Peppermint Chocolate Bark

Hope everyone had wonderful Christmas :) Sorry I haven’t been active lately but you know with the holidays life gets pretty hectic…especially if you wait to do your shopping until the very last second…

And the day before Christmas Eve I was on a mission. I had my game plan on: list of all the gifts I need to get, what stores I need to go, in what order and what section to find everything. There was no time to be looking at other things, I had to get this done..and fast. I was storming through the stores, pushing everyone out of my way and within an hour and a half I had gotten everything I needed :) The only thing left was wrapping and since I’m the worst gift wrapper ever that task was transferred over to Chris :) Christmas itself was a lazy day where we didn’t do much of anything. We went to Ihop for breakfast and then watched Xmas movies and played video games, very relaxing! We decided to make mostly Bulgarian food (things that are quick and easy) so I didn’t have to deal with a turkey or a ham! As far as gifts go, I am definitely a lucky girl and got everything I wanted! Chris and I decided together on the big things (I got a new Artisan Kitchen Aid Mixer-love it!) and a Wii U and he got a new scanner/printer he wanted for work. Then on Xmas we exchanged some smaller gifts. I got him an ahmazing fragrance by Yve Saint Laurent and he got me an ice cream maker (yay!), books by one of my fav authors Mary Balough, magnifying mirror, cute notepad for recipes and chocolates :) My dad and my sister got me a great workout outfit which I love and a new griddle! For my dad I got crafty and created a family album. He always wanted one but didn’t have the time to make it. It was a lot of work especially since I don’t have a crafty bone in my body, but it turned out awesome and he absolutely loved it! Sometime it’s the simple things :) We also got him a crockpot (I would die for mine so I had to spread the joy lol!) and a giftset from his favorite brand of whisky. For my sister we got a Victoria’s Secret matching hoodie and bottoms, Ailen a perfume she wanted, and 2 books she chose a few days ago. She is as happy little girl:) And today I received yet another gift, a package from my mother-in-law and nana-in-law- a family cookbook full of recipes that I’m soo excited to try :) Thank you soo much I love it!

So enough of my ramblings, today I am sharing a quick and easy fun treat that requires 5 mins of your time, 2 ingredients and will delight everyone :)

Bark.

That word always makes me laugh…

So chocolate bark. Do you know how easy it is to make? Like seriously, super easy.

This is not so much of a recipe, but a method. You can get creative and choose whatever topping you want. Oreos, m&ms, nuts, dried fruit, chopped PB cups… Use dark chocolate, white, semi-sweet… the possibilities are endless!

I decided to make something festive so I used a variety of crushed candy canes :)

Candy Cane Dark Chocolate Bark

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • crushed candy canes

Directions: Put a baking sheet in the freezer for 20mins. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in 30 sec increments (stirring after each) until melted. Be careful not to burn the chocolate. Let it cool to warm. Cover the cold baking sheet with wax paper and spread the chocolate in a thin layer. Sprinkle the crushed candy canes on top and freeze for 20mins. Cut or break the bars into pieces and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tip: To crush candy canes, put in a ziplock bag and beat with a rolling pin until crushed into small pieces :)

Mini Lava Cakes

I discovered these a while back on Pinterest and finally decided to give them a try last week.

I’ve made them twice since then because they are absolutely Dee-lish!

I love the ease of having a batch of these in my fridge/freezer so that way every time I want something sweet I can just heat them up and voila! Dessert is served :)

Although I have been eating a lot healthier then I used to and staying away from fast food, I still need my dessert every now and then, or every night..

And these definitely satisfy my sweet-tooth!

They take 5 mins to make and you only need a few basic/pantry ingredients so you have no excuses not to make them! :)

So Christmas is quickly approaching and I have a tons of shopping to do… I haven’t even started yet… Sigh… So I better stop procrastinating and get to it!

In the next few days I will be posting a few cookie recipes that are the perfect gifts for friends and family! I’m making cute cookie treat bags and bringing them to work so hopefully everyone will love them :)

Mini Lava Cakes

Makes 24 mini cakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 6 tbsp AP flour
  • vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce for serving

Directions: Preheat oven to 400F.

In a saucepan over medium high heat, melt the butter and chocolate chips. Turn the heat off and let cool for 3mins. Stir in the eggs and yolks incorporating after each addition. Stir in the powdered sugar and flour. Spray a mini cupcake pan with cooking spray and spoon batter evenly among the cups. Bake for 4-7mins or until the edges are cooked but the center is still gooey. Carefully remove the cakes from the pan and serve with vanilla ice cream and caramel drizzle.

Source:

Lighter Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze

Cinnamon roll.

For a novice baker homemade cinnamon rolls could seem intimidating and quite daunting and really not worth going through all the trouble when you could buy a can of Cinnabon at the store.

That’s exactly how I felt until last year.

And then one day last winter I decided to take on the challenge and make Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Rolls.

My life changed…

and I never bought store-bought cinnamon rolls again.

Ree’s cinnamon rolls are indulgent, sweet and beyond heavenly, but I always felt extremely guilty after I had 1.

So here’s a lightened up version!

It still tastes sweet, cinnamony and fabulous but with fewer calories! :)

Here’s how :)

Lighter Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze

Makes about 25 rolls

For the rolls:

  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast, 0.25 oz pack
  • 4 cups(+1/2cup extra) AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp melted light butter
  • 6 tbsp sugar
  • lots of cinnamon

Directions: In a saucepan combine the milk, oil and sugar. Heat over medium heat until just under a boil. Set aside and let it cool until lukewarm. Sprinkle the yeast and let it sit for 1min. Add 4 cups of flour and stir to combine. Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside in a warm place for 1 hr. After 1 hr stir in the baking powder, baking soda,salt and remaining 1/2 cup flour. Chill for at least 1hr before use. *At this point I divided the dough and half and stored 1/2 of it in the freezer to use for another time! :) You of course can use all of it at once!

Once the dough has been chilled for at least 1hr and it’s easier to work with, roll the dough into a large rectangle about 30in by 10in until. It should be very thin! Brush (or spoon) the melted butter all over the dough, then sprinkle a generous layer of cinnamon. Sprinkle the sugar. Starting with the end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly towards you. Roll it as tightly as you can. Put a cutting board underneath the roll and slice the roll into 3/4 to 1in thick slices. Transfer the sliced rolls into cooking spray sprayed baking dishes (do not overcrowd the pans) and cover with a towel. Let rise, covered, for 20 mins. Bake in 375F preheat oven for 15-18 mins or until golden brown. While the rolls are baking make the icing.

Cream Cheese Glaze:

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3+ cups powdered sugar
  • milk, if needed

Directions: Beat the cream cheese with electric mixer until fluffy about 3mins. Beat in the vanilla. Slowly 1/2 cup at a time start adding the powdered sugar until desired consistency is achieved. If frosting is too thick add 1 tsp at a time of milk to thin out. The frosting should be somewhat thick but spreadable.

Once the cinnamon rolls are baked, pour the glaze on top right away :)

Adapted from:

Clean Eating – Healthy Shopping Trip and Guidelines to help you stay on track

Hi! It’s been almost a week since my last post, but life has been busy.

And with Christmas around the corner it’s about to get even busier!

Especially since I haven’t done any holiday shopping yet… Oops!

Today is all about healthy shopping!

My wonderful husband and I decided that soon we would like to add a little bundle of joy to our family, but before we start trying I want to get my body ready for a baby!

So I’ve decided to start eating healthy, cut-off junk food, caffeine and desserts and stay very hydrated.

When I think about getting pregnant I get really excited yet very nervous about all the things that could possibly go wrong. So I feel like being healthy before pregnancy definitely helps out during too! I also think about the kind of pregnant woman I want to be… Do I want to indulge in everything that looks appealing and gain a lot of unnecessary weight that would be hard to lose? Or do I want to stay active and feed my body and my baby healthy nourishing foods that will give me more energy and won’t make me be as big as a house? Definitely the second!

So my quest for clean eating starts now! :)

Normally I’m horrible at following diets and I always feel extremely deprived so a diet is definitely not what this is! I’m not trying to lose weight but hey if it happens that would be an added bonus, but it’s really not what this is all about! So with some research I’ve established some healthy guidelines that I want to follow and stay on track! The only problem is getting Chris on board because he looves junk food! But have no fear I will persevere and have my way ;)  In this shopping trip everything I bought was actually healthy! No butter, chocolate covered pretzels or cream cheese! So here’s what I bought and what I plan to make with it!

  • Vegetables: 2 lbs baby carrots, baby spinach, broccoli, cherry tomatoes(technically a fruit), celery, cabbage, mushrooms and some basil
  • Fruits: strawberries, bananas, tangerines, mixed frozen fruit
  • Snacks: dried cherries, raisins, honey roasted nuts, variety of yogurt, activia, peanut butter and honey
  • Dairy: Fat free milk, Reduced fat Colby jack, part skim ricotta.
  • Juice: Prune juice – yucky but keeps you very regular!
  • Grains – brown jasmine rice
  • Protein: Chicken breasts, 93% ground beef and 4 cans of tuna
  • Cans: Canned tomato products, marinara sauce, diced green chiles and fat-free ranch.

Whole trip cost about $80 and will last us at least 1 week. Eating healthy is definitely a little more expensive but definitely worth it!

Things I’m planning on making with these items (and things I already had in my pantry):

  • Peanut butter, banana and honey oatmeal – yum!
  • Quinoa chicken marinara
  • Healthy mushrooms, spinach and turkey lasagna
  • Banana S’more Boats
  • Kalyn’s Cabbage – a dish with cabbage, brown rice and beef – looks yum
  • Cheesy chicken and rice bake
  • Yogurt drops
  • Yogurt and fruit parfaits
  • Lots of snacks
  • Baked fruit loaded pancakes
  • Skinny tuna melts

 

So here’s what I think of clean eating! I’ll be following these guidelines before, during and hopefully after pregnancy :)

  • Eat 3 healthy meals and 2 snacks in between - Are you one of these people who tend to skip a meal? Running late in the morning so you skip breakfast? That sure sounds familiar to me! But I think we all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day! So no meal skipping!!!
  • Snacks: I hardly ever snack. I just either forget or I just figure what’s the point it’s almost lunch? But snacks help take the edge off hunger, gives you a boost of energy and whenever your body goes hours without food it stores the next meal of fat which you obviously don’t want so snacks prevent that! Some healthy snacks that I’ll be eating are raisins, dried cherries, nuts, yogurt, variety of fruits, yogurt drops(coming soon), and vegetables with low-fat ranch!
  • Drink water not soda! Seriously! At least 8 glasses of water a day, I know it sounds difficult, but keep a water bottle by you at all times to have constant easy access. That’s once again very hard for me because I don’t really like water. Weird, right!? But I can manage!
  • Eat your fruits and vegetables! I probably sound like your mom right now, but really you need lots of vegetables! And try to eat them raw! The more you steam vegetables the more nutrients they lose! Raw broccoli with some low-fat dressing is actually not that bad, and that’s the vegetable hater talking!
  • Eat fish! Fish is good for you, very high in Omega3 but if you’re pregnant or want to be pregnant try to avoid fish that are high in mercury! Great choices are light tuna, tilapia and wild salmon. Try to get at least 2 6oz servings a week.
  • Cut down on sugars: As you all know I love desserts! I must have something sweet after every meal! And occasionally a small piece of cake is ok, but not every day! If you are craving something sweet, try to satisfy your craving with a fruit, some fat-free frozen yogurt and dried fruit!
  • Cut down on red meat! If you’re craving beef, use lean red meat! Some great protein choices are chicken breasts, tofu and quinoa :)
  • Get plenty of rest! Sleep as much as you can because once you get pregnant you’ll be sleeping a lot less :)
  • Carbs: Carbs are great they keep you full for hours, but do switch over to whole grain! Some of my favorites are honey whole wheat bread and oatmeal :)
  • Slow down on the coffee: I’m actually cutting it off all together. I find myself going to Starbucks 3-4 times a weeks which is expensive and full of empty calories. I don’t really get a burst of energy from it so the only reason I drink it is because it’s warm, inviting and it tastes yummy. But it’s better to stop now rather than while pregnant!
  • No alcohol!

I hope you find these guidelines helpful! I feel very motivated and hope to stay on track as my journey through clean eating continues :)

Love,

Elly