Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Protein Bar of the Year

In what feels like my gazillionth attempt to loose this weight, be healthier and just feel better, I have tried to really research healthy weight loss and take a good look at my eating habits.  To be 100% honest with myself and ask for help because I have no idea what to do. What worked for me when I was 18 is obviously now working now. I was given this recipe for a homemade protein bar. And I will be the first to admit that when talk of health or diet shakes, bars and drinks come up I will be the first to scoff and be roll my eyes. But I have changed. I think researching things for myself and listening to what my body was telling me helped a lot. It took time, a few weeks, of a lot of reading and question asking (to reliable and trusted sources) to really get myself set up for the mind change. And I think that is what makes the biggest difference for me, the mind change. It's all great for me to go all gung ho into something but to make a lifestyle change this big I needed to know more for myself. 

Okay enough deep thoughts from me, mooooving on! 

 I don't know why the thought of homemade protein bars was so scary for me....maybe because I hate the store bought kind and did not want to waste my time or money making something that would just get tossed in the garbage in a few weeks when I cleaned out my cupboards and discovered them becoming food artifacts. This recipe was so easy and quick, which I think for most of us is very appreciated! I literally put these together one morning in the time it took my daughter to eat her breakfast. 

Plus I think most of us have the ingredients already in our cupboards 
which again is perfect and easy!

Homemade (GOODNESS) Protein Bars

makes about 16 bars

2 cups oatmeal
2 scoops vanilla or chocolate protein powder 
(i just used my protein shake, which is
chocolate eclair flavored - i know right!)
1 cup shredded coconut
1 -1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (your choice!)
1 - 1 1/2 cups dried fruit (your choice!)
1 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 - 1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup ground flax seed

Mix dry ingredients together in large bowl. Mix in the wet ingredients until nice and moist. Press evenly into a 9x13 pan. Refrigerate for at least and hour before slicing into desired size.


I cut my pan into 16 bars, but you can definitely make them bigger or smaller.I then wrapped each one in a piece of plastic wrap and put them all in a zip lock bag before putting them in the freezer. My bar defrosted in about 20 minutes on my counter. 

Seems like the cool kids are making protein balls instead of bars! If you want to be one of the cool kids, you could most definitely do that with this recipe. Just let your pan sit in the fridge for an hour and then shape into your cool kid balls. I would then place them on baking tray and set them in the freezer for a bit before bagging them up so they don't become one big beryllium sphere of protein bars. (ha ha movie reference!) 

:: enjoy :: 

Yee Haw! It's Cowboy Pie y'all

When someone says the word casserole I think a lot of us kind of cringe inside! But this Cowboy Pie served with a side of BBQ sauce was get-in-my-tummy-now delicious! Probably the simplest casserole dish I've ever made that came out with that kind of result. And sprinkling my homemade smoked seasoning across the crust was destiny for this pie.
 Plus its another great way to use that delicious pie crust.

Have I ever shared with you how I feel about my freezer? I love it so much. So. Dang. Much. I am all about prepping and freezing. I cook up pounds of ground hamburger, roast chicken breasts, slow cook beef cuts and store in the freezer so it's all ready to grab and go. So for this recipe I used a pound of my precooked beef cuts which made this prep so incredibly easy. You can use whatever kind of roast suits you, even sliced deli roast beef would work.

Cowboy Pie

serves 4 to 6

1 onion, chopped fine
2 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
 2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper
1 pound roast beef, cut into 1-inch pieces and cooked
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed
1 cup corn, frozen or canned
1/2 -3/4 cup BBQ sauce
1/2 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Pie Crust for the top

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Microwave onion, bell pepper, oil, chili powder, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.

2. Stir in the roast beef, beans, corn, BBQ sauce, broth, and cornstarch. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer mixture to 9-inch pit plate

3. Carefully lay pie crust over top. Tuck over dough underneath itself to be flush with the rim of the pie plate. Cut three 1-inch steam vents into top of dough. Bake until filling is bubbling and crust is browned, about 25 minutes, rotating pie plate halfway through baking. 

Let cool slightly and serve!

I paired this with a delicious Three Bean Salad. The tang of the vinaigrette from the salad was perfect with the spice of this pie. 

Cowgirl Pie

Substitute 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (or your own precooked chicken - leftovers!) for the roast beef, 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed, for the black beans, and 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth for the beef broth. 

:: enjoy ::

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Apple Strudel

I have always wanted to try making a homemade strudel. The traditional way of making your own dough and streeeeetching it until it is tissue paper thin sounds intriguing, but I thought better saved for a time when I wasn’t in the mood for something sweet RIGHT NOW!!  This way is much simpler but ah-mazingly delicious. These strudels did not last long on my counter!

According to this recipe, it makes one large strudel with 14 x 18 inch phyllo dough. My dough was smaller about 9 x 14 inches and I made four medium sized strudels. As long as you use 5 sheets of dough per strudel it will be perfect!

Apple Strudel
3 large apple, like Macintosh or Golden Delicious, peeled cored, and thinly sliced (about 3 heaping cups)
1/2 cup golden raisins (I prefer golden raisins, use what you like!)
1/4 cup toasted breadcrumbs
1/4 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (opt)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
phyllo dough, you will need 5 sheets for each strudel made
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
granulated sugar to sprinkle on top of strudels

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Lightly butter a baking sheet.

Place the apples, raisins, breadcrumbs, brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, salt, and lemon juice in a medium bowl and toss to coat evenly.

Lay out one sheet of phyllo dough and gently brush with butter. Top with a second sheet of phyllo dough and brush with butter. Repeat with remaining 3 sheets, creating a stack of five sheets of phyllo dough and ending with butter.

Arrange the apples in a strip about one-third up from the bottom leaving about 2 inches on either end. Lift the bottom of the phyllo over the top of the apples. Fold in the sides, and continue to roll up the apples tightly.

Place the strudel, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the top with the remaining butter and sprinkle with granulate sugar. Transfer to the oven and bake until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or make a glaze for the top. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Veggie Melt with Gouda

1 small head broccoli, cut into small florets (stalk discarded)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
4 portobello mushrooms (stems removed), sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 red bell peppers (ribs and seeds removed), sliced 1/2 inch thick
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1 small garlic clove, crushed through a press
4 thick slices country bread
4 ounces Gouda cheese, thinly sliced
Balsamic vinegar (opt)

Heat broiler, with rack set 4 inches from heat. On a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, toss broccoli with oil; season with salt and pepper. Broil, tossing once or twice, until broccoli begins to char, 4 to 6 minutes.
Add mushrooms and bell peppers to sheet; season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Broil, tossing once or twice, until vegetables are tender, 8 to 10 minutes more; set aside.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine mayonnaise and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Place bread on a work surface. Dividing evenly, spread with mayonnaise mixture, and top with vegetables, then cheese. Place on baking sheet, and broil until cheese is melted and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes. 
Place bread on serving plate and drizzle lightly with Balsamic vinegar.

::  enjoy  ::

Recipe from Martha Stewart

Tropical Slaw with Pineapple Vinaigrette

This is such a light and refreshing slaw. 
And pairs so well with many dishes or by itself.


8 cups shredded cabbage (about 1 small to medium head of cabbage)
2 medium carrots, shredded
1/3 cup sliced green onion
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup dried mangoes
1/4 cup sliced almonds (or nut of your choice)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds


3/4 cup pineapple juice (one 6-ounce can)
3 tbs vegetable oil
1 1/2 tbs cider vinegar
1 large clove garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 tbs sugar

1.     Place all salad ingredients in a salad bowl and place in refrigerator to chill. If preparing salad in advance, reserve nuts and add them just before serving.
2.    Place all dressing ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake vigorously for 1 minute. Pour desired amount over salad (you may not need all of it) and toss to combine. Serve immediately or chill before serving.

::  enjoy  ::

Recipe from Our Best Bites

Homemade Ranch Dressing

Once you have tried this dressing you will gag when you taste anything store bought. It is that good. 

1 cup mayonnaise (no substitutions! seriously.)
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp dry parsley
1/8 tsp dry dill
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp dry chives
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp seasoning salt
1/8 dry mustard

I just throw all the ingredients in my VitaMix and let it go. I try to let it sit in the refrigerator for about an hour to thicken up, but we have eaten it straight from the blender and it is fine, just a little thinner.

I have also discovered this wonderful powderedbuttermilk from Saco at Winco. Let me now impart to you a few reasons why this little canister is the bomb dot com.

It helps my dressing to stay fresh longer

It lasts a whole lot longer than a bottle of fresh buttermilk

It allows me to make a dry mix to keep on the pantry shelf

:: enjoy ::

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Lemon Croissant French Toast

My Mom always made something a little extra special for Christmas breakfast! Even if it was adding sausage and bacon to the menu, we loved it. I have tried to carry that tradition over with my family. This year I borrowed a recipe from Our Best Bites (if you have not seen this site – GO! GO NOW and FORGET ABOUT ME.SAVE YOURSELF!!) It was their Lemon Croissant French Toast. AH- mazing. Should I confess that minus one serving to each of the other members of my family on Christmas morning, I cleaned out that entire pan by myself? I spread it over a few days people, come on!

I am a huge fan of breakfast recipes that you can prepare the night before, so all you have to do it slip it into the oven the next day. This recipe would be wonderful at a baby or bridal shower too! Breakfast is good anytime of the day or night – OH! You know I’m right!

Lemon Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast
Recipe by Our Best Bites

6 large, butter croissants
1 8-oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar, divided
2 lemons
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk

Optional Toppings:

Sliced Strawberries
Whipped Topping

Slice the croissants in half lengthwise. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, zest of one lemon, strained juice of one lemon (about 1 1/2-2 tablespoons), and 3/4 cup powdered sugar. Mix with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Spread the lemon cream cheese mixture over the bottoms of the croissants and then replace the tops, pressing down to flatten. Cut into halves (or even fourths if necessary) and arrange the pieces evenly in a 9×13 pan lightly sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
Whisk together the milk, eggs, zest and juice from the second lemon, and remaining 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. Pour evenly over the croissants and cover with aluminum foil. Refrigerate for 8-10 hours.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350. Bake covered for 30 minutes and then remove the foil and bake for another 20-30 minutes or until the croissants are golden brown and the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the oven and allow it to stand for 5-10 minutes. Cut into squares and top individual servings with fresh sliced strawberries or sweetened whipped cream. Serves 10-12.