Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Baking is HARD!

I am not a baker; that has been proven! But the idea of baking sure sounds nice. The house smelling of fresh bread & sweet treats. Always having freshly baked cookies or a piece of pie if your mother-in-law or next-door neighbor stops by (see cute snowmen picture!). Martha Stewart makes it look so easy! Her cookie lady is a cookie gangster (*more on the cookie gangster to come...)!

I tried to make a Pecan tart at Thanksgiving, and the crust had little holes in it, so the filling went through the crust....filling was everywhere. It tasted ok, but was not pretty!

I made sugar cookies from scratch this Christmas holiday...the dough alone takes forever! Chill the disks for 2 years (typo, but I'm choosing to leave it)...roll out, chill another hour, cut shapes, chill 30 minutes, preheat oven, bake! Geez!! I tried doing this on a Saturday when we had people coming over so I had to stop- midway through, and needless to say it took me two days just to get the two batches of dough completely cut out & baked into sugar cookie trees & snowmen! And don't even think about those intricate cookie cutter shapes- Rudolph will lose all of his antelers, legs & tail by the time I am done with him.

Then for the icing... I read online about how to make royal icing from scratch. I bought the piping tips, the meringue egg whites and the sprinkles, and for some reason my cookies are still sitting in tupperware unfrosted. Part of this can be blamed on the fact that I have been sick, and don't want to get others sick by icing cookies while I am ill, or it could also be the fact that it's a huge pain in the butt!

*Cookie gangster: Martha's cookie b*tch made these snow globe cookies and thinks we can too. She's crazy!

A few weeks ago, I did make a banana bread loaf with some leftover bananas that I didn't completely F up!
It didn't have to chill for 3 hours, didn't involve pie crust or cookie cutters, and we ate every last bite. You can basically just dump all the ingredients into a kitchenaid mixer, hit the magic button & throw it in a loaf pan. 45 minutes later- banana bread!

Just so I know that I'm not the only "BakeTard" in the world, here are some pics from CakeWrecks' blog, which makes me

Reindeer poop cake anyone?

Or maybe a Christmas elf to take home for the kiddos?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

New Breakfast Ideas

I have pushed the bagels & english muffins aside, and have found 2 quick, grab on-the-go breakfast ideas that I take to work & eat at my desk. I love them because they are full of protein, low in fat & calories, and keep my full. Also, for the laziness factor, I don't have to toast a bagel, or do anything but grab a spoon!

I have always loved yogurt for breakfast as well as cottage cheese. Here are my two finds that are so delicious:

1. Greek Yogurt, specifically Voskos

Greek yogurt is thick & creamy and certain varieties contain up to 24g of protein! That is like eating a chicken breast for Really, no stirring required here.

The wild strawberry (5.3 oz serving) contains 120 calories, 13g protein, 13g sugar (some of yoplaits contain up to 27g of sugar). Gluten free, etc.

Yoplait light yogurt (6 oz serving) contains 100 calories, 5g protein, & I believe sucralose (fake sugar, which gives me headaches).

All of the ingredients on the Voskos label are pretty self-explanatory. Although the calorie count is a bit higher (20 calories), I don't really care!

Other Voskos flavors include: greek honey, wild blueberry, honey vanilla bean, & exotic fig.

Another good brand of Greek Yogurt is Fage (pronounced Fa-Yeh). However, this yogurt is super thick! I buy this yogurt in the non-fat or low-fat version in the larger container, and use it in anything, that I'd use sour cream in (i.e. black bean soup), or make a quick salad dressing with it. Just google, "Ways to use Greek Yogurt," and you'll be surprised what comes up!

2. Rachel's Cottage Cheese, Cucumber Dill flavor (but they have lots of fun flavors)

This cottage cheese is creamy which was a surprise to me - the good stuff is at the bottom, so you will need to stir. The cumumber & dill is light & pretty addicting. The nutritional value for cottage cheese (1 prepackage container) is awesome- 110 calories, 2g fat, 5g sugar, 14g protein, 20% calcium. I read that cottage cheese is actually a very good bedtime snack too - due to the casein protein that is slowly absorbed into the blood stream (takes about 7 hours)! Good for building muscles too.

Other flavors of Rachel's include: Sun Dried Tomato Pesto, Roasted Red Pepper, Pear Mangosteen, Pomegrante Orange Cranberry, & Lemon Verbena Berry.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Super Foods

Working on eating healthier- bought the book "Eat This, Not That" by David Zinczenko, and it is a pretty great book. Has very useful information.

Working on eating some of the Super Foods or Power 12:

1. Almonds & Other nuts
Super Powers: Builds muscle, curbs cravings, Protein, vitamins, fiber, etc

2. Beans & Other Legumes
Super Powers: Builds muscle, burns fat, aids digestion, high fiber & protein, fights against disease

3. Spinach & Other green veggies
Super Powers: Neutralizing free radicals (molecules that increase the aging process), vitamins, fibers

4. Low-fat Dairy
Super Powers: Building strong bones, firing up weight loss, vitamins & minerals

5. Instant Oatmeal (unsweetened/unflavored)
Super Powers: Boosting energy & sex drive, reducing cholesterol, maintaining blood sugar levels, fiber

Super Powers: Building muscle, burning fat, protein, vitamins

7. Turkey & other lean meats
Super Powers: Building muscle, improving immune system, protein & vitamins

8. Peanut Butter (all-natural sugar free)
Super Powers: Building muscle, burning fat, protein & vitamins

9. Olive Oil
Super Powers: Lowers cholesterol, boosts immune system, vitamin E

10. Whole Grain Breads & Cereal
Super Powers: Prevents your body from storing fat, fiber, vitamins & minerals

11. Extra-Protein Whey Powder
Super Powers: Building muscle, burning fat, protein

12. Raspberries and other berries
Super Powers: Protecting your heart, enhancing eyesight, improving memory, preventing cravings, antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C

Most of these are easy for me to fit in...the only ones that I haven't gotten around to: Sugar Free PB & Extra-Protein Whey Powder (only had it at smoothie king, haven't bought it at home). I actually love the rest of this stuff.

Pretty easy to incorporate most of this stuff for daily snacks or meals.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Fro' YO

Frozen yogurt shops are popping up everywhere. It is actually getting a little annoying... Orange Cup, BerryBerry, Natsumi, Yogilicious, Gooey's, Bliss and the good ol' TCBY- I mean can they all have these amazing concepts?  What is the freakin' difference?  Ok- sure, some are Organic, some are healthy & post the calories (see below)...but at the end of the day, I want the fun toppings & delicious flavors of yogurt!

So, we had just finished dinner in Plano & saw "Spoonfull" Grand Opening.  And there were tons of people inside-like at least 20!  This place has something to be proud of, a very smart concept, 
Do It Yourself (DIY) Yogurt:

1. Grab a cup "the size of a bucket!"

2. Choose from about 10 flavors- because you are serving yourself, here is your chance to mix & match, take your time, taste a flavor with a tester cup first.  Traditional flavors like chocolate & vanilla & fun flavors like raspberry & cappuchino, or cookies & cream.  

3. Move to the toppings bar- also self serve.  4 kinds of syrup, tons of toppings- again some very traditional like chocolate sprinkles & M&M Candy and creative toppings like marshmallows, fresh fruit-strawberries, blackberries, kiwi, mango, or cereal: cocoa puffs or fruity pebbles, also had granola, coconut, the list goes on & on. 

4. Move up to the cash register where they weigh your yogurt creation by the ounce- $.35 cents/oz.  My husband & I's creations were right around $6 total.

I asked the store employee if this new store was a franchise?  He said, "No, private store, this is the first one."  I told him that they had a great concept- he thanked me.  People love taking their time, not feeling rushed & customizing things their way.

My creation: 1/2 chocolate & vanilla swirl, 1/2 cappuchino & raspberry swirl with strawberries, marshallows, mini chocolate chips & chocolate fudge syrup.  
Hubby's creation: Cookies & Cream & Cappuchino plus mini chocolate chips, chocolate fudge syrup, & oreos (everything chocolate in the store).

Friday, April 10, 2009

Time for Tea

I love going to certain restaurants where I know the tea is great (and hate certain places where I know the tea sucks).  Examples of great tea: Dream Cafe (Strawberry Hibiscus)-so delicious with breakfast, Corner Bakery, Luna de Noche (they can brew plain ol' tea really well), Nordstrom Bistro, Anywhere that serves "China Black plain or flavored teas"-yum!  Asian Mint serves a great hot green tea (as do most Asian restaurants).

Sucky tea: Subway (they can't brew it right!!), most fast food joints (Wendy's), Nestea flavored or sweet tea or raspberry from the soda tap- ew!

My favorite tea to drink at home is loose leaf tea- I loved the Bodum store when it was open on Knox/Henderson.  It was delicious!  For the best bagged tea, I like Harney & Sons  You can find it at Williams Sonoma & Macy's.--probably Central Market too.
Classics: Tea Favorites in Sachets Traditional & Exclusive