Skinny Monkey Muffins

Well, the title is my take on chunky monkey muffins.  I don’t think these could make you very chunky!  There isn’t much to them.  My neighbor and friend made them for the kids one day and Maddox shoved like 4 in his mouth while going out the door – after he’d already had his snack.  Soooo… I paid her off to give me the recipe.  No, Hilary’s nice and just gave it to me plus she’s a super awesome lady.

Notes:
I don’t recommend cupcake/muffin liners on muffins.  They don’t let the muffin rise and give it that nice dome top sometimes.  I wasn’t 100% sure they would come out of my metal pan and had liners to get rid of, so I tried liners again and it wasn’t as good as when I don’t use them.
I love my Williams-Sonoma muffin pan.  Easy to clean, aluminum and always bakes evenly.  I have used silicone before and for kids muffins I think it would work well, too.  My silicone pans would smell sometimes, but I didn’t taste it in the food.

Skinny Monkey Muffins

yield 8 large muffins  or 16 regular muffins or 30 mini muffins

1 tsp. lemon juice + 1/4 cup skim milk
3/4 cup AP flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 Tb. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
pinch salt
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (Nestle makes semi sweet mini ones)
3 small ripe bananas, mashed (2 medium or large bananas)
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease muffin tin.
2.  In a measuring cup, add the juice and then fill the milk to the 1/4 cup mark.  Let sit so the acid can do its thing.
3.  In a big bowl, do the muffin method!  Mix dry: flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and chips.
4.  In a medium bowl,  beat with a kitchenaid or hand mixer: bananas, sugar, egg and vanilla.
5.  Add wet to dry and  just barely combine.
6.  Divide the batter between wells.  I use 3 Tbs. cookie scoop for regular size muffins and 1 Tb. cookie scoop for mini muffins.
7.  Bake minis for 8-12 minutes.
Bake regular ones for 10-15 minutes.
Bake large ones for 17-20 minutes.  Just use the toothpick and see if it comes out clean.

Recipe adapted from http://www.choosingsimplicity.com

“Perfect” Muffins

I normally would never ever put “perfect” in front of any of my recipes.  Personally, I just don’t think anyone could call their recipe “perfect”.  BUT, this is not my recipe 🙂  These muffins come from Pam Anderson’s “The Perfect Recipe” and the book is fabulous.  She describes in detail how she came up with her methods and why they work.  Almost like Alton Brown’s show “Good Eats” only in book form.

I’ve tried lots and lots of muffins.  These are the first ones I’ve made that create a perfect dome top without the need for streusal or something extra.  This method is much easier than the regular muffin method of “stir until just combined” for me since it uses an electric mixer.

Basic Muffin Recipe
yields 24  regular-sized muffins (this recipe does work when cut in half or you can freeze them)

3 cups AP flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
10 Tbs. butter, room temp.
1 cup minus 1Tbs. sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt

1.  Make sure your oven rack is in the lower-middle position.  Grease your muffin/12-cupcake pan with vegetable oil or spray.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
1.  In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder,  baking soda and salt.
2.  In large bowl, use an electric mixer on medium-high to beat butter and sugar for 2 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time.
3.  Add yogurt and dry ingredients a little at a time and alternate between the yogurt and flour mixture.  So, beat in about 1/3 of your yogurt into the butter mixture.  Beat in 1/2 of the dry ingredients.  Add 1/3 of the yogurt.  Add dry.  Add the rest of the yogurt.
4.   Fill each cup so the batter is even with the top.  Bake 18-20 minutes.

Flavor Ideas:

Cranberry Orange Muffins: add 1 tsp. orange zest to dry ingredients; Fold in 1 cup dried cranberries (or 1 1/2 cup chopped fresh cranberries) and 3/4 cup toasted walnuts at the end

Lemon Blueberry: add 1 tsp. lemon zest to dry ingredients;  1 1/2 cup fresh blueberries folded in at end

Carrot Raisin: Add 1 tsp. to dry ingredients; 1 1/2 cups of grated carrot and 3/4 cup raisins folded in at the end

Mocha Chip: Add 3 Tbs. instant coffee into the yogurt; 1 cup chocolate chips folded in at the end.

Banana Walnut Muffins
yield 24 regular sized muffins (cupcake size)

3/4 cup walnuts, chopped (toasted 3-4 minutes in skillet or oven at 350 degrees)
3 cups flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
10 Tbs. butter, room temp.
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 cup finely diced bananas (3 small)

1.  Spray your muffin/12-cupcake pan with oil.  Preheat oven 375 degrees.
2.  Follow instructions of making muffins per the above method.

100% Whole Wheat Pancakes


Here’s proof I don’t put all my trials and recipes on this web page.  The past few weeks I tried to improve or make: lemon crinkle cookies, blueberry lemon muffins, whole wheat corn muffins and kiwi ice cream.  All edible, but nothing fantastic.  Nothing I would take to a potluck, over to someone’s house or give as a gift.

But after 3 years of making these pancakes, this recipe is by far my most favorite whole wheat recipe.  EVER.

And here is a hint for restaurant-tasting pancakes:  use malt instead of sugar.  If you read the ingredients on some instant pancake mix boxes you won’t find sugar,  but you will find malt.  So whether you use this recipe or your own – try using malt instead of flour.  I replace 3T of sugar with 1/4 cup of malt.  You can find malt in the ice cream topping section or the hot cocoa section of the grocery store.  King Arthur Flour sells malted milk as well and may be of higher quality… I haven’t tried it, but I know their flour is excellent.  Plus, I can’t use honey right now in the pancakes since baby is still under 1 year old.

Tip: I wrote this recipe in permanent marker on my whole wheat flour container.  After making them so much I don’t need it anymore.

100% Whole Wheat Pancakes
yields 10 pancakes (about the size of a tea cup saucer)

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. honey, or 3 Tbs. of sugar, or 1/4 cup of malt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk (or cheat like me and use 1 Tbs. of lemon juice and 1 cup milk)
3 Tbs. applesauce (or vegetable oil)
Options: 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. vanilla, blueberries, chocolate chips, etc.

1.   Heat griddle or electric skillet to 350 degrees.  Or, heat large skillet on stove to medium/medium-high.  Use butter to keep the pancake from sticking if using a pan that is not non-stick.  Or use butter just for the fun of it.  If using the cheating buttermilk method, make your milk and lemon juice mixture now.  If not, skip to #2.
2.  Whisk together whole wheat flour, baking powder and salt in large batter bowl.  Also whisk in the sugar or malt if using that.  Include cinnamon if using that option.
3.  Add buttermilk, applesauce (or oil) and eggs (and honey if using that instead of sugar or malt).  Include vanilla extract if using that option.  I really didn’t taste a huge difference, but some people think they taste much better with it.
4.  Mix well with whisk until just combined.   Add blueberries, chocolate chips, etc. if you want at this point.
5.   Pour a small saucer plate size dollop of batter onto the skillet.  Once the pancake begins to bubble, flip.  Cook another 2-3 minutes.  Check and if both sides are golden brown, you’re done!  Cover with a dish towel until serving.
For more experienced cooks, here is the shorthand to my directions.  I usually write down the ingredients and then put on there:

Mix dry.  Mix wet.  Add wet to dry.  Cook pancakes.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies 2.0

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies on Whisk Together.com

 

NEW FAVORITE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE ALERT!

This is my sister’s new FAVORITE chocolate chip cookie.  This is my new favorite chocolate chip cookie.  And everyone around here thought they were really, really good too.  So I am definitely sharing the recipe!!!

And that is saying something because if you know me, I don’t care for chocolate.  I’ll take a lemon bar over a piece of fudge any day.  But I LOVE these cookies.

 

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies on Whisk Together.com

 

One thing I will reiterate and suggest is to weigh the flour.  My scoop of flour will be different than your scoop.  The source of the base for this recipe (King Arthur Flour) doesn’t scoop the flour, but spoons the flour into the measuring cup.  This can create a difference of up to 1/8 cup of flour per cup and change the results!

If you are not certain about white whole wheat flour, it is VERY versatile.  It is the only flour I use mainly unless it is Christmas time and I am baking more for other people.  I use white whole wheat flour for our pancakes, waffles, muffins, cinnamon rolls, bread, and rolls.

Also, I always freeze my cookie dough balls first.  The cookie doesn’t come out flat, but comes out puffy and chewy the way that I like them.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies on Whisk Together.com

Why is this cookie so good?

  1.  It is chewy and gooey on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside the day they are baked.
  2. It is a chewy cookie the next day with a galore of chocolate chunks.
  3. There’s only 6 tablespoons of sugar in the whole batch.
  4. It uses 100% white whole wheat flour instead of all purpose or bread flour.  You can also use regular whole wheat, too.  But it might change the flavor in the end result.
  5. The mixing method, ingredient list and baking are all simple.
  6. It uses more chocolate chips than a standard bag – so make sure to buy two!

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies on Whisk Together.com

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies 2.0
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
Serves: 36 small cookies
Ingredients
  • 6 Tb. (3 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2.4 oz. (1/3 cup) sugar
  • 3.75 oz. (1/2 cup) brown sugar
  • 3 Tb. honey
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tb. cider vinegar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 8 ounces (1 and 1/2 cups) white whole wheat flour
  • 2 and 1/3 (14 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Prep one large rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  2. In a great big bowl, add butter, sugars, honey, vanilla and salt. Beat until smooth and creamy.
  3. Add cider vinegar, egg, baking soda and baking powder. Beat until smooth and creamy again.
  4. Add flour and gently stir. Add in chocolate chips and stir until just combined.
  5. Using a small or medium size cookie scoop (depending how large you want your cookies), drop the cookie dough balls onto the rimmed cookie sheet. It will fill up the pan. Lay them in the freezer for 30-60 minutes.
  6. Once frozen on the outside, you can choose to bake them, bake some and save some, or save all of them for later. If saving for later, place them into a ziplock freezer bag. Remove the air as best you can and seal. Store in the freezer.
  7. To bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place cookies 2″ apart on a cookie sheet that has been greased or prepped with parchment or silicone mat. Bake the frozen cookies for 10-12 minutes. The time will vary depending on the cookie size.
  8. The cookies will be done when you see them brown on the bottom and the edges will just barely be brown. Allow to cool 10 minutes and put on a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Store at room temperature. Or, freeze for up to 2-3 months.
Notes
Recipe adapted (very slightly) from King Arthur Flour

 

Blueberry Scones

Blueberry Scones_4 on Whisk Together

I hope everyone had a fabulous Fourth of July!

What I learned this week:

-Aldi has wild caught salmon for $3.99 per bag of 4 filets.  Sounded awesome… and WAY cheaper than Costco.  Then….. I read that it is a product of China.

-Watermelon is a fruit AND a vegetable!  These fruit/vegetable debates are about to make my head spin.  To read the entire saga, click here.

Blueberry Scones on whisk together

What I read this week:

I finished “The Water Castle” by Megan Frazier Blakemore.  It is a YA novel and winner of the Mark Twain Award for 2014-2015.  In the beginning, the novel moves a little slowly.  But after the first few chapters and setting the scene, the novel picks up pace and flips between 1908 and present day.  I really enjoyed it and would recommend it for kids and adults who like YA novels.

Blueberry Scones_1 on Whisk Together

Recipe:  I have made this with regular and white whole wheat flour.  I love it both ways.  We have been eating 100% whole wheat flour here so long that it really doesn’t phase us to switch it out.

I also used half Greek yogurt and half butter.  I’ve managed to reduce it in half in many of my biscuit recipes and no one has been the wiser.  When I substitute 100% Greek yogurt, the lack of butter flavor and tenderness is quite noticeable.

You can use sour cream instead of the 1/4 cup of yogurt if you have that on hand instead.

I just love these scones.  I could eat 3 of them in one sitting!  Oh wait.  I did.  (Kid and Hubby approved, too!)

Blueberry Scones_3 on Whisk Together

Blueberry Scones
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
Scrumptious blueberry scones. Tender and light with great flavor and texture. If freezing, divide and freeze the scones before baking.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups (8.5 oz.) all purpose flour or white whole wheat
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup (1.75 ounces) sugar
  • 1 Tb. baking powder
  • 6 Tb. (3 oz.) cold butter, cut into pieces (or 3 Tb. cold butter and 3 Tb. plain Greek yogurt)
  • 1 cups (5 oz.) fresh blueberries
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 Tb. grated lemon zest (or lemon juice powder)
  • 1 Tb. milk
  • 2 Tb. coarse or regular sugar for spinkling
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a great big bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder.
  3. Add the butter (or butter/ Greek yogurt) and cut that into the flour mixture with two knives, your fingers, or a pastry cutter. It should look like small crumbs.
  4. Gently fold in the blueberries.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, vanilla and lemon zest. Fold this gently into the flour mixture. Do NOT overmix. Fold until it just comes together.
  6. Here, you can now use a large scoop like for muffins to scoop 12 scones onto a baking sheet. Or, you can make them in a scone pan. Or, form a large circle of dough and cut them up into 8 large scones like a pizza. My dough circle was about 1″-1.5″ high.
  7. Brush a little milk onto the scone. Sprinkle with the 2 Tb. of sugar. Bake 20-22 minutes. The scone will be light brown like in the photo.
  8. These are tasty soon after they are made. Or follow the freezing notes in the summary to freeze scones and have them ready to bake in the morning. Just add another 5 minutes or so to the baking time to bake frozen scones.
Notes
For icing: if you want a drizzle of icing, mix together about 1/4 cup of powdered sugar and just enough lemon juice to make the icing as thick or thin as you like. I aim for the consistence of honey or a little thicker.[br][br]Recipe from King Arthur Flour

 

What We Love at Trader Joe’s

TJ

I get asked a lot about Trader Joe’s and what we buy there.  I have a post from two years ago on the blog.  And another one here.  But, since things like “House Whip” have been discontinued at Trader Joe’s I thought I would update the list.  (BTW, if you want Cool Whip with more natural ingredients, you can still purchase “House Whip” under the name “TruWhip” at many stores.  It was always the same stuff with a different label.)

First, I have to mention my new favorite sunscreen!  It is chemical free.  It is not sold at Trader Joe’s though…  I have only seen it available online.  I found it through the EWG and their guide to sunscreen.  I have tried for years to find a sunblock (not to be confused with sunscreen) that won’t make us look like a ghost clown.  Blue Lizard Sensitive works right into the skin like regular sunscreen, but this one is full of the two approved sunblock components:  zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.  Plus, the bottle turns blue in UV light- how cool is that?  No, they don’t pay me to write this.

20150627_090156_resized

(I’m sorry for the flash and photos… St. Louis had rain for an entire week straight and you may have heard of all the flooding that is still going on here.  So, lots of clouds = not so good photos of Trader Joe products.)

Why We Love It:

Now onto Trader Joe’s!  Why do we love this place?  Why do some people drive 1 hour out of their way to go there?

#1  Super nice employees.  I have read of two stories on the internet where employees actually handed a customer a small bouquet of flowers because he or she needed it.  Who else does that??

#2  Small store.  Yes I love this about the store.  I don’t need to buy 60 different salad dressings.  I want a good one.  I go get it, end of story.  If it doesn’t taste good, it won’t be on the shelf.  I can be in and out of the store much faster than metropolis stores.

#3 New items.  They have many items rotating in and out.  It’s fun to try new things and I love always finding one that we have never tried before.

#4  Return Policy.  You can’t buy their stuff anywhere else, so you pretty much don’t need a receipt.  It is handy to have though.  They will return anything for any reason – kind of like Costco.

#5  Kid Friendly.  Every time we go, the kids go in search for the stuffed animal that has been hidden in the store.  They tell the checker and get a small organic lollipop for a prize.  So, the kids are occupied and have fun too.

#6  Can’t find anywhere else items.  Many of the items I love I can’t find anywhere else.  Or anywhere nearby.

#7  Cheaper than many stores.  I can’t say it is cheaper than Aldi.  But, it is cheaper than most grocery stores and Target here.  And you can’t really compare the two – the Aldi cocoa powder and Trader Joe cocoa powder are totally different.  Chocolate chips are 30 cents different and again the nutrition is different.  Aldi doesn’t sell baking powder without aluminum, etc. etc.  There is a place for Aldi, but I don’t think it is a fair comparison.

Definitely cheaper cheeses and nuts.  Their brie is half the price of our local store.

#8  Free samples!  The sample lady is very nice and helps you with questions and where to find things.   There is always one drink and one food item.  On busy Saturdays, they have wine tastings.

#9  Trader Joe’s label = not having to wonder whether it has high fructose corn syrup or artificial colors, artificial flavors or preservatives.  These are not present in any of their Trader Joe labeled food!

List and Photos of Favorites:

Trader Joes-3139 on Whisk Together

 

Spinach and Kale Greek Yogurt Dip – think of spinach artichoke dip in a healthier form.  Dip chips, crackers, carrots, celery, your finger…. it’s all good.

Trader Joes-3116 on Whisk Together

 

Everything Crackers:  My son’s favorite crackers.  We love to pair them with Trader Joe’s double cream brie cheese.  Easy appetizer or snack.

Trader Joes-3138 on Whisk Together

 

Cinnamon rolls:  no added artificial anything.  Five enormous cinnamon rolls ready and waiting in less than 20 minutes.  But, if you have a store nearby that carries Immaculate brand cinnamon rolls you are in luck – they are they exact same cinnamon rolls.

Trader Joes-3123 on Whisk Together

 

Joe’s O’s:  15 ounces of Cheerios for $1.99

Trader Joes-3137 on Whisk Together

 

Pineapple Salsa:  I have liked all of their salsas including peach and regular.  I am not a fan of canned salsa…. fresh is just so much better.  But this is really good actually and tastes great with chicken as well.

Trader Joes-3120 on Whisk Together

 

Viennese Lemon Tart:  A seasonal item that should not be missed.  For $6.99 this tart will feed 8 people and tastes just like homemade.  Probably because the ingredients are exactly what I would use myself.  Since it would cost me about $10 in butter, lemons and sugar to make this myself, I think it’s a great deal.

Trader Joes-3133 on WHisk Together

 

Pound Plus Chocolate:  These bars come in 72% dark chocolate, dark chocolate, and many others.  They are all $4.99 and all weigh over 1 pound.  Excellent deal and divided into little squares, so you can get your chocolate fix and stash it away.

Trader Joes-3130 on Whisk Together

 

Dunkers!  I am not allowed to go to Trader Joe’s without picking these up 🙂  You think I’m kidding… I’m not.

Trader Joes-3134 on Whisk Together

 

Tomato Soup:  We love this quick and easy tomato soup which is perfect when making it fresh is not possible or the tomatoes are not in season.  Juliana LOVES this with a grilled cheese sandwich.

Trader Joes-3125 on Whisk Together

 

Green Tea:  I don’t like most green tea.  It is usually too acidic or the manufacturer adds funky flavors.  This is just plain green tea, perfect balance and 48 bags for $1.99!

Trader Joes-3127 on Whisk Together

 

Joe Joe’s:  $2.99 for 20 ounces of Oreo cookies.  Oreo go on sale for that price sometimes.  These have always had no trans fats.  Oreo changed their formula a few years ago and removed the trans fat in their cookies.  We like the vanilla creme ones, too!  They also make these gluten free.

Trader Joes-3126 on Whisk Together

 

Honey O’s:  Honey Nut Cheerios basically.  But always cheap.

flyer-islandsoyaki

 

Island Soyaki Sauce:  I use this with chicken, pork, beef, veggies, everything.  Anything that needs a little Asian flair.

Trader Joes-3136 on Whisk Together

 

Seasonings:  I don’t have a photo, but the 21 Season Salute is very popular.  The Coffee BBQ rub is awesome, too.  They have smoked paprika for $2!  You can’t find that price anywhere else hardly.  On Amazon, it is $6.

 

Stuff That Got Eaten Before Taking a Photo or Only Carried during a Season:

Hot Dogs – Nitrate, Nitrite and Preservative free (and the ingredients are made of real food!)
Chocolate Covered Salted Almonds
Organic Lollipops
California Roll Brown Rice Sushi (Most people don’t care for it.  Hubby and I like it)
Pizza Dough Balls
Italian Sausage
Fruit and Nut Mixes (especially the blue one with cranberries, blueberries etc. and called Antioxidant mix
Brownie Truffle mix
Berry scone mix
Shortcake – Just like homemade!  Soo good.  In the bakery section
Peanut butter crackers
Chocolate chips
Frozen mango
Frozen Mozzarella sticks
Carrot Juice
Orange juice
Cat School Cookies
Windmill Cookies
Shortbread cookies
Frozen orange chicken
Superfruit Jam
Frozen Mac and Cheese
Frozen French Fries
Mini Mint Ice Cream Sandwiches
Mini Ice Cream Cones
Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches
Granolas
Fruit Bars (This “Strawberry” walk into a bar)
Crisp Cereal!!!  (Rice Krispies but without the BHT and BHA!!)
Mint Joe Joe’s
Peppermint Bark
Multigrain Pancake Mix
Cheese Crackers
Pop Chips
Caramelized Onion and Feta Bites
Raisin Bread
English Muffins
Fruit, veggies, and Broccoli Slaw
Asian dressing
Kansas City BBQ Sauce
Sriracha

I’m sure I forgot some…. but this is a pretty good start 🙂  I will have to post again in the Fall when their pumpkin items come out.

What we didn’t care for (because not everything is super fantastic… but most of it is!):
Chicken sausage is okay
Chicken maple breakfast sausage is okay in a pinch
Cold soups in the refrigerated section were meh
Trader Joe BBQ sauce and Enchilada sauce were a little too spicy for my tastes…. a medium hot.
But that’s about it.

Have a GREAT day!

Lime Cupcakes and International Freezer Meal Plan

Lime Cupcakes_6 on Whisk Together

Book Update:  Here is a list of books I’ve read so far this summer.

Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger: Ever wonder why certain youtube videos go viral?  Or why some companies make the choices they do?  This book explains a lot and explains how things that are contagious belong to one or more categories:  social currency, triggers, emotion, practicality, public and stories.  I would recommend reading Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point first.
Drop Dead Healthy by AJ Jacobs: I’ve loved reading AJ Jacobs since his first book about reading the entire encyclopedia.  Nothing new for me in this book, but some great stories.  I would recommend it for anyone who does not enjoy non-fiction exercise or nutrition books, but wants to learn more.

The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs:  This is his most popular and best rated book on Amazon.  I can see why – he goes through a year trying to live his life exactly by the bible.  That includes all those rules from the Old Testament that we just glance over and never really quote.  I mean who puts “Whenever a woman has her menstrual period, she will be ceremonially unclean for seven days. If you touch her during that time, you will be defiled until evening” from Leviticus on their Facebook page or frame it in their hallway?

Superfreakonomics by Steven Levitt: Fun read for the inner economist in all of us.

The Bigs by Ben Carpenter:  Every person under the age of 25 should read this book!  It should be mandatory for every senior in high school – a wealth of knowledge of getting through the working world, the differences between the school world and the working world – and some great stories to boot.

Talk like TED by Carmine Gallo:  Great for anyone in public speaking or will ever need to make a presentation.

The Apple Experience by Carmine Gallo:  He refers to the Apple company so much that I just had to read this one next.  It outlines how Apple turned their corporation around and got a huge customer following/base.

Before Happiness by Shawn Achor:  This book was written after The Happiness Advantage but should really be read first.  He takes what he learned from outside the classroom and uses that to finding the keys to success, finding happiness and making lasting positive change.

The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor:  7 ways to fuel performance and success at work or school.  I think Before Happiness was better, but this has its merits.

…Well, that’s all I can remember so far!  🙂

 wildtree-everyday-freezer-meal-workshop_11-on-whisk-together

*****************International Freezer Meal Plan***************

I have been requested you contact myself, or another Wildtree representative, for information on purchasing the bundles with their recipes, meals, shopping list and labels.  Thank you!

Lime Cupcakes_19 at Whisk Together

Recipe:  As you know I’m a sucker for citrus.  We made lime sherbet this summer and for white bear’s 8th birthday, the kids and I made lime cupcakes.  White bear is 8 years old because my 7 year old son figures that is about how old he must be since I received him at a baby shower before he was born.  Per his calculations, and the desire for a new lego set, he created a birthday for his stuffed animal on August 1st.  So, every year we celebrate his stuffed animal’s birthday with a toy and some cake.  Granted, my son’s real birthday is Christmas Eve and kinda gets mixed in with the Christmas week, we can’t really have a party that week because everyone is busy, etc. etc.  So, hey, why not?

Feel free to make these into lemon-lime or lemon cupcakes just by mixing up the zest.  They are whatever you want them to be – but in the end they will be delicious!  The texture reminds me more of a muffin than a cupcake perhaps.  I still really liked them and ate too many.  They whip up in a jiffy and have a great flavor for any time of year.  Something light.

Lime Cupcakes_4 at Whisk Together

Lime Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar (5.25 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (6.25 ounces) cake flour or AP flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk, room temperature
  • For the Glaze
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons lime zest
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (6 ounces) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2-3 teaspoons water
  • grated lime

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Line muffin pan with liners.
  3. In a great big bowl: mix oil, sugar, salt and lime zest. On medium high, mix for 2 minutes.
  4. Add lime juice. Add eggs. Mix another 2 minutes on medium high.
  5. In a not so big bowl: mix flour and baking powder.
  6. Alternate adding the flour mixture and milk in 3 increments. Always start and finish with flour and mix on low. So, add 1/3 the flour, then half the milk. Add another 1/3 the flour and the rest of the milk. Add the rest of the flour.
  7. Divide batter among the muffin pan. I like to use a large cookie scoop. Bake 16-20 minutes.
  8. Cool for 10 minutes on rack. Remove from pan and cool completely.
  9. For Glaze:
  10. Mix it all up!! Add a little water if it is too thick. Using a spoon, gently pour the glaze onto the cupcake. Or, dip the cupcake into the glaze. Sprinkle with lime zest for garnish to make it pretty!
http://www.whisktogether.com/2014/09/08/lime-cupcakes-and-international-freezer-meal-plan/

Lime Cupcakes
yield 12 cupcakes

Cupcakes:
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup sugar (5.25 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons lime zest
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 eggs, room temperature
1 and 1/2 cups (6.25 ounces) cake flour or AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk, room temperature

Glaze:
3 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons lime zest
1 and 1/2 cups (6 ounces) powdered sugar, sifted
2-3 teaspoons water
grated lime

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.  Line muffin pan with liners.
3.  In a great big bowl:  mix oil, sugar, salt and lime zest.  On medium high, mix for 2 minutes.
4.  Add lime juice.  Add eggs.  Mix another 2 minutes on medium high.
5.  In a not so big bowl:  mix flour and baking powder.
6.  Alternate adding the flour mixture and milk in 3 increments.  Always start and finish with flour and mix on low.  So, add 1/3 the flour, then half the milk.  Add another 1/3 the flour and the rest of the milk.  Add the rest of the flour.
7.  Divide batter among the muffin pan.  I like to use a large cookie scoop.  Bake 16-20 minutes.
8.  Cool for 10 minutes on rack.  Remove from pan and cool completely.

For Glaze:
1.  Mix it all up!!  Add a little water if it is too thick.  Using a spoon, gently pour the glaze onto the cupcake.  Or, dip the cupcake into the glaze.  Sprinkle with lime zest for garnish to make it pretty!

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour

100 Calorie Fruit Pizza Bites

Mini Fruit Pizzas on Whisk Together

 I am so encouraged and inspired by all the wonderful readers on Whisk Together and Money Saving Mom following my How I Lost 33 Pounds and Kept It Off for 3 Years.  A lot of great ideas in the comments as well.  I tried to keep the blog post down to the essentials.  Everyone is different and has different motivations and tricks.  What works for one person might not for another, but these tricks worked for me and they may for other people as well.

To the new followers:  You will notice a difference in photos and number of posts now than if you view my previous blog entries.  We recently sold our house and living in an apartment with one large window blocked by our sectional!  No light and no kitchen space leads to different output.  The house should be done in early September though and back to rolling out the meal plans and recipes like usual!

Tips and Motivation:
1.  Buy or use a food scale.  If you notice boxes at the store use weight (ounces) and not volume (cups) in order to package their food.  This is because food shifts while in transit and completely normal.  But, the thing is that the nutritional facts are often also in weight measurements as well.  A food scale just made everything easier to get my plate and less messy.  Less mess is always good and my prime reason for weighing my baking ingredients!

2.  Go to sleep in your workout clothes if you need to.  If you need to workout in the morning and have trouble getting motivated, go to bed in your workout clothes.  It’s a great motivator, reminder and time saver in the morning.  When I used to exercise more at night, I wore my workout clothes all day to remind myself.

3.  If you lapse in your exercise or calorie intake, just start over.  Don’t think about it.  It’s a new day.  Just get back doing it again.  Easier said than done… I know!

4.  You WILL be hungry.   I have heard this complaint from some others that they didn’t like to diet because they were hungry.  Of course you are!  Your body loves homeostasis.  Your body wants to stay the same and in order to do that, it wants a certain number of calories to maintain that weight.  When you eat fewer calories, you are forcing the body to go out of homeostasis.  That’s why I roll my eyes at these diets that promise you won’t be hungry.  Of course, hunger is all relative and each person is different.  Hunger is a powerful tool your body uses.

How do you avoid hunger?  The things I tried were drinking lots of water and tea.  Chewing gum.  Finding a new hobby to work on.  Exercise during my hungriest time – evening – to keep me busy.  Eating almost zero calorie foods like celery.  Taking a multivitamin.

Mini Fruit Pizzas_1 on Whisk Together

**Book Update**  The new book I’ve been reading is Talk Like Ted by Carmine Gallo.  I taught public speaking for a few years and found a lot of the information very helpful.  There are some GREAT ideas like “practice”. Seriously.  The people that prepare for TED talks practice a lot and make their talk look so easy.  If you haven’t heard of TED talks, they are 18 minute presentations on “ideas worth spreading”.  You may have seen or heard of the most popular talk by Sir Ken Robinson on how “School Kill Creativity.”  The book is an excellent resource for anyone that has a public speaking engagement or in sales.  He suggests to use humor in your speech and  to create “wow” moments like when Bill Gates unleashed mosquitos during his malaria presentation.

Mini Fruit Pizzas_5 on Whisk Together

**Recipe Update**
The last recipe, Summer Vegetable Tian, was quite healthy.  So, I thought I would add this one to the blog because it was so successful.  I have also started coding all the nutritional information for future posts for myself and also for my husband because he started Lose It last week.  This recipe is the same as my Homemade Fruit Pizza  only I put them in a mini-muffin pan for portion control.  The toppings and ideas would also be delicious on those “Brownie Bites” they sell in stores – a super easy and quick makeover for a delicious store bought treat.

Mini Fruit Pizzas_3 on Whisk Together

I also love the fact that these treats have NO artificial colors or flavors.  View the cookies I made with just some strawberries and blueberries.  Recipes can be cute without resorting to artificial stuff!

Calories: 101;  Fat: 4.9 g; Carbs: 13.6 g; Sugars 9.4 g; Protein 1.4 g   (Calculated using 1 cup blueberries for topping)

Mini Fruit Pizzas_4 on Whisk Together  Mini Fruit Pizzas_6 on Whisk Together

100 Calorie Fruit Pizza Bites

Ingredients

  • For the Crust:
  • 1/2c. butter, soft
  • 3/4c. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/4c. flour
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Topping:
  • 1 pkg. neufchatel cream cheese, soft (8 oz.)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-2 cups sliced fruit: strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, pineapple, mandarin oranges, fresh cherries, blackberries, raspberries, mango, etc.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven 350 degrees.
  2. In a great big bowl, cream butter, sugar, egg and vanilla. In a not so big bowl, combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.
  3. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients gradually and mix until it makes a dough. Shape the dough into a log and wrap in plastic wrap. Think cookie dough log at the grocery store. Put in the fridge for 30 minutes or so.
  4. Spray a mini muffin pan with baking spray or cooking spray. You need two pans, or reuse your 1 pan.
  5. Cut the log into 1" disks. Cut those disks into fourths. You should have about 30-36 cookies. Place each cooking into the muffin well and press down slightly.
  6. Bake 12-16 minutes. Rotate halfway through baking. Remove when the edges just start to turn golden brown.
  7. After about 5 minutes, press the tops with your fingers or indent with a spoon just to make sure the top isn't doming. After 10 minutes, remove from the muffin pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
  8. For the topping: Beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla together until smooth. Put into a pastry bag or a plastic freezer bag with the corner trimmed off with scissors. Squeeze and top each cookie with the cream cheese. Top with fruit. Store in the fridge until serving.
http://www.whisktogether.com/2014/07/14/100-calorie-fruit-pizza-bites/

For the Crust:
1/2c. butter, soft
3/4c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1   1/4c. flour
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Topping:
1 pkg. cream cheese, soft (8 oz.)*
Optional: 1-2 teaspoons of lime or lemon zest  LOVE this addition!!
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups or so of sliced fruit: pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, peaches, mandarin oranges, etc.)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar, egg and vanilla.  Combine flour, tartar, baking soda and salt.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients gradually and stir until it makes a dough.  Shape the dough into a log and wrap in plastic wrap.  The shape is just like the cookie dough logs at the store.  Put in the fridge for 30 minutes or so.
2. Spray the mini muffin pan with baking or cooking spray.  Cut the roll at 1″ increments.  Then, each of those circles cut into fourths.  This is the messy part.  It’s okay. Put each 1/4 cookie into the wells.  Bake 12-16 minutes.  Rotate halfway through baking.  Remove when the edges just start to turn golden brown.  
3. Beat all of topping ingredients together except fruit.  Pipe onto cooled cookies using a pastry bag or plastic freezer bag with corner trimmed off.   Top with sliced fruit.
 

Super Bowl Recipes

Hi Everyone!  Our new book club  book of the month is “The Screwtape Letters” by CS Lewis.  Very, very interesting read.  I’ve read his “Chronicles of Narnia”, but not this one.  It is even dedicated to JRR Tolkein!

Anyway, the Super Bowl is tomorrow and anyone needing some last minute ideas – this is it!  Simple, delicious and delectable all in one.  I especially like having some healthier food thrown in like dark chocolate covered pineapple.  Those would be so good soaked in coconut rum, or have the dark chocolate coating sprinkled with some sweetened coconut as well.

Have fun!

Super Bowl Recipes

First one up is “Game” Day Chili (it is made with venison!  Get it?  “Game”.  “Game”.  Ah Anyway)

Venison Chili on Whisk Together

Dark Chocolate Covered Pineapple

dipped pineapple_1

Caramel Popcorn

caramel cornCR

Cool Veggie Pizza

Cool Vegge Pizza on Whisk Together

Queso Blanco Dip

Queso Blanco on Whisk Together

Pizza Rolls

pizza rolls_10CR

Peanut Butter Cup Bars

PB BarsCR

Mini Meatball Sandwiches

mini meatball sandwiches_5 on Whisk Together

Restaurant Style Chicken Nachos

Restaurant Style Chicken Nachos on Whisk Together

Fruit Pizza

fruit pizza_2CR

Dessert Pizza

Dessert Pizza_3CR

Baked French Fries

French Fries on Whisk Together

Sausage Braid

Sausage Braid_16 on Whisk Together

Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas

Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas_1 on Whisk Together

Oreo Pops

Oreo Pops_15CR

Iced Brownies

iced brownie_1 CR

Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork_2CR

Maple Cornbread or Corn Muffins

Maple Cornbread on Whisk Together

Apple Nachos:  Simple slice apples and
soak in lemon juice.  Drizzle caramel, chocolate, peanuts, etc. on top

Apple Nachos_4 on Whisk Together

Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars 

Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars on Whisk Together

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