Thursday, August 29, 2013

Freezing Cakes 101

Did you know that you can easily bake a cake, freeze it, and then defrost it right before you need it? Yes, you can! And it will taste great; no one will even be able to tell the difference.

This is life-saving knowledge that I wish I had known years ago. The weekend of my babe's birthday was a super busy one for me, so I made his cake on a Thursday and defrosted it on Sunday morning so that I could frost it that evening. It turned out so great and it was incredibly moist. We couldn't taste the difference whatsoever. You guys really need to try this trick!

In addition to cakes, you can also freeze muffins, breads, and more the very same way. Making 100 cupcakes for a school or community function will never be easier!

Here's how to do it:

The first step, obviously, is to bake the cake. Then, let it cool completely on a wire rack.

Wrap the cake completely in saran wrap (or any plastic wrap). I wrap my cakes twice, just in case.

Next, wrap the cake in foil.

Finally, lay the cake flat in the freezer. I lay mine on a plate for support, at least until it freezes.
When you need the cake, just take it out of the freezer. Leave the plastic wrap and foil on the cake and let it come to room temperature on the counter. It will be defrosted in no time at all- about an hour or so.
Although I have heard some people say that you can freeze cakes for up to 3 months, I wouldn't personally leave a cake in the freezer for more than a month. I also wouldn't ice it prior to freezing it. Many icings freeze just fine, but there's always a chance that it will sweat and look sloppy as it defrosts.
Happy Baking!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Banana Muffin Tops

Hello, hello. I hope you are all having a great day. I'm sharing another yummy muffin top recipe today. I've used the pan twice now and I absolutely love it. It was the best $6 I've ever spent!

I love banana bread and I love banana muffins- naturally, it made sense that I would make banana muffin tops. These muffin tops are perfect for breakfast or a snack and they freeze well, which makes breakfast so quick and easy! I think this recipe would be a life savor for getting adjusted to the back-to-school routine with kids.


1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 bananas, mashed
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt


Preheat the oven to 375*F and spray your muffin top pan with cooking spray (mine really doesn't need to be sprayed- it's that awesome).

In a small bowl, beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well combined. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until well combined.

Divide the batter among the cavities (do not overfill- 1/2 - 3/4 full is perfect).

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Monday, August 26, 2013

8/26: One Beautiful Thing Monday

Today was also the first day back to school for our local kiddos. That is possibly the most beautiful thing that could have happened. For me, the first day of school translated into: no wild children running around and screaming in the gymnasium, which is located next to my office. ThankyouLord.

It was a peaceful day without having to repeatedly tell children that:

1) No, you cannot skateboard on the deck of the rec. center. And pointing to the skate park on the other side of the parking lot.

2) Even though it is warm, you must wear a shirt while in a county building. And that means no bikinis, too.

3) No, it is not appropriate to dial 9-1-1 from our office phones and it is especially not appropriate to not answer the phone when the emergency operator calls back to see what your emergency is.

The school year is the best invention ever. However, it should be 12 months instead of 10.

The real One Beautiful Thing of the week was the amazing Blue Moon I witnessed on Wednesday evening. I wanted to slap myself for not having a camera on hand. It was huge! And gorgeous! Babe and I decided to head North for the evening and had a coffee date, went shopping, and had dinner. We were amazed by the moon that evening.

It was like this, but even more beautiful.


Did you see anything beautiful last week?
If so, share in the comment box below :)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Tales of a Fitness Instructor

I want to begin by saying that I love my job as a fitness instructor and wouldn't trade it for the world. I get to make a difference in the lives of others and they certainly impact my life as well. I've been teaching classes since spring of 2011 and since then, I have definitely witnessed some interesting moments in class. I thought it would be a fun post to share just a few of those moments with you all today.

Questionable Attire

I remember my first month of teaching Zumba. I had a woman come to my class in a bikini. Yes, I live at the beach, but coming to a gym to take a Zumba class, where you will be jumping and shaking your booty, in a bikini is kind of inappropriate, especially if you don't have a rockin' bikini body. I met with my supervisor quickly before class and asked about the woman's choice of attire (as they have a dress code of no swimwear), but she said that the woman could take the class anyway. This woman literally held onto her boobs for the entire class. They were bouncing everywhere- because she was wearing a BIKINI- and her bottom kept riding up her um, bottom. I don't think I will ever forget that day. I'm scarred for life.


Living on an island also means that I see some of the same people each year, year after year, when they come visit while they are on vacation. One particular woman and her daughter came up to me after class a few years ago. They said they enjoyed the class, except for the fact that I smiled too much. She said that it just seemed so strange and unnatural for a person to smile so much and she asked me why I smiled so much. What? Who does this? I don't even remember what my response was, but I think it was something like, "would you rather I frown at you?" She came back the following year to take Zumba again and greeted me with, "hey, you're the lady that smiles a lot!" Sigh...

Statue Lady

I was teaching a circuit training class a few months ago and I told the class to choose any type of cardio for the particular 45-second interval we were doing. I gave several examples and said when to begin. Everyone was moving; there were a lot of jumping jacks, a few people ran in place, a handful did the skater and ski jumps, and one woman, in the very center of the room, crossed her arms and stood still. At that moment, it was so funny to see her just stand there! Everyone in the class was moving except for this woman. I remember shouting something like "do something!" and she continued to stand there, laughing.


This final story is the strangest. About a month ago, a woman came to my Zumba class and I had a very hard time keeping a straight face. She came to class late, I think we were in the third or fourth song, so she jumped right in and participated with the rest of us. At first, I thought she was mocking us. Her movements were super large and very exaggerated. And when I say large, they were ginormous. Some of her movements were nothing at all like what we were doing. We would be doing a grapevine to the left and she would be spinning to the right and doing squats. It was just strange. As the class progressed, I could tell that she was sincerely trying to do well- she was working up a sweat and was watching me the entire time. However, it's like she started moving before she could see what I would do next, or before I could give verbal/visual cues. About three songs before the class was over, she collected her belongings and left the class. It was so strange. It wasn't exactly funny, because I'm not the type of instructor who pokes fun of students. It was just very strange.

Ok- now it's your turn! I want to hear your funniest, strangest, or weirdest fitness story! It can be about your instructor, that guy in the weight room, the lady who let out a fart on the treadmill (hasn't everyone witnessed this?), or anything really.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Lemon Poppyseed Muffin Tops

I finally bought a Whoopie Pie Pan.
I had been eyeing them on Amazon for quite a while, but I wasn't sure that I'd really use it very often. When I found one at TJ Maxx a few weeks ago for only $5.99, I just had to buy it!
My first baking experience with the pan turned out really well, so I wanted to share the recipe with all of you.
Lemon Poppyseed Muffin Tops
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 egg
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 400°. Spray muffin top pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk sour cream, oil, eggs, vanilla extract, poppy seeds and lemon juice.

Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir only to combine.

Divide batter equally into pan cavities.

Bake 9 - 11 minutes or toothpick inserted in center of muffin top comes out clean.
Tip: Don't overfill the cavities or you will end up with a few sloppy looking muffin tops like mine :)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Meal & Fitness Tracker Printable

I have been eating pretty badly lately. Oops. I blame it on being tired.
In order to get back on track, I'm recording my workouts and the foods that I consume each day. And I make sure that I really do write everything down.  Food "diaries" or "logs" are really useful in recognizing food patterns and to see what you're actually eating every day. It's not about totally restricting or depriving yourself; it's about realizing what you're actually putting into your body and how much you're moving your body each day.
It makes me feel good to see something written down under the workout column for each day and it really motivates me to keep moving. At the same time, I probably won't eat three cinnamon rolls as a snack on Tuesday because I know I'm not going to want to write it down.
In the event that you want to track your eats and workouts too, here's a handy printable for your personal use!

Monday, August 19, 2013

8/19: One Beautiful Thing Monday

Hey folks! Sorry for the delay with this post. I've had a hard time coming up with something great to say.

It's been a beautiful week- we've had some rain, but we also had a few days that brought an amazing breeze. It was so nice to sit outside and not feel the muggy humidity for a change.

Saturday was especially beautiful- I had the entire day off from work. I went to the coffee shop and read a book, I went out for lunch, I visited a friend, and I came home to catch up on laundry. It was nice to not have to do anything for a change.

I also had a beautiful week at work. Since last Monday, I traveled north three times to shadow other instructors and get ideas for new fitness classes for the fall. It was great to see the passion of the other instructors and to see how much their students admire and appreciate them. I hope that I can develop that sort of relationship with my new students.

Did you see anything beautiful last week? If so, please share it in the comment box below :)

PS- If you're doing the Burpee Challenge with me, how's it going?

I'll be the first to admit that there were a few days that the Burpees didn't happen for me- I was either out of town and too busy, or it was a long day at work, or I was too exhausted from already doing so many other workouts, but I have made up all of the days I skipped. For instance, I did 100 Burpees today instead of the regular 50, because I skipped Fridays. I'm glad that I just have two more weeks to go, but I'm thinking about extending the challenge- I'm much stronger in my arms and chest and my endurance has definitely improved. I started the challenge with girl-style push-ups and I have been doing only man-style push-ups since the end of Week 1. That's a huge improvement for me! I'm so proud of myself.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Week Recap

 Hello, hello. It's been a long and busy week for me, as I finished my second full week at my new job as Fitness Coordinator. I've got a mountain of laundry waiting on me, so I'll keep this short and sweet :)
New fitness clothes for work- love TJ Maxx
Chicken Philly from Garden Deli & Pizzeria.
I passed my exam!
Simple lunches
I visited my friend Mary Beth at the Graveyard of the Atlantic museum while she volunteered
Grilled Shrimp Burger from Hatteras Harbor Deli

Friday, August 16, 2013

Easy Lasagna Soup

I've mentioned it before, but easy meals are my favorite. I have an even greater appreciation for them now that I've got a full-time job. The recipe that I'm about to share is super simple to make and it can be frozen and defrosted for those days when you simply don't have time to cook. Yes, it's a soup and yes, I know that it's August. However, the temperature has actually dropped a little here on the island, so I say it's totally fine to eat soup in the summer!
Easy Lasagna Soup
1 lb lean ground turkey
28 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
Small can tomato paste
2 cups broth (beef, veggie, or even just use water)
1 cup water
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pasta, cooked until just about done
1 cup mozzarella cheese
Cook and drain the ground turkey and place into a pot.
Add tomatoes, tomato paste, broth, water, and seasoning. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Stir in cooked pasta and simmer an additional 5 minutes.
Serve with crusty bread and mozzarella cheese.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Homemade German Chocolate Cake

One of my boyfriend's favorite desserts is German Chocolate Cake. I've baked him one each year for his birthday and I make it a few times each year in between. It's a bit of a labor-intensive cake, but any hassle is so worth it when I get to see him eat that first bite. Ok, enough of the lovey-dovey cheesiness... But really, this is my go-to recipe for German Chocolate Cake. It's the best!
Cake Ingredients:
1/2 cup boiling water
1 bar (4 oz) sweet cooking chocolate
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of butter or margarine, softened
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
4 egg whites, stiffly beaten
Heat oven to 350. Grease three 8 or 9” round pans. Spray the bottom and sides of pans with cooking spray. I usually cut parchment paper to line the inside of the pans, and then spray with cooking spray for incredibly easy removal.
In a small bowl, pour the boiling water over the chocolate, stir until chocolate is melted. Let it cool. To speed up this process, chop the chocolate prior to adding the water.
Mix the sugar and butter in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time. Beat in chocolate and vanilla on low speed. Mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Add alternately with buttermilk, beating after each addition until batter is smooth.
Fold in the egg whites- be gentle!
Divide the batter between the three pans and bake for 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of your pan. When a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean, the cake is done. Let the cakes cool for about 10 minutes before removing them from the pans.
While the cakes are cooling, make the frosting.
Coconut -Pecan Frosting Ingredients:
3 egg yolks
1 cup of evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine or butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
Beat egg yolks and milk in 2-quart saucepan. Stir in sugar, margarine and vanilla. Cook over medium heat for about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick. Stir consistently, so that you don’t have scrambled eggs! Stir in the coconut and pecans. Beat until frosting is of spreading consistency.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

HIIT Workout #2

Hey guys! I'm back today to share another workout with you. The last one seemed to get quite a few views, so I'm taking it as a sign that you all loved it and want more :) If you're not familiar with some of the exercises, you can look them up or leave a question in the comment box below and I would be more than happy to clarify anything for you.

This one's killer!
Here's what you will need:
Medicine ball (you can use a dumbbell if you don't have one)
Dumbbells (medium and heavy weights)
Yoga mat
Interval timer or clock
Here's what you will do:
Set your interval timer for 13- 40 second rounds and a 15 second break. If you don't have a timer, use a clock and perform each exercise for 40 seconds with a 15 second rest between each exercise. Repeat each sequence 3 times. Rest for 1-2 minutes between rounds if you need to.


******* Please, use common sense when exercising. Listen to your body, take breaks as needed, modify exercises as needed, and stay hydrated. Always start with a warm up and end with a cool down and stretching.

Let me know what you think!

Monday, August 12, 2013

8/12: One Beautiful Thing Monday

Lots of beautiful things this week...
One of the most beautiful sites was this view yesterday while I was cleaning houses.
I was thrilled when an elderly woman came into my office a few days ago and asked me to create a fitness plan for her. She explained that she was trying to get in shape not only to feel better about herself, but to better her health. It was great to see this woman take such an interest in her health and wellbeing, and it was such a beautiful thing to witness her positive attitude!
My sister also got into a car accident this past week. It was amazing that no one was badly hurt or killed, so I would definitely say that this was a beautiful things.
Did you see anything beautiful this week?
If so, let me know in the comment box below.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Easy Zucchini, Bean, and Rice Bake

Happy Saturday! I hope everyone is enjoying the weekend. I'm learning how to balance a full-time job with a part-time job on my weekends. It's tricky to say the least, but hey, I can't complain since I'm the one that wants to make some extra money. Anyway... just because I'm working a lot and have less time to cook real meals doesn't mean that I can't eat wholesome food. It just means that I have to get creative with what I'm cooking.

I'm all about simple food. I love dinners that can come together in no time at all and meals that can be prepped ahead of time. This healthy rice bake has just a few ingredients and will be on the table before you know it!


1 1/2 cups uncooked brown rice
3 medium to large zucchinis, sliced and quartered
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
2 cans blacked beans, rinsed and drained
1 to 1 1/2 cups reduced-fat shredded cheese, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cooking spray


Cook brown rice as directed on package. This can be cooked ahead of time.

Preheat the oven to 350* F and spray a baking dish with nonstick spray.

In a heated pan sprayed with nonstick spray, cook the zucchini and onion for about 5 minutes.

In a medium size mixing bowl, combine rice, beans, zucchini, onion, salt and pepper, and cheese.

Pour mixture into the baking dish. Top with remaining cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and zucchini cooked to your desired tenderness.


Friday, August 9, 2013

My new job so far

Hey folks! I just wanted to check in and give a quick update.
I made it through the first week of my new job. It's been a lot of fun so far. I've already designed a workout plan for an elderly woman, I've been working on the fitness schedule for the next quarter, I've taken a ton of fitness classes so that I can get a feel for what the center already offers, and I attended a senior luncheon (our center has a lot of senior citizen activities). I've also spent time working on my next fitness certificate and I'm learning so much.
Though it's been really exciting and a ton of fun, exercising so much makes me pretty sleepy, so I'm off to bed!
Hope you all had a great week!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

How to Fillet a Fish

Most of you already know that I live on an island and some of you may know that my father is a Commercial Fisherman. This means that when my dad goes fishing, there's a chance that he might bring home some of his fresh catch, which is always a treat. Unfortunately, fish do not come out of the water looking like they do in the seafood markets or grocery stores. If you want to eat the fresh fish, you're going to have to clean it and fillet it. If you already know how to do this, you can quit reading now and come back tomorrow for a yummy and healthy recipe. If you don't already know how to fillet a fish, continue to read on!
For this tutorial, we're using Flounder. And I'm going to go ahead an apologize for the cruddy photos... I didn't realize that the lighting was so terrible. Whoops!
Step 1: Descale the Flounder. Since we're not skinning the fish, we need to remove the scales, because they are definitely not tasty. Lay the fish on its side. Using a fish scaler or a dull knife, scrape the fish until all of the scales are gone. Scrape from head to tale. Flip the fish over and do the same on the other side.
Step 2: With a fillet knife, make two deep cuts just behind the gills (one on each side). These cuts should be about halfway through the thickness of the fish.
Step 3: Make a long cut down the center of the fish.
Step 4: Using the tip of the knife, separate the flesh from the bones, as pictured below. The fish should separate fairly easily. 
Finish cutting away the fillets by moving the knife along the bottom of the fillet, while lifting and separating.
Trim the fillet as necessary.
Step 5: Turn the flounder over and repeat steps 2-4 on the other side of the fish.
Now, stare in awe at your hard work and start thinking about how you're going to cook it.
There are many options... baked, broiled, pan fried, deep fried, etc. I love baking or grilling with butter, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Hawaiian-style Turkey Meatballs

Hello, hello! I hope you are all having a wonderful day. A few weeks ago, I made Hawaiian-style Turkey Meatballs and I wanted to share the recipe with you. They turned out really well and had a ton of flavor. This recipe is low in sugar and low in fat, but I could hardly notice! I would definitely consider this dish to be healthy "comfort food" that can be enjoyed any time, without any guilt. I served these delicious meatballs over brown rice for a satisfying dinner.

1 lb. 93% lean ground turkey
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup oats
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Drizzle teriyaki sauce
Juice of a 20 oz. can of pineapple chunks (if it does not equal 1 cup, make up the difference with water)
1 tablespoon teriyaki sauce
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons corn starch (give or take)
Preheat oven to 350*F.
In a medium size mixing bowl, mix together ingredients for the meatballs. Form meat mixture into ball form (I made 20 meatballs).
Place meatballs on a foil-lined baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165*F. Remove from pan and let cool.
In a small saucepan, bring the pineapple juice, teriyaki sauce, and worcestershire sauce to a boil. Remove pan from heat and vigorously stir in the cornstarch, a little at a time, until the desired consistency is reached.
In a medium size mixing bowl, combine meatballs, pineapple chunks, and sauce. Serve over rice, pasta, or whatever your heart desires.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

HIIT Workout #1

I've been really good about sharing recipes with you all and I've shared a few DIY crafts and printables, but I realized that I've definitely not shared any of my workouts. I'm a licensed Zumba Fitness Instructor (in case you didn't know) so I definitely get my Zumba on a few times a week, but I'm also a huge fan of HIIT workouts (high intensity interval training) because they're quick and effective. I've been doing them since October about three times each week. I fit better in my clothes and I feel more confident. Though I haven't really lost weight doing these workouts, due to muscle gain, I'm in the best shape of my life.

So, even though I don't have a video to post, I'm going to share a HIIT workout I did last week. If you're not familiar with some of the exercises, you can look them up or leave a question in the comment box below :)
******* Please, use common sense when exercising. Listen to your body, take breaks as needed, modify exercises as needed, and stay hydrated.
Here's what you will need:
Stability ball
Dumbbells (medium and heavy weights)
Yoga mat
Interval timer or clock
Here's what you will do:
Set your interval timer for 12- 40 second rounds and a 15 second break. If you don't have a timer, use a clock and perform each exercise for 40 seconds with a 15 second rest between each exercise. Repeat each sequence three times. Rest for 1-2 minutes between rounds if you need to.
Let me know if you like it! I'd like to start posting workouts on the regular, so I'd love to hear what you think.

Monday, August 5, 2013

8/5: One Beautiful Thing Monday

Lots of beautiful things have been happening around here lately. I've been the happiest I have ever been and I'm so thankful for all of my blessings. It really stinks to have to work at a job that makes you unhappy and I am so glad that I decided to leave my former job nearly a month ago. Today marks the beginning of a new chapter on my course. Today is the official first day of my new job; my first full-time, year-round job. I'm now the Fitness Coordinator and Instructor at our local Parks and Recreation Center and I really couldn't be more excited. In fact, I'm pretty much over-the-moon excited. I'm working for Dare County and I'm getting paid to stay in shape and help others live a healthier lifestyle. I'll be teaching between two and three fitness classes five days each week and I'll be in charge of all things fitness related for our center. If I could ever think of a dream job, this would be right up there with having my own successful event planning business. And I'm sure that this job will be much less stressful, so it's even better!

Anyway, on with the program... One Beautiful Thing

My neighbor's little girl and her friend had a lemonade stand early in the week. It was the cutest lemonade stand I have ever seen; they even had a cute handmade banner hanging over the stand. They were selling fresh lemonade, lemon bars, and brownie/cookie bars, all for 50 cents each. They were really excited to see customers line up and they excitedly explained to me that they were saving up for American Girl dolls. My neighbor's daughter, Ellie, explained that she wanted to get the doll Molly before she is retired and will no longer be an American Girl doll available for purchase. Her friend explained that she was saving money to buy Molly's friend, so that their dolls can be best friends just like they are. It was the sweetest thing I heard all week; it instantly sent me into a nostalgic mode, thinking about how much I loved playing with my American Girl dolls with my friends. I gladly bought two lemonades and one of each dessert and gave the girls a few extra dollars as well. The looks on their faces were priceless; they seemed so genuinely happy and excited.

Even though Ellie's parents could have easily bought the doll for their daughter, it was so refreshing to see young kids actually working for what they want instead of asking and receiving. I'm glad that my neighbors are teaching their daughter the value of hard work (I'm sure it seemed like hard work for a little girl) and I can't wait to see her grow into a strong and independent young lady.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Happy Birthday + Photo Recap

Today's my sweetie's birthday.
He has the most gorgeous eyes I've ever seen and I can't believe he's mine.
I'm the luckiest girl in the world.
Happy Birthday, babe!
Some photos from the week...


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Mom's Mac-N-Cheese

When I was a little girl, the only macaroni and cheese I ever wanted was the kind in the tall blue box. You know the kind... neon colored cheese powder; just boil the pasta and add some butter and milk.
All I can say is that I'm so glad that my taste buds have developed over the years. Now when I have macaroni and cheese (other than my skinny version), I only want the kind my mom makes. And to be  quite honest, I like it even better when it's left over. It's full of cheesy goodness!

1 and 1/2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
1/4 cup butter
1 /2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups milk
8 ounces cheese (Mom usually uses cheddar and monterey jack)
Cook and stir butter, salt, and pepper over medium heat. Blend in flour to make a roux and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth and bubbly. Remove from the heat and stir in the milk. Heat the mixture until boiling, stirring constantly. While stirring, let the mixture boil for one minute. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese until melted. Add more salt and pepper to taste, if desired.
Feel free to add veggies (like peas or broccoli) or meat (ham, beef, bacon, pancetta, etc.).
What was your favorite childhood food? Do you still love it today?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Homemade Ice Cream Cake

Is anyone else doing the Burpee Challenge with me? (It's 50 Burpees each day for all of August.) Though it's only day 2, I'm already feeling the burn! I guess it may also have something to do with the fact that I've taught 4 really intense fitness classes this week... Anyway...

In case you didn't hear, my mom celebrated her 54th birthday last week. To help her celebrate, Chuck and I made her an ice cream cake. I firmly believe that every person born in a summer month should have an ice cream cake for their birthday. Amen.

Mom's favorite part about an ice cream cake is the chocolate cookie layer (thank you Carvel for high expectations), so I was sure to incorporate that as well. This cake was not only simple to make, but it was more delicious and less expensive than that aforementioned store-bought kind.

You guys are going to love me forever after you make this Homemade Ice Cream Cake. Or maybe you'll hate me because you will want to eat the entire thing. Either way, I'm sharing the recipe with you today.

[Note: I made this cake by using just one 9" Springform pan. If you have two of the same size Springform pans, you can create a multi-layer ice cream cake and you won't have to waste leftover cake batter, ice cream, and Oreos... like it would go to waste anyway!]
1 box of your favorite cake mix
1 carton of your favorite ice cream
1/3 to 2/3 package of your favorite flavor Oreos (or any cookie)
Chocolate Syrup or hot fudge


Preheat the oven to 350*F.

Prepare the cake mix as directed on the box and fill a 9" Springform pan about 1/3 full (more or less depending on how much room you want to leave for ice cream). Tip: In the event that your Springform pan doesn't have the best seal, place the pan on a cookie sheet, just to be safe. You may need to increase baking time by a few minutes.

Bake for about 22-26 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let the cake cool on a wire rack (You can undo the latch and separate the bottom of the pan from the sides so that it cools faster. However, do not move the cake off of the bottom piece of the Springform pan).

While the cake is cooling, crush the Oreo cookies in a food processor and set aside.

Once the cake is cool (with the Springform pan in one piece and latched), spread ice cream evenly over the top of the cake. Tip: You may need to melt the ice cream in the microwave for a few seconds if it is frozen solid and difficult to work with. In the event that your pan doesn't have the best seal, you may want to put a plate under the pan so that you don't end up with a melted ice cream mess.

Next, spread the Oreo crumbs evenly over the ice cream layer and drizzle with chocolate syrup or hot fudge. Freeze immediately. I recommend covering the ice cream cake (to avoid frost formation) by placing it in a cake cover or by placing a plate over the pan. At this point, your cake will be ready in a few hours. We let ours freeze overnight and it was perfect!


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Burpee Challenge

You might think I'm crazy, but... for the entire month of August, I will be doing a Burpee Challenge and I'm asking you to do it with me. This challenge consists of performing 50 burpees each day.
What the heck is a burpee?
Sit into a squat.
Kick your feet behind you so you're in a push-up position.
Lower your chest to the ground.
Press back up to complete the push up.
Pull your feet back in so you're in squat position.
Jump up in the air and repeat!
This nice lady will show you how...
Why am I are we going to do this challenge?
Because it will be good for us. Burpees are the ultimate full-body exercise. You don't need any equipment to do them and you can really do them anywhere: the grocery store, the beach, the park, your living room, etc. High intensity exercises (like burpees) are shown to burn up to 50% more fat than conventional strength training exercises. We'll become stronger and we'll condition our bodies It will be good for our physical, mental, and emotional health; trust me! And who doesn't love a challenge?!
So how does this work?
We will do 50 burpees every day for the entire month of August. No skipping days! It's okay if you can't do them all in a row- break it up if you need to. Do two sets of 25 or even five sets of 10 if you have to. Start small and work your way up. Time yourself and see how you progress over the month. And please be sure to check in and let me know how you're doing in the comment box!
Good Luck :)