Category Archives: Desserts

The Best Vanilla Cupcakes with Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting

Happy Birthday Cupcakes

Happy Birthday Celebration Cupcakes

Simple, but definitely not basic, this is my go to cupcake recipe for birthday celebrations, it’s simply the best vanilla cupcake I’ve ever tasted. 
Simply the best vanilla cupcakes with my favorite cream cheese frosting

Simply the best vanilla cupcakes with my favorite cream cheese frosting

Now, this is not my usual health foodie, super food, gluten free, hidden avocado type of recipe.  What this is, is a celebration cake and we all deserve a little celebration every once in a while.  Although, not a health food by any means, you still won’t find in here anything artificial or super processed (save the white flour), I use whole foods and organic ingredients and I promise you that makes a difference!  This is not my recipe, I did not develop it and believe it or not I have not modified the recipe in any way, shape or form. With that said, I’m choosing to share it with you here in the month of May (birthday month for both of my kids, my mom & sister-in-law, phew that’s a lot of celebrating!) because I think it’s the type of basic that every person, and most especially every parent should have in their repertoire.  Yes, making these cupcakes takes slightly more effort than opening up a box mix, but the effort is minimal and the results are worth it. 
Pink frosted cupcakes really are the best!

Pink frosted cupcakes really are the best!

I’m also including my all time favorite frosting recipe.  For anyone who’s a fan of red velvet, you will love this cream cheese based frosting, so delicious! Even though I cook all the time and bake a lot of muffins and cookies, I really don’t consider myself a baker.  A baker follows the rules, I like to improvise, modify, change on a whim pretty much every recipe I encounter.  I have been working on a variation of this cream cheese frosting for years and my results have mostly been less than outstanding and sometimes even colossal failures. As a lover of healthy food and a conscious eater, the amount of sugar and butter called for in most frosting recipes makes me cringe and let’s not even mention shortening, no, don’t even talk about it.  So I have tried and failed over and over again to make a frosting that’s a little bit healthier than the norm, my results are usually pretty tasty (I mean we are still talking butter, cream cheese and sugar here and sometimes a little mascarpone and/or heavy cream!), but also pretty disastrous. My frostings are usually too runny and my most recent effort for Evan’s 7th birthday was just a horrific lumpy mess (luckily it was just the celebration for our family of four!).  I have to say the lumpy frosting was my worst yet, it started out great, but than Colin said it was a little too buttery tasting than I made a colossal error and I knew it as it was happening and I just couldn’t stop myself…note to all never, ever, ever add cold cream cheese to your frosting mix, never! Enough said.  
Red Velvet Cream Cheese Frosting, yum!

Red Velvet Cream Cheese Frosting, yum!

So, for Evan’s classroom birthday celebration today, I made my perfect go to vanilla cupcakes and I used my dad’s perfect frosting recipe, no modifications whatsoever.  Evan was really concerned about the frosting and told me “please, mommy do not use the lumpy frosting for my class, I’m afraid everyone will hate it and stop going to your blog”.  He is always honest and will always tell you how he feels, just ask Colin’s sister Megan what happens when you buy the wrong color Angry Bird’s blanket for the kid who loved nothing but blue for two years, until he suddenly switched to now favorite color red and no one informed the aunt, it was a priceless moment of honesty no one in our family will forget! I got the point, so I let Evan do a taste test of the frosting this morning before school, he gave me the thumbs up with a big smile on his face, told me it was perfect and that he was so proud of me for making the best cupcakes ever and now finally the best frosting!  This was a happy mom moment to say the least.
Happy 7th Birthday Evan!

Happy 7th Birthday Evan!

I would be remiss if I didn’t state here and now, that my dad is an amazing baker who treats us to some of the tastiest, most beautiful, whimsical and creative desserts ever, if he gives you a recipe for frosting or any other dessert, you do not change a thing and you and everyone around you will be doing a happy dance. Enough said, now on to the recipe…
The Best Vanilla Cupcakes
 with Poppy’s Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting
Author: Jen Jones of
Recipe credits –
Cupcake recipe from Cook’s County Magazine “Easy Birthday Cupcakes” – very slightly modified
My dad’s frosting recipe
Makes 24 cupcakes
Cupcakes: *
3 cups unbleached all purpose Organic flour
1 teaspoon Baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 extra large organic eggs – at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups organic cane sugar
12 tablespoons ( 1 ½ sticks ) unsalted organic butter – melted and cooled slightly or very, very soft left on the counter on a hot summer day
1 ¼ cups organic buttermilk
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 pound ( 2 8 ounce packages ) organic cream cheese – NOT low fat or Neufchatel
1 ½ sticks unsalted organic butter
2 ½ – 3 cups powdered sugar – adjust to taste
A good splash of pure vanilla extract
food coloring or 1 – 2 Tablespoons of jam (not too much or the frosting will be too runny)
**** NOTE – cream cheese and butter MUST be softened at room temperature – do NOT use cold ingredients or melted butter.
Preheat oven to 325 F. Line two standard cupcake/muffin tins with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and vanilla. Next pour sugar into whisked eggs, continuing to whisk the mixture as you pour the sugar.  Slowly, whisk in the melted or very soft butter into the sugar and eggs.  Once the butter is incorporated, whisk in the buttermilk.
Next, add the flour mix to the wet ingredients, by first whisking in 1/3 of the flour until it’s mostly incorporated, then do the same with the next 1/3.  Lastly, add in the remaining flour and mix to fully combine without over mixing.  This will be a nice thick batter.
Using a spring loaded ice cream scoop (or a small measuring cup), fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full.
Bake in a 325 F oven with the two tins side by side on the center rack for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 5 minutes on a wire rack.  After 5 minutes, turn out the cupcakes onto the wire rack to cool completely, about an hour, before frosting.
In a large glass bowl add the softened cream cheese and butter and mix together with a hand held electric mixer. Mix in the vanilla.  Then slowly mix in powdered sugar about a cup at a time.  With the powdered sugar, start the mixer on the lowest setting and then gradually increase the speed until it is incorporated.  Taste as you go and stop adding sugar once the frosting is sweet enough for you.  IF you wish to color your frosting, add in the food coloring now. Continue to mix the frosting until it’s lighter and fluffy.
If you plan to make the frosting ahead of time, cover and store in the fridge until ready to use, taking it out of the fridge about 10-15 minutes before frosting the cupcakes and remix to lighten it up again.
Frosting can be applied directly to the cooled cupcakes with a palette or for more flourish, piped on.
 * Recipe Notes:
True confessions, even though I said I didn’t modify the cupcake recipe at all, I did make some very minor, slight changes –
Original recipe calls for cake flour, I just use unbleached all purpose. 
Original recipe calls for large eggs, I always buy extra-large so that’s what I use, no problems detected.
The original recipe also does not call for organic ingredients, but that’s what I use and I really think it makes a difference, especially the sugar, organic cane sugar just tastes better to me than bleached white sugar. 
Another note on sugar, as I made this recent batch of cupcakes I discovered at nearly midnight that I did not have enough sugar (this almost never ever happens to me, since I’m a little crazy and always have an extra bag or box of pretty much everything in my pantry at all times!).  So what to do…I subbed in organic brown sugar for about 1/3 of the sugar and the cupcakes came out just as perfect as they always do. 


Buckwheat and Millet gluten free Crepes

Buckwheat & Millet Gluten Free Crepes

Buckwheat & Millet Gluten Free Crepes

Crepes are the perfect breakfast, brunch or anytime of time day treat to make on a leisurely weekend morning.  They are not difficult at all, once you get the hang of it, but it does take some time to get through cooking up all the batter unless you want to line your cook top with multiple pans and start a juggling act.

A stack of buckwheat and millet crepes

A stack of buckwheat and millet crepes

My whole family loves crepes and the kids know it’s a special day when I take the time to whip up a batch.  When I’m thinking ahead, I like to mix up my batter the night before and let it rest overnight, covered in the fridge.  Most crepe batters will benefit from a bit of rest and this one is no different, but hey if you don’t have the time or forethought just let your batter rest for as long as you can and go ahead and cook some up, it’s just cooking it’ll be fine :-). 

I make these crepes gluten free using buckwheat and millet flours.  I find the combination of the two flours works beautifully together.  Buckwheat has a more assertive flavor and the millet helps to mellow that out a bit.  I also love how the buckwheat gives these crepes a beautiful speckled appearance.  If you can’t find millet flour, you could sub in rice flour (I always use brown rice flour and even some brown rice baby food cereal will do in a pinch). 

Crepes filled with fresh berries and cream

Crepes filled with fresh berries and cream

The wonderful thing about crepes is that they can be filled quite happily with either sweet or savory ingredients and they’re light enough that you could start out eating a savory crepe and finish off your meal with a sweet filled crepe, meal and dessert all in one. 

Savory ricotta and herb filling, fresh berries and raspberry whipped cream

Savory ricotta and herb filling, fresh berries and raspberry whipped cream

For your crepe fillings, you can go as simple as a squeeze of lemon and a little powdered sugar, a smear of jam or Nutella or on the savory side a grating of your favorite cheese (Gruyere is delicious) or even a bit of scrambled eggs.  Or… if you’re feeling a little fancy, whip up some heavy cream with a pinch of sugar and some fresh raspberries or jam for a tasty raspberry whipped cream, so yummy.  On the savory side, I like to mix up a bit of ricotta cheese with a little nutmeg, lemon zest, a grating of Romano cheese and a bit of chopped parsley or fresh thyme, so, so yummy. 

Buckwheat and millet crepes with a savory ricotta and herb filling

Buckwheat and millet crepes with a savory ricotta and herb filling

Crepes with fresh raspberries

Crepes with fresh raspberries


Buckwheat and Millet Gluten Free Crepes
Author: Sweet Green Kitchen’s Jen Jones
gluten free, dairy free optional
Makes about 15 crepes
½ cup buckwheat flour
½ cup millet flour
1 ½ cups soy milk/almond milk or cow milk
3 extra large eggs
2 Tablespoons cane sugar (or less for savory crepes)
Pinch of sea salt
Splash of vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons melted butter plus a little more for brushing the pan
In a medium mixing bowl add all ingredients except butter. Whisk well to combine.  Cover and allow to rest for 1 hour or overnight (*note I like to make my batter the night before and rest it covered in the fridge).
Once the batter has rested.  Melt the butter, allow to cool a bit and then whisk into batter.  Melt about 1 or 2 teaspoons more butter for brushing the pan.
Heat up a crepe pan or small non stick skillet over a medium-low flame.  Brush the heated pan with melted butter.  Ladle in a small amount of batter, just enough to thinly coat the pan. *Note I pour the batter into the center and then swirl the pan off the heat, to spread and even out the batter.  Allow to cook until the edges start to dry up and curl slightly about a minute or two.  Carefully flip the crepe and cook for about another 30 seconds and then remove to a plate. My first crepe of the day usually breaks, so don’t get discouraged if yours does too, besides torn crepes just make a great sample for the chef 🙂
Lightly brush the pan with more butter every crepe or two to prevent sticking and continue making crepes until the batter is gone. *Note, I successfully stack my crepes on top of one another without the need for any paper in between, they do not stick together.  Crepes can be made ahead and re-warmed as needed and will keep in the fridge in an airtight container or zip top bag for several days. Enjoy! 
Buckwheat and millet crepes

Crispy Chocolate Peanut Butter & Raspberry Bites

Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, peanut butter, raspberry jam and crispy rice!

Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, peanut butter, raspberry jam and crispy rice!

Happy Valentine’s Day!  And here’s a little sweet treat for you and your sweeties.  Crispy, chocolaty, bite size peanut butter and raspberry jam filled bites of blissful sweetness, need I say more? These are like a grown up version of chocolate peanut butter cups, meet crispy rice treats, but even better.   
chocolate, peanut butter and jam, oh my!

chocolate, peanut butter and jam, oh my!

Layers of good quality chocolate like Ghiradelli or Lindt, sandwiched with my favorite French raspberry jam from Bonne Mamman and topped with silky smooth milk chocolate mixed with crispy rice cereal (I actually use sprouted brown rice cereal, just because).  These treats are great for a crowd, loved by little ones and adults alike, but they also keep really well in the fridge, making them a perfect little everyday treat, just for you!

  Continue reading

Blueberry Tea Cake (gluten free)

Blueberry Lemon Tea Cake  - gluten free
Blueberry Lemon Tea Cake – gluten free with oats and a bit of crunchy cornmeal

What are you going to do with all those gorgeous blueberries you found at the farmer’s market today… why not bake up a loaf of this Blueberry Tea Cake?  It’s as gorgeous as it is delicious and just the perfect treat for an afternoon tea or served up with a side of yogurt or fresh whipped cream and even more berries for a lightly sweet breakfast or brunch treat.  Blueberry Lemon Tea Cake with whipped cream and berries

I have been experimenting a lot with gluten free baking lately and not because I’m allergic to wheat, but more because I think I have a sensitivity to it, and also because I think it’s simply better for my own body at least, to just eat less processed grains.  My problem with a lot of gluten free baking recipes and packaged gluten free flour mixes is the addition of starches like potato or tapioca.  I simply don’t like the slightly paste like texture that these starches seem to add to muffins, scones, etc, plus they are pretty low on fiber content and other nutrients.  So, to that I’ve been using a lot of oatmeal and oats ground into a flour right in my bullet blender, just before using. 

oat flour, corn flour and corn meal, plus whole oats
oat flour, corn flour and corn meal, plus whole oats

I do love oats, add oats to a recipe and I’m a happy girl.  Not only do I love the taste, texture and nutritional value oats bring, I find they work well in my system and that is always a good thing!  

lemon zest, natural cane sugar and coconut oil
lemon zest, natural cane sugar and coconut oil

I actually adapted this recipe for blueberry tea cake from my own (not gluten free), lemon chia tea cake.  In this case, I made it gluten free and dressed it up with some beautiful juicy blueberries, when you flip the cake out of the loaf pan the bottom looks as if it’s been tie dyed by the sweet berries, so gorgeous!

Blueberry Lemon (Tie Dyed) Tea Cake - gluten free
Blueberry (Tie Dyed) Tea Cake – gluten free

With the addition of buttermilk, this cake bakes up perfectly moist and tender.  I also soak some rolled oats into the buttermilk (a trick I use in my oatmeal pancakes too), which adds to the lovely texture of the cake.  If you want to make this dairy free, use your plant milk of choice, such as soy or almond and add the lemon juice right in with the oats, works perfectly.  Continue reading

Heart Healthy Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread (vegan optional)

Banana Bread flecked with chocolate chunks and walnuts
Banana Bread flecked with chocolate chunks and walnuts
I often find myself with extra bananas past their eating prime, over ripe and brown, which is why I have so many different recipes for baking with super ripe bananas, like these muffins and these cookies or I’ll add them into the daily smoothie that 5 year old Evan often asks for/demands.  But, one of my favorite ways to use extra ripe bananas is, in what else, but banana bread. A slice of banana bread There are a million banana bread recipes out there, but of all I’ve tried, this one is my family’s favorite.  Aside from being super moist, flecked with chocolate chunks and often walnuts, it is lower in fat than many recipes and filled with so many heart healthy ingredients.  I love using bittersweet dark chocolate and even if I use chips I like to chop up the chocolate so you get different size bits with a few chunks.  Honestly, I think even without the chocolate this banana bread would be delicious, but why not indulge a little with chunks of dark chocolate, after all chocolate is a super food too.

Chopped Dark Chocolate

Adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Lemony Olive Oil Banana Bread. Heidi’s recipe calls for a lemony glaze poured over the top of the finished banana bread and while I love the addition of lemon in so many recipes I am not a huge fan of sweet glazes, and I think in this case the banana bread with the addition of great chunks of chocolate and chopped walnuts really stands on its own with no need for an added glaze.  Dry mix for Heart Healthy Banana Bread
Avocado and Olive Oil

The base recipe is fantastic with olive oil and aside from eliminating the glaze I’ve amped up the heart health with the addition of oat bran, avocado and flax.  And if you add in the optional walnuts, you get even more heart healthy benefits since walnuts are a great source of Omega 3’s, aside from adding in a little yummy crunch.  I like the mix of avocado and olive oil, just be sure to really mash the avocado well, but if a few tiny flecks of green remain it’s no big deal. I also like using a combo of one egg plus one “flax egg”.  Egg substitutes are easy to make using 1 Tablespoon of ground flax with about 2 ½ Tablespoons of water per egg.  Mix up the flax and water at the start of putting together the recipe, to allow time for the water to be fully absorbed and gel up a bit.   Again if you prefer, you can always use 2 eggs or go full out doubling the flax and skip the egg altogether. Either way, the banana bread turns out moist and delicious.  Super healthy, Super yummy, what more could you ask for! 
Slices of Heart Healthy Banana Bread with chocolate chunks and walnuts, yum!
Slices of Heart Healthy Banana Bread with chocolate chunks and walnuts, yum!


Heart Healthy Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread 

Author: Sweet Green Kitchen’s Jen Jones
Adapted from: Heidi Swanson’s Lemony Olive Oil Banana Bread
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour – I use whole wheat pastry flour
¼ cup oat bran
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate – from about 2, 3-4 ounce bars or use chips
½ avocado – well mashed
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 X-large egg (or make it vegan, by doubling the flax and water)
1 Tablespoon ground flax with 2 ½ Tablespoons water (double, if leaving out the egg)
3 very ripe mashed bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Optional (but really good!) ½ cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a standard loaf pan, I use olive oil spray or coconut oil.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flax meal and water, set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, oat bran, sugar, baking soda, salt.  Mix in the chocolate chunks.
Once the flax has absorbed the water, add in mashed avocado, olive oil, egg.  Add in mashed banana, and vanilla.  Mix well.
Add the banana mixture into the flour mix, stir until just combined.  If using, mix in walnuts. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.  Place in the center of your oven and bake for about 50 minutes.  Let cool at least 10 minutes before removing from loaf pan.  Slice up, serve and Enjoy!   
Heart Healthy Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread
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