Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Spaghetti Squash

I've been craving fall weather hardcore lately... Prep football has started, my friday nights have turned into Saturday mornings... I had my fantasy football draft the other night, RVTV is just around the corner (the sports guys drive an RV across the state getting psyched for the Iowa State vs. Iowa football game, and I go along for the ride.  But I sleep in a hotel, not in that RV with the boys) and there's a chill in the air. 

Wait, no there isn't, that's the chill of my AIR CONDITIONER going FULL BLAST because it's stinkin' 90 degrees in this town!

Ahem... anyway, every fall I OD on squash and swear I'll never eat it again in my lifetime, and ever fall, I do it all over again. 

This week I spotted a spaghetti squash calling my name, so I dropped $2.50 for this little fella and got to work. 

Squash is SO SIMPLE.  You slice it in half and bake it for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. 

I forked it to death after it was nice and tender. Then I dressed it up with a bit of butter, parm cheese and a layer of mozzarella cheese. (don't forget the salt and peppa)

Put it in the broiler for another 5 minutes and you've got yourself a lunch.   Word to the wise, you don't need much butter... I was a little heavy handed with this.  The squash will carry the taste of whatever you add to it.  You don't want butter for dinner... Or maybe you do.

It turns into these delicious looking "noodles" that are perfect with some marinara or even alfredo sauce. 

At 42 cals a cup, I'll take seconds! 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Creme Cupcake Is Finally Here

I've been excited for Creme Cupcake to come into town for AGES.  I mean, months...  But anyway, they're about 2.2 blocks from my apartment, and totally worth the jaunt.

I went opening night with my coworkers Krystle and Brandon, but they weren't serving cupcakes anymore, just desserts.  We were on our break, so we left empty handed.

Then I went on a Saturday night with my friend Emily for dessert.  I got the lavender pavlova with lemon curd filling... Remind you of something? 
And then we split the savory cheesecake.  Pavlova- good, cheesecake- OUT OF CONTROL.  Prices- ouch...

I get that it's a place to get dessert on a fancy date night, but I just don't have that kind of cash.  I don't drop $60 on drinks every Friday night, I don't buy expensive things... If I did, it would be my dream shop, but I'm paying off debt and saving for a car... On this salary, $10 drinks paired with an $8 dessert just aint gonna happen.

BUT you know what IS gonna happen?  Cupcakes.  4-bite clouds of "what dreams are made of".

I went back this weekend during the day with Krystle to get some cupcakes, and they were delish.

Clockwise from the top, left we have: Fried Ice Cream, Cherry Cheesecake and Dirt Cake. 

The fried ice cream was SO good.  Moist, fluffy, ice cream-ish.  I wanted 6 more.

The Cherry Cheesecake was equally as good.  Super sweet and delicious with a cream cheesey frosting. 

And then there was the dirt cake...  After two amazing cupcakes, I was pumped for this over the top green frosted chocolate cupcake named for a pudding/cream cheese/whipped cream dream... And it fell a little flat.  It was really dry... That made the chocolate less appealing, the frosting didn't really "go".  It seemed like a gimmicky cupcake for a boy who likes gross things and neon green... Case in point, my boyfriend about lost it when he saw the gummy worm on top... 

I'm excited to see what other flavors they have to offer.  They had a bananas foster cupcake that I might try sometime soon.  I'm excited that they're just a hop, skip and a jump away!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ricotta Pancakes

I'm a sucker for breakfast-for-lunch, breakfast-for-dinner... or really breakfast any time of the day.

I was sifting through my proteins (eggs and lamb) and wondering what to concoct for lunch that would satiate my hunger pangs following a wicked run.

I decided I wanted pancakes, but I didn't want to negate all that good work I had done on the trails, so I sifted through some of my favorite magazines to find a good healthy alternative.

I finally landed on this one because I had a half-tub of low fat ricotta cheese from a failed attempt at stuffed squash blossoms...  The original recipe had blueberries, which would have been AWESOME in this recipe.  It would have added some sweetness.  But instead, I topped them with a dollop of cherry pie filling.  It didn't disappoint. 

Ricotta Pancakes
Recipe adapted from Fitness Magazine.
1/2 cup  whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons  all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon  sugar
1 teaspoon  baking powder
1/4 teaspoon  baking soda
1/2 teaspoon  freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup  low fat ricotta cheese
1   large egg
1   large egg white
1/2 cup  nonfat buttermilk, (see Tip)
1 tablespoon  lemon juice
2 teaspoons  canola oil, divided
1. Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and nutmeg in a small bowl. Whisk ricotta, egg, egg white, buttermilk, lemon zest and juice in a large bowl until smooth. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined.
2. Brush a large nonstick skillet with 1/2 teaspoon oil and place over medium heat until hot. Using a generous 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake, pour the batter for 2 pancakes into the pan, sprinkle blueberries on each pancake and cook until the edges are dry and bubbles begin to form, about 2 minutes. Flip the pancakes and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes more. Repeat with the remaining oil, batter and berries, adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent burning.
Tip: No buttermilk? Mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice into 1 cup milk. (I do this all the time)

They were incredibly fluffy and moist and they were just sweet enough with these cherries on top.

I couldn't even tell that I had used 1/2 wheat flour.  Sometimes wheat pancakes are flat and gummy, but these were perfect! I even have some leftovers for a late-night snack.  


Friday, August 24, 2012

Greek-Inspired Chicken Wrap

I've just had a great day today!  Do you ever have those?  It's Friday, I woke up early to have breakfast with my boyfriend, I went on a 4-mile run/walk around Grey's Lake, I made a GREAT lunch, my hair looks phenomenal, and I have a great weekend planned full of cupcakes, volunteering, Fantasy Football Drafting and a hot date. 

The delicious lunch I speak of was a Greek-inspired chicken wrap complete with a tasty tzatziki sauce. 

I marinated 2 hormone-antibiotic free chicken breasts (one for today, one for later) in:
1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper

And then I slapped that baby on the mini Foreman and took a shower.

I really did take a shower... How else was I supposed to fit that all in before I went to work?!

The tasty Tzatziki is:
1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt
1/2 cucumber shredded and rung out.  You want to get as much liquid out as possible
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon of white wine

I layered some chopped chicken with the Tzatziki sauce, some thinly sliced onions and diced tomato on a tortilla. 

It could have used some feta... but everything's better with cheese, amiright?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Omelet in a Bag!!

My dear friend Stephanie Moore (you might know her from tv...) is an avid reader of this blog, and she's always telling me what she's making for her husband Ryan... So the other day when she mentioned this crazy-cool omelet recipe with ZERO clean-up, I jumped on the chance to have her guest blog it.  

So, read and enjoy! 

I first saw this amazing feat of omelet creation while vacationing in the Ozarks with my family.  Making a custom made omelette for all 20 plus of us that were there would have been too difficult and a BIG mess for Grandma to tackle.

What you need:

-freezer ziplock bag (quart size works)
-fixings (green peppers, red peppers, onions, ham, cheese whatever you would put in an omelet)
-a large pot

First get your large pot of water boiling.

While that is getting ready take your ziplock and crack 2 eggs inside (can do three if you are really hungry) 
Fill the bag with your fixings. My husband and I included onions, red and green peppers and cheese.
Next close your bag and try and get all the air out.
Once you know its secure comes the fun part, smash all your ingredients together so it's all mixed up.
Once the water is boiling, drop the ziplocks in the water.  (tip: if you have more than one, you can label the bags with peoples names)
Boil for 13-15 minutes on high.
Then remove your bags using tongs, the bags get hot!
 Then it's easy, unzip your bag and slide out your perfectly shaped omelet onto your plate and ENJOY!

Once you try this, I promise you'll never go back!
Custom made, no mess omelets all with the slide of a ziplock!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cupcakes

I did some serious cooking and baking this weekend.  And it had me thinking about the difference between the two. 

I always thought cooking was on the stove-top and baking was in the oven... But then why aren't cookies called bakies?

Anyways... that's not why you came to my blog.  You came to see THIS!

Oh yeah baby, go ahead and zoom in on that one.  It's a chocolate covered cherry cupcake. 

I made a not-so-simple vanilla butter cake cupcake.  SO good.  There are quite a few steps in this cupcake, but I think it's my new favorite cupcake base recipe.  You fold in the egg whites/sugar like you do with waffles to make a light and fluffy cupcake. 

And, you wouldn't believe it if I told you, but the frosting is only TWO ingredients.  Yup. 

Let's get down to business. 

Classic Butter Cupcakes with Whipped Vanilla Frosting 
adapted from Sweetapolita
makes 28 cupcakes (which was a little awkward with a 12-cup tin)
Classic Butter Cake
4 large eggs (separated), at room temperature
3 1/2 cups sifted cake flour (I used 3 cups of regular AP flour)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar, divided
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup milk, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 muffin tins with cupcake liners. Set aside
While eggs are still cold, separate the eggs, placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another bowl. Cover the two bowls with plastic wrap and allow the eggs to come to room temperature before using (about 30 minutes).
In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft, about 1-2 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups of the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, starting and ending with the flour mixture.
In a clean bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy.  Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula gently fold a little of the whites into the batter to lighten it, and then fold in the remaining whites until combined. Do not over-mix the batter or it will deflate.
Fill each prepared muffin cup 3/4 full. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until the tops are just firm to the touch and a tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting, about 1 hour. 

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup chocolate chips

Melt the butter and chocolate chips in a double boiler until it is all melted and combined. 
Put it in the freezer while you whip up your cupcakes.  When it is firm, take it out and whip with an electric stand mixer until it's light and fluffy.  I didn't let it get firm enough in the freezer, so I added a touch of powdered sugar... maybe 1/4-1/2 cup to help it firm up.  The frosting was still soft, but it held its shape. 

I cut little wells in the cupcakes...

and filled them with cherry pie filling. 

I brought a bunch in to work for some of my coworkers' birthdays.  I got some rave reviews! 

And I have a few left to enjoy myself. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What I'm not good at

I've been struggling through 1.2 miles 3-4 times a week for a few weeks now...  (I'll wait while you get a calculator) And I'm not getting anywhere.  I cut about a minute off my run everytime, but I don't run any further.  I need to get to 3.2 miles by October! 

Anyway, all this time running has me thinking about what else I can't do...  Not to be all Negative Nancy on you or anything... These aren't depressing, don't worry. 

#1) I can't run.  I'm slow, I shuffle, I look like... well... this--

#2) Steak.  I can't make a steak to save my life.  It's always overcooked and tough and it shrinks into a little steak nugget. 

#3) I can't keep my apartment clean.  I try, really... but I always come home from work and wonder who put all this stuff around my place... 

#4) I can't take pictures...  Lighting is not my forte, and all my photos are taken from my phone because my digital camera broke a few years ago. 

But, my mom's buying me a new camera for Christmas and she's getting me some adult ed photography classes to go with it! woot!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

What I Didn't Get My Mom

We celebrated my mom's birthday today, and I waited until the last minute to pick up the gift I was going to get... But the store's website said it was open from noon until 5 today, so I was good. 

BUT WAIT.  Apparently during August and the first week in September, they're closed on Sundays...

WHAT?! Really??  Put it on your website. 

So I went to another store next door...  CLOSED

So I went to a book store, they had their "open" sign on, so I went to the door.... LOCKED!!! 

Okay, so the lady ran after me and opened the door, but I didn't find anything. 

So I went to the mall/Target, and here are a few things I did NOT get my mother for her birthday.  (I apologize in advance if you own any of these things...)

A headband with a tiny top hat, netting and a bow.  I did NOT buy that for my mother for her birthday.

A pencil holder with a photo of a fox, a deer or a dog and their tracks.  I did NOT buy that for my mother for her birthday.  Even though it was in the dollar spot.... #Tempting

$4.99 worth of SAND.  Sand.  That is SAND.  In a plastic container.  That they're charging almost $5 for.  I did NOT buy that for my mother for her birthday.

Here's what I did get her:

We're a family of bikers, so I got her this picture frame and I put a family 5K pic on the left and a recent pic of her and my dad on the right. Perfect for the home office!   

Happy Birthday Mama!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Monkey Bread

I remember eating monkey bread on Friday nights when I was a little girl while we watched some TGIF.  I was a Full House junky!

I've had the biscuits in the fridge since last Friday, and I just couldn't find the right night to bum in front of the Olympics and munch on some crusty cinnamon deliciousness.

It's so easy to do.  I chopped the biscuits in quarters and tossed them with the cinnamon sugar.

And then I put them in a bundt pan that apparently belongs to my grandma...  She called me today and asked if I had it bc she thought my mom had it and my mom threw me under the bus and said I had it.

HOWEVER.  I don't think this is her pan, I think this was my other grandma's and I got it when she passed away last year, so I'm not gonna give it up that easily...

Anyway, I sprayed down the pan and tossed the biscuit chunks in.  I topped it with some more brown sugar and butter and put it in the oven.

It was the perfect way to spend the evening.  Monkey bread as dinner. 

After a 12-mile ride with my friend Emily, I deserved to top it off with more carbs...  

Makes one serving (just kidding.) (I'm not kidding) (yes I am) (or am I?)
2 tubes of whop-it biscuits (you know the kind that you peel and whop to open)
1 cup sugar
1 T cinnamon
4 T butter
1/4 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350
Quarter the biscuits and toss in a bag with sugar and cinnamon. 

Put biscuit chunks in a greased bundt pan.
Heat the butter and brown sugar until melted.
Pour the melted butter/brown sugar mix over the biscuits.
Bake for 20 minutes. 


On another note, tomorrow is my little brother's birthday!!  Happy Birthday Jon! 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Greek Yogurt and Dill Salmon

I've been running a lot lately, and I knew I had a particularly tough workout coming yesterday, so I defrosted a salmon filet Wednesday night and cooked it up after the workout on Thursday.

I was poking around and I came up with these stats:

3oz serving of porterhouse steak
19g protein
22g fat
-8g saturated fat

3oz serving of salmon
19g of protein
10g of fat
-2g of which are saturated. Most of the fat in salmon is the healthy omega-3 type.

Plenty of protein and half the fat of a steak?  Yes please.  Plus, I would rather have a professional chef cook my medium-rare steak to perfection, than have me flip and squish the crap out of a perfectly good cut of meat trying to figure out how done it is. 

I was craving the sweet herb-y taste of dill, so I slathered a little greek yogurt over the filet and sprinkled some dill weed and bread crumbs over the top.

 I baked it in a lightly greased bread pan until it was opaque and perfectly cooked. 

Looks pretty good for an oil-free, protein-packed slice of fish-deliciousness. 

Don't you love how salmon makes this chevron-esc pattern?

I served it with some mashed potatoes.  Nothing fancy.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Parmesan Poppy Seed Crackers

I had a request from Jo Ann (@sylvanend) for a recipe for some crackers I had teased last week.  I had completely forgotten about blogging these... I actually thought I already had. 

But here they are.  They're Parmesan Poppy Seed Crackers, and they are SO GOOD.  The recipe says they go great with wine (mom), but I think they also go great with some cheese and a home brew. 

Pardon the poor photography... I know my skillz have regressed as of late.  I'll bring it up a notch, I promise.

I couldn't stop noshing on them... And I am pretty happy that I know exactly what's in them...  


Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, per tablespoon, packs triple the saturated fat of canola and safflower oil. Ew.  
And what, pray tell, is the "natural flavor" of a Ritz cracker?

Anyway...  I'm happy with my flavorful crackers, and I'll be tweaking the spices for another flavor soon.  

I'm thinking something like... 
  • Cinnamon and sugar
  • Dill and blue cheese
  • Citrus thyme
Anyway, check it out.  

Adapted from

Parmesan Poppy Seed Crackers



  • 2 cup all-purpose flour, more as needed
  • 3/4 cup finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 chopped red onion
  • 1 green chili
  • 2 teaspoon  sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ tablespoon poppy seeds

Directions (straight from Zesty South Indian Kitchen with a few revisions)

  • Preheat oven to 375 F. Put flour, butter, cheese, green chili, salt, shallots, poppy seeds in bowl of a food processor. Pulse until you get bread crumbs. Add about 1/4 cup cream let machine run for a bit until a dough forms. If it does not come together, add more liquid a teaspoon at a time, until mixture holds together but is not sticky.

  • Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until 1/4-inch thick or even thinner, adding flour as needed. Prick the dough with a fork prevent less puffing while baking.  

  • Bake until moderately browned, about 15 minutes. Cool on a rack; serve warm or at room temperature or store in a Tupperware for a few days.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Shrimp and Eggplant Pesto Pasta.

I ordered a chicken and veggie pizza Saturday night and I've been eating it slice-by-slice for the last few days...  I still have a quarter of the pizza left, but I needed something different, so I rummaged through my fridge and put together a modge-podge of ingredients that actually took shape quite nicely. 

If you're new to my blog, that's kinda how I cook.  I find some protein, add some carbs, throw in some veggies and season it. 

So today's concoction was a shrimp and eggplant pesto pasta. 

I took a chunk of butter, sauteed a chopped up eggplant from my CSA and 1/4 of an onion. 

To the mix, I added a little more butter (yup) and the shrimp.  I had a bag of about 10-12 shrimps that have been hanging out in my fridge since last week, so I pulled the tails, stripped peeled them, and put them all in.  When they looked pink and opaque, I added a generous spoon full of my homemade pesto. 

The pesto is just a big bunch of basil, chopped with some Parmesan and walnuts in my food processor. There aren't real ratios... Just add what you want, and add it 'till it tastes good. And then I drizzle in some EVOO until it takes the consistency I want.  I like it a little bit chunkier than the bottled type, so a little less oil.  Make sure to mix in some salt and pepper (seasoning is important!), and store it in a Tupperware in the fridge.  I even added a little to my hummus to make a fancy-pants hummus dip.

Well, anyway.... back to my dinner...  I added the pesto and some cooked angel hair pasta.

It tasted like a restaurant meal, but I knew exactly how much of everything was in it.  No surprises with the butter, no surprises with the salt. 

But I may or may not have eaten two servings of pasta at a time.... Don't judge, I've been running. 

Speaking of running, I've been running!!!!!! 

I'm NOT a runner.  I'm a cyclist at heart.  But, I signed up for the Color Run with a bunch of girlfriends, and I'm bound and determined to run the whole 5K in October. 

I struggled with the treadmill, only making it about 5 minutes before I had to stop...  And then I tried to tackle the hills in my neighborhood at a slower pace, and only made it about 7... So finally, Monday, I went to Gray's Lake, a really flat trail around a pretty lake, and I made it 17 minutes!!!  I ran 1.2 miles, and walked the rest to finish the 2-mile course in 30 minutes flat.  I know I have some improving, don't think I'm dipping my tennis shoes in gold and calling it a career... But it gave me some hope that I can make it by October.  My goal is to finish in less than 45 minutes, which is kinda my 5K average, so I have my work cut out for me. 

I even found a friend! A girl named Christine caught up with me on the bridge while I was waving to my imaginary fans....  She was walking her dog, and she said she could tell I was training for something because I had the look of determination, and she thought to herself, "you go girl". 

Now, I know that's code for, "girl, you looked like you were gonna die right there on the trail, and I spotted the nearest emergency phone just in case".  But, I took it as a compliment, and stayed with her power-walking pace for the rest of the loop. 

I'm using that as my excuse to carbo-load with the rest of this pasta for supper. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Orange Poppyseed Cake

Orange Poppyseed Cake

I made this incredibly dense cake for Heather's baby shower, and it was a big hit.  I love lemon poppyseed, but the orange poppyseed made it a little less expected, and possibly a bit more chic. 

I got the recipe from Megan's Kitchen, and I followed it pretty closely.  The vanilla paste is a little pricey, so I just used my Mexican liquid vanilla.  I doubt it made a big difference. 

The big tip I tried out for this recipe, was a tip I found on Pinterest about keeping the cake perfectly flat.  the cake didn't rise much at all to begin with, but that dome on the top of a cake comes because the outside of the cake cooks faster than the inside.  To keep it all cooking at the same pace, wrap a cold, wet towel strip around the outside of the round pan.  I put them on a cookie sheet because I was nervous about the towel touching the oven racks.  And I checked on it often.  You don't want to leave a towel in your oven without keeping a close eye on it... 

I even had a moment where I was like, I'm that girl who believes everything she reads on the internet!! I just put a TOWEL in the OVEN...  I'm going to set my apartment on fire and someone on Pinterest is going to have a good laugh about it.... 

But I didn't set the house on fire.  The white towel didn't even brown.  And the cakes stayed perfectly flat! It made it SO easy to layer.  But I was a little sad I didn't have any lopped-off tops to munch on...  I had to wait till the shower to taste it.