Simple Recipes

Chocolate Spiced Truffles


SSD Truffle 1

I was amazed at how simple this recipe is! My friends at The Spice & Tea Exchange gave me this recipe – they are a wonderful source for rich spices and flavored teas! If you ever have a chance to go to their store in St. Augustine, FL, it is a treat for your senses! The smells of the spices, the beautiful jars of spices and specialty teas – Wonderful!

The basic recipe is as follows:

Chocolate Truffles


  • 1 Cup heavy whipping cream
  • 11 oz. Bittersweet chocolate or semi sweet chocolate (I used bittersweet for a dark, rich flavor)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons favorite liqueur  (My suggestions: brandy, rum, spiced rum, Chambord, Kahlua or other favorite.)

Assorted Spices and Other Toppings:


Place the chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl.  Scald the cream in a small saucepan, pour over the chocolate, and let stand for 5 minutes.

Whisk gently until fully incorporated, add the liqueur and stir until smooth.

Place in fridge until it has hardened. Scoop out about 1 tsp of the cold ganache and roll it into a truffle.  Roll in favorite sugars or spices, then chill until firm. Serve at room temperature.

To see the original recipe from The Spice & Tea Exchange, click here.

SSD Truffle 3
Spiced Chocolate Truffle (left) and Candy Cane Truffle (right).

Meatless Monday Recipes for A Cold Winter Day

Screenshot 2014-11-10 07.12.34A few Meatless Monday recipes that are perfect for the cold weather! I found both of these recipes on Fitness Magazine’s website (Click Here to see their top 10 vegetarian recipes).

Chipotle Vegetable Chili

Chipotle Vegetable Chili, photo from
Chipotle Vegetable Chili, photo from

This Meatless Monday recipe features healthy and yummy ingredients like kale, black beans, and butternut squash!


  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 cups peeled, seeded butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 Tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 26 – ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo, diced, plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 1 15 – ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


In a medium stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook 3 minutes. Add the parsnips, sweet potato and squash; cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, cocoa powder and cinnamon; cook 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes, chipotle peppers and adobo sauce, and vegetable stock. Partially cover and simmer 20 minutes. Mix in the kale and stir until wilted. Add the black beans; stir to combine. Season with salt and black pepper to taste; serve.

Curried Vegetable Stew With Couscous

Curried Veggie Stew With Couscous, photo from
Curried Veggie Stew With Couscous, photo from

The warm and sweet taste of curry pairs so well with chickpeas! I love this as a perfect meatless Monday Meal!


  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup green beans, cut into 1/2-inch diagonal pieces (You can use frozen green beans as a shortcut!)
  • 1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup diced fresh tomatoes (You can also use canned, stewed tomatoes – I use low sodium version)
  • Cooked couscous (I use Near East Couscous – cooks up in 5 minutes!)


Stir spices, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of the water together in a small bowl until smooth. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, cilantro and spice mixture. Cook, stirring, 1 minute, or until onion begins to soften.

Add cauliflower, zucchini and green beans; cook 2 minutes. Add 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water; bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes, or until vegetables are just tender.

Stir in chickpeas and tomatoes; simmer 5 minutes more. Serve with couscous, if desired.

No Trick! Simple Halloween Treat Recipes

Halloween is all about the Tricks or Treats – Well, I love the treats! I have some simple recipes here for Halloween that will put a smile on your goblin’s face!

Halloween Treats

Pumpkin Peeps Brownie S’mores

There’s no pumpkin or pumpkin flavoring in these – just adorable Pumpkin Peeps!

Pumpkin Peeps Brownie S'Mores from
Pumpkin Peeps Brownie S’Mores from


  • 1 ½ Cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • 1 stick butter – melted
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 box favorite brownie mix (plus ingredients instructed on box!)
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips
  • 2 boxes marshmallow Pumpkin Peeps


Set oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom of an 8×8 square baking dish.

In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter. Add to the melted butter the sugar and graham crackers. Mix thoroughly and press into bottom of pan. Bake for 10 minutes and remove from oven.

Prepare brownie mix as directed on box. Pour batter over graham crackers, and bake according to directions on box.

In last five minutes of baking, cover top of brownie with chocolate chips. Add pumpkin peeps to top of brownie and bake for another 5 minutes, until the peeps get puffy. Remove from oven and cool. Cut carefully and serve!


Yogurt Jack-O-Lanterns/Monsters

So easy!! Almost feel guilty about this one!! 😉

Yogurt Jack-O-Lanterns from
Yogurt Jack-O-Lanterns from

What You Need:

  • 2 large (24 oz) containers favorite vanilla yogurt
  • Green and Orange food coloring
  • Chocolate cookie wafers, smashed into crumbs (my favorite part!)
  • Clear 9 oz. plastic cups
  • Black permanent marker


Using the back permanent marker, draw a jack-o-lantern face or Frankenstein face on the outside of the plastic cup. Divide the yogurt into two bowls. Add food coloring to each bowl (green for Frankenstein; orange for pumpkin). Fill the cups with the appropriate color yogurt. Top the Frankenstein cup with crushed chocolate wafers (his hair!). You can use the chocolate wafer crumbs to draw lines on the top of the pumpkin.

Oh so cute and easy!

Pumpkin Spice Snack Mix

Chex Mix with a pumpkin spice twist!

Pumpkin Spice Snack Mix
Pumpkin Spice Snack Mix


  • 2 Cups Rice Chex
  • 2 Cups Corn Chex
  • 2 Cups Cinnamon Chex
  • 1 Cup Pretzel Twists
  • ½ Cup Pumpkin Seeds (also called “pepitas”)
  • 1/4 Cup butter
  • 1/4 Cup Canned Pumpkin
  • 1/4 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract


Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Set aside.

Combine in a large, microwave-safe bowl the Chex, pretzels, and pumpkin seeds.

In a separate microwave-safe bowl, melt butter (approx. 30-60 seconds). Add to the melted butter the pumpkin, sugar, spice and microwave another minute or so until bubbly. Add vanilla and stir.

Drizzle the butter mixture over the Chex mixture, stirring gently. Microwave on high for 5 minutes, stirring every minute. Spread out on wax paper lined pan, breaking up large pieces. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Store in air tight container. Enjoy!

Thank you to WTLV-TV’s First Coast Living for inviting me on to share these simple recipes!

Simple Recipe: The Cocktail Secret

Simple Syrup is the secret ingredient for many cocktail recipes! Since simple is in the name, I, of course, love it! You can also use Simple Syrup when baking cakes to give them extra moisture – just brush the layers of cake with a little simple syrup (imagine adding the flavored syrup for another hint of flavor!). Here is the basic recipe:

Simple Syrup Recipe


  • 1 Cup water
  • 1 Cup sugar


Combine water and sugar in a saucepan and cook over med-high heat. Stir frequently, ensuring the sugar dissolves – bring to a boil, then quickly remove from heat. Allow to sit until the mixture is cool.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Flavored Variations:

Basil Simple Syrup

Add one cup of washed/dried basil leaves to the sugar water mixture. Bring to boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Pour mixture through a sieve to remove basil leaves. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one month.

Lemon Basil Simple Syrup

Follow the Basil Simple Syrup recipe, adding the zest of one small lemon.

Mint Simple Syrup

Follow Basil Simple Syrup recipe, replacing basil with mint.

Apple Cinnamon Simple Syrup

Add the peels of three apples, plus three cinnamon sticks to the basic simple syrup recipe above. Bring to boil, remove from heat and allow to cool at least 30 minutes. Strain through sieve and store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one month. (This one is perfect for Autumn Cocktails like this one – The Clean Slate Cocktail from!)

Here is one of my favorite martini recipes, Ruby Red Grapefruit Martini (Adapted from The flavor is fresh and light:

Ruby Red Grapefruit Martini

Ruby Red Grapefruit Martini Photo From
Ruby Red Grapefruit Martini
Photo From


  • 2 ½ parts Grey Goose Vodka
  • ¼ part freshly squeezed Ruby Red Grapefruit juice
  • ¾ part Basil Simple Syrup
  • 2 Fresh Basil Leaves, washed and dried


Muddle one basil leaf with simple syrup in a mixing glass. Add remaining ingredients. Add ice and shake well. Strain into martini glass and garnish with remaining basil leaf.




Simple Recipe: Creamy Mashed Cauliflower

This was my first time to make mashed cauliflower, and from what I gather, I was pretty lucky to find one that had the consistency of real mashed potatoes! This recipe makes wonderfully thick and creamy mashed cauliflower – so similar to mashed potatoes because they are the perfect consistency!

Creamy Mashed Cauliflower, from
Creamy Mashed Cauliflower, from


  • 1 Medium Cauliflower, chopped into small florets
  • 4 oz. Cream Cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder plus 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning


Bring a pot of water to a boil – once boiling, add the cauliflower florets and cook for 10 minutes (until you can poke a fork into the cauliflower easily).

Drain the cauliflower.

Place the cooked cauliflower into a blender or food processor. Add the remaining ingredients. Cover and blend/process until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed and there are no lumps.

Turn out into serving dish and top with shredded cheddar cheese, if you like!

I slightly adapted this recipe from one I found on – be sure to check them out! Great recipes, craft ideas, travel ideas and more!



Back-To-School Lunch Ideas!

School gets going and sometimes it is hard to come up with fun lunches the kids will like. Check out some of these ideas from Simple Solutions Diva:

BTS Lunch ideas

Chicken Soft Tacos – Let the kids assemble their own soft chicken taco for lunch! Place all their favorite ingredients in small, separate, plastic containers. Things like guacamole or avocado slices, shredded cheese, salsa, and leftover shredded chicken work great — they can wrap it up in a whole wheat soft tortillas and feel like they are the chef!

Sandwich Sushi – Sometimes it is not about the sandwich, but the presentation! The night before, take your favorite filling – PBJ, chicken salad, turkey and cheese – and layer it in whole wheat soft tortilla. Tightly roll the tortilla up and seal in plastic wrap. In the morning, unwrap the plastic and slice the sandwich into pinwheels. Place in a plastic container like sushi rolls and include wooden chopsticks.

Shake It Up Layered Salad – Layer/assemble a salad in a mason jar or tall plastic container. Be sure to place the dressing at the bottom of the container first, to avoid wilting the salad greens. Also, you want to leave a little room at the top so when there is room to shake things up (and disperse the ingredients!  This is also great for adults!

Lunch Dip Day – Assemble a simple tapas-style lunch – a little bit of everything! For protein, use things like single serve hummus, sliced chicken, black bean, corn and red pepper salsa, avocado or guacamole, yogurt dip. Assemble dippers/scoopers like whole wheat or bean tortilla chips, baby carrots, red pepper slices in a separate container. They can much away at a little bit of everything!

If you want a GREAT Black Bean, Corn and Red Pepper Salsa, check out my recipe here!

Black Bean, Corn & Red Pepper Salsa, From
Black Bean, Corn & Red Pepper Salsa, From


Now we have these great ideas for lunch, but how do your kids lay everything out to assemble? On a dirty school lunch table? Nope! I like creating a disposable placemat out of parchment paper or wax paper. A small sheet will do!

Now, my kids are older, and they really don’t like taking a lunch box to school – they go old school with a paper bag lunch. But I get worried about things getting too warm. So, I started freezing their small water bottle (or you could freeze a juice box) to use as a freezer pack that is melted by the time they sit down to eat. 

Another great lunch idea, if your kids like soup or chili, is to send them to school with a small thermos that will keep their soup or chili hot.

How to Take Lunch To School (or work!)

Rubbermaid Lunch Blox Sandwich Kit
Rubbermaid Lunch Blox Sandwich Kit

Lunch Blox by Rubbermaid – These are a cool way to carry salads & sandwiches to school or work. They come in a variety of sizes, but I really thought the Sandwich Kit and the Salad Kit were unique – they come with a freezer pack that fits between the components to keep everything cold!

You can find Lunch Blox on the Rubbermaid site (Click Here), or you can also look at Target, Pulbix or other grocery stores.


Rubbermaid Lunch Blox Salad Kit
Rubbermaid Lunch Blox Salad Kit


French Bull Packit Salad Cooler – I thought this was so neat! The entire bag freezes to keep salad cool up to 6 hours! They have a variety of sizes (sandwich, entree, and more!), but I snagged the salad bag! (And it can hold the Rubbermaid Lunch Blox salad kit!)

Screenshot 2014-08-19 17.39.56
French Bull Packit Freezable Lunch Bag

You can find it on – Click Here: PackIt Freezable Salad Cooler Bag with Zip Closure, Ziggy

Thank you to First Coast Living (WTLV-TV/NBC 12) for inviting me on to speak about Back-To-School!


Back-To-School Blueberry Breakfast Cake

Screenshot 2014-08-12 19.48.56
Back-To-School Blueberry Breakfast Cake

The first day of school is a great day to do something special for the kids for breakfast. Waking them up to the smell of this yummy Blueberry Breakfast Cake may make getting them up a little easier! A wonderful tradition.

No need to get up at the crack of dawn to make this cake for breakfast! You can make the dough the day before and store it in plastic container in fridge – just pull it out, place in greased pan, sprinkle with the sugar and bake!

Wish I could take credit, but this wonderful recipe is from – she has terrific recipes with beautiful photos to illustrate the recipe process!


  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest (Zest from approximately one large lemon)
  • ¾ cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar (reserved for sprinkling on top)
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour (reserve ¼ cup to toss with blueberries)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • ½ cup buttermilk


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan with butter or non-stick spray.

Cream butter with lemon zest, ¾ cup + 2 T. sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.

In a separate bowl, toss the blueberries with ¼ cup flour.

Whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt. Add this mixture to the batter, a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in blueberries and then pour into greased pan, spreading to cover bottom of pan.

Sprinkle the batter with the 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake 35-45 minutes. Be sure to check with a toothpick for doneness. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before cutting.

Enjoy! And good luck to all the kids going back to school this Fall!

Back-ToSchool Blueberry Breakfast Cake
Back-ToSchool Blueberry Breakfast Cake


Simple Tip & Recipe: Avocado Tips and Guacamole Recipe

I love guacamole, and my favorite is from the restaurant, Cantina Laredo. They make it table side for you and adjust the seasonings to fit your taste. Here is a pretty close version of their recipe – Many people don’t care for the taste of cilantro, so feel free to adjust this recipe based on your likes!

Fresh Guacamole

  • 2 Haas avocado (review my tips in video above to find the perfectly ripe avocado)
  • 1 plum tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of a small purple onion, chopped very fine
  • 1/2 fresh jalapeno pepper (I use 1/4 or even less). If you don’t want to deal with chopping a jalepeno pepper, use canned, pre-chopped version – about 1/2 to one whole teaspoon.
  • 2 T. fresh Lime juice (I recommend fresh lime juice over packaged lime juice. Some things are worth the work!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I tend to not use salt, but I do when working with avocados and eggs!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 T. fresh cilantro chopped (Omit if you don’t like the flavor!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Combine fresh lime juice, salt, pepper, garlic powder in a bowl and mix.  In a separate, small bowl, scoop out avocado flesh and mash with a fork.  
Add avocado, jalapeno, tomato, onion, and cilantro to lime juice mixture.  Serve immediately with tortilla chips, or save using the method in my video above.

SSD Avocado


Simple Recipe: Hasselback Potatoes Two Ways

Hasselback Potatoes Two Ways


  • 2 potatoes, washed and scrubbed clean of dirt
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 stick of butter, sliced into small squares/pads
  • Cheese of Choice – Version 1: Sharp cheddar cheese, Version 2: Boursin Garlic and Herb Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Placing potato on a clean work surface, make slices in the potato without cutting all the way through (like an accordion). To make it easier, place a chopstick on either side of the potato while cutting to keep the knife from cutting all the way through, like this:

Easy Way To Cut Hasselback Potatoes
Easy Way To Cut Hasselback Potatoes

Slice the entire potato.  Alternating between the slices, place a small pad of butter into the slice, then in the next slice, alternate with your cheese of choice. Do this until the potato is completely stuffed with cheese and butter (no one said this was low calorie!). The potato will be somewhat arched.

Drizzle the potato with a little olive oil and sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste.

Repeat the process with the other potato. When completed, place the potatoes on a baking sheet (cover the sheet with tin foil to protect it), doing your best to make them stand up (like a delicious tasting little rainbow!).

Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the inside of the potato is cooked (it will be somewhat firm but not hard). Be sure to check on the Boursin cheese potato a little sooner than the cheddar cheese – mine burned a little (but still tasted AWESOME!).

One large potato can easily satisfy two people (as a side dish).

Hasselback Potatoes
Hasselback Potatoes from

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