Cafe Mocha Swap

I’m back and out of whatever funk I found myself in the past few months!  I thought I would start off with a quick, easy, and delightfully tasty morning coffee drink.

Did you know if you got a tall (12oz) cafe mocha with 2% milk at Starbucks it would be 290 calories, 13g fat, 34g carbs, and 11g protein.  How about if I told you a simple way to recreate that for 60 calories, 2g fat, 10g carbs, and 2g protein?

Cafe Mocha Swap:

  • 1 cup fresh brewed coffee (I used a breakfast blend k-cup from Costco)
  • 1 packet diet swiss miss hot chocolate mix
  • 1 packet truvia
  • 1 tablespoon coffeemate creamer of your choice (I used Heath flavored)

Mix all the ingredients well and enjoy!  Oh, and you’re welcome for your new favorite breakfast drink :)

Cheesecake for Chase

Tomorrow is Chase’s birthday (yes, he is younger than me and he never lets me forget it) :) One of his favorite desserts is cheesecake.  I have never made one because I haven’t had a springform pan, but since I got one for Christmas I knew what I would be doing this weekend.

Last week when I was off work I pinned some cheesecake recipes on pinterest and while I was at work Friday I decided to give Chase a couple of choices to choose from: Reese’s peanut butter, chocolate chip, brownie caramel, sugar cookie, or salted caramel.  His reply was “caramel chocolate chip”.  Well, that wasn’t an option, but I thought I might could make it work.

I first looked at the brownie caramel cheesecake recipe to figure out what the caramel was all about.  I also looked at the chocolate chip cheesecake recipe to see how the actual cheesecake was made.  After looking at both of them I decided I would make a hybrid of both for Chase.

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake with Caramel:

1 package graham crackers

6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

4 packages cream cheese, room temperature

1&1/2 c. sugar

4 extra large eggs

1/4 c. sour cream

1&1/2 tsp vanilla

1 c. mini chocolate chips

**I cheated and used a jar of caramel topping

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • In food processor pulse graham crackers until crushed.  Add in the melted butter and mix until combined.  Press this graham cracker mixture into the bottom of the springform pan and bake in the oven for 7-8 minutes.  Let cool completely
  • Raise oven temperature to 450
  • In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment mix cream cheese and sugar together until nice and fluffy.  Add in eggs 1 at a time until well combined (I always crack each egg into a separate dish first in case something goes wrong).  Lower speed to low and add in the sour cream and vanilla.  Remove bowl from mixer and fold in the chocolate chips.
  • Before adding the cheesecake mixture to the springform pan I poured a layer of caramel over the graham cracker crust.  Top the caramel with the cheesecake mixture.
  • Place a cookie sheet on the bottom rack of the oven (in case you have any spills) and add the cheesecake to the top rack.  Bake for 15 minutes then turn town your oven to 225 and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes.
  • Once time is up turn off oven and allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven for 45ish minutes then on the counter until completely cooled.  Place in the fridge overnight and then enjoy!
  • I plan on using some additional caramel sauce to drizzle over each slice immediately prior to serving.

Creamy and not too sweet=a perfect cheesecake

Chocolate chip cheesecake

Twenty Fifteen: I can’t believe it

As Chase and I were driving back from his parent’s house in Fort Mill after celebrating Christmas we got to talking about the upcoming new year.  I like looking at the new year as a fresh start and a time to start over with some things and continue other things.  Chase said he doesn’t make New Years resolutions and as I decided last year I am leaning more towards making life changes and not just resolutions.  I feel like 2014 was a pretty good year (although it seemed to fly by) full of some pretty major life changes so I am excited to see what 2015 brings.

  1. Nag less (I don’t think I am a huge nag, but if you ask Chase he might have a different answer).  Along with this I hope to also say things I have to say that are bothering me once and then move on—no need to continue to bring it up.
  2. Make really good use of my time off to prepare for my time at work.  I love working 10 hour days much closer to home because most nights I can get home and cook/finish dinner.  I know that it is late for Chase to wait and eat so along with this life change is:
  3. Make it a point to eat dinner together at least one night a week that I am working.  On the other nights Chase will have things available because I will have prepared for the week.
  4. Again this ties into #2 but I hope to be able to prepare base items/foods and then be a little more flexible in my meal plan based on what life throws at us.
  5. Chase and I don’t eat out much at all so we want to continue to look at that more as a treat than the norm.

Of course I want to continue eating and living healthy.  I feel like I found a happy medium in 2014, but want to expand on the whole concept of eating clean and continue to eat and use more whole foods.  Look forward to more on that in the future :)

Are you listening 2015—BRING IT ON!!

Christmas 2014

Apple Butter

I seriously eat an apple a day and my brother has been known to make fun of me (more than once) because he claims that eating the same thing every day is boring.  Well, let me tell you, the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” just may be true.  I hardly every get sick and plus apples are delicious!

As delicious as apples are they can also be expensive, so I usually pick up whatever type is on sale that week at the grocery store.  My favorites are Fuji, Gala, and Honeycrisp.  Last week while I was at Harris Teeter I noticed that it would be a better deal to get the 5lb bag of Gala apples rather than buy them individually.  I didn’t realize just how many apples I was getting until I got home and they completely filled up my fruit basket.  After being out of town this weekend I realized Monday that I needed to find a way to use up my remaining apples before they went bad.  I just happened to be browsing on Pinterest when I saw a post for Apple Butter.  Once I read the recipe I knew exactly how I was going to use up my apples!

The original apple butter recipe is from Organize Yourself Skinny and I adapted it based on what I had on hand and my preferences.

Apple Butter

  • 3lbs Gala apples, chopped (with the skin on)
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Nutmeg
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract

**you can adjust the spices to your desired taste

  • Place the chopped apples into your crockpot (I used these crock pot liners and clean up was a breeze)
  • Top with brown sugar, water, and spices
  • Cook on high for about 4 hours until apples are soft
  • Remove the apples from the crockpot and place into a mixing bowl (leave all the extra liquid behind in the crockpot)
  • Use an immersion (hand-held) blender to blend all the apples until smooth
  • Place the apple mixture into a saucepan and heat over low heat for 30 minutes-1 hour until desired consistency is reached.

I froze some of the apple butter I made and I cannot wait to eat the rest!  I bet it will be delicious on the new Pumpkin Spice Swirl Bread I just got from Target :)

Daily Gratitude: August edition

  • Tuesday July 29, 2014: I was able to use the fitness room at our apartment for a good weight workout (including arms/shoulders which is HUGE for me considering all the shoulder issues I have had)
  • Wednesday July 30, 2014: I had a great visit with not only my district manager, but also a regional manager at work
  • Thursday July 31, 2014: I got some yummy home grown tomatoes from one of my technicians
  • Friday August 1, 2014: I started off a new month with a workout and some cleaning
  • Saturday August 2, 2014: HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY to both my daddy and my niece Ainsley!!!
  • Sunday August 3, 2014: FINALLY the pool has opened at our apartment so we got to enjoy it today! Plus Chase and I met his dad for dinner, which was nice.
  • Monday August 4, 2014: Happy anniversary to Briix–to celebrate we took advantage of their buy one get one free pizza offer for dinner!
  • Tuesday August 5, 2014: I switched up our usually “Taco Tuesday” dinner by using ground turkey and Chase still said it was good!
  • Wednesday August 6, 2014: I got to spend some time with a grad intern at work today–its always fun for me to help others learn
  • Thursday August 7, 2014: Yay for being off work! I throughly enjoyed my time today
  • Friday August 8, 2014: Although work was super busy today, I am proud of myself and my technician for how we handled it.
  • Saturday August 9, 2014: One great thing about getting off at 5pm on the weekends is that I can go to the free wine tasting at Winston Salem Wine Market
  • Sunday August 10, 2014: I took advantage of our new pharmacy hours and enjoyed some “me time” this morning before work
  • Monday August 11, 2014: One of my technicians brought in a locally made tres leches cake and it was DELICIOUS!!
  • Tuesday August 12, 2014: I used a living social voucher for a massage that I almost forgot I had!
  • Wednesday August 13, 2014: Chase and I celebrated “taco Tuesday” a day late this week
  • Thursday August 14, 2014: We had a new grad training with us at work today.  It is always nice to have an extra hand!
  • Friday August 15, 2014: Today was an extra shift for me and I plan to use my extra pay to treat myself to something nice
  • Saturday August 16, 2014: I started the morning off with a great Zumba class before heading home to spend some time with my mom and see my brother’s new house
  • Sunday August 17, 2014: I went to church with my Nanny and we had a wonderful time celebrating a 90th birthday at her church
  • Monday August 18, 2014: Chase and I had a date night dinner at Briix
  • Tuesday August 19, 2014: Although work was super busy I feel like we had a very productive day
  • Wednesday August 20, 2014: I spent some time at work finalizing details for our team member events for flu shots.  It is nice to be able to get the loose ends wrapped up
  • Thursday August 21, 2014: I was incredibly lazy this afternoon and I loved every minute of it!
  • Friday August 22, 2014: It is days like these I remember how blessed I am to have a 30 minute lunch break to step away from things
  • Saturday August 23, 2014: Free pizza at work!  Woohoo
  • Sunday August 24, 2014: Again, I am loving our new Sunday hours.  I had time to get some cleaning done before work this morning!
  • Monday August 25, 2014: I took Krispy Kreme donuts to work to welcome our new staff pharmacist—and I didn’t even eat one!
  • Tuesday August 26, 2014: Did you know they make pumpkin spice flavored M&Ms?? I didn’t, but tried them at work and have to say they weren’t too bad
  • Wednesday August 27, 2014: I gave a big thumbs up this morning for a solid night of sleep…much needed for another busy day at work.
  • Thursday August 28, 2014: Today I was reminded that sometimes people can be plain mean, no matter how nice you are to them, and you just have to let it roll off your back
  • Friday August 29, 2014: I have been working on learning (or maybe I should say re-learning) Spanish using the app Duolingo and today one of my technician’s complimented me on my progress!
  • Saturday August 30, 2014: Woohoo for seeing my niece play in her soccer tournament today!
  • Sunday August 31, 2014: Enjoying a lazy Sunday with Chase is a perfect way to end the month of August.  Welcome Fall!

Even though sometimes I forget it is so important to remember to be gracious for your life each and every day! Don’t waste your time looking to the future; enjoy the here and now!

Baked Ziti

A couple of weekends ago I went to see my mom for a quick one night trip.  While I was there I gave my brother’s girlfriend, Alesha, her belated birthday present.  I had gotten her a cookbook from one of my favorite Food Network stars, Ree Drummond (also known as The Pioneer Woman), called The Pioneer Woman Cooks.  I was excited because her recipes are relatively simple, she uses easy to find ingredients, and I thought my brother would appreciate her heartier meals too!  Alesha said she had heard of her, but she had never watched her show.  Luckily my mom had 2 of The Pioneer Woman episodes from The Food Network saved on her DVR so we all decided to watch one.  We chose the episode where Ree makes Baked Ziti for her kids and their cousins to enjoy while the adults eat steak and baked potatoes.

Since my brother was still working, and would be for awhile, we decided it would be best to cook at home that evening and since we were in the mood for new things we decided that Alesha and I would cook the baked Ziti.  I would like to point out that David, my brother, is not a big italian fan (neither am I), but I think it is more due to not being a huge lover of tomato sauce.  This meal was pleasing for everyone because it was not super saucy–it had just the right amount of balance between all the ingredients.  We found the recipe online (Baked Ziti by The Pioneer Woman) and followed it pretty much exactly except we used only ground beef.

It wasn’t hard to make and was actually my first time making a pasta sauce from scratch.  Now that I had done it once I can definitely say it is way better than the jarred kind!  We served the baked ziit with iceberg wedge salads and brownies for dessert.  The recipe makes a large panful, but the good news is that the leftovers are just as delicious!

DSC_0075

in the beginning there were onions and garlic

The sauce cooking away

The sauce cooking away

mixing it all together

mixing it all together

lettuce wedge salad bar

lettuce wedge salad bar

yummy!! the finished product

yummy!! the finished product

 

Ribs, Who Knew They Could Be So Easy

Chase loves ribs, but I have never made them because for some reason I had in my head that they were super complicated to make!  Good thing Chase’s dad was bragging about the ribs his mom made one night because I decided to ask her what the secret was.  Turns out you can cook ribs in the crockpot on low all day and they turn out very tender and moist with hardly any work.  Really! It doesn’t get much easier than that.

I placed a rack of pork ribs in my crockpot and covered them with water.  I then cooked them on low all day while I was at work.  When I got off work I drained all the water out of the crockpot and covered the ribs with some BBQ sauce.  I then cooked on high for about 30 minutes while I made some corn muffins and green beans to round out our meal!  Anything that can lessen my time cooking once I get home from work is a winner in my book!