Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Day 60: Symphony Brownies

Can there be anything better than soft, fudgy brownies? How about soft, fudgy brownies with Symphony milk chocolate bar baked in the middle!! You know, the kind with toffee bits and almonds! Definitely a treat worth blogging about.

My sister-in-law introduced these treat filled brownies to me.  She brought these at Christmas and I definitely ate my fair share of them.  You can put whatever candy bar you fancy in the middle - it's that easy. All you need is your favorite brownie mix and your favorite candy bar.

My go to boxed brownie mix is Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge Brownies.  I have finally found a homemade brownie recipe that I really like but I will share it with you at a later time. Boxed brownie mixes really do taste great and are easy! Make up the mix as directed on the box. Spread half of the mixture in the bottom of your prepared pan and place your desired candy bar on top.

Spread the remaining mixture over the candy bar until the candy is completely covered. Bake according to box directions. Cool completely.

I think these would be really great using Caramello bars. That might be the next one that I try.  
What would your favorite brownie/candy combination be?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Day 59: National Chocolate Souffle Day

I have been looking forward to this day - National Chocolate Souffle Day! I have never made it or even tasted it for that matter. In my mind, it is one of those fancy desserts in a fancy restaurant, not something that can be made in just any kitchen! Something about the puffed up look of the souffle - I have been anticipating dipping my spoon in the center just to see what's in the middle!!
I googled Chocolate Souffle when looking for a recipe to use. I used this recipe from a blog, Zen Can Cook. There were step by step instructions and it seemed simple enough. Be sure to have all your ingredients ready before you start. I started my half and half on the stove, then walked away and when I came back, it was to a full rolling boil. Had to start over. Mine didn't puff up as much as they were supposed to either. I think my problem was that I didn't whip the eggs to a full stiff peak. I am always afraid I am going to over whip them so I tend to under whip instead. 
I know you are all wondering - what did it taste like?!! Well, all that anticipation and hype for something very mediocre.  It was very much like warm mousse with a bitter chocolate taste.  It just wasn't my cup of tea!! Now I know to pass that dessert by the next time I am in one of those fancy smancy restaurants!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Day 58: Chocolate dipped strawberries

Today is a multiple national food day: chocolate cake, strawberry, or kahlua day. So you can just take your pick. I would have loved to spend a little time in the kitchen and prepared a yummy, chocolatey cake, but I chose to spend an hour at the gym in weight training instead since I hadn't worked out since last Wednesday. So time did not allow. I am not a coffee drinker, so instead, I chose to combine the other two flavors: chocolate and strawberries. I purchased a mini fondue pot on sale after Valentines Day and was waiting for the perfect opportunity to bring it out and surprise my boys. With our dinner tonight, we had strawberries dipped in our little fondue pot of chocolate. Nick isn't a big fan of strawberries so he pulled out the marshmallows and dipped them. They were almost as good as the strawberries! Here are a few pics of the boys enjoying the treat.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Day 57: Healthy Snacks for the Sweet Tooth

This warm weather we have been having puts me in the mood for frozen sweet treats. This snack is one that I keep year round because I love it! If you've never tried Kroger Deluxe Peach Frozen Yogurt, then you need to run, not walk, to your local Kroger and get some today!! It is the best I've ever tasted. It tastes very much like homemade ice cream and is very calorie friendly - only 90 calories for a 1/2 cup serving.
Sorry that my posts have been very simple lately. This weekend is finally over and I am looking forward to sharing some new recipes with you this week. So, stay tuned!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Day 56: National Chocolate Covered Peanuts Day

Today, I am enjoying a little snack of chocolate covered peanuts. I like the combination, but prefer almonds or pecans in place of peanuts if I had the choice. These are not really calorie friendly when you look at the serving size. One serving, or about 28 pieces is 170 calories. Here is where I am encouraging you to invest in a kitchen scale. Next to the serving size, it will give you the amount in grams or ounces. So I weighed out 30 grams of chocolate covered peanuts and I only got 17. So if I had eaten a total of 28 peanuts, I would have eaten more than a serving. Measuring according to weight is always the best method when figuring serving size.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Day 55: Happy Birthday, Thomas

Today is my sweet husband's birthday. I love so many things about him: his sense of humor, the way he cheers me on and encourages me, the way he plays and acts like a kid with our two boys, his hard work ethic, and his help with the laundry! Everyday is an adventure with him around and I love every minute of it!
We went out to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings for the first time for dinner. It is the perfect guy hang out joint! The food was delicious. And for dessert, we shared a chocolate fudge cake with ice cream. I will say that the cake was nothing to brag about. It was a little dry and the outside fudge frosting was a real thick, hard, dark chocolate. I wish I had been able to make him a special birthday treat but time has not allowed.

I am working all weekend at a trade show booth so my posts the next few days will be short and "sweet".

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day 54: National Banana Bread Day

Today is National Banana Bread DayBefore writing this post, I googled "perfect banana bread" and their were countless sites claiming just that. Several years ago, I was on the search for the perfect banana bread recipe.  My criteria for the perfect loaf was:
  1. Moist with the consistency of muffins, not cake
  2. Not too dense
  3. Good banana flavor with a hint of cinnamon
  4. Easy to make
I don't know how many recipes I tried, but I finally found "the one" and have used it ever since. I love it because it makes up 2 loaves - one for my family and one to give away.  Today was my coworker's birthday, so I gave him the extra loaf. I also like it, because it also makes up well as muffins. So, who is to say that my recipe is perfect and yours isn't? It's all up to you and your tastes and criteria for perfection.

Sharla's Perfect Banana Bread 
Yield:  2 loaves or 2 dozen muffins
          231 calories per slice or muffin

  •  1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 6 medium bananas, very ripe, mashed
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 325 deg. Spray bottoms only of 2 loaf pans.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes).
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.  Pour in bananas; mix.
  4. Sift together dry ingredients; stir into creamed mixture just until combined.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pans; bake for about 1 hour or until a pick inserted in center comes out clean.
I would love to know how this recipe turns out for you.  Bake, eat and share!  :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Day 53: Healthy Snacks for the Sweet Tooth

My healthy snack recommendation for this week is Dole Fruit Crisp Cups.  I bought these a few weeks ago because I had a coupon, so I decided to give it a try tonight.  It is a bowl of juicy fruit in sauce with a crumbly granola topping.  I chose the apple pear flavor. They also come in Apple Cinnamon and Pineapple Mango. Pop it in the microwave for about 30 seconds, sprinkle the granola on top, and enjoy.  It is like a mini fruit crisp!  It would be excellent with a scoop of ice cream on top as well.  A healthy, sweet snack for only 150 calories! YUM!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Day 52: National Sticky Bun Day

I am so excited about today's sweet - it is National Sticky Bun Day!  I love bread and I love caramel so what could be better than bread and caramel together!  I spent yesterday evening in the kitchen getting the dough ready so that I could bake these this morning and have fresh, hot sticky buns. It was a breakfast of hot, cinnamon-y, gooey caramel goodness! I am so glad that I took them to work to share, because I know I could have eaten the entire pan! I still have dough left in the fridge, so I can make up the rest and freeze individual pans to have at a later time without all the fuss of making them from scratch.
The sticky bun recipe I used is from the King Arthur Flour blog.  I love their blog because they give helpful advice and hints and show step by step photos of the baking process.  I hope you will try making the Ridiculously Easy No-Knead Sticky Buns.  It is easy, but a little time consuming because you have to do it in steps.  It is well worth it, I promise you.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Day 51: National Cherry Pie Day

I am exhausted! This day has been difficult, frustrating and trying in every way. My favorite ways of dealing with stress are working out and baking. So I headed for a run right after work. I always seem to have my best runs when I am stressed to the max and today was no different. It was awesome! Once I got home I headed to the kitchen. I had grand plans for a new recipe, Chicken Tortilla Soup. It was absolutely frustrating! The cheese I used didn't melt and just clumped with the chicken. We still ate it but next time I will revert back to my old stand by - Velveeta. I use it a lot in recipes that require melted cheese because it melts smoothly and it's my husbands favorite. He hates cheddar, which doesn't melt any way, but if you have any suggestions for other cheeses that I can try, please let me know.
After dinner, I started on the dessert for tomorrow. It requires a little more time so I am looking forward to sharing it with you tomorrow. You won't want to miss it!
Today is actually cherry pie day. This was my dad's favorite pie when I was growing up. I like raw bing cherries, but am not a fan of cooked cherries or cherry pie filling.While I was running, I actually came up with a new recipe to try for today. But I ran out of time and am just now sitting down for the first time since getting home. So, I pulled out a slice of Edwards Reese's peanut butter cup creme pie that I had in the freezer. I like these because I can buy the 2 pack singles - one for me and one for Thomas. We wait until the kids go to bed before we eat it so we don't have to share. It was rich and creamy and a little too sweet. I need something salty now!!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Day 50: National Mint Chocolate Day

Today is National mint chocolate day. I have not always been a fan of mint chocolate as I expressed in my peppermint patty post last week. It is a newfound taste that I have acquired. I want to share a recipe with you that I found through Weight Watchers several years ago. Junior Mint Brownies are the perfect combination of fudged chocolate and mint. I like mine topped with a spoonful of cool whip and I am happy. It bakes up in an 8" square pan so you don't have a big pan of brownies left staring at you. Just enough to share with your friends or coworkers. Enjoy!

Junior Mint Brownies
Yield:  9 servings / 225 calories each

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 32 small junior mints
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg.
  2. Coat bottom of an 8 inch square baking pan with cooking spray.
  3. Combine butter and mints in a 2 cup glass measuring cup; microwave for 30 seconds or until melted.  Stir until smooth and set aside.
  4. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup and level with a knife.
  5. Combine flour, soda, and salt in a bowl.
  6. Combine sugar, cocoa, egg and egg white in a large bowl; beat at medium speed of a mixer until well blended.
  7. Add mint mixture and beat well.
  8. Add flour mixture; beat at a low speed until blended.
  9. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Day 49: Birthday Cakes

Sorry I didn't get a chance to post yesterday.  After getting home from work, I immediately started decorating the birthday cake that I had to get done for this morning. One of my boys had gone to a friend's house to spend the night and the other was headed to the 6th grade dance.  So Thomas and I had 3 hours alone without the kids.  We headed to dinner at a local BBQ place where I splurged and had french fries with my pulled pork. I love french fries, but I don't eat them often so it is a treat when I do!! Originally, we were going to indulge in a fried pie for dinner, but we were both stuffed so we passed on dessert. After dinner, we headed to the store so we could get the grocery shopping over and done with for the weekend. What a date, huh?  Dinner and Groceries!!
We got back home about 9:30 and I had about another hour of work to do on the cake.  By 10:45, I was exhausted and ready for bed.  My sweet treat for the day was eating all the scraps of candy (Twizzlers, tootsie rolls, and fruit roll up) from the painter's palette cake that I made. Below are pictures of the 2 cakes that I made.

Today, I want to introduce you to Yoplait Smoothies. You can find these in bags in the freezer section usually next to the frozen fruit or breakfast items.  I keep these on hand and love to have one after a hard work out, for a bed time snack, or even for breakfast.  They are so handy because the bag contains the fruit and pieces of yogurt - all you add is 1 cup of milk and blend in the blender.  They are easy and delicious.  Today, with my lunch and after a 6 mile run, Thomas and I shared a blueberry pomegranite smoothie. It was delicious and filling!
Tip of the day:  There are many smoothie restaurants around that offer wraps, sandwiches and smoothies.  Many people assume that these places offer nutritious, low calorie, good for you food.  But most of the smoothies have at least 400 calories each because of the sugar content.  One way to lessen the calories is to ask for splenda instead, or get a smaller size.  The wraps and sandwiches can start at 650 calories and go up from there.  The key to limiting your calorie intake is to know what you are eating before you take a bite. Many restaurants have websites that list nutritional information.  Know what you are going to eat before you ever get to the restaurant.  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day 47: National Almond Day

The next few days are very busy for me.  I have 2 cakes to bake and decorate - one for Friday and the other for Saturday. The one I am working on tonight is a 2 tiered cake with a piano theme for my friend's daugher's 10 year old birthday.  Friday night, I am decorating a paint palette themed cake for another friend's daughter's "art" themed birthday party. Looking forward to putting my creativeness on an icing canvas!  I will post pictures this weekend. 

My love for baking and decorating has grown into more than just a hobby, it is a side business for me and gives me a little spending money for those "extras".  Two years ago, I saved up and was able to buy a double oven for my kitchen, which has been very useful and a great investment.  Last year, I was in the process of saving my baking money and was considering getting my husband a new road bike.  About that time, our air conditioner died and we had to replace it. Guess where my hard earned money went to?!  Yep!! I am just thankful that we had that money as a back up.  The good Lord always provides!!  Right now, I don't have immediate plans for my savings. We are planning a trip to Atlanta this summer, so it will probably allow us to splurge a little while we are there.
Since I will be a little short on time the next few days, my desserts will be very simple. Today is National Almond Day, and while eating a handful of almonds would be easy, it wouldn't be very indulgent.  I eat almonds on a regular basis, so that's nothing new for me.  But what about almonds and chocolate! I decided to melt some Ghiradelli dipping chocolate, add some almonds and spoon into some candy molds.  I even made some with Reeses pieces and some with Jr. Mints that I had in the cabinet.  Cute, simple and delicious!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Day 46: National Gum Drop Day

Today is National Gum Drop Day.  I like the red and orange gum drops as long as they aren't the spice kind.  Those are nasty - except for the cinnamon! When I was a kid, my mom used to make orange slice cookies. It was basically an oatmeal cookie with orange slices.  They were so good.  My favorite of the jelly type candy is the cherry jellies.  February is a good time of year to find these because they sell the cherry jelly hearts at Valentine's.  I decided to add these to brownies for a chocolate and cherry dessert combination.  
To make Cherry Jelly Brownies, I started with a Ghiradelli brownie mix and made it according to the package directions.  I added a teaspoon of cherry extract to add flavoring to the actual brownies and stirred in sliced cherry jelly hearts. Thank goodness these only made up an 8" square pan of brownies because these were yum!  I will be taking leftovers to work tomorrow so I don't eat them all.  The cherry extract definitely made a difference in the taste of the brownies and the chewiness of the jelly hearts was delish!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Day 45: National Cream Filled Chocolates Day

Well, of course today is National Cream Filled Chocolates Day!  What else would we celebrate on Valentine's Day - love and lots of calories!!  :)  I found these cute chocolate Truffles at the store a few weeks ago and knew I wanted to try them.  They have been tempting me in the cabinet, but I endured and saved them just for today! They had 3 different fillings: strawberry, caramel and mocha.  I passed on the mocha since I am not a fan of coffee. They were almost too cute to eat but were delicious!! 
Looking forward to hitting the gym tonight for weight training class.  I haven't been since last Thursday due to being out of town, so I need a good, tough workout (hint, hint Heather - give it to me good tonight!!).

Hope you are blessed with family and friends and that you take every opportunity to show them you love them - not just on Valentine's Day!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Day 44: Giant Hershey Kiss Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie

Tonight, I hosted the Ashcraft annual Valentine dinner for my family of four. Tomorrow is officially Valentine's Day, but Nick has a basketball game and we won't be home to celebrate.  I am not a real big fan of Valentine's day - it's another holiday where big business chooses to make huge amounts of money off guilting people into showing they love someone with overpriced gifts.  The real test is showing your love every other day of the year without spending a dime - that's real and genuine!!

So, about 5 years ago, I decided to begin a Valentine's tradition by making it a special family time together.  Every year, I cook a favorite meal that everybody likes.  Tonight, I made homemade heart shaped pizzas - from scratch.  The boys love my pizza recipe!  I set up the table with decorations, nice glasses, and candles and we just enjoy being together.

For dessert, I borrowed a recipe from Jenny of Picky Palate.  I saw these Giant Hershey's Kiss Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies about a month ago and new these would grace my table on Valentine's day.  The Hershey's kiss is huge (equal to about 7 regular kisses - see photo) and it took a lot of cookie dough to wrap around it.  It was a very big cookie and the chocolate oozing out of it was amazing! We ate these warm from the oven (ice cream on top would have been fantastic) and it was so rich, I was in a sugar coma the rest of the evening!
After dinner, we played a traditional game of heart bingo, in which I had printed up coupon prizes for the kids, such as Free Chores pass for a day or Movie rental of your choice.  
It was a blast and fun for all!  Only 364 days to plan the next one - it always has to be bigger and better than the rest!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Day 43: Banana Split

Today is officially Plum Pudding day. Seems a little strange since plums aren't even in season right now.
Came back home today from spending the weekend at the cabin. Enjoyed my leisure time and don't know why I feel so tired and wore out. I did absolutely nothing!
I just wasn't in the mood to bake a special valentine recipe that I had picked out. Instead, Thomas and I shared a banana split. It was simple and yummy. I will tuck the other recipe away and bring it out again to share with you on another day.
Hopefully gearing up for our first snow of the year tomorrow. The kids are way excited (and I am as well)! Good night and sleep tight.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Day 42: Peppermint Patty Day

My family is spending the weekend at my boss's cabin way out in the boonies. The boys have been out hunting with no luck, but I am enjoying sitting in the recliner next to the fire, doing absolutely nothing! So today is the perfect day to be national peppermint patty day since I'm not home to bake anything. I always keep mini York patties at the house because they are the perfect little snack when you are craving something sweet. I like to have one after dinner as a little pick me up. I have noticed that the holiday ones seem to be more soft and creamy than the regular ones. Right now, I have heart shaped patties with pink filling for Valentines Day. Enjoy one today!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Day 41: National Cheesecake Brownie Day

What can be better than Friday and cheesecake brownie day occurring on the same day?  I just can't hold back my giddiness.  Yummy chocolate fudge brownie with a creamy cheesecake swirl - YUM!  I am realizing now that I just don't make these often enough!
The recipe I chose today is from Wilton's Brownie Fun recipe book.  It has all sorts of ideas for decorating brownies as well as various recipes and ways to mix up brownies with other flavors and ingredients.  Here is the recipe:
Marble Cheesecake Brownies
Yield:  16 brownies (236 calories each)

Cheesecake batter:
  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened (I used lite)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract (I used almond, but next time will use vanilla)
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
Brownie batter:
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg. F.  Spray a 9x2 inch square pan with baking spray.
  2. In medium bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar with electric mixer until light and creamy.  Add egg and extract; mix well.  Stir in milk chocolate chips; set aside.
  3. In small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  4. In medium microwave safe bowl, melt butter and semi sweet chocolate chips.  Whisk in sugar, eggs and vanilla; mix well.  
  5. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined.
  6. Alternate dropping spoonfuls of brownie and cheesecake batter in prepared pan.  Using a knife, swirl the 2 batters together to create a marbled effect.
  7. Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool completely before cutting. (My brownies took about 40 minutes to bake and they still came out pretty soft and fudgey in the center.)
Tip of the day:  Do your cut brownies look ragged around the edges?  Want to have clean cut brownies?  Wait until brownies are completely cool and cut with a plastic knife.  It's fool proof - try it and let me know how it works!!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Day 40: Red Velvet Cupcakes

Since Valentine's day is just around the corner, I am in the mood for some festive sweets.  I have seen many valentine themed foods on several of the blogs that I read, and I have chosen one of them for today.  You can't go wrong with Red Velvet Cupcakes.  I love red velvet anything, and the red is just perfect for romance and celebrating love!
I borrowed this recipe from Bakerella, who is the creator of Cake Pops.  Check out her blog for the recipe and also for some cute decorating ideas.  All of her posts are so creative and look gorgeous and delicious.

Note:  I made 2 changes to her recipe -
  1. I used 1/4 cup cocoa powder (I like a little more chocolatey flavor) 
  2. I used 1 (1 oz) bottle of red food coloring. (The color turned out just fine)
I also used a different cream cheese icing recipe which I have posted for you below. This is my standard "go to" cream cheese icing recipe.  I didn't use a whole lot of icing on these cupcakes as you can see in the photo.  A little goes a long way, in my opinion.  Using my recipe, I still had about 1/3 of it left.  Just put it in the fridge and use it for the next batch of cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Icing
(Yield: Icing for 2 - 3 dozen cupcakes, depending on how much you use)

  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, room temp.
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temp.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  1. Mix cream cheese and butter together in stand mixer until smooth and creamy (about 2 minutes).
  2. Add vanilla; mix. 
  3. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, blending well between each addition until smooth and creamy.  Refrigerate any leftovers.
P.S.  The calorie count for just the cupcake is 205 calories each.  For the cupcake and icing (using only 2/3 of the icing recipe), it is 303 calories each.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Day 39: National Molasses Bar Day

Having the day off from work on Wednesdays allows me to head to the gym first thing after dropping the boys off at school.  Even though I am not fond of working out in the mornings, it is nice to get my run in early and have the rest of the day (until 3:00) to myself.  This morning was no different.  Ever since I started going to weight training class on Tuesday evenings, I have found that my Wed. morning runs are difficult.  I guess it is the back to back hard workouts less than 24 hours apart that seem to make me feel sluggish.  But I always persevere and push through the fatigue, making me that much more strong!  This morning was especially difficult and it didn't help that the gym track was full of people. (Step on soap box:  If you are walking on the track, PLEASE STAY IN YOUR LANE!  I am staying in mine, and if I pass you once, I promise I will pass you again.  Get off your cell phone, do your workout, and move on!!  And don't walk 3 people wide:  Step off soap box)  Sorry, just needed to get that off my chest!
I tried a new recipe for dinner tonight that I got off Tracey's Culinary Adventures:  Creamy Baked Chicken Taquitos.  They were delicious.  I didn't take any photos because I didn't plan on blogging about it, but they were too good and I need to share them with you.  You can see the recipe on her site, but I am also going to post my adaptation, since I changed a few things.

Creamy Baked Chicken Taquitos
Yield:  6 servings / 256 calories each


  • 3 oz cream cheese, softened 
  • 1/4 cup salsa verde
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 cups (14 oz) cooked and shredded chicken
  • 1 cup shredded Colby & Monterey Jack 2% milk cheese
  • 6 Ole High Fiber flour tortillas (I find these at Kroger in the Mexican food section)

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.  Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. 
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the cream cheese, salsa, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic, and parsley.  Add the chicken and cheeses and stir until evenly distributed.  Season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Microwave tortillas until soft and pliable.  Divide filling between the 6 tortillas, and roll tightly.  Place seam side-down on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Spray the taquitos with cooking spray.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tortillas are crisp and golden.

Now for the dessert of the day - Molasses Cake. I have had this recipe in my collection for several years and don't even know where I found it. I like it because it tastes like gingerbread, it is very moist, and it makes up in a 9" pan so there aren't so many leftovers lying around the house. Thomas and I each had a piece, I took a couple of pieces to my good friends and taste testers, the Freyaldenhoven's, and I will take the rest to work tomorrow. It is best served warm with a dollop of whipped cream or even a scoop of ice cream. Hope you enjoy it!

Molasses Cake
Yield: 9 slices / 160 calories per slice

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg F.  Spray a 9 inch square dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt.  Whisk together.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until crumbly, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add egg, then molasses, beating well after each addition.
  5. Add flour mixture alternating with water (batter will be thin).
  6. Pour into prepared dish; bake for 27-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes back clean.
  7. Cut into nine squares; serve warm with ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Day 38: Healthy Snack for the Sweet Tooth

It's that time of the week to share with you a store bought sweet snack that I enjoy and keep in my kitchen.  This week I decided on Weight Watcher's Dark Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream Bars.  I first bought these about a year ago when Thomas was participating in a Weight Watchers program offered through his job.  He was counting points and these were easy since the points were already calculated and they were only 2 points each.  I tasted one and they were delicious.  I love the combination of raspberry with the dark chocolate.  I have not always been a fan of dark chocolate. Since I kick started my healthy lifestyle 5 years ago, I have grown to like it as well as other foods that I would have never eaten!  I don't want to eat a whole dark chocolate bar, but in combination with other flavors, it is yum.  These are just the right size and only 80 calories each!
I want to share a few words of advice regarding buying "light" ice cream products vs. the regular full fat/calorie versions.  The "light" ones always cost more, but they may not be as good as they make it appear.  Always compare serving sizes and calories.  Some products may advertise fewer calories, but in reality, they have only cut the portion size.  You could just buy the regular at a lesser cost and only eat a smaller portion size.  Also, some of the calorie differences are very minimal, so in that case I might just choose the least expensive.  Dr. Oz suggests choosing light ice creams that are slow churned, to mimic the full fat versions. This advice can apply to any product in the grocery store, not just ice cream.  Anytime they remove fat or sugar, they have to replace it with something else, usually artificial sweeteners or sodium.

Next time you are standing in front of the ice cream freezer, I hope you are able to make a more well informed decision or at least know where to start looking!!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Day 37: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pita

I am so glad this Monday is almost over! It was not a bad day, just very exhausting. I had a great run at the gym tonight, though. I seem to have good runs on those days when it's a struggle just to drag myself to the gym. I'm always glad that I went!

I recreated a fast food favorite of mine for dinner: Meat & potato burrito. It's a beef and bean burrito with crispy crowns (tater tots), cheese and sour cream. It was delicious and only 335 calories. I then finished off the meal with another re-creation: chocolate chip cookie dough pita. I normally use the Hungry Girl flatbreads but I couldn't find them at the store. So I used Flat out Flatbreads from Kroger and spread store bought chocolate chip cookie dough on top. Bake it in the toaster oven for about 10 minutes, slice and serve. Absolutely to die for! 1/4 of the pita is 168 calories. I always keep these ingredients on hand. My kids love it and it is so quick and simple to make.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Day 36: World Nutella Day

Today is the 6th annual World Nutella Day.  I can't imagine celebrating anything better than that!  There are so many ways you can use Nutella that it was hard to decide on one thing.  I chose to make my own creation and eat it for breakfast - Nutella banana waffle. I toasted a low fat Eggo waffle, then spread 1 tbsp. of Nutella on it, and topped with slices of banana.  Honestly, breakfast doesn't get any better than that!  It was YUM-O!! Oh, and only 200 calories.
So, how do you use Nutella?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Day 35: Snicker-chip-doodle cookies

Snickerdoodles are one of my favorite cookies so when I ran across this recipe for Snicker-chip-doodle cookies, I knew I had to try it. I saw this on Jessica's blog, How Sweet It Is, several months ago and immediately added it to my "try these recipes" file.

Today was the day! They tasted just as I imagined they would and more!! A cinnamon-y, chewy cookie with melted toffee gooey-ness and more cinnamon flavor from the chips. This recipe is definitely a keeper!
One change I made was replacing the chocolate chips with cinnamon chips. I also made smaller cookies and got 27 out of the batch. This comes to 124 calories per cookie.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Day 34: National Carrot Cake Day

Today is National Carrot Cake day.  I don't get many requests for carrot cake.  I like it, but it's not "out of this world" great.  There are lots of other desserts that I would rather spend my calorie expenditure on!!  I do have a "go to" recipe from my Betty Crocker cookbook that I have made several times.

Let me tell you a little background on my Betty Crocker cookbook.  Several years ago, I visited my little sister in Iowa for the very reason of witnessing the home birth of her 5th baby.  Sweet little Abby was born - it was the most amazing thing that I have ever been a part of!  Of course, I was there when my 2 boys were born, but this was just different. Being there in the moment and seeing my baby sister and the incredible strength and power that she had over her body in those hours and intense moments of labor was absolutely incredible!  I stayed a full week after the baby was born to help out around the house and take care of the big kids.  I made some recipes from her Betty Crocker Cookbook: Everything you need to know to cook today.  It is a cookbook of basic recipes with lots of helpful hints and information throughout.  I like using the recipes from this and tweaking and adding to them. The other thing I love about it is that it lists the nutritional information at the end of each recipe.

A few weeks after I came home from Iowa, a package arrived in the mail addressed to me from my sister.  I opened it up and there was a New Edition of the same cookbook that I had become so fond of!  The note on the packing slip read, "To Sharla: I get used to living far away from my loved ones, but you reminded  me how much I miss you and the rest of the family.  Having you share these special moments was the best gift you could give me. From: Kayla".  This cookbook will always be very special to me.  I cut out the note from the packing slip and taped it inside the book so I will always remember those times.

Instead of making a 2 layer cake, I decided to make these into cupcakes. I also tried to save a little time and use pre shredded carrots from the grocery store. The shreds are a little bigger than the grated carrots that I normally use which made it a little difficult to get into the muffin pans.  Overall, they were tasty and I enjoyed them.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes (Healthy Version)
Yield: 19 cupcakes (315 calories each with light cream cheese frosting)

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 cups shredded carrots (5 medium)

  1. Heat oven to 350 deg. F.  Line muffin pans with cupcake liners.
  2. In large bowl, beat sugar, oil, applesauce, and eggs with electric mixer on low speed about 30 seconds or until blended.  Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda, vanilla, and salt; beat on low speed 1 minute.  Stir in carrots.
  3. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full; bake approximately 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. Cool completely; frost with cream cheese icing.  Store covered in the refrigerator.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Day 33: No Bake Cookies

It is impossible to resist Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies!  These are so simple and easy to make up, so I was not prepared for the trouble I had when making these yesterday.  Everything seemed to be going great until I checked them after they had set and they were not hardening like they should. I've made these plenty of times before and that has never happened! I took a plate of them to church last night and they were still pretty soft, but tasted great.   I could not figure out what went wrong until one of the men walking down the hall mentioned that maybe it was the humidity. Ding, ding - exactly!  Why didn't I think of that?!  It rained yesterday, so that was the culprit. 

So, I hope you never have the hankering for a no bake cookie on a rainy day.  It will still taste great, but won't stack up too pretty on a plate.  Another reason that they might not set up is if you don't bring the mixture to a full rolling boil for long enough.  My recipe said for 1 minute, but several other recipes that I googled said for 3 minutes.  You can know for sure by placing a drop of the chocolate mixture (before adding the P.B. and vanilla) into cold water and it should stay in a ball (also known as the soft ball stage).

Below is my recipe for No Bake Cookies.
This makes 40 small cookies using a cookie scoop at 103 calories per cookie. Some other recipes I saw used 1 cup peanut butter instead of the 1/2 cup in this recipe.  I think that is personal preference so if you like more p.b., then go with the 1 cup.  It may help them set up better too.

Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups quick cooking oats
  1. Add the first four ingredients to a 3 quart sauce pan.
  2. Bring to a rolling boil and let boil for 2 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat; stir in peanut butter and vanilla until smooth.
  4. Stir in oats.
  5. Drop onto wax paper using a cookie scoop.  Let cool until set.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Day 32: Baked Alaska Day

Today is National Baked Alaska Day.  I have never tasted this before, probably because it seems like a lot of work for cake and ice cream.  It is layers of different flavors of ice cream in a round dish topped with pound or sponge cake.  After being completely frozen, the dish is inverted onto a pan so the cake is on the bottom.  It is then covered in meringue and placed in a hot oven to toast the meringue.  So that's it - cake and ice cream!  
I didn't want a whole Baked Alaska in my kitchen, so I decided to make minis for me and Thomas.  I used frozen vanilla yogurt for one layer and frozen peach yogurt for the other layer.  I used a ramekin dish with plastic wrap inside and then layered the yogurts and froze overnight until firm.  Instead of cake, I baked up 2 oatmeal cookies from dough that I had in the freezer.  I topped it off with a dollop of whipped cream - voila - mini Baked Alaskas!  The calorie count was 300 each.