Friday, July 31, 2009

Wii Be Cookin’

 Do you guys have a Wii? After all the buzz about em’, I finally got one at the beginning of this year! I absolutely love it—from Wii Fit, to me trying to be a cheerleader (hilarious!) in All Star Cheer Squad. I am growing a little collection of Wii games, so I thought I would share my two current favorites because they are cooking games! Surprise, surprise huh? I just can’t get enough of it in the kitchen, so why not move it into the living room right?

First Favorite: Order Up!


Amazon Description: Order Up is a delicious blend of precision cuisine crafting and culinary empire building, all rolled into a light and flaky crust of memorable characters and humorous situations. With the Wii Remote in hand, the player will be guided from burger to chateaubriand; taught every aspect of food preparation and presentation. For anyone who has dreamed of becoming a world-class chef or restaurant mogul or both!, Order Up will deliver. The core game play of Order Up is cooking, from preparation to presentation. Preparation consists of "cutting and cooking" while Presentation refers to garnishes and "flourishes" - e.g. sauce drizzled over a dish to please the eye or the use of flame (flambé) for dramatic effect. Beyond the core, game play includes rising through the ranks of the culinary world from fast-food to world-class restaurants as chef and owner while ever-expanding your cookbook of recipes and ever-improving the quality of your equipment. Along the way you will face demanding patrons, discriminating food critics…and at the pinnacle of your fame in the world of fine cuisine you will be invited to complete in the, "Fortified Chef World Challenge" - an Iron Chef-style cooking competition.

My Thoughts: I would definitely give this 4 stars! (er, PacMans?)

If you like the thought of running your own kitchen, hiring crazy workers(who sometimes fall asleep!), impressing the cranky health inspector, pleasing customers, and visiting the Farmer’s Market to buy specialty spices for your dishes and buying new recipes, then I have a feeling you would enjoy this game as much as I do! I like to take my time in the kitchen when I cook, but this game pushes multitasking and you have to get it cooked and on the table or customers won’t leave a good tip! Which means you won’t get a lot of coin to buy updated appliances, clean up your kitchen, visit the Market, etc. I got this game at Game Stop used for $10 because they had a deal where you could get 3 games for just $30!!


Second Favorite: Cooking Mama: Cook Off

Amazon Description: After her initial DS debut, Mama is whipping up some kitchen competition by pitting chef against chef in Cooking Mama Cook Off – a unique 2 player family game designed specifically for the Wii home video console. Step-by-step, recipe-by-recipe, help Mama cook international dishes from 10 different nations and watch as the realistic foods actually change in appearance based on your actions!

My Thoughts: 3 stars

This one was a little less fun than the previous. If you’re not one who has dreams of working in a kitchen, serving others, etc. and you like the idea of just making dishes from around the world, learning new culinary skills, and beating the clock, you would like this! I got this for $3.50 on Ebay! Steal!! It just came without the case, but really who needs cases anyway?!

So you don’t have a Wii, but you have a…

Nintendo DS




Do you play games? What ones are your favorites?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Shroom Style 101

Besides my recent cinnamon kick (read—I add cinnamon to everything in extreme amounts; at least it’s full of antioxidants!), I have also been consuming normal large amounts of mushrooms. I throw em’ in omelets, wraps, on veggie burgers, and sauté em’ up for a side dish. So when I was in Wal-Mart the other day and I spotted giant Portobello mushroom caps on sale 2/$2 I knew this was a perfect opportunity to further induce my mushroom obsession with none other than stuffed Portobello mushroom caps! I have seen numerous variations to these from seafood stuffed to rice stuffed, but of course I brainstormed my own version, and not to toot my own horn—it was mighty fab!


Italian Pizzazz Portobello's

  • 1 Portobello mushroom cap(de-gilled)
  • 1/4 C of pita bread crumbs (a pita torn into shreds)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1 Tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 C of soy crumble (I used Boca) You could even use chopped sausage, or whatever you like—even meatless!
  • 2 Tbsp canned diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted)
  • 1/4 C spinach, chopped
  • Assorted veggies that suite your taste (I used zucchini, mushrooms!, onion, and red bell pepper)Add as much as you like depending on how “stuffed” you want your shroom to be. :-)
  • A dash of Italian seasoning
  • A pinch of pepper
  • A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese  


  • De-gill your mushroom, so it looks like this—>


  • Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425 F and line a cookie sheet with foil.
  • Get a skillet and add your chopped veggies, soy crumbles and Worcestershire sauce. Sauté until onions are translucent and veggies are fork tender. Add spinach in for the last minute or so along with the seasonings.


  • Throw the veggies in a bowl and mix with the pita “breadcrumbs”.
  • Stuff your mushroom trying to keep things inside of it. Top with diced tomatoes, sauce, and cheese.
  • Pop it in the oven for about 7 minutes—any longer it gets too rubbery to cut and eat in a polite manner!
  • Dig innnn!


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I’m Naturally Sweet

  Yes, I would like to say I am naturally sweet at heart, but unfortunately that is not what this post is about. Instead it’s all about natural sweetners--things like molasses, syrups, cane juice, honey, fruit concentrate, and the newly popular stevia. A reader recently mentioned that a lot of recipes I use (specifically Hungry Girl recipes) use a lot of fake ingredients and light products. I was so glad for the feedback because I don’t think I’ve touched on this before—I am not a fan of artificial products and sweeteners, but I am not against them either. Of course there is the slew of bad raps that they cause health ailments as serious as cancer, but numerous studies have deemed them safe for the general population. I think they are great for people with diabetes, and I like to use them occasionally as well. As far as light products go, if there is no noticeable taste difference in the light and the real, I will go for the light for sure—but I will not sacrifice taste for a minimal calorie difference. What are your opinions about artificial sweeteners and light products?

 So I thought today was perfect to highlight a recipe that gets a good portion of it’s flavor and texture from maple syrup. This recipe is based off of this one that I had bookmarked awhile back! I made the obvious substitution of maple syrup for agave syrup and added another special addition—check it out!


Peanut Buttery Bars

Courtesy of Carrots 'N' Cake

Makes 12 bars


  • 1.5 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
  • 2 TBSP chocolate peanut butter, melted for glaze (I used chocolate PB2)


  • Preheat oven to 350*F degrees. Spray 8-inch square baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine ingredients until smooth.
  • Spread batter in prepared baking pan, and bake for approximately 15-18 minutes until the top of the bars begin to brown.
  • Let bars cool completely in pan before cutting.

Check back tomorrow for something especially “shroomy”!

Also, look for my Fruity French Toast with Warm Blueberry Glaze on Healthy Yum!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Rollin’ Cinnabon to the Curb

What better way to start the week than with a hot and gooey pan of cinnamon rolls to meet you on the way out the door? I decided to try it this week and lemme tell you—it did make a difference! :-) I figured I would try to squeeze in one last Hungry Girl recipe from my Cookbook of the Month, and this one has been calling my name for quite sometime now. And lucky for you, they were a sweet success and mighty cheap to make! I would say these are semi-homemade, so if you have about a half hour to spare, you have no excuse not to make these! Of course if you are a person with no time to bake these whatsoever, you can always head on over to Holey Donuts and try out their delish Cinnamon Buns.(I did a review here.) Also, I have decided these qualify for my Recipe Redo on a Budget.

But first, how the heck did a cinnamon roll even get created? Thought this was interesting!

In the 13th century Marco Polo opened the spice trade to Europe. Medieval chefs were using cinnamon and the cinnamon was very expensive. Cinnamon rolls are probably descended from their first fritters. There was an English bun called the Chelsea bun that was described in an English cookbook almost exactly like a cinnamon roll. Then in the 1910s a cookbook did an exact recipe for cinnamon rolls. By the 1922 there was a huge fad for delicious cinnamon rolls that everyone could enjoy and everyone did want them. Then in the 18th century the Philadelphia cinnamon roll was born. With brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, and raisins, it was a new twist on the old favorite. It was brought by the English and German immigrants to America. No one will ever know where the true origin of cinnamon rolls come from, after all, cinnamon and bread are very ancient foods. When foods are used often and for a very long period of time, origins are difficult to discover. While history is fascinating, the taste of cinnamon rolls is a testament to all those who have contributed to the taste of it in the past.


Budget Breakdown

  • Brown Sugar- freebie
  • Pillsbury Reduced-Fat Crescent Rolls- $1.49
  • Splenda- $3.85
  • Cool Whip Free- $2.99
  • Light Butter Spread- $1.75
  • Fat-Free Cream Cheese- $2.29
  • Salt- freebie
  • Cinnamon- freebie
  • Butter Spray- $2.29

Total= $14.66  Per Bun= $1.22

*Generally a cinnamon roll from Cinnabon or any fast food place will cost you around four bucks, and not to mention a hefty overdose of calories and sugar.*


Gooey Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

Makes: 12 


--For Dough--

  • 1 package refrigerated Pillsbury reduced-fat Crescent Rolls
  • 16 sprays of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Spray

--For Filling--

  • 1/4 C dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 C granulated Splenda(or other no cal sweetener of choice)
  • 1/2 Tbsp light butter spread
  • 1 1/2 Tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt

--For Icing--

  • 1/4 C Cool Whip Free, thawed
  • 3 Tbsp FF cream cheese, room temp
  • 1 Tbsp Splenda, granulated


  • Preheat oven to 350 F
  • To make filling, combine all ingredients in medium bowl, stirring well to make sure the butter gets mixed in evenly. Set aside.
  • To make icing, combine all ingredients in small bowl and mix until smooth and blended. Place in the fridge to chill and set.
  • Prepare a dry surface by sprinkling it with a small amount of flour to prevent sticking. Remove dough from package and knead into a ball.
  • Using a rolling pin lightly dusted with flour, very firmly roll out dough into a thin sheet about 8 x 12 inches. Spray the dough’s surface evenly with butter spray.
  • Spread filling evenly over dough, leaving a 1/2 in border around the edges.

CIMG0206 (2)

  • Starting with long side of the dough, roll it up tightly, forming a log. Once dough is completely rolled up, pinch the long seam to seal.
  • Turn the log over so that the seam side is facing down. Using a very sharp knife, cut log into 12(the original recipe says 8, but I squeezed in 4 more!)being careful not to squish dough.
  • Spray a baking pan with nonstick spray and arrange pieces of dough in the pan with swirl sides facing up. Use your hands to firmly press down the tops of the pieces. Pinch the side seams if necessary.
  • Cover pan with aluminum foil. Bake in oven for 8 minutes.
  • Remove foil and return pan to oven. Bake an additional 5 minutes, or until rolls have risen and are slightly browned on top.
  • Evenly distribute icing over cinnamon rolls and dig in!

Here’s a virtual roll to quell your cravings! (I know you have one now!!)


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Summer Jam Session

  I’m back! Can you believe tomorrow is a start to a new week once again? At least my week ended with a bang—my little trip home and my day with dad turned out to be super fun! Seinfeld is even funnier in real life and had the whole place laughing for 2 hours straight—I woke up the next morning with sore facial muscles from smiling and laughing the whole time—sometimes that’s just what you need! Besides that my dad and I spent the day eating good food (buffets anyone? or ice cream?), and then went to shop the little stores down by Lake Superior—we found a huge antique shop and spend over an hour having fun looking around. Did you do anything fun this weekend or just relax? Unfortunately no cameras were aloud in Seinfeld, so I didn’t even bring mine.

On a different note, I experimented with a new bread recipe recently and it turned out to be a great one! Don’t be turned off by the pumpkin because it is very subtle in the final product and adds a really nice texture. This bread is extremely good toasted or not with some spread like jam on it. (Easy homemade jam recipe below!)


Pumpkin Oatmeal Bread

Makes: 1 1/2 lb loaf


  • 3/4 C milk (I used Almond Breeze)
  • 1/4 C canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg or 2 egg whites
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/8 C applesauce
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 C old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 C bread flour
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp wheat gluten
  • 1 1/2 Tsp rapid or quick yeast


  • Mix all ingredients according to bread machine manufacturer instructions.
  • Select basic for cycle.

No bread machine? No big deal! Try this recipe which is somewhat similar, just add in a bit of applesauce.

So now you have the bread—why not continue on your culinary kick and make so homemade jam. This method is so easy, I promise!

Work Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 20 Minutes + Standing
Yield: 4 Half-Pints

1. Whisk together 1 1/2 c sugar and 1 package (1.59 oz) "no-cook freezer jam fruit pectin in a bowl. Be sure to buy the right type!

2. Mash 1 c raspberries, 1 c blackberries, and 2 c strawberries (hulled and quartered) in another bowl until fruit is a chunky puree.

3. Pour sugar and pectin into the bowl with the fruit and stir until very well combined. This will take 2 to 3 minutes.

4. Ladle jam into four 8 oz freezer jam jars (either glass or plastic), let stand until set, about 30 minutes, and freeze.

*Courtesy of Prevention Magazine*

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Berry-licious Cupcake Recipe

Thanks for hangin’ in there to get the recipe for these marvelous Hungry Girl cupcakes—they were really unique because they blended so many berry flavors! Definitely a keeper for the summer months. I am headed home (to my original home that is) to take my dad to Seinfeld Live this Friday. I will be back here sometime Saturday, so blogging will resume either Saturday night or for sure Sunday morning—I may or may not still be floating around the blog world though—I can’t stay away for too long! :o) I hope you all have a super weekend; are you doing anything fun or just relaxing?!

Berry-licious Cupcakes

Adapted from the first Hungry Girl cookbook

Makes 12 servings (or 44 mini cupcakes)


(For Frosting)

  • One-half 8-ounce container Cool Whip Free
  • 1/4 c fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp Splenda
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar-free strawberry preserves
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 drop of neon pink food coloring

(For Cupcakes)

  • 2 C moist-style white cake mix (1/2 of an 18.25 oz box)
  • 1 cup diet black cherry soda
  • 1/2 C egg whites (about 4)
  • 6 medium strawberries, pureed (I used 1/4 pureed blueberries)


  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Combine all frosting ingredients in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer at medium-low speed, blend for about 1 minute then chill frosting in the freezer for 20 minutes and then transfer to the fridge until ready to frost cupcakes.
  • In a large bowl, stir to combine cake mix, soda and egg whites. And pureed strawberries and food coloring, and mix with electric mixer at medium-high speed until smooth. Evenly spoon batter in 12-cup muffin pan (or 24-cup mini-muffin pan) spritzed with nonstick cooking spray lined with baking cups.
  • Place pan in the oven and bake 15-20 mins (until firm). Let cool completely before frosting. Once cool, remove cupcakes from the pan and evenly spread frosting over them.


  • 113 calories
  • 2g fat
  • 197 mg sodium
  • 21g carbs
  • 0g fiber (boo!)
  • 11g sugars
  • 3g protein


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I’ll Always Be a Kid at Heart

“Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.”

“You're never too old to become younger.”

“Man does not cease to play because he grows old, he grows old because he ceases to play.”

“I have my whole life to be mature, why start now?”

“Age is something that doesn't matter. Unless you're a cheese.”

I think I am one of the fortunate kids who have a childhood filled with everything good—good times, good food, good family relationships, and overall good great growing up years. So, of course I will always want to stay a kid at heart because I loved not knowing what each free day would bring, but not caring regardless! So I thought I would share how I am still a kid at heart—these are just a few! :o) How are you still a kid at heart?


One: I have a slight obsession fondness for Spongebob Squarepants. Ever since he was introduced 10 years ago I have been smitten. And I was stoked when I finally got to meet him at Universal Orlando a few years back!


(Universal Studios Orlando—February 2006)

Two: If you’ve been reading the blog for awhile you already know that I am head-over-heels for anything ice cream and I turn wobbly in the knees around anything cream and cone themed! There’s just something nostalgic about ice cream. (Maybe the fact that I ate my good share of cones when I was little—and even more now!)

DSCI0099 (FL State Fair—February 2007)

  Three: I love to eat foods that come in shapes. Any shapes! I used to only like macaroni in the fun little cartoons vs. the boring elbow macaroni. Now I still prefer to eat shaped foods. For example, I am in love with these heart-shaped cookies!


Have you tried the Heart Thrive cookies yet? They’re not just any cookie—they actually qualify to be in my Good for You Goodies category. About them:

30% Daily Protein, Fiber & Calcium!

Now Calcium Enriched!

As much calcium as an  8 oz. glass of milk!

No Trans Fats!

Heart Thrives are a delicious, VEGAN and NON-GMO energy bar. Made with oats, soy and dried fruits, each Heart Thrive supplies 30% daily PROTEIN, FIBER and CALCIUM.

Heart Thrives are made from ingredients with a low glycemic index that metabolize slowly providing sustained energy for hours.




I tried all of the flavors and would have to say the lemon poppyseed was my favorite followed by the raisin spice and third would be the cranberry. These aren’t your typical cookies—they are much heartier, which explains why I could only down one from the 2 heart package. Anyway, get your hands on these if you like your food to be shaped. (I have heard these are good heated or with a smear of peanut butter!)

Four: And lastly, I retain my kid at heart by eating kid themed cereals. Yes they have a lot of sugar and some not a lot of nutritional benefit, but hey—they’re fun! Here’s one of my recent favorites!



These are like the amped up version of your classic Rice Krispies. They are multi-grain with a good source of fiber and a slight, but sweet honey taste. Plus they are about 3 times the size! I am thinking about whippin’ up a batch of Jumbo Rice Krispie Bars!!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

My Kind of Day!

Happy National  Ice Cream Day!

I would have to say that this day is definitely in my top 5 favorite days!

The weather couldn’t be any better today(complete turn around from the past week), so I see a bit of this is my future—>

Cartoon Girl Eating Ice-cream (vector) Royalty Free Stock Vector Art Illustration

Did I mention that I recently got an ice cream maker? I had no experience whatsoever in the ice cream making scene, but I am a total ice cream fanatic, so I knew exactly what I wanted. A cheesecake flavor, a chewy consistency(which I achieved by using guar gum), blueberries, and an overdose of cinnamon. I got it perfect the first try! I was not expecting a creamy but chewy, savory but sweet, and such a treat on the first try! This is such a great way for me to save money instead of paying for a $3 cup of ice cream all the time. And the ice cream maker was $20 at Wal-Mart! I highly suggest getting one if you eat ice cream all the time and like to customize to your hearts’ content! =)



Find out how this “holiday” started here!

And of course—EAT SOME ICE CREAM!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Summer Salads

Hey everyone!

Even though it feels nothing close to summer here (58 degree daytime highs—no joke!), I am still all about eating certain summer fare. Besides an over-abundance of summer fruit and veggies, I tend to eat a lot of “salads”—not just the green leafy kinds, but things like potato salads, tuna salad, coleslaw, etc. What’s your favorite “summer” food or meal? So I thought I’d share some recent salads I have been enjoying—so if your in the need for some new recipes and products, look no further than this post!


I have had my eye on Hungry Girl’s I Can’t Believe It’s Not Potato Salad for quite sometime, and since her 200 Under 200 Cookbook is my cookbook of the month, I figured now would be a great opportunity to make it. What lured me in to this recipe was the awesome method of getting a super creamy(healthy!)sauce mixture—and although the original recipe does not include potatoes, hence the name, I did add a few peeled red potatoes to the mix—I just can’t justify a “potato” salad without the poor potatoes. Either way this would is great! I definitely am making another batch soon, because the first batch is on its’ last leg! Get the recipe here!


New product that just hit the shelves alert: StarKist Chunk Light Tuna Salad Sandwich Ready Spread in a convenient on-the-go pouch! I don’t know about you, but I won’t eat tuna from a can—it just has that canny taste I can’t get past, so I have been a pouched tuna girl, and now that they have a pre-mixed sandwich spread, you better believe I stocked up! At about $1.30 a pouch you can’t go wrong. It was the perfect blend of spices and flavors, and the stats are super too! Each 3-oz. pouch has 90 - 100 calories, 2.5 - 3.5g fat, 4 - 6g carbs, 1g fiber, and 11 - 13g protein depending on if you get the Albacore or the Chunk Light.


Do you have some cans of tuna lying around that you want to use up before you go out and buy more? Try these ideas!

  • Combine tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and Serrano chilies—add tuna and fresh squeezed lemon. Serve on top of tostadas or in taco shells!
  • Combine pitted olives, tuna, garlic, thyme, rosemary, anchovies(if you want), capers, lemon juice, mustard and olive oil in a food processor for a black olive tapenade with a twist!
  • Brush pitas with olive oil, then sprinkle with grated fontina cheese. Top with light tuna chunks, minced garlic, halved marinated artichoke hearts, diced tomato, and kalamata olives. Bake until just bubbly for a tuna pizza!
  • Make some tuna meatballs by combining oil-packed tuna with minced onion, scallion, parsley, marjoram, and salt. Add egg and panko bread crumbs that have been moistened with a little milk. Form small, firm meatballs and simmer in sauce made with canned diced tomatoes, the oil from the tuna, a splash of white wine, garlic, and onions. Bon appétit!
  • Toss tuna into a Middle Eastern-inspired salad, tossing with some chickpeas, chopped tomatoes, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Mound it on crispbread and enjoy!
  • Pair your tuna with pasta by mixing a can with chopped garlic, several spoonfuls or EVOO, black olives, capers, and a sprinkle of oregano. Toss with cooked pasta(or sprouts) and add a can of tomato sauce!
  • Make a melt by combining a can of tuna with sweet relish, red onion, celery, lemon juice, light mayo, and half of a sweet pickle. Scoop on top of a toasted English muffin half, add a slice(or two!) of cheese, and broil till bubbly.
  • Stuff peppers by sautéing diced onion and eggplant until caramelized. Mix with tuna, parsley, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, then stuff in to prepared bell peppers. Bake until steaming hot and serve with a bed of rice if desired.
  • Add a can to lentils, chopped tomatoes, and parsley along with your favorite low-fat vinaigrette, plus salt and pepper. 

Have a great day as sweet as this fruit!

(yes, it was delish!)


Friday, July 17, 2009

Shout For Sprouts

  When it comes to trying new foods, sometimes I am all for it, other times I go back and forth while deciding if I really want to try it. Ever since I started blogging, I have realized how many foods I really haven’t tried! I still need to try an avocado, feta cheese, and different cuisines such as Thai and Indian. What are foods you have on your “to try” list? One of the foods I recently checked off of my list was bean sprouts. I had never had any type of sprout and was impressed by their nutritional value--

Sprouts are a great and inexpensive way of obtaining a concentration of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. They contain all of the nutrients found in various fruits and veggies. Eating sprouts is a safe way to get the nutritional advantage of produce without that contamination of harmful insecticides. Studies have shown that in comparison to dried seeds, sprouted foods contain an amazing increase in nutrients. During the sprouting process, the vitamins, minerals and protein increase substantially and the calories and carbs decrease.

 Are you interested in how to eat your bean sprouts? Why not--

  And I am sure you want to know how I now eat my bean sprouts? I use them in an unlikely way—for a lighter summer pasta swap. I buy em’ in the can so they are a little bit mushier than fresh ones, and I squeeze the excess juice out of them, warm them in the microwave and top with pasta sauce, meats, and veggies, just as you would normally make your favorite pasta dish. Much lighter to accompany summer appetites!

CIMG0158 For this meal, I topped a can of sprouts with some chicken sausage, sautéed bell peppers and mushrooms, and some pasta sauce with a little shake of parmesan! It truly is delish!

Make sure to check your grocer’s Oriental aisle which is where the canned bean sprouts can usually be found.

Speaking of pasta, I recently was asked to review a product for My Blog Spark. Unfortunately I haven’t gotten around to it yet, but I have made these meals before, and I would highly recommend them! They are cheap, fast, and restaurant quality. I did happen to snap a few pictures!


  These newer Macaroni Grill meals come in five flavors, so there is surely one that will suite you. All you need to complete the meal kit is some chicken breasts and your ready to whip up a restaurant meal at home. Included in the package from the generous folks at My Blog Spark was also a really great metal colander, a pasta spoon, and a grater to grate fresh cheese—can you say Italian night? What’s your favorite Italian food? Mine would have to be anything smothered in a good pasta sauce—it’s in my blood =)



And since I am on a roll with all things pasta , I recently tried the new Healthy Choice All Natural entree in Pumpkin Squash Ravioli.CIMG0135

 CIMG0137 I am not a huge fan of frozen meals at all, but when I get a good coupon, I figure I might as well try it. Well I picked this one because I thought it would be a savory ravioli dish, but instead the noodles were too rubbery, the filling was way to sweet, which I was not expecting, and the sauce just did not pair well at all. Maybe some people like it, but I ended up tossing half of it. But there are other flavors in the All Natural line—here’s some info:

All-natural ingredients such as pumpkin, asparagus, nine-grain pastas, and 100% extra virgin olive oil are highlighted in our line of new All Natural Entrées, which includes four vegetarian options. Each contemporary recipe was crafted to deliver delectable food packed full of nutrition.

Enjoy your finally Friday!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Iced, Spiced, And Very Nice

  I got another new addition to my growing pan collection—a mini cupcake/muffin pan. I have been looking for one lately, and scored one at Wal-Mart for under five bucks! I love my heart pans, donut pan, Bundt pans and various shaped cake pans. When I buy em’ I have no set plan of when I’ll use a certain one, but I always find a occasion! Do you have a favorite pan you use? If you are slightly obsessed with different pans, or just have some free time, head over here to look at a store that carries every pan under one roof! Pretty neat huh?!

Well today I am getting my cable hooked up finally. They were booked solid for two weeks supposedly, so I have been watching my share of DVD’s, more specifically all seasons of Full House—I just love that show. =) And unfortunately the streak of nice weather has left the area, rainy skies have been hanging out for the past 3 days, so of course I use it as a perfect excuse to stay in and bake! I had a realization that I am seriously lacking on cupcake recipes on the blog, yet I have tons of recipes to try. So I got out the mini-muffin pan and my trusted Hungry Girl 200 Under 200 Cookbook and began a cupcake bake day. (Btw, this book is my “recipe book of the month”, if you’d like to email me your fav cookbook for next month, I’d be thrilled!)

The cupcakes I chose to make are the Iced 'n Spiced Pumpkin Puddin' Cupcakes—if you’re against the hype on healthy cupcakes, this recipe may just change your mind. I am glad I made them in mini size because they are really satisfying with just a little bite. Plus you can have a couple instead of one big one! I also love recipes that are based on canned pure pumpkin because it is so cheap, and I love having leftovers to eat with random things! Not sure if these are something you want to bake? Maybe this picture will convince you otherwise!


Yes, these little gems even come with a cream cheese based frosting that tops the cake! (literally)

Iced ‘N Spiced Pumpkin Puddin’ Cupcakes

Adapted from Hungry Girl’s 200 Under 200 Recipes


For Cupcakes:

  • 2 c moist-style spice cake mix
  • 1 c canned pure pumpkin
  • 1/3 c liquid egg substitute or 2 egg whites
  • 1/8 tsp salt

For Frosting:

  • 1/2 c plus 1 tbsp Cool Whip Free, thawed
  • 2 tbsp Splenda, or other granulated sugar substitute
  • 2 tbsp FF cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp canned pure pumpkin
  • 1 tsp sugar-free fat-free vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon


  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine all the frosting ingredients, stirring until well mixed. Refrigerate until cupcakes are ready to be frosted.


  • In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the cupcake ingredients with 1/2 c of water. Mix until blended.


  • Line a 12-cup muffin pan (or a 24 c mini-muffin pan) with baking cups and/or spray with nonstick spray. Evenly distribute cake mixture among the cups.
  • Bake in the oven for 15 mins, until a toothpick inserted the center of cupcake comes out clean.
  • Cool cupcakes completely, then evenly distribute frosting among the tops.

Let me know if you try these! Tomorrow’s Friday—ya!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

It’s Game Time!


The Get Your Groceries Game that is. Haven’t heard of it? Well I wouldn’t be surprised because I made it up awhile back and haven’t shared it yet! It all started when I came to college last fall. I began to notice how much groceries cost me—and this was just for one person! And not only that, but I had 3 big chain grocery stores to choose between. Of course I automatically assumed Wal-Mart was the cheapest for everything, but then I would see bananas or bagged lettuce cheaper at a different chain. So instead of trying to remember how much everything cost at every grocery store, I decided to collect my receipts and start tracking in a notebook. Then I would stick the little notebook in my purse and compare to make sure I was getting the lowest price possible. Even a few cents can add up, especially when you pair that savings with coupon savings! So what are you waiting for? You should totally play this game too! Here’s the “rules”:

  • Gather up all you recent receipts that include your groceries.(You can do this for anything really, not just groceries!)CIMG0164
  • Grab a notebook, paper, or whatever you want to write on and designate a page for each store you shop at. (I color code mine just for fun!)


  • List all the items for each store along with the oz or lb and the price.
  • And then use your handy list to compare before you shop and when your there. Make sure to update if prices change, and keep and eye out for sales because that would mean you could get something cheaper at a different store regardless of the standard price.


Since I started playing this “game”, I have definitely noticed a significant dip in my grocery spending, which leaves the money for other fun things! It doesn’t take too long to do, but it does add up in the long run! Do you see any significant price differences between stores in your town? One thing I noticed is Wal-Mart’s generic brand Great Value has rock-bottom prices on a lot of staples like oats, yogurt, sour cream, cream cheese, and canned goods, so I usually head there for that kind of stuff. Also my 8th Continent soymilk I always buy is $1.04 cheaper at Wal-Mart than at the other two grocery stores! Looking for other ways to save on your groceries?

  • Always check your pantry and cupboards before you leave to make sure you don’t already have something on your list.
  • Eat up fresh fruits and veggies before buying more to avoid spoilage.
  • Try to make your own deli-salads or other things you would normally buy pre-made to save some money.
  • Try to plan menus based on weekly sales.
  • If you have food co-op in your area, join it! You can reduce your weekly food bill by as much as 50%.
  • Meat is a good source of protein but it's expensive. Cheese, poultry, eggs, peanut butter, dried peas, beans, lentils, and some fish are less expensive and excellent sources of protein.
  • Use your freezer to stock up when there is a sale on frozen or dairy items, such as cheese, butter and milk.
  • Pretty packaging costs you money. You are not only paying for the product, but for the packaging (and advertising) as well.
  • Send off for rebates to get items free, or nearly free!
  • Learn the sales cycles of your favorite stores, and know when to expect certain items to go on sale.
  • If your store offers a members card, sign up to get significant savings.
  • Plan one big trip a month for bulk staples. You can get fresh items at another store on other weeks, but doing a big bulk trip will cut back on the expense and amount you have to carry for the other three weeks. Avoid buying on impulse at the bulk store too — just because they sell a lot of it doesn't mean you're saving, if you weren't planning on buying it in the first place. Buy in bulk only when it makes sense. If you can save money, over the course of a month or two, by buying in bulk, plan to do so. But be sure that you're going to use all of it before it gets bad — it isn't cheaper to buy in bulk if you don't use it.
  • Use leftovers in every way possible—visit the Leftover Chef—he’ll help you utilize every last drop.
  • Know how long this last before they go bad. Visit Still Tasty which is the ultimate shelf life guide.

And lastly, make sure to check this blog for updates on how to save big!

And it wouldn’t hurt to use your reusable bag!! Saving money + saving the earth= double whammy!

Let me know your tips and tricks for saving on groceries—I may feature you! =)