Starting New

Starting New

Every New Year, I make resolutions to try to better myself. I don’t know about you, but they usually last until April or May (and that’s on a good year). This year, I’m determined to make them stick and am starting new. Like many of y’all, my resolution is to get in great shape. The best way to stay on par with your fitness goal? PREPARATION! 

Preparation is key to keeping your resolution, whether it’s for workouts, meal planning, or rest. I add workouts and meal prepping to my master calendar. This way, I know I won’t forget to do them, nor will I feel behind. I dedicate time to preparing snacks and meals for the upcoming week. This trail mix is one of my favorites!

nut trail mix with dried cherries and yogurt chips

It’s the absolute perfect snack to keep in my bag on a busy day, or have as an addition to my yogurt and fruit in the mornings! I keep many little bags ready to grab in the pantry, That way, I have single serving portions that I can eat whenever.

nut trail mix with dried cherries and yogurt chips in single serving bag

Preparation will help ensure you stay on track. You’re much more likely to grab a healthy snack when it’s already prepared. Take five minutes to make this healthy snack, and you’ll be all set to tackle your New Year fitness goals!

Recipe

1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1 cup raw, unsalted walnuts
2/3 cup raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds
2/3 cup raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
3/4 cup yogurt chips (can sub dark chocolate chips)
3/4 cup dried cherries (can sub dried cranberries or your dried fruit of choice)

Who Needs Pumpkin Pie?

Who Needs Pumpkin Pie?

If fall had a mascot, it would undoubtedly be the pumpkin. Pumpkin lattes and candles and pies, oh my! It’s absolutely everywhere, and I’m and loving every second of it.

My favorite way to use this most festive ingredient is in my Grandma Gina’s pumpkin cake. (Side note- she was lovingly referred to a Gina, or the Notorious R-E-G). This cake is delicious! It’s light, moist (I cringe as I type that word…), and such a crowd-pleaser. In fact, I took the fruits of my labor into work today, and everyone raved about it!

IMG_2054 (1)

IMG_2060 (1)

IMG_2066

IMG_2064

I’m an avid believer that frosting is the best part of the cake. However, when it comes to this cake, I can’t decide which part I like best. The tangy cream cheese frosting is perfect with the subtly sweet cake. You can’t help yourself but keep going back for more! After you try this cake, you’ll find that you’re asking yourself, “Who needs pumpkin pie?”

Recipe:

4 eggs

1 2/3 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

1 can pumpkin purée

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients together.

Combine wet ingredients.

Add dry mix to wet ingredients.

Grease a 12 x 10 inch cake pan.

Pour batter in pan.

Bake between 35-40 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

Frosting:

4 oz. of cream cheese (room temperature)

1/3 cup softened butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups sifted powdered sugar

Combine.

Frost cooled cake.

Refrigerate frosted cake.

ENJOY!

Peanut Butter and Kisses

Peanut Butter and Kisses

What is it about peanut butter that’s so satisfying and comforting? I’m not sure if it’s the addicting taste or the nostalgia of school lunches, but peanut butter is one of my favorite foods. It’s versatility makes it ideal for cooking and baking; you can use it with anything sweet or salty. 

These peanut butter cookies with chocolate Kisses are irresistible. They aren’t overly sweet (so I can eat more, right?). They also make a fabulous accompaniment with a hot cup of tea and a movie playing in the background.

This is one of my staple recipes. I would alternate making these and my famous M&M cookies. I never heard any complaints! I remember a friend texted me, completely out-of-the-blue, telling me she was desperately craving my peanut butter and Kiss cookies. I’ll take that as her compliments to the baker.

Recipe:

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup salted butter (softened)

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

24 Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses

  1. Mix flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Beat butter and peanut butter together.
  3. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar. 
  4. Beat for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  5. Add egg and vanilla extract.
  6. Mix in dry ingredients.
  7. Refrigerate for at least an hour, or up to overnight.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  9. Form cookie dough into 1 inch balls.
  10. Place on baking sheets, lined with parchment paper.
  11. Bake for 15-17 minutes.
  12. Place Hershey’s Kiss atop each cookie.
  13. Bake for 1 minute.
  14. Cool
  15. Enjoy!

I Avoca-DO!

I Avoca-DO!

Of all the superfoods, avocado tops my list. They’re tasty, versatile, and great for you! Avocado toast has become a staple in my diet. I love how many combinations I can make based on what I have in my fridge. You won’t find a recipe that’s easier or more flexible!

The classic toast is hard to beat because it’s so simple and satisfying. It’s fantastic on its own, but adding to it makes it even better. Some of my favorite toppings are scrambled eggs and hot sauce, or roasted sweet potatoes and grilled chicken.

I typically use Ezekiel Bread when I make myself avocado taste at home. It’s a sprouted grain bread that has lots of seeds and grains. It’s a fantastic swap for regular bread in your diet. It’s packed full with fiber and has no added sugar. I’m telling you, once you try this, you win’t miss out on other bread! 

Though many people consider avocado toast a breakfast or brunch food, I frequently make it for dinner. I love the convenience and ease of putting it together. My weeknight dinners are taken care of! All I have to do is se what I have in my fridge to top off my toast, then I’m all set with a healthy and delicious dinner. 

My Confession

My Confession

Scone Recipe (here)

We all have that one thing that not many people know about us. It’s not necessarily a secret, but it’s not something we share with just anyone. Today, I’m here to confess… Whenever I cook or bake, I pretend like I have one of those instructional cooking shows you see on the Food Network. I look at my kitchen wall like there’s a camera there, and go on to talk about how important it is to keep butter cold when you’re making scones or using parchment paper instead of aluminum foil during baking.

I’m not sure when I started doing this, but I’ve always loved to host my own cooking show. It makes cooking or baking way more fun; trust me on that!

On my most recent show, I made these Lemon Cranberry Scones with Lemon Vanilla Glaze. They were absolutely delicious and super easy! The tart lemon glaze on top was perfect to tone down the sweetness from the dried cranberries. I’d make these again in a heartbeat!

The recipe says to use parchment paper for baking and I used aluminum foil. Next time; I’m definitely going to use parchment. The foil browned the bottoms significantly more than the rest of the scone.

I highly recommend making these for your next tea party (or just a Saturday afternoon because they sound delicious, like I did). They aren’t too sweet, so those who like a more subtle dessert or snack will love them too. They’re easy, fantastic for fall, and delicious!

A Cookie A Day

A Cookie A Day

A cookie a day keeps the doctor away. Wait, maybe it’s an apple a day… For the sake of this post, let’s stick with a cookie. I absolutely love baking as much as I love the finished, sugary result. It’s a great stress-relieving activity where I can enjoy the result and share with my family and friends.

My friends love when I bring sweets, especially my famous M&M cookies, along to share. In fact, I get asked about these cookies a lot. There’s something about them that my friends and family love, and I know yours will too! They’re as tasty as they are easy to make. After you make these, you’ll never fret about what to make for a party, meeting, or birthday ever again!

Mug (here)

RECIPE:

1 cup (2 sticks) of butter (I use salted) at room temperature

3/4 cup white sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs at room temperature

3 cups of all-purpose flour (add an extra 1/4 cup if making at altitude)

1/2 cup M&Ms

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine butter with white and light brown sugars. Cream together until smooth, uniform consistency.
  3. Add baking soda and vanilla.
  4. Add eggs individually.
  5. Add flour one cup at a time, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl before adding the next cup. This ensures a better, more even consistency to the dough.
  6. After flour is incorporated, mix in M&Ms by hand with a spatula or wooden spoon.
  7. Use a 1 inch ice cream scoop to measure cookies onto lined baking sheet. I also use spoons to form cookies if I don’t have an ice cream scoop.**
  8. Bake for 11-13 minutes, until golden brown.
  9. ENJOY!

**After many batches of cookies, I’ve found that chilling the dough (for approximately 30 minutes) before baking gives the cookies a more defined, circular shape. It’s not necessary to chill to have a delicious, sweet treat!

I hope you enjoy! I love these cookies and they are a staple at my apartment and with my friends. But, BEWARE, making these will cause your friends to beg you to make them again and again!