Saturday, November 28, 2009

I Am Still Stuffed

First off, one of my favorite blogs to read and one of the sweetest gals ever, Kelly from the Pink Apron passed this award to me.

Beautiful blogger award-150x150

I need to list several things about me, and pass it onto seven other beautiful bloggers. You are all beautiful inside and out:

So here’s my seven things:


I have a tattoo of a pink bow on the back of my neck that I got when I was fifteen. It represents me being a gift from God to my mom and dad.


I have a half brother who is twenty-five. He lives out in Worcester, Massachusetts where I was born.

I was Freshman homecoming princess in high school.

I love to bead in my spare time (which is sparse nowadays), and I sell it when I get enough made.

I drive a black Mercury Cougar that my grandparents got me on my 16th birthday—it was my dream car.

I am blessed to have a four generation family. (Left to right: Grandma, Mom, Me. Bottom: My Great-Grandma)

Ever since I was knee-high, my mom and grandma have instilled a giving spirit into me. Every Christmas, we would bake cookies for three days straight and on Christmas eve, go and deliver huge platters (above) to less fortunate families and homeless shelters. I plan on continuing this tradition once I have children as well. Even though I am at college now, I managed to whip up batches of cookies and leave them in my trunk because it was so cold last year—worked great! are all those turkey day leftovers treatin’ you?! Over here, I have yet to enter TOS(turkey overdose syndrome), but I have entered the stage where I am sick of just plain turkey. So I decided to incorporate two things we had at our Thanksgiving spread into a totally different meal—it was superb! I may even be making this from scratch when I don’t have leftovers :-)

Stuffing Stuffed Squash


Serves: 2


  • 1 medium-sized acorn squash (1 1/2 lb)
  • 1 C prepared stuffing ( I used my mom’s recipe)
  • 1/2 c shredded turkey breast
  • 2 Tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese


  • Cut squash in half, seed, and place face down on a microwave-safe plate and microwave for 8 min, or until fork tender.
  • Let cool, meanwhile mix shredded turkey and stuffed together.
  • Take a spoon and take all the squash pulp out leaving the skin intact. Mix the pulp with the stuffing mixture.
  • Carefully stuff stuffing/squash mix back into squash halves evenly.
  • Sprinkle with cheese and reheat if needed—enjoy!

By the way, I ate this with ketchup on top!

Beyond fabulous giveaway heeeere.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Day Replay

How did your Thanksgiving turn out?!

Mine was amazing—the best holiday in a long time for no specific reason, I just really needed some family time! And I put together the whole turkey day meal which was a first. It was a lot of work, but obviously I loved it, or I wouldn’t have volunteered :-) I really feel like the route I want to go career wise is to be a personal chef. I can’t see myself working in a giant restaurant establishment, but I can see myself cooking away 24/7 in someone’s kitchen for their family.  Anyone have any information on becoming/training for a personal chef?

We held Thanksgiving out at my grandparents house with our family. I am so thankful that I have a family even though it’s small. Do you have a big family that get together for holidays?

Like I promised, here’s the pictures and recipes from my Thanksgiving day. I have plenty of leftovers—so stay tuned for a leftover recipe makeover tomorrow!

Wednesday was the day of prep!



Like I said before, I decided on this turkey recipe to make. The cranberry relish had to be made and slathered on the turkey a night in advance to marinate. This turkey turned out divine—moist, tender, slightly sweet with a hearty aftertaste. I would make it again in a heartbeat. I also added a lot of rosemary to pump it up as well.



CIMG0999 CIMG0993

(Grandpa carving the turkey) 

My mom made her stuffing in advance as well. This is her “famous” recipe, so I had to pry a bit to get her to share—thanks mom! Please try it, you’ll love it =)


Mom’s Stunning Sausage Stuffing


  • 1 lb wild rice
  • 1 lb maple flavored sausage
  • 5 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large granny smith, chopped
  • 1 c apple juice
  • 1/2 c orange juice
  • 1 8 oz can mushrooms
  • 8 oz applesauce
  • 14.5 oz can of chicken broth
  • 2 tsp garlic


  • Preheat oven to 325 F.
  • Cook wild rice according to package instructions.
  • Meanwhile in another deep skillet add sausage to a pan—crumble and cook until browned. Add all chopped ingredients, garlic, juices, and applesauce to the pan and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Get a large roasting pan and pour both pans into one, stirring until thoroughly combined.
  • Put in preheated oven for 1 hour covered with foil.

Come Thanksgiving morning, I whipped together these Cheesy Good Cornbread Muffins—wowza were they great! Very moist, flavorful, and overall a definite keeper. Making them in muffin cups was a lot easier for cleanup as well.


Of course some kind of squash needs to appear at any shindig I am hosting. I chose to make this I Can’t Believe It’s Not Sweet Potato Pie, which I ended up added an extra cup of sweet potato puree instead of just the butternut squash. I also added a dusting of brown sugar to the top to give it a finishing crust.

Amazing & barely any leftovers in sight!


My grandpa also made a bread-based stuffing which was amazing, and we had mashed potatoes, garlic bread and tossed salads as well. This was only my first plate ha ha:


And where’s the pie you ask? Member I told you I decided to make this stunning cake instead—well it stole the show and the pie was not missed!


I hope you all enjoyed your day and  had fun looking at mine. From my family to yours—happy holidays!


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Getaway and Homebound

Hey all! No I didn’t fall of the edge of the earth—just on a mini-vacation! I decided to take vacation 2 days early for Thanksgiving, which I desperately needed. Nothing a little fun in the cities and finally coming home can’t help! =) It was one of those things where Thanksgiving was planned to be at my new apartment, but I just was feeling so overwhelmed with college and life in general that I really wanted to trek home to be with the family for a week. I have a lot of catching up to do with blogs and such, so I will be commenting soon!

I started off my vacation this past Friday by making a pit stop in Minneapolis to see the Macy’s Christmas display which I always see on the news around the holidays, and so this was the perfect opportunity to get there. If you are ever in the area from November 21-December 30th, head downtown to check it out—it’s free and of course there’s Mrs. Claus baked goodies—can you say the cutest gingerbread men ever??

Then I headed up north and spent a whole day with my grandpa and grandma which I haven't done in a long time. If you’re ever in the Hibbing area, definitely put Zimmy’s on your list of restaurants to try out. It’s dedicated to Bob Dylan since that is his old stomping grounds—great food and such a fun musical atmosphere. I ordered a California veggie burger with a side of tomato basil soup. I usually eat soy burgers, so a veggie burger was a nice change—not dry, but instead surprisingly flavorful and juicy! I had a hard time choosing between the veggie or the black bean burger, but I was satisfied with my final decision.

And two of my favorite people in the whole world:


Then I came home to this:

One happy bulldog!

Since I am driving back home this Friday, I won’t be able to hit up the Black Friday sales—so instead I decided to do a pre-Black Friday! I got so many new clothes, boots, and Christmas decorations, I don’t even need Black Friday now! Do you head out early like crazy?!

And since I shopped like crazy, I needed to fuel up at the good ol’ Old Country Buffett. The highlight was my favorite grilled walleye, grilled veggies, mashed potatoes, and tomato basil soup—yum!


And now I am sitting down after a long day of Thanksgiving prep! Wowee—I will sure be ready to eat tomorrow! Here’s the dinner agenda:

Plus more sides and such—all pictures and recipes will be up soon! Can’t wait to see how all of you enjoy your day.

 I hope you all are having a beyond wonderful start to the holiday season & remember all things you are thankful for in your life. Oh and of course…don’t eat too much turkey!! =)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Midweek Mexican

Hello Amigos!

Stopping by with a little south-of-the-border flare today! I love Mexican food—quesadillas, burritos, and salsa. Here’s some tips for eating healthier at your favorite Mexican restaurant:

  • Choose soft shells vs. crunchy—they are baked and not fried.
  • Go all out with salsa.
  • Black beans are an excellent choice for most any dieter. They are low-fat, high in protein and provide plenty of fiber.
  • Refried beans may sound like a good choice, but they are often prepared with lard and Mexican cheese blends, or even bacon, which really ups the fat and calorie content of what could be a healthy side.

  • Con queso dips and nacho cheese are tempting toppers for chips, but they're both extremely rich and high in fat and calories.

  • Switch to bean burritos instead of beef or cheese burritos and you'll be saying adios to lots of extra calories.

  • Some better choices are: chicken fajitas, bean burritos, a sautéed chicken dish with peppers and onions (hold the cheese!), or a soft taco.

  • Some popular dishes to avoid include: nachos, chimichangas, chalupas, taquitos, and chile relleno.

What are your healthy Mexican eating tips?

Since you don’t always have to go out to get a southern sizzle, I like eating Mexican homemade at times, even though I have not once ounce of Mexican in me..pasta+bread=Italian is all me! :-)

Vegetarian Tacos


Serves: 1


  • One 8’-12’ whole wheat tortilla
  • 1/4 c Boca soy crumbles, or other meatless crumbles of your choice
  • 1 Tbsp taco seasoning
  • 2 tbsp FF sour cream
  • 1/2 of a Roma tomato, chopped and seeded
  • Handful of shredded lettuce
  • 2 Tbsp black beans
  • 1/4 c shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • Add a dash of taco sauce to finish it up, my favorite below



  1. Mix taco seasoning with thawed Boca crumbles.
  2. Pretty easy if you’ve ever eaten a taco—get out your tortilla, put lettuce, cheese and all the rest of the layers, topping it off with sour cream. Roll up that taco and chow!


Now if you want to eat a few tacos, instead of and extremely heavy side and dessert, a spicy Mexican soup can pair wonderfully with tacos—I am extremely happy with this soup recipe I came up with—enjoy!

Black Bean Taco Stoup


(It’s somewhat like soup, but somewhat like stew, hence the “stoup”)



  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed in 1’ cubes
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 14.5 oz can Italian stewed tomatoes
  • 14 oz chicken broth
  • 7 oz black beans, rinsed from the can
  • 2 Tbsp mild salsa
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp taco seasoning
  • 1 tsp basil


  • Sauté onion in a sprayed stock pot on medium heat for 10 minutes, or until translucent. Add bell peppers and sweet potato, reducing heat to low-med and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and stir.
  • Turn heat to low and add in all the rest of the ingredients except the beans, stirring after each addition.
  • Simmer for 30 minutes then stir in beans.
  • Serve with a dollop of FF sour cream if you wish!

And to round off this Mexican meal, head on over to the lovely Kelly and her blog to get the recipe for some Mini Cinnamon Horchata Cupcakes…adios!


Daily Giveaways

**Anoooother chocolate-covered giveaway for the chocolate monster within!**

**Gourmet popcorn flavors up for grabs here!**

**Crackers with a hefty dose of Omega' 3’s—two chances to get your hands on some here!**

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cloudy with a Chance of..Lara Bars and Pie

I knew it! Mother Nature wouldn’t be too nice for long—it’s cloudy, rainy, and gloom. But instead of letting it ruin my mood, I  just use it as an excuse to go stroll the mall and, oh yeah..write a persuasive essay.

And another reason I cannot be blue—I received my prize package from winning Shannon’s recipe contest for a great cause! I entered my Pumpkin Angel Food Cake with Cinnamon Cream Filling—told you it was a winner! ;-)

Shannon you are such a sweetheart!! See sent me the cutest card and A LOT of goodies!


She knew my kitchen is cupcake themed, so this goes fabulous on my fridge!


But it doesn’t end there. She sent 2 Blueberry Vanilla and 2 Choco PB Honest food bars, coupon for a free Promax bar, and 2 Newman’s Own dog food coupons, since the contest was paired with the Humane Society. My dog will be one happy camper!


And I know you will all be green with envy, but check out all these mini Lara bars!!


And no I am not eating all of them just like they are, I have a little recipe idea stay tuned for that!

Now obviously I’ve been flooded with a rainstorm of Lara bars, but that’s not the only treat that’s fallen into my hands. I came up with a brand new pie recipe that was quite the rival to the Lara’s! For some reason I have been craving slices of pie..maybe I just don’t have the patience to wait for Thanksgiving?? So, here’s a knew one that quieted the pie pestering for awhile, but I am already in the kitchen planning a new one for the week =)

Whipped Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Pie



  • 2 c Fiber One Cereal
  • 1/4 c whipped butter spread
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp Splenda, or other granulated sweetener
  • 1 c canned pumpkin
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 c FF evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 packet cheesecake mousse filling & needed prep ingredients, see below
  • 4 Pumpkin Spice Hershey’s kisses, or if you can’t find them anymore, you can omit.

Here’s the cheesecake mousse I used. It’s SF and used 1 cup of Almond Breeze milk to prepare.




  • Preheat oven to 375 F. Pulse Fiber One, butter, vanilla, and Splenda in food processor till fine crumbs are formed. Press into the bottom of a sprayed pie pan. Bake for 8 minutes.
  • Meanwhile beat pumpkin, egg whites, vanilla, cinnamon, and evaporated milk with a hand mixer until thoroughly blended. Pour on top of crust and bake for 20 min, or until the pumpkin filling is shiny and set.
  • Let cool for about 25 minutes, meanwhile following cheesecake mousse instructions. With mousse, plan on beating it with a hand mixer for at least 5 minutes to get it fluffier.
  • Pour cheesecake layer over pumpkin.
  • Take your Hershey Kisses and curl them with a vegetable peeler to get fine curls and sprinkle evenly across the top.


--This was great! I loved the chewy pumpkin filling contrast with the fluffy cheesecake top. Definitely a pie that is on the lighter side, yet still full of flavor that makes for a satisfying fall dessert!--

*If I haven’t over-sweetened you with this post, head on over to this sweet giveaway!*

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What Month is it?

In Minnesota for once it does not feel like November at all—more like September weather, which is nice, but I have a feeling we are just being spoiled and that all of a sudden Mother Nature will dump us with insurmountable amounts of snow—fingers crossed it’s the opposite!

Anyway, since it really is November, that means it’s Good Nutrition Month. So what does that mean? If you haven’t been paying as much attention as you should about what your putting in your body, here’s a little reminder to keep tabs on what your food can do for you! Splurges are necessary, but overall, we need to fuel up with good food to keep us all going strong, and fend of all these crazy illnesses floating around!

I figured in lieu of November being  Good Nutrition Month, I was glad all the recipes I made yesterday would qualify as good for you & good tasting! It left my mom and I with plenty of energy to power through the rest of our day. How are you going to become more aware of good nutrition this month? Maybe start by finding some healthy recipes here:

Of course breakfast is the first chance of the day to start off on the right foot—I’d say yesterday’s breakfast definitely did. I finally got around to making Brandi’s Pumpkin Stuffed French Toast with a few changes—drool worthy!



  • 2 slices bread, I used light
  • 1/4 C canned pumpkin
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp light brown sugar swirl cream cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tbsp slice almonds
  • 1/4 C SF apple pie filling
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp milk, I used Almond Breeze
  • Syrup if desired


  • Mix egg, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, vanilla, and milk together until blended and pour into a shallow bowl.
  • In another bowl mix cream cheese, brown sugar, 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, and pumpkin until thoroughly blended.
  • Spread pumpkin mixture between 2 slices of bread and sandwich together.
  • Spray skillet with cooking spray, dredge the sandwich in the egg/milk mixture and cook as you would French toast.
  • Once browned, remove to plate and top with apple pie filling, a squirt of syrup, and top it off with almonds.


Moving onto lunch, I decided on a really unique recipe that involved polenta because I have never tried it…

Ratatouille Bruschetta Bake

Adapted from here.


Serves: 6


  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (1/2 c)
  • 1 medium bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small unpeeled eggplant, diced (2 c)
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced (1 c)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 can (14 1/2 oz) Italian, stewed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 tube (16 oz) polenta, see below for what kind I used
  • 2 Tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 c finely shredded mozzarella cheese (3 oz)
  • 1/2 c fresh baby spinach


  • Heat oven to 375ºF. Spray 12-inch nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Cook onion and bell pepper in skillet 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in eggplant, zucchini, salt and pepper. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender. Stir in tomatoes, breaking up with spoon; reduce heat to low. Cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Spray rectangular baking dish, 11x7x1 1/2 inches, with cooking spray. Cut polenta into 1/4-inch slices. Arrange slices on bottom of dish, overlapping and cutting to fit where necessary. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Spoon vegetable mixture evenly over top.
  • Cover and bake 30 minutes. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and parsley. Bake uncovered about 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

I used this polenta, and it was delicious!


After all of that hubbub, I needed to get my extensions changed up—four long hours later, I came out looking like this:


And not only did I have fresh new hair, I was mighty hungry and Subway was the closest, so I got my favorite Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki with every veggie under the sun.


Thank God tomorrow is Friday!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Raves & Reviews

Hi friends! How the week going? We’re halfway through it! Do you have the day off for Veteran’s Day? Both my mom and I have it off from school and work, so that means it was time for our weekly get together!! We had a great dinner last night together and I knew exactly what I wanted to make for breakfast. But first, do you guys love photo booths at the mall like I do?! I have quite the collection =)


So first up, we decided last night for dinner we wanted to go to the Ground Round. They have a lot of neat stuff, and it’s one of the main supporters of our college sports here. I am really  trying to step out of the boat and try different things when I go out to eat because I always seem to lean towards similar things. Do you do that? I decided on the Orange Grilled Salmon, which was described as “Cajun-grilled salmon basted in orange marinade”. I am not one to eat oranges plain—it’s about the only fruit I don’t like, but this was fabulous! I really wish I could remake the marinade, but so many good flavors I couldn’t quite pinpoint. I also got a baked potato with salsa, some steamed assorted veggies, and garlic bread that I didn’t have room for.


Mom got her favorite—chicken fajitas. I think they are quite entertaining because they come completely sizzling to the table and are so loud!


Then we skedaddled over to the mall to walk off our meal. I really wanted to look for a pair of high-heeled black leather boots to add to my ridiculous expanding boot collection, but I think I will wait it out till Black Friday sales! I also got my Christmas tree which is a white one like I’ve always wanted! I am doing the whole thing red and white candy cane themed. I love not being traditional! Of course the whole shopping shenanigan made us hungry again, so we ventured where next? Hint..


Coldstone Creamery! I used to go here every day last year, but now that I make my own ice cream, I rarely do, which is ok because it saves a heck of a lot of money! But Coldstone is a fun treat. I decided on Love It size Sinless Sweet Cream with a scoop of Coffee ice cream and the needed blueberries and  cinnamon sprinkling—odd but wonderful!


Mom tried the seasonal Chocolate Peppermint, which looked like dirt to me, ha-ha! She said she didn’t taste the mint too much and it’s definitely a chocolate lovers flavor!


We came home, watched Housewives of Orange County and other pointless TV, we laughed, and chatted. Then we went to bed and woke up to a gorgeous 65 degrees today! I seriously must be dreaming =) Tonight I am seriously pooped from another busy and fantastic day—so stay tuned for Day 2 tomorrow—there’ll be a fabulous breakfast, lunch, and dinnerplus recipes!


Night all!