2-Ingredient Pancakes {Weight Watchers friendly!}

This will be the shortest recipe post ever…b/c it’s seriously just 2 ingredients. Or if you are like me and have to add stuff…maybe 3. So, we could spend some time discussing twerking, and how it was added to the Oxford dictionary. Seriously?! I didn’t know the “dance” had a name. Or we could discuss how Miley Cyrus apparently has made the word famous by her embarrassingly ridiculous performance on the MTV Music Video Awards. Or we can just cringe and hope all that goes away very soon. I’m sure my girls have already watched in on YouTube. *shudder*

 Yeah, let’s move on before everyone loses their appetite. And, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, then just Google it or get on Twitter b/c it’s (unfortunately) errrywhere.  Poor Billy Ray.
Speaking of everywhere, I’ve spotted this recipe on Pinterest many times, but was first inspired to give it a go after seeing it at My Kitchen Adventures. Something this simple, and being so low in points was something I had to try. Even though I don’t like bananas. Yep, one of the two ingredients is bananas, but I decided to give it a go anyway. (Because I was really wanting pancakes but didn’t want to use up a half a day’s points on them!)
All you need is a ripe banana, 2 eggs, and a blender (or food processor). I also added cinnamon to help cover up the banana flavor 🙂

2-Ingredient Pancakes

1 ripe banana
2 eggs
cinnamon (optional)
Blend ingredients until smooth in a blender or food processor.
Pour onto a heated, greased/sprayed griddle or skillet.
Cook until it appears almost set, then flip and finish cooking on the other side.
Serve with choice of toppings. I used sugar free maple syrup. I got 6 pancakes from this batch and calculated it as 4 points. If you use Egg-Beaters, the points would be even lower!
Notes: 
  • Yes, these taste like bananas. However, I think adding a little more spice and some nuts would make it more of a banana nut bread flavor, which I would be okay with (of course, nuts add points if you are doing Weight Watchers).
  • I think I would also like them with chocolate chips (duhhh!)
  • These are very thin pancakes, but you can eat SIX without guilt 🙂
  • I personally prefer the texture better after they cooled a bit – less egg-y, sponge-y.
  • They could be used like a crepe, and wrap things in them.
  • I tried this with pumpkin instead of banana and it didn’t work well..however, I think it’s doable, I just have to play with it. If you try it and it works, let me know.
  • Even though I didn’t love them, I would make them again. Maybe with chocolate chips a blueberry topping.
Anyone else out there dieting? Does it suck for you too? Actually Weight Watchers really hasn’t been too bad. I’ve been doing it for several weeks now and I’m down 13 lbs. I’d like to lose 9 more. My pants today are baggy, so it’s worth it 🙂
I may be linking up at any of the following – (Monday) The Tumbleweed ContessaThe Dedicated HouseHomemaker on a DimeSkip to my LouMaking the World CuterI Should Be Mopping the FloorThis Gal CooksWatch Out, Martha!Huckleberry LoveThe Newlyweds PilgrimageSowdering About in SeattleCraft and Repeat (Tuesday) Naptime CreationsMandy’s Recipe BoxLove in the Kitchen, Memories By the Mile,Inside BruCrew LifeSarah Lynn’s SweetsBeBetsy and VMG206Twinkling Trees , Anyonita Nibbles (Wednesday) Fluster BusterMostly Homemade MomAdorned from AboveLady Behind the CurtainGinger Snap CraftsNaptime is My TimeThe Real Thing with The Coake FamilyTessa the Domestic Diva  (Thursday) Project Inspire ,Joyful HomemakingDesigned DecorMiz Helen’s Country CottageThe Mandatory Mooch,   Lamberts Lately (Friday) Not Your Ordinary Recipes,  Simple Living and EatingJust Us FourBacon Time with the Hungry Hungry HypoDiana RamblesThe Better Baker,CraftionaryOne Artsy MamaThe Best Blog RecipesOne Creative Mommy, Michelle’s Tasty CreationsClose to Home30 Handmade DaysA Peek Into My Paradise,The Jenny Evolution Walking on SunshineVintage Chic (Saturday)  Or So She Says…Six Sisters’ StuffIt’s OverflowingMade from Pinterest (Sunday) Mommy’s Sweet ConfessionsWho Needs a Cape?Sweet 2 Eat Baking;

Super Skinny Chocolate Muffins {copycat Vitatops}

If ya don’t like chocolate, you’re at the wrong place today (and uhhh, how are we friends? Just kidding.) I know there are some people who just don’t care for chocolate. Some of these people even share my same genetic pool. I truly don’t understand it. Anyway…these are for the chocolate fans out there. Especially the chocolate fans who loooove chocolate, but don’t necessarily care to wear their fat pants on a daily basis. These be some skinny muffins. Pinky swear.
and yes, I ate both of these as soon as I took the picture.
Super Skinny Chocolate Muffins {copycat Vita Tops}
Ingredients:
  • 1 3/4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (I used Hershey’s Dark)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (I used cinnamon, b/c it’s all we had!)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (or regular plain yogurt)
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup hot water (I think coffee could be used here too)
  • 1/2 cup sugar or sugar substitute (I used half Splenda and half xylitol) Update: I prefer to use half stevia or xylitol and half real sugar. 
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray (or use cupcake liners).
  • Using a food processor (or a blender), blend all of the ingredients together except for the chocolate chips. Blend until oats are ground and mixture is smooth. (Note: grinding oats first, before adding other ingredients may make it easier to get a smooth consistency. I still had a few pieces of oats, but I was fine with that.)
  • Pour mixture into prepared muffin pans. These aren’t going to rise a lot, so you can fill them pretty full for larger muffins, or about half to 2/3rds for the traditional VitaTop look. Add a few chocolate chips to each muffin cup (about half of them) to ensure each muffin has chips in it. (If you add them to the batter bowl, they all just sink to the bottom.) The other half of the chips will be added to the tops in the next step. If you don’t want any on top, add them all now.
  • Place muffin tins in the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove from oven and distribute the other half of the chocolate chips on top of each muffin. This just makes them look all pretty and like VitaTops.
  • Place the muffins back into the oven and bake for an additional 2-5 minutes (mine took 5-7), or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Source: Lady’s Little Loves

 We got 12 decent sized muffins for 3 points plus each. I think next time I will make them smaller. I haven’t had Vita Top muffins in a while, but from what I remember, these are pretty darn close. I thought they were good, and my kids thought they were okay, but not great…but they don’t have to worry about fat pants and 41 year old metabolisms. ugh. This recipe also does not contain flour, so I’m assuming could easily be made gluten free.



Thanks to DIY Vintage Chic for featuring this recipe!

DIY Vintage Chic


I may be linking up at any of the following – (Monday) The Tumbleweed ContessaThe Dedicated HouseHomemaker on a DimeSkip to my LouMaking the World CuterI Should Be Mopping the FloorThis Gal CooksWatch Out, Martha!Huckleberry LoveThe Newlyweds PilgrimageSowdering About in SeattleCraft and Repeat (Tuesday) Naptime CreationsMandy’s Recipe BoxLove in the Kitchen, Memories By the Mile,Inside BruCrew LifeSarah Lynn’s SweetsBeBetsy and VMG206Twinkling Trees , Anyonita Nibbles (Wednesday) Fluster BusterMostly Homemade MomAdorned from AboveLady Behind the CurtainGinger Snap CraftsNaptime is My TimeThe Real Thing with The Coake FamilyTessa the Domestic Diva  (Thursday) Project Inspire ,Joyful HomemakingDesigned DecorMiz Helen’s Country CottageThe Mandatory Mooch,   Lamberts LatelyThe Girl Creative (Friday) Not Your Ordinary Recipes,  Simple Living and EatingJust Us FourBacon Time with the Hungry Hungry HypoDiana RamblesThe Better Baker,CraftionaryOne Artsy MamaThe Best Blog RecipesOne Creative Mommy, Michelle’s Tasty CreationsClose to Home30 Handmade DaysA Peek Into My Paradise,The Jenny Evolution Walking on Sunshine, Vintage Chic (Saturday)  Or So She Says…Six Sisters’ StuffIt’s OverflowingMade from Pinterest (Sunday) Mommy’s Sweet ConfessionsWho Needs a Cape?Sweet 2 Eat Baking;

Healthier Blueberry Breakfast Cake

I really, really wanted blueberry muffins or blueberry breakfast cake one morning, but I also wanted something a little healthier AND I wanted to experiment with a new recipe. I searched my breakfast board, and found this pin from Oh She Glows and decided to turn it into a cake instead of mini muffins, because I’m lazy like that. The end result was quite delicious, especially with some of my Skinny Homemade Lemon Curd on top!

Healthier Blueberry Breakfast Cake

adapted from Whole Wheat Blueberry Breakfast Muffins from Oh She Glows
1 cup milk of choice (I used Blue Diamond Unsweetened Almond-Coconut)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 whole wheat flour
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup oil (I used 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil + 1/8 cup coconut oil)
1/2 cup maple syrup (I used 1/4 cup maple syrup + 1/4 cup sugar free maple syrup)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1-1/2 cup fresh blueberries
Cinnamon Streusel topping
2 tablespoons Turbinado (‘raw’) sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons butter (I used Smart Balance Light)
2 teaspoons flour
handful of rolled oats
sprinkle of chopped walnuts (about 1/4-1/3 cup)
pinch salt.
  • Preheat oven to 375 F
  • Lightly spray an 8×8 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray
  • In a small bowl, mix together the milk and apple cider vinegar, set aside.
  • In a medium size bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (from flax to salt in ingredient list)
  • In a your small bowl with the milk, whisk in the remaining wet ingredients (oil, syrup, extracts).
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined.
  • Gently fold in blueberries.
  • Pour batter into prepared baking dish.
  • Mix topping ingredients together and sprinkle over the top.
  • Bake for approx 30-35 minutes (sorry, I forgot to write down how long it took to bake!), but check around the 25 minute mark and go from there. The cake should slowly spring back when pressed, and the middle set (I actually undercooked mine and the middle wasn’t quite done).
  • Cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.
This was really moist and plenty sweet with the topping added. I really enjoyed it with warm lemon curd drizzled on top.
For the lemon curd, I made a couple of small changes since my last post….
Egg Free Lemon Curd
1/2 cup unsweetened almond coconut milk
1/4 cup heavy cream half and half
3/4 cup lemon juice (combo of meyer lemon juice that I had frozen and bottled lemon juice)
4 3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
lemon zest (from squeezed lemons)
 

I followed the same heating instructions listed in this post. The only difference was that the lemon curd was more tart with the addition of the bottled lemon juice. However, it worked great with the sweetness of the blueberry cake. Ohhh, how I wish I had some right now!

This recipe was featured! Check it out at Twinkling Trees.

I was featured on Twinkling Trees
 
I may be linking up at any of the following – (Monday) The Tumbleweed ContessaThe Dedicated HouseHomemaker on a DimeSkip to my LouMaking the World CuterI Should Be Mopping the FloorThis Gal CooksWatch Out, Martha!Huckleberry LoveThe Newlyweds PilgrimageSowdering About in Seattle, Craft and Repeat (Tuesday) Naptime CreationsMandy’s Recipe BoxLove in the Kitchen, Memories By the Mile,Inside BruCrew LifeSarah Lynn’s SweetsBeBetsy and VMG206Twinkling Trees , Anyonita Nibbles (Wednesday) Fluster BusterMostly Homemade MomAdorned from AboveLady Behind the CurtainGinger Snap CraftsNaptime is My TimeThe Wilderness WifeThe Real Thing with The Coake Family, Tessa the Domestic Diva  (Thursday) Project Inspire ,Joyful HomemakingDesigned DecorMiz Helen’s Country CottageThe Mandatory Mooch,  The Busy Bee’s, Lamberts Lately, The Girl Creative (Friday) Not Your Ordinary Recipes,  Simple Living and EatingJust Us FourBacon Time with the Hungry Hungry HypoDiana RamblesThe Better Baker,CraftionaryOne Artsy MamaThe Best Blog RecipesOne Creative Mommy, Michelle’s Tasty CreationsClose to Home30 Handmade DaysA Peek Into My Paradise,The Jenny Evolution Walking on Sunshine(Saturday) Lemons for Lulu,  Or So She Says…Six Sisters’ StuffIt’s OverflowingMade from Pinterest (Sunday) Mommy’s Sweet ConfessionsWho Needs a Cape?Sweet 2 Eat Baking; Gooseberry Patch Blog

{egg free} Lemon Curd

I L-O-V-E me some lemon curd.  Creamy, sweet, tart, lemon-y deliciousness. Of course, as with most things I adore, it isn’t all that good for you. I have wanted to try an egg free version for a while, and I have to say, I was quite pleased with my first attempt at homemade lemon curd! I guess I should point out, this version isn’t healthy either, it’s just eggless. Oh well..can’t win them all.

Egg Free Lemon Curd

adapted from Expendablepolo
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup heavy cream (can also use Half and Half creamer)
3/4 cup lemon juice (I used meyer lemons)
4 tablespoons cornstarch (Update: I now make this with 3 Tablespoons)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
lemon zest (from squeezed lemons *optional)

Zest lemons (about 3 large or 5 Meyers – depending on size), then juice.
Whisk together lemon juice, almond milk, cream, cornstarch, and sugar in a medium saucepan.
Continue to whisk while heating on high heat until mixture is hot, but not boiling.
Reduce heat to medium, and whisk until mixture thickens.
Once it has thickened, remove from heat and add vanilla and lemon zest.
Remove from saucepan immediately and allow to cool. Once cool, store in refrigerator in a sealed container.
I used some of mine to make these…Blueberry Muffins with Lemon Curd, which I have deemed the best muffins ever. I love, love, love them. 
The muffins pictured above were made with store bought lemon curd (with eggs)…you can see how it is much more yellow, but other than that, the flavor was very close.  The only thing about my homemade version, is once it was refrigerated, it got thick and pasty/lumpy looking. I am guessing due to all the cornstarch? But it still tasted delicious and when heated in the muffins, it was nice and smooth.  I will definitely be making my own lemon curd again!

My Experience with The Fast Metabolism Diet

You may have seen or heard about a new book The Fast Metabolism Diet by Haylie Pomroy.  She was recently on the Dr. Oz show and is a celebrity nutritionist to stars like Reese Witherspoon (Do you know who I am?!), Jennifer Lopez and Robert Downey Jr. The book claims that you can lose up to 20 pounds in 28 days…without starving, without counting calories, and without crazy exercise.  The cover says ‘eat more food, lose more weight’.

 

Fact or Fiction?

Welllll….it’s true that you do not have to count calories, you do not have to workout everyday, and you do eat 3 meals and 2 snacks a day.  {But}You also must go without caffeine (she doesn’t even want you to have decaf coffee and tea since it contains a little caffeine.  She suggests water and naturally decaffeinated herbal teas), wheat, sugar (except from fruit) and dairy – and no artificial sweeteners either, except for stevia.  You need to drink lots and lots of water too.

(Tuna and apple salad. Recipe from book)

You eat real food, all day, every day...but they must be the correct portions.  I learned that my concept of portions is very wrong. You must make sure that you are having 1/2 to 1 cup of grains (depending on the phase you are in), 4 ounces of meat or 6 ounces of fish, 1/4 cup nuts or 2 T. almond butter on Phase 3….these all seemed normal to me. No problem.  Except when I actually started to measure stuff out.  4 ounces of meat….not very much.  2 T. of almond butter?  Scant.  NO caffeine? Lord help me.

The phases I am referring too…the diet is broken down into 3 phases.  Phase 1 last for 2 days and consists of mainly carbohydrates from fruits and whole grains (brown rice/quinoa/steel cut oats etc.). Phase 2 is also for 2 days, and is low carb and low fat. This was definitely the hardest phase for me. You have to eat lean proteins (egg whites, lean meats) and lots of veggies.  Phase 3 is the best, and it lasts for 3 days. During Phase 3, you get to have carbs, whole grains, and healthy fats (think avocado and nuts!). Here again, portion control is key.

So how did I fair?  The diet is a 28 day program.  Honestly, I lasted 9 days.  I blame it on Mother Nature. Not PMS, but the stupid weather! It turned cold and rainy, after being 80’s and sunny, and on the 3rd day of rain and grey skies…I broke.  I was cold and miserable and had a cup of coffee.  Now, that shouldn’t have totally derailed me, but I have that mentality of…’well, I already screwed up by drinking that coffee, I guess I will have some crackers.’ Then later in the evening, I was like ‘well, I’ve really messed up now, so I might as well have some chocolate too.’  And just like that….I was off the wagon.  And now I am kicking myself for being so weak! In the first week, I lost 6 POUNDS! I was losing a POUND A DAY for the first week, but then it slowed down.  I knew it would, but when the scale was only decreasing by .2 for 3 days, that also led to my destruction.  Again, stupid on my part…I should have stuck with it.  The scale was going down, even if in small amounts.  Here are my stats for the 9 days…

6 lbs lost
Inches lost – 
1/4″ loss on arm
1 1/2″ from belly
1″ from butt
1/2″ from thigh
1/4″ from calf

That’s in just 9 days! I can’t believe I quit.  SO…my plan is to start again. I’ve already loaned the book to my sister, but there is a great app that I used on my iPad everyday. (It was offered free of charge by SheSpeaks, but I had already purchased it on my own.)

Fabulous blueberry oatmeal smoothie with avocado!

It is great for planning your meals, tracking your food and water, and planning is the KEY to success with this.

(steel cut oats with blueberries and cherries)

The more meals you have prepped and planned for, the greater the likelihood to succeed.  I would recommend getting some meals in the freezer before ever starting the diet (frozen oatmeal, however, not so good!), and stock up on your favorite veggies. If you like vegetables, you will probably do great with this. If you prefer wine, cheese and chocolate like me…well, it’s going to take will power! I would say this diet is similar to the Whole 30 diet, except there are specific phases that you follow.

Basically, it’s no miracle – you eat real food, in the correct amounts, drink water, and exercise at least 3 days a week. Even though there is the app, I would still recommend reading the book before starting.  The book goes into what to expect each week, mentally and physically.  She is pretty dead on with what you will experience, and backs up her plan with facts that made a lot of sense.

I also learned a lot, just in the brief time I followed the plan.  One, I definitely need to keep drinking water. I can tell a difference in my {gross!}cellulite on the back of my thighs – it was very much improved and I think the weight loss helped, but the water I think was a large part of it too.  Two, I need to continue incorporating whole foods into my diet and stay away from the processed junk!! I am continuing with the sprouted wheat bread that Haylie recommends, and found that I really like gluten free rice crackers.  My dairy weakness is cheese and yogurt, but I have decreased my families consumption of cheese.  I was already drinking almond milk, and I will continue with that.  Hopefully, when I tackle this program again, I will be more organized and ready for it.  The whole point of following the plan for the full 28 days is to “re-set” your metabolism, and turn your body into a fat burning machine 🙂 That’s exactly what I need!

Learn more by checking out The Fast Metabolism website, following on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I’ve also got a Fast Metabolism Diet Pinterest board if you want to check out some of the recipes I’ve got pinned.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/FastMetabolismDiet. I received the book free of charge to review. All content is my own.

Linking up with Mums Make Lists

Low Carb Pizza Crust (that you can pick up, hold and fold!)

I’m not a newbie to low carb, and I’ve experimented with different low carb pizza crusts before. There was the egg and cream cheese crust and a previous cauliflower pizza crust attempt. The cauliflower crust had potential, so I decided to give it another try after I saw ‘The Secret to Perfect Cauliflower Pizza Crust‘ by The Detoxinista.  The key, she said, was to really squeeze all the liquid from the cauliflower before mixing your other ingredients.  I gave it a try.

Tip: Make your crust thicker than you think you need bc it will flatten out quite a bit once cooked (because of the moisture drying out.)  Once you bake your crust, add toppings and bake a few more minutes.
We had a little meat lover’s action going on.
But check it out!  Low carb pizza that you can pick up, hold, and fold, just like regular pizza!  Pretty cool.
It is also pretty tasty.  The only thing I will do differently next time is to add more spices to the crust.  The cauliflower has a little natural sweetness to it once baked, so I think adding more spices would help.

 Cauliflower Pizza Crust 

adapted from The Detoxinista – my changes in italics
{makes 1 large crust}

4 cups raw cauliflower ‘rice’*
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon basil
pinch of salt

*pulse cauliflower in a blender or food processor to achieve a rice-like consistency

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 F.
  2. Cook your cauliflower ‘rice’ by boiling about an inch of water in a large pot.  Add the cauliflower, and cover. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, then drain with a fine-mesh strainer.
  3. Place your drained cauliflower ‘rice’ on a clean, thin dishtowel. Wrap up the steamed rice in the dishtowel, twist it up, and squeeze all the water out! This is the key to having a crust that will hold together! Be careful, the cauliflower and water is hot, but squeeze it good (rubber gloves are handy for this step!)
  4. In a large bowl, mix your strained rice with the beaten egg, cheese, and spices. Mix well.
  5. Press the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or sprayed aluminum foil (mine still stuck to the foil a little, but not bad) into your desired pizza shape. Keep it about 1/3 to 1/2 inch in thickness.
  6. Bake crust for 35-40 mins in preheated oven. The crust should be firm and golden brown when done.
  7. Remove crust from oven and add toppings of choice.  I used pizza sauce, turkey pepperoni, turkey sausage, Canadian bacon, and real bacon bits, and cheese, of course!  Return the pizza to the oven, and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is hot and bubbly.
 **There are excellent step by step pics in the original post.

 

Olive Garden Copycat Zuppa Toscana – Lightened Up!

Oh yes! The perfect cold weather comfort food. I mean seriously, this is the food version of a warm, fuzzy blanket in front of a blazing fire when it is snowing outside, with a cup of hot cocoa in hand.  Which almost describes my weekend, seeing as how our downstairs heating unit went out this week…so we spent a lot of time huddled up in the living room in front of the fireplace, b/c for whatever reason, it takes a week for the part to come in.  These heat people need to get with the program, I mean helloooo?  What about over night delivery?!  Anyway.  That’s a gripe for another day.  This soup is so warm and comforting, it will make you forget about the frigid temps.
Not only is it delicious, it’s also pretty good for you, thanks to reducing the cream and a good amount of the superfood, kale!  Yes, under all that cream and sausage, there has been a leafy green hiding.  Even better, these changes were made without sacrificing the flavor we know and love from this very popular soup.
I’ve had a few friends waiting patiently for me to get this recipe posted since I put a pic on FB the other day, so here goes!

Olive Garden Copycat Zuppa Toscana – lightened up!

 adapted from Food.com 
1 lb Italian Chicken Sausage (see notes)
3 medium baking potatoes, with skins (1/8 to 1/4 inch slices-see notes)
1 large chopped onion
1/8-1/4 cup bacon bits (optional)
2 cloves minced garlic
2 1/2 (packed) cups kale, stalks removed and chopped
16 oz. chicken broth
1 quart water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup fat free half and half
1/4 cup skim milk
 
NOTES: 
  • I used Spicy Chipotle Chicken Sausage b/c that is what I had on hand.  Hot Italian Chicken Sausage would be excellent however.
  • Slicing the potatoes in varying widths helps add texture to the soup. The very thinly sliced potatoes ‘dissolve’ into the broth, making it thicker and creamier.
  • I used a 1/2 cup heavy cream b/c I happened to have some leftover from another recipe, however, next time, I will only use half-and-half and milk. Cream is delicious, but not really necessary, and will reduce the fat even more by leaving it out.
Directions
Remove sausage from casings and cook in a large pot over medium high heat until done.
 Remove sausage, add onions, and cook on medium heat until translucent.
Add garlic to onions and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds or so).
Add sausage back to pot, then add broth and water.
Bring to a boil, and add potatoes.
Cook on medium high until potatoes are done.
Add bacon bits to soup if using.  I used about an 1/8 cup of Hormel Peppered Bacon Bits.
Taste, and add salt and pepper if desired.  I didn’t add any.
Turn heat to low, and add kale, cream (if using), half-and-half, and skim milk.
Heat through, and serve!

VERDICT – This soup was creamy, delicious, filling with a slightly spicy kick.  In my opinion, it tasted very much like the original, but I have only had it at Olive Garden once, a few months ago.  However, this is definitely on my list to make again very soon.

 

Apple Spice Crunch Cake & other super fast desserts

Anyone sitting here, right now, thinking “I have nothing special planned for my family for Valentine’s! What am I going to do?!”  Yes, I realize it is Valentine’s Day, and most of you have all these great plans for romantic dinners and so forth.  But maybe, just maybe, there are some people out there like me who spent all their free time (non-sick free time that is! Thanks Mr. Three for that lovely cold you shared last weekend.)  baking up cookies for preschool, and running around all over creation b/c the closest Wal-Mart and Target are 30 minutes away trying to get party supplies, and the Wal-Mart was completely sold out of everything except EASTER candy…oh wait, am I ranting?  It kind of feels like I’m ranting….back to my point.

For whatever reason, some of us do not have a special dinner planned, or have a special dessert ready, OR maybe you have been invited somewhere at the last minute and you need a dessert NOW.  One that is a crowd pleaser, but doesn’t require lots of prep or ingredients. I’m here to say, I’ve gotcha covered. Dump cakes to the rescue!  If you are not from the South, you may be saying dump what?! ewwww.  However, these simple cakes are a staple of every potluck I’ve ever been too.  They are super simple to put together, and they are very yummy.  You just “dump” ingredients together…hence the name.

Apple Spice Dump Cake (or Crunch Cake if you prefer)

 2 cans apple pie filling
1 box spice cake mix
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
Nuts – optional
Lightly spray a 9×13 casserole dish with non stick spray (I don’t even know if this is necessary, I just did it to be on the safe side.)  Dump both cans of pie filling and spread in an even layer.  Sprinkle DRY cake mix over the top in an even layer.  Place slices of butter all over the top of the cake mix OR melt the butter and pour over the top…I don’t think it matters.  (In the pic, I had only used one stick of butter, so I have some dry patches. Always trying to cut fat over here!)  Sprinkle nuts over the top if using.  Bake in a 350 F degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes…basically until golden brown on top.
Serve warm or room temp, with ice cream or without!  In my opinion, this is best the day it is made b/c the topping is crunchy. It is still good the next day, but the top starts to soften from the filling.
There are so many variations too….
This is a Blueberry Dump Cake made with one can of crushed pineapple, one can of blueberry pie filling, and yellow cake mix.  You can use any fruit you like. See the recipe post HERE.
Rather have chocolate?  There is a dump cake for that too!
Chocolate Pudding Dump Cake with 4 ingredients! (Cake mix, pudding, milk, chocolate chips)
Want even fewer ingredients? How about just TWO?!
Apple Angel Food Cake (can also change up the pie filling to whatever you like)
Skinny Brownies (brownie mix and a can of soda. Or pop..whatever)
Or, what I like even better…
Skinny Brownies with brownie mix and yogurt

So there you go.  Desserts that are super easy, but sure to please.  You are on your own with dinner, ‘cuz I’m clueless on that one right now myself!

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Make yourself dessert and enjoy.  What are your plans tonight? I’d love to hear them so I can be jealous 🙂

How to prepare fresh fish – Part 2

Yesterday’s post was about frying fish.  If frying is not your thing, a healthier alternative is baking.  My mom said this is how my Grandma used to cook her fish…

Baked Fish

Fresh Fish Fillets (I used Rock)
1 large onion, thickly sliced
Very thin sliced potatoes (optional, I didn’t use)
seasonings of choice (I used salt and pepper, Old Bay, and a little Cajun Seasoning. Lemon pepper would be good too.)
olive oil
fresh lemon
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet with sides with olive oil (or non stick cooking spray. I love my Misto).
Place onion slices (and potatoes if using) onto baking sheet, add a little salt and pepper.
Place fish fillets on top of onion slices.  Spray or rub with olive oil (lightly), squeeze lemon juice over top, and add seasonings.
Bake until fish is white, and flakes easily with a fork.  You can also add more lemon juice before serving if desired.
For something this quick and easy, I really don’t know why I don’t cook fish more often. It is healthy (when not fried!) and is a source of Omega-3’s and other good stuff.  You can read more about the health benefits here.
So, fish on brother! And I mean that literally. I’d love to stock the freezer 🙂

The non-recipe recipe post

Okay, so that title probably doesn’t make much sense…but, I do have a couple of quick and easy meal/snack ideas that are not really recipes. Maybe the pictures should just speak for themselves!

BREADDDD! One of my favorite things.  In an attempt to get something on the table quick, fast and in a hurry AND having something my kids would eat….I came up with this. We’ll call it ‘ham n’cheese bread’!
Take a loaf of Italian bread and cut it in about 1 inch slices on the diagonal – but don’t cut all the way through the loaf. Then, make 1″ slices in the other direction (does that make sense?), but again, do not cut all the way through your loaf. You end up with these cool little pull apart bite size pieces of bread.  Once you have the bread cut…you can pretty much fill it with anything you have on hand!  This one I sprayed with a little olive oil and a very light sprinkle of garlic powder (picky kids and all), then stuffed it with whatever cheese I had in the fridge, and chopped Canadian bacon. Wrap in foil and bake until cheese is melted.  It would be a great appetizer, side, or add a side or two and it can be a quick and easy meal.
All you have time for is a Lean Cuisine for lunch?  No problem.  “Soup it up” with some pre-packaged greens (I like spinach and arugula), a few chopped cherry tomatoes, and a sprinkle of grated cheese (I used Asiago). Or, you could have a salad on the side like a normal person, but what’s the fun in that?!
This is a super easy, throw whatever is in the pantry together, type snack – but my kids love it!
I used:
1 cup Kashi Cinnamon Harvest Shredded Wheat
1 cup Cheerios
1 cup Nature’s Path Pumpkin Flax granola
1 cup Goldfish crackers (nuts would be good, but my son is allergic)
1 cup M&M;’s (cinnamon, regular and mini’s)
1 cup mixed dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries & cherries)
I kept the 1/4 measuring cup in the bowl for some portion control!
Happy Friday!