Monday, December 19, 2016

Turtle Thumbprint Cookies

Hello there Christmas baking season!  It just makes my heart happy to make treats for the holidays :)  This month I decided to make treats for my husband's work every week for the month.  This way, I can get my baking fix in and yet not eat an obscene amount of goodies.  I can try one or two and then send the rest on their way.  Win-win.  

These little delicious morsels were perfect!  A little more time consuming than some other cookie varieties, but a little more time is worth. every. bite.  Enjoy! 

Turtle Thumbprint Cookies
Yield: 20 small cookies

For the cookies:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, separated
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup pecans, finely chopped

For the Caramel:
2/3 cup Kraft caramel bits (or regular caramels, melted)
1/2 tsp water

Combine flour, cocoa and salt. In a separate bowl cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg yolk, milk and vanilla.  Stir in flour mixture, just until combined. Chill dough in the refrigerator for one hour.
Whisk egg whites in a bowl until frothy.  Place chopped pecans in another shallow bowl. Remove dough from fridge and roll into small balls (however many cookies you want--I made 20 small ones).

Roll each dough ball in the frothy egg whites, and then roll and press in the chopped pecans. Place on a greased baking sheet.  

Use the back of a small measuring spoon to make an indentation in the center of each dough ball.

Bake at 350 Degrees F for about 10-12 minutes, or until set.

As the cookies come out of the oven, gently re-press the indentations with a small spoon.
In a microwavable bowl mix the caramel bits and water. Microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until caramel is melted (1-2 minutes). Pour small spoonfuls of caramel into the indented cookies.  *Optional: Drizzle with melted chocolate (or sprinkle with sea salt)!

Recipe Source:  Tastes Better From Scratch

Friday, July 15, 2016

Ultimate Granola

I am always on the hunt for new healthy options for meals and snacks for the fam.  I was excited to see this recipe with healthy oil and honey as a sweetener.  It is delicious on it's own, over yogurt, and I am excited to try it over ice cream when I'm feeling indulgent :) It's super yummy and you won't feel guilty eating it. Win-win!

Ultimate Granola

6 c. old fashioned oats
1 c. wheat germ
2 c. coconut 
1 c. peanuts or cashews (I use roasted peanuts)
1 c. slivered or sliced almonds
1 c. pecan pieces
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 c. coconut oil
1-1/2 c. honey

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Combine first 7 ingredients in large bowl.  Heat coconut oil and honey in microwave safe bowl until melted.  Pour over oat mixture.  Stir well. Divide mixture onto 2 cookie sheets and spread out into an even layer.  Place on separate shelves in oven and cook 6 minutes.  Swap the two pans places and cook 6 more minutes.  Stir well.  Put back in oven for 6 minutes, swap and cook 6 more minutes.  Stir well.  Turn oven off and place pans back in oven and let cool.  This may take overnight.  Enjoy!

Recipe Source:  Leah Young's Instagram :)

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Grilled Stuffed Jalapeno Chiles

I have recently really started liking the show on Food Network, The Kitchen.  It's fun because it has a group of chefs with totally different styles and it shows how they use different ingredients and give some good tips as well.  

A few weeks back the Mister and I were watching their Father's Day episode and one of the chefs made these.  My husband immediately said he wanted these for Father's Day the next day.  So he got them.  

They turned out super yummy, but I think they are too hot for most kiddos, so he and I had to polish them off ourselves, which wasn't a bad thing ;)  Super easy, super yummy, and a great way to use up some of your garden peppers!  

Grilled Stuffed Jalapeno Chiles
Yield:8 poppers
8 whole fresh jalapenos
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 slices center-cut smoked bacon

Preheat a gas or charcoal grill or stovetop grill pan over high heat.

Grill the jalapenos until browned or blistered on all sides and slightly softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, mix the cheese and oregano in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
To remove the seeds from the jalapenos, make a crosswise cut at the stem end of each jalapeno, then slice lengthwise down the middle, being careful not to cut the jalapeno completely in half. Peel open the sides of each jalapeno and, using a spoon, gently scrape out the seeds and veins. Fill the cavities with 1 tablespoon of the cheese-oregano mixture. Wrap 1 slice of bacon tightly around each stuffed jalapeno to seal in the cheese.

Grill, starting the poppers on the side where the bacon-wrapping ends, until the bacon is crisp and fully cooked, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Recipe courtesy of Marcela Valladolid (Food Network's The Kitchen)

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Blueberry Muffin Overnight Oats

I feel like I have been going through old-fashioned oats by the bucketful lately.  There are much worse things I could be consuming, I suppose ;)  Anyhow, this last weekend we headed out to our favorite berry patch to get our first dibs on this season's blueberries.  We also got 30 pounds of cherries, which we froze most of, and some dang delicious strawberries.  

I've had overnight oats pinned for years on my breakfast board and thought it was high time I tried them.  They fit in perfectly to my new ways of eating, are filling, and lets be honest-dang delicious.  My favorite is fresh fruit in these (enter my previously stated blueberries).  I am really excited to try the other 20 varieties I've had pinned!  The Mr. also gave this one 2 thumbs way up :)

Blueberry Muffin Overnight Oats

1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice, or water)
1/2 of a medium-large banana, mashed
2-3 Tbsp. fresh blueberries
1/2 tsp. maple syrup
1/4 tsp. lemon zest

Mix all ingredients up and place in a 1/2 pint mason jar.  Cover and place in fridge overnight.  Top with extra blueberries in the morning, and breakfast is served!

Recipe Source:  Another Root

Monster Cookie Energy Balls

I have been so happy about my progress over the last 7ish weeks.  I followed the 21-Day Fix meal plan fairly closely for a few weeks, and since then I have just been doing my own thing.  If anything else, it gave me a better idea on what portions should be and how much of certain food groups I should be eating.  My weight loss has slowed, but I am still losing while not counting containers either.  I have still been eating many 21-Day fix meals, just not worrying about the container counts.  

So, during my whole pregnancy I am pretty sure the only thing I ate was sweets.  No joke.  Cookies for breakfast, pudding cups for snacks, and lets just say I stocked up on Halloween and Christmas candy (yikes).  Cutting back on sweets has been hard, so what I've tried to do is find healthy alternatives.  Frozen grapes work sometimes, and my Shakeology holds of my morning cravings, but in the afternoon or after dinner I need a little something.  Enter energy balls.  I have been so happy with these!  My kids have been requesting these over cookies, and since they are filled with things like flax, chia, what germ, and small amounts of sugar, I am glad to have these for them for after school snacks or an on-the-go breakfast. 

Try them.  You will like them, especially cold out of the refrigerator.  YUM!

Here's some benefits to some of the components of these balls:  

Peanut Butter- Full of protein, fiber and potassium. Gives you an energy boost.

Oats- Filling, whole-grain, full of fiber and so much more!

Honey- Natural sweetener and full of vitamins.

Flax Seed- High in Omega 3, full of antioxidants and vitamins.

Chia Seed- Full of Iron, Omega 3, and even more vitamins and minerals.

Wheat Germ- Boosts immune system, full of nutrients.

Monster Cookie Energy Balls

½ cup creamy Peanut Butter
⅓ cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup old fashioned oats
⅓ cup ground flaxseed
1 Tablespoon chia seeds
optional: 2 Tbsp. wheat germ
¼ cup mini chocolate chips
¼ cup mini M&M's

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Refrigerate for 15-30 minutes then roll into balls. Keep energy bites stored in an air tight container in the fridge or freezer.

This recipe can easily be adapted to your preference. M&M's can be omitted and substituted with your favorite nut or dried fruit etc. I usually add shredded coconut instead.

Recipe Source:  Love To Be In the Kitchen

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Chicken Sausage and Veggie Stir Fry

Well, I've decided to start posting some of my healthy meals, regardless if there is an actual recipe or not.  I need to keep motivated, and looking back on here for healthy meal ideas will help me do that :)

Anyhow, I just threw this together for lunch...I had a package of broccoli/broccoli slaw/snow pea mix that I needed to use up and half a bag of quinoa/brown rice that needed to be used as well.  So this is what I came up with.  Now, this isn't 100% 21-Day Fix approved.  I did add an orange container of stir fry sauce, but I highly doubt 2 Tbsp of sauce is going to ruin my day!

I'm always looking for new ways to switch things up on this diet...feel free to share!

I counted this recipe as follows:

1.5 YELLOW  
2 tsp

Chicken Sausage and Veggie Stir Fry 
(for my one serving)

3/4 cup Seeds of Change quinoa/brown rice mix
2 Cups mixed veggies (I used broccoli, carrots, snow peas, broccoli slaw)
3/4 cup sliced chicken sausage
2 Tbsp Stir Fry Sauce
2 tsp coconut oil

Cook up sausage and veggies in coconut oil until tender and heated through.  Heat Seeds of change as indicated on package.  Stir stirfry sauce into veggie mixture until coated.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

21-Day Fix No Bake Cookies

21 Day Fix Round One Summary

Well, finished 21 days, and overall I think I am doing ok.  My total tally after 21 days is 7 pounds, 3.8% of my body weight.  I know I could have lost more, but lets just say I wasn't super strict to the eating plan...I went more by the 80/20 rule.  By the 80/20 rule I mean I stuck to my diet plan 80 percent of the time, which is pretty good.  I still saw results, even with going up a calorie level with the breastfeeding.    My biggest struggle....pop.  I love it.  I drink Diet, and I know that really isn't much better so I am trying to wean myself down to once a week like my hubby is doing.  I'm just not there yet.  The containers really aren't hard to follow, and I never feel STARVING, but I have had a few days the breastfeeding munchies have gotten the best of me.  

The exercises have made me stronger.  I can see more definition, and in the photos I took of myself I can see a big difference in the size of my belly especially.  As I continue the diet up, I plan on mixing up my exercises with the 21-Day Fix and T-25.  I am not quite ready for Insanity yet...maybe after this next round.  

Moving on...these cookies are great!  I dare say that I like these better than their butter-loaded counterparts!  I definitely got my chocolate fix from these and was able to enjoy a few out of the fridge the whole next week.  They are super easy...a 10-minute dessert that my whole family enjoyed.  Win-win!

21-Day Fix No Bake Cookies

1 cup natural peanut butter
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cup oatmeal
6 Tbsp cocoa powder

Melt peanut butter, honey and coconut oil in a sauce pan over medium heat.  Stir.  Once melted remove from heat and add vanilla, cocoa powder, and oatmeal.

Stir and drop by spoonfuls on parchment paper.  Place in fridge to harden.  Enjoy!  Place extra cookies back in the fridge for later.

I usually can make between 24-30 cookies with this recipe, depending on the size.

21 day fix container:  1 yellow treat swap

Recipe Source:  Pearls and Pushups

Friday, May 13, 2016

Mediterranean Quinoa Bowl with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

I am not going to pretend I calculated the containers for this on the 21-Day Fix...I did not (although all the ingredients are approved, it just depends on how you top your bowls off).  I needed a "cheat" meal, but didn't want to fall off the wagon either.  I came across this recipe browsing Mediterranean recipes since that was what I've been craving lately and this immediately caught my eye.  It is craveable good.  It is just fresh, healthy, satisfying, versatile, and easy to put together.   I see this in my future for lunches all week long :)  To make my husband happy, if I serve this to him, I will serve it alongside some Greek Chicken skewers or a simple grilled chicken breast.  

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce:
1 16 ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained (or roast your own red peppers )
1 clove garlic
½ teaspoon salt (more to taste)
juice of one lemon
½ cup olive oil
½ cup almonds

For the Mediterranean Bowls (build your own bowls based on what you like)
cooked quinoa (I used the Seeds of Change quinoa/brown rice mix from Costco for an easy fix)
spinach, kale, or cucumber
feta cheese
kalamata olives
thinly sliced red onion
fresh basil or parsley (it is definitely worth having your own plant in your yard for summer use!)
olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper

Pulse all the ingredients for the sauce in a food processor or blender until mostly smooth. The texture should be thick and textured.

Cook the quinoa according to package directions (I always do mine in a rice cooker while I get everything else ready). When the quinoa is done, build yourself a Mediterranean Quinoa Bowl!
Store leftovers in separate containers and assemble each bowl just before serving, especially the greens and the sauces, as those will get soggy when stored with all the other ingredients.

Recipe Source:  Pinch of Yum

Monday, May 9, 2016

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

After my indulgent weekend with Mother's Day and Cinco de Mayo celebrations, I am getting back on track.  I am SOOO close to my pre-baby weight, my goal is to at least hit that by this Friday if not more.  That means no more cheats until the weekend!  I found this recipe that totally gave me satisfaction for lunch today.  I LOVE those little boneless buffalo bites you can get from Buffalo Wild Wings, Chilis, Applebees, and probably a bunch of other places.  I was reading on Beachboy that each of those little things can be over 72 calories EACH.  When an order comes with about a dozen or so, that adds up super quick!  

These little cauliflower nuggets totally gave me the feeling of my favorite little boneless buffalo bites and instead of using the dressing suggested below, I just ate a red container of cottage cheese on the side in between the cauliflower to cool my mouth off.  It really was a tasty lunch!

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

Yield: 6 servings, approximately ¾ cup Bites and 3 Tbsp. Sauce each

Container Count:  1 GREEN and 1 tsp. (per Beachboy)
½ cup low-fat (1%) plain yogurt
2 Tbsp. crumbled blue cheese
Nonstick cooking spray
6 cups cauliflower florets
½ tsp. sea salt (or Himalayan salt), divided use
½ cup hot pepper sauce
⅓ cup rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch, gluten-free (preferably GMO free)
2 tsp. ground chili powder
¼ tsp. ground smoked paprika
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. pure maple syrup
1 tsp. olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Combine yogurt and cheese in a small bowl; mix well. Refrigerate until needed.
3. Lightly coat large baking sheet with spray.
4. Place cauliflower florets on baking sheet. Coat cauliflower lightly with spray. Season evenly with ¼ tsp. salt.
5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until tender-crisp.
6. While cauliflower is baking, combine hot sauce, rice vinegar, and cornstarch in medium saucepan; whisk until cornstarch is dissolved.
7. Add chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, maple syrup, oil, and remaining ¼ tsp. salt; whisk to blend.
8. Heat hot sauce mixture over medium-high heat; cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, or until thickened. Set aside.
9. Pour hot sauce mixture over baked cauliflower (on baking sheet); mix well.
10. Return cauliflower to oven. Bake for 5 minutes.

11. Serve hot with sauce.

*Note on equivalents: Per serving, the amount of yogurt and cheese found in this recipe is not enough to count toward a day’s Red or Blue allowance. As such, these ingredients (and calories) have been calculated into the tsp. equivalent.
Recipe Source:  Beachbody

Churro Cupcakes

One more Cinco de Mayo recipe for you before I get back to the healthy stuff!  I LOVED my tres leches cake, but with 13 kiddos coming over, I just envisioned how messy chocolate cake would get, so for the kids I made these churro cupcakes.  They turned out so yummy and the frosting is absolutely sinful ;)  I stole a couple spoonfuls after I made it and could have kept going without self-control!  

Churro Cupcakes
Yield:  about 28 cupcakes

For Cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk

For Cinnamon Sugar Crunchy Topping:
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 (8 ounce) cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon milk (if desired)

For Cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.
Whisk together both flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
Beat in vanilla.  Reduce speed to low.  Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.  Fill each cupcake liner three-quarters full.
Bake 20 minutes.

Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.  Top with cinnamon sugar crunchy topping and cinnamon cream cheese frosting.  Refrigerate until ready to serve. Set out 20 minutes before serving

For Cinnamon Sugar Crunchy Topping:
In a small bowl melt butter.  In another small bowl combine the sugar and cinnamon.  When cupcakes are completely cooled brush melted butter on the tops and dip into the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting:
In a medium bowl, beat butter and cream cheese until light.  Mix in vanilla and cinnamon; add confectioners' sugar 1 cup at a time until all is incorporated.  If the frosting gets too thick, add milk a few drops at a time until it reaches desired consistency.

Recipe Source:  Lady Behind the Curtain

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Chocolate Très Leches Cake

Here I am again...posting non-healthy recipes while on my diet.  Just as an update, I am down 6.8 pounds in 2 weeks on the 21-Day Fix.  I am not SUPER strict on sticking with the rules...I am nursing after all and get the munchies here and there, but making better choices when I do get the urge to munch.  But really, the calories allotted keep me content most days.  I also allow myself a cheat meal here and there.  It's necessary to keep my sanity :)  Sometimes I just need a Diet Dr. Pepper after a long day with kids or a piece of chocolate cake on a holiday!

It just so happened that Cinco de Mayo was this week and I have been itching to have people over ever since I've had this baby.  We used to live right in the heart of an agricultural area surrounded by many of Hispanic descent, and got great Mexican cuisine and attended the yearly Cinco de Mayo festivals..and we miss it!  We invited 3 families over and had a taco/nacho bar and it was so fun.  We had the kids break open a piñata and I had 2 desserts with a Mexican theme.

Let me tell you what...this cake is legit...and it is soo good and made me break my diet, twice (yikes!).  My friends each asked for a half a piece initially and ended up going back for more.  It's just that good!  Top it off with homemade sweetened whip cream and some strawberries, and nothing could be better!

Chocolate Très Leches Cake

Note: I used one of my favorite (easy and egg-free) chocolate cakes for this recipe. But you could really use any 9X13-inch chocolate cake recipe, in fact, the beauty of this recipe is that because of the chocolate milk mixture poured on top of the cake, the cake part is especially forgiving (overbaked a little? No problem.). By the way, this cake can (and should) be made in advance - up to 24 hours. Sweet!

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup natural cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups water

Chocolate Milk Mixture:
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
6 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1/3 cup whipping cream or half-and-half
Sweetened whipped cream
Cocoa powder for dusting

For the cake, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9X13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together in the baking pan.

Make 1 large and 2 small craters in dry ingredients. Add oil to large crater and vinegar and vanilla separately to remaining small craters. Pour water into pan and mix until just a few streaks of flour remain. Use a rubber spatula to spread the batter evenly in the pan if it isn’t level after mixing. 

Immediately put pan in oven.

Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 23-25 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan on a wire rack until cooled completely.

Using a bamboo skewer or tines of a fork, poke holes all over the top of the cake. In a glass liquid measure or a microwave-safe bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk and the chocolate. 

Microwave for one minute and stir. If not completely melted and smooth, microwave for an additional 30 seconds until melted and smooth. Whisk in the evaporated milk and heavy cream (or half-and-half). The mixture will start out very, very thick. Don't worry! It will thin out as you whisk in the other milks.

Slowly pour or ladle spoonfuls of the chocolate mixture over the top of the cake. Let the liquid absorb before adding more. Ladle the liquid onto the cake until all the chocolate mixture has been used. It's ok if there is excess liquid pooled on top of the cake, it should absorb into the cake while it is refrigerated.

Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
Serve pieces of the cake with sweetened whipped cream (see recipe below) and a dusting of cocoa powder or top with a few sliced strawberries.

Recipe Source:  Meds Kitchen Cafe

Sweetened Whip Cream

(I doubled this for the above recipe)

1 cup Land O Lakes® Heavy Whipping Cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Beat chilled whipping cream and sugar in chilled bowl at high speed, scraping bowl often, until stiff peaks form. Gently stir in vanilla. Store refrigerated.

Keeps well in refrigerator for up to 4 days. If mixture softens, rewhip to stiff peaks.

Recipe Source:  Land O Lakes

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookies

 It maybe hard to believe considering this post, but my 21-Day Fix is going well.  I have really liked it, and even with a few cheat moments (like 2 of these cookies and the occasional pop), I am down 5 pounds in 9 days.  My husband is down about 6 pounds...not quite on the same diet, but since I am eating healthier, so is he.  I was hoping for more energy, but with a newborn that's not going to come no matter what.  The key with it so far is that I went up a calorie bracket since I am nursing and ALWAYS hungry. I haven't felt starving yet and my milk supply seems to be fine.

Anyhow, these cookies.  Our church group was asked to donate cookies to the Hospice House here in town every week this month.  And this just happened to be the last month they are able to except homemade ones before the health department starts making them go to strictly store bought ones.  So, even though I am on this diet, I made cookies.  In fact, I doubled the recipe and froze a bunch so my kids don't have to be deprived while I am going through my weight loss journey.  I of course at least had to taste these, and I must say I was impressed :)  I am really looking forward to the weekend and my cheat meal that I can have another out of the freezer!

With this diet, there haven't been a whole lot of recipes I have been using, just throwing a bunch of stuff together.  I have started keeping track this week of meal ideas and will share those that really don't have  a recipe later this month :)

Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookies

3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips
1 cup toffee chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and beat in until combined, scraping down the bowl partway through.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt until evenly mixed. Add mixture into the dough, and beat on low speed until combined. Fold in chocolate chips and toffee chips, and stir until just combined.

Measure dough into rounded tablespoon-fulls, and roll into round balls. Place on a parchment-covered baking sheet, and dot with extra chocolate and toffee chips if desired. Repeat with remaining dough. Then transfer the cookie sheet to the freezer and chill for 5-10 minutes.

Transfer sheet to oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, until the tops of the cookies ever so slightly begin to brown. Remove pan and let rest for 5 minutes. Then transfer cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling. Repeat with remaining dough.

Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

 Recipe Source:  Gimme Some Oven

Monday, April 25, 2016

21 Day Fix Creamy Chicken Salad

 Well, here's a newsflash for you...I have NEVER finished a diet plan, ever.  I also am just hitting my 6-week mark post-baby boy and am desperate to get these unwanted baby pounds some.  So I am really putting my heart all-in this time.  Plus, the hubs is actually doing it with me this time which will make a huge difference.  AND I am in a weightless challenge to keep me accountable.  So, between all these things, I am hoping to stay on track.

The program I chose to follow is the 21-Day Fix.  If you have not heard of it, it is a portion-controlled diet along with 30-minute exercises.  The reason I chose this was the length of the exercises, the fact that it does not eliminate any food group, and I am hoping teaches me good habits for the future.  I have been experimenting with the workouts and a few recipes the last few weeks, but today is my day #1 of doing this full-out.  So far, I have been impressed.  I feel like there is no way I will ever eat the calories allowed (I bumped myself up  to the next higher calorie bracket since I am breastfeeding).  The best part is I do not feel limited on what I can have (besides the junk stuff)...just how much.

The other part of the diet I have really enjoyed and have been doing for about a week is drinking Shakeology.  The stuff is pricy, but it is delicious.  It definitely makes me want less junk and sugar by curbing my cravings, and keeps me fuller longer.  I am going to bite the bullet of the cost and keep it going, because it is full of goodness.  

This chicken salad is super yummy and the dressing is tasty as well.  Keep watching for my final review of the program after 21 days!

21-Day Fix Creamy Chicken Salad

Serves 4 (1 1/4 cups each) | Containers: 1 green if serving over romaine or 1 yellow if eating over 1 piece whole grain bread, 1/2 purple, 1 red, 1/2 blue, 1/2 orange

3 cups chopped rotisserie chicken breast (boneless, skinless) (I used turkey breast this time)
1/2 cup chopped green apple
1/2 cup seedless red grapes, cut in half
1/3 cup raw almonds
2 green onions, sliced
1 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup honey mustard salad dressing (see below)
8 cups shredded romaine lettuce

Honey Mustard Salad Dressing

1/2 cup reduced fat (2%) plain greek yogurt
3T Dijon mustard, gluten-free
3T raw honey
3T rice vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
pink salt to taste
Combine the yogurt, mustard, honey, and vinegar in a medium bowl and whisk until combined

Then slowly add oil, whisking until well blended.

Adjust the salt until it’s totally awesome for ya!

…putting it all together

Combine all ingredients except for the lettuce in a large bowl, mix well, and refrigerate (covered) for 2 hours

Serve 1 1/4 cups of the creamy chicken salad over 2 cups of romaine lettuce or whole grain bread.

Recipe Source:  Fit Baby Steps

Friday, April 15, 2016

Cheese Fondue

I think we have just found a new Valentines Day dinner we can have year-to-year!  The hubs and I definitely like our own time around Valentines Day to go out to eat at a fancy restaurant or a winery (for the food, not the wine), but we also like to do something fun with the littles.  It had been years since I had made a cheese fondue, probably because the last one I did turned out a little less than stellar ;)  This one, however turned out great and my 7-year old thought it was the greatest dinner ever.  The recipe caught my eye because it was actually one that doesn't call for alcohol...and that is something that is never in my house, so I was all over that!  Plus, it comes from one of my fav food bloggers, so I trusted that as well :)  Enjoy!!

Cheese Fondue

2 cups lightly packed shredded Gruyere cheese (about 8 ounces)
1 1/2 cups lightly packed shredded Swiss cheese (about 6 ounces)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup low-sodium, good-quality chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon lemon juice (don't leave this out! I just gave a quick squeeze of a lemon without properly measuring)
1 tablespoon finely minced or pressed garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground black or white pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Dash of paprika

Place both the shredded Gruyere and Swiss cheeses in a gallon-size resealable bag with the cornstarch and shake until evenly coated.

In a stovetop-safe fondue pot (or in a regular saucepan or electric fondue pot), add the chicken broth, lemon juice, and garlic and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the cheese, a small handful at a time, stirring constantly, but not briskly. It works best to use a wooden spoon and and stir in an S-shaped motion, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot so it doesn't burn.
Once the cheese is melted and begins to just barely simmer, add the remaining spices and move it immediately to the table on the fondue stand with the sterno flame below. It should be the consistency of warm honey. Add more or less cheese for perfect consistency and additional salt and pepper to taste if needed.

Serve with your favorite fondue dippers: steamed broccoli and/or cauliflower, carrots, apples, chicken sausages, bread (and more bread!), lightly sauteed mushrooms, tender potatoes - the options are endless! 

Recipe Source:  Meds Kitchen Cafe

Banana Cream Pie Smoothie

I did something for the first time...I put cottage cheese in a smoothie.  I knew it would all taste fine in the end, but just scooping it in for the first time freaked me out just a bit, I'm no afraid to admit it!  It yielded a different texture than I could have gotten with lets say, yogurt.  So I will be using it more and more in my smoothies, hopefully not cringing next time :)

This smoothie turned out super good, perfect consistency and fulfilled my craving for something sweet that was pretty darn healthy as well.  

Banana Cream Pie Smoothie

One ripe banana, quartered
⅓ cup lowfat cottage cheese
⅓ cup lowfat milk
1 packet sweetner (optional...I like Stevia)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup ice
Graham crackers (I just threw one whole cracker in)

Add all of your ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.  Pour into glass and enjoy!

Recipe Source:  A Night Owl Blog