Friday, September 30, 2011

Salted Caramel Apple Tart Tatin

I was watching an episode of Dessert First on the Food Network the other day and I saw this recipe for an apple tart tatin that sounded so great! We have a bowl full of apples from the orchard and this sounded like a perfect recipe for using up a bunch of apples!  Unfortunately, I have not been having luck in the kitchen lately. 

It started when I decided to go Gluten Free - partially because I had just read the book Wheat Belly, partially because I want to lose weight and partially because I've been having gastric-related pain again.  Well, I definitely have some sort of allergy to flaxseeds because I used them in several gluten free recipes and had some severe gastric pains as a result!  So, I have ditched the gluten free kick and decided to try a dairy free diet.  So far I have not seen any results. I still have random pains, random break-outs and no leads on a trigger! Hmmmm.....Probably time to consult an expert.

Needless to say, I'm back to my old diet (which isn't that bad), and I'm trying to limit things that I think may be triggers.  I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, enjoy this dessert. My family did!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Apples of My Eye

On a whim this weekend, we decided to stop by the apple orchard and pick up some fresh apples.  Unfortunately, when we got there, the owner of the orchard told us that once again the pickings were slim (this happened to us last year too).  She said that most varieties are ready late September, early October, even into November, but this year, by Labor Day weekend, people had picked many of those trees bare! Argh!  There were a few varieties still on the trees, and we were able to pick a basket full of apples (including some HOney Crisps!!!) and one of pears.  We also picked some peppers that were yummy!

Lily demonstrated how difficult it is to bite into an apple when you are missing 7 front teeth! LOL

So, our plan for next year is to go around Labor Day weekend to get the best apples!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Gluten Free Granola

Today I tried out this gluten free granola and it is amazing!  If you love granola, you won't even notice that it's gluten-free! This is such a yummy, filling , sweet and crunchy snack!  The author of Wheat Belly even suggests eating this as a morning cereal with soymilk, regular milk, or coconut milk. Yum!

It made a huge bowl, so if I store it in an airtight container, it will last a long time!

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats or quinoa flakes (I used the oats)
1/2 cup group flaxseeds (I found ground blueberry flaxseeds at Trader Joe's)
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup organic agave syrup or sugar free vanilla syrup
1/4 cup walnut oil (I couldn't find this, so I used canola oil)
1 cup raw pecans
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dried raisins

Preheat oven to 325*.  Combine the quinoa or oats, ground flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, 1/2 cup cashews, syrup, and oil in large bowl and toss to coat.  Spread into an 8x8 inch baking pan and press to make an even layer, about 1/2 inch thick.  Bake until dry and crispy, about 30 minutes.  Let the mixture cook for about 30-60 minutes.

Combine pecans, almonds, dried fruit and remaining cashews in a large bowl.  Mix the cooled oat/flax/quinoa mixture into the nut-fruit bowl.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Wheat Belly

I consider myself to be a fairly healthy cook. I am certainly not a Top Chef or the Next Food Network Star, but I pride myself on giving my family 3 nutritional meals a day. I usually base each meal around a protein and a vegetable and work from there. I don't usually even think about what starch I'm going to serve, and I don't always serve one, but things like: homemade pizzas, pastas and tacos usually have a bread-source built into the meal. 

I am also not one to usually fall for fad diets and don't have much will-power, so they wouldn't work for me anyway. But I just finished reading this book that really got me thinking...

The book Wheat Belly by William Davis has been on the top of the bestsellers list and has been a controversial topic for doctors and critics alike.  Dr. Davis contends that the wheat that we eat now is not the same wheat that originally appeared on earth.  He claims that the wheat we eat now has been so chemically and genetically engineered that it is doing very dangerous things to the human race.  Basically, he says all chronic illnesses are a result of wheat consumption (including, but not limited to: diabetes, celiac's disease, arthritis, sinus issues, PMS, acne, mood disorders, allergies, obesity, asthma, autism etc...).  He also says that wheat is the culprit for the deep, visceral fat that lingers around the stomach and is why athletes and regular people cannot get flat tummies.  When wheat is eliminated, so is the spare tire. Hmmmm....

Do I believe everything he says? No. However, he makes some really interesting points and has got me thinking, "What would happen if I reduced and/or eliminated wheat products from my diet?"

I have a few friends who are on strict gluten-free diets and I know that it wasn't easy for them at first, but now it has become second nature for them.  Unfortunately, Dr. Davis is not suggesting a gluten-free diet in which you substitute "Gluten Free" products for wheat products.  He claims that products labeled gluten free are just as bad because they raise your blood sugar to ridiculously high levels.  Soooooo... I originally thought that this would be a piece of cake (no pun intended) because I can just buy gluten free bread and pasta, but it's not going to be that easy.

According to his blog Wheat Belly, there are lots of things I can eat if I want to try out this wheat-free diet lifestyle change.  He says to load up on: vegetables, cheese, nuts, oils, eggs, avocados, olives, meats and seasonings. 

Since I feel like this isn't that much of a crazy change from the way I usually eat, It's worth a shot, right?  I haven't decided how long I am going to try it for, or if I plan on doing this forever. (Giving up beer is just a sad thought, LOL).  But, I would like to test Dr. Davis' theory that people who go on this diet can drop up to 10 pounds a day in the first week. (Yeah, right!?!?)  And I would like to see this "I've Had Three Kids" stomach-paunch go away.  So, today is Day One.  I had a bowl of plain yogurt with raw almonds and raspberries for breakfast.  For lunch I had a salad with: romaine lettuce, cilantro, cucumbers and tomatoes from my garden, pickled banana peppers, sliced green olives and a little Lite Italian Dressing.  I was wishing for some crutons, but next time, I'll throw in some walnuts for a little crunch.

Let me know what you think about this, especially if you have read the book.  I'd like some support through this! 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Scrappy Update

Now that the kids are back in school, I've been able to scrape up a little free time while the baby naps. Of course, dealing with a cat that has a urinary tract infection, a baby with a lazy eye, who needed to have her eyes dialated at the eye-doc, and kids' physicals have kept me busy. Also, have I mentioned that Lily auditioned for a role in a musical production of Cinderella, and that she GOT the part?? Yes, I am the proud mother of Mouse Number 3 in Cinderella: Return of the Glass Slipper!

In between all of this, I did manage to find time to throw these fun layouts together... Thanks in advance for looking!

Learn something new
Reasons to bee happy

bubbly toes
let's dance
I gotta dweam, I gotta dweam

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Peanut Butter Balls

Do you love chocolate covered peanut butter cups? If so, they super easy recipe will be right up your alley! It makes about 40 inidividual bites.  Warning: it is NOT for those on a diet. LOL

2 1/4 cups crunchy peanut butter
1 cup margarine
7 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 (16 oz) pkg of melting chocolate (or almond bark)

In a stand mixer combine the first four ingredients.  It will look dry and crumbly (as in the pic above), but it forms nicely into balls.  Roll the mixture into approximately 40 balls, each about 1 Tablespoon of mixture and set onto wax paper.  Melt your chocolate. (I used half chocolate bark and half white almond bark).  Dip each ball into the melted chocolate and set back onto wax paper to dry.

When the balls were dry, I used purple and white frosting and decorated with zig-zags and swirls.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Showers of Happiness

This weekend our lovely bride and groom were showered with love and gifts!! It was a beautiful event.  Jack worked his bootie off (night and day, day and night, sacrificing time with his wife for months!!!) to get the place ready in time!  As you can see from the pics, he did a beautiful job! Before the guests arrived, Jackie came down and said, "It looks like a banquet hall for a wedding." And that was what we were hoping for!!! :)

We played some fun games (thanks to the bridesmaids)! Kelly, the groom's sister, made the silly apron donned with kitchen tools for Jackie to wear.  The guests had to remember as many of the tools as they could to win a prize!  Kim (who attended the shower from Spain via Skype) made up some Bingo cards for the always-popular Wedding Shower Bingo!  The other Kelly set a timer and gave a prize to the person whose gift was being opened each time the timer went off!  Steff put together the overflowing rehearsal bridal bouquet (Who knew that the gift registry for BB&B used the wedding color scheme for gift wrapping - so the bouquet is going to match perfectly! LOL)  I kept track of who each gift was from and put together a recipe book filled with recipes from each guest!

The happy couple looked lovely as always and everyone had a wonderful time!  The clock is ticking down and we are left with just over a month until the big day! We cannot wait!!

We love you, K & J!!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Glee Movie

A couple weeks ago Lily and I went to see The Glee Concert Movie in 3D...not once...but twice!!! I am such a Gleek and I have now created a mini-Gleek in my seven-year-old daughter.  Our favorite part of the movie was when they showed this little guy.  We just cannot get enough of him.  Check him out. He's sure to bring a smile to your face!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Today's Treadmill Tunes

Here is what I listened to while on the treadmill today:

Party Rock Anthem - LMFAO

Someone Like You - Adele

Give Me Everything - Pitbull

Blame it on the Alcohol - Glee Cast

Love on Top - Beyonce

Last Friday Night - Katy Perry

Price Tag - Jessie J

Sing - Glee Cast

The Edge of Glory - Lady Gaga

Secrets - One Republic

Only Girl - Rhianna

Every Teardrop is a Waterfall - Coldplay

Just Can’t Get Enough - Black Eyed Peas

The Lazy Song - Bruno Mars

F*ing Perfect - Pink

Forever - Chris Brown

Super Bass - Nicki Minaj

I Wanna Go - Britney Spears

What is your current favorite song to listen to while working out?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Minestra Soup

Summer weather is winding down and the temps are starting to get slightly cooler.  What better way to usher in fall than with an end-of-summer soup.  This is a play on a mini-minestrone soup called Minestra. It's ready in less than a half hour, but if you let the soup simmer for longer, the flavors will become even better! Enjoy!

Minestra Soup

8 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 pkg. baby spinach
2 cans cannellini beans, drained
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1 qt vegetable broth
½ tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

Heat a Tbsp olive oil in deep pot.  Add garlic and onions. Saute for 5 minutes.  Add spinach and wilt.  Add beans and vegetable broth.  Sprinkle nutmeg, salt and pepper, stir.  Cook 10 minutes. Add cheese before serving.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Share Our Strength

Last weekend I co-hosted a Great American Bake Sale to support the charity Share Our Strength.  Two friends and I baked up a storm and sold our goodies at my friend's downtown high rise, in the lobby, where the foot traffic was unbelievable.  We were so excited to raise as much money as we did and the donations continue to flow in.  If you are interested in donating to help put an end to childhood hunger, please follow the link above and click on the Make a Donation button!

In the spirit of giving, I thought I would share the recipe for one of the more popular items on the table:

Low Fat Blondies

2 1/4 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups packed brown sugar
6 tbsp margarine, softened
3 large egg whites
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup water
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate or white chocolate chips

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  Beat brown sugar, margarine, egg whites and vanilla in a mixing bowl until smooth. Gradually beat in flour mixture with water.  Stir in chips.  Spread onto a greased 15x10 inch jelly roll pan.  Bake in a preheated 350* oven for 20-25 minutes or until top is golden brown.  Cut into squares and then triangles.  Makes 3 dozen blondies. 140 calories and 5 grams of fat per bar.

Friday, September 2, 2011

What Happens in Vegas...

I am so far behind in my blogging. Argh! I can't find enough hours in the day.

So, way back in July, I went to Vegas with three friends and had a fantastic time!! Lots of funny stories, which I will type when I have a little more free time!

In the meantime, take a look at these fun pics and zoom in on the Tom Cruise impersonator. I swear he was the best look-alike I've ever seen!!!!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

How NOT to lose your guinea pig...

A few days ago marked the one year anniversary of the day we brought home our two adorable, smelly, hairy guinea pigs.  During this past year I think I touched them twice. (Yep, I'm allergic....Well, actually, I don't know if I'm allergic to their hair or their bedding, but either way...they are rodents and I'm grossed out and they make me sneeze!)

So, Lily decided to make that day the guinea pigs' birthday.  She and her bff planned some party games and brought out some treats (lettuce, carrots, celery) for the pigs (as I like to call them).  They took the pigs for a ride in Zoey's stroller (which I was thrilled about after seeing all the hair stuck to the seat). They let them run around in a tent outside.  They brought them into Lil's room and played with them on the bunkbeds.  It was a great birthday for them.

The next day was business as usual.  The kids went to school.  Nothing important happened at home, but I was really busy all day and never really had a chance to sit down the entire day.  When the kids came home from school, Lily had her after school snack and went over to say hi to the pigs.  She looked into the cage and let out a shriek!  "Mom!!! Astro is missing!!!" she yelled. 

"What do you mean? Where did she go?" I asked.

"She's not in the cage." Lily yelled back.

After walking over and determining that Lily was correct, Astro was not in the cage, I asked, "When was the last time you saw her?"

"Yesterday. On her birthday."

Oh, geez.  The pig had been missing for over 24 hours.  The last time she remembered seeing her was when she was in her bedroom or outside playing with her.  So, my GP Detective Task Force set out to find the missing pig.  Matt looked in his room. Zoey looked under her crib. Lily looked under her bed and in every corner of her room. I searched the garage.  We all came up empty-handed.  I kept asking Lily over and over, "Think. Think. Where did you see her last?"

After we searched everywhere and were about to give up, I sent the kids to Lil's bff's house to retrace their steps.  I figured with 3 kids looking outside, I can search every nook and cranny inside. No guinea pig.  I sat down on the couch and picked up the phone to call my husband to tell him to get his wallet ready because we were going to have to make a stop at the pet store tonight, when all of a sudden, the blanket on the couch next to me, started moving.  I unrolled the wadded-up blanket and there (covered in 24 hours worth of pee and poop) was Astro!

Happy Birthday, Little Buddy! 

Note to self:  Guinea Pigs are stupid and don't walk very quickly. They aren't going to get too far. 


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