Creamy Mango Orange Sorbet

Let me tell you how excited I am right now.

Okay, ready?

I’M TOTALLY STOKED!

My bested friend, Scott, is coming to visit us this weekend. Admitting that we have not seen each other for 6 months would make me a horrible friend, right? Well, then, I won’t admit to that. However, in the {slightly} significant period of time since I have last seen Scott he has bought a brand new car, traveled to New England for the government, his sister got engaged, Nick and I started a business, and started building a house.

My, my how life quickly swirls about.

I’m totally excited to see him.

Oh and if you didn’t realize it yet, I’m back! Sometimes regrouping is all one needs to rebound from a lull in life and food. I have great plans for the upcoming weeks and I’m excited to share some of these fantastic recipes that I have in my mind. I’m starting off easy today with this perfectly Sweet and Creamy Orange Mango Sorbet.

Nutritional Information
Servings: 1
Calories: 132.5
Fat: 0 g
Carbohydrates: 33 g
Fiber: 3.5 g
Protein: 2.3 g
Points+: 4

Ingredients:

½ cup mangos {fresh or frozen}

¼ cup fat free vanilla ice cream

¼ cup orange juice

½ cup ice

Directions:

Add all of the ingredients to your favorite blender and blend until you find your desired consistency. It should not be smoothie like, just a bit thicker.

If you want to make this a smoothie just add a bit more orange juice and VOILA!

I hope you love this as much as I did!

xoxo Mel

Summer Fruit, Feta & Candied Pecan Salad

So I just finished a bowl of macaroni & cheese and a cup of diet coke. I think it all equals out… I think. You will see the recipe for this macaroni & cheese later this week, be prepared. Arguably, I think it is the best mac ‘n’ cheese I have made to date. *Gasp*

It is that good.

I started writing a blog post earlier and was sidetracked. My alternate path led to this blog post on Because Life is Complicated Enough… go read it!

Anyway, after being a glutton with my macaroni & cheese I thought it important to talk about a really healthy salad for these warm summer days.
See, I’m giving you very, very healthy meals so you can save your calories this week. Believe me after I share this macaroni & cheese recipe you will start saving your calories just so you can eat as much as you want.

Really, it is THAT good.

Okay, okay. I won’t mention it again… at least not in this post. Let’s get down to my salad, which just came to me one day. Take a look at this Summer Fruit, Feta & Candied Pecan Salad.

Oh man, it’s so drool worthy.

Nutritional Information:
Servings: about 8
Serving Size: about 1 ½ cup
Calories: 95
Fat: 5.2 g
Carbohydrates: 9.5 g
Fiber: 1.3 g
Protein: 3.8 g
Points+: 3

Ingredients:

18 candied pecans, chopped

2 bags of salad mix {choose your favorite}

½ cup feta, crumbled

¼ cup Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 pear, chopped

1 peach, chopped

1 plum, chopped

Directions:

Mix all of the ingredients together and ENJOY!

This recipe is super easy and perfect for any summer evening. It’s been very hot here lately and this comes together in minutes and doesn’t require any heat in the kitchen.
Enjoy!

xoxo Mel

Stuffed Feta & Spinach Sliders

Have you all heard about the Pennsylvania State University {PSU} scandal? I guess you would have had to be living under a rock since November to miss it. I grew up in Central Pennsylvania; I was born and raised there. State College {home to PSU} is right down the street from me. Many of my friends were and still are die-hard Penn Staters.

I never was.

I do not know why I chose to rebel against PSU. I grew up obsessed with Notre Dame. When I was in department stores I would make a beeline toward the Notre Dame apparel; I mean, who doesn’t like a warm college sweatshirt in the fall? I had to navigate all around the PSU gear.

Though I have never been a fan of Penn State I never harbored any resentment or hate for the school. And while I never was attached to the school I do have some serious opinions and analysis of this scandal that has unfolded for the past 6 or 7 months.

I will not express those opinions on this section of my website because I think it may garner a response that will be ugly. However, I will say this: we must remember that innocent children were harmed, assaulted and victimized at the hands of an adult. As a society it is our duty to protect and nurture children. Those actions {and inactions} that led directly to the abuse should be punished. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the lawful thing to do. It’s the moral thing to do.

If anybody can say otherwise needs a reality check.

Now football season is officially on the path to game-day. I mean the Steelers reported to camp this week, right? One of the best things about the fall is all of the delicious tailgates associated with football. I have a FANTASTIC recipe for your first tailgate… OR for your next cookout. Take a look at these Stuffed Feta & Spinach Sliders!

Nutritional Information:
Servings: 8
Serving Size: 1 hamburger + 1 Slider Bun
Calories: 255
Fat: 10.1 g
Carbohydrates: 18.5 g
Fiber: 1 g
Protein: 20.5 g
Points+: 6

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef

½ cup feta

½ to 1 cup chopped spinach

1 teaspoon lemon juice

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Make 16 small round beef patties

In a medium bowl mix together feta, spinach, lemon juice, salt and pepper

Take about half a tablespoon of the mixture and put it in the middle of 8 of the hamburger patties

Top each of the stuffed patties with the other patty

Seal the edges completely so the mixture is secure and will not ooze out while grilling

Grill until the beef is fully cooked and the cheese is nice and melted

Grill a hamburger slider bun, top with some extra spinach, tomato and mustard!

ENJOY!

I hope you give these a try. They are delicious!

xoxo Mel 

Feta & Strawberry Balsamic Summer Salad

I don’t come from a big family; in fact, I don’t have any brothers or sisters. I am okay with it… now. Obviously as a kid I wanted a companion to play with or a brother to defend me, but I coped and realized having no siblings guaranteed my privacy, something that is incredibly important to me.

Text Redacted

I have decided for the sanity of my boyfriend to redact all of the paragraphs that once existed. Never did I believe my rants would create such drama, as I periodically have much to rant about. To ensure that the dynamic between Nick and his family does not change I have decided to delete much of my text. 

I knew I had to take my approach to cooking to another level… nothing extravagant, but just something that would make him happy. Nick LOVES salads, so I decided to make a fun summer salad last night for him. He LOVED it, which made me happy! Take a look at this Feta & Strawberry Balsamic Summer Salad! Yummo!

Nutritional Information:
Servings:  2
Calories: 159
Fat: 6.5 g
Carbohydrates: 5 g
Fiber: 0* g
Protein: 18.5 g
Points+: 4
*Fiber content for fruit/salad content not calculated

Ingredients:

1 bag salad mix

1 ½ cups strawberries, sliced

½ cup blueberries

¼ cup balsamic vinaigrette

3 ounces grilled chicken, sliced

2 ounces feta, crumbled

Directions:

In a medium sized mixing bowl add the sliced strawberries and the balsamic vinaigrette.

In a large bowl, add the salad mix, strawberries covered in balsamic vinaigrette, blueberries. Mix together thoroughly

Top with the sliced grilled chicken and feta

Enjoy!!

This was so easy to make and such a great dinner on a warm summer’s eve. I hope it cheers you up like it cheered us up!!

xoxoxo Mel

Jalapeño Popper Dip

I don’t know about you but I stuffed myself silly yesterday – plenty of hot dogs, grilled chicken, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes and enough popsicles to make a pool full of kids giddy with excitement. Too bad for them that I was in the comfort of my home and those kids poolside missed out on my popsicles.

Don’t worry, I spent some time at the pool, catching rays and reading my book yesterday but it was too hot to spend too much time there AND there were too many people competing for limited space in our salt water pool.

Okay enough rambling, let’s talk food. One of my favorite combinations of food is spicy jalapeno mixed with sharp cheddar cheese, melted cream cheese and bits of bacon. I get all sorts of excited when I think about it. I made the best Jalapeno Popper Dip the other day. I served it with chips, but that was really a technicality. I was ready to go face first into the dish when it came out of the oven – chips or not.

Take a look! Can you really blame me?

That’s what I thought.

Nutritional Information:
Servings: varied
Serving Size: about ¼ cup
Calories: 147.7
Fat: 9.1 g
Carbohydrates: 3.9 g
Fiber: .1 g
Protein: 13.5 g
Points+: 4

Ingredients:

Recipe Adapted from Closet Cooking 

1 (8 ounce) package fat free cream cheese, room temperature

½ cup Greek Yogurt

1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese

¾ cup parmigiano reggiano, grated & divided

1 (4 ounce) can sliced jalapenos, drained

1 ½ jalapeno peppers, small dice

¼ cup breadcrumbs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Mix the cream cheese, Greek yogurt, cheddar cheese, ½ cup Parmesan cheese and jalapenos in a bowl and pour into a baking dish

Mix the breadcrumbs and the remaining Parmesan cheese together. Then sprinkle over the dip

Bake in oven until sides are bubbling and the cheese has melted and turned golden brown on top, about 30 minutes

Serve with chips and ENJOY!

Oh and enjoy we did. I enjoyed more than Nick. He has learned there are few foods that I go goo-goo over and the spicy jalapeno and cheddar combination is one of them. He tries to humor me and takes only a small portion so that I can eat as much as I want uninhibited by guilt over sharing. {Don’t worry, I usually have plenty of other food on these occasions in a whole-hearted attempt to lure those around me to another food selection… smart, eh?}

Enjoy! Xoxo Mel 

{Large} Independence Day Popsicles

I don’t know about you but I happen to love most of the seasons for different reasons. For example, I love winter for the exact reason most people hate it: snow, lots and lots of snow. I would be happy to hibernate under blankets of the white stuff all winter so long as I could, you know, get the necessary supplies to my house, which would most definitely include ingredients for macaroni & cheese, soda and serious snacks {among a plethora of other things}.

For summer, however, I love the season for the amazing thunderstorms our atmosphere helps produce. I could sit and watch the mighty lightning light up the skies and the thunder shake the ground beneath my feet. I love watching sheets of rain fly past me {in the comfort of my home, obviously}.

Oh, but that’s not the only thing I love about summer. Nope. I love the that it is warm enough for me to eat 20 popsicles and drink plenty of slushes without a second thought. I love iced treats. In fact, I could eat a box of popsicles in one sitting without much guilt.

Because the 4th of July is, well, TOMORROW I though I would try to make my own flavored popsicles to celebrate our Independence Day. And while the recipe worked I did a couple of things wrong – first, I used a cup that was too large to sustain my Popsicle dreams {can you believe it? A Popsicle that is too large for moi?}; and, second, I used a blue beverage that was not dark enough. These Independence Day Popsicles are absolutely DELICIOUS though. Take a look!

Nutritional Information
Servings: 1 Popsicle
Calories: 27.9
Fat: 0 g
Carbohydrates: 7.5 g
Fiber: 0 g
Protein: 0 g
Points+: 1

Ingredients:

Recipe Adapted from My Recipes

1 ½ cups light lemonade

1 ½ cups red sports drink {like Gatorade}

1 ½ cups {dark} blue sports drink {like Gatorade}

Directions:

Arrange 6 {4 ounce} plastic cups on a baking sheet and divide the Red Gatorade evenly among them

Place baking sheet in freezer and freeze until juice is almost firm, about an hour

Insert craft sticks into center of slightly frozen juice

Divide lemonade evenly among cups to make a second layer.

Freeze until hard, about 2 hours

Pour blue Gatorade over lemonade layer and free until solid, about 3 hours

Gently pull each ice pop out of its cup {you can use a knife to help extract the popsicle}.

Serve Immediately!!

Good luck trying to devoir this popsicle before it melts on your hands. That is the my one critical error with this recipe – not thinking the 4 ounce cup was going to be large enough for my love of popsicles.

If you’re looking to serve a cool Independence Day Drink at your picnic or party tomorrow, take a look at my 4th of July Red, White and Blue summer drink from last year!!

Enjoy! 

A Slight Hiatus Yields Great Pictures

Hey Foodies! It has been a few… months. It seems recently like I keep scrambling back to you apologetic for a long absent. I cannot seem to get away from these minor hiccups taking over my life.

They are not so bad, so I cannot complain about sickness or injury. I have been very lucky to travel with Nick on a TDY, spend a few days on Grampstr’s Endeavour and finalize some decisions on our house. We are well on our way!

Nick and I spent the entirety of last week in a hotel room. I enjoyed reading my book, sitting by the pool and chowing down on some good breakfast food at the hotel. They had my favorite – bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches. Can you believe I ate 3 in one day?

We left straight away on Friday so we could get up North to the design studio to finalize some options we chose for our house. After that we were to settle into Baltimore for a long weekend. A 70 mile trip took us 4 hours.

It. Was. Hell.

Pip & Sophie travel well together!

We finally got to the boat, enjoyed some time together and passed out! You would think the story line ends there?

Nope!

We were due at a wedding in Pennsylvania on Saturday evening. So we left Baltimore with dress clothes and four dogs {Nick’s parent’s own two yorkies. In fact, they are pippy’s fur mom and fur dad!}  We made it in time to celebrate the union, enjoy great celebration and conversation… and then we drove all night to get back to the boat on Saturday in order to miss any elongated drive in traffic through Baltimore.

Whew!

On Sunday we enjoyed a bunch of time with each other, it was Father’s Day after all. I cooked breakfast for Nick’s dad on the boat. For a small area, it was not so intolerable. I actually enjoyed cooking on the boat. After brunch we all sat around talking, I went up top to sit on the boat deck to catch some rays, read a book and enjoy the atmosphere that surrounded me. It was not long after that the Air Force began flying over us, providing a spectacular show! We took something like 1100 pictures.

Sophie enjoying The Grampstrs Endeavour!

Oh and we ate phenomenal Greek Food. See.

Finally, on Monday, after more than a week of being away Nick and I returned home, but not before we squeezed in 2 more meetings about the house. Oh yes, we were multi-taskers this week!

Here are a few pictures of my incredible week and weekend!  Let me know if you’re interested in chartering a boat… I know a guy! You will not be disappointed with the experience, I can tell you that much!

I want to express my sincere appreciation for all of you sticking with me during this incredibly hectic time. Buying a house, traveling and becoming increasingly busy is a wonderful thing, yet it also means not everything gets accomplished like it used to. I haven’t been cooking at all. I hope to get back to it in the next couple of days. I miss it, I mean when you do something often enough and are dedicated enough it becomes part of you. It begins to define who you are. Thank you for your tolerance with my sporadic posting, it means a lot to me!

xoxo Mel

Bacon Stuffed Pancake Muffins w/ Syrup

Happy Hump Day foodies! I am having very weird cravings the last few days. From wanting mashed potatoes with gravy, macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, hard boiled egg sandwiches smothered in mustard on top of gooey melted cheese and potato chips. Such is my life.

As I was daydreaming about all of these deliciously fattening foods yesterday, I had a moment of complete genius. You see, I had some bacon I needed to use up and I was at a loss of what to make for dinner. I decided on breakfast for dinner because we had some hard-boiled eggs that I HAD to make a sandwich out of, but I knew that would not cut it for Nick.

I thought about pancakes. I thought about waffles. I thought about a myriad of other options, all of which required some sort of cooking equipment from my pantry that I did not want to get out.

What’s a foodie to do? I will tell you – become a creative genius. I decided to make Bacon Stuffed Pancake Muffins injected with Maple Syrup. Oh yes, you read that correctly. I stuffed muffin tins with pancake batter and crispy bacon to make an incredibly new and delicious breakfast option.

Nutritional Information
Servings: about 12
Serving Size: 1 Bacon Pancake Muffin with 1 tablespoon
Calories: 157.5
Fat:2.9 g
Carbohydrates: 28.2 g
Fiber: .5 g
Protein: 4.3 g
Points+: 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups bisquick
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon Splenda
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked crispy and small dice
  • ¾ cup maple syrup

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  • Grease a cupcake tin and set aside
  • In a large bowl combine the bisquick, eggs, milk, Splenda and diced bacon
  • Combine so that all of the ingredients are completely integrated and there are minimal bubble pockets in the bisquick
  • Using 1/3 cup measuring cup, fill the cupcake tin
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean
  • Using a cooking syringe, inject 1-tablespoon syrup in the top of each bacon pancake muffin
  • Remove and ENJOY!

These were so fun to make. Nick was thoroughly impressed with my ingenuity. I didn’t admit it, but so was I. I was slightly concerned that the bisquick was not going to fluff up the way I wanted it to when cooked in the muffin tin. I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized everything was coming together very well.

This is going on the permanent rotation for breakfast foods. I mean who would not love biting into a pancake muffin to find it filled with crispy bacon pieces and maple syrup?? That’s what I thought, NOBODY!

Enjoy,

Mel

Taco Stuffed Quesadillas

I am on my own this week, foodies. I contemplated not making anything all week and just eating individual frozen meals, because making food is only fun when I have my panda bear around to eat the leftovers. You see, I have a difficult time cooking for one and I typically don’t eat the leftovers. Then I got a brilliant idea; why not cook fun recipes that I can scale to one person?

Oh, I should mention that I am on my own, not because Nick died during the Historic Half Marathon on Sunday, but because he is out of town on business. #boring. Since I brought up the Half Marathon I should tell you that Nick finished on Sunday. I did not know how long it would take him to finish, so I just doubled the time it took him to run the 10k back in March. Wouldn’t you know, he finished right on par with that time… and he did NOT TRAIN for this run. Yep, you read that correctly – NICK DID NOT TRAIN FOR THIS HALF MARATHON. I was very worried for him. However, I was relieved, impressed and so proud of him when he crossed the finish line. He was and still is in a lot of pain, but he made it. I cannot help but to think how well he would have done had to trained for the half-marathon.

Anyway, let us get back to the food. Today I have Taco Stuffed Quesadillas. Oh yes. They are delicious!

Nutritional Information
Servings: 4
Serving Size: 2 quesadilla triangles
Calories: 224.6
Fat: 8.8 g
Carbohydrates: 21 g
Fiber: 3 g
Protein: 15.2 g
Points+: 6

Ingredients: 

  • 4 tortilla shells
  • ¼ pound beef
  • 2 ounces cheese, shredded
  • ¼ of a small onion, small dice
  • Jalapeno, small dice
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Cumin
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Chili powder
  • Pepper
  • Hot sauce
  • Water 

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  • In a medium sized frying pan, heat oil over medium – high heat
  • Add ground beef and cook thoroughly, about 10 to 15 minutes
  • Drain the ground beef
  • In the same frying pan add the onion and jalapeno and cook until translucent, about 6 minutes
  • Once vegetables are cooked, add the beef, all of the seasonings and about 3 tablespoons water to the frying pan and let simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes. Add additional water to keep the mixture moist looking
  • Remove from heat and divide the mixture evenly over 2 tortilla shells
  • Sprinkle 1 ounce of cheese over the taco meat
  • Cover the mixture with the other tortilla shells and press each down to look like a quesadilla
  • Now seal each tortilla round {you will have two whole quesadillas} with a fork, pressing around the edges. You may have to dip the fork into some water to ensure a complete seal
  • Bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until the tortillas are golden brown
  • Remove, slice into quarters and ENJOY!

You may want to dip these in some marinara or taco sauce. I did, but it’s up to you! They are so good. The hard part is not gobbling 6 of them down at a sitting. Believe me when I say it is VERY difficult!

I hope you give them a try.

Until Next Time,

Happy Cooking 

Strawberry Pineapple Fruit Smoothie

It’s happening again, I am addicted to popsicles. In the last 24 hours I have consumed something like 15 popsicles. First it was the box of Sour Patch Kids popsicles then it was the Fla-vor Ice Pops that I hold very dear to my heart.

I have a problem.

Not only am I severely addicted; my popsicles are not freezing fast enough. Yes, I am eating them faster than they are freezing.

Oh boy.

The addiction is worse than I remember. I mean it is only the middle of April; I should not be this obsessed. I shiver all winter long and wear the heaviest clothes lest I turn blue AND it was in the 30s last night, yet I am downing popsicles like it is 85 degrees outside.

I’m doomed.

I give my box of 100 popsicles a week… MAX!

In order to offset my unhealthy addiction to popsicles, potato chips, macaroni and cheese and random beverages filled with sugar I thought I would make a fruit smoothie. I thought I would share it with you all today.

I happen to love smoothies, though I love slushes much more. Okay, I digress.

Today I have a fabulous Pineapple and Strawberry Smoothie. Prepare yourselves for the best tasting fruit smoothie you have ever had. {Period}

Nutritional Information
Servings: 1
Calories: 51.25
Fat: 0 g
Carbohydrates: 12.6 g
Fiber: 0 g
Protein: 0 g
Points+: 1

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup whole strawberries, stems removed
  • ¼ cup pineapple, cubed + a bit of the pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons French Vanilla Yogurt Fruit Dip
  • 2 tablespoons Cranberry & Concord Grape Juice
  • Whipped Cream {optional} 

Directions:

  • Add all of the ingredients to a blender.
  • Blend for 30 seconds or until you reach your desired consistency
  • Pour into a glass. Garnish with a whole strawberry and a bit of whipped cream.
  • ENJOY!

You want the whipped cream, hands down. One of my favorite things to do is slice a hole in the middle of the strawberry and fill it with whipped cream. Seriously, it is my FAVORITE thing to do in the summertime. Sometimes I eat so much fruit during the day that I am stuffed when it is time to eat a real meal.

You should definitely go into your kitchen and make this smoothie!!

Until Next Time,

Happy Smoothie Makin’

Blueberry Sweet Tea

Happy Tuesday foodies! I hope everybody’s week started well. Nick and I had to go to the BMW dealership in Alexandria yesterday, I love it there. It’s HUGE and the people are relatively kind. Plus it gives me an opportunity to look at all of the brand new cars.

I like to drool over things like that.

We have a loaner. It’s a 2012 328xi, which is the exact car we have, but ours is a couple of years older. I think BMW gives loaner cars out very strategically – they attempt to lure you into buying a new model by allowing you to test drive a brand new car for 24 hours. This time I think it is backfiring a little bit. They gave us an automatic, which is a drawback for Nick and I. We really like standard transmission cars. Not only that, there seems to be a lag in acceleration. We do not like that one bit.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful and POWERFUL car, but I think we’re going to end up buying another model. We need a 4-door vehicle. We have essentially grown out of our coupe. And, because I am a forward thinker, I think getting a larger vehicle will give us an opportunity to grow into it.

Think I’m talking about kids? Well, you’re kind of right. But I am talking more along the lines of fur-babies.

Nick and I don’t plan on having kids.

EVER.

We have very specific reasons for not wanting kids, but I do not want to offend my readers. So I will just say we love dogs more! J

Anyway, because we were in Alexandria yesterday we ended up having dinner out...again. We are TIRED of restaurant life, but this weekend was hectic so that was really our easiest option. We’ll get back to homemade basics tonight or tomorrow {we have a TON of leftovers}.

However, I do still have a clutch recipe that is actually pretty PERFECT for this warm weather. About a year ago I blogged about Sweet Tea, which just happens to be one of my MOST BELOVED drinks in the entire world; especially when it is SWEET tea. Well, I had this brilliant stroke of genius to amp up my beloved drink with some different flavors. Born from that stroke of genius was Blueberry Sweet Tea. Hello, my new friend!

Nutritional Information:
Servings: 3
Serving Size: 1 glass
Calories: 35
Fat: .5 g
Carbohydrates: 8.5 g
Fiber: 2 g
Protein: 0 g
Points+: 0**

** There are actually NO points in this drink because the fruit is a free food {based on your daily intake}. Drink without guilt!

Ingredients: 

  • 1 ½ cups to 2 cups blueberries
  • ½ cup to ¾ cup Splenda PLUS 4 tablespoons
  • 1 Family Style Tea Bag
  • 4 ¼ cups COLD water, divided

Instructions:

  • Add two cups of the cold water to a saucepan
  • Bring to a boil, remove from heat and place the teabag in the pot
  • Steep for 3 to 5 minutes
  • Pour into a pitcher and add sugar. Begin with ½ cup, add more for your desired sweetness
  • Stir until dissolved
  • Add the additional two cups cold water and stir
  • Now, add the blueberries to a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add the last ¼ cup water with the 4 tablespoons Splenda.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes until there are plenty of juice reduction
  • Strain the blueberry reduction, making sure no blueberries sneak through
  • Pour a cup of tea into a chilled cup. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the blueberry reduction and mix together thoroughly.
  • If you don’t have a chilled cup {I did not have one!}, add some ice & ENJOY!

This was such a great adaptation to traditional sweet tea. The best part is you can add your favorite flavors to your sweet tea without much guilt or hesitation. Go ahead and give it a try!

Until Next Time,

Happy Drinkin’ 

Strawberry Orange Sorbet

Good morning foodies! I hope your Monday is starting off well. This weekend was quite the weekend for Nick and I. On Saturday he ran his first 10k. The Irish Sprint 10k was my first run to attend. I am not a runner by nature; in fact, I don’t think I will ever be a runner.

I am okay with that.

Nick did such a great job. One of the benefits of running the Irish Sprint 10k was the Golden Ticket everybody received that crossed the finish line. Wondering why the golden ticket is significant? Well, it gives you an automatic entrance into the Marine Corp Marathon.

Awesome, huh?

Needless to say, Saturday was a very long, but relaxing day {at least later in the day after the race!} I really enjoyed myself. I was able to meet a couple of Nick’s coworkers/friends. It’s always great to expand your friendship networks. Best part: Nick was the lone Army man amongst three Marines. I giggled a little when I got home.

Now I guess we wait and train for the next run, which comes up soon!

And by we, I mean Nick will train and I will encourage him. It’s a great relationship, don’t hate.

I was worried that Nick would be immobile on Sunday after his race. But, like a trooper, he got up and we met with our realtor for the first time. He took us to see a couple of properties and got to know our likes and dislikes a little bit. I felt very encouraged by his expertise and knowledge. I think this is the beginning of a great relationship. He really seems to fight for his clients, and I like that.

Because this weekend was so crazy, I did not have much time to cook {and I was not complaining about that.} Sometimes a foodie needs a break.

However, I do have a little something, which I think is really incredible. Take a look at this fabulously sweet and tart Strawberry Orange Sorbet.

Oh yes. Sorbet. Oh and it’s absolutely guilt free to eat.

Nutritional Information:
Servings: 3
Serving Size: ½ cup + handful of blueberries
Calories: 66.6
Fat: 0 g
Carbohydrates: 14.5 g
Fiber: 0 g
Protein: 1.8 g
Points+: 2

Ingredients: 

  • 1 tablespoon half and half {add another tablespoon if you want a creamier flavor}
  • 1 strawberry yogurt {I used Dannon light & fit}
  • 2 to 3 ounces orange juice concentrate
  • ¾ cup ice cubes
  • Small handful of fruit of your choice, I used blueberries 

Directions:

  • In a blender, blend the half & half, yogurt and orange juice concentrate until thoroughly mixed
  • Add the ice cubes and blend until the cubes are broken and smoothly integrated into the yogurt mixture
  • Spoon ½ cup of the mixture into ice cream bowls. Freeze for about 30 minutes
  • Remove, top with some fruit and ENJOY!

This is totally delicious, easy to make and healthy! You don’t have to worry about any special machines and it is a perfect sweet and cold treat on warm spring days!

Go ahead and give it a try. Use your favorite flavors, anything will work!

Until Next Time,

Happy Creating

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Apple Blueberry Fruit Smoothie

Happy Tuesday! I have a great recipe for you today that will be a fabulous twist on your morning breakfast routine, especially with this nice weather coming up. Speaking about nice weather, it was absolutely gorgeous yesterday and the rest of the week may prove to be the same way.

We all know how much I adore winter.

However, I guess this nice weather is okay.

But, just okay. Nothing more.

I am paying particular attention to the weather and its minute fluctuations because Nick is running a 10k this Saturday. It appears that there may be some periodic thunderstorms during his run on Saturday. And the supreme controllers of the run will not cancel because of rain or thunderstorms.

#PandaProblems!

Anyway, enough about the weather. Let’s move on to something that intrigues at this very moment: Shah’s of Sunset. Have any of you heard of this new show on BravoTV? I vowed that I would not watch this show when it came out. But I did.

You see, I have an unhealthy addiction to watching other people’s lives.
It’s an obsession. Nick thinks I should have been a psychologist or something because I am so intrigued by others and then I analyze them to the nth degree.

Some may call that being judgmental. However, that is a To-may-to versus To-mah-to argument in my book.

Now back to the show. It’s incredible. I just watched these group of pretentious spoiled brats sit down at a dinner table at an Americanized Kabob restaurant argue about religion – Persian , Muslim, and Jewish – and why they are not marriage material. It was like watching a mini debate amongst people who just do not get that there is a real conflict that exists between the Persians, Muslims and Israelis {and various other groups}.

This show is incredible. I have a hard time turning it off for a couple of reasons. First, watching people’s lives intrigues me. Second, it’s like a train wreck. It’s very hard to look away. Really, I have a hard time not supporting stupid shows. I need a break from my brain and these “reality” shows do the trick!

Okay, okay, okay. I can almost feel people rolling their eyes at my post today. Let’s move on.  Today I have a delicious Blueberry Apple Smoothie. I made it this weekend for Nick and I. It was a perfect addition to our Sunday morning brunch! I hope you love it as much as we did!

Nutritional Information:
Servings: 2
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories: 127.5
Fat: 0 g
Carbohydrates: 10.7 g
Fiber: 4 g
Protein: 2.5 g
Points+: 1

Ingredients: 

  • 1 {6 ounce} cup blueberry yogurt
  • ½ cup OceanSpray Light Cranberry & Concord Grape Juice
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple, cored and rough chop
  • 1.5 to 2 cups ice

Directions: 

  • Add the yogurt, ¼ cup of the juice, apple & blueberries to the blender. Mix until smooth
  • Add the ice and blend until the ice is completely crushed
  • If you like your smoothie’s thinner, add a bit more juice. I used the entire ½ cup juice because Nick likes thinner smoothie’s.
  • Remove to a glass, garnish with a couple of blueberries and enjoy every sip!

We really loved this smoothie. I was concerned about mixing the blueberries with an apple, but the flavor of the apple really made this drink special. Give it a try because you will NOT be disappointed!

Until Next Time,

Happy Creating

 

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Wordless Wednesday - Knoebels Grove


 

Labor Day Recipe Round-up

Happy Sunday Foodies!! I hope you all are enjoying your weekend so far! Tomorrow is Labor Day and my hope is that you all have off and are able to enjoy some special time with your family and friends. Many of us celebrate Labor Day with a big end – of – summer picnic and festivities with our family and friends. I know that you’re probably in the midst of planning a fun picnic menu and I thought that I would help you in some way. So today I am giving you a Labor Day Recipe Roundup of some recipes that I think will pair well with your Labor Day picnic festivities!

Let's first start with some yummy breakfast ideas.

Cinnamon Bubble Buns

Hint of Dijon Egg McMuffin

Cinnamon & Sugar French Toast

And some Appetizers:

Mini Chicken Lasagna Cups

Fried Pickles

Now on to the Main Courses:

Smoked Ribs

Kicked up Blue Cheese Hamburger Sliders

Beef & Cheddar Roast Beef Sandwiches

Middle Eastern Style Chicken Pita Sandwiches

What's a picnic without some sides?

Corn on the Cob with Spicy Jalapeno Garlic Butter

Cucumber Salad

Cheesiest Broccoli & Rice Casserole

Grilled Romaine with Spicy Sausage & Blue Cheese - Balsamic Vinaigrette

And for some dessert?

Grilled Nectarines with Raspberry Sorbet

Homemade Caramel Popcorn

I hope you all have a fabulous day tomorrow with your family & friends!! I hope these recipes help inspire you & make your life just a bit easier!! Enjoy your long weekend, stay safe & I'll see you all very soon! :)

 

Until Next Time,

Happy Labor Day

Grilled Nectarines with Raspberry Sorbet

Happy Monday Foodies! I hope you all had a great weekend away from the chaos of life. Nick and I lounged around all weekend, which was an incredible break from the life we were leading in the weekends prior. Added benefit? It was mostly gloomy all weekend; a welcomed reprieve from the constantly sunny days this summer has given to us here on the East Coast.

Monday Sunday is the worst day of the week for me because Monday is always so close behind. I grew up having anxiety on Sunday’s. I always attributed it to school; I hated going to school on Monday, even when I was an adult in college and other high education pursuits; Sunday = anxiety. Now I am not longer in school, but last night I had an overwhelmingly high level of anxiety and here I sit today filled with more of it. I know why I am feeling this way, but it stinks because I had hoped my path in life would not be the way it is.

Is that not always the way?

I try telling myself everything will work out and being anxious is not going to solve much of anything, but that never works. Moving right along…

This week Nick’s sister, Chantelle, is moving to Cambodia. Holy cow! I am incredibly excited for her. Because she is flying out of D.C. Nick and I are going to have dinner with her on Wednesday night before her & Keith take the transatlantic flight. I wish I was going with them; I am addicted to international travel and have not had a grand international trip in quite some time! We joked around about stuffing me into a suitcase; well, they thought it was a joke; I was pretty serious about it. Just kiddin’!

Now that I have caught you all up on my life , I might as well tell you about an awesome breakfast we had this weekend. That is why you all are here after all, isn’t it? Well for this Meatless Monday segment, I present to you all Grilled Nectarines with Raspberry Sorbet. It is delicious and I am sure you all will love this sweet treat.

Nutrition Facts:
Serving size: 1 large nectarine
Total Calories: 207
Total Fat: 0
Total Carbohydrates: 49 g
Total Fiber: 5 g
Total Protein: 3 g

PointsPlus: 5

Here is what you will need:

 

  • 4 large nectarines, pitted
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • 1 pint raspberry sorbet
  • 1 container raspberries, optional

 

Directions:

 

  • Preheat grill to medium
  • Coat  cut sides of nectarines with olive oil and sprinkle evenly with sugar

 

 

  • Place nectarines, cut side down, on grill rack and grill, turning once, until slightly softened, about 3 minutes per side

 

 

  • Place nectarines halves on plate

 

 

  • Place ¼ cup scoop of sorbet per serving

 

  • If you have them, sprinkle raspberries around nectarines; we did not have raspberries, but the dish turned out perfectly.

I hope you all enjoy!

Until Next Time,

Happy Monday

Delicious Sweets in a Jar & a GIVEAWAY!

Happy Friday Foodies! I’m so thankful that the weekend is here. I will be able to relax with my Panda Bear; it’s been quite the week for me. I am pretty happy that we are not traveling anywhere this weekend. Since the middle of June either one or both of us has spent every weekend away from our house and on the road; I, for one, am over it. While I love to travel, the lumbar system in our car does not play nicely with my back and is always making me uncomfortable. Now, I know that probably did not contribute to my recent kidney ailment, but being so uncomfortable in the car does not make life any better. I am just thankful our little family will be chowing down on Thai food this weekend and relaxing with each other.

It will be a pretty awesome weekend together. Besides eating well and spending time with each other, our new television is being delivered today. I am super excited, so is Nick. That’ll be a great project for today. Not many people may get so excited about a television, but it is pretty hard not to. This is the granddaddy of all televisions; minus the 3D capability, which Nick wanted. Thank GOD for Nick’s dad talking him out of getting a 3D television. Much like all of our smart phones, this television is a Smart TV. While I don’t think it can make dinner for us, it does pretty much everything else. I cannot wait to get it hooked up to use!

Okay, now that you all know what my life looks like this weekend, I have a specially modified version of Kid Friendly Friday for you today. First, let’s get down to the fun activity I have for the kiddos in your house. All summer I have tried to give you recipes that would allow your mini-sous chefs get down and dirty working in the kitchen with you; but today I have something that is less cooking and more preparing. I had fun, so I hope most kids would have fun making these. Are you ready?? Today I present to you Sweet Treats in a Jar. So many times during my life I have received one of these little guys or have seen them in the stores waiting to be purchased; but I have never made one.

That is until recently.

Today I have two awesome flavors for you: S’mores in a Jar & The Ultimate Chocolate Brownies in a Jar.

Here is what you will need & how to layer the ingredients for the S’mores:

  • 1 to 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 to 1 ½ cups miniature marshmallows
  • 1 to 1 ½ cups chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar

  • Add the layers in that order, close the jar & store until you’re ready to use, or give to your favorite people!
  • Find the 'How To Cook" here. 

 

Here is what you will need for the Brownies:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vanilla sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa power
  • Chocolate chips
  • Layer the ingredients in the order listed above, seal & store… or give to your favorite friends!
  • Find the 'How to Cook' Here

I had a lot of fun making these jars for the first time this week! I bet you’re all wondering if I am going to keep these bad boy jars to myself? Well, ordinarily I would not want to share chocolate, but I have some amazing people that I would share with every day of the week if I could. Do you want to know who those people are? Dum, dum, dummmmmm…

Are you ready yet?? I cannot hear youuuuu!!!

Those people are YOU!!! Yep, you! I want to share my little jars of chocolaty heaven with you. That brings me to a very special announcement!

I am HAVING A GIVEAWAY!!  

I know it has been a couple of weeks coming, but life has been pretty chaotic and most recently painful. With the help of all of you wonderful people, I hit 1000 followers a couple of weeks ago. I promised a giveaway then and I am finally posing it! One lucky person will walk away with the following:

  • 1 S'mores in a jar
  • 1 Ultimate Chocolate Brownies in a Jar
  • 1 Cutsy Apron 

Now, I am not going to make it hard to enter this Giveaway. However, I do have a couple of requirements. Here they come:

  1. First, this Giveaway is open to only those people in the United States. [Don’t worry, I’m working on opening up my next one to all of my lovelies everywhere else]
  2. Second, you must be at least 18 years old to enter. [I do not want somebody’s parents thinking I’m sending their kids candy. Seriously, candy in a box from a stranger? Oh boy!]
  3. Third, you must follow me as yourself [meaning, if you follow me as a page, you must also follow me from your personal account] on facebook telling me you did so. If you already do, just tell me your name in the comment section below.
  4. Fourth, you must leave a comment below. Make sure your name here is the same as your name is on facebook.
  5. Finally, when you leave a comment below, include a recipe of mine that looks appealing to you!

See, it is SUPER easy! This giveaway will remain open until next Friday, August 19 at midnight EST. I will announce the winner by Monday, August 22.

Good Luck to you all!! 

Until Next Time,

Happy Creating!

Simple Buttermilk Pancakes

Happy Friday! I wish I had something happy and delightful to report about this weekend, but no can do.  This weekend Nick and I are going back to Pennsylvania. This time, however, we are going to be in Lancaster County – Nick’s stomping grounds. I am not excited. I used to love being around his family. But, like most things in life, one bad apple can really ruin a good thing. :(

However, Mtv is going to save me this weekend. Would you like to know how this television station is helping me through the weekend? Well, I will tell you – for the next 48 hours there is a Jersey Shore marathon. When this show first came out, I did not give it the time of day. I thought it was the most idiotic show MTV could have produced. But, then it happened. Yep, like most every other “reality” television show that has a similar premise, I became addicted; I was sucked in. Now, when I’m sitting around waiting to come back home [and in a hotel room], I will be getting by with a little help from the Jersey Shore; judge me if you will, but don’t forget you all have your own television skeletons!! 

I hope you all have better stories to report about your weekend.

Today I have another recipe for our Kid Friendly Friday segment! It’s a good one & can be dressed up or down in many different ways! Are you ready for it? Okay, today I give you all the easiest Buttermilk Pancakes in the world! I blogged about Peanut Butter M&M Pancakes a couple of weeks ago, but then I got to thinking – not everybody likes chocolate, m&ms, etc in their pancakes. Now, I’m not one of those people. I would take chocolate chips in my pancakes any day of the week. However, I wanted to give you all the basic recipe so that you could add anything you wanted to the pancakes – fruit, candy, etc.

These are super simple to make, and I am telling you that any kid would love pouring these out on the skillet while adding their favorite flavors! Let’s get down to it!

Here is what you will need:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Anything else that you want to add

Directions:

  • Heat griddle to 375 degrees
  • Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a medium bowl

  • Add eggs, buttermilk and 4 tablespoons melted butter, whisk to combine

  • Batter should have small to medium lumps
  • Heat oven to 175 degrees
  • Test griddle by sprinkling a few drops of water on it. If water bounces and spatters off griddle, it is hot enough
  • Using a pastry brush, brush some of the reserved melted butter on the griddle
  • Using a ½ cup measuring cup, pour pancake batter in pools 2 inches away from one another

  • When pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around the edges, flip over; about 2 ½ minutes

  • Cook until golden on bottom, about 1 minute
  • Repeat with the remaining batter, keeping finished pancakes on a heatproof plate in oven to keep warm!

These are so awesome! I hope you give them a try this weekend!! And, don’t forget to make the Cinnamon & Sugar French Toast, too!! 


Happy Friday Everybody!

Until Next Time,

Happy Pancakin’

Cinnamon & Sugar French Toast

Happy Thursday Foodies!  Much of the day yesterday I was moping around in a slight fit of self pity. The occasional conversation with my virtual foodies kept me sane as I was waiting for Nick to come home from work. The last couple of days life has decided to punch me in the stomach.

While much of my chaos right now is too personal to share, I will tell you one thing that is been annoying me - my nails. I know you are all probably gasping for air right now, thinking 'how can her nails really be causing a problem in her life?' Well, my disdain for my nails was growing because of everything else in my life.  When I was living on the Mexican border only three things made me happy about our small town: first, there was amazing Mexican food; Mexican food is one of my favorites. Second, I was living in a military town and I love our military. I LOVE seeing Nick in his uniform and I was in all of my glory seeing people in uniform running around town everyday! And, finally, I stumbled upon the greatest Nail Salon & Spa that I have ever been to. 

Spending almost a year there, I could not get enough of these fabulous service I received; my nails had never looked better. When we found out that we were moving back to the East Coast, specifically the DC area, I thought I would have no problem finding a Nail Salon/Spa that offered the same services and was equally as amazing. #NAILFAIL!  I have been so frustrated for the last 2 months that I've considered flying back to my little military town to get my nails down. In fact, Nick & I offered to fly Heidi - the best nail woman in the WORLD - to DC to find a job here… or start her own business. The fact that I'm complaining about my nails this morning means neither one happened.

Okay, moving on to the point.  Bad 2 days, bad nails, I was feeling craptastic last night UNTIL I signed onto my facebook page. Yesterday my facebook page hit a pretty huge milestone: it hit 1000 followers!! Can you believe it? I never thought I would hit 100 followers, let alone anything above that! I want to say THANK YOU to everybody out there who has supported, encouraged, shared, and talked with me! You are all so special and so amazing!!! You are the rock stars!!!

Now, should I get to the important part of this post?? Okay, I hear the sighs. Today I am bringing to you French Toast. This past weekend we visited my mom. She makes the BEST French Toast in the world, but I thought that I would give it a try myself. It all turned out phenomenally. And, added benefit - it is super easy to make.

Here is what you will need:

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Syrup
  • 4 to 6 slices thick cut toast

Directions:

 

  • In a large bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients

 

  • Heat a skillet over medium heat and grease with butter or cooking spray
  • Once the skillet is hot,  coat a piece of bread with the egg and cinnamon mixture - make sure every inch of the toast is coated

 

  • Allow each side to cook through and brown slightly and then flip so the other side can cook evenly through, approximately 2 minutes
  • Repeat with the following pieces of bread

 

Now, my mom always had that little bear that you can buy in stores that was full of sugar and cinnamon to sprinkle on the French Toast. We could not find it, so you can just mix regular sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl and sprinkle on top of your French Toast!! I personally love to smother my French Toast and Pancakes with syrup. So that is what we did, too!! This French Toast was out of this world delicious, if I do say so myself!

I hope you all give it a try!!

Until Next Time,

Happy French Toasting

Cucumber Salad

Happy Wednesday Morning!  I would love to report that today is much better than yesterday, but alas it is not. Mind over matter, right? That's what I am telling myself right now. Maybe it will work.

Moving on to more important things - food! Nick has a much wider pallet than I do when it comes to ingredients and foods. He  is always creating new snacks or telling me about things he ate when he was growing up. Keep in mind, Nick can eat a lot more than I can and is typically more frequently hungry. As annoyed as I sometimes get when he's hungry only a short time after any meal, I do love him and want to make him happy all of the time! He is my favorite person in the entire world. However, I have to try to keep it healthy. Today I have a healthy snack, lunch or dinner for you! [And, it should fill you up with no problem at all!!]

We are both getting back on the health train; we wanted to start this past Monday, but that did not happen and that is because we have no groceries. It's been a chaotic month - Nick was with his family for the 4th of July and then he was gone for a week and then we were both gone for several days to visit my mom and here we are in the last week of July.

And now we have to go to visit his family this weekend. While he is visiting, I'll be living the life in a hotel room. That's a story for another day. 

While we do not have much in our house right now, we did have Cucumbers, Blue Cheese and Balsamic Vinaigrette. Nick happens to love something he calls Cucumber Salad. I never heard of a Cucumber Salad before he mentioned it a couple of weeks ago. It's pretty good though. Yes, I'm being serious! So today I am bringing to you a Cucumber Salad, which can be a very healthy snack or lunch.


Servings: As many or as little as you like

Calories: 230 [for ENTIRE cucumber, cheese, vinaigrette]

Total Fat: 8 grams

Total Carbohydrates: 4 grams

Total Protein: 6 grams

Total Fiber: 1 gram

Points Plus Value:  6

Let's get down to business. Here is what you will need:

  • 1 large cucumber, sliced thin
  • 2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette
  • Apple Cider Vinegar [optional]

Directions:

  • Slice cucumber fairly thin

  • Crumble blue cheese over the cucumber slices

  • Add Balsamic Vinaigrette

 

  • Eat

 

I hope you give this a try! I was a bit skeptical, but the salad was amazing and totally healthy. You can eat the ENTIRE salad for 6PP?? YES!! How awesome is that? For me, I would not be able to finish the entire salad. So, if you're like me and divide it in half - 3 PP is an amazing number!!

I hope you all enjoy!

 

Until Next Time,

Happy Healthy Creating!