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 :)

Advertisements

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

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 :)

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!

Quick Fruit Salad

Last Thursday while I was shopping in Harris Teeter I saw that they had both blueberries and strawberries on sale.  I love fruit and thought that I could use these plus blackberries to make a quick fruit salad!

 

Quick Fruit Salad:

  • 1 container blueberries
  • 1 container blackberries
  • 1 container strawberries
  • 1 package Jello instant pudding mix, vanilla flavored
  1. Rinse all fruit and quarter the strawberries
  2. Add fruit to a large bowl
  3. Sprinkle the instant pudding mix over the top of the fruit (the plain mix NOT prepared) to lightly cover
  4. Mix well
  5. Cover and refrigerate to allow time for the pudding mix to combine with the fruit juices to create a sweet tasting dressing for the fruit salad

**I think if there had been more fruit juices in my fruit salad it would have worked just a tad bit better, but it was still delicious!

I can’t wait to try this idea with other fruits as well

 

An Oldie But A Goodie

As I was trying to decide what to cook for dinner this week while I am off work I decided to go for an oldie, but a goodie.  Pork chops, macaroni and cheese, and asparagus!!  Of course, in keeping up with the oldie theme I decided to use Shake and Bake for the pork chops.  Every time I go to buy Shake and Bake I can’t help but thinking “its Shake and Bake and I helped!”  I said that last night as I was cooking dinner and Chase looked at me like I was crazy haha.

There is not a lot to say about this casual dinner except that sometimes the oldest recipes are the best and just seem to hit the spot!

I also took some time yesterday afternoon (before I went to Zumba!) to mess around with my new camera.  I wish Chase had been here to take a picture of me sitting on the couch with my camera, camera manual, iPad to look at tutorials online, and what I am sure was a look of utter confusion on my face.  I found lots of helpful information online and just decided to start trying things out.  Trust me I deleted a lot more pictures that I kept.

This morning I downloaded the pictures I took yesterday to my computer (and deleted a lot more along the way).  I downloaded the Google program, Picasa, to use to make any minor edits I might want to after seeing good reviews online.  I noticed as I was looking at my pictures that a lot seem to be underexposed (too dark), which I sort of realized while taking them because there is a scale on my camera to serve as a guide and I did see it on the under exposed side.  I know it is because most of the pictures I took were inside in our kitchen which has absolutely zero natural light.   I made a few minor corrections to help with the contrast of the photos, but definitely look forward to getting more practice.

 

Willow Tree Angel of Spring 7.23.14

One of my first pictures

Apples 7.23.14

A basket of apples

Asparagus 7.23.14

Asparagus for dinner

porkchops 7.23.14

Pork Chops

Boiling Water 7.23.14

Boiling water for pasta (messing with shutter speed)

cupcake 7.23.14

Tasty treat

 Dinner 7.23.14

The finished product!!