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IMG_20140119_165356Part of a healthy diet is having your fair share of fruits and vegetables. They give you vitamins and nutrients that can ward off illness, provide all-natural energy, and keep you brain in top notch condition throughout the day. But some days it can be difficult to make sure that everything you eat throughout the day includes these super foods. Juicing is a great way to stay on top of your fruit and veggie requirements, without needing alot of time to prep or cook – or eat for that matter! Juicing has also become big in the dieting world to lose weight and detox your body. This particular recipe is great because it contains kale – a super food related to broccoli known for having high levels of beta carotene, vitamin k, vitamin c and calcium. And while it may not look like the most delicious drink to some, it has a surprisingly sweet and delicious flavor that may have you reaching for your greens more often. Simply throw all the items through you juicer, add ice and enjoy your veggies like never before!

5 large kale leaves

1 large cucumber

1 peeled lemon

1 apple

2 large ribs of celery

Do you juice? What’s your favorite green juice recipe?

 

 

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20140202_152851_resizedI just love munchy foods. Anything I can eat with my hands is usually my favorite. These delightful finger foods are so easy and delicious they have quickly become my go-to party food. I recently made these for our Superbowl get together with twice baked potatoes, baked beans, and all the dip you could possibly desire (recipes here). They only cook for about 40 minutes and are even easier to prepare, even if you decide to make your own honey bbq sauce – which of course tastes divine! I found and adapted this recipe from Food.com. Here’s what you do…

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Take 18-20 chicken wings (I buy the freezer bag with wings and thighs from Safeway) put them on a greased baking sheet (or I like to use foil for easy clean up) and top with these spices and throw in the oven for 40 minutes:

1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne

While the chicken is cooking you can make your own honey BBQ sauce by mixing these ingredients over low heat:
1 c barbecue sauce
1/2 c honey
2 Tbsp ketchup
2 Tbsp hot sauce
4 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp garlic powder
When the chicken is done cooking, take it out and dip the pieces into the sauce you made (or smother with a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce). Make sure the pieces are covered and put back into the oven for another 5-7 minutes. All done! Super easy, super delicious, and easy to make alot of them. Happy cooking!!

Did you know that the $4 container of chip dip you buy at the store costs about as much to make (or less depending what you have at home) and tastes a million times better!? I didn’t until recently when I went crazy and made all my own dip for the Superbowl (yes late post, I know). But seriously people, I felt so cheated when I realized that I could make all of my favorite dips with stuff I have at home (mostly) and that it would taste so incredibly delicious. I made a basic ranch dip, hummus, and salsa. The hummus and the salsa required a food processor, but I’m sure you could also use a blender or some other kind of mixer. Side note – I love my food processor, and I suggest you get one if you don’t have one already. Ok so, all these recipes after the jump!

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Since about December, I have been eating quite a bit healthier than in previous years. No more fast food, no soda, no processed foods, all whole grains, no food after 9pm, cut back on alcohol, lots of vegetables and all that good stuff.  It would seem that all these sacrifices make it difficult to live with all the cravings I get for my favorite foods –  because your favorites are always the unhealthy options, right? But I don’t want to give up everything! That makes it no fun, and makes it difficult to stick to my new goals. So I’ve been looking for little cheats here and there to make the things I crave, while still delectable, a bit more healthy. One of my new favorite healthy craving crushers is this recipe I found on Pinterest for carrot fries. I was skeptical at first, as I am probably the biggest lover of french fries there is, as well as anything made with potatoes – mmmm starch. But let me tell you, these are absolutely delicious, and incredibly easy to make. Peel and slice as many carrots as your little heart desires into fry shaped pieces. Line a baking sheet with foil and lay those suckers in an even layer on the sheet. Oh yeah, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Now drizzle olive oil over the top of the carrots and swish them around so they get mostly coated. I have made these a couple times and have used salt, pepper, rosemary, and garlic powder – or any combination of these you can think of and all have been delicious. So sprinkle your desired spices on them and pop them in the oven for about 15 minutes. Yum, yum, yum!!

Do you have any alternate recipes to curb your cravings? Leave them in the comments below!

 

 

As I go into 2014 with a new appreciation for healthier foods, I cannot say that I don’t enjoy cheating every now and then. And if I’m going to cheat with anything, it’s going to be one of two things – pasta or cheeseburgers. These two things are my pitfalls, my favorite things to eat anytime and anywhere. This particular pasta recipe is one of my favorites because of all the delicious cheese stuffed into each little shell. It’s also one of my favorites because it’s so incredibly easy to make. Seriously, it only takes me about 20 minutes and baking only takes 30, so you get a beautiful and delicious pasta dish without all the stress and hard work. It takes 3 kinds of cheese – ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan (or sometimes I use the parmesan – romano mixture) – pasta sauce (I usually make my own from scratch), and a box of pasta shells (or you can use the tubes, I just find the shells easier to stuff). Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of my own stuffed shells to show you,  but I found this picture on Wikipedia, and it looks exactly the same LOL.

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Happy New Year everyone!! I hope you all had a safe – albeit fun – New Years Eve! And I hope that two days into the New Year, that you are still pumped on all of your New Year’s resolutions! I know I am. Although, I will say that when I had originally started thinking about resolutions, it was the beginning of December. I went to put on a cropped top and I was extremely dissatisfied with what was hanging out – my stomach. I’m not an overweight person by any means, however, I’ve never been one to stick to any type of fitness goals or lead a very healthy lifestyle. This year, I started my resolutions early in December. I started doing yoga daily (or some type of fitness oriented activity) and eating more healthy foods. I figured – why wait!? And so far so good. I actually just signed up for a gym membership as well, which I love, and I have been able to keep myself to a healthy diet rich with fruits and vegetables. One of those vegetables I was so recently introduced to is broccolini. When I first saw it in the produce section, I thought it was just baby broccoli, but after more research I realized it was so much better!! I have incorporated it into a couple different recipes this week, which I will post about later, but for now, I wanted to post my research on this mystery veggie and the best ways to cook it. Broccolini(Image from Wikipedia.com)

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During the holidays is the best time to bake up as many treats as you can muster. Why? Because there is never a shortage of people to give them to!! Ever year I wish and wish that the days leading up to Christmas would magically become my days off so that I could spend them at home listening to Christmas music and dancing away in my kitchen. But alas, these activities must be saved for the weekends. And since there isn’t much time on the weekends, it’s important to find items that are quick and easy to make for parties or even just to enjoy while wrapping gifts.

As I had said in a previous post, mini cheesecakes should become the new trend in decadent desserts. Cupcakes have been in the spotlight for a while, and not being a cupcake person myself ( I think that cheesecakes are soooo much better), it’s time for something new!! Not only that, cheesecakes can be made to be just as pretty as their cakey cousin. For this recipe, I was in a hurry to make something for a band Christmas party. Most of the people attending had already tried my other miniature cheesecakes, and so I was immediately volunteered to make the desserts. I made mini peppermint cheesecakes and mini cookies and cream cheesecakes, both with Oreo crusts and topped with chocolate ganache. I made the cheesecakes the night before, so they would have enough time to cool, and made the chocolate ganache a few hours before the party. They turned out amazing, and I can’t wait to make more of them and see what other flavor combinations I can come up with.

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Every year around the holidays, my Mom used to bust our her incredible sugar cookie recipe. She would bake dozens of them and all of us kids would sit at the table and decorate them for hours and hours. I can remember glowing at all the designs we would come up with on all the Christmas cutouts. These are some of my fondest holiday memories, and now that I am older, I still have just as much fun making my own cookies and reminiscing as I “paint” them.

The secret to making these cookies the best is to not skimp out on the dough – you gotta make these babies thick!! Most recipes will say to roll the dough out to about 1/4 of an inch – I say, at least double that for the perfect soft sugar cookie. Here’s what you need (this recipe makes about 4 dozen if rolled out nice and thick):

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

First, mix together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla, then add flour, baking powder and salt. At this point, you can chill the dough if you desire (some recipes call for this), but I can never wait. So if your impatient like me, just keep going…

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and start rolling out your dough on a floured surface (also don’t forget to flour your rolling pin, or the dough will stick to EVERYTHING). Make sure the dough is thick and even, then start using your favorite cookie cutters. Bake for about 8 minutes, or until you see the bottoms start to brown. You can cook them longer if you like a crispier cookie.

Once finished, eat one and let the rest cool. If you don’t wait through the cooling process all of the cookie “paint” will drip right off and look awful. For the “paint”, mix together powdered sugar and milk until it reaches a nice pasty texture. I like to make 4 or 5 small cups of it so I can have lots of colors to choose from – just use a drop of food coloring in each. I will try to post pictures of these delectable little guys the next time I make them. Unfortunately, I was in such a rush last time that I forgot to take any photos.

Breakfast – quite possibly one of my favorite meals to eat as well as cook. Now this pancake recipe is easy as pie – forget the bisquick and krusteaz people!! It’s really as easy as just mixing a few ingredients together, and what’s better, is you probably already have the ingredients at home – which is always my favorite.

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Julia Child quote

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