Monday, December 29, 2014

Cranberry Smoothie

The diet is in another state...

I try to eat healthy everyday, but with the holidays come chocolate and sugar and butter and salt and and and ... I am still exercising, but I am barely maintaining. It is a huge losing battle. Over sized sweaters are becoming my new friend. They can camouflage anything. 

Since I love fresh cranberries, I decided to make a winter drink. It is a great way to get some protein and the benefits of cranberries. They are loaded with anti-oxidants. I really just love the fresh taste of them. I also made a loaf of cranberry nut bread. Should have posted that. It was just delicious.

The beautiful purple swirls of flavor

Cranberry Smoothie
designed by ME
1 cup Almond Milk
1 tablespoon of Vanilla Protein Powder
1 cup or so grated Cranberries
1 squirt of Agave Nectar

Place Almond milk and Protein powder in the high power blender. Mix. Add remaining ingredients and mix until blended. Because my Almond milk was sweetened, I needed less agave nectar. Suite to taste.

Raw goodness

How much easier can this get

This was a full glass of delicious flavors

If you wanted to strain, you could, BUT why..

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Box Project

Because I love to decorate all year round, and especially at Christmas. I decided to do a planter box. The beauty of this project, is that you can do it any size, shape or style. There are NO directions with this project. Just use your imagination and let your creative juices flow.

So, this Fall I was out at my Moms. I was in the looking at her pots and planters. She asked me if I wanted it, at the time, I was not sure. Buzzing around Pinterest, this idea hit me. My Husband was out at her house, and "borrowed" the box. If she needs it back, I will be happy to return it to her.

It was just a plain color. It took a couple of coats of green spray paint, to give it the color I wanted. I also did some wisps of gold paint. I am still not sure about the gold. I wanted it to pop.

Just a lightweight planter box

As we all know, I love to spray paint. 
I so could have been a tagger. Maybe it is the defacing of property 
and getting in trouble that has stopped me..

OK, you can use any color. Something that works with 
your color scheme. Or just a favorite color

Two or three coats and some wisps of Gold. 
You see it from the street, and that is why I want some pop

Plain old greenery. 
It was stuffed into the box.

Shatterproof ornaments. 
I used curling ribbon to attach everything together

Different ribbon and decorations are what added to the colors in this box
Because of where this box was going, I added color lights
White or any color would also work.
We are using all LED lights. We feel that they are
more energy efficient. My meter is not spinning out of control.

Just a simple planter box filled with greenery and ornaments. 
I really like this on my porch

I updated my Christmas tree to match the box

Two years ago, I made the garland.
With the front door swag from last year
and everything else, my front porch is very inviting

AND this is my tree...
It is so beautiful this year.
The jewel tones look just beautiful

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Nutella Blondies w/Nutella Caramel

IF YOU ARE WATCHING YOUR SUGAR INTAKE, STOP... These bars are not for you. Holy Diabetic Coma. O my goodness. But if you want a blondie that does not became a brick after one day, with a delightful homemade caramel sauce on it.... These are it. Heaven help you. These were made on Friday afternoon for a party, they still were moist and delicious on Monday. How often can you say that about Blondies. Pretty close to never. This is why I almost never make them. As good as they taste, one or two days later, in the garbage can.

I am having some alignment problem with my website.. I started to frost these bars, cut them and added the remaining frosting. Almost all the sides were covered. Ooey Gooey mess of finger licking goodness. These bars could be included in some decadent FUN... (Just saying)

OK, Nutella in the blondie and and the caramel sauce.. Totally elevated something regular to a whole new level. Think about this when you are baking and cooking. Bump it up a notch. Food does not have to be boring. Enjoy your food and your life.

There are a lot of ingredients here. Do not let this dissuade you, Just the blondie bake, add the caramel sauce when done. Just a different type of frosting. Actually, this bar calls for a glaze on top, absolutely unnecessary. There is no need.

Nutella Blondies w/Nutella Caramel
loosely adapted from
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup Nutella
2 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Nutella Caramel 
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup Nutella
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with tin foil. Spray with cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium skillet, add the 2 sticks of butter. Cook over medium low heat. Stirring occasionally. The butter will foam and then start to cook. You will smell a wonderful nutty aroma. Please keep an eye, so that the butter does not burn. Once the butter turns, remove from heat and let cool slightly.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together the brown butter and brown sugar until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each one. Add in vanilla and mix. Gently mix in flour, salt and baking soda. DO NOT OVER MIX. Gently fold in white chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan. Smooth out the top

In a small bowl, mix together granulated sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle mixture over the top of the blondies in an even layer. Bake for 20-22 minutes. They will puff slightly. When done baking, remove from oven and let cool.

While the blondies are cooling, prepare the Nutella caramel. In a heavy bottom saucepan, add the granulated sugar and heat over medium heat. Regularly stir the sugar. The sugar will turn this beautiful amber brown color. Once all the clumps have melted, add the butter and continue to stir until melted. VERY slowly, add the cream into the sugar butter mixture. It will bubble, this is OK. Boil for 1-2 minutes. Then remove from heat. Immediately stir in the Nutella, vanilla extract and sea salt. Set aside and let cool.

Once the caramel is cooled, pour a thin layer over the blondies. Cut the blondies and spread out slightly. Pour the remaining caramel over the blondies the coat most of the sides. It will make each piece special.

This batter comes together quickly. If you were out of white chocolate chips, it would not be a tragedy.

All ready for the oven.

Once out of the oven, the blondies are puffed.

Plain old white sugar... nothing special

Starting to melt and form clumps

Almost totally melted. A few clumps still left. Do you see that beautiful brown color

Added the butter and then the cream to the mixture

ONE WORD ~~ Nutella

Nutella Caramel Sauce.. This could be used for so many different things..
Ice cream, plain old brownies, out of the pan...

Pouring the thin layer before I cut them

Most of the sides are covered

I took these to a party. They look a bit intimidating. 
Once the first person tried one, they were devoured. 
Everyone raved about these.
I saved a few for my Husband, 
WHOA, I got his approval. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pecan Cheesecake Squares

Holy rock and roll, I have found Heaven. These bars are amazing... I know, I know, how many times have I said this. I guess because I only post excellent tasting food. WHY would I post a sub par recipe. There really in no point.

So last Friday was my Mother's 70th birthday.

We actually started her extravaganza on Thursday. All of her daughters took her to Chicago for Dinner and a Show.

This was the end of dinner. We went to this wonderful restaurant in Chicago named Balena. Delicious food. From there, we took a cab and went to see the Million Dollar Quartet. It was a wonderful show featuring the likes of Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Ray Perkins. Just up my mothers alley. Her toe was a tapping and she was clapping.

It was a wonderful evening. On Friday was her actual birthday, we also had a birthday party for her then. My Mother loves cake without a lot of Frosting. So, I made her this delightful Citrus Almond Cake. (the only picture is above). I will post the recipe sometime when I take more photos. (the brain was not functioning) I also made these delicious mouth watering Pecan Cheesecake Squares. They were totally consumed. Everyone LOVED them and wanted the recipe. IF you really want to ask a question, WHY does someone really need to bring 2 desserts to the second day birthday extravaganza. Because I love to bake, or just crazy.. Hmmm definitely the second one....

They are not a hard bar to make, There is cooling time between each layer. That is why they take a bit longer to make. They also need to chill and set up before serving. This bar is easy, but just takes some time.

This tray was devoured. Remember, there was also 
a small lovely cake also. 

Pecan Cheesecake Squares
Adapted by
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar, DIVIDED
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 cups finely chopped pecans, DIVIDED
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, DIVIDED
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 pans with tin foil and spray.

For the shortbread layer. In a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment, combine flour, 3/4 cup of brown sugar and butter. Mix until course crumbs. DO NOT WALK AWAY from the mixer. Unless you want a lump of dough. Stir in 1/2 cup of pecans. Press mixture into your prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes. When done, remove from oven and let cool for 5 - 10 minutes.

For the cheesecake layer. Please the cream cheese in your mixing bowl. (SAME One from above) Add in sugar and beat until smooth. Add in milk and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and mix until combined. Pour cream cheese mixture over the shortbread layer. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes.

For the pecan layer. In a medium bowl, combine the remaining 3/4 cup of brown sugar, corn syrup and melted butter. Gently stir in eggs, salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Once mix, add the 1 1/2 cups of pecans. Mix completely. Slowly pour the pecan mixture over the cooled cheesecake layer. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Or until the center is a rich brown color.

Pecan.. I could eat the bag of these. 
When buying nuts, store bags in containers
in your freezer. They will not go rancid over time

Find pebbles. 
I did this in the mixer, Please watch. YOU do not
want it to became a lump of dough.

Patting into pan. I sprayed my hands with Pam
so that the batter would not stick

The slightly baked short bread crust cooling and 
waiting for the cheesecake layer

Ready for the oven

This layer needed to cool for 10  minutes to firm up

Pecan Pie on top of the cheesecake layer

This pan was a bubbling when it came out of the oven

This bar cut so nice. 
Do you hear, EAT ME PLEASE

layers of shortbread, cream cheese and pecans

This is the next day. Totally chilled and set up. 
I may have eaten all of these on this tray.
Worth the price of pecans.


Chocolate layer on bottom and banana cake on top.
The banana cake is my Florida sisters' recipe.
I will post that also someday. Delicious

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Gooey Bars

SO.... I am on this huge gooey bar kick. This particular bar is absolutely amazing. Oh my Heaven. If you are a chocolate peanut butter lover, these bars are for you. These bars will kick Reese's cups out of the way. Reese's are my husbands favorite. I always try to save some from Halloween. Sweeten his heart... He really knows that I love him very much.

I really need a manicure... 
Just look at the bar, layers of goodness

As we all know, I like easy and delicious. These bars have a few steps, but nothing is complicated and they just layer and go together quickly. I took these to a party and they were devoured. I cut them into small pieces and that was perfect. There was also the thought as making these for a birthday dessert. If you are not a cake lover and like peanut butter and chocolate, holy moses, these are a HIT.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Gooey Bars
1 Chocolate Cake mix
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 egg

1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup peanut butter
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
4 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 tablespoon peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 pan with aluminum foil, and spray the cooking spray. 

In a mixer with a paddle attachment. Combine the cake mix, egg and butter together. Beat until combined. Pat down the cake mix batter into your pan. It will take some patience and a few minutes to cover the entire surface of your pan.

Pour the chocolate chips over the bottom layer. Pour the peanut butter chips over the chocolate chips and cover completely.

In the same bowl, combine the cream cheese, vanilla extract, and peanut butter until totally mix together. Add the eggs one at a time. Mixing after each egg. Add the melted butter and mix completely. Add the powdered sugar and mix thoroughly. Pour this mixture of the chip layer.

Bake for about 45-50 minutes. The mixture will be puffed up in the center when done. It will only jiggle slightly. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave on 50% power for a minute. Add the peanut butter. (MAYBE another 15-30 seconds if not totally melted). Stir stir stir. Spread the mixture over the top of the cream cheese layer. (Mine was still warm and made the frosting melt more) Perfect. 

Once totally cooled or slightly chilled, cut into pieces and serve.

I believe everyone knows by now. 
I LOVE all Chips.
When I was a kid, we used to eat them out of the bag.

This is the chocolate mix patted into the bottom of the pan

Chocolate and peanut butter chips

Cream cheese mixture ready to pour over the chips

the bars are cooling and ready for frosting

This bar does benefit from frosting. 
Finishes of the top layer

bites for display purposes only....

ALL I have to say.... mouthwateringly delicious....