Friday, 29 April 2011

Mini Carrot Cakes with Cream Cheese Icing

I made some mini carrot cakes last weekend for Easter (I made a lot last weekend.. lol). They turned out really delicious!! I liked them so much I wanted to make another batch, but I luckly I restrained myself and didn't make more!!



Cake
1 cup oil
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp all spice
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
2 cups grated carrots

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Mix the oil, sugar and eggs together, once they're mixed, add in the dry ingredients and mix well.

Pour into your mini loaf pan to make mini sized cakes, or you can pour it into a well greased 9 x 13 pan, or 2 round cake pans - whatever you prefer.

Bake in the oven for about 35 - 40 mins (if doing mini loaf cakes). If you're doing it in a cake pan bake for about 50 - 60 mins or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cream Cheese Icing
Two (8 oz.) pkgs light cream cheese (at room temperature)
3 cups icing sugar
1 tbsp vanilla

Mix together the cream cheese and icing sugar until well blended, then add in the vanilla and mix again until that's blended in.

Ice your cakes once they've cooled and have been removed from the pan.

Enjoy!!




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Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Easter Egg Nest Cookies

This is a different variation on a tasty little treat my Mom used to make at Halloween that we called "Crashed Broomsticks". Instead of making those.. I shaped these into little nests and added mini eggs!!

Warning: These are addicting!



2 cups butterscotch chips
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup butter
4 cups chow mein noodles
1/3 cup skor baking bits
Approx. 6 bags of mini eggs

Mix the butterscotch and chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter in a large bowl. Microwave on medium for 3 minutes (stirring after 1 minute). Stir until the mixture is completely melted and smooth.

Add the remaining ingredients (aside from the mini eggs) and mix well.

Drop tablespoons of the mixture onto cookie sheets lined with wax paper and press down the middle a little bit so it can hold mini eggs nicely. Add 3 mini eggs to each cookie to resemble a nest.

Refridgerate for 30 minutes (I also store them in the fridge to keep them nice and firm - if you like them softer let them sit out for a few minutes before eating them).

Enjoy!!



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Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Tips for Healthier Eating During the Week

Hey ya'll! As promised I am going to be doing more posts regarding healthy eating and fitness as well, so I thought I'd share some great ideas that I practice during the week.

As most of you know if you're read my bio - I follow Weight Watchers from Monday to Friday and only indulge on the weekend. For all of you who are just starting out on Weight Watchers or are still losing - I don't recommend weekend indulging. When I was in the process of losing, I followed the program all week AND weekend. It was only once I got to my goal weight and stayed there for a few months that I began induling on the weekends - and luckily I've found a healthy balance that allows me to do that. First off I exercise like a crazy person all week long (even on weekends) but if that allows me to eat what I'd like on the weekends, that's what I'll do!

I should probably get to the topic of this post now haha!

For all of you on Weight Watchers (and even those who aren't) we know that one of the wonderful things about the new Points Plus program is that fruit and veggies are free. So I tend to eat a lot more fruit than I used to so I can save my points for lunch and dinner (and an evening snack of course!).

On Sunday we usually go pick up some groceries for the week and I always load up on fruit... lots of different kinds and I tend to change it up quite regularly to sort of "trick" my body. When you eat the same things over and over again your body gets used to them and doesn't work as hard to process them. I feel like when I switch it up a lot it kinda "shocks" my body and makes it work harder to process it.

It's really important too that you are buying FRESH fruit, not canned fruit cocktails (those are not zero pts), or dried fruits, etc.

I love watermelon, pineapple, dragonfruit, starfruit, grapes, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, apple-pears, cherries and most of all in the summer I love white flesh peaches (I can't wait until those are out again!). I usually buy a couple different kinds each week and when I get home I cut them all up and put them into tupperware for the week so I can have fruit for breakfast. (I eat a couple times in the morning - just lightly, usually a yogurt and fruit).

I get lazy during the week and don't really like to cut up fruit, so I find doing it on Sunday sets me up for successful eating during the week. It makes it easy for me and I just have to grab it each morning and go!

Hope this little tip helps!!




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Monday, 25 April 2011

Smashed Cadbury Creme Egg Confetti Cake

I was at the grocery store and noticed they had bags of mini Cadbury Creme Eggs.. which are my absolute fave treat around Easter.. and I was brainstorming on what I could do with these for a special Easter dessert.. and it came to me!! How good would smashed up Cadbury Creme Eggs be in icing??

Well I found out... they're good.. TOO good!



Cake

2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter softened
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp almond extract
3 eggs
3/4 cup rainbow sprinkles

Icing

2 (8 oz.) packages light cream cheese (at room temperature)
3 cups icing sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
15 to 20 mini Cadbury Creme Eggs (cut up into pieces - they're harder to "smash" than you'd imagine!)
3 mini Cadbury Creme Eggs for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Grease 2 round cake pans and lightly flour with icing sugar (I prefer to use this instead of flour).

Combine all of the ingredients into a bowl and beat on high speed for 3 minutes. When it's mixed completely fold in the sprinkles, being careful not to mix too much to prevent the color of the sprinkles from running.

Pour the batter evenly between the two pans and bake in the oven for about 30 - 35 minutes (test to make sure a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean).

Let cakes cool before removing them from the pans.

While the cakes are cooling make your icing by combining the cream cheese and icing sugar in a large bowl and beating on medium speed for a few minutes until all the lumps are gone. Add the vanilla and mix in well.

Set aside about a cup of the icing (this is for the sides of the cake).

Add in your smashed up Cadbury Creme Eggs into the remaining icing and ensure they are well mixed.

Turn the bottom layer of the cake upside down to prepare to lay the "middle" icing layer. Slather a layer of your icing with the Creme Eggs onto the middle layer of the cake. Top that with the other cake layer (right side up) and add the rest of the Creme Egg icing onto the top of the cake. Using the other icing you had set aside, ice the sides of the cake until covered completely.

Top the cake with a few whole Cadbury Creme Eggs and you're ready to serve!

Enjoy!!



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Friday, 22 April 2011

Banana Bread

This is my Mom's banana bread recipe and in my opinion it makes the best banana bread I've ever tasted.

I like to add chocolate chips to it as well, but since I did these as mini loafs I only added them to half the batter so we'd have some of each.

You can do mini loafs like I did or one big loaf, it's up to you!



1/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup sifted flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mashed bananas
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cream together the shortening, sugar and eggs until well mixed.

In another bowl sift together the dry ingredients and then add them to the cream mixture alternately with the banana blending well after each addition.

If you're including them stir in the chocolate chips.

Bake in the oven for about 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If you are using a mini loaf pan check on these after about 35 minutes because they'll cook a little quicker than a larger loaf.

Enjoy!



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Leek and Potato Soup with a Grilled Provolone and Turkey Sandwich

This leek and potato soup recipe is for all my Weight Watcher friends out there! I got the recipe from the SkinnyTaste.com website (this blog helped me so much with WW friendly meal ideas.. it's absolutely great!).

If you'd like to check it out click here

This soup recipe on her website has not yet been updated for Points Plus values, but I counted it as 3 points plus per 1 cup. I topped mine with a tbsp of hormel bacon bits (if you do this add 1 more point).

I made this soup alongside a grilled provolone cheese and turkey sandwich which was also really yummy!



Soup

1 bunch of leeks (about 3 or 4) dark green stems removed
1/2 white onion chopped
2 russet potatoes (peeled and cubed)
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter
4 cups fat free chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper for taste

Wash the leeks carefully to remove all the grit. Coarsely chop them once they've been washed.

In a medium pot, melt the butter over low heat. Add the flour and use a wooden spoon to mix well.

Add the chicken stock, leeks, onion and potatoes and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low for about 20 to 25 minutes until potatoes are soft. Add in the milk and using an immersion blender, blend the soup until it's smooth. Add the salt and pepper as desired and serve up hot!

Sandwich

4 pieces of fresh sliced bread
2 tbsp butter
Enough sliced deli turkey for 2 sandwiches
2 tbsp fat free mayo
2 tbsp honey dijon mustard
4 slices provolone cheese

Heat up your frying pan over low heat.

Butter the outer sides of each slice of bread. On the other non-buttered sides spread your mayo and honey dijon.

Add your turkey meat and if you want to add anything else you can (my husband wanted banana peppers on his, so that's what I added). Lay your provolone cheese on top of the turkey and assemble your sandwich with the other slice (buttered side facing out).

Lay your sandwiches in your frying pan and cook for about 3 minutes per side (or until cheese is melted and bread is toasted brown).

Slice and serve alongside your soup. Delish!!

Enjoy!



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Thursday, 21 April 2011

Weight Loss Tips - On the Regular!

I went out for lunch with some of my really good girlfriends today (to The Barley Mill - their turkey, strawberry and brie sandwhich is to die for! I'm going to make my own at home and blog it). But anyways.. as I was saying.. today I went for lunch with the girls and we were talking a bit about my blog, how it's going, etc.

My friend Kristin suggested that I should start putting up daily posts in between my food posts regarding weight loss. Put up a little blurb about any tips I might have and things like that to increase the interest and readership in my blog.

My friend Lily said that she was a bit inspired by my post on the blog about my weight loss and it's lit a fire under her to get into the gym a little more often. It's always so nice to hear things like that because it really motivates you and keeps you going when you know you're a good influence on your friends in that way.

My friend Michelle mentioned that she would make my "skinny" recipes if I put any up. So I promise I am going to be including more of those (I'll blog skinny leek and potato soup in the next few days).

I'll still be posting all my delish "cheat day" treats too... don't worry!

But on that note, maybe I'll give a little weight loss tip today!

I work out a lot with my friend Erin (she is in probably the best shape of anyone I know and is full of good ideas). She is on holidays right now and while she's away she challenged me to a little daily exercise she had thought up for me since I'm trying to trim down my backside a bit. She suggested that in the morning and at night when I am brushing my teeth, I should do pulsing plie squats the whole time I'm brushing for. So I've been doing it and I can really feel it!!

It made me think, maybe I should do these kinds of quick little exercises whenever I can fit them in. At work I've always taken the stairs when I need to run up or down to other floors... so that's the sort of idea I'm talking about. Little things to include in your day whenever you can. While you're waiting at the microwave in the break room, do some squats or standing push ups against the counter. Or if you have some time over your lunchbreak, take a quick power walk if you can. While you're cooking do some plie squats. On commercial breaks while you're watching TV, see how many push ups or sit ups... or crunches you can do in the time it takes for all the commercials to go by.

Constantly be doing little things here and there if you can because even though it doesn't feel like it's doing much (I tend to base how good my workout was on how much I sweat and how hard I feel like I'm working).... but these little things ARE doing something, because hey - they're better than doing nothing right? Fit it in where you can and have fun with it!

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Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Stuffed Mushrooms

This is one of my favorite appetizers that my Mom makes (and now I also make them.. obviously!). Gooey melted cheese and crab meat... mmm mmm mmm

These are really easy to throw together and are always a crowd pleaser that tend to disappear very quickly.



Approx. 32 medium sized mushroom caps
1 tin of crab meat
1 to 1 1/2 cups mozza cheese (shredded)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 small onion (diced)
1 8 oz. stick of light cream cheese

Soften the cream cheese a little bit (I pop it into the microwave for about 30 seconds or so), then beat together the cream cheese and crab meat until well mixed. Add the onion and mix that in as well.

Add the mozza cheese and parmesan, mix ingredients together well.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Lightly wash your mushrooms (don't soak them because they will absorb too much water - I've seen some cooks that have said to just wipe them, don't even wash them.. but I can't bring myself not to wash them because lets face it.. they can be a little dirty sometimes). Remove the stems and lay them out on a large baking sheet.

Using a tablepoon, spoon a generous amount of the crab/cheese mixture into the mushroom caps.

Pop into the oven for about 20 - 25 minutes (keep an eye on them and only cook them until they're starting to brown a bit on top). Take them out of the oven, let them cool for a couple minutes and serve them up!!

Enjoy!

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Monday, 18 April 2011

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love peanut butter, I love it in anything... cookies, cakes, crepes, lava cakes (which reminds me - I have a great recipe for that!!) on toast, on sandwhiches... melted over ice cream... any way I can get peanut butter I'll have it!! It's my favorite!!

In high school I used to take my Mom's peanut butter cookie recipe, make it and add chocolate chips all the time and that was my favorite treat!

I haven't made these in years, and it was far overdue... I had forgotten how much I love these. They're moist and delicious..and overloaded with chocolate chips!! YUM!



1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup butter (softened)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

In a large bowl, cream together peanut butter, butter, white sugar and brown sugar until it's well blended. Beat in the egg, milk and vanilla one at a time.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt - sift together and stir into the creamed mixture.

Add the cup of chocolate chips in the cookie dough mixture and mix well.

Roll the batter into 1 inch balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 8 - 10 minutes until edges are slightly browned.

Enjoy!!

Mmmmm just look at that chocolately, peanut buttery goodness......

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Friday, 15 April 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

One of my favorite comfort foods is chicken pot pie. I love the flaky crust, the warm chicken gravy.. mmmm

This is a really easy to make and aside from the baking doesn't take too long (Especially if you just use a pre-made pie crust).



Pie crusts (top and bottom) either homemade or pre-made - I just used the pre-made pillsbury kind.
2 chicken breasts
2 cups mixed vegetables
2 cups fat free chicken stock
1 pkg chicken gravy mix
A little bit of cornstarch for thickening

Start by boiling the 2 chicken breasts in a pot for 20 minutes (or until cooked through). When they are done, shred them using 2 forks.

Pre-heat oven to 400 F.

Next steam your veggies (or however you like to cook them).

Make your gravy (You can make this however way you like if you have a favorite gravy recipe, but since I wasn't roasting a whole chicken and didn't have drippings to use, I just used a couple cups of chicken stock, a package of chicken gravy mix and some cornstarch). Make the gravy by pouring the chicken stock and gravy mix into a saucepan on the stove and bring it to a boil stirring frequently. Once it reaches a boil let it simmer for about 5 mins stirring every minute or so. Thicken it up a bit by mixing cornstarch with a bit of milk or water in a cup to dissolve it and then add it to your gravy until you've reached your desired thickness.

Prepare your pie plate with your bottom pie crust so you can pour the pot pie filling into it.

In a large bowl combine your shredded chicken and vegetables - pour the gravy mixture overtop. Mix it up a bit and then pour it into your pie crust.

Place your top pie crust overtop of the mixture and seal the edges to the bottom layer. Make four slits in the top of the crust to allow for heat release.

Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes (or until crust is golden brown). After about 20 minutes, cover the edges of the pie crust with tinfoil to prevent it from burning.

Once it's done, pull it out of the oven and let it cool for about 5 - 10 minutes.

Enjoy!!





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Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Grasshopper Pie

This is a dessert my Mom made a few times when I was younger that I always loved!! So I got this recipe from her and it may be dangerous for me to have it... I can't get enough!!

Oreo cookie crust, marshmallow and a bit of booze... mmm mmm mmm



This recipe makes TWO pies, so you may want to cut the ingredients in half if you only want to make one. I feel like one just isn't enough ;)

Approx. 8 cups mini marshmallows (I used about half of a REALLY jumbo bag)
3/4 cup milk
1 large tub of light cool whip (thawed)
2 1/2 cups oreo cookie crumbs (baking crumbs - not crushed oreo cookies)
1/2 cup melted butter
6 tbsp creme de mint (I filled a 1/4 cup and then a half of a 1/4 cup)
6 tbsp creme de cocoa (I filled a 1/4 cup and then half of a 1/4 cup)

Melt the marshmallows in either a pot on the stove or in the microwave. Make sure they are all completely melted together. Add the milk, combine well and let chill in the fridge.

While the mixture is cooling, make your oreo crust by adding the melted butter to the oreo crumb mixture and mix it really well, make sure the cookie crumbs are completely coated. Press into your pie plates and form your crusts. (Reserve a couple tablespoons of the oreo crumbs) Put in the fridge to chill for a few minutes.

Once your marshmallow/milk mixture has cooled, fold in the cool whip. Add the creme de mint and creme de cocoa and mix well.

Pour into the pie crusts and sprinkle the reserved oreo crumbs overtop.

Chill in the fridge for about an hour.

Enjoy!!!!



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Monday, 11 April 2011

Blueberry Cream Stuffed French Toast

I love french toast, and I've been craving stuffed french toast for a while. This turned out pretty darn good!



Makes 2 Servings:

4 slices of bread (I like to use Cobs cinnamon loaf)
1/4 cup light cream cheese
2 eggs (beaten)
Splash of milk (I used buttermilk)
1/2 cup blueberry pie filling

Preheat frying pan over medium high heat. Add some cooking spray to the pan to heat it up.

Beat the eggs and add a splash of milk to them, and beat it together. Pour into a pie dish to make it easier to dip the bread.

Microwave the cream cheese mixture a little bit to soften it up, then beat the blueberry and cream cheese together.

Add 1/4 cup of the cream cheese / blueberry mixture to the center of one piece of bread and top it with another piece. Dip the bread into the egg mixture (making sure to keep the bread edges pressed together so that the filling stays put. Make sure all sides of the bread are evenly coated.

Pop into the pan. Cook for a few minutes on each side until browned.

Once it's done add a bit of the blueberry / cream cheese mixture to the top of the french toast and you're done!

Enjoy!!!



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Friday, 8 April 2011

Taco Mac 'n' Cheese

I've just revamped this recipe last week by adding some extra's to it! It's one of my absolute faves and adding in some ground beef, black beans and corn made it even better!!



1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup onion diced
1 1/2 to 2 cups of milk
1 box macaroni noodles
1/4 cup taco seasoning (half is used for cheese sauce - half is used for ground beef)
Salt
1 bag kraft tex mex cheese (set aside 1/3 cup for sprinkling overtop)
1/2 cup crushed up tortilla chips
1 lb ground taco beef
1 cup water
1/2 cup black beans
1/2 cup corn niblets


Pre-heat your oven to 375 F.

Start off by browning your ground beef in a large deep skillet pan. Once it's nice and brown, drain the fat and then add in about 1 cup of water, plus 2 tbsp taco seasoning (I actually like to use more, but you can do what you like best). Let that simmer over medium - high heat until the water is absorbed. Pour your meat into a bowl and set aside.

Using the same pan, melt your butter in with the onion and cook for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent, then add the flour (a little bit at a time) and coat the onions. Add the milk and continue stirring until you've got a good roux going and it's gets airy and thick. Add the taco seasoning and mix well, then add the cheese and mix together until cheese is melted (reserve about a 1/3 of a cup for sprinkling overtop).

While you're making your sauce, you'll want to boil your macaroni noodles until they are done. Drain the noodles and pour into the "cheese mixture". Add a bit of salt for taste, mix together really well until your noodles are really well coated. Add in the ground beef, beans and corn and mix them in completely.

Pour the macaroni and cheese into a casserole dish, sprinkle with the cheese you had set aside, and top the cheese with the crushed tortilla chip mixture.

Bake uncovered in the oven for about 10 - 15 minutes. 

Enjoy!!!


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Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Caramel Apple Pie

My husband has been asking me forever to make an apple pie. I like apple pie - but I don't love it. So I was thinking about what I could add to it to make me love it too.. and I thought of it BAM! Caramel!! I can't think of anything better than caramel to make me love something! :) My fave kind of caramel right now is milk caramel (better known as Dulce de Leche).

So with that in mind, I baked up this little ditty!


Unbaked pie crust (top and bottom) either homemade or store bought.
5 to 6 medium sized Granny Smith Apples
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups Dulce de Leche (milk caramel)

You can buy Dulce de Leche, or you can make your own. If you'd like to make your own this is how you do it: Place 1 can of sweetened condensed milk (with the label removed) into a large pot and cover the can completely with water. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 2-4 hours depending on how dark you like your caramel. Turn off the heat and let the can cool in the water before opening.

I was being lazy and rather than making a crust from scratch I just used pre-made Pillsbury packaged pie crust. But if you're going to make your own crust - do that now! :)

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Peel, core and cut your apple into slices of desired thickness (I just use my apple corer so it cores and slices it at the same time).

Melt the butter in a large pan over med-high heat. What the butter starts to foam, add the apples and saute for about 8 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle it over the apples in the pan and reduce the heat to med-low. Simmer for about 1 more minute.

Using a slotted spoon, move the apples from the pan to a baking sheet spread in a single layer to prevent them from going soggy.

Add the cream to the sugar/butter mixture in the pan and cook for about 5 - 8 minutes until the mixture is thickand pourable as caramel (this simply isn't enough caramel for me - that's why you need the dulce de leche).

Pour the apples, caramel mixture from the pan and the dulce de leche into a large mixing bowl and combine well.

Pour the apple mixture into your unbaked pie crust. You can add the top crust layer as either a full layer OR you can do what I did and make a lattice crust. (To do this, just lay your pie crust out on a flat surface and using a pizza cutter (or knife) cut into equally thick slices and lay across the top of the pie in a lattice pattern). If you do it as a full layer, be sure to slice a few slits in the pie crust to allow for heat release.

Pop the pie into the oven and bake it for about an hour until the filling is bubbling and the top pie crust is brown. I placed a large cookie sheet on the rack below the pie to catch any filling that bubbled over.

Serve warm with ice cream (or frozen yogurt) and if you wish - you can even drizzle a little more caramel on top! Mmmm....

Enjoy!!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Death By Chocolate Trifle

This is a little dish that both my Mom and my Grandma J have been making for a long time. Every Christmas as kids we'd race down to the fridge in the basement at my Grandparents house to see if Grandma had made this dessert (Okay.. maybe I still race down to the fridge to make sure she made it). But it's absolutely delish!

My friend Helen made a huge batch of this last week and brought it into work for a co-workers birthday and after having a small plate of it I was craving more and figured I'd make it this weekend for our dinner guests.


1 box chocolate cake mix (+ eggs as per ingredients listed on box directions)
2 pkgs chocolate pudding
4 cups of milk
1 large tub of cool whip (or whipping cream - whichever you prefer)
1/3 cup Kahlua
10 Skor chocolate bars (You can use less, but I LOVE a lot of skor in mine)
Caramel topping for drizzling

Start by baking the cake as per the pkg directions on the box. Once the cake is done, let it cool for about 10  minutes, then take a fork or a knife and make punctures all across the top of the cake and drizzle the kahlua overtop. Let the cake cool completely while the kahlua soaks into the cake.

While the cake cools crush up your skor bars (I put mine into the blender and pulsed it until it was crushed to my liking).

When the cake is cool, make the pudding as per the pkg directions and let the cool whip unthaw a little bit so that it's easy to mix and spread.

Start by spooning some of the cake out of the pan and into the bottom of a clear bowl (for presentation, the bowl doesn't have to be clear). Top that cake with some of the pudding, whipped cream and crushed skor. Continue layering until you've used all your ingredients. Make sure the top layer is all skor.

Drizzle caramel overtop of the skor and serve.

Enjoy!!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

My Weight Loss Journey & Advice

Okay... I figured since this is a blog about food, I could also talk about weight loss and eating right on here as well.

You all know by now I love to eat and indulge in really fattening foods (mostly desserts). But the thing with me is I only indulge on the weekends. I look forward to the weekends all week long so that I can have all the delicious desserts I dream of during the week! Haha!

I began Weight Watchers in January 2010 in an effort to lose weight for our wedding which was taking place in July 2010. I started at 161 pounds which is a lot for someone who is only 5'2".  I have lost 30 pounds thanks to Weight Watchers.

Weight Watchers is honestly the best program out there. You still eat the foods you love, it's just all about portion sizes and making better choices. It's the best choice I could have ever made and it changed my life! You don't have to buy "their" foods, or follow meal plans, it's just making sure you don't go over your daily points. I think of my body like a bank account, I've got so many points to spend in a day - what do I want to spend them on? Believe me, I make sure every point I use is worth it!

I love to eat and I was indulging all week long and cooking very fattening foods, eating fast food, etc. and I knew it was time to make a change. So I joined with a few girlfriends (one of whom was also getting married a few weeks after us).

I went to my first meeting and my first weigh in and I was disgusted with myself when I stood on the scale, I had never been at that weight and couldn't believe I had let myself get so out of hand. So I took the program really seriously and prepared to make major changes in my diet. As well as changing my eating habits, I also joined the gym and began going every day, even if I could only get in there for a half hour of cardio.

I began eating fresh fruits and veggies a lot more, I started making my recipes a lot more "skinny" using fat free or light products wherever I could in meals or recipes I'd make. I discovered a lot of lighter options in place of the really fattening desserts I was enjoying previously and I started to see results. Another big change was my portion sizes, I was eating probably 3 times the amount of food I actually needed to feel full. And as I measured out my food as per the portion sizes noted in my Weight Watchers books, I found they were sometimes more than enough to fill me.

By May I had lost like 20 pounds already and I was feeling fantastic. Every time I stepped on the scale and saw a loss I was more and more motivated. I was going to the gym like 6-7 days a week and was doing a routine of both cardio and weight training. (It's one thing to just be skinny - but I wanted to be thin and toned).

By July I had lost 30 pounds and reached my goal weight. I felt wonderful on our wedding day, my dress had to be taken in by a few inches on either side. We went to Hawaii for our honeymoon and while we were there I lived in bikini's and I actually felt confident and comfortable in them. Even more confident than I had ever felt as a teenager at my lowest weight. It was such a freeing feeling to not be constantly insecure about how I looked.

By the time I lost all my weight I had gone from a size 10 -12 to a size 4 - 6. The first time I went shopping after losing weight, I grabbed skirt in a size 8 thinking it should fit, and to my surprise it was way to big!! I ended up walking out of there with the skirt in a size 4!!!! It was the best feeling ever!

I began maintenance with Weight Watchers, and am now a lifetime member. As long as I never go 2 pounds over my goal weight, I'll never have to pay again. And so far I've been maintaining for 9 months and haven't paid once! I will never let myself get to where I was again.

Now that I'm on maintenance, I still follow the Points Plus system all week long and on Friday's, Saturday's and Sunday's I pretty much eat what I want (to an extent). I am still very aware of what I'm having and I try not to overdo it. I pay attention to my body and the signs it's giving me and I don't keep eating once I'm full. Sometimes I over indulge a litte too much, but I try not to beat myself up over it. And every Friday I am the same weight as I was the week before (sometimes less) so I'm successfully maintaining even with my weekend indulging, which is great! I have the best of both worlds.

I still go to the gym about 4 - 6 days a week. And I always make sure I get cardio in if nothing else, because although weight training will help you firm up, cardio is what makes you lose the weight. Having muscle mass will help you burn the fat around it, but it's not nearly enough to make you lose a ton of weight. I feel like the more I'm sweating the more I'm burning off and cardio is what makes me sweat.

Because I tend to indulge so much on the weekends, I sometimes do what I like to refer to as "pulling doubles" during the week. I'll go work out right after work and if I'm feeling really motivated I'll throw a class in after my regular workout, so sometimes I'm at the gym for up to 3 hours, but it's worth it when I get to eat the foods I love on the weekend. I also go to a step class every Saturday - and honestly it's THE best class for cardio, I sweat buckets at that class! So I can go home and eat without feeling guilty because I've really worked for it!

The bottom line is, exercise helps, but the biggest loss will always come from what you put in your mouth! So being conscience of what you're eating, and how much you're eating goes along way if you're looking to lose weight.

I have included a few before and after photos below (at the time of these before photos I had already lost 10 pounds). I didn't keep a lot of my "fat" photos, although I'm wishing now that I had kept a few.

 Me at my Company's Winter Gala in January 2010 (left) and January 2011 (right).
These photos were taken exactly a year apart.

 I ALMOST didn't put this one up. Me in a bathing suit March 2010 (left) at this point I had already lost over 10 pounds. And Me in July 2010 on our honeymoon (right).

Me at my Company's Winter Gala Jan. 2010 (left) and Jan. 2011 (right).

I just wanted to share my story with all of you, and wanted to show you that you can still enjoy delicious, yummy foods, and maintain a healthy weight. It's all about balance and finding a way to make it work. Maybe you can be like me and eat healthy during the week but indulge on weekends, or maybe you can only indulge 1 day a week. Everyone is different, but it can be done and I hope that my story helps any of you who are looking to lose some weight, but still enjoy the foods you love.

Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes

I like to have sweet potatoes as a side with my meals during the week every now and then. They are really low in fat, and very good for you. I follow Weight Watchers during the week (and have my cheat days on the weekend) so I am always looking for low point foods during the week and this is perfect to have alongside chicken, beef or really any protein and they're really delicious.


Pam cooking spray
1 medium sweet potato (yam)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. sea salt

Cut a medium sized sweet potato into about 1 to 2 inch chunks

Put the cut up sweet potato into a medium sized bowl and spray generously with cooking spray so that they are evenly coated. Toss them with the brown sugar and sea salt.

Pour over a non-stick cookie sheet and bake in the oven for approximately 20 - 25 minutes at 400 F.

When you pull them out of the oven, salt them a little bit more and serve alongside your main dish.

Enjoy!


Friday, 1 April 2011

Lay it on ya Lasagna

This is my Mom's recipe, and all my life whenever my Ma made this, my Dad would call it "Lay it on ya Lasagna" So it's stuck and everytime I think of lasagna - I think of that little slogan :)

My husband has been asking me for the last few weeks to make lasagna, so I finally got around to making it last Sunday. Baby wants lasagna - Baby gets lasagna! Haha!


Approx. 6 cups Spaghetti Sauce (either canned or homemade)
Lasagna noodles (about 3/4 of a box for a 9x13 pan)
2 cups shredded marble cheese
2/3 cup ricotta cheese

(I make my spaghetti sauce from scratch and I use the following: 2 medium sized cans tomato sauce, 1/2 large onion, 1 cup sliced mushrooms and 1 pkg. extra lean ground beef and different seasonings)

I start off by making a spaghetti sauce. First I cook the hamburger meat in a frying pan, then I add diced onion and cook for a couple minutes. I pour about 2 medium sized cans of tomato sauce into a large pot on the stove (set the burner to low). I add the hamburger meat and onions, then the mushrooms. Add a little salt and pepper, and seasoning of your choice (I use italian herbs, garlic powder, basil and oregano). Then cover and let it simmer for a couple hours, stirring every now and then.

When the spaghetti sauce is almost done, boil the lasagna noodles to al dente.

Spray a 9x13 pan with pam and once the noodles are drained, lay 4 noodles down lengthwise across the bottom, then trim another noodle and cover the empty space running width wise along the bottom of the other noodles. Top those with about 2 cups of sauce, drop bits of ricotta cheese along the top of the sauce, and add about 1/3 cup shredded marble cheese. Top that with another layer of noodles, sauce and cheese, and then add the last layer. You can add a little extra cheese on top if you like cheese (we sure do)!

Bake in the oven at 325 F. for 45 minutes loosely covered in tinfoil. After 45 mins, uncover and brown for about 30 more minutes.

Enjoy!!