans

1/4t. oregano

2 canned chipotle peppers (in adobo sauce)

11/2 c. chopped onion

1T. balsamic vinegar

1/3 c. chopped cilantro

Blend beans (with liquid), chipotle peppers and balsamic vinegar in the blender and blend until smooth. Add chopped onion and cilantro.

The smokey flavor of chipotle makes this dish fabulous  with chips or raw vegetables. If you like,  use it as a sandwich spread or on your favorite wrap.

If you're concerned about calories, fat grams or carbs, it's also a healthy alternative to a sour cream or mayo based dip.

Tasty Mac and Cheese

Some say that macaroni and cheese is the ultimate in comfort food. While I agree, this old-time favorite makes a special appearance  just a few times during the year in my household.  As well,  holiday meals are simply incomplete without this cheesy indulgence.  Just a few years ago, I remember making a special trip to the grocery store on Christmas morning because this all important dish was not included on the menu -- the family was in uproar!!

Try it out and you may never go back to the 'box'!


  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups organic whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ - ¾ cup Sautéed Onion & Garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups grated Cheddar (about 6 ounces)
  • ½ cup Asiago Cheese
  • Tex-Joy or season salt


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2-quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter and set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Drain well.
  • Sauté onion and garlic in the remaining 5 tablespoons butter in a heavy 3-quart saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add the flour, and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to let the flour brown.
  • Using a whisk, add the milk in a steady stream and cook, whisking constantly, until thick and smooth, 4 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat.
  • Add the salt, pepper, Tex-Joy or Season salt, and 2 cups of the cheese, and stir well.
  • Add the noodles and Asiago cheese and stir well.
  • Pour into the prepared dish.
  • Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of cheese evenly over the macaroni and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

Healthy Eating Part II

As Busy women, it is possible, with small changes, to eat healthy and avoid the weight gain that so easily happens while we entertain through the holidays?

Rule # in Healthy Entertaining - Always Have options

By no means am I saying to cook a multitude of things, but think about small changes you can do for health conscious guest (or yourself) yet give “bulk” to those hungry guests.  Providing bread, larger salads fruit, a simple vegetable, as opposed to a casserole, are options to pick and choose how to fill one’s plate.

One main dish as the main course is definitely the way to go. It is easy to control portion sizes by either more or less and is usually something you can quickly make an extra meatless portion if you have vegetarian guests. The key for serving dessert is to provide different size plates as an optio  It is very scary for those who are watching their weight to be offered a dessert, yet want to be gracious for the meal.  It can also be a let down for those who come expecting a fantastic dessert only to learn they have strawberries as their end to a meal J. Have something with a variety of toppings or ice cream as a choice.  By serving different toppings with different serving plates, you and your guest will have many options to choose from while being a part of the party.

The biggest challenge for busy women, who entertain as the cook, is self-sabotage. While healthy options are good, avoid serving multiple appetizers, especially with crackers, chips, dips and sauces.  Feeling like you need to provide an abundance of choices leads to additional stress (we do not need ) and mindless snacking by eating cracker after cracker. Never skip meals the day you are preparing for a party and void getting to the point of starvation that can lead to continual tasting, snacking and unwanted calories while cooking. Chew on gum to give you the “chew” factor.  I’ve learned that cookie batter does not taste good with mint gum.

You can entertain and provide a healthy delicious meal with minimal stress; just remember to keep the rules in mind

  1. Keep it Simple
  2. Never try anything new and stick with what you do well
  3. Always have options


So if you are coming to my house for a meal it will probably look like this:

  1. Fresh bowl of fruit with cantaloupe, watermelon, grapes and strawberries - Simple
  2. Large salad with a mix of green lettuce such as spinach and romaine, fresh tomato, cucumbers, raw squash or zucchini and choice of toppings such as almonds, croutons and a variety of salad dressing – Simple with bulk and variety
  3. Cheesy Pasta Delight – Simple, I know it well and is always a crowd pleaser

1 cup of celery, chopped

1 cup of bell pepper, chopped

1 cup onion, chopped

¼ cup pareley, chopped (or 3 TBSP, dried)

2 TBSP reduced calorie margarine

1 cup of evaporated milk

1 tsp cornstarch

1 tsp of chicken bouillon

½ cup water

1 tsp Creole seasoning

1 TBSP lemon juice

3 oz of Velveeta light cheese

1 lb raw shrimp or crawfish

3 cups of cooked linguini

4 TBSP fat free parmesan cheese

Melt margarine in a 10” skillet.  Add celery, bell pepper, onion, garlic and parsley. Sauté till wilted.

Combine evaporated skim milk, cornstarch and chicken bouillon in measuring cup.  Add vegetable mixture along with water, seasoning, and cheese.  Stir until melted.

Add raw shrimp or crawfish and cooked linguini

Spray 9x2x2” glass dish with non-stick spray.  Transfer contents of skillet to baking dish.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Bake 20 minutes in 350 oven

Yields 6 servings

310 Calories

5.4 gms of fat

4. Betty Crocker fudge brownies with my favorite home made icing. Of course served pre-cut with small plates available and small bowls for those who want ice cream to go with it - simple with a homemade feel and options


Melt 1 oz chocolate or 3 TBS of cocoa with 1 TBSP of butter.  Stir in 1 cup of powder sugar and 1 TBSP of milk.  Add 2 TBSP of boiling water and 1 tsp of vanilla.

To learn more about how to devise your own Wellness Plan and have your own personal certified Wellness Coach in exercise, nutrition, weight management or stress management, contact me at 409-550-7606 or Let’s get ready for the New Year.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I thought I would share one of my favorite side dishes.  This effortless recipe is the perfect compliment to any holiday meal.  Roasted garlic, warm heavy cream and buttery Yukon Gold potatoes are a few elements that help create this unforgettable dish.  Mashed potatoes are traditional fare for the holidays and this tasty side is a definite departure from the ordinary. INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 - 2/3 cup warm heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place garlic cloves on a small square of aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil.
  • Wrap foil around garlic and bake in oven for 20 minutes or until golden.
  • If you prefer, peel the potatoes.
  • Quarter potatoes and cover with water in a large pot.
  • Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Drain the potatoes and return to hot pot and mash with masher or hand held mixer.
  • Mash in the roasted garlic. Mix in butter, heavy cream, salt and pepper.
  • Transfer mashed potatoes to an oven proof dish and sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese.
  • Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until top is golden

These garlicky spuds will have your family and friends coming back for more!  Enjoy

Crabmeat Au Gratin

My family lived in New Orleans for several years, and we fell in love with Cajun food.  One dish we especially liked was Crabmeat Au Gratin.  The recipe that I use comes from  my favorite cookbook, Manna From Westwego Assembly of God Church.  It was written by the women of the church, some of the greatest cooks in all New Orleans.  Enjoy.

1 stalk of chopped celery

1/4 lb butter

1 large can evaporated milk.  (I use skim or 2%)

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 egg yolks

1/2 tsp. red pepper  (I substitute Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning for desired spice)

1 lb. white crabmeat  (Imitation crabmeat may be substituted)

Saute' onions and celery in butter until wilted.  Blend flour in well with this mixture. Pour in the milk gradually, stirring constantly.  Add egg yolks, salt, black pepper and/or Creole Seasoning.  Cook for 5 minutes.

Place the crabmeat in a bowl and pour the cooked sauce over it.  Blend well and then transfer into a lightly greased casserole and sprinkle with grated cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until cheese has melted and lightly browned.  Serves 6.

Note:  The secret to the sauce is adding enough milk to obtain the consistency that you prefer.  A little more milk added keeps it from being dry while it is being baked.

Serving suggestions:  Serve with a baked potato, steamed broccoli, and salad.