Okay, I will first tell you that this cake is SO GOOD! I am a full-time Recipe Developer for national food magazines and food companies, but I promise this cake is worth a try! For those of you who are in a huge hurry, just need a break or want something their kids can make, but here is the new version!

   My daugther Leigh, who is 9-years old, made the cake from the box instructions, and she was amazed she could make this on her own. After that, I discussed with her how this cake could be better. Basically we added added chocolate syrup and deleted some of the water.

Here’s is new version. No one will ever know that this cake was made from a cake mix (although I do love you Duncan Hines)! www.duncanhines.com

Gather these ingredients:

Combine 1 (18.25-ounce) package Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Devil’s Food Cake Mix, 3 eggs, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 2/3 cup chocolate syrup and 2/3 cup water and follow package directions for spraying and flouring the pan as well as mixing. Bake according to package directions. Let cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.


To make your own chocolate sauce drizzle, melt 1 (8-ounce) package semisweet morsels with 1 tablespoon milk. Place melted chocolate in a zip-top plastic bag and cut a hole in the bottom corner of the bag and drizzle over cake.

And here it is! I know Leigh went a little overboard with the powdered sugar, but all is well! Just remember one thing! This is best served with a glass of cold milk!


I hope you will enjoy this offering of French toast and pancake recipes and ideas. If you’re looking for some lower fat and lower carb recipes, try Strawberry Pancakes and Buttermilk French Toast which I recently developed for a new Weight Watcher Cookbook to be out next year. Also for a twist on ordinary French toast, try French Toast Waffles. These recipes are so fantastic, you can have your pancake and eat it too.


French Toast Waffles

French Toast Waffles from Cooking Light

A waffle maker creates a crisp, brown French toast without a skillet. Just make sure you start with slightly hardened bread so that the toast won’t be soggy. Serve toast with fresh berries, powdered sugar, or maple syrup.


4 servings (serving size: 4 waffles)


  • Cooking spray
  • 1  cup  fat-free milk
  • 1  tablespoon  sugar
  • 1  tablespoon  butter, melted
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 2  large eggs
  • 16  (1/2-inch-thick) slices day-old French bread (about 7 ounces)


Coat waffle iron with cooking spray, and preheat.

Combine milk and the next 5 ingredients (milk through eggs), stirring well with a whisk. Place bread in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish; pour milk mixture over bread, turning to coat. Let stand 5 minutes.

Place 4 bread slices on hot waffle iron. Cook 3 to 5 minutes or until done; repeat the procedure with the remaining bread.

Strawberry Pancakes

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 5 minutes


11/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup skim milk

1 egg

1 egg white

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

3/4 cup fresh sliced strawberries

Cooking spray

Maple syrup


1. Stir together first 4 ingredients; make a well in center of mixture.

 2. Stir together milk, eggs and oil; add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Fold in strawberries.

 3. Pour 1/4 cup batter for each pancake onto a hot, lightly greased griddle or skillet coated with cooking spray. Cook pancakes until tops are covered with bubbles and edges are slightly golden; turn and cook other side. Serve with warm maple syrup. Yield: 10 to 12 servings.

Buttermilk French Toast

 Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 5 minutes


4 large egg whites

2 large eggs

1 cup nonfat buttermilk

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

8 slices Challah bread

Cooking spray

Maple or other syrup


 1. Combine eggs and next 4 ingredients in a bowl; beat well with a wire whisk. Dip bread slices in buttermilk mixture.

 2. Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray over medium heat until hot. Arrange half of bread slices in skillet, and cook 2 minutes. Turn bread and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until browned; remove from skillet. Repeat procedure with remaining bread slices. Serve with Maple syrup. Yield: 8 servings 

Leigh and Me Cook

October 29, 2008

   Many of you who have read my blog today asked about what “Leigh and Me Cook” is…..

   Leigh is my 9 year-old daughter who I call little “Martha”. Leigh is ahead of her time and passing me by quickly. She makes her own smoothies everyday, homemade omelets cooked to order, cookies, cakes, cupcakes and wonderful chocolate-dipped strawberries. She can cut garlic and fresh herbs just as well as I.

   The recipes filed under this category will be recipes or products that Leigh loves and can make all by herself with minimal assistance. I thought those of you who have children might love some of these ideas to get your kids cooking and interested and knowledgeable about food.

   I have to be honest. Some days she “shows” me up in the kitchen which can by a little scary! She loves the pizza and crust in today’s earlier blog, and she recommends it highly! 

Look for her Simple Chocolate Cake coming soon! A good friend of mine (who has exceptional taste in food) calls it “AWESOME”!

Easiest Pizza Ever

October 29, 2008

It’s pizza night, and everyone loves it! My favorite new crust is quick, easy and delicious! It’s Pillsbury® refrigerated thin pizza crust. Just unroll, add your favorite toppings and bake, and you’ll have fresh, homemade thin crust pizza just the way you like it. It makes a rectangle pizza so enjoy having square pizza slices for a change.

Here is the pizza crust. If you like Pillsbury’s original crust (which makes great pizzas on the grill by the way), you will love this if you’re a fan of thin crust pizzas.


Pumpkin-A Taste of Autumn

October 28, 2008

If not for its role as jack-o’-lantern and Thanksgiving dessert, pumpkin wouldn’t get much notice. Its inside and sweet and delicate, and the seeds can be roasted as a nutty snack.

Pumpkins are loaded with nutrients-high in iron, beta-carotene, and potassium-and low in calories and fat. Cooking pumpkin is easy, but if you’re short on time, use canned. It’s quick, flavorful and a great source of vitamin A. 

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Enjoy this lower fat version. Feel free to make into muffins, if you prefer.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread from Cooking Light



32 servings (serving size: 1 slice)


  • 2  cups  sugar
  • 2  cups  canned pumpkin
  • 1/2  cup  canola oil
  • 1/2  cup  fat-free vanilla pudding
  • 4  large egg whites
  • 3  cups  all-purpose flour
  • 2  teaspoons  ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4  teaspoons  salt
  • 1  teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1  cup  semisweet chocolate chips
  • Cooking spray


Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, stirring just until moist. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into 2 (8 x 4-inch) loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack, and remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 152 (30% from fat)
Fat: 5g (sat 1.2g,mono 2.5g,poly 1.1g)
Protein: 2g
Carbohydrate: 26.5g
Fiber: 1.1g
Cholesterol: 0.0mg
Iron: 1mg
Sodium: 137mg
Calcium: 10mg
“Courtesy of Cooking Light”


Pumpkin Roll

Pumpkin Roll from Southern Living

Prep: 25 min., Bake: 15 min., Chill: 3 hrs.


Makes 8 servings


  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 3  large eggs
  • 1  cup  granulated sugar
  • 3/4  cup  all-purpose flour
  • 2  teaspoons  cinnamon
  • 1  teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1  teaspoon  baking powder
  • 1  teaspoon  ground ginger
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground nutmeg
  • 2/3  cup  canned unsweetened pumpkin
  • 1/2  cup  finely chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1  teaspoon  lemon juice
  • 1 1/2  cups  powdered sugar, divided
  • 2  (3-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4  cup  butter or margarine, softened
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1  teaspoon  lemon juice
  • Garnishes: powdered sugar, chocolate-coated pecan halves


Coat bottom and sides of a 15- x 10-inch jelly-roll pan with cooking spray, and line with wax paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray; set aside.

Beat eggs at medium speed with an electric mixer 5 minutes or until thick and lemon-colored; gradually add granulated sugar, beating until well combined. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients. Gradually add to egg mixture, beating well. Combine pumpkin, pecans, and 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and gradually add to mixture, beating well. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan.

Bake at 375° for 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Sift 1/2 cup powdered sugar in a 15- x 10-inch rectangle on a clean, dry dish towel. Run a knife around edges of pan to loosen cake, and turn cake out onto prepared towel. Peel wax paper off cake. Starting at narrow end, roll up cake and towel together; place, seam side down, on a wire rack to cool completely.

Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add remaining 1 cup powdered sugar, beating until smooth. Stir in vanilla and 1 teaspoon lemon juice.

Unroll cake; remove towel. Spread cream cheese mixture on cake, leaving a 1-inch border around edges. Re-roll cake without towel, and place, seam side down, on a serving platter. Cover and chill at least 3 hours. Garnish, if desired.


“Courtesy of Southern Living”

Pumpkin Spice Quick Bread Mix

If you don’t have time to make your own homemade pumpkin bread, try this packaged mix from Williams Sonoma! Just add eggs, water and melted butter. The results are fabulous! Made with fresh pecans and an aromatic blend of spices, this mix is easy to prepare: Just add water, butter and eggs before baking in a Bundt® pan, loaf pan or muffin tin. The quick bread emerges golden brown from the oven, ready to slice and serve warm with butter or jam. 1 lb. 2 oz. This is a Williams-Sonoma exclusive. www.williamssonoma.com 

Pumpkin Spice Quick Bread Mix


Here are two of my favorite steak sandwiches that are delicious, healthy and oh so simple. These are some sandwich recipes I developed for Laura’s Lean Beef. See www.laurasleanbeef.com for more great recipes, tips and information.

The mayonnaise spread mixture for each of these are also great as a sandwich spread, but feel free to make extra and use as a dip for fresh vegetables, crackers or pita chips.


Dijon-Peppercorn Wrap


Prep Time: 15 minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 15 minutes

1/4 cup Dijon mustard, divided
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, crushed and divided
1 pound Laura’s any steak cut
1/3 cup light mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
3 plum tomatoes, chopped
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 medium cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
6 low-fat flour tortillas

1. Stir together 2 tablespoons mustard and two-thirds of crushed peppercorns; rub evenly over beef. Cover and chill 2 hours.
2. Grill beef, covered with grill lid, over medium high heat (350° to 400°) for 5 minutes on each side or to desired degree of doneness. Let stand 10 minutes. Cut steak across the grain into thin slices.
3. Stir together mayonnaise, lemon juice, lemon rind, remaining 2 tablespoons mustard, and remaining one-third of crushed peppercorns. 
4. Arrange beef slices evenly down center of each tortilla. Sprinkle evenly with tomato, onion, and cucumber. Top evenly with mayonnaise mixture, and roll up.

Broiling Directions
1. Broil steak 5 1/2 inches from heat (with electric oven door partially opened) 5 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Cut steak across the grain into thin slices. 

Makes 6 servings.

Cooking Tips: Heat tortillas by sprinkling each with a light spray of water; wrap in foil, and bake at 325° for 10 minutes. Microwave between paper towels according to package directions to make them more pliable and less likely to tear when rolling up.

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving
Using Laura’s Lean Sirloin Tip Round
CALORIES 223 (30% from fat); FAT 7.3g (sat 1.9g); PROTEIN 19.4g; CARB 19.0g; FIBER 7.1g; CHOL 38mg; IRON 7.2mg; SODIUM 554mg.


Italian Steak Sandwiches


Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Chill time: 30 minutes

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
4 (4-ounce) Laura’s Lean Ribeye Steaks
1/3 cup low-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes
8 Italian bread slices
1 cup chopped lettuce
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
4 teaspoons crumbled blue cheese

1. Combine Worcestershire sauce and vinegar in a zip-top plastic bag. Add steaks and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
2. Grill steaks, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat (350° to 400°) about 8 to 10 minutes on each side or to desired degree of doneness. Slice across the grain into thin slices.
3. Combine mayonnaise and sun-dried tomatoes. Spread mayonnaise mixture on bread slices. Layer steak, lettuce, tomatoes, blue cheese and top with remaining bread slices. 

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Cooking Tips: You may add chopped red onion to the mayonnaise for added flavor. Also incorporating blue cheese into the mayo mixture will keep the crumbles from falling off.

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving Based on 6 Servings 
CALORIES 317 (38% from fat); FAT 13.4g (sat 3.4g); PROTEIN 21.0g; CARB 27.3g; FIBER 1.9g; CHOL 46mg; IRON 1.5mg; SODIUM 885mg.

“Courtesy of Laura’s Lean Beef”

Are you looking for some new ways to cook chicken?

I haven’t cooked chicken for weeks! I guess I was getting tired and bored of doing the same old chicken dishes over and over again. But with three kids, I have to stay creative and quick on my feet.

These two recipes are wonderful. They are easy to prepare, healthy and kids love them just as much as adults! There is only one problem-no leftovers.


Roasted Chicken with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Roasted Chicken with Balsamic Vinaigrette


  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (4-pound) whole chicken, cut into pieces (giblets, neck and backbone reserved for another use)
  • 1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves


Whisk the vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper in small bowl to blend. Combine the vinaigrette and chicken pieces in a large resealable plastic bag; seal the bag and toss to coat. Refrigerate, turning the chicken pieces occasionally, for at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove chicken from the bag and arrange the chicken pieces on a large greased baking dish. Roast until the chicken is just cooked through, about 1 hour. If your chicken browns too quickly, cover it with foil for the remaining cooking time. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Place the baking dish on a burner over medium-low heat. Whisk the chicken broth into the pan drippings, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the baking sheet with a wooden spoon and mixing them into the broth and pan drippings. Drizzle the pan drippings over the chicken. Sprinkle the lemon zest and parsley over the chicken, and serve.

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis


Roman-Style Chicken

Prepare this recipe below a day ahead, and the flavors will enhance even more

Roman-style Chicken

  • Cook Time 40 min

  • Level Easy

  • Yield 6 servings


  • 4 skinless chicken breast halves, with ribs
  • 2 skinless chicken thighs, with bones
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 3 ounces prosciutto, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves


Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. In a heavy, large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, cook the chicken until browned on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Keeping the same pan over medium heat, add the peppers and prosciutto and cook until the peppers have browned and the prosciutto is crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, wine, and herbs. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pan, add the stock, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes.

If serving immediately, add the capers and the parsley. Stir to combine and serve. If making ahead of time, transfer the chicken and sauce to a storage container, cool, and refrigerate. The next day, reheat the chicken to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in the capers and the parsley and serve.