Recipes

Light Version of Classic Red Velvet Cupcakes with Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting

by Elaine Magee - 

This light version of a Classic: Red Velvet Cupcakes with Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting is sure to please everyone! We are going to make these cupcakes as light and healthful as possible by using a little less sugar (1 1/2 cups instead of 2), half whole wheat flour, and a lot less fat than is called for in a traditional red velvet cupcake. For the frosting, we are whipping up half as much frosting (a little goes a long way) and using light cream cheese and whipped butter (which has less fat than regular) or low fat margarine with 8 grams of fat per tablespoon.

Makes 12 cupcakes


Ingredients

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons unbleached white flour or cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
1 large egg (higher omega-3 if available)
1/8 cup red food coloring
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup low fat buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon white vinegar

Light Cream Cheese Frosting
3 tablespoons light cream cheese (block)
3 tablespoons whipped butter or less fat margarine with 8 grams fat per tablespoon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Around 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar


Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Line one cupcake pan with paper or foil liners.
  2. Add whole-wheat flour, white flour, salt, and cocoa powder to medium bowl and whisk together to blend; set aside.
  3. In mixing bowl, add sugar, oil, and sour cream and beat on medium speed, with electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until nicely blended. Add egg, beating well until blended in. Pour in food coloring and vanilla and beat on low speed until combined, scrape sides of mixing bowl after about 10 seconds of mixing. While mixer is beating on low speed, add half of the flour mixture, then half of the buttermilk, then the rest of the flour mixture and the rest of the buttermilk, scraping the sides of the mixing bowl as needed. Turn off mixer.
  4. Add baking soda and vinegar to a small bowl and stir to blend. Quickly beat the bubbling mixture into the red velvet batter for about 10 seconds. Scoop about 1/4 cup of batter (at least) into each cupcake paper. Bake until a fork inserted in the center of your largest cupcake comes out clean (about 20 minutes for cupcakes).
  5. While cupcakes are baking you can make the frosting! Add cream cheese and whipped butter to mixing bowl and beat on medium-high speed (using electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment) until creamy (about 90 seconds).
  6. With speed on low, add vanilla extract and 1/2-cup of powdered sugar and once it’s incorporated into the butter mixture, beat on high speed for about 10 seconds. Scrape down sides of the bowl and on low speed slowly add in 1/2-cup cup of powdered sugar. Once it has been blended in, beat the mixture on high speed for about 10 seconds. Scrape down sides of the bowl and on low speed add remaining powdered sugar until you reach your desired frosting texture.
  7. This frosting will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week.
Per cupcake (if 12 per recipe): 212 calories, 3.5 g protein, 34 g
carbohydrate, 7 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 3.4 g monounsaturated fat,
1.5 g polyunsaturated fat, 24 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 225 mg sodium.
Calories from fat: 30 percent.

Original recipe contains 325 calories, 15 grams of fat, 9 grams saturated fat, and 63 mg cholesterol per cupcake (if 12 per recipe).

Read about Elaine Magee, Health, and Nutrition

Savory Shepherd’s Pie

Another Cheesecake Factory favorite gets a makeover

By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd's Pie ~ Courtesy of Elaine Magee

Question: Dear Recipe Doctor, I love your column. Can you give me any ideas for the shepherd’s pie at the Cheesecake Factory? For instance, how to make it less fattening and lower in carbs?

Answer: No problem! I modeled my light shepherd’s pie recipe after the Cheesecake Factory version—clear sauce, ground beef, diced zucchini, etc. I’ve created a couple of light shepherd’s pie recipes over the years, but this is now my favorite.

There was no need for added fat when preparing the beef and vegetables filling: everything sautéed nicely as a mixture. I used condensed beef consommé as the base for the sauce/gravy, which couldn’t have been easier. I purposely used less meat and more vegetables per serving compared to the restaurant, but you probably won’t even notice.

Then I whipped up a batch of mashed potatoes by beating some microwaved baked potatoes with some fat-free half-and-half. In the restaurant, the mashed potato–topped shepherd’s pie has a golden crust made with Parmesan and (I’m guessing) some melted butter. In this version, you can top your mashed potatoes with a healthy spray of canola or olive oil cooking spray, or you can brush lightly with olive oil before sprinkling with shredded Parmesan cheese.

The Cheesecake Factory serving (which is definitely 2 portions) contains 1,875 calories, 61 grams of saturated fat, and 4,108 mg sodium. The restaurant doesn’t provide the total fat grams.


Ingredients

(makes 4 servings)

1 onion, chopped

3/4 pound ground sirloin (8-10% fat)

2 cups sliced mushroom (cut thick slices in half)

2 cups diced zucchini

1 tablespoon chopped or minced garlic

1 teaspoon oregano leaves (dried)

1/2 cup white pepper

1 cup grated or shredded carrot

1/2 cup frozen peas

10½-ounce can beef consommé (condensed)

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons red wine, beer, or water

Mashed potato topping

4 medium baked potatoes

2/3 cup fat-free half-and-half

Canola or olive oil cooking spray (1 tablespoon melted butter or margarine can be substituted)

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 2-quart baking dish (a 9 x 13-inch baking dish can be used) or 4 individual deep serving dishes with canola or olive oil cooking spray.
  2. Pierce potatoes with a fork and microwave on HIGH until completely tender inside. Set aside until easier to handle.
  3. Meanwhile, begin heating a large nonstick saucepan over high heat. Add onion and ground beef, breaking the beef into smaller pieces with a spatula. Cook for a couple of minutes. Stir in the mushroom pieces, diced zucchini, garlic, oregano, and white pepper. Continue to cook on high, stirring often until beef is cooked throughout and the vegetables are lightly browning in spots (about 5 minutes).
  4. Reduce heat to low/simmer and stir in the shredded carrot, peas, and condensed consommé. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and wine or beer until smooth. Stir cornstarch mixture into the beef mixture and continue to simmer until thickened gravy forms (about 1 to 2 minutes). Spread meat and vegetable mixture into prepared baking dish(s).
  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the potato (without the peel) with fat-free half-and-half until a slightly thin mashed potato mixture is formed. Spread mashed potatoes evenly over the meat mixture in dish. Generously coat the top with cooking spray (or brush the top with 1 tablespoon of olive oil or melted whipped butter or margarine). Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes, uncovered, or until top of mashed potatoes is golden brown and filling is bubbling.
Per serving: 415 calories, 30 g protein, 56 g carbohydrate, 8 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 2.5 g monounsaturated fat, 1 g polyunsaturated fat, 58 mg cholesterol, 8 g fiber, 770 mg sodium. Calories from fat = 17%. Omega-3 fatty acids = 0.1 g, omega-6 fatty acids = 0.5 gram. Weight Watchers POINTS = 8.

Patriotic Cupcake Cones

Perfect for potlucks, picnics, and parties

By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
Patriotic Cupcake Cones

Courtesy of Elaine Magee

Question: Dear Recipe Doctor, I’ve been wanting to try making cupcakes in ice cream cones. Does this still work with lighter cake batters? Is there a way to make these even lower in calories?

Answer: It absolutely works! I decided to test a patriotic version of cupcake cones (red cupcake batter, blue icing, and the cone serves as white). When using a cake mix, I like to use a white cake mix because it calls for three large egg whites and no yolks. You can add fat-free sour cream (or any yogurt) in place of the vegetable oil called for on the box as well.

For a nice light frosting, I used light cream cheese, whipped butter (or a lower-fat margarine), some powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. We also kept the amount of frosting used per cupcake cone on the light side. Do all of this, and the calories per cone come down to 160 calories!

Cones from a similar recipe without the changes would contain around 290 calories, 13 grams fat, 6 grams saturated fat, and 46 milligrams cholesterol per serving.


Ingredients

(makes 24 cupcake cones)24 ice cream cones (small, wafer type with flat bottom)

Duncan Hines Classic White Cake Mix (18.25 ounces), or similar

1⅓ cups water

2 tablespoons fat-free sour cream

3 large egg whites

1 teaspoon red food color

Light cream cheese frosting

1/3 cup light cream cheese (block)

1/3 cup whipped butter or lower-fat margarine with 8 grams fat per tablespoon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

10 drops blue food coloring (or more as desired)

Around 2½ cups powdered sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Get a 10- by 14-inch baking pan (with sides) and line all of the ice cream cones inside the pan to be filled (rows of 6 by rows of 4).
  2. In large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, water, fat-free sour cream and egg whites at low speed until moistened (30 seconds). Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. With a 1/4-cup measure, fill each ice cream cone evenly (about 1/2 inch from the top).
  3. Carefully place baking pan with filled ice cream cones in center of oven and bake about 25-28 minutes or until cake is done (that is, when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean). Set aside to cool while you make the frosting.
  4. Add cream cheese and whipped butter to small mixing bowl. Beat on medium-high speed (using electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment) until creamy (about 90 seconds).
  5. With speed on low, add vanilla extract, blue food coloring, and 1 cup of powdered sugar. Once incorporated into the butter mixture, beat on high speed for about 10 seconds. Scrape down sides of the bowl, and on low speed, slowly add another cup of powdered sugar. Once it has been blended, beat the mixture on high speed for about 10 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and on low speed, add remaining powdered sugar until you reach your desired frosting texture.
  6. Spread frosting evenly on top of ice cream cone cupcakes. Sprinkle decorations over the top if desired. Keep in refrigerator until ready to serve!
Per serving: 160 calories, 2 g protein, 29 g carbohydrate, 4 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 1 g monounsaturated fat, 1 g polyunsaturated fat, 6 mg cholesterol, 0.5 g fiber, 185 mg sodium. Calories from fat = 22%. Omega-3 fatty acids = 0.1 g, omega-6 fatty acids = 0.8 g. Weight Watchers POINTS = 3.