Thursday, December 24, 2015

Creamy Peppermint Candies




Minty sweets are one of my favorites during the holidays. When that cool rush of flavor wafts over your tongue you can't help but think of cooler days and longer nights.

So I decided this years neighbor gift would be these delicious Creamy Peppermint Candies. They are the perfect combo of mint and cream that melt in your mouth upon contact.

Bonus: They are so easy to make, require only a few ingredients, and NO BAKING or REFRIGERATION is required!!!


Grab an apron and pipe away!

Ingredients: 
yields ~200-250 nickle size mints (5 cups of mints) 
1-8oz package of cream cheese, softened 
5 cups of powdered sugar
1-3 drops of peppermint extract (Depending on how "minty" you want it. Less is more with this stuff)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 drop of green food coloring (depending on how "green" you want them to be, i was going for fresh mint so I kept it light)


Directions: 
On a large flat surface or baking sheet layout parchment paper.
In a stand mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth.
Slowly add in powdered sugar until well combined.
Beat in vanilla, food coloring, and peppermint extract until smooth.
Fill a frosting pipping bag fitted with a star tip with the mixture.
Pipe nickle size mints unto the parchment paper and allow to air dry for 8-12 hours.
Using a knife, gently scrape the mints off the parchment paper and place in an air-tight container or jar for storage.

They will last about 2 weeks un-refrigerated, 1 month refrigerated, and will freeze for up to 4 months.

ENJOY!

P.S. I packed mine up and gave them to our neighbors for Christmas.

 
 



Saturday, October 31, 2015

Pumpkin Banana Bread





This Pumpkin Banana Bread is a perfect treat for your fall gatherings. It's very moist and full of flavor. Plus, who doesn't love pumpkin and banana bread? Put them together and you get awesomeness.

The best part? All of the ingredients can be found in your home and it's so easy to make.

So gather them up and bake away!



Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 15 oz can pumpkin (not filling)
1 tsp baking soda
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
3 very ripe bananas
1 cup packed brown sugar

Directions:
Preheat oven 350 degrees
Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix all the wet ingredients, except the bananas, in a small bowl. Gently mash the bananas into the wet mixture, but don't over mix.
Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until combined. Do not over mix.

Pour badder into a large 9x5 pan.

Bake for 50-60 min or until knife comes out clean.

Remove from pan and let cool for 10 min before serving. 


Enjoy!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Enchilada Casserole




Um, well we found a new favorite meal. Seriously, my husband and I fought over the last slice;
It was that good.

It all started with me wanting to make enchiladas. I prefer the green sauce, I mean I make everything with it, especially enchiladas. Until one day, while biting into the delicious chicken filled tortilla slathered with that yummy green sauce, my husband asks "hey, do you think we can use red sauce next time, I like it more". WHAT?! Oh the things you learned when married.

But I don't like the red sauce that comes in the can.  No matter what brand, so I started my hunt for a good homemade one; Thanks to gimmie some oven. I found it.

This sauce is good. No, not good. This sauce is amazing. And SO EASY to make. 



So I now had my perfect sauce. Now to the enchiladas.
But wait, I was  running out of time that busy night to take the time to slather and roll each tortilla shell, so what did I do. I layered it and made a casserole.
 Genius. I know.

So viola. You get this delicious beauty.



Simple. Easy. and mouthwatering-delicious.
Enjoy!

Ingredients:
Sauce

2 Tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
2 Tbsp. all-purpose or gluten-free flour
4 Tbsp. chili powder (*not cayenne! also, see note below if you do not like heat*)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. oregano
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Casserole
6-8 corn tortillas
2 cups of cheese any flavor (we used Kraft Mexican mix), separated.
3 chicken breasts-cooked and shredded.
1 can black beans (rinsed)


Directions:

Start the sauce: Heat the oil in a small sauce pan over medium high heat. Add flour and stir together quickly. Once mixed well pour in the chicken broth and whisk together until no lumps remain. Add in the rest of the spices and stir until well combined. Now, let simmer for 10-15.
Use immediately or store in an air tight container for up to 14 days.

Once the sauce is done:  Preheat oven to 3Spread a nice layer on bottom of a baking dish.

Lay a base of tortillas on-top of the sauce, then some cheese, all the chicken, all the beans, and then more cheese--leaving some leftover for the top. Pour sauce all over layered mixture--leaving some for the top.

Lay a top layer of tortillas over the chicken and beans and pour the rest of the sauce on top then sprinkle with  remaining cheese.

Bake  uncovered for 20min, until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Let cool for 5-10 min.

Dive in!




Monday, June 1, 2015

Good Morning Exercise




I am a huge fan of working out first thing in the morning. I always feel so refreshed and seem to make healthier choices throughout the day if I do workout early. However, I am not a fan or waking up before the sun to drive myself to the gym and back before work. So I usually go to the gym after work, so that I can destress from the day. Alas, my current schedule is not allowing me to go to the gym after work at the moment   So I tried to find a compromise and think this will work.

Pinterest truly has everything. You know that saying, "there is an app for everything", well I believe there is now "a pin for everything".

I typed in "morning exercise at home" and voilĂ ! I got hundreds of pins showing me just that.

I chose to pair a HIIT workout with some easy yoga and, man it was a great! I felt wonderful afterwards and ready to start the day.

You do this exercise sequence 3x total which is about ~15min. And then do the Yoga stretching for your cool down, about ~5min.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Good Morning Sequence unknown author 
After trying another workout routine, do this one for 30 days and then move on to another routine.




Morning Yoga by Mind Body Green
Check out the link above if you would like a more detailed description of each move. 













Good Morning Yoga Sequence (15 min) - CORRECTED and attributed to original source

Thursday, January 29, 2015

IIFYM: Food is My Fuel


Remember that post I did called "Eat More to Weigh Less", well you can read it HERE if you would like too catch up.

In that post I stepped onto my soap box and told the world that it was wrong. That food was not the enemy but a friend, that should be enjoyed more often.

I truly believe that. We talk about the negative images out there for woman but we need to also address the negative images of food and dieting in general that are the kick start to those negative images for woman. Start at the root of the problem, as they say.

What we eat makes who we are. That saying: "you are what you eat", it's true!
We could not survive without it.

So, before I get up on my second soap box, I just want to make note that I am not a nutritionist, dietitian, or trainer of any sort. I am a woman on a mission to change her life in a healthy way and I want to share what I've discovered along my journey, with others, in a positive way.  What I express here are my thoughts, opinions, and experiences. Please speak to your doctor before making any major changes to your diet and or exercise routine--these people are here to help, use them!

Okay here goes:

Have you  heard of If It Fits Your Macros or Reverse Dieting or Flexible Dieting?
They really  are all the same thing.
It's a new 'trend' out there but one I hope stays and becomes a norm.
This is more than just a 'diet" but a way to change your eating habits forever. It has mine!

The idea behind IIFYM is to eat anything and everything that you want that fits within your nutrient needs. That's all.

Now, there are people out there who say eating anything you want is 'dangerous eating', but think about it. If you eat what you would like to fulfill your needed nutrient values you are less likely to do what they call 'binge' eating, slope dieting, "cheat" meals, or anything else you want to call it.
You're just eating. Normal. 

Honestly, your body doesn't know a donut from a piece steak, it just knows the nutrients that comes from it and what it needs to do to break it down and use it. So once you know your needed macros if you want a doughnut you eat it and adjust the rest of your macros that day to fulfill what's left. The key is, and we've all heard it, moderation.

So, how do you know what your nutrient values or macros are?
Every body is different so the nutrient count changes per person.
That is what IIFYM focuses on: YOU. You are not going to be just one of the millions trying out the latest fab diet, and you are not going to have the same macros as the next person.
It's for you and your body alone.

Now, I've been talking about nutrients and macros but what are they?
Essentially they your body specific counts for protein, carbs, and fat.
These are the major components to how your body creates and stores energy, so we focus on them; we learn the formula that works best for our bodies.



How to determine your Macros:
There are several calculators out on the web. I favor  IFFM.com calculator and macrofit.com. I like these because they ask for your age, gender, daily activity level, body fat %, etc. These help personalize your macros to be just right, so be honest and answer as thoroughly as you can.


These websites also provide a lot of helpful information about how to  get started on the IIFYM way of life. So check them out :)

My experience:
I love food. Obviously, I  have a food blog and you're reading it, but really. I think about it all the time. Sounds weird but that's a food addict for you. I had to learn to control the addiction while maintaining my sanity. Going from 200lbs to 135lbs was one of the hardest most rewarding things I've ever done but I had yet to find something I could maintain for the rest of my life.
Sure, cutting my calories to 1200 daily got me somewhere ,but I was always hungry,
Sure, adding bountiful amounts of protein to my diet got me closer to my goals, but my pocket book was stretched thin.
Thankfully, I discovered LIVEFIT by Jamie Eason (you can read about that HERE) which lead me to  IIFYM.
And let me tell you, after sticking to it for 4 weeks, you just know what to do and you don't need to count those calories, or weigh that chicken because you learn and your life changes.
Now, a lot of people on IIFYM compete and need to calculate all of their nutrient levels to a "T" but if you are the average person, like myself, you can learn then relax, and eat!

Why I like it: 
It's super flexible! If you want to lose fat you can adjust your nutrients levels, if you want to lose weight you can adjust your nutrient levels, if you want to bulk, or lean, or maintain you can, you guessed it, adjust your nutrient levels. 
Remember the body uses what you give it to generate energy, make protein, and store fat. Knowing how those macros will effect your body is key, and help you reach your goals, in a way the fits you!

All of this is paired with exercise. Yes, you should exercise but it doesn't have to be crazy, just get up and move.

Why give it try? 
Well, that's up to you really. I cant make you. It's your choice.

But  let me leave you with this: I am food addict who loves to eat and found a way to do just that and stay a healthy 140lbs, 18% body fat (25.5lbs of Fat mass, 114.5lbs of lean mass).
I feel powerful, confident, and full.

*Stepping off my soap box*

Fun things to learn more: 
Search #IIFYM on instragram to see all the crazy things people eat and still look amazing.
Be inspired by Corina Nielson: she's a reverse diet queen: corinanielsen.com
Pinterest exercises and food ideas under the search IIFYM.



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