Friday, April 5, 2013

Healthified Carrot Cake

Is healthified a word??  I hope so.  We can pretend right?

My grandmother's favorite (or one of her favorite) desserts is carrot cake.  Since the fam visited near Easter I thought it was the perfect dessert choice to have while they were here visiting!  I found a recipe that looked interesting because it used canned crushed pineapple in place of oil.  It proved successful, if you like the tartness of pineapple--which I do!!  

You will start by shredding 2 cups worth of carrots.  If you are smart, you will buy them already shredded.  This step took the longest of them all and was so monotonous!  

Next, mix all of the dry ingredients.  3/4 cup all purpose flour, 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, 2 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt, and 2 tsp ground cinnamon  .  

Now, you will mix the eggs (2), 2Tbsp canola oil, and 1 1/2 tsp vanilla together.

Once well combined, mix the wet ingredients and dry ingredients together until a thick, doughy mixture forms

Stir in the 2 cups grated carrots.

Stir until everything is well blended.  The mixture will be thick and doughy now.

Finally, add 1 20 oz can crushed (drained) pineapple and stir until well combined.

I baked a sheet cake, but you could choose a 9x13 cake pan or 2 8" round cake pans as well.  I baked at 350 for 20 minutes.  Baking times will vary depending on the pan you choose though.

For the cream cheese frosting, blend 1 8 oz pack cream cheese (NOT fat free!!!) and 1 cup powdered sugar.  Stir in 1-2 tsp vanilla to taste. 

I went a little out of my comfort zone and even decorated this cake.  These people really don't know how lucky they were-ha!  I used Betty Crocker orange and green icing to pipe on a carrot design.

I drew the design in the icing with a knife instead of trying to free-hand draw with the icing.  I am not nearly talented enough to free-hand!  I had to re-do the image a few times until it was good enough to at least maybe kinda resemble a carrot!

I further accessorized with some walnuts around the edges of the cake to fancy it up just a bit more--whoah 


This cake was a big hit and rings in right around 200 calories a slice if you cut 16 slices.  Not bad for an indulgent treat  ;)  We took the leftovers back to Alabama with us and that is where they stayed.  Heaven knows these hips don't need it!

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Breakfast Casserole

Well my company is gone, I have traveled home and back, and this week is halfway over already--say what?!  I can't believe it.  Work seems to be busier by the day so the days are going so quickly!

One week ago at this very moment I was frantically finishing up some meal prep and house cleaning before my mom, grandmother and sister arrived.  They made it here about 730 last Wednesday night.  They were about an hour and a half off schedule because my mom missed a turn on the way here.  Nevertheless, they made it in one piece (or rather, 3!)  It was so exciting to have a house full of people!!  So exciting in fact that (as previously mentioned here) I couldn't even sleep Wednesday night!  haha.  I worked half of a day on Thursday then we set out for adventure.  We headed out to the Chickamauga Battlefield for an interesting blast into the past and afternoon Civil War lesson.  We started with a 25 minute video describing the various battles in the Chickamauga/Chattanooga area, and then we were able to drive through the battlefield stopping at various points for interesting facts.  At one point, we climbed a tower that reminded me of Rapunzel's and was 136 steps to the top!! Even Maire was panting when we reached the top.

Friday, we started the day in Chickamauga at some cute gift shops and boutiques.  We all had some great finds.  Grandma Dodie found a sugar and creamer set that was the fine China that her mother (my great grandma Ann) had picked out when she was married.  Dodie was so excited to find it (that woman loves some dishes/China!) that she splurged ans bought the set as her souvenir from the trip.  Mom found some great gifts for the Easter bunny to deliver  ;).  Afterwards, we picnicked at Coolidge Park in downtown Chattanooga and then we drove up, around, and back down Lookout Mountain.

Maire playing on the stone animals in the fountain.  Too bad it wasn't summer!!

It was coooold and windy at the top of Lookout Mountain!!

Saturday, we all showered and prepared for the 5 hour drive back to Alabama.  We were all so excited to make it home because daddy had just brought home two new bird dog pups on Thursday.  One of our females was bred and delivered the pups but sadly passed away during delivery.  Tab was a special dog to my daddy because she was a gift form my granddad.  Long story short, my dad is treating these precious babies like royalty and I think his love for Tab is the reason why.  These puppies get milk in their dog food AND are sleeping inside--they don't even know how lucky they are!  He has decided to name the pups Judy and Kate.  I have no idea where he gets this stuff!

Now, on to more important things.  like food.  specifically, breakfast casserole-mmm!!

You'll want to start with a roll of sausage.  I chose hot sausage, but if you prefer mild that would work too.  Since the sausage is ground and broken up though, the spiciness is definitely tolerable and not overbearing in this dish.  Brown the sausage and scramble until there is no more pink and drain the grease from the pan.  I let the sausage cool on a plate covered with a paper towel to soak up additional grease as well.

Break 7 large eggs into a mixing bowl and then break the yolks/scramble them with a fork or whisk.

Add plenty of salt and pepper to taste.

Add a whole 32 ounce bag frozen hash browns.  I used southern style diced.

Add the (cooled) browned sausage to the eggs and hash browns and throw in a large handful-1-1/2 cups-mozzarella cheese.  I also added about 1/2 cup 2% milk for extra creaminess.  I let this casserole sit overnight before baking it.  The hash browns will soak up a good bit of liquid if you do this so I especially recommend the milk if you are making this ahead of time!

Grease a 13x9 baking pan well and dump egg/sausage/cheese/hash brown mixture into pan.  Sprinkle with extra mozzarella if desired (of course!).  I wrapped the pan in tinfoil and refrigerated overnight.  The next morning while I was getting ready for work, I popped this guy in a 350 degree oven for about 35-40 minutes (until eggs were fully cooked and hardly jiggly).  I sampled a bite for breakfast and then left the rest for my company to enjoy while I was slaving away at work all morning.  From what I heard, they thoroughly enjoyed it.  And I know you will too!!  :)


Thursday, March 28, 2013

A quick hello

Just popping in for a quick hello to let you know I haven't forgotten you guys  :)  I have some very special house guests until Saturday morning.  I couldn't be more thrilled for my mom, grandmother (Dodie), and sister (Maire) to be here for a few days!!

We have had a ball so far.  They rolled in at about 730 last night and we sat around eating popcorn and having girly chats until 11 or so.  I worked half a day today, so we headed to bed for a little rest.  I don't know if it was allergies/Icouldn'tbreathe that kept me awake almost all night, the excitement of having company, or the fact that my mom snores, my grandma has a c-pap, and my sister sleep talks.  But for whatever reason, I couldn't fall asleep until almost 1 am and I awoke bright eyed and bushy tailed at 430 promptly.  I am hoping for a solid nights sleep tonight to say the least.

With company comes alot of great food and meal planning!  I prepared alot of things ahead of time so we could spend less time worrying about what to eat, and more time enjoying one another's company while we cook and eat!  On the menu for these few days we have (but are certainly not limited to):

1.  Breakfast casserole
2.  Chicken Salad on fresh Publix rolls
3.  Turkey Burgers with asparagus on the side
4.  Homemade, lightened up carrot cake--for Easter ya know.  And it's Dodies favorite.  Gotta maintain my status as the fave grandchild ya know?!  Ha, totally kidding.  For real.

Be expecting posts and recipes for each of the items listed above at the beginning of next week.  I will be busy hanging out with these ladies and then heading home with them for Easter.

 Happy Holy Week and may we give the utmost praise and honor to our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  The tomb was and still is empty, and for that we owe our existence to Him for all eternity.  God Bless and keep you and yours this Easter season.  May we daily remember the sacrifice that was made for us.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Grilled Peanut Butter

Howdy!! Today has been a coooooollldddd blustery day!  It has snowed all day long.  As a true south Alabama girl I am definitely not used to that-especially not in March-the week before Easter Sunday at that! While it did not snow yesterday, it was still pretty chilly when I got home from church and I was craving something warm in my belly.  But I was also craving peanut butter--imagine that?!

Earlier last week I was skyping with the fam and my sister, Theresa, told me about an awesome lunch she created with some ingredients at home. I was intrigued when she told me and decided that I would give it a go yesterday.

First things first, I put a nice smear of peanut butter on 1/2 of a whole wheat tortilla.

 I had a (not so) fresh banana that I needed to use up and this was a perfect place for it!  I sliced it up and added to the peanut butter and then sprinkled on a few frozen blueberries.

Props to those of you who were thinking I couldn't leave the other half of the wrap naked.  PB lovin' all around!

I folded the wrap in half and added a bit of butter to the outside to help the tortilla brown while I "grilled" it.

Be sure you stand over this little guy and give him lots of attention so he doesn't end up like mine.  I have Lifetime to thank for my scorched lunch!  I was sucked into some film I can't even remember now and next thing I know I see smoke a flyin'.  Thankfully, the burnt part flaked right off.  And the inside was a luscious and indulgent, rich and melty peanut butter layer of wonderfulness.  So all was still okay.  whewww

Slice 'er up and bite in!  You will want to try this one my dears  :)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Black Bean and Corn Enchiladas

Happy happy Saturday!  It has been a cold and wet day here in North Georgia/Southeast Tennessee.  Today started with a Pure Barre class and then I hit up the mall for some serious Easter dress shopping.  I went last weekend but could not find anything I felt worthy of my precious bills.  Today, I had no choice.  Since Easter is next weekend, I had to decide on one.  I ended up finding one that was -okay- at Belk.  Hopefully I will still like it by the time I have to wear it next Sunday.  Now I really need some help accessorizing.  Here is a pic of the dress.  Because of the lace I am not sure if the modern chunky jewelry is quite the right compliment for the dress.  I am thinking more simple and classic like a gold necklace and bracelet?  Also, shoes.  I have a pair of Lucky Brand heels that I love and was planning to wear with whatever dress I found, but now I am thinking they are too casual.  You would think at age 22 I could dress myself right?!  Nope.

I can kinda cook though-so let's talk food.  Even better, how about Mexican food!  I have had quite the craving for Mexican food lately so these enchiladas really hit the spot!  And I still have a couple of days worth of leftovers:  cha-ching!     

I made meatless enchiladas and used black beans as a protein, but you could certainly use/add chicken, beef, steak, pork, or whatever else suits your fancy.  

To make each enchilada, I coated one whole wheat tortilla shell with enchilada sauce.  I added heaping spoonfuls of corn and black beans to each.

Then I added a generous portion of mozzarella cheese to the mix-never can have enough cheese right?!

Roll up the tortilla shell and place it in a greased baking dish.  Continue until you have made your desired amount of enchiladas.  Since I made these all for me, myself, and I, I only made 5.  Then you simply pour the remaining enchilada sauce all over the roll-ups and then top them with the remaining cheese.  

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until the sauce is very bubbly and the cheese is melted and browning.  Let cool slightly, then serve 'em up!  I ate my enchiladas with a side of steamed broccoli that I cooked in the microwave.  

Enjoy these last few hours of you Saturday and have a restful Sunday!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Banana Berry Smoothie

Good evening!

Gosh, I feel like every Thursday grows longer and longer.  10 hours is a lot of time to talk about prenatal vitamins and to try to get kids to hold still long enough to measure them and to talk about milk and juice and eggs and fruits and vegetables.  Whew, I am always exhausted on a Thursday.  Luckily, I am able to use Thursday as my rest day too so I just come home and become a recluse!

This morning started out with a delicious smoothie!  I added one whole banana and about 3/4 cup frozen berries to the food processor (obviously a blender is recommended here-but I don't have one-ha!)

Then, I added a heaping spoonful of yogurt for some extra staying power.  I bought this yogurt last week because the store was out of greek yogurt.  Honestly, I think it is terrible.  But, I don't want to be wasteful so adding to a smoothie is a great way to disguise the taste and texture of this yogurt.  Like I said last night, I'm kindof a greek yogurt snob these days.  

I blended that together for a few good pulses, then added almond milk until it reached my desired consistency.  It turned out to be a beautiful color as well.  What a nice way to start my morning!!

While I sipped on my smoothie, I prepared lunch for today.  I topped some hearts of romaine with turkey breast, pepper jack cheese, and cranberry and blueberry craisins--yummmmm!  I packed some low fat poppyseed dressing on the side.  I LOVE this salad!!  I ate an apple after I finished my salad at lunch time too!   About 4 o' clock I was ravenous and devoured a Blueberry Bliss LUNA Bar.  I love LUNA bars but have never had the blueberry before:  Divine for real.  Perfect snack to hold me until dinnertime too.

Once I got home, I immediately changed into my pajamas and cooked a large pan of corn and black bean enchiladas.  They turned out great--recipe to come tomorrow!

For dessert, I had a couple of spoonfuls of peanut butter and a couple of bites of yogurt.  

I plan to watch Scandal in a bit before hitting the hay for the last work day this week-yahooo!!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Happy First Day of Spring!!

Hey friends!  Hope you had a wondrous Wednesday  :)

I devoured another batch of Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie Dough Overnight Oats this morning for breakfast.  It is so great to have breakfast practically ready in the mornings.  Especially these past few mornings when the snooze button has become a pretty good friend of mine!

For lunch I had some delicious chicken salad on croissants that the Yawn's gave me last night.  They invited me over for dinner last night and prepared pan-seared salmon, hashbrowns, and yummy salad!  After dinner we all gathered round and watched Hotel Transylvania.  I made it through the first hour (maybe) before I had to head home for bed. haha!

This afternoon I got home from work and quickly changed into some exercise clothes.  The high today was about 62 and they are predicting highs only in the 40s tomorrow--some high right?!  I wanted to get in a good walk today and soak up what little bit of the warmth we received on this first day of spring!  After my walk (about 2.7 miles)  I headed off to Pure Barre for a workout.  I am so addicted to Pure Barre!!

When I got home, I could not decided what I wanted for dinner.  I thought about cooking, but nothing sounded good.  I finally decided I was craving a souped up yogurt parfait.  I have eaten a lot of these suckers lately--so tasty!

I started with a couple of dollops of unflavored greek yogurt as my base-I love greek yogurt and can hardly eat regular yogurt now that I am used to the thicker consistency.  Much more filling too!

Then I added some golden flax seed.  I love the flax because it is a great source of fiber 
and adds a consistency and subtle sweetness that reminds me of graham cracker crumbs

Then I added a nice heaping handful of both cranberry craisins and blueberry craisins.
If you have not had the blueberry craisins let me just tell you:  you are missing out man.  
They are perfectly tangy and sweet.  
Simply irresistable.  

Then just give the whole thing a nice honey drizzle.  Since I use plain yogurt, it is 
reeaaalllly strong, so I have to add a little honey to cut the pungency. 
 I would rather add my own honey than choose an artifically flavored yogurt though.  
I love honey anyways,  On just about anything.  
Kinda want to have bees when I grow up.  I will be bff's with the queen.

And there you have it.  This first day of spring's dinner!  This always fills me up and seems to satisfy any kind of sweet craving I might be having as well.  Plus it is a great source of fiber  ;)

Earlier this week, I broke down and bought some new songs on iTunes.  It's been a while and there are a few songs I have been wanting in my library for a while now.  Here's what I am jamming to these days:  

While I'm Waiting   John Waller
Hear You Me       Jimmy Eat World
Runnin' Outta Moonlight Randy Houser
Slow Fade               Casting Crowns
All Over the Road     Easton Corbin
Radioactive               Imagine Dragons
Love Is Not a Fight Warren Barfield
Lead Me to the Cross  Hillsong United

Hope it is warm and sunny wherever you are during these first few days of spring-I envy you if it is!!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie Dough Overnight Oats

Hi friends!

I am here with a recipe!!  Wahoo!  I have been noticing a trend on some of the blogs I follow about some phenomenon known as "overnight oats".  I have been both leary and anxious to try them out and decided that last night would be the night.  The recipe I followed was very simple.  Simply put 3/4 cup dry regular oats in a bowl.  Add 1/2 cup milk (I used vanilla almond milk and credit it for the not-overly-sweet flavor). Stir in 1 heaping over the sides tablespoon of creamy peanut butter.  Give that bowl a few really good whisks and stirs, and pop it in the fridge to "soak" overnight.

When you wake up the next morning, you will simply need to roll right out of bed, stroll to the kitchen, open up your fridge, and find this:

A very rich cake like mixture of oats.  

As you can see here, it makes a thick compact layer.  While there is some moisture from the almond milk, I prefer my oats to have a bit more consistency than this so I added a little bit more almond milk.  
Just enough to get everything moving again.

Much better!  And oh my goodness were these uber tasty or what.  Since it is served chilled, it seriously tastes like cookie dough for breaskfast!  Peanut butter Oatmeal cookie dough at that!  If you fancy, you can even add some toppings like peanuts, fresh fruit, or a handful of chocolate chips for a bit of extra indulgence. If I hadn't refrained from sweets for my Lenten sacrifice-you would have seen chocolate chips here  :)

Okay so please tell me I am not the only one who watched and kept up with this season of The Biggest Loser?!  I absolutely love this show and I found this season to be extra inspirational.  Not sure if it was the return of Jillian Michaels, the incorporation of teens and their fitness goals, or watching these morbidly obese humans shedding pounds week after week that got me but I found myself in tears at some point during almost every episode (I partly blame this on living alone-but that's another post in itself!--haha).  
Anyways, the finale was tonight and my homegirl Dani reined victorious!  
Yayyy Dani-she has been my favorite all season long  :)