Friday, December 21, 2012

Skinny Cake Pops

I've never made cake pops before so when I stumbled onto this recipe I had to give it a whirl.

I got a Babycakes cake pop maker for Christmas last year and decided it was about time I used it.

It took a little trial and error to get the pops to look like pops instead of Jupiter

The trick is...don't fill the Babycake maker too much! A friend on facebook also told me to reuse an empty mustard or ketchup bottle next time and pour the batter using it instead- genius!

After a few rounds, I finally got the size right


The cake part is healthier...no butter or oil! Just greek yogurt. Of course, after it's dipped in chocolate it's not quite as healthy but I like to just think of it as naughty and nice!

Ingredients:
16.5 oz package yellow cake mix
6 oz plain fat-free Greek yogurt
1 cup water
1/2 cup egg beaters
1 tsp vanilla extract
48 oz Baker's white chocolate
Tub of vanilla frosting
sprinkles

Directions:
Combine all the cake ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat until combined.

Follow the directions on the Babycakes cupcake maker for cooking time.

Once they're cooked, refrigerate the cake balls for about 45 minutes. This helps the chocolate stick to the cake.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave according to package directions. Add the frosting to the chocolate and microwave for 1 minute.

Dip the cake pops in.

Throw some sprinkles on quickly before the chocolate hardens!

The original recipe just calls for white chocolate without the frosting and I may try that next time- mine came out a bit TOO frosted, if there is such a thing :)

If you have a good frosting recipe for cake pops- leave me a comment below!

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Pretzel Balls

Is there anything better than chocolate and peanut butter together? YES! chocolate, PB and pretzels!


These are going in my Christmas goodie bags to hand out to family.

The recipe is 3 ingredients and 3 steps. Gotta love that!

1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/4 cup crushed pretzels
Milk chocolate chips, or candy chocolate bark

Mix the PB and Pretzels together in a bowl and throw it in the freezer for about 15 minutes. This will make it easier to shape into balls.

Next step...you guessed it...Remove from freezer and shape into balls.

Melt your chocolate in the microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring in between. Dip the balls into the chocolate and set on parchment paper to harden. You can also refrigerate them at this point to help the chocolate set.

All done! Here's the yummy goodness on the inside




Thursday, December 20, 2012

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Sandwiches

These are my go-to goodies for Christmas. I started making them last year and they were such a hit they are going in everyone's stockings again


The best part about them...other than the taste...is how easy they are to make!

Just take two Ritz crackers and spread some peanut butter on them to make a sandwich. Melt milk chocolate in the microwaving, stirring every 30 seconds. Dip the cracker sandwich into the chocolate and then set on parchment paper until the chocolate hardens. They are ready to eat!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Skinny Penne alla Vodka

I love vodka sauce on pasta but don't love the extra calories that come with it so I was excited to find this recipe on (you guessed it) Pinterest.


Yes it tastes as good as it looks!

And it's SO simple and easy to make...just cook your pasta as usual. Heat 2 cups of pasta sauce (I used my favorite store brand) Remove half of the sauce off the stove and stir 7oz of plain Greek yogurt into it. Finally whisk the combined sauce/yogurt into the rest of the sauce. Boom DONE!

You can top it with some Parmesan cheese to make it even better.

The recipe calls for some fresh basil...which I'm sure would be great but I didn't have any and it was fine without it.

Pinterest success rating: A+

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Lighter Eggplant Parmesan

I've never had Eggplant Parmesan before trying this recipe but it is now my new favorite Italian dish!

Start by roasting your eggplant at 450 for 20-25 minutes until they are golden brown (not burned like the one in the upper right hand corner)


Then layer your eggplant, cheese and sauce like you would with lasagna.


Bake at 400 for 30 minutes covered in foil...then remove the foil and bake for another 10

The recipe says to wait til 10 minutes before eating but I've never been able to!

Here's Gina's original recipe with my notes:

1 large eggplant (2 lbs)
1 tbsp olive oil
12 oz fat free ricotta (I always use the whole 15oz container. It makes it a little less of a "light" recipe but I hate to waste yummy cheese!)
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp Parmesan (I find a great vegetarian one at Trader Joe's)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (in a pinch I've substituted 2 tablespoons of the dried stuff)
1/4 cup egg beaters
2 cups reduced fat mozzarella (I used Sargento)
3 cups of your favorite tomato sauce
salt


Slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch thick slices. (Too thin and they'll burn- be careful!_

Lightly salt the slices and put in a colander to release excess moisture for about 1/2 hour. Lay on paper towels to soak up any extra moisture. (If I have time I'll do this step but if I'm really hungry I've skipped it.)

Preheat oven to 450°. Brush eggplant lightly with olive oil on both sides and place on cookie sheets. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning half way through until eggplant is golden brown.

In a medium bowl combine ricotta, egg, parsley and 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese.

In a 9x12 baking dish, put a little sauce on the bottom of the dish and put a layer of eggplant to cover the bottom of the dish. Top with 1/3 of the ricotta cheese mixture, mozzarella cheese and sauce. Add another layer of eggplant and repeat the ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese and sauce until everything is used up. Top with sauce and the mozzarella cheese and the remaining grated cheese.

Cover with foil and bake until cheese is melted and everything is bubbling, about 30 minutes at 400°. Remove foil and bake an additional 8-10 minutes. Take it out of the oven and let it sit about 10 minutes before cutting.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Greek Yogurt Pancakes

I have tried so many Greek yogurt pancake recipes and not always with the best success. They're all over Pinterest and always look good...they just don't always taste good. So when I offered to make this recipe that I found on my favorite time-killing website, my husband wasn't so sure he was up for another Pinterest pancake fail.

Good thing this recipe proved him wrong! (and well, me too...because I have to admit, I had my doubts)




These were definitely the best and easiest Greek Yogurt Pancakes that I've found. They were a great consistency and good flavor too...well, I did add a few butterscotch chips and some sugar free syrup to mine. I little bit of naughty with nice!

Here's the recipe:

6 oz of Greek yogurt
1/4 egg beaters
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda

Stir the yogurt until it's nice and smooth. Add the egg beaters in and mix together. In a separate bowl, mix the flour and baking soda together. Combine them both and stir.

Warning! The batter looks really thick and when you put it on the griddle...don't worry about it. Just cook as you normally would make a pancake. 

I recommend adding butterscotch chips to them because if you haven't had butterscotch pancakes before, you don't know what you're missing!

Update: I've made these SO many times and they just keep getting better. My latest addition...banana!  




Use Banana flavored Greek yogurt and add in 1/2 of a mashed up banana. Sprinkle in a few walnuts and BOOM you've got guilt-free Banana Nut Pancakes!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Holiday Pumpkin-Chocolate Strudel

I actually do go to other websites than Pinterest for recipes now and then and for Thanksgiving I decided to check out some ideas on Pillsbury's website and came across a Pumpkin-Chocolate Strudel

I followed the recipe almost exactly and it turned out great! Look at that ooey gooey chocolate...


The only changes I made from the original recipe was omitting the use of Parchment Paper...only because I didn't have any!

I also doubled the amount of chocolate it called for because really...can you ever have too much chocolate?

A few days (and lots of leftovers later) it was still good.


Mine crumbled apart while trying to cut it but in the end, the taste is all that matters, right?!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie

I love pumpkin pie! My husband...not so much. So I compromised for Thanksgiving and found an Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie recipe on Pinterest.

I found another similar recipe on Allrecipes.com and decided to combine the two and see what happened. Here's what I got...


It tasted good but the streusel topping wasn't quite right. So I decided to try again and this time changed up the topping...I used 2 tablespoons flour, 2 tablespoons butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup chopped nuts.


Much better! It looks soooo good now!

So here's my final recipe:

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 cup apple butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup egg beaters
1 cup evaporated skim milk

Topping:
2 Tablespoons Flour
2 Tablespoons Butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans

1 (9 inch) unbaked deep dish pie crust


Preheat oven to 350. Combine pumpkin, apple butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir in eggs and evaporated milk. Pour into prepared pie shell.
Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes. Sprinkle streusel topping over the pie, and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

To make the streusel topping combine butter, flour, and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Stir until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in pecans.

I will definitely label this one a Pinterest success!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Soup

Hurricane Sandy has been drenching us for the past 48 hours but we've lucked out and haven't lost power so this afternoon was the perfect time to make my favorite soup!

It really is the simplest soup EVER! You just use whatever cans of veggies you have in the house.


Throw them all in a pot and bring to a boil.


I don't put a lot of spices in it...I just use a can of diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano seasoning and then a pinch of salt and lots and LOTS of pepper!

There's nothing like a good burn on your lips on a cold day.

Today I had a roll of refrigerated biscuits on hand so I made some bread bowls out of them. Just spread them out (not too thin- you don't want the dough to have holes in it) and place them on top of a ball of foil. Don't let the biscuit touch the cookie sheet. Bake according to directions.


and there you go...a hot bowl of veggie soup in a bread bowl. Perfect Hurricane Sandy soup!


Here's a recipe but like I said- feel free to switch out some ingredients for whatever you have on hand.

1 can tomato sauce (the really big one)
1 can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano
1 can Vegall (use the water)
1 can corn, crisp and sweet (use the water)
1 can carrots sliced, drained
1 can Italian cut green beans, drained
1 can lima beams, drained
1/2 can kidney beans
Salt and pepper to taste

Meanwhile...this is how my cats dealt with the storm

Louie kept watch

While Bailey kept warm

They say pets resemble their owners in this case Louie was just like my husband and Bailey was lazy like me :)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pinterest chicken FAIL

Ok- let me preface this blog post by saying I'm a vegetarian...have been for over 20 years. I stopped eating meat at 12 years old and have never cooked a piece of meat in my life. That said, my husband eats meat and I found a crock pot recipe on Pinterest for a chicken dish and thought "I can do this, I just have to throw the chicken in in the pot. I can handle that"

Not so much. I bought the wrong chicken. Apparently "thin sliced" chicken breast doesn't work well in crock pots.

So at the last minute I decided to try another Pinterest recipe. http://www.stuffed-pepper.com/gluten-free-recipes/fooddreamer/rosemary-walnut-crusted-chicken

To the left is what the Pinterest recipe looked like...to the right is mine.


I have NO clue where I went so wrong.

One thing might have been the fact that my chicken was thinly sliced? Who knows.

Since I wasn't going to taste this recipe to find out whether it just looked like a slimy mess or tasted like it too I had to leave that part up to my husband. The look on his face said it all.

Pinterest Success level: FAIL

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pinterest Pumpkin lights

One of the things I love most about Pinterest- getting inspired for the holidays! I'm not big on Halloween- at least the creepy, crawly, bloody decorations out there ...seriously is a guillotine with a head laying at the bottom REALLY necessary? Or a grave yard in front of your house?! Can't wait to drive down my neighborhood street in a few weeks and not be completely freaked out!

Anyway...I DO love fall decorations- hay bales and scarecrows and of course, pumpkins. I was pinspired by this particular pumpkin carving http://maiconsoares.blogspot.com/2010/10/halloween-how-to.html


Sooo pretty! And looked pretty easy so I set out to do my own.

I started with a small pumpkin and cut the bottom of it off


next I got all of the seeds and guts out (ok I gave my husband this task because pumpkin guts are disgusting!)


Now it was time to drill the holes...when my husband found out there were power tools involved in this project he suddenly became a lot more interested in participating. The original post said to use a 1/4 drill bit but he thought that was too big for our small pumpkin so we used a smaller one...wrong move.

The holes were too small to get any light through so we ended up going back over them with a bigger drill bit.


The original pin says to use a small pack of plug in lights but since mine is setting on the kitchen table and I HATE cords- I went with a few small battery operated tea lights inside. It does make a difference on how bright it is but it's better than seeing cords in my opinion.





So there ya go. Pinterest success rate: Medium




Pinterest inspired Cauliflower Pizza Crust

When I saw this post on Pinterest for a pizza crust made out of cauliflower I was intrigued...especially when the caption said "sounds weird but tastes amazing." http://www.eat-drink-smile.com/2011/04/cauliflower-crust-pizza.html

I tried to convince my husband that it would be good but he just didn't believe me...until we tried it! It definitely does NOT taste like a normal pizza crust but as long as you go in knowing that you won't be disappointed with this recipe.

First get a head of cauliflower and "rice" it- basically chop it up in the food processor and the microwave it for 8 minutes. No need to add water in when you microwave.


I followed the originally recipe almost exactly except I used egg beaters instead of real egg.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray.

For one pizza crust: Stir together 1 cup of the riced cauliflower with 1/4 cup of egg beater and one cup of mozzarella. Add 1 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp minced garlic and 1/2 tsp garlic salt.

Pop the mixture onto the cookie sheet and using your hands form it into a round pizza "dough"

Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.


While it's baking- make your toppings. I made one vegetarian pizza for me and one pepperoni for my husband. So I sauteed up some mushrooms (a vegetarian staple) and some green pepper.

Once your crust is done spread some pizza sauce on top, your veggies (or meat) and top it with cheese.

Now here's where I deviated from the original recipe- it says to broil the pizza on high for 3-5 minutes until the cheese melts...well my broiler doesn't seem to do anything so I just popped it back into the heated oven for a few minutes and that worked fine for me. But if you have a working broiler- by all means try it :)

Here's the final result

We made two pizza crusts that night and saved the rest of the riced cauliflower to make more during the work week. Like I said, it doesn't taste like a normal pizza crust but it's a nice change of pace.

File this one under: Pinterest Success!





Thursday, September 20, 2012

A twist on the classic grilled cheese- Apple Cheddar Melt!

I love love love this sandwich!! It's based on one of my favorite menu items from Sammy T's (awesome restaurant in Downtown Fredericksburg, Va if you're ever in the area)

It's a twist on a classic grilled cheese...an apple cheddar melt. Decided to make my own at home using vegetarian friendly cheese (like Sargento's)

Just toast two pieces of bread (I used the 45 calorie wheat bread)and top one side with mayo (hence the low calorie bread) and the other with mustard. Sprinkle a few sunflower seeds on both.


Next slice up an apple and brown it for a few minutes with a little butter.


Spread the apples on your toasted bread and top with cheese. Then broil it at 350 until the cheese is nice and melted


There ya go...delicious alternative to a grilled cheese. Perfect for the fall weather coming our way!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Terrariums galore!

I've always wanted a house full of plants but with two cats that's just not possible. A glimpse of a leaf to them is equivalent to seeing the Holy Grail.

I finally found a solution (yes, thanks to Pinterest) terrariums! I can put all the pretty plants I want into jars that their little kitty paws can't reach. Torture? Maybe...but is it really any different than the laser pointer? They'll never get that either.

My first step, like with all my projects, is heading to Goodwill. I found a jar, bowl and vase to get started with.



The next step was filling the bottom with aquarium rocks

and charcoal

before finally adding my dirt and plants!


this one is perfect on top of the mantel...the cats can't reach it and the plant doesn't require a lot of sunlight. Win, win!


last but not least...my favorite is the zebra plant terrarium!






Thursday, August 23, 2012

Old shutters into a new shelf!

Worked on a new project last weekend using these old shutters we found at a store in Antique Alley in Chesapeake for $15.


I decided to make a shelf out of them so the next step was to find some brackets. I headed to Goodwill and found an old shelf there with these brackets attached to it. After unscrewing the brackets from it, I was ready to go.


I picked out my spray paint- a bright yellow and then my husband got to work assembling it into this shelf.


Love it!!




Tuesday, June 5, 2012

DIY plant stand

I had another moment of inspiration this weekend...I had a few plants sitting on the front porch that I desperately wanted a plant stand for. I went to store after store and couldn't find what I was looking for. That's when I saw an old TV dinner stand in the garage and the light bulb went off.

I spray painted it a funky color and now I have an instant plant stand that holds my smaller potted plants perfectly!

I was so excited to start painting I forgot to take a "before" pic but I found one online...this is what it looked like before (minus the hamburger lol)



and here's the after!