Secret Ingredients

7 Jun


Do you make something that has a “secret ingredient”? You know, that one thing that enhances your dish somehow, but no one would ever guess what it was? Saturday was “secret ingredient day” over at HHH.

I went to my grandparents’ for dinner on Saturday with my mom, and she asked me to make a salad (see above photo). I just threw a bunch of veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, snap peas, celery, green onion, broccoli slaw mix) together for a slaw-ish salad, and it turned out really well. But the secret ingredient’s in the dressing: pickle juice! I was pulling out ingredients for the salad, and was putting fresh dill in anyway, and I saw a pickle jar with one lonely dill pickle (which I ate), and thought, why not? It’s just dill-flavoured vinegar, and I would have put in vinegar anyway. Confession: after eating the pickle and putting the juice in my dressing, I ate some of the garlic straight outta the jar! Embarrassed smileThe other dressing ingredients besides the pickle juice were: ranch dip mix, Epicure French Onion dip mix, Dijon mustard, fresh dill and chives, and fat-free Miracle Whip. Mmmm….really good! Use this on any coleslaw/broccoli-type salad this summer – sure to be a winner at any BBQ or potluck!


After dinner on Saturday, we went over to my Aunt’s house and I brought cupcakes since her birthday is today (happy birthday Auntie Rue!). But not just any cupcakes – black-bottom cheesecake cups – and healthy ones at that! What makes them healthy? That’s the secret ingredient! There are no butter or oil in these babies, instead they use….


…PRUNE BABY FOOD! I can’t take credit for the idea, it’s an old Weight Watchers recipe. It’s kinda like the applesauce idea, keeping the moisture, cutting the fat. But the prune thing would only work in chocolate baked goods I think – you’d get some pretty funky cookies if you put in just a chocolate chip cookie dough or something like that! Smile with tongue out The recipe calls for almonds on top too, but I omitted them this time, because my cousin’s allergic to nuts. That means there’s even less calories, so I can have 2, right? With the nuts though, these cupcakes only have 151 calories and 3.5 g fat each – a bargain if you ask me!

Black-bottom Cheesecake Cups – makes 18

from Weight Watchers: All things SweetIMG_1672

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup white sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 tablespoon instant coffee

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 4 oz jar prune baby food (my jar was 4.5 oz, so I ate a bit…it was actually pretty good! Mind you, I like prunes)

1 cup water

1 tablespoon white vinegar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

8 ounces (one tub) fat-free cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup icing sugar

1 large egg

cooking spray

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup toasted chopped almonds (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Combine prune butter, water, vinegar and vanilla; stir well. Add to flour mixture, stirring with a whisk until blended. Set chocolate batter aside.

3. Beat cream cheese in a bowl at medium speed of a mixer (or vigorously with a spatula and a fork) until smooth. Add icing sugar and egg, beating until well blended; set cream cheese mixture aside.

4. Place 18 paper muffin cup liners in muffin cups; coat liners with cooking spray. Divide chocolate batter evenly among muffin cups; spoon cream cheese mixture evenly on top of chocolate batter in each up. Sprinkle chocolate chips and almonds over cream cheese mixture. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in centre comes out clean. Let cool in pans 5 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans and let cool completely on wire rack.


Now since these  are so healthy and all (practically fat-free, and think of all the fibre from the prunes!), I think it’s only right that I licked the bowls pretty clean, don’t you? Winking smile Good, glad you agree. If you do make these, make sure you get a bit of both kinds of batter on your spatula, so you can lick the chocolate and the cream cheese goodness at the same time!



These are a great go-to recipe for those times when you want to take a dish to a get-together, and you want it to be something you can indulge in without going over the top, and you also want it to be something everyone will LOVE! I promise you, no one will ever guess the secret ingredient if you don’t tell them!




What’s the most unusual “secret ingredient” you’ve ever used (that is, if you’re willing to share your secrets)?

One Response to “Secret Ingredients”

  1. Katie @ Real Food Katie's Way June 7, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    I absolutely HAVE to eat the garlic from the bottom of a dill pickle jar…In fact my mom and I will fight over who gets it…Yet another reason why I love you chicky!

    I think the prune baby food idea in baking is very intriguing! Thanks so much for passing it on…

    I think the only secret ingredient I have is all bran flakes in place of bread crumbs when making meatballs, meatloaves or burger patties…I’m sure I have more but that’s all I can think of at the moment!

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