Saturday, February 25, 2012

Healthy(er) Living: Part 3: Skinny No-Bake Cheesecake


This is the most simple cheesecake recipe EVER and it is healthy(er)!  I just whipped it up last night and ate a piece for a midnight snack!  The recipe is from skinnytaste.com, a fabulous website for healthy(er) recipes.  Enjoy :)

8 oz Cool Whip Free
8 oz 1/3 less fat Philadelphia Cream Cheese
9 inch reduced fat Graham Cracker Crust
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon juice

In a large bowl, whip cream cheese, lemon and sugar for a few minutes until fluffy. Add Cool Whip and whip until smooth. Spoon mixture into pie crust and chill for a few hours, until firm.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Homemade Dulce de Leche

I recently made homemade dulce de leche to top a cheesecake, and boy was it de-lish!!  If you don't know what dulce de leche is, it is Spanish for "sweet milk."  It looks like caramel or butterscotch, but in my opinion, it tastes better than both of those.  It is so smooth and creamy.  I used the ingredient list off of Alton Brown's recipe.  But, I used the cooking method of this recipe. 

Ingredients:
1 qt whole milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1/2 tsp baking soda

Directions:
1.  In a large saucepan, bring milk to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and strain through cheesecloth. Return to pan.               
2.  Cut vanilla bean in half and pour the seeds in the milk. Stir in the sugar and replace the pan on medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Just as the milk mixture begins to boil, stir in the baking soda. Reduce the heat to medium, stirring constantly until mixture thickens. When a wooden spoon drawn through the mixture leaves the bottom of the pan visible, and the mixture is light brown in color, remove the pan from the heat.
3.  Place the pan in an ice bath and stir constantly until dulce de leche is cold. Store in airtight container in refrigerator. Pour into sterile jars, and store in the refrigerator.               

Notes:  I did not have a cheesecloth, therefore, I used a strainer.  It takes a long time for the mixture to thicken; you have to be very patient!

Granulated to Powdered

I was baking dark chocolate cookies for Ryan for Valentine's Day, when I realized that I had no powdered sugar that the recipe called for.  I panicked.  I did not want to drive all the way to town to get powdered sugar.  So...I did some research, and found online that you can make your own powdered sugar out of granulated.  I had no idea.  All you have to do is blend the granulated until it turns to the consistency of powdered.  I used a magic bullet for mine.  And boy, was it magic. Pictures above.   

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Happy Birthday Ebby!!

My doberman, Ebony, just turned seven years old today! I still remember when I first got her.  My parents surprised me for my birthday.  I had just gotten back from Campus Life Spring Break, I walked in our house, and out they carried Ebby in a basket.  I was soooo ecstatic!  Anyways I made Ebby a dog cake today (pictured above.)  Here is the recipe I used...it is adapted from here.

Peanut Butter Delight:
1 cup white flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup honey
1 egg

Frosting:
2 ounces cream cheese
Sprinkles

Directions: 
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Mix together flour and baking soda.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Pour into a 6 inch round cake pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.  Bake for 35 minutes.
She has been the best dog ever...she is so very sweet.  I just love her!!  Happy Birthday, pretty girl!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Fabulous Friday Night

Oh, how I adore the weekends...who doesn't right?  Last night, I went with Kiri to see The Vow.  Although the movie didn't play out how I would have liked it to, it is still cute, and worth watching! 
After the movie, of course we had to go to Cold Stone Creamery for some Cake Batter Ice Cream with sprinkles...bliss.
Our last stop was a nearby chocolate shop.  I picked up a couple dark chocolate truffles and a dark chocolate valentine bar for Ryan and me :)  Good Friday?...I think so!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Healthy(er) Living: Part 2: Tips to Cutting out Sugar

Sugar, sugar, sugar.  It is found EVERYWHERE!  Therefore, people (myself, included) become easily addicted to it.  As we all know, sugar is VERY unhealthy.  In fact, if you want to lose weight, especially belly fat, you need to cut out the sugar and carbs...not count calories.  I'm not a fan of fad diets, but there is one out there called "The Belly Fat Cure" by Jorge Cruise that I have seen work.  He emphasizes the importance of controlling sugar and carb intake.  My brother-in-law went on this diet and dropped pounds easily.  He enjoyed the diet because he was allowed to eat all the meat that he wanted.  All he had to do was cut out sugar and count carbs.  For more information on this diet, go here

Anways, there is no possible way that I can cut out all sugar out of my diet.  I mean, I really could if I wanted to, but I don't necessarily want to :).  So...I have been trying to simply decrease my sugar intake.  If you really enjoy sweets like I do, but want to cut some of the sugar out of your diet, here are various methods that I have been using:

1.  Drink sugar...natural sugar, that is.  Quit drinking pop.  Plain and simple.  Pop has around 40 grams of sugar per can.  Yuck.  I have managed to quit drinking pop on the weekdays.  On the weekend, I might reward myself and have one or two.  Instead of drinking pop, I have been drinking water flavored with fruit.  I can not drink plain water with a meal.  I need some kind of flavor with my food.  So, I have been adding a slice of lemon to my water.  I have also been eating grapes with my meal.  It gives me that sweet taste that I am so used to having, but it is way healthier.  Fruits contain natural sugars. 

2.  Eat dessert...healthy(er) dessert, that is.  I always need a little something sweet after meals.  So, I have been trying to look for not-so-guilty desserts that I can eat.  I frequently buy Hershey's Sugar-Free Special Dark chocolate.  Dark chocolate is very good for you.  This particular brand does not contain sugar...or aspartame.  Aspartame is the unhealthy, possibly cancer-causing, artificial sweetener that is found in many diet products.  Anways...this chocolate is Yumm-o! 

In addition to dark chocolate, I have also been eating a graham cracker after meals.  Graham crackers contain far less sugar than some other "desserts."  This past Sunday, I tried making some healthy(er) bite-sized desserts for the Superbowl.  I ended up making these S'more Cups.  I cut out the powdered sugar and used Hershey's Sugar-Free Special Dark chocolate.  The recipe can be found here.
I also made these PB Banana Bites.  I used the same dark chocolate for these.  If you use this chocolate, make sure to keep these frozen at all times, or the chocolate will melt right off.  The recipe can be found here.
So, I have been enjoying treats like these lately, that contain less sugar than what I'm used to eating.  Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE to bake.  Therefore, I will be sure to treat myself now and again.  (I plan on making some dulce de leche cake soon!). 

3.  Eat cereal, healthy(er) cereal, that is.  I love cereal.  Cereal can have alot of hidden sugar in it, though.  I have been eating two cereals that contain less sugar and are healthier than alot of cereals.  I love Honey Bunches of Oats and Peanut Butter Multigrain Cheerios.  Yummm.

So, altogether, I hope these tips helped.  All in all, just look for hidden sugar, and pick the healthy(er)option.  More tips to come!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Healthy(er) Living: Part 1: Tuna/Salmon Loaf and Pasta Shells Florentine

My boyfriend and I are going to Myrtle Beach in June with his family.  We decided that it is time for us to start getting in shape and eating healthier.  Before I met Ryan, I was doing a fantastic job.  I was cutting sugar out of my diet and exercising multiple times a week.  Then, I started dating him, got comfortable, and alot of my healthy ways went out the window.  Well, I have now started up again and hopefully will stick with it.  I do not plan on turning into a fitness fanatic or vegan eater (come on, let's be realistic), but I do plan on exercising on a regular basis and cleaning up my diet.  I thought I would start a series called: Healthy(er) Living to document my progress.  Today, I am sharing a couple of recipes Ryan and I have made in an attempt to eat healthier. 
Tuna/Salmon Loaf Patties

Ingredients:
10 oz. canned tuna or salmon
1/2 cup crushed saltine crackers
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup cream of mushroom soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 egg

Directions:
1.  Mix all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. 
2.  Form patties out of the mixture.
3.  Put a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan.
4.  Fry each patty until crispy and golden brown, flipping regularly.  About 5 minutes.

Notes:  If you like meatloaf, you will love this recipe.  It is simply a healthier version of meatloaf!  You can serve the patty on a wheat bun or wheat bread.  (It is healthier without the bread.)
Pasta Shells Florentine
Recipe found here.
Notes:  I chose not to use the nutmeg in my version.  Also, I reccomend using only 1 T italian seasoning and adding one or two cloves of fresh garlic.