Thursday, February 28, 2013

Skinny Orange Creamsicle Cake

I came across a recipe for Skinny Funfetti Cupcakes on the Six Sisters' Stuff website a while back and I've been thinking about them for a while. I'm not too crazy about the Funfetti type, but I still wanted to make a skinny dessert with the same sort of recipe.

I am crazy about anything creamsicle flavor, so I decided to come up with my own skinny cake creation, the Skinny Orange Creamsicle Cake. I took a box of white cake mix, a can of diet Sunkist, and a tub of fat-free Cool Whip and I had a pretty tasty "diet" cake. I know this may not sound very appealing to everyone, but it wasn't bad at all; it was actually pretty good! In fact, my dad ate some not knowing it was "diet cake" and said he thought it was really tasty! Ha! By leaving out the oil and eggs, and decadent icing, you're cutting a lot of fat, sugar, and calories.


1 package white cake mix (I used Betty Crocker)
1 12-oz. can of diet orange soda (I used diet Sunkist)
1 8-oz. tub of fat-free cool whip


In a medium mixing bowl, beat cake mix and diet soda until well combined. Pour into a greased 13x9 pan and cook according to the directions on the box of the cake mix or until a toothpick comes out clean. Mine cooked for about 25 minutes.

Let the cake sit on a wire rack until cool.

Top with fat-free cool whip. I thought the cool-whip tasted great on its own, but you can add a packed of sugar-free orange Jello to the cool whip. However, I want to warn you that I thought this tasted nasty, so I scraped it off. (The artificial sugar-free flavor was too much for me.) It is all a matter of personal preference!

I forgot to snap a picture before it was all gone,
but here's one I found on Google Images,
just so you can get an idea of what it looks like!

A can of diet soda and a box of cake mix? Who would have thought it would be so good?! The Six Sisters say that you can do this with any sort of boxed cake mix and recommend that if you use a dark mix (like chocolate, devils food, etc.) that you should use a dark soda (coke zero, diet coke, etc.) and that if you use a light mix (white, yellow, etc.) that you should use a light soda (sprite zero, 7-up, etc.). I've also read that this works really good with brownie mix too!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Easy Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

My sweetie was sick last week, so I nursed him back to health with a big pot of Easy Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup. You couldn't make me touch chicken noodle soup as a kid [or any soup for that matter], but it's now my go-to recipe when we're feeling sick or need an extra dose of some comforting and nourishing food! It's so easy to make and you can even freeze the leftovers!
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced (you can use a bag of pre-cut carrots)
3 stalks celery, sliced
1 medium onion, diced
3 cups whole wheat egg noodles, uncooked
3 cups chicken breast, boiled and chopped into bite size bits(save the broth)
Handful parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil the whole wheat egg noodles according to the directions on the package. Drain the noodles and return them to the same pot. Add the boiled and chopped chicken. Add about 2 quarts of the chicken broth to the pot.
While the noodles cook, saute the onion, carrots, and celery in a tablespoon of olive oil until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the vegetables to the soup mixture.
Add the chopped parsley, the salt, and the pepper. Simmer for about an hour for a great flavor.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Easy Grilled Chicken

love grilled food, but to be honest, I have never actually grilled any myself. That job belongs to my sweet boyfriend, who gladly takes on the task. I've loved everything that he has ever grilled [burgers, steak, chicken, pork chops, etc.] and he always does a great job [except for the day that we thought we'd grill bacon...don't try that at home, folks!].
I'm pretty sure that I love his grilled chicken the best. He tries to always use chicken tenderloins, or he cuts breasts into smaller strips, because it takes little time to cook and it always seems to be more tender.
He first marinades the chicken with Teriyaki sauce for a few hours and then dips the strips in a bowl of chicken rub- yum!

We recently tried out this Sauer's Chicken Rub for the first time,
but our all-time favorite rub is Grill Mates from McCormick Chicken Rub.

It's ready for the grill!

These tenderloins took no time to cook! Just a few minutes
on each side; until the internal temperature is a safe 165*.
Grilled to perfection; such an easy dinner!
Serve with black beans, brown rice, and yummy salsa.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Easy Baked [Turkey] Ziti

I know that almost everyone has their favorite go-to comfort food recipes, but I wanted to share my recipe for Easy Baked Ziti. It's the perfect recipe when you're craving some cheesy and saucy goodness.


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 lb. ground turkey
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup fresh sliced button mushrooms
1 1/2 jars of your favorite spaghetti/marinara sauce
3-4 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
1 box whole wheat/ whole grain ziti (my grocery store only has penne)
1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning


Boil a large pot of salted water and cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high and brown the ground turkey. Add the onion, garlic, and mushrooms, and saute for about 5 more minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine pasta, turkey mixture, sauce, 3/4 of the cheese, and the seasoning.

Now, you have two options: you can pour the mixture into a crock-pot sprayed with cooking spray and cook on low for 2-3 hours (sprinkle the remaining cheese over the pasta at the last 20 minutes of cook time), or you can pour the mixture into a casserole dish and cook at 350* for 25-30 minutes (sprinkle the remaining cheese over the casserole for the last 10 minutes of cook time).

Sunday, February 24, 2013

[No Sugar Added] Banana Sorbet

I love ice cream and I would eat it all day long, every day in the summer months if I could. Since I'm trying to eat better, I searched for a few recipes that made me feel like I was eating the sugary and calorie-laden ice cream that I love, but without any guilt whatsoever. I also had some super ripe bananas on hand that needed to be used.

The search began and I came across many recipes for Banana Sorbet, but they were all loaded with sugar. I decided to create my own recipe and I was pretty happy with how it turned out. It was super easy to make and with an ice cream maker, it required little to no effort. Next time I have really ripe bananas on hand, I might try this recipe again and try adding a tablespoon or so of natural peanut butter.


3 medium ripe bananas
3/4 cup skim milk
1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice


In a blender or food processor (I used a Ninja), pulse the ingredients until smooth.

Pour the mixture into a mixing bowl and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Place the mixture into your ice cream maker to freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Enjoy right away or freeze in an airtight container to enjoy later.

A note about my ice cream maker...

Last year, I had been dying for this Cuisinart ice cream maker, but didn't want to shell out $60 for it. The day that I was finally going to go ahead and order it, I found a white one in my local thrift store for only $5! It had all of the parts and was only gently used; what a steal! This ice cream maker comes with a bowl that you freeze ahead of time- I keep mine in the freezer so that I can make ice cream whenever I want. This sorbet froze really well in my ice cream maker and I didn't even have to put it in the freezer to let it firm up; in about 23 minutes, it was perfect. So, if you're looking for an ice cream maker, I would recommend this one completely. It is one of the less expensive models, it doesn't require any salt or ice, and it is so easy to use.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Creamy Chicken Broccoli Casserole

First of all, I want to apologize to you for all the chicken recipes. It never occurred to me that normal people don't like to eat chicken almost every night of the week. Oops. I guess I'm just not much of a beef or pork eater. However, I will try to add some variety; keyword: try.

I found this recipe over at Six Sisters' Stuff and thought I'd give it a try. It reminds me of chicken Alfredo, but it's a bit thicker and a bit more rich. If you're a fan of cream cheese, you will like this!

4-5 chicken breasts (I used boneless and skinless)
1 bag of frozen broccoli (I used the kind that steams in the microwave)
2 (8 oz.) boxes of fat-free cream cheese (My grocery store doesn't sell it; I used Neufchatel)
2 cups skim milk
2 teaspoons garlic powder
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Whole Wheat Ritz cracker crumbs for topping (I used half of a sleeve of crackers)
1 box of your favorite whole wheat/whole grain pasta (I used thin spaghetti)
Cook the chicken (I boiled mine). Once the internal temperature reaches 165*, cut the chicken into small bite-size pieces and set aside.
Cook the broccoli according to the directions on the package. Place the broccoli in the bottom of a 13x9 greased casserole dish.
In a saucepan, heat the milk, cream cheese, garlic salt, and Parmesan cheese over medium-low heat, stirring until smooth. Pour 1 cup of the sauce over the broccoli.
Add the chicken to the casserole dish and pour the remaining sauce over the chicken, spreading evenly.
Top with the cracker crumbs and cook for 25 minutes at 350*.
While the casserole is in the oven, cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.
Serve the casserole over the pasta.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Skinny Apple Crisp for One

It's really hard to not eat dessert when you're trying to stick to a healthy diet. I know this all too well, as I've been eating terribly lately. It's time to get back on track! This apple crisp recipe feels like dessert, but with no sugar whole grains, it's actually pretty healthy. Give it a try the next time you've got a sweet tooth!

These gala apples are so pretty!

Apple Mixture

1 large apple, chopped (I prefer gala)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice

Crumble Mixture

1 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon butter or margarine, cut into tiny pieces
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon finely chopped almonds
4 tablespoons quick oats


Preheat oven to 350*. In a small mixing bowl, combine the first three ingredients. Pour the mixture into a very small oven-safe baking dish (or a large ramekin) that has been coated with nonstick spray. In the same mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients (except for the butter pieces). Pour this mixture over the apple mixture. Evenly distribute the butter squares over the top of the crumble mixture. Cook for 35 minutes, or until the dish is slightly crisp.

Optional: I think that the apples taste sweet enough to me, but if you want to sweeten it up without the calories of sugar, add a packet of artificial sweetener to the crumble mixture.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

3 Great Exercise Videos

I found these workout videos earlier this week and I'm really liking them. I'm going to try to incorporate some of these exercises into my fitness routine. Anyone can do these workouts and there's no equipment required. As a group fitness instructor, I really appreciate when other instructors really explain how to do a specific exercise and teach you about proper form. These videos all do just that!

Natural Brazilian Butt Lift
This one is great and I know it will be effective [if I actually stick with it :)] 

OMG: Oh My Glutes
This one is all about cardio and working the butt and thighs; it's a good one.
8 Minute Abs
I actually came across this one last year, but forgot about it and "found it" again this week. The video is a bit dated, but the exercises aren't. You will feel this one for sure!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Why I left Facebook

It's official. As of last Monday, my Facebook page was deleted after the required 14 day deactivation phase. I have mixed feelings about it. I miss not knowing what is taking place in my community and in the lives of my friends and family, but for me, it is far too time consuming and downright invasive. But just to be clear, I'm not at all writing this to try to convince anyone to leave Facebook; I'm just giving a bit of an explanation.

Facebook knows too much about you. Period. Yes, you have the choice to share personal information, but every single time you click "like" or "share", that information is being recorded, stored, and even sold to advertisers. Things aren't as private as they should be. The privacy settings are constantly changing. I got tired of seeing so many ads and featured posts. And I got tired of Facebook suggesting that I pay for (sponsor) my posts so that more people could see them.

There's a heck of a lot of negativity on Facebook. As I've learned from my communications courses, people statistically tend to say all sorts of mean things online to others that they would never say in real life; I got sick of seeing this. There is a bit of "fakeness" to Facebook; people only portray the "self" that they want you to see and not necessarily their real self; I'm not for that. I got downright angry when I logged on around election time, as there were some pretty awful things posted that were quite insulting. I may or may not have "unfriended" someone because of that...

However, Facebook can be a good thing. I loved following local businesses and organizations so that I could be aware of specials and events. I loved seeing pictures of my cousin's new baby. I loved watching my neighbors kids grow up. I loved all of those recipes, craft ideas, workouts, motivational/inspirational posts. Facebook helped me to promote my Zumba classes and to promote charity events I helped to host. Facebook also helped me market and promote a restaurant I work at part-time.

But, there is a such thing as too much of a good thing... I was spending far too much time on Facebook. It was a huge distraction that kept me from doing homework, cooking, cleaning the bathroom, being a good friend and probably being a good girlfriend. The fact of the matter is that I was not as present as I should have been. As a 22 year old, I don't need any more distractions and I don't need to get into a pattern where I am not present for the things and people that matter most. I don't want to someday be a wife or mom that isn't present in the life of her family because she spends too much time on Facebook. Facebook should never be a priority; it shouldn't even be in the top 10 of priorities. Or even the top 20. This is also why I have yet to jump on the smart phone, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram bandwagon.

So, here I am. As a blogger, I'm still utilizing social media. However, I feel more in control of what I'm sharing and I feel that this is a positive experience; one that does not take away from me being present and one that doesn't distract me from the things that matter most.

Chicken and Veggie Stir-Fry

I sometimes have a hard time getting enough variety of vegetables in my diet. It's not that I don't like a particular vegetable; I'm just quick to grab broccoli and cauliflower or green beans. In my nutrition class this semester, I've really learned the importance of eating fruits and veggies in a variety of colors and the more colorful, the better they are for you (more color means more nutrients). Cooking a stir-fry is one way to ensure that you're getting plenty of variety in your diet, so that you can give your body the nutrients it needs. Paired with sautéed chicken and brown rice, this stir-fry is a winner.
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 small carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/4" pieces
2 celery stalks, chopped into 1/4" pieces
1 medium zucchini, washed and chopped into 1/4" slices
1 medium squash, washed and chopped into 1/4" slices
1 bag frozen stir-fry veggies (mixed peppers and onions) or 2 cups fresh peppers and onions, chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh sliced mushrooms
1 cup brown rice, cooked
1/4 cup stir-fry sauce, I prefer Kikkoman


In a large skillet or pan, over medium-low heat, add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces and cook through (about 7-10 minutes). Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside, leaving any oil or liquid in the pan.

In the same pan, add the carrots and celery and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables and continue to sauté until tender.

Return the cooked chicken to the pan with the vegetables and coat with the stir-fry sauce. Serve over brown rice.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

30 Minute Meal: [Baked, Not Fried] Chicken Parm

I absolutely love pasta. I probably eat a pasta dish about once a week, but it is something I could easily eat daily. My body is thankful that I don't :)
Chicken Parmesan is something that I've always loved: breaded chicken, pasta, marinara sauce, and of course, Parmesan cheese. This version is much healthier, but tastes just as good. Serve this dish with a big salad and it's pretty guilt free.


2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half length-wise
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 eggs (you could use egg whites)
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan, plus more if desired
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
23.9 oz. jar marinara sauce (or you can make your own)
12 oz box 100% whole grain thin spaghetti or angel hair


Preheat the oven to 350*. In a bowl, beat the eggs and place the chicken in the eggs. Let the chicken soak for about 10 minutes. While the chicken is soaking, combine the flour salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese in a Ziploc gallon-size bag. Place the chicken in the bag and coat. Place the chicken on a cookie sheet sprayed with non-stick spray and cook for 15 minutes. Turn the chicken over and cook for another 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165*.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the pasta according to the directions on the package and heat the sauce.

Distribute the pasta between plates, top with a chicken breast, and cover in marinara sauce. Top with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Easy Turkey Chili

One of my favorite things about winter is getting to warm up with a bowl of chili! This chili recipe is very easy and fairly inexpensive to prepare. It makes enough to feed a small army and leftovers taste even better [it freezes well, too]! Feel free to substitute a can of black beans for a can of the kidney beans, add some diced bell peppers, and/or modify the seasonings to suit your family's taste.


1 lg. onion, chopped into 1/4" pieces
2 ribs celery, chopped into 1/4" pieces
1 lb. ground turkey
2 cans diced tomatoes, no salt added
2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
5 cups water
6 oz. can tomato paste
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoons minced garlic


In a large skillet, begin to brown the ground turkey over medium-low heat (I never need to add any oil, but you can add a tablespoon or two of olive oil if you prefer). Once the turkey is almost cooked through, add the chopped onion and celery and cook for another 5-7 minutes, or until the veggies are tender.

In a large pot, combine the turkey mixture and the remaining ingredients. Cook on medium-low until the mixture is heated throughout. When I have more time, I like to bring the chili to a boil then let it simmer for about an hour or so; it really makes the flavors come together.

*Optional: Top with reduced-fat cheese or a dollop of fat-free sour cream.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Samoa Cupcakes

I hope you all are having a great weekend and I hope you all had a fabulous Valentine's Day; I certainly did! Check out these beautiful sunflowers I found on my kitchen table; so pretty!
Today I want to share a recipe I came across a few weeks ago for Samoa Cupcakes. Samoas are my favorite Girl Scout cookie so I couldn't pass this recipe up! I asked my mom to make these for my birthday [Valentine's Day] and they were incredible. I may or may not have eaten seven of these over the course of just two days. Oops. At least birthdays only come once a year!

This recipe was found at Six Sisters' Stuff. Those girls never disappoint me!



1 (15.25 oz) yellow cake mix
Eggs, oil, and water called for on cake mix box
1 (14 oz) jar caramel syrup (like ice cream topping syrup)

Chocolate Ganache:

1 (12 oz) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (could also use milk chocolate)
3/4 cup butter

Gooey Coconut Layer:
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
3 egg yolks (beaten slightly)
1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine or butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup coconut

Prepare cake mix as directed on cake mix box (or use your favorite homemade yellow cake mix recipe). Bake as directed and let cool completely.
Once cool, take a small sharp knife and cut a circle in the top of each cupcake that is about the size of a nickel. You will only want to go about a 1-2 centimeters deep. Scoop out the small circle that you have cut. Using a spoon, scoop about 1 teaspoon of caramel syrup in each cupcake and replace the small piece back on top.
Prepare your ganache by melting chocolate chips and butter in a double boiler or in the microwave (I just microwaved it for 60 seconds and stirred, then microwaved for another 30 seconds and stirred again until it was smooth). Spread ganache on the top of each cupcake.
Mix evaporated milk, sugar, egg yolks, margarine and vanilla together in a sauce pan. Stir constantly over medium heat until it comes to a slow boil. Cook, stirring constantly until it thickens - about 10 to 11 minutes (it must be cooked that long). Remove from heat and stir in coconut. Let cool completely before spreading on top of ganache.
Drizzle remaining ganache over the top of the gooey coconut mixture and sprinkle with toasted coconut (totally optional).
[My note: To save some time, I recommend making the gooey coconut layer while the cupcakes are cooking in the oven. Otherwise, this recipe will seriously take all night.]

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Chicken and [Wheat] Biscuits Pot Pie

I've been seeing commercials lately for KFC's new chicken pot pie. I never eat at KFC and I was practically drooling. What's not to love about chicken pot pie?

While it looks delicious, it probably contains a whole day's worth of calories and in addition, sodium and fat galore! The store-bought versions aren't any better for your health.

This is where this little gem of a recipe comes in: Chicken and Wheat Biscuits Pot Pie. It's very low sodium, full of fresh veggies and chicken, and it's topped with wholesome biscuits full of whole grains... and it tastes amazing!


1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, boiled and  shredded (reserve the broth)

For the filling

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped fine
4 medium carrots, chopped into 1/4" pieces
3 small ribs of celery, chopped into 1/4" pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups skim milk
2 1/2 cups chicken broth (use the water from the pot when you boil the chicken)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley

For the wheat buttermilk biscuits

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4" pieces
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk


For the filling: Preheat the oven to 400*. Heat a large heavy-bottomed pan or dutch oven over medium-high and add the olive oil. When hot, saute the onions, carrots, and celery until tender. Transfer the veggies to a bowl and set aside. In the same pot, reduce the heat to medium and add the butter. Once melted, stir in the flour and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Whisk in the milk, chicken broth, and thyme. Allow the sauce to come to a simmer and simmer for one minute, allowing it to thicken. Add salt/pepper to taste. Turn off the heat and add the veggies back into the pot, mixing well. Mix in the peas and parsley. If the filling is too thick, add more chicken broth. Spray a 13x9 baking dish with nonstick spray and pour the filling into the dish, baking for about 18 minutes.

For the biscuits: While the filling is in the oven, prepare the biscuits. In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. With a pastry cutter, or a fork, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the butter looks like coarse crumbs. Stir in the 3/4 cup of buttermilk until the mixture is a soft, slightly sticky ball. If the dough is too dry, add more buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time. Transfer the dough to a clean, well-floured work surface. Roll the dough out to 1/4-1/2" thickness and and cut out circles of dough with a 3" biscuit cutter. (I used a mason jar and ended up with about 22 circles. I think 12 larger ones would be ideal, but I don't have a biscuit cutter!) Transfer the biscuits to a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and chill until you are ready for them.

Once the filling has cooked for 18 minutes, remove the dish from the oven and top with the biscuits (some overlap is fine). Cook for an additional 10-12 minutes (depending on how thick your biscuits are), until the biscuits are golden brown and the filling is bubbly.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs

I pretty much love sweet and sour anything. I saw a slow cooker recipe for sweet
and sour meatballs, but it called for frozen meatballs and a store-bought sweet and sour sauce. Instead, I was inspired to cook it all from scratch and I am so glad I did. Even my father, who puts his nose up at brown rice and ground turkey, loved it! Needless to say, there were no leftovers and I will be making this again soon.


1 package of ground turkey (mine was 1.25 lbs)
1 cup of breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 cup brown rice, prepared
1 package of frozen stir-fry veggies (peppers and onions) or about 1 lb. fresh peppers and onions
20 oz. pineapple chunks or tidbits (reserve the juice)
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoon cornstarch


To make the meatballs: Preheat oven to 350*. In a medium size mixing bowl, beat the egg and combine the ground turkey and breadcrumbs. Mix well. Form meatballs, about 1-inch thick (about 25 total), and place them on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Cook for about 15 minutes and flip the meatballs. Cook for an addition 10-15 minutes, or until cooked through. The internal temperature should be 165*.

For the vegetables: Take the peppers and onions out of the freezer and place them in a colander, rinsing them under warm water. Place them in a skillet or large pan and cook for about 7-8 minutes over medium. (I didn't need to add oil to the pan because of the moisture from the veggies, but if you are using fresh veggies you may need a tablespoon of olive oil.) About halfway through the cook time, add the drained pineapple. Once the vegetables are tender, remove from the heat and set aside.

For the sauce: In a small mixing bowl, combine the pineapple juice (if the juice does not equal one cup, add water to make up for the difference), water, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, and cornstarch. Pour in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring consistently until sauce thickens. This took about 7 minutes for me.

Mix the meatballs, vegetables, and sauce. Serve over brown rice and enjoy!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Valentine/Birthday Breakfast!

I adore french toast and all things sweet for breakfast. The problem is that I usually can't justify eating these foods for breakfast, so I choose bran cereal, add a few raisins, and pour some skim milk over it! This morning, however, I totally justified eating whatever I want for breakfast as it is not only Valentine's Day, but also my 22nd birthday!

I wanted to make baked french toast that would be sweet enough to satisfy me, but not so sweet that I couldn't eat my birthday cake later. And so I can go get that mocha later :) I think that there's something special about having a moment to yourself on your birthday, so this is why this recipe serves just one! Feel free to double, triple, or even quadruple it.


1/4 loaf of crusty bread
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk (I used skim)
1/16 cup granulated sugar
1/16 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 350* F.
In a small baking dish, spray the bottom and edges with nonstick cooking spray.
Tear bread into small pieces and place on the bottom of the dish.
In a small mixing bowl, beat the eggs and add the remaining ingredients, mixing well.
Pour the mixture over the bread.
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the bread is golden and the consistency is the way you like it.

Optional: Serve with fresh fruit, top with whipped cream, and/or drizzle with syrup!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Easy Bean and Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Today I want to share with you my recipe for Easy Bean and Chicken Enchilada Casserole. It really is super simple to make and it is so good! We had this for dinner the other night and it was so tasty that I got distracted and I completely forgot to take a picture of the finished product. I would probably go eat at a Mexican restaurant every day if I could; this recipe allows me to eat the yummy Mexican food I crave, but without the extra guilt!

For all of you busy people out there, this is so easy to throw together before work and bake when you get home. However, if you choose to do so, I recommend placing your baking dish in the oven while the oven preheats. In case you didn’t already know, a cold glass or ceramic dish in a hot oven could be a recipe for disaster.


Small onion, chopped and sautéed in olive oil (I used a yellow onion)
Package of whole wheat tortillas (I used 8”)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
1 cup brown rice, cooked
1 small can of green chilies
1 can of enchilada sauce
2 cups reduced fat cheese (I used a Mexican blend)
Tomatoes, fat-free sour cream, etc. for topping


Preheat the oven to 350*.

Mix beans, chicken, chilies, ¾ of the cheese, onions, and the rice in a medium sized mixing bowl.
Spread about 3 tablespoons of enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish.

Divide the mixture among the tortillas and roll them up!

Place the tortillas in the baking dish, seam side down.

Cover the tortillas with the remaining enchilada sauce (about ½ a cup or so) and cheese.

Cook for 15-20 minutes.

Serve with your toppings of choice and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

DIY Valentine Pennant Wreath

I can hardly believe that Valentine's Day is almost here! It's amazing how fast time flies. I know it's a bit late, but here's a DIY Valentine Pennant Wreath that is super simple to make. I have seen many like it on Etsy, so I thought I would give it a try. It completely embodies the characteristics of my favorite kind of wreath: a bit rustic, really simple, and just the right amount of "cuteness"!

Here's what you will need:

Grapevine wreath
Scraps of burlap
Scraps of red felt
Red acrylic paint
12" hemp, string, or yarn
Paint brush
Hot glue gun

Here's what you do:

Cut out four small triangles from the burlap scraps and four small triangles from the felt. (I printed out a triangle to use as a template so that all of my triangles were the same size.)

Place a dab of glue in the each of the corners of the felt triangle and adhere it to the burlap triangle.

Place the triangles felt side up and place a small line of glue at the top of each triangle, attaching the hemp to the back of the triangles, creating a mini pennant banner.

Flip the triangles back over (burlap side up) and freehand or trace a heart onto each triangle. Paint it with the red acrylic paint (or whatever color you want).

Once the paint dries, tie each end of the mini banner to the grapevine wreath, trimming the excess hemp.

Whole Wheat Applesauce Muffins

We've been doing really good with sticking to our diet plan, but it's still really hard, especially when you want dessert. We were really craving dessert yesterday evening, so I looked at a few websites for ideas before I came up with my own recipe for Whole Wheat Applesauce Muffins.

These muffins have no added sugar and they are made with unsweetened applesauce. These are definitely not sweet muffins at all, but they still hit the spot! I personally don't like hot-out-of-the-oven muffins, so thought they tasted even better today.

If you really want to keep to a healthy eating plan, but want something a little sweeter, you could add about 3 tablespoons of Splenda (or any similar product) or about 1/4 cup of sugar-free pancake syrup to sweeten it right up. You could also add some fruit to the batter; half of a cup of raisins, blueberries, bananas, or even strawberries would taste great!


1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon


Preheat oven to 375* and line a muffin pan with 12 liners.

In a small mixing bowl, beat the egg.

Add the vegetable oil and applesauce and mix well.

Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Evenly distribute batter between the 12 muffin liners.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Free Valentine Printables

I'm loving the free Valentine's Day printables that I've seen on some of the blogs out there. Though there are really an abundant amount out there, I've found four that I particularly like and I wanted to share them with you. These ladies are just so creative; I wish I had their skills! I'm printing out some of these now to display in frames, but I think they would also make lovely Valentine's if you printed them out as a 4x6.

I love this one from 36th Avenue. It captures all the lovey-dovey goodness of Valentine's Day!

This one from 36th Avenue is pretty great too; some sunshine is just what I needed!

And this one from The Diary of Daves Wife is perfect! I love the chalkboard theme going on.

And last but not least, I stumbled across this one from The Diary of Daves Wife today. So sweet. And mushy. 
Cheers! And don't forget your Valentine!

Amazingly Easy Crock-Pot Pot Roast

When I was a kid, I used to hate it when my mom made pot roast. I absolutely despised it.

As an adult, I can’t seem to get enough of it.

While pot roast is definitely considered comfort food, it still provides a bit of nutritional value. By choosing a leaner cut of meat and loading it up with potatoes, carrots, and onions, you’ve got a meal that you can feel good about serving to your family.

We’ve had a lot of cruddy cloudy weather lately.

And I think I’m getting a head cold.

And I’ve been in a grumpy mood.

And I’m bored with myself and my homework.

Blah, blah, blah.

Last night definitely called for comfort food and this pot roast managed to snap me out of this funk!

Introducing, Amazingly Easy Crock-Pot Pot Roast!

*Note: My crock pot is huge (7 qt. capacity) so I have plenty of room for all of this. Adjust quantities as needed!


1 pound of carrots, peeled and chopped

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

3 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped (I omitted this as I didn't have any)

3-4 lb. boneless chuck roast (you can certainly use a leaner cut with less marbling or even a London broil)

1 packet of slow cooker pot roast seasoning (I like McCormick)

1 cup of water


Place the meat into your crock pot. Place the veggies on top. Mix together the seasoning packet with a cup of water and pour over the veggies.

Cook on high for one hour and cook on low for four more hours.

*Note: Every crock pot is different; my crock pot seems to cook pretty quickly. I have seen pot roast cook for 8-12 hours in other recipes. I would start off on high, and check the temperature every now and then and adjust the settings as necessary.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

My hair is gone!

If you aren’t already aware of Pantene Beautiful Lengths, I will now proceed to make you aware :)
In October 2011, I cut off [most of] my hair for the first time. I had let it grow out the longest it had ever been and I was so deeply in love with it.

Until it was too long to wear up in a bun.
And until I went to exercise and it got in the way.
And until I went to the beach and it was a tangled frizzy mess.


You get the picture.

I wanted to cut it, but I had never thought I would cut off over nine inches. It would be a big adjustment, but I figured that if I was going to cut off five, I could go ahead and cut the minimum length requirement to donate my hair, which is eight inches.

I thoroughly did my homework, spending many hours reading articles, blogs, and analyzing websites. I chose to give my hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. Unlike Locks of Love, the wigs they make with your hair go to cancer patients for free. That’s right, free. This is a huge burden lifted, as these wigs can cost thousands of dollars. And Pantene Beautiful Lengths allows women to receive these wigs, not just children with Alopecia Disease, which make up most of the recipients of Locks of Love. Oh, and they don’t sell the extra hair they have on hand or can’t use like Locks of Love. Yes, sell your hair; the hair that you love so much and had a hard time parting with. I’m sure that Locks of Love is a very noble organization and I do not mean to trash talk it by any means, I just feel that Pantene Beautiful Lengths was the best option for what I wanted to do with my hair.
Fast forward a year and a few months and my hair had grown back almost to its original length. I was back where I was before, being annoyed with such long thick curly hair. I called my favorite hair stylist, Dawn, to make an appointment to get it chopped off. She offered to cut it for free since it was for such a worthy cause. Three days later, eight inches were cut off the front part and ten inches off the back. I wanted my hair shorter this time, just above shoulder length, and I’m actually quite happy about how it turned out.

The best part of this whole experience is knowing that I’ve made a difference in the life of a woman in need. I’ve never had cancer, but I know many beautiful women and men who have. It’s a very difficult experience to endure, especially for women who lose their hair and sometimes along with it, their sense of femininity.

If you have just eight inches of hair (not permanently dyed or more than 5% gray), please consider donating it to a woman in need. You have no idea how great you will feel and how great the recipient will feel :)

If this post inspired you, you can send your hair (clean, dry and in a ponytail holder, placed in a Ziploc bag and in a padded envelope) to:

Pantene Beautiful Lengths
Attn: 192-123
20770 Westwood Dr
Strongsville, OH 44149
PS- If you would like acknowledgement for your hair donation, be sure to include a piece of paper with your name and address inside the Ziploc bag with your hair.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Super Quick and Easy Wheat Bread

I’ve been looking for the perfect Saturday morning treat that won’t undo my progress at the gym. It can be pretty frustrating to pass up ooey-gooey cinnamon buns, but I’ve been doing a great job sticking to my meal plan: when it comes to breads/grains, I choose whole wheat, whole grain, etc. whenever I can.

I was so excited when I came across this super quick and easy bread recipe, especially since this is my first time at making bread on my own. It is seriously so easy to make that a child could practically handle the whole process [minus the oven part].

Not too bad for my first solo attempt at making bread.

And look at the perfectly browned underside!

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups white-wheat flour

2 tsp. Rapid Rise Yeast (you can find a jar of this in the baking aisle)
1 tsp. salt
1 cup warm water

¼ cup olive oil

In a stand mixer*, combine half of the flour and the dry ingredients. Mix in the water and oil.
Mix in the remaining flour and knead for 10-15 minutes with the dough hook.
*No stand mixer? No problem! Just mix it by hand and knead it by hand. You will get the same results, but it will take a bit longer.
Take the dough out of the mixing bowl and plop it down on your lightly dusted with flour, kitchen counter. Use your hands to spread out the dough and form your desired shape. Is it really sticky? Wet your hands to work with the dough.
Shape the dough as desired. You can make it round or long, braid it, or just do whatever you want! Shape it into either one or two loaves. Let the dough sit and rest while the oven preheats to 425*F.
Bake for 15 minutes, then adjust the temperature to 350* F and cook for about 10 more minutes.
Fresh out of the oven homemade wheat bread with
some homemade Orange Marmalade....AMAZING!
[UPDATE 2/10] This bread was pretty great as-is and it is still great the next day. However, next time I think I might try using only wheat flour or adding some cinnamon or honey to it. The possibilities are really endless when it comes to baking bread. Happy Baking!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Penne with Balsamic Chicken and Asparagus

Have you ever looked in your pantry and wondered how the heck you could use up the rest of something? That’s exactly what I thought when I saw a bottle of this…

Balsamic Vinegar.
I bought it last year when a recipe called for a whopping tablespoon of it.
So, with a little bit of Google-ing (is that even a word?), I was able to find a recipe that tastes as good as it sounds!
Introducing… Penne with Balsamic Chicken and Asparagus. I found this recipe on the Six Sisters’ Blog and adapted it to what I had on hand and our taste preferences. It was really easy to make and it made for a perfect well-rounded meal. Protein packed chicken, whole grains, and veggies: what more could you ask for in a meal?

Approx. 1 lb. chicken breast, cooked and cut up
12 oz. whole grain/wheat penne
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper

½ cup balsamic vinegar

½ teaspoon brown sugar

¼ cup margarine or butter

1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

8 oz. frozen Asparagus spears (I used Pictsweet Steam’ables)

Put the vinegar in a small saucepan. Simmer until there are about 3 tablespoons remaining. Stir in the brown sugar and pepper. Remove from the heat.
Cook the asparagus as directed on the package. Cut spears into 1-inch pieces.

Cook the penne in a large pot of salted water and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta. In a mixing bowl, combine pasta, chicken, asparagus, butter, vinegar, Parmesan, and salt.

Feel free to top it with additional Parmesan.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

DIY Mason Jar Soap Dispenser

I have wanted to make a DIY Mason Jar Soap Dispenser for quite some time now. I have seen them practically everywhere in the online world and I’ve had all the supplies on hand. Today’s not so lovely weather made for the perfect crafting opportunity.

All you need is a mason jar of your liking, a mason jar lid, a ring, and a soap pump from an old soap dispenser. If you don’t have an old pump on hand, head to your local dollar store. They have plenty of soap dispensers that would work well. In addition, you need a drill and a bit the size of your pump, some sort of spray paint (I used white epoxy), and some glue (something strong-a hot glue gun will work nicely).
The task itself was so simple. I placed the lid on the mason jar and screwed on the ring. I then made a mark on the middle of the lid with a marker and drilled a hole. Place the pump through the hole to see that the hole is large enough. The hole I drilled fit the pump very nicely (it was a super tight fit) so I didn’t even have to use the glue.
Next, I spray painted the lid and the ring white to match the pump. You can get really creative with this part, but I wanted to keep mine white and classic. Allow it to dry well and then you are ready for the glue step! If your pump doesn’t fit super snug like mine did, you might want to add a few dabs of glue for security. Place a few dabs of glue under the pump and press it onto the mason jar lid, pressing down hard for about 20 seconds.
**If you are planning to paint the pump itself, especially if it is plastic, I would recommend using a paint that holds up really well on plastics, like Krylon.
Once it is done drying, you may need to cut the straw part of the soap pump to properly fit your mason jar. Mine was about two inches too long. If yours happens to be too short, you can try using a smaller mason jar or head to the dollar store to buy a soap dispenser with a longer straw part.
Fill your new and pretty soap dispenser with soap and you are done!