Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bun Fun

Well, I am sad to say it, but I think old man winter is making his way to Minnesota. Nightly temps have been in the 30’s, and the daily temps barely reach 50. Although I do like winter because it means:

  • hot chocolate
  • baking with a warm oven on
  • bringing out the electric blankets
  • watching the trees get covered in pretty, glistening snow
  • the holiday seasons

Ok, so basically I am just trying to be positive—I really do not like anything about winter, well besides the holiday season. What’s winter like in your neck of the woods? (Al Roker slang ha!)

So, the other day I bought something I haven’t bought in a long time—hot dog buns! I went into our local bread store (where bread is highly discounted), and noticed that there was whole-wheat hot dog buns! I grabbed em’ since they were only $2, and I knew I would find some use for them. But then I got home and realized I do not eat nor like hot dogs, so it was time to get creative!


Italian Sautéed Sub Sandwich

Serves: 1


  • One hot dog bug
  • 1/4 c sliced green bell pepper
  • 1/4 c sliced onion
  • 1 Italian chicken sausage, sliced
  • 1/4 c pizza sauce
  • 1/4 c of shredded cheese blend


  • Toast bun briefly in a toaster oven or under broiler.
  • Sautee sausage, onion, and pepper.
  • Spread sauce on bun, add veggies/sausage.
  • Put cheese on the top side of the bun.
  • Place back in toaster over or broiler until cheese is bubbly and hot!

Easy, cheap, fast, and GOOD!

So then I found myself on another quest—ways to use up all these bargain buns. Here’s some great uses for them that I came up with!

  • Make fast cheesy breadsticks by splitting buns, sprinkling some cheese, and toasting in the oven.
  • Make French toast—ok, so not your typical looking French toast, but still good nonetheless!
  • Garlic bread. Use this method to make them.
  • Miniature pizzas anyone?
  • Pulse the buns in a food processor for quick bread crumbs.
  • Use them for my strata!
  • PB and Banana sandwiches—the banana will fit perfect =)
  • Use them in your favorite bread pudding recipe.
  • Make any kind of mini subs for on-the-go lunches.
  • Homemade croutons in an instant!
  • Use them in your meatloaf recipes.

What are your ideas for using up hot dog buns?!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Healthy,Homemade,and Home baked

  • 93% of Americans eat AT LEAST one of this per month.
  • Each year, this food produces a $30 billion industry.
  • Children ages 3-11 prefer this over all other foods for lunch and dinner, according to a recent Gallup Poll.
  • Everyone in the United States eats about 23 lbs. of this every year.
  • Americans eat approximately 100 acres of this EACH DAY.

What is it? Any guesses?

If you guessed pizza, you are right!

October is National Pizza Month, so I figured I’d give you a heads up beforehand!

Where else can you get all the food groups in one? Crust(grains),veggies,fruits(pineapple for me!), and fat(oil) in the crust.

Virtually all towns have either a mom&pop pizza shop or a chain pizza restaurant, so it’s one of those foods you never have to search too hard to find. Not surprising, since pizzerias represent 17% of all restaurants. (Source: Food Industry News) Check out the blogger on the quest to find the perfect slice here.

As far as topping go, I love veggies with pineapple, and if I do go with meat, I will choose ham or chicken. What is your favorite pizza topping? A few popular pizzas toppings are: Mushrooms, Extra cheese, Sausage, Green Pepper, and Onion. In the list of most popular pizza toppings in America, the last one is anchovies. Also new gourmet pizza toppings have rapidly became popular. Some of those toppings include: Chicken, Oysters, Crayfish, Dandelions, Sprouts, Eggplant, Cajun Shrimp, Artichoke Hearts, Venison, Duck, Canadian-Style Bacon and Tuna.

As far as eating out for pizza, I really like Pizza Hut’s Natural Pizza(check out my previous review here).

But who wants to order pizza out all the time? Not only can it get expensive, but it can get boring, and for me frozen pizzas aren’t an option—I don’t like em’ too much. So how about making your own from scratch? The dough, the sauce, and all the veggies hand chopped by you? Sounds too hard you say? Anyone can do this as long as you know how to assemble a pizza!

Fresh Veggie Pizza on Honey Whole Wheat Crust

[[Makes 1-12” pizza]]




  • 1 1/8 tsp dry yeast
  • 1/8 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 c warm water (110)
  • 1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c whole wheat flour
  • 1/2  Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt (I used kosher, but table salt is fine)


Makes 1 1/3 c

  • 1/4 c fine chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 c vegetable broth or white wine, your choice
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 (14.5oz) can of crushed tomatoes, un-drained
  • 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar


  • Basically whatever you want to use! I used zucchini, onions, green peppers, olives, spinach, fresh basil, mushrooms, tomatoes and 3/4 c of cheddar cheese blend.



  • Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, oil, and salt to yeast mixture, stirring until well-blended. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).
  • Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in size. (Press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes. Divide dough in half; roll each half into a 12-inch circle(or a square like me) on a floured surface. Top and bake according to recipe directions.


  • Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until tender. Add garlic to pan; sauté 30 seconds. Stir in wine; cook 30 seconds. Add tomato paste, oregano, pepper, and tomatoes. Reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat; stir in basil and vinegar. Cool.

Assembly & Baking

  • Preheat oven to 400 F. Once preheated, prick crust with a fork, then bake for about 8 minutes.


  • Meanwhile, chop all your desired toppings and measure out your cheese.
  • Take crust out and top with sauce. Then spread on toppings and cheese.





  • Now just pop it in the oven for about 12 minutes, but just keep checking and take out when your desired pizza is reached!

Bon appétit!


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Kitchen Fairy Debut

Good Saturday all! I don’t know if all of you wanted the weekend to get here—but I sure did! Why? Because I am a college student and I need to recoup got hair extensions put in today!(picture bottom of post) 12 inches of hair instantly? Yes please! Plus this Sunday I have a baking/cooking day planned!

Today I just wanted to share a collection that I have been wanting to start forever, and my mom is kicking off my new collection! I once saw these on a vacation to Florida, and knew with my love of cooking, it would be the perfect collection, since all I currently collect is Spongebob stuff. My mom surprised me with not 1, but 4 pieces to start.

Kitchen Fairies are the cutest little things, and all of them revolve around some type of food! There is a gazillion different ones from different years and collections. When searching for different fairies, it can get a bit overwhelming because I want em’ all! Maybe eventually =)

By the way, this and this site show a nice variety of them.

Here’s the ones I have: 


“My Little Sweet Pea”

This collectible Kitchen Fairiy is the perfect gift for the sweet pea in your life. Tucked comfortably inside an open pea pod, the My Little Sweet Pea Kitchen Fairy is an absolute darling. With one thumb stuck in her mouth, she is about to drift into a deep and peaceful slumber.


“Little Cherry Fairy”

This Kitchen Fairy playfully sits in a small bowl overflowing with ruby red cherries. She kicks up her chubby little feet with glee as she holds up a single cherry, ready to eat it. Life can be like a bowl of cherries with the Little Cherry Kitchen Fairy around!


“Cupcake Fairy”

The Cupcake Kitchen Fairy is as sweet as the cupcake upon which she sits. She looks quite relaxed as she reclines on this classic dessert with sprinkles and pink icing. Her rosebud mouth is formed into a tiny smile and her blushing cheeks match the cupcake’s icing. A sweet treat indeed, the Cupcake Kitchen Fairy measures 4 ½” tall.


“Funnel Cake Fairy”

Funnel cake is definitely one of the best things about a country fair! And it looks like the Funnel Cake Kitchen Fairy has hers. Leaning over a fresh funnel cake, she eagerly sprinkles powdered sugar onto her treat, licking her lips with anticipation. She wears a blue and white apron over her white shirt and red pants. Her dark brown hair is up in pigtails, and a checkered cloth is tucked in the back of her apron.

Thanks again Mom for a start to a great collection!

What do you collect?


Hair extensions!!!





I think I’ll love long hair for the winter!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Picking Your Meal Apart

Don’t you sometimes wonder when your eating a supposed healthy meal, what is really healthy about it, what it can do for your body, and what vitamins and such it provides? I usually just jump at the word healthy, but for today’s meal, I wanted to see what it was really doing for me!

The meal:


Swiss Chicken with Roasted Fruit Compote

(recipe below)


Butternut Squash Fries

(recipe here)

[[Picking It Apart]]

    • Chicken (4 oz breast)
  • 4 ounces of chicken provide two thirds of your daily protein requirements
  • A serving of chicken supplies 72% of the RDA for niacin, a B vitamin that can protect DNA from cell damage and has cancer-preventative properties.
  • That 4-ounce serving of chicken also provides nearly half of your RDA of the trace mineral selenium that is essential for manufacturing glutathione, a powerful immune boosting and cancer-fighting enzyme.
  • Vitamin B6 in chicken helps process carbohydrates and helps regulate blood sugar.
    • Cheese
  • Cheese contains a high concentration of essential nutrients, in particular high quality protein and calcium, as well as other nutrients such as phosphorus, zinc, vitamin A, riboflavin, and vitamin B12.
  • Certain cheeses such as Cheddar, Swiss, blue, Monterey Jack, and process American cheese, among others, have been demonstrated to reduce the risk of dental cavities.
  • Because cheese is a calcium-rich food, its inclusion in the diet may help reduce the risk for osteoporosis.
    • Apples
  • Apples are source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber such as pectin actually helps to prevent cholesterol buildup in the lining of blood vessel walls, thus reducing the incident of arteriosclerosis and heart disease. The insoluble fiber provides bulk in the intestinal tract, holding water to cleanse and move food quickly through the digestive system.
  • It is a good idea to eat apples with their skin. Almost half of the vitamin C content is just underneath the skin. Eating the skin also increases insoluble fiber content.
    • Cherries
  • Cherries, along with many other berries, are a rich source of antioxidants. They help prevent or repair the damage that is done to the body’s cells by free radicals. This means that antioxidants replace free radicals in your body before they can cause any damage.
  • Cherries are rich in two important flavonoids, isoqueritrin and queritrin, which act as antioxidants and work to eliminate byproducts of oxidative stress, therefore slowing down the aging process.
  • Melatonin is also found to help the body’s natural sleep patterns. Since the body so rapidly absorbs melatonin, cherries can increase melatonin levels in the blood, therefore improving the way you sleep.
    • Butternut Squash
  • Low in fat, butternut squash delivers an ample dose of dietary fiber, making it an exceptionally heart-friendly choice. It provides significant amounts of potassium, important for bone health, and vitamin B6, essential for the proper functioning of both the nervous and immune systems. The folate content adds yet another boost to its heart-healthy reputation and helps guard against brain and spinal-cord-related birth defects such as spina bifida.
  • As if this weren't enough, butternut squash may have anti-inflammatory effects because of its high antioxidant content. Incorporating more of this hearty winter staple into your diet could help reduce risk of inflammation-related disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.


Sounds like a power-packed meal to me! I bet a lot of you eat great tasting meals filled with tons of benefits. Maybe take a few minutes this weekend and pick apart your meal. I’d love to see a picture and the health benefits your getting—so email me at and I will post my favorite next week! =)


Swiss Chicken with Roasted Fruit Compote Recipe



  • 1 oz red wine vinegar
  • 1.5 oz apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3/4 c chopped Fuji apple
  • 1/2 oz unsalted butter
  • 3.25 oz of Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 3.25 oz of frozen bing cherries, thawed


  • For the marinade: Place the red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, the mustards, and honey in a food processor. Turn it on and drizzle in the olive oil until fully incorporated. Marinate the chicken breasts overnight in this mixture. Or in my case, I did it for 3 hours, and it worked fine!
  • Preheat 12-inch skillet sprayed with nonstick spray on med-high. Remove chicken breasts from the marinade and transfer to a plate. Season them with salt and pepper. Cook each chicken breast about 4 minutes on both sides, and transfer back to plate. (Chicken breasts will still not be fully cooked, so do wash your hands and take precautions with using raw meat!)
  • For the stuffing: Peel, core, and very roughly chop the apples. Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium/high heat and add the apples. Cook the apples for roughly 5 to 10 minutes or until they are deeply browned. Remove from heat and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the Swiss and cherries and mix. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
  • For the chicken: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Cut a slit in the side of each breast (in the thicker part) about 1-inch wide, creating a pocket almost as large as the breast itself. Stuff the breasts with the apple stuffing mix – cramming in as much as possible without ripping the breast.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 12 to 15 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 155 degrees F in the thickest part of the breast.

Great blend of sweet and savory flavors!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fruit + Veggies = ?

It seems these days we are always hearing messages whether it be in print, on tv, or from your doctor that we should be meeting our quota of daily fruits and veggies. (Find out how many you really need here) For me, it’s never been a big deal, because thankfully fruits and veggies are always welcome on my plate! There is never really a meal that I eat that doesn’t have some type of produce.(Either fresh, frozen, or canned.) But for others who can’t down broccoli, or moms that have picky kids, you need to find recipes that can “sneak” produce in foods in unlikely ways. Today’s recipe contains one veggie and two fruits, so if you eat a slice (which is not hard to do!), you’ll knock off some out your daily fruit & veggie quota.

Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting


Makes: 16 slices



  • 2 c cake flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temp
  • 2 egg whites, room temp
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar (or Splenda if you prefer)
  • 1/2 c apple butter (I used 1 jar of carrot baby food instead)
  • 1/4 c canola oil
  • 1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 2 carrots, coarsely shredded (about 1 1/2 c)


  • 1 (8 oz) package fat-free cream cheese, at room temp
  • 1 1/2 c confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 c plain reduced-fat (2%) Greek yogurt (I used Yoplait Thick and Creamy Cinnamon Roll yogurt instead)
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped (nuts are optional)


  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray 2 8-inch cake pans with nonstick spray.
  • Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl—set aside. With an electric mixer, beat the eggs and egg whites on high for about 2 minutes, or until thickened. Gradually add the granulated sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low. Add the flour mixture and beat until just blended. Stir in the pineapple, carrots, and raisins.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the pans. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let pan cool on racks completely.
  • To make frosting, with an electric mixer on high speed. Beat the frosting ingredients in a medium bowl until smooth, about 1 minute.
  • Place 1 cake layer, rounded side down, on a serving plate. With a narrow metal spatula, spread 1/2 c frosting over the layer. Top with remaining layer, rounded side up. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle walnuts on the top of the cake.

[[Recipe adapted from here.]]

Carrot cake has to be one of my favorite cakes out there! I think my mom may have passed her love of it on to me—but I’m not complaining! What is your favorite cake to eat? Or are you just a frosting eater? Any super recipes?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Lunch in the Kitchen With Me!

Hey everyone! Hope your Sunday is ending on a good note! I originally planned to have this video posted this morning, but good ol’ Youtube was not cooperating—don’t you just love technology and all its’ glitches surprises? Eek! But, Tinypic came to the rescue and was on my side, so I’ll stop chatting and let you get to the video. [Recipe and pictures below]
Original Video - More videos at TinyPic


Seaside Pasta Dish w/Yellow Bell Pepper Sauce


  • 3 oz angel hair pasta, cooked and drained
  • 3/4 c mix of prepared shrimp and tilapia, chopped to your liking(if frozen, previously thawed)
  • 1/4 canned pineapple chunks, drained
  • Parmesan cheese, if desired

For sauce:

  • 1/4 c yellow bell pepper and onion,chopped and sautéed
  • 1/4 c canned stewed tomatoes + 2 Tbsp liquid from tomatoes
  • Preferred seasonings


  • Cook pasta according to box—strain and set aside in bowl.
  • Sauté chopped bell pepper and onion until soft, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Once done, put into food processor along with tomatoes, tomato liquid, and seasonings of your choice. Pulse for about 1 min, or until sauce consistency forms.
  • Meanwhile, chop your mixture of fish however big or small you like it. (I left my shrimp whole and cubed the tilapia.)
  • Spoon sauce mixture (yields about 1/2 C) over pasta, top with fish, shrimp, and pineapple and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese if you wish!!!


Homemade Semi-Gourmet Garlic Bread


  • 1 slice of sandwich bread, white or wheat
  • 1/2 clove of garlic
  • 1 Tbsp butter spread
  • 2 Tbsp shredded Cheddar cheese


  • Preheat oven or toaster oven to 450 F.
  • Mix garlic and butter spread together and spread evenly on bread.
  • Top with a sprinkling of cheese and bake for 5-8 min—watch carefully, it browns fast!

Have a super start to your work or school week!

And keep an eye out for gorgeous fall leaves :-)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

End of Summer Side

As summer slowly fades to fall, we’re all preparing and gathering recipes to start using up the fall bounty of fruit and veggies. Today I wanted to share a side dish that can use up some of the leftover summer/beginning fall vegetables. Sometimes a good meal needs to be accompanied by a great side to be truly complete. Who doesn’t like a fresh piece of garlic bread with spaghetti or a fresh green salad with grilled goods? This side dish can pair well with many dishes, which is another reason it’s great!


Tomato-Zucchini Bake


  • 1 lb sliced zucchini
  • 1 1/2 c fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 1/4 lb sliced vine-ripened tomatoes
  • 1/2 C Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1.4 c finely grated Parmesan


  • Preheat oven to 400 F. Meanwhile, coat a 2-quart shallow baking dish with cooking spray, and alternatively layer zucchini, corn, and tomatoes. (With this recipe, I divided it into four square ramekins for individual sides.)
  • Combine Panko and cheese, and sprinkle on top.
  • Bake, uncovered, in the center of the oven for 30 minutes or until top is golden brown.
  • Then cover with foil and bake 10 minutes more or until vegetable are tender. Serve immediately

What’s your favorite easy pleasing side dish?

Stay tune tomorrow for a VIDEO post! :-)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Great [Squeal!] Reveal

It’s sweet, but savory.

It can be used many ways,

After you see this recipe, you may be making it for days.

Ok, I’ll just get to the reveal, but try not to squeal,

because this is just so good.


Any guesses?




Sweet and Savory Stuffed Pumpkin


Yes, I did it, and I am so glad I did. I basically winged this recipe with a scribbled piece of paper in hopes that it would meet up to my high hopes. Plus who doesn’t want to eat out of a mini pumpkin?? It was so fun and delicious! If you can’t find mini pumpkins, you can sub 1/2 c canned pure pumpkin in the step of the pumpkin flesh, and just eat it out a bowl. Please put this on your list of things to make this weekend, you’re taste buds will thank you!



  • 1 mini pumpkin
  • 1/4 c canned cream corn
  • 1 link of breakfast turkey sausage(I used Jimmy Deans)
  • 2 Tbsp dried cranberries
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup


  • Preheat oven to 350F. Cut the top off the pumpkin(along with stem), and discard. Also get all the seeds out and either save them for roasted pumpkin seeds or discard also.
  • Hull out the pumpkin flesh, leaving about 1/4” inch of shell. Place all flesh in a microwavable bowl.CIMG0595CIMG0594
  • After microwaving flesh for 2 minutes, place in food processor with 1/4 c cream corn. Pulse until smooth, about 1 minute.
  • Place food processor mixture into bowl.
  • Chop breakfast sausage link into small pieces. Then add sausage and cranberries into the pureed pulp.


  • Carefully stuff pureed mixture back into pumpkin. Top of with maple syrup (it will seep throughout the mixture, so no need to stir).
  • Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the outside shell is fork tender.

I also added some poppy seeds to the top for extra crunch! Honestly, this is one of the best meals I have had in a long time, and that’s saying a lot from a mean food critic like me. :-)

From my pumpkin to yours—enjoy!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Street Food


I don’t know about you, but I have never seen someone selling food on the street, as in a food vendor that drives and parks places to sell food. I think Minnesota is lacking some serious stuff—well at least in my neck of the woods! So I decided to round up some of the best known food vendors across the US in hopes that one day I can have the opportunity to buy something off of the street =) Maybe some of these are in your town, or you’ve eaten from one or more—let me know!

[[Madison, Wisconsin]]

Ingrid's Lunchbox


Ingrid’s LunchBox is a mobile food establishment and caterer located in Madison, WI. Ingrid’s LunchBox appears at the top of State Street serving breakfast on Saturday mornings at the Dane County Farmer’s Market. Ingrid’s LunchBox can also be found many weekdays during the lunch-hours on the Memorial Library Mall in downtown Madison, Wisconsin. Throughout the year, Ingrid's serves Midwestern home style entrées, salads, and soups from her hand built trailer.(Location here.)

[[Charlottesville, Virginia]]


Patrick Critzer is a student of great global street food. At his cart he sells a wide range of locally sourced and organic dishes, from grilled Moroccan chicken and masala curry to teriyaki tofu. This being the South, he also makes a mean peach iced tea as well.

[[New York]]


The latest high-end New York street food trend is sweets. At the DessertTruck, co-run by a former Le Cirque pastry chef, the specialties include bomboloni(cream-filled, deep-fried brioche dusted w/cinnamon sugar) and chocolate bread pudding.

[[Los Angeles]]

Let's Be Frank

Our SF Shop

The dogs from this food cart run circles around most franks. No surprise considering they’re made from grass-fed beef and humanely raised pork and homemade condiments are on the menu; and one of the owners is the former meat forager for Chez Panisse restaurant.

[[Portland, Oregon]]

Garden State

At this shiny cart, manned by Kevin Sandri, you’ll find Sicilian and northwestern Italian specialites, including mozzarella-stuffed arancini, potato fritters, and chicken alla diavola. Most are made from organic, locally sourced ingredients.

[[Austin, Texas]]

Flip Happy Crepes

Nessa Higgins and Andrea Day Boykin flip and fold crepes savory(shredded pork with caramelized onions and Gruyere) and sweet(brownie crumbles topped with dark chocolate sauce and Chantilly cream) inside their Avion trailer.

[[Seattle, Washington]]

Skillet Street Food

Take a culinary school graduate, a hospitality veteran, and a few Airstream trailers, and you’ve got the idea behind Skillet Street Food. Have maple-braised Oregon pork belly, a fried egg, and a cornmeal waffle for breakfast or a lemongrass pork “sammy” with cabbage and ginger slaw, and hand-cut fries for lunch.


These all sounds street-licious to me!

*Adapted from June 2008 Bon Appétit Article

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Treat to Start Your Week Sweet

Yes, today is Monday—back to school, work, etc. However, Monday’s don’t have to be completely drab. If you bake a sweet treat, it can help make the day a little more pleasant. But not just any sweet treat, something that is easy to make, but tastes out-of-this-world—today’s recipe qualifies for a Monday sweet treat!

But first, I received a wonderful blog award, “One Lovely Blog” from Taylor!

I will be nominating 10 other bloggers on my next post :-)

Peanut Butter & Jelly CupcakesCIMG0612

Yields: 24

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 25 minutes



  • 1/2 c light cream cheese (block style)
  • 1/4 c creamy peanut butter (I used PB&Co Dark Chocolate Dream)
  • 1/4 c confectioner’s sugar


  • 1 c cake flour
  • 1 c granulated sugar or sugar substitute
  • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c low fat buttermilk (I used Almond Breeze and added 1/2 Tbsp vinegar and mixed)
  • 1/3 c canola oil
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 oz semisweet chocolate, melted
  • 1/2 c seedless jam (your preferred flavor—I used raspberry)
  • 1/4 c honey roasted peanuts, chopped


  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a mini 24-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray.
  • To make frosting, with an electric mixer on low speed, beat the frosting ingredients in a small bowl until smooth, about 2 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap, set aside.
  • To make the cupcakes, whisk together cake flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, baking powder and soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together buttermilk, oil, egg, egg white, and vanilla in a larger bowl. Whisk in the melted chocolate. Add the flour mixture, stirring until just blended.
  • Fill each muffin cup 2/3’s full with batter. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pan.
  • Meanwhile, fill pastry bag with seedless jam. Carefully insert the pastry tip into top of cupcake. Pipe in about 1 tsp jam. Repeat with remaining cupcakes and jam.


  • With a small spatula, spread the frosting over the tops of the cupcakes, sprinkle with peanuts.


..Then you can lick the spoon! And the bowl if you must :-)

Today’s recipe adapted from Weight Watcher’s Best Ever Desserts.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Slurp Smackdown

It’s another round of a weekend smackdown!

If you missed the last round, check it out here.

Today in the ring we have Soymilk vs. Dairy Milk.

Cow's milk vs soy milk

I used to think dairy milk was the best with cereal, Oreos, and just to quench my thirst. But then a few years back, I tried 8th Continent vanilla soymilk for a little extra added flavor to my morning bowl. Eventually I tried the original for drinking and thought it was equally good. Some people can’t do soy, others can’t get past the “chalky” texture, and a handful just don’t want to make the switch. When I started drinking it, I never thought I’d drink more soy milk than dairy. A few weeks ago I realized I didn’t even have dairy milk in my fridge! Instead, there was 3 different kinds of soy milk and some almond milk. In conversation with my mom, she told me I needed the calcium, etc., but I reassured her soy has the same, if not better benefits than dairy. [FYI: I have not given up dairy products, or milk, I just don’t buy dairy milk anymore since I use soy for drinking, baking, etc.] This smackdown could go on&on, so it’s a smackdown in a nutshell!

  • The Major Difference: One is derived from a plant and the other from an animal.
  • Dairy Milk: It’s a product of the mammary gland. As with all other animal-based foods, it's a complete protein; that is, it supplies people with all the necessary amino acids to form proteins. All cow's milk contain 8 grams of protein and 12 grams of carbohydrate per cup. Cow's milk is a rich source of other nutrients as well. One cup provides adults with 30 percent of their daily calcium needs and about 50 percent of their vitamin B12 and riboflavin requirements. Often it's fortified with vitamin D to facilitate the absorption of calcium. Vitamin A is usually added to milk as well. Depending on the selection, cow's milk can have a significant amount of fat.
  • Soymilk: It is not technically a milk, but a beverage made from soybeans. It is the liquid that remains after soybeans are soaked, finely ground, and then strained. Since it doesn't contain any lactose, soymilk is suitable for lactose intolerant folks. It's also a popular cow's milk substitute for vegetarians since it's based on a plant source (others include rice, oat, almond, coconut, and potato milk). Soy foods are the only plant-based complete proteins. One cup of unfortified soymilk contains almost 7 grams of protein, 4 grams of carbohydrate, 4½ grams of fat, and no cholesterol. Although soymilk supplies some B vitamins, it's not a good source of B12, nor does it provide a significant amount of calcium. Since many people substitute soy beverages for cow's milk, manufacturers have offered fortified versions. These varieties may include calcium and vitamins E, B12, and D, among other nutrients. If you choose soymilk, read labels carefully to be sure you're getting enough of these important nutrients.

Common Reason Why People Avoid It

  • Dairy milk: Cows are pumped with hormones which is believed of course to then be transferred into their milk, which can cause health effects the consumers[us].
    Most cow's milk has measurable quantities of herbicides, pesticides, and dioxins (up to 200 times the safe levels).
  • Soy milk: Unfermented soy foods have a high amount of phytic acid, which can lead to the lower absorption of certain vitamins and minerals. Some research claims the isoflavones found in soy foods also contribute to the development of thyroid disorders, breast cancer and leukemia.

The Nutritional Comparison

  • Cows Milk(Skim/per 8 oz)-Calories:8o Fat:0g Calcium: 30% RDA Vitamin B12: 13%
  • Soy Milk(Fortified/per 8 oz)- Calories:60  Fat:2g Calcium:30% Vitamin B12: 15%

Whatever milky beverage you choose to drink is really a matter of personal preference and your health goals—cheers!

Interested in drinking soy milk? Find out more benefits here.

Who’s side are you on in today’s smackdown?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

KERF Interview Debut!


If you’re a member of the blog world, and possibly even if you’re not, odds are you’ve heard of Kath Eats Real Food. If not, head there as soon as you read this post!

I was so happy ecstatic to be able to interview the wonderful Kath herself via phone yesterday! It is for my Media Writing class—we had to interview someone with similar interests (blogging), and right away Kath came to mind. So glad she graciously agreed to take a few minutes to answer my questions. Enjoy!

Blogger Interview: KERF
By: CaSaundra Casillo   

  When most people here the word blogging, they can conjure up many different ideas. However, when you pay a visit to KERF blog, it’s all about real food. Kath Eats Real Food is a blog started by Kath herself, dedicated to her love of real food, healthy living, and sharing with others that an overall healthy diet is easier than most people think, and can actually be quite fun. Kath decided to go mainstream with KERF on September 1st, 2007. Since then she has gained 7,000 readers, and about 13,000-14,000 visits on her page per day.  Her source of inspiration to start a blog, which she updates three times daily in a diary-like style documenting her meals and snacks, stemmed from the blog “Eat Like Me” from Self Magazine. Her 30 lb weight loss also fueled her interest in blogging because she wanted to share her experience and answer all the questions people would routinely ask her about her weight loss journey.
  For Kath, blogging is like a 24/7 job that she describes as both wonderful and sometimes draining. She compared blogging to being like a student; you always have assignments, and constantly could be working on something. Still, she wouldn’t trade what she does for a 9-5 job any day. Other things she loves about blogging are the exciting comments she receives daily and the supportive blog community who she can relate to on all levels. “I love when I got together with other bloggers, we all wanted to go to bed early to wake up and exercise--we’re very like-minded.”
  Of course, not everything runs smooth in the blog world. She has had her share of negative comments, but since she started moderating them a year ago, most have dissipated.
  To say Kath has taken blogging to a new level would be an understatement. Through blogging, many doors have opened to opportunities she never imagined; traveling to Africa this past summer for a Lipton Tea tour, the Quaker Healthy Heart Start weekend in Chicago, numerous BlogHer conferences, heading the first Healthy Blogger Summit in Boston, publishing in Breathe Magazine, and recipe development opportunities. However, the benefits don’t end there--she also receives free food products to her door from companies and the chance to do various media partnerships.
  She can’t imagine what life would be like if she never started blogging. “I would probably be sitting unhappy in a cubicle.” Instead, she takes the free time she does have and is furthering her education with RD credentials. Kath hopes her online nutritional counseling will eventually grow into her own business.
  For bloggers just starting out, she says learning how to use your camera is necessary, and posting regularly is important. When picking a topic Kath suggests picking something that is already in your daily life, like food and eating is for her.   
  When asked what she hopes readers get from her blog, her response was, “That you can eat real food, and navigating all the products in stores doesn’t have to be challenging.” Kath plans to keep on blogging in the future and hopes that her blog can change lives for the good in both big and small ways.

Thanks again Kath—your a inspiration to all bloggers!

If you could interview any blogger, who would you pick?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Feels Like Fall Friday

Colorful leaves, mild weather, shorter days, and of course all that great fall food. The fall season is easily my favorite time of year—with the exception of what comes next—winter.

Fall and Autumn MySpace Comments and Graphics I came across this great website called Sustainable Table which allows you to select your state and month to see what you can expect to see in season in your grocery store.

Here’s some of my favorites in season here:

  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Fennel
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Plums
  • Potatoes
  • Raspberries
  • Squash
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

What favorites are in season where you are?

Today I thought would be the perfect day to kick off my annual fall baking. This recipe is fast and easy—it is based on a mix, which I usually prefer from scratch, but I’ve had this mix sitting around and I just wanted to use it. Enjoy!

CIMG0520 Caramel Apple Bars

Yields: 36 Bars


  • 1/2 C cold butter
  • 1 pouch(1lb 15 oz) oatmeal cookie mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1 C finely chopped peeled apple
  • 3/4 C caramel topping
  • 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon


  • Heat oven to 350 F. Spray bottom of 13 x 9 inch pan with cooking spray.
  • In large bowl, cut butter into cookie mix using fork or pastry blender. Stir in egg and cinnamon. Mix until mixture becomes crumbly.



  • Reserve 1 1/2 c cup cookie mixture. Press remaining cookie mixture into the bottom of the pan. Bake 15 mins. Sprinkle apple over crust. In small bowl, mix caramel topping and flour, drizzle over apples. Sprinkle reserved cookie mixture over apples.


  • Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely. Cut bars into 9 rows by 4 rows.


Come back for a weekend slurp smack down!