Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sweets n Treats by Stephanie

I don’t think I told you guys about my first – and only so far – honest-to-goodness paying cupcake gig. 


Heather asked me to make cupcakes for her coworker’s baby shower and I was more than happy to oblige.  I would’ve done it for free, but Heather insisted on reimbursing me for supplies with a few bucks thrown in for my time.


I figured I needed to package the cupcakes up in a pretty way so I made labels and wrapped some purple ribbon around the box.


I swirled light blue and white frosting on these cupcakes and they looked okay, but I probably should’ve just gone with the single color.  I got the swirled cupcakes for the shower all wrapped up before I thought to take pictures so what I have here are the extras in all blue.


The mom-to-be requested lemon cupcakes and I used this recipe.  I had a box of Duncan Hines Lemon Cake Mix on hand just in case these didn’t turn out, but they were pretty tasty so luckily I didn’t need to whip up another batch.


I’m certainly not planning to quit my day job, but as long as I have the time, I’m happy to do baking-by-request on the side (you know, as long as it doesn’t interfere with my just-because baking).


{Recipe here}

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Subway Wednesday

Sorry, guys, I don’t have anything for you today.  I had a hair appointment after work yesterday then made it to the Y for my Tuesday-night muscle workout so it was almost 8:30 before I got home.  By the time I made and ate my scrambled eggs, showered, packed my gym bag, and pick out today’s clothes, it was 9:45 and time for snacks (almonds and an orange) and a little TV.

As predicted, we had rain ALL DAY yesterday.  What a gross day.  But today should be the complete opposite: full of sunshine and warming up to about 60.

Sunny, 60, and Subway for lunch.  Yep, Hump Day should shape up to be pretty nice.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

{Recipe Recap} Banana Poppy Seed Quinoa Muffins

I’ve been posting a lot of treats lately, but I swear that I haven’t fallen off the Wellness Wagon.  I made that jambalaya, and in an effort to use up a ripe banana in a way I’d actually eat more of than just a bite, I decided to try these muffins

I wasn’t sure how these were going to turn out, but I was willing to take a chance on them.  I figured they were either going to be surprisingly good or really, really terrible.


Turns out, they weren’t really either but thank goodness they were more the former than the latter.


Since the recipe calls for the banana to be diced up rather than mashed and added to the batter, I think if I made these again I’d actually use two bananas.


Also, I think some cinnamon would go a long way.  Actually, some cinnamon CHIPS would go even further, but that’d kinda go directly against my reasoning for baking these muffins.


If you aren’t sure that quinoa’s for you, trying it baked in muffins or cookies might be the way to go.  But I wouldn’t make these unless you know you like quinoa because they definitely lean to the healthy-tasting side.


You know what I think these muffins would be perfect for?  Young palates that haven’t had much sugar or many overly sweet foods.  So for those of you with toddlers, I would recommend making these muffins for them.


Oh, and a word of advice: If you do decide to make these, skip the liners and just grease your muffin pan. The liner wanted to stick to the muffins so that you couldn’t eat portions of them without ingesting some paper.

Some of you may want to know how these break down.  I got 16 muffins from the recipe and MFP told me they had 148 calories and 4 grams of protein.

{Recipe here}

Monday, February 25, 2013

{Recipe Recap} Frosted German Chocolate-Caramel Brownie Bars

Happy Monday!  We had a Sunday full of sun and 60-degree temps, a very nice change of pace from what Mother Nature has been gracing us with lately.  Unfortunately it looks like we’re due for more clouds and rain today and tomorrow.


But enough about something I have no control over.  Let’s talk about the McMom’s second birthday treat.


The McMom suggested a treat that had a pretzel crust so I kept that in mind.  She prefers German chocolate, which is milder than semi-sweet, and that’s how I decided on Caramel Chocolate Brownies, which used a German chocolate cake mix to make the brownies.


And I couldn’t leave well enough alone.  Four layers just wasn’t enough; these bars needed the best brownie frosting on top.


Personally, I was very happy with how these bars came together.  The crust was a complementary change of texture and taste from the chocolate and caramel, and it was thick enough to have an impact under all the layers.  I think I used only 6 ounces or so of pecans and made up the remainder in graham cracker crumbs.


If you need something a little nicer than just regular old brownies, consider this treat.  It really didn’t require much more work, but it turns out pretty impressive both in looks and flavor.


I mean, really, how can you resist all those layers?


Before I wrap up, here’s a quick peek behind the scenes at my assistant.


{Crust recipe adapted from here}

{Brownie recipe}


Friday, February 22, 2013


I have another healthy recipe to share (and one VERY unhealthy treat to balance the McUniverse), but as of Thursday night at 9:45 when I sat down to write today’s post, I was out of steam.

After the Y, I came home to get some dairy-free cupcakes for Olivia in the oven and finish up my Oreo Truffle Brownies.  You can see the results of those efforts over there in my Instagram photos. 

Oh, you were looking for the treats?  I meant my sink full of dirty dishes.

I’m off to Asheboro today to meet my mom, sisters, and the kids for a Chick Fil A lunch then spend the afternoon at one of those indoor playground places.  We’re celebrating Olivia’s second birthday.  Given today’s forecast, it’s a good thing we were already planning to be inside.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

P.S. Since her birthday falls on Sunday, I need to send a shout-out to the McMom – Happy Birthday!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

{Recipe Recap} Slow Cooker Jambalaya

I’m going to interrupt the sweets-athon I’ve been on lately to bring you real food.  And not just real food, but something delicious and healthy.


And the best part?  Other than minimal chopping and slicing prior to dumping everything into the crockpot, it practically made itself!


I used the Al Fresco Smoky Andouille Chicken Sausage to help keep this on a healthy track.  I sliced all four links and even cut some of those slices in half just to make sure there was enough sausage throughout the dish.  Since the sausage is precooked, I added it about an hour before the jambalaya was due to be done.


Then with half an hour to go, I added a 12-oz bag of extra small frozen shrimp.  With chicken, sausage, and shrimp, this jambalaya was chock full of healthy protein.


The amount of spice was just right for the McHusband and me.  Not so spicy as to overtake the flavor of the jambalaya as a whole, but enough to have some kick.  I’d say if you’re sensitive to heat in your food, cut the cayenne pepper back to half a teaspoon.

Oh, and check out my bowl.


Serves double-duty as a soup container and hand warmer.  Perfect for the cold weather we’ve been having lately.

If you’re interested, this made 12 cups of jambalaya.  Calculated with my 1.45 lb of chicken, my package of sausage, and my 12 ounces of shrimp, each one-cup serving had 145 calories and 23 grams of protein.  Not too shabby.

The McHusband and I both recommend this.  I served it over some orzo pasta the first night, then ate my leftovers over some quinoa.  Both options were excellent.

{Recipe here}

P.S.  Happy birthday to my niece, Olivia, who turns 2 today.  Can’t wait to celebrate her big day in person tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Neighborhood watch

Sometimes, as I walk around downstairs, I feel like I’m being watched.



Emma pretends she isn’t peeping.


But we both know the truth.



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

{Recipe Recap} Maraschino Cherry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

I knew the McMom liked the cherry-almond combination so I chose these cookies as one of her birthday treats.  Not only did the flavor suit my needs, but  I appreciated Averie’s explanation of why she chose cake flour and its effect on how the cookies should turn out so I wanted to see that for myself.


The McHusband said these were the best cookies I’ve ever made.  I will have to beg to differ.  However, I did really like their texture – they were thick and chewy.


And how pretty are they with with the cherries?


The recipe calls for 1.5 teaspoons of vanilla.  I went with 1 teaspoon of vanilla and half a teaspoon of almond extract, a very smart adaptation if I do say so myself.


The McHusband wants me to make these again but with even more cherries.  I think I can probably make that happen.


{Recipe here}

Monday, February 18, 2013

The McMom’s fake birthday

The McHusband and I braved the snow on Saturday in order to celebrate the McMom’s birthday a little early.  It’s actually on the 24th but there was an art show this weekend that she wanted to go to.



We went to Fearrington Village and had lunch at The Granary.  I ordered the Chickpea Falafel Burger, which was quite tasty and very filling.  I ate it low-carb style with a fork; even if I wasn’t worried about slashing a few calories, I’m not sure I could’ve eaten it as a burger because it simply would’ve been too much.


After lunch, we wandered through a folk art show that was in The Barn.  All in all, it wasn’t too impressive, but I did like this creepy rocking horse.


Another interesting “installment” was the bottle tree.



Guess what?  I’m not working today!  Gotta love President’s Day.  For those of you who are working, though, I’m sorry I didn’t give you your spoonful of sugar today.  But I’ll be back tomorrow with at least one of the birthday treats I made for the McMom.

Friday, February 15, 2013

{Recipe Recap} Brown Butter Double Chocolate Cookies

One last treat for this Valentine week.  I made these at the same time as the White Chocolate Macadamia Toffee Cookies, which even the chocolate lovers preferred.  I think it’s just because the chocolate cookies were very chocolate but not overly sweet.


I loved how puffy the cookies were.  They had good texture: crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.


And then there’s the sprinkling of kosher salt on top.  Some people, like Heather, don’t love the sweet and salty combo, but I think it’s pretty much perfection in edible form.


This dough was fairly dry so I ended up mixing in probably half a cup of Kahlua to add moisture to the dough.  You couldn’t taste it, but I think it was a much smarter decision than adding water or milk.


Are these my ideal chocolate cookies?  Nah.  But I’m not sorry I made and ate them.


I hope you all spent Valentine’s Day with at least one person that you love.  If you check out my Instagram pics over there ----------->, you’ll see the beautiful mini rose bush and chocolates the McHusband sent to me, and the “martinis” I made us to go with the steak dinner the McHusband was grilling when I got home from the Y. I used raspberries instead of strawberries; the drink was pretty good but I would like to try it with strawberries.  Like I told some friends – with so much fruit in it, this drink was practically a smoothie!

I love you, McHusband!  Thank you for all your thoughtfulness yesterday.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

{Recipe Recap} Peanut Butter Pudding Cookies (with a secret ingredient)

I had no reason for making these cookies other than they looked scrumptious, and I had a little something in my pantry that I thought would make a good mix-in for them.  I decided to use peanut butter chips rather than the peanut butter M&Ms because I didn’t want to have leftover M&Ms laying around begging to be eaten.


As for my secret ingredient?  I crumbled some Peanut Butter Toast Crunch and stirred that into the dough.


The cereal stayed a little crunchy and the cookies were very soft so it was a nice juxtaposition of textures.


And see the flakes of salt on top of the cookie?  I like salty and sweet together so I sprinkled some kosher salt on top of these.  But you know what?  I never tried one with the salt, but I didn’t hear any complaints.


I made several batches of these cookies in my whoopie pie pan so they were bigger than your usual cookie, but not so big that you felt gluttonous eating just one.


These weren’t a traditional peanut butter cookie with that crispy exterior giving way to a chewy interior, and there were no fork lines to be seen.  They were soft like those soft batch cookies certain elves make, but I’d venture to guess that they were better than something you can buy at Food Lion.


If you’re a fan of all things peanut butter, whip up a batch of these cookies.  You won’t be sorry.  Unless you eat too many of these irresistible cookies, that is.

{Recipe here}