Friday, December 31, 2010

BRING IT. Staying slim in the kitchen!

We're bringing in the new year, and I'm joining the rest in the resolution to get fit this spring! I'm doing the P90X workout with my parents. Finished day 5 today! Only 85 more days to go...
Here's a picture of me that they featured on their box:

Yup. That's me alright... 
(85 days from now)

Last week I got asked how I stay thin when I am baking all the time, especially when nutritional labels on my counter often look like this:

I get asked this slightly flattering and remotely embarrassing question more often than I'd care to admit, so I thought I would answer it once and for all. 

My Top 5 Tips for Staying Healthy in the Kitchen

1. Stock the fruit and veggie drawers
Grapefruit and apples tend to satisfy my sweets cravings best when I'm baking. 

I made seven batches of buttercream this morning in preparation for a wedding tomorrow, and a salad with hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, celery, and spinach make a fantastic fresh lunch after whipping buttercream all morning! Baked tilapia with lemon pepper and Parmesan cheese topped it off for some great protein.

2. Don't "clean" your fingers in your mouth
This one is tough. As tempting as it is to simply lick that excess buttercream off your hands before washing them, don't do it! Wear an apron and wipe your hands on them (my apron is usually really messy)

3. Play some great tunes
Is there a more perfect place for dancing than your kitchen? 
Turn up the volume and groove a little as you bake!

4. Stay hydrated
Water doesn't have to be boring.
Get a fun cup and drink lots of water as you bake. 
It fills your tummy when you get the munchies and is really good for you! 

5. Allow yourself a treat at the end
Go ahead and eat a cupcake when they're all done! Just don't "sample" them every step of the way. This gives you something to look forward to when you don't lick your hands or the beaters. Besides, you've earned it.

Have a happy, healthy new year!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Girls' night tonight! I'm so excited. So I made Pumpkin Spice cupcakes.
Here's the recipe:


    * 1 package (18 oz.) spice or carrot cake mix
    * 1 cup Pure Pumpkin
    * 3 large eggs
    * 1/3 cup water
    * 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
    * 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
 * 2 packages (3 oz.) cream cheese, softened
    * 2 tablespoons margarine or butter, softened
    * 5 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    * 4 cups powdered sugar
Mix together all the ingredients for the cake. Mix it until combined first, and then beat it for 2 minutes.

 Pumpkin Pie Spice is pretty impossible to find on the shelves right now, so instead I used this substitute: 

1/2 ts. cinnamon
1/4 ts. ginger
1/8 ts. nutmeg
1/8 ts. cloves

So today, tragedy struck.
My good ol' Kitchenaid sputtered and died.
He lived a long life and made many, many batches of buttercream.
RIP, kitchenaid!

So for now, I am building up my arm muscles! Especially beating the cream cheese frosting.  Oofta!

While the cupcakes cool, beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time. You will LOVE this frosting!! 
I have a tummy ache from "sampling" it "just to make sure it tastes right". 
Totally worth it.

Ready for girls' night!
Have a great Halloween everyone!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

It's that time of year...

It's that time of year when everyone gets sick! 
I'm under the weather with everyone else... 
That's when I'm glad I have this basket stocked with potatoes and onions:


Because then I can make chicken soup!

I chopped up half an onion and two stalks of celery and cooked them in a little olive oil over medium heat until the onions were translucent.


Then I added a couple potatoes, chopped in fairly small pieces. 
You could use noodles instead if you want! 
The Amish noodles sold at Fareway are fan-freaking-tastic! 
But i didn't feel up for going to the store... ergo, I cook with what's in kitchen :)

Added pepper...

and  2 cans of chicken broth...

and some spices I thought sounded good: basil and parsley

I let those cook a bit (hot but not boiling) until the potatoes were about halfway done. 
Meanwhile I chopped some chicken. I had the chicken in the freezer, and great way to thaw it fast is to plop it in a bowl and fill it with room temp water, let it soak a bit, and then empty it and fill it with warm water. Should be thawed in 10-20 minutes!

Added the chicken to the soup and then covered it and let it simmer until the chicken was done.

Don't let it simmer to long or the chicken will get tough. If you add the chicken at the right time, the potatoes and the chicken will be done at about the same time. Err on the side of having over-cooked potatoes rather than overcooked chicken.

Eat with a leftover bagel and a good book! 
I'm reading 'Phantases' by George MacDonald--best author of all time! My favorite book by him is 'Lilith' tied with 'Malcolm' (aka "The Fisherman's Lady" and sequel "The Marquis' Secret'). He also wrote wonderful children's books like 'The Light Princess' (confession: I cried reading this one), and 'The Day Boy and the Night Girl.' So good.

Stay healthy!

Friday, October 8, 2010


New Apartment!

One of my favorite parts about my new apartment is how much LIGHT we get in here! We have a south facing porch/window door and it lets in so much Vitamin D.
 Above is my spidey plant. So proud of that little guy.

I also love this little peek-through from the kitchen to the living/dining room. Really opens up the place and lets the rooms feel connected!

Got the aprons hung and started baking! Then I realized that I haven't updated this blog in a month or two... or eight...  I'll try to be better at posting! Really!

So let's start. Today I made something I've always wanted to try: BAGELS!!!

Got this cookbook from a friend and LOVE IT!!! Here's the recipe for bagels I tried today:

-1 c. plus 1 Tb. water
-1 1/2 Tb. honey
-3 c. bread flour
-1 1/4 ts. salt
-1 1/2 ts. bread machine or quick active dry yeast

Go ahead and load the ingredients into your bread machine in the order given.

flour power.

Set the bread machine on 'dough/pasta' and let it fly! Only set an alternate timer for 50 minutes, because that's when you'll take the dough out.

After 50 minutes, take out your dough and cut it into 10 pieces.

Roll each piece in a ball and then punch your thumb through to make a hole in the center about 1" wide.

 Most of mine turned out ugly lopsided quirky and homemade.

 Put them on a GREASED baking sheet that you'll use to bake them on later. Cover them and let them rise for 20 minutes or so. Meanwhile, set the oven to 450 degrees and...

...start boiling 2 quarts (or 8 cups if you measure in American like me) of water.

Last year I worked at Bruegger's, and learned that this next step is crucial to delicious bagels!

Boil them!
But be counting!

After 15 seconds, flip them over.


After 15 more seconds, take them out and dry them on paper towels. 
This I forgot to do. 
They still turned out :)


Cinnamon sugar suuuure doesn't hurt!

In fact they were pretty darn tasty. Next time I want to try other toppings/mix-ins like:
• cinnamon raisin
• chocolate chip
• oats
• cranberries and blueberries
• sesame/poppy seeds

 Put them in the oven and let them bake for about 10 minutes. 
Keep an eye on them--take them out when they're just golden brown.

Did I mention these are FAT FREE?!? Woohoo!
...Not that that matters, of course...

Hot bagels fresh from the oven? YES PLEASE!

Have fun :)