Showing posts with label low calorie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label low calorie. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Strawberry Shortcake Muffins and a Virtual Drive with Cleo Coyle

Here in the New York and New Jersey area, strawberries are a local crop. How local? Get in my car, and I'll show you (well, virtually, anyway), and during our drive, I'll point out some fun ideas for your summer vacation, or in my case, staycation!

Our trek begins in Manhattan, where we cross the 59th Street Bridge. Yes, the same span on which Simon and Garfunkel were "feelin' groovy," all those years ago. Click on the arrow in the window below to watch them sing the classic tune in Central Park. If you need a pick-me-up, this should do it.

Were you a fan of Simon and Garfunkel? 

(Waves hand madly...)

The Famous Central Park Concert

Are you "Feelin' Groovy" yet?...

Well, let's keep driving then! 

On the other side of New York's famous 59th Street Bridge 
is a forked body of land, also surrounded by water. 
This is Long Island...

To learn more about Long Island,
New York click this link:

On the Manhattan end of Long Island sits Queens, one of New York's five boroughs and the place I (and the Mets) call home. Driving east, toward the rising sun, apartment buildings and row houses gradually give way to middle class homes. We're now leaving New York City and entering what we locals think of as "Long Island" proper.

A fun summer read,
Murder Most Frothy takes
my coffeehouse manager
and amateur sleuth,
Clare Cosi, to New York's
Hamptons, the fabled seaside
playground of the rich and
famous on the "South Fork"

of Long Island. To learn more
about this frothy culinary
murder mystery,
click here.
The roads here (almost magically) appear much cleaner and in better shape. Suburban malls sprout up and we pass familiar franchise stores, restaurants, and movie multiplexes. Most of these things will be found along the center of the Island. The picturesque waterside views (a quiet bay on the north end and the tumultuous Atlantic on the south) are peppered by exclusive communities with multimillion dollar homes. 

But fret not, Oh ye who do not manage hedge funds nor own multimedia conglomerates, because there are plenty of state parks on Long Island, too. One of my favorites is a 6.5-mile white sand playground for the public called Jones Beach, which makes it possible for even lowly writerly types (like me) to appreciate an ocean view.

If strolling through historic villages floats your boat (as it does mine), then you should be buoyed by the many quaint towns along both shorelines. 

National landmarks are worth a look, too, like Teddy Roosevelt's stunning Victorian home, Sagamore Hill (aka his "summer White House"), near the scenic town of Oyster Bay on Long Island's North Shore.

Continue driving east and the Island takes on a much more pastoral complexion. At the end of the island, the land splits into the "North Fork" and the "South Fork," the latter is where you will find the famous Hamptons, a collection of seaside villages where rich and famous folk, especially those who live in New York City, have summer homes.

Although you will find uber-rich people out here with their yacht clubs, stables, and summer houses, you will 
also find families who've been here for many generations, along with working vineyards and farms. Touring around this area is a beautiful way to spend a day (or two or three)...

Strawberries are one of the big crops of their summer season. In fact, many of the farms feature pick-your-own strawberry patches.

I didn't pick my own today, although picking your own is a fun outing for young and old...

To visit a Strawberry Festival on Long Island 
and lick your lips at some of the ways strawberries 
can be eaten, enjoy this 2 minute video...

Okay, now you're ready for a snack, right?

Full disclosure: For today's recipe, I got my strawberries the old-fashioned way, at the grocery store, where the sign next to the stacked containers of bright red berries declared: "Buy 1, Get 1 Free!" 

Indeed, I did buy one, took home two, 
and had me a strawberry party.

Of course, I truly love Farmers' Markets,
and I'm sure most you will agree...

Nothing says summer like a stop
by a local farmer's roadside stand.

To check out New York State's 
interactive guide to its many farmers' 
markets, click here.

Cleo Coyle has a partner in 
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here or here.

Cleo Coyle's
Shortcake Muffins 

This is one of my favorite summertime muffins. It has the taste of a strawberry shortcake but with less fat and calories, making it a lovely breakfast or coffee-break snack. If you should want to make it richer, simply replace the low fat milk with whole milk, half-and-half, or heavy cream. However you decide to bake them, I hope you eat them with summertime joy! Love...

~ Cleo

To download a fee PDF of this recipe that you can print, save, or share, click here.

Cleo's Strawberry Shortcake Muffins

Makes 6 standard muffins


4 - 5 ounces of ripe strawberries (This equals about 4 medium,
      or 3 large, or 8 small berries. Or about 2/3 cup when chopped.)

1 tablespoon white granulated sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup white, granulated sugar

2 tablespoons canola (or vegetable or cold-pressed virgin coconut) oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup low fat milk
(2% milk gives great results; for a richer tasting
       muffin, use whole milk, half-and-half, or cream)

1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup all-purpose flour


Step 1 - Prep oven, pan, and berries: Preheat oven to 350º F. Line six muffin cups with paper holders. To prevent muffins from sticking, lightly spray the papers with non-stick spray. Wash your strawberries and gently pat them dry with a paper towel. (It's okay if they're still damp.) Hull them (see how below) and chop them into small, uniform pieces. If you slice them over a small bowl, you'll retain more of the juices. Once chopped, the strawberries should fill 2/3 cup and no more. Sprinkle berries with 1 tablespoon of sugar, toss well, and set aside the bowl.

How to hull a strawberry: Pinch off green stem. Using a small, sharp
knife, cut around the berry's crown (or move the berry in a circular
motion against the blade). You want to remove the fibrous white,
conical-shaped core, leaving as much fruit intact as possible

Step 2 - Make batter with one bowl mixing method: Crack egg into a mixing bowl and gently beat with a whisk or fork. Add 1/4 cup sugar, oil, vanilla, milk, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, and whisk until well blended. Add chopped strawberries from Step 1. Be sure to include any strawberry juices that may have accumulated at the bottom of the strawberry bowl. Stir to blend.

Batter before flour is added.

Step 3 - Add dry ingredients: Measure flour and pour into the wet ingredients. With a spoon or spatula gently mix dry and wet ingredients to form a lumpy batter. Do not over mix at this stage, but be sure to blend the raw flour completely into your batter.

Never over mix muffin batter or you'll develop
 the gluten in the flour and your muffins
will be tough instead of

Step 4 - Bake: This batter will make 6 standard muffins so divide it up evenly among your paper-lined cups. I use the two tablespoon method, scooping up the sticky batter with one spoon and scraping it off with the other. Bake in a well preheated 350º F. oven for 25 to 30 minutes. The muffins are not done until the tops have turned golden brown (see my photos)...

Step 5 - Cooling and storing: Allow the muffins to cool for five minutes in the pan. Remove and finish cooling on a wire rack. Once they're completely cool, you can wrap them in plastic and store them in the refrigerator. A little butter, a cuppa joe, and you're set for breakfast, a coffee break, or a late-night snack.

For a free PDF of this recipe,
click here or on the image below.

Summer is here, with all its
fresh fruits and veggies, definitely a time to...

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries 

Friend me on facebook here. * Follow me on twitter here
Learn about my books here

* * * *

Thanks to American University Magazine
in Washington, D.C.
for featuring us
in their Spring Issue...

To see the article online,
click here for the free magazine app

click here to read
the Cleo article and enjoy!


The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
14 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 

* * *

Once Upon a Grind:
A Coffeehouse Mystery

* A Best Book of the Year
Reviewer's Pick - King's River Life

* Top Pick! ~ RT Book Reviews 
* Fresh Pick ~ Fresh Fiction 
* A Mystery Guild Selection

* * * 

Marc and I also write
The Haunted Bookshop Mysteries

Get a free title checklist, 
with mini plot summaries, 

Or learn more about the 
books and meet Jack Shepard, 
our PI ghost by clicking here.

Sign up for our Coffeehouse Newsletter here.
(Recipes, contests, videos, fun info)

After you subscribe, an auto-reply will send 
you a link to several past newsletters.

Thanks for stopping by the Kitchen! 


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Shepherd's Pie De-Lite

From Peg Cochran

Gigi Fitzgerald from my Gourmet De-Lite series delivers lower calorie meals to her group of clients.  One of the things she makes is shepherd's pie.  We've had some great shepherd's pie recipes here on Mystery Lovers' Kitchen, but if you want to try one that won't wreak havoc on your diet, here you go!

1 onion

1 tablespoon olive oil

1.25 lbs. ground turkey

1 cup frozen peas

1 small container of fresh mushrooms, sliced 

1/4 cup ketchup

1 14.5-ounce can mushroom gravy (Campbells had only 100 calories for the whole can)

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

5 medium potatoes, boiled and mashed with skim or 1/2 percent milk

First off, make your mashed potatoes.  This dish is so flavorful you won't miss having butter in them (I only put butter in the mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving!)

Chop the onion and sauté in 1 tablespoon olive oil until soft.  Add ground turkey and saute until turkey loses its pink color.

Add frozen peas and mushrooms

Stir in ketchup, gravy and Worcestershire sauce.  Place in a casserole dish--one that you can take straight to the table is great!

Spread mashed potatoes on top.

Cook in a 350 degree oven until bubbling and slightly browned on top--approximately 30 minutes.

Enjoy free of guilt!  This is something the whole family will like.

If you want to read more about Gigi and her adventures, Iced to Death comes out on March 4.  Allergic to Death and Steamed to Death are out now.  Steamed to Death is available in large print.  All books contain more light recipes.

Coming March 4 - 4 stars from RT Book Review!

And if you'd like to read about the adventures of middle-aged Jersey Girl Lucille Mazzarella, check out Confession Is Murder, ("laugh out loud funny".) Available now.

Visit my web site or my Facebook page.  Or follow me on Twitter @pegcochran

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Writer's Snack: How to Make Apple Pie Fruit Roll-Ups by Cleo Coyle

Sitting is the new smoking. Have you encountered this phrase yet? It's making the rounds. If you have the sort of occupation that requires you to sit for long periods of time, the recent health news that "prolonged sitting is shortening our lives" is less than cheery. 

Like many writers, I do plenty of walking to counteract the sitting. Then, of course, there's the issue of noshing. One can only eat so many carrot sticks before one's nose begins to twitch, so I'm always on the lookout for snacks that satisfy without expanding my, er...assets.

These Apple Pie Roll-Ups fit the bill. They’re chewy and sweet with the flavor of apple pie so they taste great with a cup of coffee or tea, yet this "fruit candy" is low in fat and calories and insanely easy to prepare. 

As summer fruit becomes more plentiful, I’ll be posting recipes for more Roll-Up flavors (strawberry, peach, etc…) so stay tuned to this blog and I sincerely hope you'll continue to…

Eat with joy! 
~ Cleo 

Culinary mystery writer
Cleo Coyle is author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries
Cleo Coyle's
Apple Pie
Fruit Roll-Ups

The apple sauce, maple syrup, vanilla, and spices in this recipe blend together to make a sweet, chewy snack that tastes just like apple pie. It's guilt free, too. While store bought Roll-Ups can include such unsavory items as corn syrup, cottonseed oil, and artificial colorings, this homemade version uses better tasting (and better for-you) ingredients. Best of all, you’re in control of the recipe so you can make your Roll-Ups as sweet or as tart as you like. You can even use artificial sweeteners if you’re trying to cut sugar out of your diet. ~ Cleo

To download this recipe in a PDF format that you can print, save, or share, click here.

Makes 1 half-sheet pan (18" x 13") of Apple Pie Fruit Roll-Ups


1 23-ounce jar (2-1/3 cups) natural,
    unsweetened apple sauce 
    (do not use chunky apple sauce) 

1-2 tablespoons maple syrup (or use your favorite sweetener, 
      adjust amount to your own taste) 

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

½ teaspoon apple pie spice (*or make your own, see directions 
    at end of recipe) 

Directions: Whisk together all ingredients until well blended. Line a rimmed half-sheet pan (18 x 13-inches) with parchment paper or a silicone sheet. Pour the apple sauce mixture into the paper-lined (or silicone lined) pan. 

TILT the pan in each direction until the mixture is evenly spread over the entire pan. (For best results, do not use a utensil to spread the mixture. Tilting will give you the best results for an even thin layer over the entire pan.) Bake at 170 degrees Fahrenheit for about 8 hours (yes 8 hours). Do not increase the heat. The low heat and long cook time is necessary for the apple sauce to properly dehydrate. 

When is it done? As the roll-up slowly gives up its moisture, it will harden and “finish” from the outside edges in. Watch for the center of the pan to become as dry and un-sticky as the outside edges. Then you know the roll-up is done. Do not over-cook. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Carefully peel the fruit roll-up off the parchment paper or silicone sheet. (See my photos.) Wrap immediately in plastic to preserve the chewiness of the roll-up and prevent over-drying. 

How to store: You must wrap the roll-up in plastic fairly soon after it’s finished dehydrating to prevent it from over-drying. No need to refrigerate. It should keep up to two weeks this way.

*Apple Pie Spice: Here’s how to make your own: For every 1 teaspoon mix the following: 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice, 1/8 tsp ground cardamom (some cooks replace cardamom with ginger).

Eat with joy!
~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Visit my online coffeehouse here.

To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 
To learn more, click here. 


The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name
Alice Kimberly

To learn more, click here

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Brownies and Cream – My Lite Frozen Treats for Summertime Snacking from Cleo Coyle

The first time I heard the word Brookie, I thought it was slang for a resident of Brooklyn, New York. In fact, it’s a cross between a brownie and a cookie, and this Brookie is my favorite recipe for the summer. (I adapted it from another recipe--Cuppa Joe Mocha Drops--which I originally created to make use of my leftover coffee.)

This is a lighter version of that cookie. I replaced much of the butter with low-fat yogurt and canola oil. The chocolate flavor is delicious and the texture soft and brownie-like. They're wonderful eaten warm, just out of the oven, and remain one of my favorite coffee break snacks.

You can drop this batter into a bigger and thicker cookie, which will give you a "Brookie" that tastes like a brownie. 

You can drop the batter into smaller, thinner cookies, which are absolutely perfect for making tasty, little ice cream sandwiches. (As Sue mentioned in the comments, they're kind of a lighter, summertime version of a whoopie pie.)

On the ice cream sandwich making: I’ve used frozen yogurt, sorbet, and sherbet. Below, I’ll show you how I make "cheater" ice cream, which is even lower in fat and calories. It’s also economical. To wit... 

The price of low-fat frozen desserts has been going through the roof--unlike shares of Facebook stock, lol. Actually, I'm not kidding here. In NYC these days, a box of Weight Watchers ice cream sandwiches goes for around seven dollars (for six sandwiches, yikes!). So while my homemade frozen treats are low in fat and fun to make, they’re also much easier on ye olde budget. Another very good reason to…

Cleo Coyle, Brookie baker,
is author of The Coffeehouse

Eat with joy! 
~ Cleo

Cleo Coyle’s
"Brookies" & Cream
Lite Frozen Sandwich Treats

To download a PDF of this recipe that you can print, save, or share, click here.

Makes about 24 large Brookies or 48 small


5 tablespoons butter, melted 
1/3 cup oil (I use canola) 
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour*
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt or coarse sea salt 
3/4 cup light brown sugar 
1/2 cup white, granulated sugar 
1 cup low-fat plain yogurt (do not use nonfat) 
2 large eggs, lightly beaten with fork 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

*To make this recipe even healthier, replace half of the all-purpose flour with "white whole wheat" flour.


Step 1 – First preheat your oven to 350° F. Next melt the butter in a small saucepan. Stir the oil into this and set aside to cool. 

Step 2 – One bowl mixing method: Sift together flour, unsweetened cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Now add in your two sugars, yogurt, eggs, and vanilla. Finally add the cooled melted butter and oil mixture. With a spoon or rubber spatula, mix by hand until flour is completely incorporated into a thick batter. Now stir about 50 strokes to blend well. Do not over-mix, however, or you’ll develop the gluten in the flour and your Brookies will be tough instead of tender.

Step 3 – Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Batter will be thicker than cake batter but thinner than cookie dough. Drop in small mounds with a few inches of space between. Use a tablespoon for large Brookies, a teaspoon for smaller ones. Using the back of the spoon, lightly swirl the mounds into even, level, flattish circles. Bake smaller Brookies for about 8 minutes, larger ones for about 10. Remove from oven. I like to slide the entire strip of parchment paper onto the wire rack--this saves time and avoids disturbing the shape of the Brookies by moving one at a time with a spatula. Serve warm or chill and sandwich together with ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet, or sherbet.

CHEATER ICE CREAM SANDWICHES: For a tasty, very low calorie and low fat alternative to ice cream, use whipped cream or Cool Whip (low-fat, vanilla, or chocolate). See my photos below, which will show you how I use Reddi-wip whipped cream to make my chilly cheater treats.


(A) Line the plate:
When making Brookies into ice cream sandwiches, be sure to cover your plate with wax paper or plastic wrap before placing in the freezer or the bottom half may stick to the plate. I place small pieces of plastic wrap down on the plate, fill each sandwich, wrap each one up separately, and store them in the freezer to be eaten over the course of the week, during my coffee breaks. 

(B) Cover lightly: When using whipped cream, be sure place the top Brookie on very gently(C) Allow time to freeze: The whipped cream will freeze after two to three hours.

Prefer a richer buttercream
or whoopie pie marshmallow filling? 
For a richer dessert, put two Brookies together with a vanilla buttercream or chocolate frosting filling. For an easy, delicious Mocha Frosting Filling recipe, download my Cuppa Joe Mocha Drops recipe, which includes directions for this tasty chocolate-coffee frosting. Get the PDF by clicking here.

For a classic Whoopie Pie filling recipe, check out my reply to Sue in the comments after this post, where I posted a traditional filling recipe that uses marshmallow creme. Enjoy!

F O O D I E 


When making my "cheater" ice cream sandwiches

with either whipped cream or Cool Whip,
be sure to place the tops on very gently!

If using whipped cream in a can, you'll need to double dose
the cream after about an hour in the freezer. Here's why:
After the initial hit, the air in the cream deflates.
But no worries. The double dosing really does the trick.

See the results in the last photo below.

Enjoy Your
Memorial Day Weekend,

~ Cleo Coyle, author of 

To get more of my recipes, enter to win
free coffee, or learn about my books, including
my bestselling 
Haunted Bookshop series, visit my online coffeehouse:

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
culinary mysteries set in a landmark Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the ten titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 

The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name Alice Kimberly
To learn more, click here.