Saturday, February 2, 2013

Rolo Stuffed Ritz

Ever have those days where you are just craving something sweet or salty or both sweet and salty? Yeah, I think we all have those days. Well I saw a little snack that you can make for those days so I gave it a try this weekend ... it's actually really good! At only 56 calories or 2 ww points, it's a pretty good snack to satisfy that craving. Thank you once again Pinterest!!

Rolo Stuffed Ritz
1 bag rolo candies
1 box reduced fat Ritz crackers

Preheat oven to 350. Place Ritz crackers salt-side down on a cookie sheet. Unwrap rolo candies and place on top of each cracker. Bake in oven for 3-5 minutes until they start to get that soft, melted look. Remove from oven and top with another Ritz cracker. Press down gently. Store in airtight container.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Dr. Oz's Swimsuit Slimdown Drink

I found this when I was browsing Pinterest the other day ... I'm not sure if it actually works or not, but I just thought it sounded good. I love grapefruit and anything flavored grapefruit so I thought I would mix up a batch and see what it tastes like.
It seemed a little strong on the apple cider vinegar, but other than that I thought it tasted pretty good. The recipe says to drink it 3 times per day before your main meals and it is supposed to help boost metabolism and burn fat. I have heard that eating/drinking grapefruit can aid you in your dieting but I don't know how much it actually does!
If nothing else, it gives me something to drink! I'm not sure I'll use it 3 times a day, I think I could get burnt out on it pretty quickly that way. Perhaps I'll have it for breakfast though and just go from there.

Dr. Oz's Swimsuit Slim-down Drink

1 cup grapefruit juice
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp honey

Mix all ingredients and drink three times per day - before breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Pancake Muffins

Great breakfast idea for children ... and even adults! Pancakes are not one of my favorite foods, but I do like to have them once in awhile. I don't have time in the mornings to make pancakes before work, but I found a recipe for pre-made pancakes in a muffin pan! Seemed like a great recipe to try, so guess what I am having for breakfast this week?! haha Yep, pancake muffins!
This recipe made 12 big pancake muffins, you could easily make 15, or even mini ones if you wanted. I have them calculated at 103 calories for the chocolate chip ones and 80 calories for the fruit ones ... they are only 2 ww points for either variety.
I plan on keeping mine in the freezer and just popping them in the microwave when I get to work. If I had kids, I think I would be making this on Sunday nights so that breakfast for the week would be simple and of course, delicious! I'm guessing that my toddlers at work would thoroughly enjoy these!

Pancake Muffins
*yields 12-15 regular sized muffins*

2 cups pancake mix
1 1/3 cups water
1/3 cup pancake syrup
optional add ins: mini chocolate chips, sliced fruit, bacon, sausage, etc. 

Preheat oven to 325.
Place pancake mix, water, and syrup in large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.
Spray muffin tins or line with cupcake liners.
Fill each muffin about 3/4 full.
Place optional fillings on top.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.
Serve with warm syrup.
 Filling ideas: raspberries w/ white chocolate chips, peanut butter w/chocolate chips, banana w/peanut butter, banana w/chocolate chip, banana w/ strawberry or blueberry, banana, blueberries, strawberries, chocolate chips, bacon, sausage.


*My Notes*
I used sugar free syrup and used blueberries(4), strawberries(4), and mini chocolate chips(4)and placed 1 tsp of syrup on top for mine. I would suggest baking them for a few minutes before adding on the extras though, the original recipe said that they would soak into the pancake as it cooked but mine ended up soaking all the way to the bottom!

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Grahamwiches

I love peanut butter, it is probably in my top 5 list of foods that I love! I especially enjoy having it as a snack ... there are so many ways to enjoy it! I like to put it on apples, bananas, celery, crackers, toast or even just eat it plain. So when I see a recipe for a peanut buttery snack, I'm always a sucker for giving it a try!
With only 109 calories or 3 ww points, I am certainly looking forward to enjoying this snack!

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Grahamwiches
*yields approximately 25*

1 box chocolate graham crackers 
1 tub (8oz) fat free cool whip, thawed
1/2 cup peanut butter

Combine peanut butter and cool whip in small mixing bowl, stir until thoroughly mixed. Break each graham cracker sheet in half. Place 1 tbsp of peanut butter mixture onto one graham cracker square, top with remaining graham cracker square. Layer in airtight container and place in freezer. Mixture should be frozen in 2-3 hours.

*My Notes*
I could not find chocolate graham crackers so I used the reduced fat honey graham crackers. I'm thinking these would also taste really good if you mashed up some banana and added in or even some mini chocolate chips!

3-2-1 Cake

I, like most people, enjoy having dessert after my dinner. The problem with most desserts is that it yields an entire pan and instead of just eating one bar or one piece of cake, I keep going back for more ... or, if I don't go back for more, the cake/bars/cookies get dried out and yucky before they all get eaten. When I came across a recipe for one serving cake, I thought it seemed like a great idea! Now, when I'm done eating dinner and I feel like having some dessert I can just make myself a serving of this cake - and the powder just stays in an airtight container in the cupboard, which makes it last a lot longer than an already baked cake! The only downside I really see to this, is you'd have to eat the same flavor of cake until your mix is all gone. I have measured it out and it will make approximately 28 servings. Well, if a family of four eats dessert every night then it would only take one week to get through the mix. My family doesn't necessarily eat a dessert every night so I'm guessing it will last a little longer than that for us. Although, sometimes when I come home from work I want a sweet snack to have so I could always have my 'dessert' for a snack instead! And of course the great thing about this recipe is you can have any flavor cake you want and you can add anything you want to it!
This time I did a chocolate fudge cake ... and for one serving there is 117 calories or 3 ww points. Now you can always add extra things into this individual cake if you are looking for 'a little more' ... cool whip on top, a drizzle of sugar free ice cream syrup, a small scoop of ice cream on the side, some fruit, some chocolate chips, the options are really endless! However, more options on top will add more calories to the total ... I will probably be sticking with the plain cake ... I made a sample for my family, and everyone really liked it. I think it will be just the right size for a tasty and low-calorie dessert! And it is SO easy to make ... as easy as 1-2-3!!

3-2-1 Cake
*yields approximately 28 servings*

1 box Angel Food cake mix
1 box any flavor cake mix

Empty contents of both packages into an airtight container, stir lightly until thoroughly mixed. When ready to make a cake simply add 3 tbsp cake mix and 2 tbsp water into a coffee mug or small bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Enjoy!
(don't be alarmed when it doesn't look like a normal cake ... it does get a spongy appearance/texture to it from the angel food cake mix, be sure not to over-stir it)

85 calorie Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

Today has been kinda cruddy as far as weather goes ... we have been having rain/ice off and on for most of the day. Seeing as I am just getting over a cold, I decided it was probably best to just stay indoors today. So I took the opportunity to spend the afternoon in the kitchen making some new recipes that I have had piling up!
Last night I got to watch my favorite man in the world, Adam Levine, host Saturday Night Live ... and I watched it again today! Yes, I may be slightly obsessed with his awesomeness!!! <3  Since he was on my mind I decided his album 'Overexposed' would be my playlist while I baked today. I set my iTouch up, hit shuffle and repeat, and Adam and I spent the day in the kitchen together!! <3  It was almost perfect! Of course, him standing in the kitchen singing would have made it completely perfect, but I'll take what I can get for now! haha
To start the day off, I made a batch of Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes ... they are supposed to only be 85 calories, but I made mine slightly bigger and therefore they came out to be 115 calories. For a nice little dessert though, that's not bad! Some of my family is participating in Weight Watchers so I always have to do calories and points on everything I make ... in the case of the cupcakes, they came out to 3 points each. Again, not bad for a dessert. They taste really good too, which is always important!
Afton started out helping me, but after about 1 1/2 recipes she quit because she was bored ... it seems I may have more of the 'Betty' gene in me!! haha
These cupcakes were about as easy as could be to make ... hope you enjoy!

Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes
*yields 18-24*

1 box strawberry cake mix
12 ounces Diet Cherry 7-Up
1 tub (8oz) fat free cool whip, thawed
1 small box instant sugar free Cheesecake pudding 

Preheat oven to 325.
Empty contents of cake mix into large mixing bowl, add pop and mix well with electric mixer.
Place cupcake liners in muffin pan or spray with cooking spray. Fill liners 3/4 full with batter.
Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.
Leave on counter to cool.
Empty contents of cool whip into medium mixing bowl, add pudding mix and stir until everything is blended.
Frost cupcakes once completely cooled.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

No-Bake Granola Bars

I am sure this will come as a shock to those who know me well (insert sarcasm here) ... but I have grown tired of my breakfast yet again and am looking for a change. Of course the first place I always go to find new ideas is Pinterest ... I seriously am in love with that site! I have more ideas and recipes than I know what to do with and I spend WAY too much time in a day browsing through all those pins! Whoever came up with that site is seriously a genius and my new favorite person! haha Well, back to the topic ... I was looking for new breakfast ideas, but here is a little dilemma I have ... I like to sleep in. Seriously, who doesn't?! I do not want to have to get up a half hour early just to make a decent breakfast! Along with that, is the problem that I am rarely hungry when I wake up in the mornings. At least, not enough to want to eat something of worth. I am one of those people that needs to be up and functioning for a little while before I eat breakfast. I always have a cup of coffee first thing in the morning when I head to work at 6:30am ... but it isn't until about 8:30 that I start to get hungry for breakfast. I read everywhere that breakfast is the most important meal and that your metabolism doesn't kick in til you eat and your body needs food first to produce energy and blah blah blah ... I don't know how much of that is true, but it makes sense. So I went searching for something new and simple that I could eat in the morning right away with my coffee to help get my body going until I'm ready to actually eat something of value.
I went searching on Pinterest and found this really interesting recipe for some granola bars. Now - I'm not usually a huge fan of granola bars, but the recipe just sounded good - ya know what I mean? I figured, what's the harm in giving it a try? It seems pretty simple and fairly cheap and if I don't like them I'm sure my family and/or co-workers would be more than happy to help eat them!
As I usually do, I changed a few of the ingredients to make them a little healthier for me ... and it worked out great! This recipe yields 28 granola bars and they were only 107 calories each (or 3 weight watchers points)! More importantly, they taste way better than the processed granola bars in the store. I have enjoyed them with my coffee the last few mornings and it's a great combo! I usually eat it while I'm getting my work day meals put together and it's a great way to kick-start my morning!
I got about halfway through making these bars and realized I had forgotten to take pictures again! GRRR ... so here is the recipe along with a picture of the end result. It's a really simple, basic recipe so you shouldn't have any trouble making it without 'picture' help. Next time I make them, yes they're so good there will DEFINITELY be a next time, I will try to remember to take pics and add to this post!
Good luck and enjoy!

No Bake Granola Bars
*yields 28 bars*

1/2 cup honey
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup unsalted butter
4 cups quick oats
2 cups crispy rice cereal
3 tsp vanilla
you may add chocolate chips, dried fruits, nuts, coconut, etc. if desired

In a large bowl, stir cereal and oats together.
In a medium sauce pan, combine honey, brown sugar, peanut butter and butter. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then bring the temperature down to low and simmer until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, pour in vanilla and stir.
Pour hot mixture over dry ingredients. Stir until all ingredients are moistened. Stir in optional ingredients, if using. Dump into a parchment-lined or lightly greased jelly roll pan
Press granola mixture as closely and tightly together as you can into pan. Cool on the counter til room temperature or cool in fridge.
Cut into 28 bars. Wrap in plastic or store in ziploc bag/ plastic container.

*My Notes*
To make them a little healthier I used ...1/3 cup brown sugar and 1/3 cup granulated stevia ... blue bonnet light in place of butter ... and I added in 4 tbsp of mini chips for a little extra sweetness. The bars will fall apart if you do not press them into the pan tightly ... the only place I had trouble was along the edges. When I got the bars cut I laid them in layers into a plastic storage container and the bars along the edges wanted to crumble a little, they were a little thinner than the bars in the middle. I have been keeping mine in the fridge, when they are cold they are less likely to crumble. Also, next time I make them I may add in a little more peanut butter to help hold them together.

*now updated with photos*

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint-Cream Cheese Frosting

My first post of 2013! haha Wow, so sad that I haven't been on here ... don't go thinking that I haven't been cooking - I just keep forgetting to take pics of what I make! I usually think of it when I'm almost done with the recipe. Things got a little crazy for me at the end of the year and I slacked off on a lot of things. But hopefully this is the beginning of getting back on track!
I have, along with millions of other Americans, been trying to get back into watching my food and doing some exercise. I've been using this app called My Fitness Pal - I love it! It is so easy to use! You set up an account, type in all the info it asks for and it tells you how many calories you should be eating in a day. Then, as you eat you just open up your little app and add the food or drinks that you have consumed and it keeps a running tally of your calories and tells you how many you have left for the day! I love that I don't have to do anything other than add the food. It has thousands of items in the database and there hasn't been many times where I can't find the food I need. If you have a smart-phone or an iTouch with a camera, you can also scan the bar-code and bring it up that way too. It's really neat and so easy to use! I'm happy to say I have lost 7 pounds in the (almost) three weeks I've been doing it!
Well, today's recipe isn't one for those watching what they eat! Sorry readers, but on occasion I use a recipe that I just don't make healthy! Today is one of those times. A few weeks ago I was browsing Pinterest for some new recipes and I saw these amazing looking cupcakes on there - I showed them to a coworker who just loves peppermint flavored anything! She has great faith in my 'Betty' abilities and wanted me to make them for her birthday ... so today, that's what I worked on.
Let me tell you - THEY WERE HARD TO MAKE!!! lol The recipe seemed so easy, but wow - it almost turned into one of those 'Pinterest fails' that you hear about all the time (only because of the stripe in the frosting)! I'm sure practice makes perfect, but since I won't be eating these types of foods, I doubt I'll make them again anytime soon.
So if you like a challenge or just love to bake ... here is a great recipe to try. But be warned, the frosting isn't as easy to do as the recipe makes it sound!! Good luck and happy baking!!!!

Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes
*yields 24-30 cupcakes*
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Line muffin tin with paper liners. Heat oven to 350.
In large mixing bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for one minute.
Stir in boiling water. (batter will be thin)
Fill liners 2/3 full with batter.
Bake cupcakes for approximately 22-24 minutes.
Cool completely on wire rack before frosting.

Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp pure peppermint extract
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1-3 tbsp heavy whipping cream or milk

Place butter in a large mixing bowl and blend slightly. Add cream cheese and blend until combined, about 30 seconds.
Add powdered sugar gradually and blend on low speed until combined. Increase to medium speed and beat until it begins to get fluffy.
Add peppermint and vanilla extracts.
Slowly add the cream until the desired consistency is met. (Don't add too much if you want the frosting to stay in place when piped on cupcakes)
Beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.
*to achieve red stripe in frosting: Before filling a large piping bag with frosting, add some red gel food coloring to a toothpick and draw two vertical lines on the inside of the bag. Carefully fill bag with frosting. Squeeze some frosting into a bowl until you begin to see the red stripe, then frost the cupcakes.
Top cupcakes with crushed candy canes or other peppermint flavored candy.

*My Notes*

I have read that turning the oven down to 325 and baking for 23-26 minutes and filling liners 3/4 of the way full will yield better cupcakes ... this is what I always do, and the end result is MUCH better!
I needed a little more than the 4 cups of powdered sugar to get my frosting thick enough to stay in place on a cupcake. I also did not need to use the milk/cream in the frosting.
I only used a scoop or two of frosting in the bag at a time as the warmth of my hands was making it too runny! Also, I had to add more red lines every 2-4 cupcakes to keep the red stripe. I made a HUGE mess and had frosting and red dye EVERYWHERE hahaha but the cupcakes taste so good, it was worth it!
Also, I used those Andes mints baking chips to sprinkle on top of my cupcakes instead of candy canes.

Here is a picture of the original recipe on Pinterest: