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Veggie cupcakes? Make savory, healthy versions of the treat

A healthy cupcake seems like an edible oxymoron, right? Not according to two-time "Cupcake Wars" winner Hollis Wilder, whose debut cookbook released April 9, “Savory Bites: Meals You Can Make in Your Cupcake Pan,” explores the savory side of the classic sweet treat.“It’s not taking cake and mixing it with duck and lobster buttercream,” Wilder told “This is taking meals you a
Savory cupcake
Hollis Wilder in the kitchen with her children.Today

A healthy cupcake seems like an edible oxymoron, right? Not according to two-time "Cupcake Wars" winner Hollis Wilder, whose debut cookbook released April 9, “Savory Bites: Meals You Can Make in Your Cupcake Pan,” explores the savory side of the classic sweet treat.

“It’s not taking cake and mixing it with duck and lobster buttercream,” Wilder told “This is taking meals you already make in a traditional casserole and putting them in a cupcake tin.”

All of the recipes in her book can be baked in cupcake tins with edible “wrappers” like flour tortillas, puff pastry, leeks and roasted peppers, which take the place of paper liners. While Wilder channels her inner Julia Child with updated aspic recipes featuring roasted vegetables, other dishes are simply comfort foods in cupcake tins.

Wilder encourages home chefs not to be beholden to the recipes, as there’s plenty of room for experimentation within the medium. She recommends making personal pizza bites with whatever ingredients you can find in the fridge or calling on the kids to come up with their own wild creations. A note of warning: Spray down or butter up that pan before baking, otherwise you’ll never be able to transfer them from the tin to the plate. Experience has also taught Wilder that some foods just don’t work in a tin, like raw fish, a lesson she learned the hard way while working on a ceviche bite.

Perhaps one of the best parts of serving up lunch or dinner in cupcake form is the automatic portion control: You can nibble on your favorite foods without the temptation of devouring your entire plate and then some. (As Wilder says, "You really can have your cupcake and eat it too.")

Of course, all this doesn't matter if you can't stop yourself from going back for seconds (or thirds!).

Here are a few recipes from Wilder’s cookbook to get you started:


Beef stroganoff
Makes 12 mini meals

For the cream sauce:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) salted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
11/2 cups chicken broth
6 tablespoons sour cream
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the beef:
11/2 poundsbeef tenderloin, trimmed of allfat and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

For the mushroom caps:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 large whole white mushrooms, stems removed
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 large clove garlic, minced, or 1 tablespoon garlic from a tube
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the mushroom sauté:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup minced shallots (from 3 large shallots)
4 cups button mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 large clove garlic, chopped, or 1 tablespoon garlic from a tube
Nonstick cooking spray, for the pan
1 (16-ounce) package egg roll wrappers

Make the cream sauce:
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, then add the flour, whisking for 1 minute to make a paste. Pour in the broth in a slow stream, whisking, then turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Stir in the sour cream, mustard, dill, and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a large bowl.

Make the beef:
Season the beef with the salt and pepper. Heat the butter and oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat and sauté the beef until medium-rare, about 4 minutes. (It will continue to cook in the oven so you don’t want to overcook it now.) Transfer the beef to the bowl containing the cream sauce.

Make the mushroom caps:
In a 12-inch (30-cm) sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat and sauté the mushroom caps with the thyme, garlic, and salt and pepper until just softened and the juices are cooked off, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Make the mushroom sauté:
In the same sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the mushrooms, shallots, and garlic. Cook until the mushroom liquid has cooked off and the mushrooms begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Add this to the beef mixture.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spray the wells of a 12-well classic cupcake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Fill each well with 1 egg roll wrapper. The edges of the wrapper will peek over the top of the pan. Fill the egg roll wrappers to the top with the beef mixture and fold the wrapper in to create a neat package.

Top each with a sauteed mushroom cap.

Bake for about 25 minutes, until the wrappers are crispy and golden in color. Let rest for 5 minutes, then remove each stroganoff from the pan by gently pulling on the egg roll wrappers.


Chilled terrines with roasted vegetables

For the tomato aspic:
1 1/4 cups boiling water
3 (1/4-ounce) packets unflavored gelatin
1 (8-ounce) jar tomato sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 cup (120 ml) ready-made pesto

For the tahini yogurt sauce:
2 large cloves garlic, or2 tablespoons garlicfrom a tube
1 cup tahini
Zest and juice of 3 lemons
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt

For the vegetables:
1 medium globe eggplant
Nonstick cooking spray, for the pans
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 whole roasted red peppers or one red and one yellow roasted pepper
3 medium zucchini

For the assembly:
1 large bunch fresh basil
24 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil

Make the tomato aspic:

In a medium bowl, pour the boiling water over the gelatin and stir to dissolve. Stir in the tomato sauce, vinegar, salt, hot pepper sauce, and pesto. Set aside at room temperature.

Make the tahini yogurt sauce:

In a blender or the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, blend or puree the garlic, tahini, lemon zest and juice, yogurt, cilantro, and salt with 1/2 cup (120 ml) water until smooth. Season with additional salt, if needed.

Prepare the vegetables:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a sharp knife,remove the stem of the eggplant and slice the eggplant crosswise as thin as possible, between 1⁄16 inch and 1⁄8 inch(1.5 and 3 mm) thick. Halve or quarter any large rounds to make them easier to fit into the wells.

Line 4 baking pans with Silpat mats or foil, then spray them with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange the eggplant slices on the pans in a single layer. Spray the eggplant slices with cooking spray, sprinkle with salt, and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden and softened. Set aside.

Drain the roasted peppers, then lay them flat on a cutting board and cut each one lengthwise into 12 thin slices, for a total of 24 slices. Set aside.

Using a vegetable peeler, preferably a “T” peeler or julienne peeler, thinly peel each zucchini into ribbons; stop when you reach the seeds. Set aside.

Assemble the terrines:

Line a 12-well classic cupcake pan with plastic wrap, making sure that each well is surrounded by plastic. Use 2 long pieces that overlap in the center of the pan, and leave a 3-inch (7.5-cm) border of plastic wrap overhanging all sides of the pan. Begin by dipping the pepper slices into the aspic in batches of 2, using one of each color if you have both yellow and red peppers. (No need to wipe off excess aspic; you will need it to hold your mold together.) Place the 2 pepper slices, side by side, in the bottom of each well. (They will not completely cover the bottom of the well.) Repeat with the remaining pepper slices, until all of the wells are filled. Next, dip the zucchini ribbons in aspic and crisscross the ribbons in the wells, positioning them to cover any empty spaces and using all of the ribbons. (Do not trim the excess; it will be folded into the package at the end.)

Top the zucchini with 2 or 3 basil leaves. Dip the eggplant slices in aspic and layer 1 or 2 slices in each terrine, then add 2 sun-dried tomatoes per well, pushing down firmly to compact the vegetables. Finish layering any remaining vegetables until the wells are full. Evenly distribute the remaining tomato aspic between the wells and fold in the overhanging pieces. Wrap the pan in plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours or up to 3 days. Remove the top layer of plastic wrap, then lift up on the edges of the plastic wrap lining the wells of the pan to remove the terrines. Serve the terrines individually, garnished with a fresh basil leaf and a dollop of the tahini yogurt sauce.

Store the leftover terrines in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The tahini yogurt sauce can be stored in a separate airtight container for up to 5 days.


Mexican breakfast rolls
Makes 24 rolls

1 pound spicy pork sausage, or turkey sausage, casings removed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound frozen hash browns
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Pinch each of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) package ready-made pie dough (2 rounds), at room temperature
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, or 1/4 cup cilantro from a tube
1 cup refried beans
2⁄3 cup (150 ml) ready-made salsa
1 cup grated pepper Jack cheese
Nonstick cooking spray, for the pan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 12-well classic cupcake pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Make ahead:

These rolls should not be prepared the night before and baked the next day—the liquid in the salsa will prevent the pie dough from baking correctly. They can, however, be baked the night before and reheated, wrapped in tin foil, for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Cook the sausage in a 12-inch (30-cm) nonstick skillet over medium heat, using a wooden spoon to break up the sausage, until it is well browned and crumbled, about 15 minutes. Drain the meat in a fine-mesh colander over a bowl, continuing to break up the sausage in the colander to release additional grease. Transfer to a medium bowl. Wipe the skillet out with a paper towel when cool enough to handle.

Add the oil to the skillet, then add the hash browns in an even layer. Press down firmly with a heatproof spatula, then let the potatoes cook undisturbed over medium heat until they begin to brown on the bottom, about 8 minutes.

Sprinkle the top of the hash browns with the chili powder and salt and pepper. Cook for about 15 minutes longer, using the spatula to occasionally scrape the bottom of the pan and turn over the hash browns, until they are browned on all sides. Transfer to another medium bowl.

Unroll one of the rounds of pie dough onto a cutting board large enough to fit the entire round. Leaving a 1/2-inch (1-cm) border, sprinkle the dough with 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, or using a table knife, evenly spread the cilantro paste onto the dough. Top with half of each of the following: refried beans, browned sausage, salsa, hash browns, and grated cheese. Roll the pie dough into a log, starting on one side and rolling tightly to keep all the filling inside. With a serrated knife, gently slice the log into six 2-inch-thick (5-cm) pieces, making sure not to lose any of the filling as you cut.

Arrange the pieces of filled dough, cut-sides up, in the wells of the pan and press down gently to fill each hole.

Repeat the process with the second round of dough and remaining ingredients. Bake until cooked through and golden brown around the edges, 35 to 45 minutes. Let the rolls cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then loosen the sides of each roll with a table knife and pop them out of the pan. These breakfast rolls can be eaten out of hand, plated with a side of guacamole, sour cream, and additional salsa, or served as a brunch alongside your favorite morning eggs and sliced fruit or a yogurt parfait. My children enjoy them as a meal with a side of beans, guacamole, and a salad of fresh corn, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

Store the rolls in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat, wrapped in tin foil, for 15 minutes at 350.


Filling and rolling up breakfast rolls is a great project for children. You and the children can try these filling variations or make your own signature rolls.

• Sage breakfast sausage, sautéed onion with diced apples, and cheddar

• Crispy bac on, sautéed mushrooms and peppers, tomato sauce, and provolone

• Thin slices of Serrano ham, pesto, mozzarella, and sun-dried tomatoes

• Nutella with a layer of your favorite granola, some raisins, and a sprinkling of cinnamon-sugar