Sunday, October 6, 2013

Green tea apple cider :)

It's fall, and a lot of us like to enjoy a hot cup of Apple Cider, but why not make it a cup of Green tea apple cider! I took one of my favorite Green tea bags and brewed it in about 1/4 cup of hot water, then added my apple cider to it, with a dash of cinnamon, and voila....delish with a side-kick of "healthy". 

Like I've mentioned in a post before, apples have so many health benefits. Now add that with green tea, which is one of the healthiest drinks I know, and is beyond a super food. Over the years studies have shown so many health benefits to green tea. It is all about the Catechins which are antioxidants that fight and possibly even prevent cell damage, and green tea isn't processed much, so it is rich in catechins.  Green tea has shown to improve heart health with cholesterol issues, high blood pressure, and congestive heart failure.
It's known to help with brain health, diabetes, weight loss, stress levels, and so much more. Well, and that little added dash of cinnamon adds even more health benefits from helping stabilize blood sugar levels, to helping with bad cholesterol, and other antibacterial qualities.

~Don't add green tea to boiling water. You will kill helpful catechins. Just heat your water to about 160-170   degree water.
~Adding lemon to your regular cup of green tea for the vitamin C makes the healthy compounds in green tea easier to absorb. Apple cider has vitamin C in it as well, so there you go! Don't use any dairy if possible, as it makes it harder to absorb the catechins.
~Levels of the healthful compounds in green tea can vary, so it really does make a difference in purchasing a   pricier teas vs. the lower cost canned green-tea drinks which will have less.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The "Egg-ssential" ingredient

Lets face it, eggs are an essential ingredient in baked goods. Whether you are using egg whites only or the whole egg, they can both be incorporated into your recipe in several ways. Today I had someone come to me at the bakery, and they said they tried making a cake for their husband and it came out flat :0( I talked with her, and by deducting a few things, came up with it must have been the egg whites.  When we read a recipe we just assume it is written correctly, and if we do the steps, no matter what, it should work,… right?....well I used to think that way, until I went to culinary school that is. I also took a technical writing class which went over how recipes are written, and how they actually should be written! Even with some of the directions you get with a bike, for example, on how to put it together, are not always written the best way for consumers to understand, and we sit there as parents trying to figure out why we ended up with way too many left over nuts and bolts and various other pieces??? Augh….. so anyway, here are a few simple tips and tidbits from me on using egg whites:

~Unless called for differently, I always use large Grade A eggs. Most recipes that just call for “eggs” are referring to this size. BUT, size does make a difference, so if it calls for a different size, make sure to use that one.

~Use immediately once egg is cracked, or store any leftover whites in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week, or freezer for up to one month. Fresh eggs are always best when using in your baked goods, but if you need to use frozen egg whites, use in recipes where the egg is not the only leavening ingredient.

~Use only very clean utensils to beat your eggs. If you have any kind of oils/fats residue on your bowl or whisk, you will not obtain the correct texture, and remember not to use plastic bowls for beating your egg whites, as plastic can attract oils and greases. Copper bowls are often recommended, but honestly I use stainless steel in my bakery for everything and it works great (and much more affordable!)

~When cracking the egg, and separating the yolk from the white, it is usually easier to do when they are very cold. You don’t want any of the yolk to get into the white, as this will also keep you from getting the right texture when you beat them. The proper way is to use your hands. When you use the shell you take a chance of contamination because the shell is actually the most dangerous part of the egg when it comes to salmonella. Once separated, let the egg whites sit until room temperature before beating them, (like 30 min) that helps them whip up to a greater volume.

~Stiff peaks, and soft peaks.
When your recipe refers to “peak”, it’s talking about the part of the beaten egg white that sticks up from the rest when you pull up your beater or whisk. When hard, it will stand up on its own, and when soft, it will fall almost immediately.  This is key in your baking process if it calls for either of these to be done correctly. Don’t over whip or under whip, because then you will not have the right amount of air incorporated into them to work correctly for the recipe you are using. If your recipe is wanting you to do this, it is using your eggs for leavening, which is very important for the rise and texture of your baked goods.

~Folding…take care when folding your egg whites into heavier ingredients. Always gently fold the egg whites into the heavier mixture. DO NOT mix the batter or dry ingredients into the egg whites. Fold quickly and avoid over-stirring which will deflate your egg whites, and make sure this is done right after you finish beating them as beaten egg whites start losing their volume almost immediately.

~Always have your pans prepared and oven ready, so once this process is complete you can bake it immediately. Always, when using egg whites, it needs to get into the oven right away, or again, it will start to deflate, and you will end up flat.

Egg whites appear in so many baked goods, and especially in meringues and cakes, so its crucial to know how to use them correctly.

Happy baking :0)

Monday, September 23, 2013

It's been awhile.....

OK, yes I know, it has been quite awhile since I have taken the time to sit down and post. Life just got in the way I guess :0) I have something new and exciting to share though, so here goes!

So, the hubs and I have been introduced to a new product that we absolutely love.

I cant describe how excited I am about this product. For those of you that know me well, know how much coffee I drink. On a normal day I literally drink like 1-2 pots of coffee a day. With each cup being like 135 mg of caffeine, I don't even want to begin the math of figuring out how much caffeine I was getting!

I was skeptical at first, I mean I considered myself a coffee snob. I love grinding my own beans, and the smell of a freshly brewed pot made my mouth water. The idea of mixing my coffee up like an instant?? ...what? way! ....But our Sunday school teacher is the one that brought this coffee to us, whom we both trust and respect him, so we decided to try it, especially after doing our own research as well and hearing about the health benefits of Ganoderma.
 I work crazy hours and have a crazy schedule, and I drink two things, coffee and water....and lots and lots of coffee to keep me going. Frankly, I'm addicted, and to be honest the only reason I would ever go without coffee would be a major medical procedure  So back to Tuesday (a few weeks ago by now), by 3:00pm when I realized I had had only one cup of coffee and still had energy, clarity, felt wonderful, happy and hadn't bitten anyone's head off, I thought it was a miracle!! To this day, I now drink 1-2 cups of Organo Gold coffee a day. Each prepared cup of Organo Gold coffee has about 9mg coffee which you can see by simple math how much I was getting before to how little I take in now. That alone was a huge selling point for me, and then there are the other benefits I haven't even begun to mention:
Each Cup of Organo Gold Coffee is made with 100% Ganoderma Extract. If you haven't heard of the Ganoderma mushroom yet, you are missing out! Let me enlighten you just a little :0)

Organo Gold coffee is a blend of roasted 100% Arabica coffee beans and the red mushroom extract Ganoderma Lucidium, which has been used for centuries in China for it's health benefits. Ganoderma Lucidium is grown in the wild and is touted as a safe and natural alternative to coffee that can treat diseases, insomnia and depression.

The high amount of antioxidants in the Ganoderma mushroom strengthens the immune system, enabling it to fight viruses and bacteria, which these properties can also lower high blood pressure, stimulate the liver, alleviate lung problems, and support circulatory and respiratory systems, degenerative conditions, and inflammation. It also acts as a preventative against certain diseases, such as diabetes, lung disorders, heart disease and even cancer. The elements of Ganoderma help the flow of oxygen to the body which can increase enegry, vigor and reduce stress without the side effects of caffeine. So, no spikes or crashes!.... I could go on and on, there are so many but I will let you google Ganoderma and see for yourself :0) But the best way is to try it for yourself! 
Ok, so all that being said, I don't take it all lightly, I didn't sign up for this to make tons of money, I already have a Bakery that I am busy enough with as it is.  I just really love the product, and it has done some amazing things for us, I have to share just like any other herb or special ingredients I post about on this blog........So, Im not filling you up with a bunch of fluff, it's awesome!
If you want to try a cup, I can get you a sample, or you can go direct on our website:
So, check it out!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

My post workout obsession.....

So after a hard workout I love to replenish with a delicious healthy smoothie :) and one of my new obsessions is Chia Seeds! I throw into my little mini single serve blender- some greek yogurt, skim milk, frozen berries, half banana and sprinkle on Chia seeds and blend, blend, blend :0)

Chia seeds are an excellent source of protien, fiber, and antioxidants.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Baked Chicken Spaghetti

So it's dinner time again, and guess who doesn't know what to make?? Me, yes, I am culinary trained, and am in the kitchen all day at work, but when I come home, we are either running to ball practice, girl scouts, church, or just plain exhausted. I hate serving my family junk, so I am always looking for something convenient but wholesome to feed the fam that's not full of fat, calories, or preservatives.
The other night was one of those busy nights, so I opened my fridge, and pantry and got to work.
 I saw two leftover rotisserie chickens (from one of those nights I had to grab something on the go) and thought, what could I do with that??? My mother always made a really good chicken spaghetti growing up, so I started looking through my pantry to make some kind of "Baked Chicken Spaghetti"

Here is what you need:
1 Fully Rotisserie chicken, chicken removed and cut up
1 1/2 cups Spinach leaves
1 green pepper, cleaned and cubed
Baby bella mushrooms sliced (or any kind you prefer)
1 cup Sour cream (low fat)
2 cans Cream of chicken (98% fat free)
 about 1/2 cup Panko
1 package Whole wheat spaghetti pasta
about 1 TBSP thyme
about 1 1/2 tsp basil
Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top
Garlic salt, salt and pepper to taste.

In 9x13 casserole dish mix cream of chicken soup, sour cream, green pepper, spinach, spices, and herbs.

Add cut up chicken to mixture.

Cook noodles al dente, drain, and add to mixture.

Top with sliced mushrooms and a little parmesan (I only topped 3/4 because a few or my family members don't like them) and then top off with Panko.

Bake at 325 for about 20-30 minutes. Take out to cool about 5, then serve and enjoy!

A lot of this can be substituted or omitted, or feel free to add whatever you like. I just grabbed what I had. You don't have to use a left over rotisserie like I did, you can just buy one from the store already to go, or make it yourself if you have more time. Either way it was a hit with my trio of kiddos! (and the hubs who doesn't quite care for whole wheat noodles, and I'm not really even sure if he knew!)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Butternut Squash with Multi-grain Orzo

So, I am shopping at the grocery store looking for something new to make my family (I love introducing new foods)  So, I drive my cart by the produce isle, looking, and I see a butternut squash. I think for a sec, have I really not made butternut squash for my family? Nope, sure haven't.

The hubs (and sometimes the kids) and I have been doing the "Insanity" workout for about three weeks now. We have finally gotten to where we are doing it earlier in the day, (opposed to late at night before bed, after dinner...yeah, not the best idea, but hey we were dedicated!) One of the hardest parts of this program is they want you to eat like 5-6 times a day (small meals) to help your metabolism (which seemed non-existent for me for so long!) Funny enough, I forget to eat half the time or am so busy, it has been a task figuring it in my schedule to "eat".

So, we got done with our workout yesterday, the fam took off to softball practice, and I grabbed the butternut squash  I bought the other day and got to work. See, for me at least, once I work out that hard, I just want something light to eat. I have made sauteed butternut squash before, but wasn't sure how my family would respond to it. They are open to trying new things, as since they were little my rule was they always had to try something, if they didn't like it, they didn't have to eat it, BUT you never knew unless you tried it!

Sauteed Butternut Squash with Multi-grain Orzo

One large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
Olive oil (maybe about 2 TBSP)
Thyme (about 1/2 TBSP)
Rosemary (about 1/2 TBSP)
Minced Garlic ( 2+ TBSP)
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
Hormel Real bacon pieces (totally add to your own taste!)

Pour olive oil in saute pan with cubes of squash, and toss to coat. Cook over med-high heat and add spices/herbs, stirring occasionally until tender. If you choose to include, add bacon pieces the last 5 minutes. The squash was our main dish so I decided to add a little of the bacon pieces to kick it up a little. I love keeping the bacon pieces on hand, they have 50% less fat than regular bacon, and are super easy to throw into a dish if you need to kick it up a notch.

OK, I promise I will try to get better with my recipes, but this is hard, most of the time when cooking I don't measure. (not like with baking, that's usually very precise) It's all about throwing different spices and herbs together, tasting, adding more, tasting again, and adding whatever else is necessary for your flavor palate.
So above is what I put in this dish, just not 100% sure on the exact amounts, so I estimated, but again, just make it to your taste.

To make the meal complete I made Orzo, which is a variety of pasta shaped like grains of barley or rice and paired that with some brussel sprouts, and voila! I will say, my kids liked it too!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My first Quinceanera cake!

This was one cake that I was very nervous about, and was so relieved to be done. It was ALOT of cake, and ALOT of detail! I made the goblet with rice crispy treat and modeling chocolate. (which is now a new favorite of mine!!) If you make it right, it is awesome to use!! (needless to say my first batch, not so good!)
One thing though, I made a lot of the details with brown fondant, but the modeling chocolate was white, so when I went to paint the goblet it was a much brighter gold than the fondant details. I had initially worried about that, but thought it would be fine once painted, but apparently the Gold gloss did not cover it enough.
 I added a little brown color to the gold and it deepened the gold color. So, needless to say, next time I will just make dark modeling chocolate!

Now, a couple days after I had someone else come to me for a Quinceanera cake, but they want a fountain in it! Imagine that!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Conversation heart cupcakes :0)

Check out these cute cupcakes for someone special! I cut out little fondant hearts and wrote different messages on them with my food writer markers. A cute little "treat for your sweet" or anyone special!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Vegetable fried Quinoa

 I wrote earlier about Quinoa the other day, so for lunch yesterday I decided to make my own Vegetable Fried Quinoa.

I started cooking my quinoa according to directions, and while it was cooking I chopped up some carrot, onion, garlic, and green pepper. (totally wish I had some mushrooms!) I threw them on the grill and sauteed them for a bit. Towards the end I added some spinach leaves.

Once the quinoa is cooked  I add it to the vegetable mixture on the grill.

I beat on egg, and one egg white together and then poured it over top the quinoa mixture and using a large spatula, I fold and turn the mixture together until eggs are fully incorporated and cooked. I sprinkled some worcestershire sauce, a little salt and pepper, and Voila.....Vegetable fried Quinoa!

Now that was an awesome and delicious filling lunch, even my husband liked it! (and he isn't quite into anything whole grain, or that has a hint of healthy to it!)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Whats for breakfast....

So I'm hungry this morning, and I am craving something...oat-y, and slightly sweet. I found a granny smith apple and cored it.
I grabbed about a scant half cup of old fashioned oats. Oh, and by the way, old fashioned oats are a whole grain food that are high in fiber, which of course is great for you daily diet, and has been linked to a reduced risk diabetes, heart disease, and so on. So anyway you can incorporate them into your normal eating habits, get them in! 

I added 1 Tsp  of dark brown sugar  and 1 TBSP Agave Nectar (known for its low glycemic index) and mix them together.

I then put the apple in a large muffin liner, and stuffed it with the oat mixture, and let the excess drop around the apple,

Now, I suggest wrapping it up lightly in foil to give it somewhat of a steam effect. Pop it in the oven about 350 for 20-30 minutes depending on how soft you like your apple.

After baking, open it up.....grab a fork.....

And dig in!!!

It really is a yummy treat, but next time I will probably use a Gala apple, or honey crisp. The Granny smith apple was a little too tart for me with this particular mixture. But try it out, play with flavors, add some cinnamon or nutmeg. I love playing with my food, ya never know what you might come up with!

Monday, January 28, 2013


So like 3-4000 years ago the Incas realized this seed, called "Quinoa" was fit for human consumption, and was considered "the gold of the Incas"  because they believed it increased the stamina of their warriors. This is something I love to eat, and incorporate into mine and my family's diet as creatively as I can. (I even substituted in Gumbo for the rice, and it was soooo good!)

I am going to give you at least 7 good reasons you need to add this superfood to your diet.

1~ it contains twice as much fiber as most other grains (so many reasons why that is a good thing-weight loss, helps reduce risk of heart disease,  lowers cholesterol, and so on, google it, you will find more!)
2~Very rich in protein, (complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids)
3~Contains Iron (another great thing your body needs, google that one too)
4~Contains Lysine (helps with tissue growth and repair)
5~Rich in magnesium 
6~high in Riboflavin
7~high in manganese

PLUS Quinoa taste great! 

Check out this recipe I got from

Toasted Quinoa Salad with Scallops & Snow Peas

From: EatingWell
This scallop-studded quinoa salad gets an exciting texture from crunchy snow peas, red bell pepper and scallions. Feel free to substitute shrimp or thin slices of chicken for the scallops.
Servings: 6 servings, about 1 cup each
Prep: 50 mins
Total: 50 mins
12 ounces  dry sea scallops, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, or dry bay scallops (see Note)
4 teaspoons  reduced-sodium tamari, or soy sauce, divided
4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons  canola oil, divided
1 1/2 cups  quinoa, rinsed well (see Tip)
2 teaspoons  grated or minced garlic
3 cups  water
1 teaspoon  salt
1 cup  trimmed and diagonally sliced snow peas, (1/2 inch thick)
1/3 cup  rice vinegar
1 teaspoon  toasted sesame oil
1 cup  thinly sliced scallions
1/3 cup  finely diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup  finely chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
1. Toss scallops with 2 teaspoons tamari (or soy sauce) in a medium bowl. Set aside.
2. Place a large, high-sided skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil andquinoa. Cook, stirring constantly, until the quinoa begins to color, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add water and salt and bring to a boil. Stir once, cover and cook over medium heat until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. (Do not stir.) Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir in snow peas, cover and let stand for 5 minutes more.
3. Meanwhile, whisk 3 tablespoons canola oil, the remaining 2 teaspoons tamari (or soy sauce), vinegar and sesame oil in a large bowl. Add the quinoa and snow peas, scallions and bell pepper; toss to combine.
4. Remove the scallops from the marinade and pat dry. Heat a large skillet over medium-high until hot enough to evaporate a drop of water upon contact. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons canola oil and cook the scallops, turning once, until golden and just firm, about 2 minutes total. Gently stir the scallops into the quinoa salad. Serve garnished with cilantro, if desired.
Note: Be sure to buy "dry" scallops, which are scallops that have not been treated with sodium tripolyphosphate, or STP. Scallops that have been treated with STP ("wet" scallops) have been subjected to a chemical bath and are mushy, less flavorful and won't brown properly.
Tip: Quinoa is a delicately flavored, protein-rich grain. Rinsing removes any residue of saponin, quinoa's natural, bitter protective covering. Find it in natural-foods stores and the natural-foods sections of many supermarkets.
Calories 326, Total Fat 15 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Monounsaturated Fat 8 g, Cholesterol 19 mg, Sodium 713 mg, Carbohydrate 32 g, Fiber 4 g, Protein 16 g, Potassium 511 mg. Daily Values: Vitamin C 35%, Iron 15%. Exchanges: Starch 2,Lean Meat 1,Fat 2.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

you forgot the yeast?! what?!

Ok, so, I'm making King cake (which is a really big deal down here around this time) and I make the rich, smooth dough, and put it in the bowl to rise. I check it almost and hour later, and it hasn't budged, and I think, well, it is pretty cold in here, maybe I should put it in the proofer. I put it in the proofer and come back almost another hour later, and look at it, and yep, again, nothing! I start analyzing what I did when I was putting it together, and came to the realization I left out the yeast. Augh! So, this dough is sitting there, I don't want to waste it, and I think, hmmmm,....cookies???
I weighed out pieces about 2 oz each, and rolled each one out really thin. I sprinkled cinnamon/sugar mix all over the dough and rolled it up and twisted it up into a round shape like a regular king cake, and then just smashed it really flat. I sprinkled them with a little more cinnamon sugar and popped them in the oven. Instantly out of the oven I topped them with my King Cake glaze, sprinkled on purple, green, and yellow sugars, and voila! King cake cookies!!! Taste good, smell good, look good, and all done by accident :0)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Did you say "Bacon Cupcakes" ?...

Yes, Yes, I know it has been forever since I have sat down to post, and well this one is going to be a quickie, but I have to get started again somehow. I'm going to start with something not really on the healthy side, but ohhhh so delicious. I got a phone call the other day for some "bacon cupcakes". So what did I do, I made some bacon cupcakes. Chocolate cake, maple butter cream, and candied bacon sprinkled on top! You might need to run extra on the treadmill for these babies, but they are so worth it. Take a look at these!

If you want to try your hand at candied bacon, try this easy two ingredient recipe:
(oh, and definitely eat in moderation, don't even try to make more than a few pieces, because trust me, you will not be able to resist eating them all!)

Line a small pan with foil.
lay out a few pieces of bacon.
Coat one side with brown sugar, then turn over and coat the other side with brown sugar.
Bake about 10 minutes (my convection I set about 325)
Take out, turn over, and bake another 5 minutes.
Take out turn over again, and another 5 minutes.
Keep doing this process until it is done to your liking.
When done, take out of hot pan and lay out on a piece of clean parchment to cool.