Tag Archives: Strawberry

We Need to Get Caught Up!

Red VelvetCome on in! It’s nice to see you. It’s been awhile. 🙂 I’ve been a bad blogger this weekend. I got home on Friday night after another busy day, and all I wanted to do was crash on the couch and watch one of the Netflix movies collecting dust on top of the television. I took photos of my food all day, but I decided I needed to just relax and stay away from the computer for a bit. Instead of blogging, I watched “Juliet of the Spirits,” put my feet up, and kicked it. Yesterday was just busy! I hope you understand. 🙂

Now, are you wondering what Red Velvet is? Here’s a hint:

I Saw the SignIt would be a long post if I showed you everything I’ve eaten this weekend, so I’m just going to tell you about cupcakes, fro yo, shortcakes (with a recipe) and a few other things sprinkled in as a garnish. Yum! Some garnishes are tasty!

Friday:

Friday was a busy day at work. I wrapped up a few things, which is always good on a Friday, and I was ready to celebrate the start of the weekend with a special treat. My law school friend, Mr. M, works in an office close to mine, and he agreed to meet me for some frozen yogurt at Tangy Sweet after work. You might recall that I tried Tangy Sweet’s fro yo right before I went on vacation. I really couldn’t wait to go back!

The flavor du jour was chocolate. Chocolate isn’t usually my choice when it comes to ice cream flavors, but I tried a little sample. As it melted on my tongue, I realized that it tasted a bit like chocolate cheesecake. I decided to have a cup of it with some fresh strawberries on top.

Fro Yo!Check out the rain. There was a serious gully washer outside! I braved the weather just for you! 😉

This was gooooood!! I’m still kind of amazed at the way Tangy Sweet’s fro yo doesn’t taste very sweet during the first few bites, but then the flavor transforms and becomes sweet as the tang fades away. It’s like magic– tasty, tasty magic! 🙂 

Speaking of magic, cupcakes are one of the foods I consider to be the most magical. They are adorable, delicious, and they hearken back to childhood fun in a very lovely way. Red Velvet is a “cupcakery” next door to Tangy Sweet. If you are in the area and are interested, both places are at 7th and E in Penn Quarter. Here is a glimpse of the cupcake case:

Cupcakes!On my previous fro yo excursion, I stuck my nose in the door at Red Velvet, but I didn’t make any purchases. This Friday, I decided to get a couple of little cupcakes and take them for a spin. I was hoping to find a cupcake to rival the one I recently had at Sugar Mama’s in Skagway, Alaska. Those were SO good!!

Here’s another peek in the case at Red Velvet:

CupcakesThe cupcakes I chose were called “Southern Belle” and “Vanilla Bean.” Southern Belle was a traditional red velvet cupcake topped with a whipped cream cheese icing. Vanilla bean was a vanilla bean cake topped with a Madagascar bourbon vanilla frosting. 

Yum one and Yum twoMr. M was kind enough to agree to split each cupcake with me, so I had half of each. What a nice guy! I know it was a sacrifice. 🙂 While it would be hard to fit two whole cupcakes into a day of healthy eating, two halves work out just fine! Yes, I love cupcakes, and NO, I don’t plan to ever make them off limits. I’d rather figure out how to work them in with my nutritious eats so that I can… yep… “have my cake and eat it too.”  That’s a balance worth striking!

Check out the thickness of the frosting!

Aaaaahhhh!Southern Belle’s cake was delightfully moist, dense and rich. The beautiful color was matched by a beautiful flavor. I loved the cake! As for the icing, well, I don’t think I prefer my cream cheese icing whipped. It was good, but I like my frosting to be thicker and a bit more solid. That’s my personal preference, and I’m sure plenty of people prefer it whipped and gooey. If that describes your preference, this is the cupcake for you! 

Vanilla Bean was my favorite of the two. I love vanilla cupcakes, and this cake was moist and sweet with a nice, strong vanilla flavor. I think that I was expecting buttercream (note: read signs more closely!!), so I was surprised when I first bit into the frosting. It wasn’t the buttercream I was craving after my Alaskan cupcake, but I really liked it nonetheless. The vanilla flavor came on strong, and it really was a great cupcake.

I still haven’t found my DC Sugar Mama’s, but I’m looking. 🙂 Since Red Velvet is close to work, I foresee more samples in my future. I need to try their buttercream for sure! 

When I got home, I had a bowl of sauteed spinach, broccoli and smoked tofu. I liked having dessert first! Later, while lounging around watching my movie, I decided to open up this little bag and take these barbecue flavored Pop Chips for a whirl.

Pop ChipsI’ve wanted to try these for a while, but I hate buying big bags of chips. Since I don’t tend to choose salty snacks very often, a big bag of chips often goes stale before I get around to eating them. I was excited to find a single serving bag of these in a nearby deli, and they seemed perfect for movie munching. I really liked them. They were barbecue sauce sweet and deliciously salty at the same time. Perfect! The texture is much more like regular chips than the baked chips I’ve tried, and they aren’t made with any weird Olean type chemcials. I’m sold. These are good! If you find them where you are, give them a shot!

My other movie watching snack was a tiny bowl of chocolate chip cookie oat bran.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Oat Bran

I made half a serving of oat bran, added a bit of vanilla extract and some brown sugar to the bowl, and then topped it with chopped almonds and mini semi-sweet morsels. It was a good way to satisfy a craving for something sweet without having another real dessert. Since I’d already had the fro yo and the cupcakes before dinner, I thought I’d dial things back a bit. I’m doing my best to keep my sweet tooth in check, while still enjoying plenty of treats. This is an example of my attempt to balance things out a bit!

Saturday:

Saturday morning, I woke up to find the sun shining and a nice breeze blowing through my balcony door. It was going to be a great trip to the farmer’s market for sure! I got ready, and headed to the market armed with my reusable shopping bags, some cash, and my camera. I missed the market last Saturday. I knew that the Westmoreland Berry Farms people had been there with strawberries for sale because A Daunting Tale of Scale Warfare was at the Courthouse market last Saturday, and she featured a photo of her haul (including the berries) in her post. Grrrr!!! I was so sad to have missed the berries… and so jealous! 🙂 Luckily, there were plenty of berries waiting for me this Saturday!

BerryliciousI made up for missing the market last weekend by buying a ton of things today. I got two big containers of the berries along with: garlic scapes, radishes, tomatoes, asparagus, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, Greek yogurt, low-fat ricotta sweetened with honey and vanilla, eggs and an oregano plant.

If you haven’t heard of garlic scapes (they are the green things curled around the eggs), I’ll be posting one of my favorite scape recipes soon! I’ll tell you all about them then.

The BootyIt was quite a haul! When I started looking at all of the berries, I realized that I might have gotten a bit carried away. While freezing the berries was a definite option, a phone call from my friend, Inga’s mom, led me to a better plan. Remember the lovely Inga? My favorite dog friend?

Inga DingaInga’s parents were going to fire up the grill, and I promised to bring over some strawberry shortcake for dessert. I also promised to bring Inga her present from Alaska. 

Hello, Squeaky Moose!Hello, Mr. Squeaky Moose! I think he knew he was doomed, so he was lying on his back in defeat.

Chewy!Mmm…. chewy! I didn’t expect for this flimsy little moose to have a long life, and she had already de-squeaked him by the time I headed home last night! I’m so glad that she had fun with him, and that Mr. Squeaky Moose will no longer be squeaky. I felt like the aunt who gave her niece a noisy drum set for Christmas. Hee hee! 

I mentioned shortcake. Here’s the finished dish:

Strawberry ShortcakeWhen I started looking for a lightened up shortcake recipe, I found a ton to choose from. None of them were exactly what I wanted, so I sort of combined ideas from several in order to come up with my version. Here’s my recipe:

Sweetie’s Olive Oil Shortcakes

Ingredients:

2 cups of all purpose flour

2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

3 Tbsp. chilled butter, cut into small pieces

1/3 cup skim milk

1/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/4 cup egg beaters (or one egg)

2 tsp. Turbinado sugar (or granulated sugar–  for sprinkling on top)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. I used a silpat, and I sprayed it with cooking spray as well.

In a large bowl, combine flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use a whisk to thoroughly combine the ingredients. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, yogurt, vanilla, egg and oil. 

Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture, and stir just until moistened. Turn the dough out on to the baking sheet. Spray the top with cooking spray to keep it from sticking to your fingers, and use your hands to shape the dough into an 8×8 square. Then, using a sharp knife, cut into but not through the dough, dividing it into 16 squares. Give it another spritz with cooking spray and then sprinkle the Turbinado sugar over the top.

BeforeBake for 15 minutes or until golden. 

After

Cut along the lines to separate the cakes, and then top with sweetened berries and the whipped topping of your choice.

This makes 8 servings with 2 squares per person.

I liked these, but I think the shortcakes would have been yummier if they had been warm when I served them. Since they are lower in fat, they got a little bit chewy when they cooled. I also underestimated the amount of berries we needed, and I would have liked a few more berries and a little more juice on my shortcake.

I quartered 1 1/4 pounds of berries, and added the juice of half a lime as well as 2 tsp. of sugar. There were only six people at dinner, and we ate all of the berries. Next time I make shortcake for eight, I think I’ll probably prepare at least 2 pounds of berries– maybe more. You can never have enough berry goodness!

I’m kind of happy that I had a couple of cakes leftover. I already put one to good use today in a big bowl of berry jam sweetened Greek yogurt and berries:

Yum!I like having a shortcake recipe up my sleeve because you can top them with so many different things. Summer fruits are the obvious choice, but not the only good one! I’m so glad I was able to share my haul with my friends, and I had a great time hanging out at their place– as usual! 

So, now you are pretty much caught up– cupcakes, fro yo, berries, farmers market shopping and Inga. Those are definitely the highlights of my weekend so far. I need to say Ciao and go and run some errands before what’s left of the weekend evaporates! I hope you have a great week, and I can’t wait to share my garlic scape recipe with you soon!! Ciao for now, bloggies. 🙂

What was the best thing you ate this weekend??

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Filed under Baking, Cake, cooking, D.C., diet, Farmer's Market, Fitness, Food, Frozen Yogurt, Greek Yogurt, Recipes, Washington, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

It Was About Time…

TGIF!!! I hope this finds everyone doing well and getting a good start to the weekend! Quitting time could not come soon enough today, especially after I saw a spot of sunshine at lunch. 🙂 I was in the middle of a serious downpour on my way into the office this morning, so I was so surprised that it was gorgeous at lunchtime. When you have a windowless office, the weather is often a surprise.

Aside from the rain, my day started off pretty well. Now that Jay Robb and I have become friends, I decided that it was time for me to give Fitnessista’s breakfast cookie a try. Last night, before heading off to bed, I mixed up this baby:

Breakfast Cookie

My breakfast cookie is made of 1/3 cup of oats, 1 ounce of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 15 grams of Jay Robb’s vanilla whey protein powder, 7 grams of chopped vanilla almonds, 1 Tbsp. of The Bee’s Knees peanut butter from PB&Co, and some leftover dried strawberries from my berry bar making adventure. I put it in the fridge to set up over night, and it was waiting for me when I got up this morning. 

I loved the chewiness. It really felt like a substantial breakfast, and yet tasted like a dessert. That’s just about perfect in my book! I topped it with a fresh berry that I sliced all fancy in honor of Friday with a little bit of dark chocolate dreams PB. I need my chocolate and strawberry fix in the morning! I will be having this again, and the breakfast cookie seems like a perfect hot weather breakfast option. Thanks, Fitnessista!!

Cookie Monster!

I decided to toss the lunch I’d packed in the freezer at work and enjoy lunch with a friend from work instead. That sort of spontaneous eating would not likely have happened a few weeks ago, but the change in my eating approach has given me such a new outlook and so much more freedom! By the way, I’m not going to report on my weight today, but I will say that things are still going well. I’m so much happier too!! 🙂

My friend suggested that we get lunch at Busboys and Poets, and I wasn’t hard to convince. I’ve looked through their window a number of times, but I’ve never gone inside. Have I been missing out! They have so many amazing options on the menu, including a number of great things for vegetarians and vegans. My lunch really hit the spot, and the company did too!

Lovely Little LunchI got the falafel wrap with a side of fruit. It was SO good! There was a delightfully nutty hummus in the wrap with the falafel and veggies, and I’m always happy with berries and fresh pineapple. There was also a fresh tasting drizzle in the little teacup that added a nice extra layer of flavor to the wrap. Lunch was really good, not heavy at all, and my plate had just the right amount of food. Perfect!

Busboys and Poets Vegan CheesecakeAs usual, I couldn’t resist checking out the desserts. My friend and I split a slice of vegan cheesecake at the end of the meal, and– oh my! It was so good. It kind of reminded me of frozen cake frosting (love it!!), and the raspberries were an awesome complement. It was really good, and I always love the opportunity to share a dessert! I have to highly recommend Busboys and Poets. I will definitely be going back again soon.

When I got hungry later in the day, I had the snack I’d packed this morning. I scraped the last of my dalmatian orange and fig spread from the jar this morning. 😦 It is on the shopping list. I really love it with my Greek yogurt and vanilla almonds. Have I mentioned that I love it?? It really is so good. I’m going to recycle yesterday’s photo so get ready:

Happy in a BowlWhen I got home, I decided to eat a couple of things from the freezer in honor of “Project Clean Out the Freezer.” I had frozen a tiny bit of 96/4 ground beef awhile ago, and I decided to finish off a bag of TJ’s frozen naan by using the beef on one of my little pizzas.

BeefySee, I do label things sometimes! Here’s my empty naan bag. I’d be worried that the bag is empty except… there’s more in the scary freezer!

Bag of EmptyI tried out some of the Country Bob’s All Purpose Sauce that I won from the giveaway hosted by Lucky Tastebuds, and, mixed with the beef, it provided a barbecue pizza type experience. It was yummy! That sauce is great! There is also some roasted vegetable tapenade and smoked mozzarella on the top. As usual, I enjoyed the crunchy naan with my favorite TJ’s soup: Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato. 

Din DinIn continuing with the freezer theme, I had some more of my Edy’s slow churned light cookies and cream on top of a Triple Chocolate Chunk Vitatop. Essentially, I had cake and ice cream. Woo hoo! I don’t think you can go wrong with that combination.

Party in a BowlI really enjoyed reading the comments y’all left about the state of your freezers. I am glad to know that I have some kindred freezer spirits, and I’m also glad to know that it is possible to have a more organized freezer space. I think I’m shooting for something in the middle, but we will see. I’ve taken a few things out to thaw and I’m planning to turn them into something tomorrow. Stay tuned for that one! I did have a freezer avalanche event this morning, but things are already looking better. 

I hope your weekend is the best! The weather is supposed to be nice here, so I’m hoping to walk?/run?/bike? down to the tidal basin to see this year’s cherry blossom crop. If I do, you can be sure that there will be some new photos!

What are you up to this weekend?

I wanted to mention this giveaway before I go:

The Girl in the Little Black Dress is hosting a Quaker giveaway!! That robe looks too cozy!

Ciao, y’all!

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Filed under Cookies, D.C., diet, Food, Uncategorized, Washington, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Out of the Frozen Jungle…

We’ve nearly made it to Friday, and, as always, I’m so glad! The weather is supposed to be warm this weekend, and I can’t wait to get out in it!! Today was gloomy and rainy, and I was happy to be working from home. I started off in the exact same way I have every day this week– with this bowl:

Oat BranI had oat bran with banana, Jay Robb’s vanilla whey protein powder, maple syrup, berries and Dark Chocolate Dreams PB. I’m loving this bowl! I also had the last of my cherry tea with some milk and Torani. I’ve now finished one big canister of tea. I only have five to go…

I went to kickboxing today, and I had my usual pre-workout bowl of Greek yogurt. I’m so enamored with this combination!

Bliss in a Bowl!I love the mix of Fage with dalmatian fig and orange spread topped with chopped up vanilla roasted almonds. Oh my goodness. This is really one of my favorite things. I’ve also decided that it smells vaguely of cake. Weird? I’m down to the last of my fig and orange spread and I’m going to have to pick up some more ASAP!

The usual kickboxing instructor was out today, and the workout we got with her husband, the owner of the gym, was one of the toughest ever. To make matters even more challenging, there were only two of us in the class. I usually do my best to keep up, but I tried extra hard today. There was no place to hide! Needless to say, I was starving when I got home. I decided to have one of my favorite lunches. This could also be called “an ode to Trader Joe.”

Lunch!

I always keep some of Trader Joe’s frozen naan in the freezer in case I need an emergency pizza. I usually heat the naan in the oven for a couple of minutes, take it out, and then turn on the broiler. While the broiler is heating up, I top the naan with whatever sounds good. Today, I added some roasted vegetable tapenade, turkey pepperoni, and more of my awesome smoked mozzarella. I pop it under the broiler to melt the cheese, the edges of the naan crisp up and it’s just so good! I had it alongside a bowl of Trader Joe’s Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup. That is, hands down, my favorite non-homemade soup. The crispy edges of the naan are so perfect for dipping in the soup, and I always save a piece to wipe the bowl clean. I was a happy girl! I nibbled on a bit of chocolate after lunch and followed it up with a fudgy peanut butter vitatop:

Vita loveI never used to be a big chocolate fan, but here lately, I can’t get enough of the stuff! I started getting hungry about an hour before dinner time, and decided to dig into the depths of the freezer for one of my Very Strawberry Almond Butter Bars.

Very Strawberry Almond Butter BarI individually wrapped and froze about half the batch back when I made them for the BSI contest, and I’ve been neglecting them. In a semi-frozen state, they kind of remind me of refrigerator cookie dough that comes in a tube. Yum!! That brings me to this:

AAARGH!!A glimpse into my freezer reveals a place that is low on space, lacking in organization and full of all sorts of things. I’ve decided that one of my goals for April is to do something about this mess! Why should I keep buying new food, when there are so many things in here just waiting to be put to use? I may not be making as many new recipes, but I know I will still be eating well. Project “Clean Out the Freezer” got off to a pretty good start today. In addition to the berry bar, the naan and some frozen banana that went into my oat bran, I ate the last two of my Trader Joe’s turkey meatballs.

Din DinI also had some leftover Spiced Zucchini with Bulgur and a few leftover roasted green beans from the dinner I made last night. After that, I decided to really endure some suffering by cleaning a couple of other items out of the freezer. Wow. It was soooo hard!

Cookie LoveA good friend at work gave me a couple of these very cute shortbread cookies back around Valentine’s Day. I ate one then, and saved the other for later. I was so happy to have it this evening. It was so buttery and good and you can never go wrong with sprinkles!! Thanks, BDK!! I had some Edy’s Slow Churned Cookies and Creme ice cream along with it. Man, this freezer clean-out is tough. 🙂 After that, I finished off the evening with a little chocolate sampler:

Chocolate SamplerI got a little carried away in the chocolate section at Whole Foods the other day. That seems to happen now that I’ve changed my approach to eating. I parcel out my treats in a reasonable manner, but I certainly don’t skimp on variety. I was so amused by Berkshire Bark’s Pretzelogical bar, that I decided to try Midnight Harvest. It has some nuts and dried fruit in it, and it is quite good. I have to say, however, that the pretzelogical is still my absolute fave! I also wanted to try the dark chocolate Theo bar, and the Green & Black’s milk chocolate toffee bar. I realized that I don’t eat milk chocolate very often. It tasted so sweet to me! I think that having a little plate of chocolate like this one is a great way to satisfy my sweet tooth in the evening. Once I’ve fed the beast, I’ve noticed that I don’t snack nearly as much. There is much to be said for eating what you are really craving. It seems to be a better tactic in the long run. 

Sorry I’ve been a but lax about posting this week. Things have been busy, but good! I’ll try to do better. I promise! I also promise to keep you updated on the freezer progress. I’m a little bit scared about what might be hiding in there, but I guess there’s only one way to find out! 

Do you have an organized freezer with nice labels and orderly stacking… or does your freezer more closely resemble my frozen jungle? Sweetie Pie wants to know!

Speaking of busy, I need to take care of a few things so that I’ll be ready to hit the ground running in the morning. Before I go:

Check out this Zoe’s granola giveaway hosted by Lucky Tastebuds!

Congrats to Becca on making it through her first week at the CIA. She’s having a cool giveaway to celebrate. Check it out!

Have a great Friday!!! Ciao!

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Filed under BSI, Cookies, cooking, diet, Fitness, Food, Uncategorized, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Very Strawberry Almond Butter Snack Bars

Berry LusciousHappy Saturday evening! After last night’s evening out, I’m enjoying a quiet evening at home! I had fun at my friend’s birthday soiree, and, I have to say that the club offered some of the best people watching opportunities I’ve had in a long time. I’m certainly not the fashion police, but, let me just tell you that there were some sights to behold at the K Street Lounge. Wow! Men, is a BMW belt buckle really necessary? It may not send the message you’re hoping to send. 

Since I’m staying in tonight, I decided it was time to come up with my entry for this week’s BSI contest. BSI: Strawberry is being hosted by Laura at Hey What’s For Dinner Mom? I don’t know how I will fare in this week’s contest, but I think I came up with a winner nonetheless. I had several things in mind. First, I needed to use strawberries. That’s not a problem! I love them. Second, I’ve seen some amazing looking homemade almond butters on several websites lately, and I thought it might be fun to find a way to incorporate that as well. While catching up on some blogs this morning, I ran across a recipe for a tahini breakfast bar on Limes and Lycopene. I used the basic idea, but not the same ingredients. Here’s my recipe!

Very Strawberry Almond Butter Snack BarVery Strawberry Almond Butter Snack Bars

Ingredients:

The Goo

1/2 cup chopped dried dates

1/2 cup water

The Honey Berry Almond Butter

1/2 cup raw almonds, toasted

6 strawberries

2 Tbsp. Honey

The Dry Team

3/4 cup old fashioned oats

1/4 cup teff flour (or whole wheat flour)

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

1/3 cup roasted pumpkin seeds (not in the shell)

1/2 cup dried fruit (I used a berry mix that had blueberries, cherries, cranberries and strawberries)

1 ounce dried strawberries

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9×9 inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Date Goo

Place the dates and water in a small pan. Bring to a low simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool.

Strawberry Honey Almond Butter

Place toasted almonds in a food processor, and process until they become smooth and creamy. It only took about 3 minutes for this small amount in my machine, but it may take longer depending on your equipment. Be patient! It will eventually turn into a butter. After the almonds have become smooth and creamy, blend in the strawberries and honey. Add the cooled date goo and blend well.

The Final Mix

Combine the dry items in a medium sized bowl. Add the almond mixture and stir well making sure all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Press into the 9×9 inch baking dish and bake for 15 minutes. Allow the bars to cool in the pan.

This makes 12 unofficial 3 point bars. 

The date goo isn’t pretty, but it makes good glue!

Date Goo

The almond butter looked so good with the honey and strawberries that it was hard not to abandon the project and go in search of a loaf of bread. Seriously. I’m going to have to mix up a batch of this to eat on its own. Who needs jam when you can blend the berries right in with the nut butter?

dscn2022Here’s what it looks like when date goo marries honey berry almond butter:

Date Goo + ButterOf course, I had to lick the food processor bowl, and I can attest that this would have been awesome on some bread too. Even so, I charged onward and mixed up my dry ingredients.

The Dry TeamI often have dried strawberries on my morning cereal, and when I was thinking of a way to get more berries into this bar, the dried version seemed like the perfect choice. Here’s the kind I used:

Just StrawberriesI love when berries smile! These really bumped up the berry in the bars, and gave them a nice splash of color too! After the dry ingredients were combined well, I added the almond butter goo mixture and stirred it all up.

The MixI pressed it in the pan and then popped it in the oven.

Pressed and ReadyThe bar you saw in the picture at the top of the recipe was consumed warm. After being taunted by the gorgeous ingredients, I was too impatient to let it cool! I can say that is was moist and chewy in its warm state, and I’m sure it would have come out of the pan more nicely if not for the steam coming out of it. Hee hee. I’ll probably check out a cool bar after I finish tonight’s post. 🙂 I must! It’s for science or… something. Anyway, I can say that the strawberry flavor really comes on strong with the mixture of fresh and dried berries. The pumpkin seeds add a nice pop of color and a pleasing little crunch. The nutty goo holds everything together nicely and is sweet, but not toooo sweet. I’m really happy with the way these turned out! I have a feeling that this is another of those basic recipes that I will be making with a number of variations in the days to come. 

I had a nice long workout this morning, and then took a stroll to Whole Foods to pick up a few little items. I used one of the coupons for free Oikos Greek yogurt that I received from the nice folks at Stonyfield Farm. I’m planning to try it tomorrow, and I’ll let you know how it goes. I also picked up a jalapeno pepper. I’m pondering this week’s big batch recipe, and I think that the jalapeno is going to play a role. We’ll see. Tomorrow should be a day full of yumminess! Right now, I hear a cool bar calling my name, and I need to go and silence it with my teeth!! 🙂

I don’t usually make my own bars (although… after this batch…I may start…), but I do enjoy a number of different types that I pick up at the store. What’s your fave? 

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!! 

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Filed under Baking, BSI, diet, Food, Recipes, Vegetarian Recipes, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers

Colorful Swiss Chard and Four Sweet Angels

Colorful Swiss Chard

I can’t believe that the weekend is already half over! I’ve had a good one so far, but it has been a bit busy. As a result, I spent plenty of time cooking yesterday, but I have yet to tell you what I made. To make up for my tardiness, I have two really great recipes to share today. Then… I need to get busy making my “big batch” food for this week! I also need to remind you that today is the last day to submit your entries for this week’s BSI. If you haven’t checked out all of the awesome black bean recipes that have been submitted so far, you can do that by scrolling to the bottom of the post at this link. I’m very excited about all of the great dishes!

A friend of mine came over for dinner and a movie last night. This friend is usually pretty game to try out my healthy fare, and last night was no exception. I had some beautiful Swiss chard from last week’s Merry Produce Wednesday box, and I wanted to build a dish around that. I love goat cheese or blue cheese along with chard. There is something about the combination of the slightly tangy cheese with the earthy flavor of the chard that I just really love. I also love how pretty the chard is. As you can see in the picture at the top of the post, there are bright flashes of color amidst the green. It almost seems like something out of Dr. Seuss! It is really good for you, and very delicious in addition to being beautiful. Perfect! Here’s the recipe for the dish that we enjoyed last night. It was an easy one, and one that can be done in little more than the time it takes to boil the pasta!

Just Sweet Enough Swiss Chard Pasta Toss

Just Sweet Enough Swiss Chard Pasta Toss

Ingredients:

2 ounces of uncooked rotini (I used Barilla Plus in calculating points)

Water and salt (for boiling the pasta)

Nonstick Cooking Spray

1 Link of Hot Lean Italian Turkey Sausage

1/2 cup canned garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

2/3 pound of Swiss chard, stems thinly sliced and leafy parts chopped 

1/4 tsp. salt

2 1/2 Tbsp. pine nuts, toasted

3 Tbsp. soft type goat cheese

Directions:

Prepare the pasta according to the package directions. When the pasta is cooked to your satisfaction, immediately drain it and set it aside. 

While the pasta is cooking, spray a skillet with nonstick cooking spray and place it over medium high heat. Brown the turkey sausage in the skillet, chopping it into small bits as it cooks. When the sausage is browned, add the chickpeas to the skillet and cook for an additional 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the sausage and chickpeas from the skillet.

Spray the skillet with nonstick cooking spray again, and place it on the stove at medium high heat. You could use olive oil, of course, but I was trying to save a point or two. I find that nonstick cooking spray works just fine. Add the Swiss chard to the skillet in batches until it all fits, stirring frequently. Add the 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Allow the chard to wilt down and become tender. This will probably take four or five minutes, but you will know it is ready when it looks wilted, and has shrunk quite a bit in size.

When the chard is nicely wilted, add the sausage and garbanzo beans back to the skillet along with pasta and give it  stir. Heat through for about one minute.

Divide the mixture into two serving bowls, top each with half of the goat cheese, then sprinkle half of the pine nuts on top of each bowl. Enjoy!!

This makes 2 servings at 7 unofficial WW points each.

Lovely ChardI was very happy with this dish. There are so many flavors and textures at play, and I think they work together quite well. I also think that it is a good example of a dish where I used higher points value ingredients more sparingly (the pasta, sausage and pine nuts), and mixed them in with some lower points items (the chard, chickpeas and goat cheese) in a way that let me enjoy some of my favorite flavors, while having a filling dinner at the same time. I also think you can’t go wrong with toasted garbanzo beans, toasted pine nuts and goat cheese. Yum!

Dinner was really good, but I was most excited about dessert! Not surprising, right? After last week’s pavlovas, I was itching to make another favorite that involves nice fluffy egg whites– angel food cake. As usual, I was concerned about finding myself with an entire cake sitting on the cabinet that needed to be eaten, frozen or given away. I really don’t worry that I’m going to eat the whole cake myself. I’m careful with my daily points, and that isn’t much of a problem for me. I just hate getting to “Angel Food Cake: Day 12” and having some really old cake that I hate to waste, but that isn’t really worth eating.

I decided to see if I could make a very small batch of angel food cake batter and bake them up cupcake style. I’m SO happy! I looked at a few different recipes on-line to get an idea of the basic cake ingredients, did some math, and tweaked things a bit. I ended up making a batch of nice fluffy angel food cupcakes, and my recipe just makes four!! I’m happy to report that, after last night’s dinner and movie watching, there were no survivors.

You might think it seems like a lot of trouble to go to for four cupcakes. You could certainly double, triple or quadruple the recipe if that’s the case. I find that my daily eating can’t keep up with my love of cooking so I don’t mind making small batches like this if it means that I get to avoid “Angel Food Cake: Day 12” and enjoy some quality time with my Kitchen-aid. I think fresh baked goods are the best! So, without further adieu, I give you:

Sweet Angel

Just Sweet Enough Angels with Strawberries on Top

Ingredients For the Cupcakes:

1/4 cup cake flour

4 Tbsp. powdered sugar

3 egg whites at room temperature

1/8 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

1/4 of a vanilla bean

3 Tbsp. sugar

Ingredients for the Glaze:

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp. butter, melted

4 strawberries, cleaned and chopped

Directions for the Cupcakes:

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place four paper cupcake wrappers on a baking sheet and set aside.

2.  Sift the cake flour and powdered sugar together into a bowl and set aside.

3. Beat the egg whites, salt, cream of tartar, and the seeds scraped from the inside of the vanilla bean at high speed in an electric mixer until soft peaks form.

4. At the soft peak stage, continue beating the egg white mixture while adding the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat until the mixture becomes firm and glossy.

5. Sift about half of the flour mixture over the egg whites and gently fold the flour in using a rubber spatula. Repeat with the remaining flour. Of course, it is important to be gentle in order to keep as much air as possible in the egg whites. 

6. This was the really fun part! Scoop the mixture into the four cupcake cups, and continue piling the batter on until it has been fairly evenly divided them. They are going to be very tall, and you may feel as though you are operating the soft serve machine at Dairy Queen. Trust me on this one.

7. Place the cupcakes in the oven and bake for 20-23 minutes or until the cakes are golden on top and spring back when pressed lightly with your finger. 

8. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool on a wire rack. 

Directions for the glaze:

Place the chopped strawberries in a small bowl and use a fork to mash them well. Then, sift the powdered sugar on to the berries, add the melted butter and stir it well. Divide the glaze among the four cooled cupcakes and allow it to set for 5-10 minutes. 

This makes 4 cupcakes at 3 unofficial Weight Watcher points each. 

Here are a few photos from the process. This is a picture of the batter piled up on top of the cupcake cups. It may look precarious, but it will work out just fine! It did make me hungry for soft serve. I love the little black flecks of vanilla bean!! So sweet!

Before the baking:

Soft Serve?

After…
After

Here are some before and after berry photos from the glaze making:

Beautiful Berries

Berry MashedOne more…

Glazed OverI thinned my glaze with a little orange juice this time, and it got a bit too thin. I think that it would have been fine without any extra liquid, so I’m not recommending that you add any. I just thought I should explain in case you find yourself with a thicker glaze than what you see in the photos. That’s a good thing if you do! 

I’m so excited about the cupcakes, and I’m already thinking of all sorts of variations that I can make in the future. Yum! There were just enough sweet little angels to satisfy my sweet tooth and my love of baking without leaving me with endless leftovers!! Yay!!

Before I go, I have a few contests to tell you about, including the one I’m hosting to celebrate my 50th post. If you are interested in entering to win some yummy snacks previously featured in my Friday weigh-in/snack posts, please go to the this link and follow the directions. Good luck!!

In addition, you should check out all of these great contests:

Jessica is giving away a very cute Kath Eat’s (KERF) t-shirt at Johnstone’s Vin Blanc

Lindsay is giving away some very awesome prizes (but you only have until 6 p.m. today to enter) at For the Love of Oats

Michelle is giving away Barney Butter (which I’ve been dying to try… don’t enter… I want to win!) at Lucky Taste Buds

and

Katie is giving away a whole BOX of Jocolat bars at Chocolate-Covered Katie

I’m going to get busy on this week’s “big batch” now, and I hope to tell you about it tomorrow. I think that carrots are going to be my featured ingredient, but we’ll see. Have a lovely Sunday!!

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Filed under Baking, BSI, Cooking Light, diet, Food, Recipes, Uncategorized, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers