05 May

Taffy Apple Cupcakes


 May 23: National Taffy Day

At spring carnivals and fall festivals, we would sometimes snack on taffy apples when we were kids. The sticky-sweet fruit on a stick reminds us of the festive seasonal celebrations of our youth. Nowadays, it is simpler for us to eat sliced apples dipped in caramel sauce.

For National Taffy Day, we made taffy apple cupcakes and stuck a stick in the middle to mimic real taffy apples. The cupcakes contain chopped apples and the frosting is a combination of caramel (dulce de leche in Spanish), cream cheese and whipped cream.

These taffy apple cupcakes are a sweet substitute at spring carnivals and fall festivals and are most appropriate on National Taffy Day.


(Adapted from MyRecipes.com)

For the apple cupcakes

  • 1 box spice (or carrot cake) mix
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tart apple, finely chopped to equal about one cup
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon


Prepare the cake mix according to the directions on the box, adding the water, eggs and oil. Mix well.


Chop the apple and fold into the cake batter. Stir in the cinnamon.


Divide batter into paper cupcake liners, filling no more than 2/3 full.  Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes, testing for doneness. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Make the frosting.


For the caramel cream frosting

(Adapted from Pillsbury)

  • 1 14 ounce can dulce de leche (caramel)
  • 1 8 ounce block of cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
  • Green frosting (such as Wilton tube frosting) 


In a large bowl, combine the dulce de leche and cream cheese. Add the heavy whipping cream and mix until soft peaks form.


Spread on top of the apple cupcakes. Toast the nuts by heating them in a small skillet over medium high heat for about 2-3 minutes, being careful not to burn. Let cool.


Sprinkle the tops of the cupcake with nuts. Stick a popsicle/lollipop/wooden craft stick in the middle. Pipe leaves with green frosting (optional). Refrigerate to set the frosting. Bring to room temperature before serving.



  • Dulce de leche(caramel) can be spread directly onto the cooled apple cupcakes, instead of the caramel cream frosting.
  • Toast the chopped walnuts by heating them in a skillet on medium high. Stir often with a wooden spoon to avoid burning the nuts.
  • Search our blog for other apple recipes.

Macedonia di Frutta

(Italian Fruit Cocktail)

May 13: National Fruit Cocktail Day

We visited Islander’s brother in Rome, Italy, when he was there during one summer for his congregational council meeting. Her parents joined us from Hawaii and we decided to make this our wedding anniversary trip with the family. We met her brother’s superior general at the headquarters of the worldwide order, toured St. Peter’s Basilica/Square in Vatican City, went sightseeing all over Rome (Colosseum, Pantheon, churches, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, squares, catacombs, etc.) and ate extremely well! The food in Italy was delicious and we frequently cooled off with gelato for dessert. But sometimes we wanted to eat a “lite” treat after touring around and sweating in the summer heat. Macedonia di frutta (marinated fruit) was a great option to enjoy chilled seasonal fruit slightly sweetened with sugar and lemon juice (or, for the cocktail version, white wine).

When we returned from Rome, Islander’s parents stayed with us in our South Texas home for a few more days before flying back to Hawaii. While they were still on the mainland, we wanted to recreate the simple fruit salad we ate in Italy using produce we could find locally and seasonally and made this for our family snack time. Back on the islands, they use tropical fruit from Daddy’s garden to make Macedonia di frutta.

Make this refreshing dish on a hot and humid summer day and on National Fruit Cocktail Day.



  • Seasonal favorite fruits (we used cantaloupe, honeydew melon, apple, peach, kiwi, plums, blueberries, etc.)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar to taste
  • 1 lemon, juiced (see Notes)


Peel and chop the fruit in bite sized pieces.

Place all together in a large bowl. Sprinkle sugar over the fruit. Squeeze the lemon juice over all. Mix well. Cover and chill in the refrigerator. Scoop into dessert dishes and serve cold.


  • Substitute the lemon juice for 2 tablespoons (or to taste) of white wine.
  • Grazie, caro Papà (thanks, dearest Daddy), for being the guest chef for this blog post.

Pico de Gallo

May 5: Cinco de Mayo

On “Taco Tuesdays” at Islander’s brother’s congregational community house in San Antonio, Texas, the Catholic brothers and priests would host university students at a prayer social. When they were short-staffed, we helped out the Mexican cooks (husband and wife team Sr. Gregorio y Sra. Sylvia) in the kitchen, chopping up vegetables, preparing the buffet line and setting the dessert table. Appetizers were always tortilla chips, salsa and pico de gallo.

Pico de gallo is a chunky fresh vegetable relish and condiment that is easy to make. It is a delicious side dish to serve as a snack and appetizer for Cinco de Mayo and makes any meal feel like a fiesta!


(Inspired by Gregorio and Sylvia P.)


  • 2-3 Roma or plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1-2 jalapeño peppers, deseeded and deveined, finely chopped
  • handful of cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • tortilla chips for serving


Prepare the vegetables by chopping the tomatoes, onions, peppers and cilantro. Add all to a mixing bowl.

Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice into the vegetables. Salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with chips. Enjoy with cerveza (beer)!


  • We just love how the red tomatoes, white onion and green jalapeño peppers and cilantro leaves in this pico de gallo recipe are coincidentally the colors of Mexico.
  • Search our blog for more Mexican recipes.

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