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Sweet Snacks

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Hello again from Florida!  Here is a special guest post from Courtney over at Sweet Tooth Sweet Life sharing some delicious summertime treats with all of you today.  Enjoy!

Guest Post:  Sweet Tooth Sweet Life – A Summertime Favorite: Sweet Snacks

Hi everyone! My name is Courtney and I’m the author behind the blog Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life. I’m a 28-year old personal trainer and former elementary school teacher (you can read a bit more about that here if you’d like). I live up in Upstate, NY with my husband and high school sweetheart, Jay, and have lived here all of my life. When I’m not training, you’ll most likely find me blogging, in the kitchen, or spending time with some of my favorite friends and family.

Before anything, let me just go ahead and give a quick shout out– “Thanks so much, Tara, for inviting me to guest post while you’re away! Hopefully you’re having a blast while on vacation on sunny Florida!”

So anyways…let’s talk about summer for a second. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love summer. Living in Upstate, NY, I don’t have the pleasure of experiencing warm weather year-round, so when it’s here I make sure to soak it up as much as I can.

I love to dine al fresco, enjoy a cool glass of wine on the back deck, and just hang out by the pool with some yummy snacks. Oh yes…I love my snacks. I also have quite the sweet tooth (in case you couldn’t already tell by my blog title) so you can bet that, a majority of the time, there are going to be some deliciously sweet snacks out by the pool.

In case you’re like me and enjoy the occasional sweet snack now and then, here’s a few ideas for you to try for the next time you’re hanging out by the pool…or heading to a barbecue…or doing absolutely nothing at all. 😉

Creamy Fruit Dip

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Sandwiches

Cookies & Cream Cake Mix Cookie Bars

White Chocolate Oreo Cream Squares

Enjoy!! 🙂

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Just a Minute Abs…and Chocolate Cake

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Tonight, I am super excited because I will be teaching a 30 minute core class.  I love teaching classes like this because they are super quick, and when I workout on my rarely do I spend 30 minutes just focusing on my abs.  I usually just tag some planks and crunches on the end of a workout or run and call it good to go.

This is one of my favorite circuits, because it really allows you to challenge yourself.  There isn’t a certain number of repetitions required, so it challenges you to give it your all, do the most that you can, and have good form all within one minute.

Now, that we have done all of those crunches, let’s talk cake…chocolate cake…with wine.  While thinking up recipes for Easley Winery’s Cooking Made Easley page, I was completely inspired by the idea that I could substitute wine for the oil when making a boxed cake mix.  First, I made the Reggae Blush Strawberry Cake Balls…but I couldn’t stop there, I made Reggae Red Devil’s Food Chocolate Cupcakes too!

The Reggae Red wine is easily (get it!) one of my favorites.  When it comes to wine, I am a sweet girl.  I can enjoy a couple of sips of a cabernet sauvignon or a merlot, but I can rarely finish a glass.  This Reggae Red wine is sweet, delicious, and to be honest, kind of tastes like juice!

Reggae Red Devil’s Food Chocolate Cupcakes

What you Will Need:

Cupcakes:

  • 1 box devil’s food cake mix
  • 3.9 oz box of instant chocolate pudding
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup Easley Reggae Red Wine
  • ½ cup Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt
  • ½ cup water

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:

  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 2 ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup milk*

Instructions:

Cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place cupcake liners in cupcake pan. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients.  Mix at a medium speed for 2-3 minutes until the batter in smooth and thoroughly combined.

With an ice cream scoop, scoop batter evenly into cupcake liners.

Bake in the oven for 18 minutes, or until a clean knife inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter for about a minute to soften.  Alternately, add in the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients.

*Only add the milk until the frosting is of the desired consistency.  You may need a little more, or a little less.

**Be careful licking the batter on these!!! The alcohol may get to you!! Don’t worry though, it all gets baked out while cooking 🙂

 

 

It’s Already Thursday?! and Another Easley Recipe

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This has been one crazy first full week of work, and I cannot believe that it is almost Friday.  Eek!  Where did the week go?

I started this morning by teaching a full Body Pump class.  My dad came along to video tape it so that I could send it in for an assessment so that I can finally be OFFICIALLY certified.  It was only my second time teaching the full class, and while I made a couple of mistakes with my cueing, the girl who usually teaches the class told me that my coaching was strong, my technique was good, and that EVERYONE makes mistakes…even her, and she has been doing this for 5 years!!  So, I will have to watch the video and evaluate it before I decided if I want to submit it.

Then, it was time to hit the showers and get ready for work.  On my way to work I enjoyed another baked oatmeal.

For some reason, I didn’t think of it until just yesterday to make multiple baked oatmeals at a time.  It truly is a no-brainer idea, but I was literally making a baked oatmeal every single night.  Next week, I am going to make a bunch either in muffin tins or a flat 8×8 pan that I can cut into squares so that I have one less thing to prepare after I get home form work.

I then sat at my desk and started working.  I am enjoying the new job, but it is very hard to stay organized.  I am managing the sales of two different properties that are two different brands with two different systems and a different method of filing things…needless to say even for a person who enjoys being organized, it is confusing!

When noon rolled around, I was very happy for the lunch break.  Last night, I made a little experiment with egg whites, cottage cheese, and spinach.  I didn’t measure anything, but they turned out very tasty, so next time I will be more precise so that I can share!

Today’s lunch included a salad topped with leftover brussels sprouts, roasted sweet potato, bell pepper, tomato, onion, salsa and one of these little egg white muffins.  Yummm…

Tonight, after work I will be hanging out downtown for a bit so that I can teach a 30 minute abs class.  Although it will be a later night, I am looking forward to teaching 🙂

On that note, have an amazing Thursday, and I will leave you with another Easley recipe.

Reggae Blush Strawberry Cake Balls

These treats are truly delicious.  Using wine in the batter actually replaces the fat needed for baking.  By combining applesauce and wine, this treat will have less fat than adding oil and have a unique flavor that you would not taste by using a traditional cake mix with oil and eggs.  A special treat suitable for all ages!

What you Will Need:

Cupcakes:   

  • 1 box strawberry cake mix
  • 3.9 oz box of instant vanilla pudding
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup Easley’s Reggae Blush Wine
  • ½ cup unsweetened organic applesauce
  • 12 oz of white chocolate chips for dipping the cake balls
  • 1 cup Buttercream Frosting (recipe bleow)
  • 24 cupcake liners

 Buttercream Frosting:

  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 Tbsp milk*

Instructions:

Buttercream Frosting:

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter for about a minute to soften.  Alternately, add in the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients.

*Only add the milk until the frosting is of the desired consistency.  You may need a little more, or a little less.

Cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place 24 cupcake liners in a cupcake pan. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients.  Mix at a medium speed for 2-3 minutes until the batter is smooth and thoroughly combined.  With an ice cream scoop, scoop batter evenly into cupcake liners.  Bake in the oven for 18 minutes, or until a clean knife inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely.  Once cooled, remove cupcakes from the liners and smash into crumbs.

 

Place the cake crumbs in a large mixing bowl.  Use 1 cup of icing (or if using store bought icing use 1 full container).  Mix until the cake and frosting are thoroughly combined.

Place in the fridge for 1 hour, or overnight.  Once cooled, remove from the refrigerator and roll into walnut sized balls.

Place the balls back in the refrigerator for 1 hour or overnight.  Melt white chocolate.  Roll each cake ball in the white chocolate and place on waxed paper to harden.

*If making a half batch of cake balls, use 12 cupcakes and freeze the other 12 to thaw and serve for a  quick treat at a later date!

I Have Been Keeping Something From You

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Brian came to my Body Pump class tonight!  It was very fun, although having him in the front row did make me a bit nervous.  Anyways, Pump made me very hungry, and by the time I was done with church choir and got home I was ready to eat.

Dinner tonight was a new favorite post-workout snack for me.  Scrambled eggs, loaded with lowfat cheese, and veggies topped with salsa.

After having a salad for lunch, I just didn’t want to have the exact same thing for dinner…or use up all of our lettuce.  So the eggs did me well 🙂

Confession

I have a confession to make to you.  I have been keeping something from you.  An amazing cookie recipe. Seriously, these things are addicting and Brian will even ask for them by request on occasion.  If you know Brian then you know that when it comes to food, he is pretty whatever and usually doesn’t have a preference, so it is a big deal when he makes a special request.

I know you will enjoy these 🙂

Double Chocolate Oreo Crunch Cookies (Original Recipe from How Sweet Eats)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup crushed Oreos


Directions:

Cream butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until well combined.  Gradually add in the flour, cocoa, soda, and salt.

Once everything is combined, add in the chocolate chips and the Oreos.

Place tablespoons of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Allow to cool on wax paper.

ENJOY!

Two New-to-Me Foods

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Good Monday morning!

Before we move into the beginning of this week, let’s recap what went on yesterday.

After singing in the church choir, Brian and I used up the last bit of our Starbucks gift card on a little mid morning chai tea drink break.  Because of the chill in the air, sipping on a nice, warm beverage was a great idea.  Brian then headed home, and I headed out to the grocery store.

Sometimes Brian comes with me to the store, but usually he gets very bored and antsy at the store because I like to take my time and look at all of the options and new foods I have yet to try…so most of the time he lets me do the shopping alone 😉

Because it was lunch time, and I hadn’t had lunch yet, I was hungry.  While at Good Earth Natural Foods standing in line waiting to check out, I spotted little packets of Lush Nuts, which is something that I had actually been wanting to try!  For $1.50, I had a little snack and I got to try something on my list of new-to-me foods.

I grabbed the Hot Curry flavor, and it did not disappoint.  My mom makes a curry dish that is probably one of my favorite meals.  When eating the curry dish, we top our meal with a little coconut, pineapple, and peanuts.  These Hot Curry nuts hit all of the same flavor notes.  The actual peanuts were crunchy and mixed well with the spicy curry flavor, just like adding peanuts on top of my mom’s dish.  These nuts were also slightly sweet, which was the perfect compliment to the heat of the curry and really reminded me of the sweetness that the pineapple and coconut add to my mom’s curry dish.

Lush Nuts are made right in Michigan by a young girl using her family recipe.  I absolutely love the fact that these are made with a family recipe just above my little state of Indiana.  I can’t wait to try the rest of the flavors.

After spending a couple of hours picking up meal items for the week, I then came home, unloaded the groceries, and made myself a little snack of scrambled egg whites with lots of veggies and my mom’s homemade salsa.  For some reason, I had been craving scrambled eggs all day…and these hit the spot!

After my little snack break, tidying some things around the apartment and getting ready for the week to come, Brian and I headed over to his parent’s house for our little Sunday night dinner tradition.  Last night’s menu included grilled zucchini (one of my favorites!), and an orzo salad.

For dessert, I was introduced to something new.  A couple of days ago, Brian told me he had a craving for a napolean from Long’s Bakery.  A napolean??? I had zero idea as to what this napolean thing was.  When we arrived at his parent’s house last night, his mom surprised him with the dessert he had been craving.  I must say…they are pretty good.  The dessert was layered puff pastry with whip cream, strawberry, and cream filling topped with powder sugar.  So simple, yet so delicious.  Good choice, Brian 😉

And because it was Earth Day, his mom had a baggie of goodies to share with us from Target!

In a mini reusable shopping bag we received all sorts of “natural” shampoos, toothpaste, lotion, and even a granola bar!  You know how I love anything free

Today

Today, I did not start the morning with a workout.  My workout will come in the evening in the form of a Boot Camp session with Brian and a BodyPump class.  My training for BodyPump is this weekend, so this week I am going to all of the classes that I can!

Instead, I started the day with some overnight oats in a jar.  I had a little bit of almond butter left on the bottom of the jar, so instead of making my overnight oats in a bowl I put them right in the jar!  The taste of the almond butter was delicious.

I added some frozen peaches to the mix this morning.  Luckily, I saved two jars of almond butter that were about empty…so I can have this same breakfast again soon, maybe tomorrow.

Now, I am off to volunteer with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, study BodyPump, and do some promotional work at one of the gyms I am teaching at.  I hope you have a great start to your week!

Things to Check Out:

Energy Bites

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Boy, do I have a treat for you!

 

One of my favorite flavor combinations on earth has always been peanut butter and chocolate.  The sweetness and the saltiness compliment each other perfectly.  When I was home a couple of weeks ago, my mom made some energy bites, and as soon as I tried one I had to have the recipe.  They are the perfect size for a little treat that leaves you feeling satisfied and not too guilty 🙂

 

Energy Bites

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry oatmeal
  • 1 cup toasted coconut (you can toast your own)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds (can use flax seed, pecans, etc)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla

 

 

Directions:

Combine all ingredients together in a food processor.

Process until it is a sticky dough.

Transfer to a bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Once chilled, roll into 16 balls and store in the fridge.  Enjoy!!

Nutrition per ball:

Calories:  217.8  Fat:  14.4g  Carbs:  20.9g  Protein:  4.4g

Baking Fail No. 5364:

Ok, so you in my evening post last night that I was going to make my first cheesecake using my mom’s amazing recipe.  Well, instead of making one large cheesecake I thought it would be a great idea to make smaller cupcake size cheesecakes.  I knew that I would need to adjust the time, but for some reason just decided to cut the times in half without doing any research…what a bad decision.

The result was burned cheese cakes that stuck to the cupcake liners and had the graham cracker crusts separating from the cheesecake part…not good!

The cheesecakes should not be yellow like that…trust me.

 

Because of this failed attempt, I called my mom frantically to make a plan of action:

  1. Research mini cheesecake recipes focusing on time and oven temperature.
  2. Decide not to use cupcake liners.
  3. Purchase  more cheesecake ingredients.
  4. Don’t freak out!
After work, I headed immediately to the store to purchase the new ingredients and got to work in the kitchen.  The mini cheesecakes are actually chilling in the refrigerator right now, so I am still not 100% sure if they have turned out.  The last thing I have to do is probably going to be the hardest…get them out of the pan!  I know that this recipe works as a large cheesecake because my mom has made it several times…it is her signature cheesecake dish!
Marble Cheesecake
Ingredients or graham cracker crust:
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
Preparation for graham cracker crust:
The best way to make graham cracker crumbs is to smash them with a rolling pin.
Combine crumbs, sugar, and melted butter.  Press mixture onto bottom and half inch up the side of a 9 inch spring form pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
Ingredients for cheesecake:
  • Graham cracker crust
  • 3 packages of 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp four
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
Preparation for cheesecake:
Prepare crust and set aside.
Combine chream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar, sour cream and 2 tsp vanilla in large mixer bowl.  Beat on medium speed until smooth.  Add flour, 1 Tbsp at a time, blending well.  Add eggs; beat well.  Combine cocoa and 1/4 cup of sugar in a smaller bowl.  Add oil, the rest of the vanilla, and 1 1/2 cups of the cream cheese mixture, mix until well blended.
Spoon plain and chocolate mixtures alternately into crust, end with dollops of chocolate on top.  Gently swirl with knife for marble effect.
Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.  Without opening the oven door decrease the temperature to 250 degrees and bake 30 minutes.  Turn off oven and let the cheesecake remain another 30 minutes without opening the door.  Remove from the oven.  Loosen cake from sides of pan, cool and chill before serving.
I’ll let you know how the second batch turns out…I have to go get them ready for our little party now…wish me luck!!!
What have you baked and failed at??