Easy Lemon Yogurt Cake

As soon as there is the tiniest hint of Spring in the air, all I want is lemon.

Lemon with shrimp, lemon with pasta, and especially lemon desserts.

I guess after a winter of heavy and rich soups and stews, my taste buds are craving something as bright and zingy as the beautiful sunshine streaming through the windows.

This is a fantastically light and fluffy cake. And the best part? I almost always have all of the ingredients on hand.

For this recipe you will need:

  • 1 ½ Cups  Flour
  • ½ Cup Greek yogurt
  • ½ Cup Canola Oil
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 2  Eggs
  • 2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • ½ Tsp Salt
  • Lemon zest (as much or as little as you want)
  • ¼ Cup Lemon juice (about 2 lemons)

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease an 8 inch round cake pan.

In a large bowl, which yogurt, sugar and eggs.


until you have a well combined batter


Add lemon juice, oil and lemon zest

It’s going to look like it wants to separate


but keep whisking until well combined


Add flour, salt and baking powder to the wet ingredients


And whisk (carefully so you don’t have flour all over your kitchen) until you have a smooth batter.


Pour into your greased cake pan.



And bake for about 30 minutes. Until a toothpick comes out clean.



After the cake cools, remove from cake pan and dust with powdered sugar. If you want to get fancy, you can cut a shape out of parchment paper and use it as a template for the powdered sugar.



Slice and serve with some whipped cream.


Lemony, light and oh so delicious.

And kind of healthy!

No butter and not a lot of sugar. Plus Greek yogurt. Which is so good for you.


Homemade Donuts!


So I’ve started having really random cravings for donuts lately.

I say random because I’m really not that big of a fan of donuts.

I’m more that person that walks into a coffee shop, sees a donut that looks tantalizingly delicious, and then takes a bit of it and is woefully disappointed.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me, but they always look better than they taste.

So, naturally, I bought a donut pan so I could make my own donuts and control how they taste!

I borrowed this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I just took out the sprinkles and did away with the glaze to make a super basic cake donut. For round 2 I will probably get creative. But as a base dough, this one rocks.

You will need:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease your donut pan.

In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and sugar.


In another bowl whisk together milk, yogurt, egg, melted butter and vanilla.


Add the wet to the dry


and whisk until combined


Carefully place the batter in the donut pan. I used two tablespoons and carefully scooped the mix. You can also use a pastry bag for better precision (or as Sally did, a ziploc bag that you snip the end off of to make into a pastry bag).


Bake for 9-10 minutes. I flipped mine over after they were fully baked, since the tops were on the light side, and let them for for a minute to brown them up a bit.


And voila! Homemade donuts. Little blank canvases waiting for glaze, chocolate ganache, cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar… the possibilities are endless!


Limoncello Ice Box Cake

So I found a recipe for lemon maple icebox cake in the latest Good Housekeeping, and I was intrigued. Greek Yogurt. Graham Crackers. Dessert without baking?

Wanting to make something sweet on a weeknight and wanting to keep things healthy (an upcoming wedding will have you fixating on your size in ways you never imagined) I thought I’d give this one a try.

So their recipe uses maple syrup and some lemon zest. I’m not big on maple.

And I didn’t have any lemons.

But I did have Greek yogurt and graham crackers.

Oh. And a bottle of limoncello.

Which got the wheels turning.

And resulted in limoncello icebox cake made with Greek yogurt.

For this recipe, well non recipe really, you will need:

  • graham crackers, use any flavor but I just used original for this
  • 16 oz container of Greek yogurt
  • limoncello (or lemon juice or cocoa powder or whatever you want to stir into the yogurt to flavor it)

So you have a few options for assembling this. You can lay the graham crackers out in sheets in a loaf pan and make a layer cake type thing. Or you can make individual trifles in glass pudding cups.

Good Housekeeping did the fancy loaf pan option. So I figured I’d give it a go. Next time I’d definitely opt for the pudding cups. Much easier. Much less pressure. Everything looks good in a pudding cup!

So. The loaf pan. Line it with plastic wrap, leaving yourself enough excess to wrap over the top of the cake.


In a large bowl, mix together the yogurt and the limoncello. I used about a 1/4 cup, but use your taste buds as a guide.



Layer the bottom of the loaf pan with graham crackers


Then add a layer of yogurt


And another layer of graham crackers, repeating until you have your desired number of layers. Or until the pan is full. Whichever comes first.


Fold over the plastic wrap and place in the fridge for about 4 hours so it can firm up.


Unwrap and carefully slice to reveal the layers of yogurt and graham.


The possibilities are endless for this. Next up we want to try some cocoa powder in the Greek yogurt and  adding some marshmallow spread for a s’mores cake.


Happy Fourth of July! – A Red, White and Blue Breakfast

Happy Fourth of J-J-J-July.

As a child, this is how I said it.

I didn’t have a stutter, or any kind of speech problems. But when the 4th day of the 7th month rolled around, that’s how I said it.

I could say July. But it was always 4th of J-J-J-July.

I have no explanation for this.

But 20-odd years later, my parents still say it like that to each other.


I was an odd child.

I blame it on not having siblings.

But back to breakfast.

Let’s kick off the day with a patriotic, red, white and blue burst of yogurt and summer berries.

A bowl of Chobani vanilla yogurt, striped with bright red raspberries and crisp and tart blackberries.


What’s more American and more summery than a bowl of berries?

Happy 4th to you all.

Enjoy a day of barbecues, beach, and most importantly, family.

Chipotle Craving – Deconstructed Taco Salad

I had a massive craving today.

And you know me and my cravings- when I want it, nothing else will do.

Today, I was actually sitting at my desk and daydreaming about a Chipotle salad.

Yes, yes, I know. Still on the salad kick.

But a Chipotle salad is so much more than a salad. It’s – it’s a deconstructed taco!

And if you’ve been reading, you know how much I love to make deconstructed things! (See here for deconstructed spicy tuna roll salad.)

I just read that back. Make deconstructed things. Can one make something that is deconstructed? Isn’t the thing which is deconstructed inherently unmade?

Pardon my philosophical ramblings. Chalk it up to the hunger!

So what was it exactly about a Chipotle salad that I was craving? Breaking it down to its parts, it’s the crisp and crunchy lettuce with the creamy black beans and the fatty avocado. And the sour cream. And the tomatoes. And the citrus.

I got this.


We’re going to make a deconstructed taco salad.

You will need

  • corn (fresh or from the can)
  • black beans (I used from the can, rinsed and drained)
  • scallions
  • tomatoes
  • avocado
  • romaine lettuce
  • chorizo
  • olive oil
  • juice from one lime
  • salt
  • pepper

In a large bowl, drizzle the olive oil and squeeze in the lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste and the chopped scallions. Whisk.

Now add in the corn, the black beans, and the tomatoes.

I actually, in all honesty, threw it all in a Tupperware, so instead of mixing, I put the lid on and shook it all up. But that’s our little secret.

photo 1

Make a bed of romaine in each bowl.


Top with the veggie mix.


Next, dice up the avocado and add to the top.


I don’t put the avocado in with the other veggies because it is delicate and you don’t want it to bruise or get all broken up.

Pop the salads in the fridge for a bit.

Meanwhile, chop up the chorizo and toss it in a frying pan. Cook over medium until nice and warm and slightly crispy.


When the chorizo is done, remove the salads from the fridge and top them with the warm chorizo. Warm and cold gives you the making of the perfect salad.


For an extra flourish top with Greek yogurt mixed with some lime juice. You can use sour cream, but this is a healthier option.


You can also grate some moneterey jack cheese over top and let the heat of the chorizo melt it slightly.

On the side, what Mexican salad would be complete without nachos?

The cheater’s way?

Pile some chips on a microwave safe plate.

Top with grated cheese.


Microwave on high for 10-15 seconds.


And Ole!

A deconstructed taco salad with a side of nachos.

Not quite Chipotle, but good enough to satisfy the craving.

Healthy Breakfast Alternative – Ice Pops!

I have many food obsessions.

These change seasonally. In the winter, it’s anything topped with warm melted cheese, in the fall, it’s anything with butternut squash or cinnamon, in the spring, it’s fresh grassy greens. In the summer? Ice pops.

I already told you about how my dad bought me two rocket pops as a kid – that’s probably the root of my obsession.

But, really, just think about it for a second.

Think about being a kid and eating an ice pop out in the backyard, or sitting on your front steps, or poolside as the sun beats down and melts the pop down your hands.


That right there, the icy cold pop hitting your tongue, the sticky melted liquid running down your arm, the sun beating down as you run your bare feet through the grass.

That’s happiness right there.

Yet, as adults, we forget all about the humble ice pop.

Now, I love the ones in the box in the freezer section as much as I did as a kid – fudgcicles, fruit bars, creamsicles – but I know that these are loaded with sugar and preservatives (though there are a ton of all natural options on the market.) Edy’s, Ciao Bella and Whole Foods’ 365 brand are all pretty decent options.

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But nothing will be as good or as fresh as what you make at home.

Let me ask you something, do you like smoothies?

Do you make them at home?

Have you ever considered freezing your smoothie and putting it on a stick?

Why not?!?

Everyone knows food on a stick is so much better!

Scientifically proven fact!

Okay, well maybe not, but think about all the times you’ve eaten foods on a stick and now try and think about all the times you were unhappy while eating foods on a stick.


So instead of just making a smoothie and sipping it on my way to work, I’m embracing my inner child!

Toss some of your favorite fruits in the blender with some ice and some water. Instead of pouring into a cup and sticking in a straw, pour into ice pop molds, or into paper cups and stick in a Popsicle stick.

Or, you can get a little fancy and alternate layers of fruit and Greek yogurt for a protein and fruit packed way to start your day. It will feel like you’re eating dessert for breakfast. These are great afternoon pick me ups, too.

I don’t know about where your office is, but at mine, this guys shows up outside at 3 pm every day. Right when I’m having a sweets craving.


Say no to the vanilla cone and yes to the vanilla yogurt pop you stashed in the freezer.

I found a ton of great ideas at Woman’s Day.

Another great idea is to mix a little Nutella into your yogurt. It feels a little naughty to have chocolate in the morning, but you’re giving yourself calcium and protein and Vitamin D. Need a morning jolt? How about pouring some coffee into vanilla yogurt, stirring and freezing for a creamy does of caffeine.

I walked to work with an ice pop this morning and admittedly got some stares.

They’re all just jealous.

I mean, come on, if your day starts out with an ice pop, there’s no way it can be a bad day.

Forbidden Fruit – Peaches

Bible scholars have it all wrong.

In the garden of Eden, it wasn’t an apple with which Eve tempted Adam.

No, it was not a bright red apple that grew from the Tree of Knowledge.

No, sirs. No. I say.

The forbidden fruit that caused the ejection of our ancestors from paradise was a juicy, summer ripe peach.

For what is more sinful than biting into a plump, golden peach and licking your fingers as the juices drip down your arm. Sensual. Seductive. It surely was the peach that drove Eve to sin.

Exhibit A: in China, the peach is the fruit of the gods and is a symbol of longevity (http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/Chinese_Customs/flowers_symbolism.htm)

When I opened the weekly circular for my local grocery store and saw that peaches were on sale this week, I felt that little thrill you get when you do something you know you shouldn’t.

Why do peaches conjure these feelings?

Perhaps it has to do with their tantalizing scent and sweetness.

Or maybe it’s just the association of peaches with steamy summer nights, languid beach days and standing in the fridge with a spoon eating peaches out of the bowl.

Going back to the weekly circular. Yes, I check out what’s on sale that week.

Firstly, because well, who doesn’t like saving money and who, with a city kitchen especially, doesn’t need to save money?

Secondly, things are usually on sale when they are in season. Fruits and vegetables are cheaper when the cost of transportation etc is cheaper, meaning when they are able to be obtained locally.

I try to support local growers when I can.

And I am more than happy to take those peaches off your hands Mr. Local Farmer Man.

Growing up, I spent my summers at the beach. My parents have a beach house in the small town of Fenwick Island, Delaware (12 streets. There are 12 streets in the town).

My dad’s family has always rented a cottage a few blocks over, and one or other of his siblings is there most of the summer with some or all or an assortment of cousins.

But the best week was always when my aunt Ann Marie was there. Because Ann Marie cut up peaches.

It’s such a simple thing really, ripe peaches cut up in a bowl.

Ann Marie would always buy pounds and pounds and bags of ripe, fresh peaches and she and my grandma would sit in the tiny kitchen of the cottage cutting up the endless piles of peaches. The smell would overwhelm the beach side cottage. It would overpower the salt air wafting off the ocean.

The peaches would be tossed in a bowl with some sugar and put into the fridge overnight. Overnight, the sugar worked its magic, drawing out the juices and making a natural syrup surrounding the peaches.

We’d clamor around the big bowl, spoons diving in, no time to scoop out into our own servings.

We were all family.

The first time I brought my boyfriend to the shore to meet the family, we walked into the cottage and my aunt said “I cut peaches!”

I was thrilled. He didn’t know what she meant.

He had never had cut peaches.

Well he had eaten peaches before, but not like this.

He couldn’t understand my excitement. Until he had his first bite.

Now he gets just as excited as I do about peach season.

Admittedly, it’s a little early. August is really when they’re best. But if Mother Nature is going to give us peaches in May, I am not going to say no.

This isn’t really a recipe. More of a suggestion. One you won’t be sorry to follow.

Buy a pound of peaches. You want nice firm fruit that waft peach scent into the air.

Wash and dry them.

Break out a cutting board and start slicing. You can cut in wedges. I go for chunks.

Drop the peaches into a bowl. Or a glass jar. I use a jar because I love opening the fridge and seeing a jar full of gold and pink peaches dripping in their own juices.


Sprinkle the cut peaches with sugar. Or drizzle with honey. I actually prefer honey, but my aunt and grandma always used sugar. I just like the extra sticky syrupyness the honey provides.


Resist the urge to eat these right away. Refrigerate overnight. You won’t be sorry.

I love having a jar of peaches in the fridge all summer.

You can eat them right out of the jar.

Or you can top some Greek yogurt with peaches and granola for a healthy snack or breakfast or a light lunch.

Warm toast, slathered with ricotta cheese, piled with cubed peaches and topped with an extra drizzle of honey is a sweet bruschetta for a 3 O’clock pick me up.

A bowl of peaches topped with a dollop of whipped cream is a virtuous dessert on a hot night.

So go, off to the store with you.

And ask as T.S. Eliot did,

Do I dare to eat a peach?

From The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

“Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.”

Deconstructed spicy tuna roll salad

One of my favorite foods to go out to eat is sushi.

In general, I don’t like going out to eat.

After working all day, I want to come home to the peace of my kitchen and the comfort of my sweatpants.

I don’t want to go to a restaurant where it’s crowded, it’s loud, it’s expensive, and I always feel like I could make the same plate in front of me at home.

Sushi is an exception.

I don’t see me busting out the bamboo sushi mat and picking up sushi grade ahi tuna at the market any time soon. (Though, you never know. My boyfriend recently decided he wanted to learn how to make Chinese food and so went out and bought a wok. Yes. He woks on occasion. Yes, I will try and sneak a video next time.)

If we wanted sushi, we’d have to venture out.

Trouble is, we were both really set on a weekend of sweatpants.

So I started thinking about sushi as components rather than rolls and came up with this deconstructed spicy tuna roll salad. The tuna is cooked, but the flavors are about the same as the roll you’d get at your favorite sushi restaurant.

The best part? This is a one bowl dish. That’s right. Bowl. Not pot. This is an almost no cook meal. Just assembly required.

Really, you’re going to do three steps.

1. Make the dressing

2. Make the salad

3. Cook the tuna.

So first the dressing.

You will need:

  • 2 tbsp Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp siracha
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • juice of half a lime
  • a pinch of sugar


In a large bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients.


We actually always have all of this stuff on hand. Like I said, he started woking recently and went out and bought a bunch of Asian ingredients. Even if you don’t have them or don’t think you’ll make that many Asian dishes, consider getting them. I’ve made some amazing marinades with soy sauce. And sesame oil adds a really nice deep flavor to sauteed vegetable. And if you don’t have siracha or don’t want to buy it, use whatever hot sauce you like or have on hand.

To the bowl of dressing, toss in your salad ingredients.

We used:

  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced into matchsticks
  • 1 handful shredded cabbage (like the bag of coleslaw mix)
  • 1 large handful baby spinach
  • 1 large handful spring mix


These can easily be adjusted. Arugula would be nice to add a peppery kick, or even romaine if you want a real cold crispness to cut the hot sauce. I recommend the avocado and the cucumber if you want that sushi roll taste, but really the salad ingredients are up to you.

Toss to coat the veggies with the dressing.


Pop into the fridge so the flavors can, in the words of my dad, fester.

Anytime a recipe calls for something to hang out in the fridge, dad calls it festering.

Now, while the salad festers, it’s onto the tuna.

You will need:

  • 2 tuna steaks
  • vegetable oil
  • juice of half a lime
  • black pepper

Turn the broiler on high and line a baking sheet with foil. The foil gets balled up and tossed in the trash later, making the bowl with the salad the only cleanup for the night.

Place the tuna steaks on the foil-lined sheet and drizzle with vegetable oil and lime juice and a few grinds of black pepper.


The tuna will cook under the broiler pretty quickly, about 4 minutes per side.

This meal is complete with just the salad and the tuna, but we added brown rice on the side to give it the real sushi roll taste.

I confess, I didn’t make the rice. Our favorite Chinese take out place is literally steps from our door (the joys of city living) so while I watched the tuna, he ran down and got a container of brown rice. And maybe two egg rolls. Shih Lee has the best egg rolls. Hands down.

Plate the salad and tuna and add a scoop of brown rice on the side.


When you get a bite of lettuce, avocado, rice and tuna, all coated in the spicy dressing (our version of the spicy mayo of sushi restaurants) your taste buds will be convinced they are down Second Avenue at your favorite sushi place.

But, no. You are at your table, with a huge plate of spicy tuna salad.

And most importantly, you’re still in sweatpants.

Summer, Tomato, Avocado: menage a trois!

First, to quell your curiosity, no. He did not get home last night soon enough to get me a piece of cake. I had to untangle myself from the couch and cut a slice myself.


He was late because the Rangers and Bruins went into overtime.

Then the Rangers lost.

(Double boo!)

But that was yesterday.

And this is about today. Today. The first morning this year where I woke up to a tinge of stickiness in the apartment.

Despite the air conditioning cranking away, I could catch a hint of humidity in the air.

This is the first sign of summer in the city.

The first indication of those steamy nights to come when you leave the office and the heat the pavement absorbed all day is released and burns your ankles. Those nights when all you can do is sit on a roof with a drink in your hand as the condensation collects on the glass and slides onto your fingers.

It’s a sign of tomatoes and avocados.

I have a confession.

I love avocado.

It’s border-line obsession.

I cut it up in a salad, I add it to tacos, I throw some slices onto my tuna fish sandwich.

Avocado has like 20 essential vitamins and minerals, good fat and it has the all important ability to add richness to a dish without packing on the calories. It is high in calories, but not in the way that butter is- remember those 20 vitamins and minerals.

Okay. Enough nutrition.

When I padded into the kitchen this morning and felt cool rather than cold tiles on my feet, I knew a summer sandwich was the order of the day for my bring to work lunch. (I made him one too, of course. It was the least I could do after the Rangers lost game 1 of the series).

This is my favorite preparation of avocado.

And it combines two of my favorite things.

Right now, Greek yogurt is THE hot thing. Everyone’s making it, everyone’s eating it, everyone’s cooking with it.

My boyfriend’s Greek, so we’re not jumping on the bandwagon here.

Let me take a minute to extol the virtues of Greek yogurt. First, of course, it’s better for you than other yogurts because it provides more protein. Second, the taste is just incomparable to any other yogurts- the tangy quality cannot be found in your typical fruit on the bottom yogurt cup. Then there’s the thicker texture. It just feels more indulgent. And last and most important to the tiny kitchen is its versatility.

When fridge space is limited, this one container of Greek yogurt packs a lot of uses. Why buy mayo, sour cream and containers of yogurt when instead you can buy one big container of Greek yogurt? (Plus it’s better for the environment- one big plastic container instead of all those individual plastic yogurt containers). Save some valuable fridge real estate. Also, save some money! I don’t know about you, but I can never seem to finish the may or the sour cream before they expire. That’s just money in the garbage, and with the rent being so d*mn high, I just can’t afford to throw out some of my paycheck with spoiled food.

SO Greek yogurt. Save space, save money and save your waist line – it’s far better than mayo and sour cream.

Okay. Enough with nutrition.


Greek yogurt and avocado. I use one avocado for two people. The yogurt ratio depends on how tangy you want it to be. I tend to two heaping teaspoons of yogurt to one avocado.

Split the avocado in half and remove the pit.

Holding the avocado half, slice through the flesh, stopping at the skin, longways. Turn ninety-degrees and cross hatch your slices. Like this.


You should be able to easily scoop or squeeze out the avocado into a bowl.

Add the yogurt.

Remember that potato masher?

Remember that senior partner that pulled an attitude with you today?

Channel him.

Start mashing!

The consistency is up to you. You can leave it a little chunky or go for all smooth. If you want it perfectly smooth, you can of course use a food processor. But who has room for one of those? And who has the patience to clean one of those?

So this is good to go. A squeeze of lemon or lime if you want to add some brightness.


How to use this wonderful creamy deliciousness?

In place of guacamole as a dip for chips or celery sticks

As a spread for taco night in place of sour cream

A sandwich spread instead of mayo

Possibilities are endless really.

How did I use it this time, you ask?

Much as I could just sit there with a spoon and eat it from the bowl, I restrained myself and used it for the best lunch to bring to work ever.

Toasted English muffin, slathered on both sides with avocado spread, slices of ripe, juicy tomatoes and crumbled feta.


The rich avocado coats your mouth. Bright, crisp, juicy tomatoes pop through. Feta adds the salty bite to break through the unctuousness. An English muffin gives the right amount of chew and the right amount of crunch.

A nice break in the work day.