Friday, July 29, 2011

I'm baaaaaack!!!!! (with a couple delicious recipes!)

Happy Friday, everyone!!!! The hubs and I just got back yesterday from four wonderful days spent at Holden Beach with my in laws and brother and sister in laws. My in laws go here every year and they rented a house on the ocean. The pictures below are the view from the house...Bliss. I LOVE the beach!!!!

It was so wonderful hanging out with everyone and sharing lots of laughs. My husbands side of the family is NEVER short of's always a fun time being around them...never a dull moment...especially when the hubs breaks out in dance moves that I won't go into detail here...

Anywho, we got home yesterday and although it's hard to be back to the real world, it's nice that we only had about a day and a half of work to do until the weekend! It's Friday night and I'm happy to be at home with the hubs to get some house projects done this weekend. Tonight I used the last of our crab cakes for dinner. I thought that the crab would help us feel as if we were still at the beach...well, at least I was hoping for that. Along with the crab cakes, we had broccoli and sweet potato fries.

I used this recipe from one of my most favorite blogs. I followed the recipe, except that I put the fries in a ziplock bag and mixed them up that way (instead of putting them in a bowl) before they were baked. Very easy this way.

Next time I would bake them a bit longer so that they are crispier. I used about a teaspoon of sea salt, but next time I would add about 2-2 teaspoons. I know I am going against my like of sodium/salt, but hey-you gotta give sometimes and at least these "fries" are better for you than typical fast food fries. Those are the only suggestions I would make...otherwise, soooooo yummy!!!!!

While the fries were in the oven, I whipped up the batter for some Chocolate Banana Gingerbread Muffins to put in the oven once I took the fries out. I had a bunch of bananas in the freezer that I wanted to use up, yet I didn't want to make banana bread. My parents are coming back from 10 days overseas on Sunday, so I thought I'd bake them some muffins and drop them off at their house so they have a little something to munch on when they get home late on Sunday night. Like me (or should I say I'm like her), my Mom craves skim milk and fruit when being away from home for too long...I think they will be happy to come home to a fridge with fresh milk, fruit and homemade muffins.

Chocolate Banana Gingerbread Muffins

1/4 cup butter, at room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 medium bananas, mashed

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

2 T. flax seed

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup low-fat buttermilk

1 cup chocolate chips

2 tablespoons raw turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.


Combine flour, salt, baking soda and spices in a bowl.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together. Add egg and vanilla, and mix until pale yellow and smooth, about 3 minutes. Stir in molasses and mashed bananas. Add half of dry ingredients, just mixing until combined, then add buttermilk. Add remaining dry ingredients. Fold in chocolate chips.

Spray muffins pans with non-stick spray and pour batter in. Top with raw turbinado sugar.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Enjoy! Happy weekend!!! Stay cool, if where you are is having temperatures like we are---it's flippin' Africa hot. Indoor activities only this weekend and lots of water guzzling!

Friday, July 22, 2011

My TV Debut

Or should we say, my Cheesy TV Debut. My mouth is just so big...I die when I see myself in some pictures or on TV. I mean, I guess it could be worse, but my mouth is just so darn big and it's always open. lol. TV debut went pretty well this morning! Phew, so glad it's over! :) It was actually a lot of fun and exciting. When I got to the TV station this morning I set up everything right away. Everyone was so nice and so inviting.

This is the only picture I took while there because I forgot my camera, oops!

Once everything was set up, the show was about to start! Promptly at 9:00 am, 'Virginia This Morning' began. I waited in a little room with a TV watching the show live until I was called up for my part. I wasn't scheduled until the end of the show, so I waited patiently and tried not to get nervous while waiting! I actually felt great and not nervous at all, until...the camera crews yelled "and 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, YOU'RE ON!" "Oh shit!!!!" There were like 5 cameras and I didn't know which camera too look at...another "oh shit" moment! You will see on the video that I obviously did not know which camera to look at because I was looking at the wrong one...oops, lol. Anywho, on we were and it went great. The time TOTALLY flew by, but I finished the recipe in the end. Next time I would do a couple things different, but all in all it was good and a very fun experience. Maybe next time I'll work on keeping my mouth/jaw from not expanding too much? If you know me, you already know this----if not, you'll see what I mean on the video. It's a problem folks. ;)

I made a Light Lemon Poppy-Seed Cake with an Almond Glaze on the show. I explained how I made the recipe lighter than most desserts by using some whole wheat flour, no butter, low-sugar, chia seeds (!!!), etc. I wanted to go on more about the importance of eating everything in moderation and not depriving your body of the good things in life. But, no time for this---the time FLEW. When they put the link online of the demonstration I will share it with you!

Enough of the is the recipe.

Light Lemon Poppy-Seed Cake with an Almond Glaze

Ingredients for Cake:

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 T. chia seeds
2 T. poppy seeds
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 t. vanilla extract
2 T. freshly grated lemon zest (about 1 lemon worth)
2 T. lemon juice (about 1 lemon worth)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar

(My messy kitchen)


Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 12-cup Bundt pan, preferably nonstick, with cooking spray and dust with flour (or use cooking spray with flour).
Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, chia and poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Combine buttermilk, oil, applesauce, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice in a medium bowl.
Beat eggs, egg whites and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until thickened and pale, about 5 minutes.
Fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture with a rubber spatula, a third at a time, alternating with 2 additions of the buttermilk mixture. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly.

Bake the cake until the top springs back when touched lightly and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

Almond Glaze Ingredients:

1/4 cup 1% milk
2 t. almond extract
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar


-Combine milk and almond extract in a medium saucepan and heat over low heat until warm.
-Sift confectioners' sugar into milk mixture.
-Whisk slowly, until well combined.
-Remove the glaze from the heat and set over a bowl of warm water.

After cake has cooled for about 15 minutes, drizzle almond glaze lightly over cake. You will have leftover almond glaze that is not needed. Put the almond glaze in your refrigerator and use it later for another dessert.

Thank you to everyone for your support and sweet comments! They definitely helped me get through this. I had a great time!

*Sorry, no Fitness Friday today. It's one of those crazy days were there is no time to exercise...this is rare for me, but I'll use it as a rest day---those are just as important. Here's to an eating healthy Friday!

What are your plans for the weekend? The hubs and I are off to Holden Beach with my in-laws and sister and brother in laws. We are SO excited!!!! We will be there until Thursday and looking forward to lots of relaxing in the sun and lots of laughs with the family. I probably won't be blogging much, but I will be back later next week if not before. Have a great weekend...stay cool---this weather is INSANE.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mexican Chicken and Rice Bake

Here is another delicious casserole dish to add to your easy make casserole list! A friend and client of mine just had foot surgery, so I am bringing her this dish tonight. I will also be bringing a big salad and the dessert that I will be making on TV tomorrow (you'll find out what it is tomorrow!). She has three young growing boys that need some good food, so thought they all would enjoy this healthy, yet filling meal. It is super easy to make and tastes great! My friend turned client and I talk about food and cooking as I train her...funny, right? But, we both enjoy it! She is a GREAT and healthy cook, so we enjoy chatting it up about food as she's sweating it out.

Check out the recipe here from one of my most favorite cooking blogs. This food blogger is seriously amazing...from her mouth watering photos to her jaw dropping and creative recipes. One can never go wrong getting a recipe from this blog. Enjoy!

I followed the recipe to a tee and used the yogurt instead of sour cream and used low-fat cheese. I put it all together, but will leave directions for my friend to bake it before they indulge so that it will be warm right out of the oven. :)

Off to take this to my friend! All she will have to do is pop it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes and voila...dinner is served. :) (The hubs just got home from work and said "mmmm...what is that?" I said "sorry, it's not for us." Will have to make it again soon for us!

Do you have a favorite go-to casserole?

My TV debut is tomorrow morning!!!! Stay tuned for a post on how it went and what I made!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Zucchini on Steroids

The same neighbor who has given us tons of tomatoes just gave us two HUGE zucchini's. I swear, they are zucchini on steroids...they are MASSIVE. We were given these to use last year as well, and I remember being in shock of how large they were. Last year I made zucchini bread with them and this year I will do the same. However, I am going to use a different recipe. This time, I am going to use my Mom's traditional Zucchini Bread recipe. It is amazing. All of my Mom's sweet bread recipes are out of this world. Very moist, yet light on the oil, so flavorful and somewhat healthier than your typical sweet bread. I'm not sure why I did not make this recipe last year...I guess I just forgot about it. Well folks, here it is.


3 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
1 T. vanilla
3 cups flour (I use 1 cup whole wheat and 2 cups white)
1 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder
1 T. cinnamon
1/4 t. ginger
1 t. baking soda
Optional-add raisins or chopped walnuts


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 bread pans with cooking spray.
2. In large bowl, mix zucchini, applesauce, oil, eggs, vanilla and sugar until blended. Stir in all remaining ingredients until well blended.

Spoon batter evenly into pans. Since this recipe makes two loaves, I decided to make one loaf and then one pan of muffins.

3. Bake the loaf for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. If you are making muffins, bake for about 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans to cooling racks. Cool completely, about an hour.

Slather some almond butter on the bread and pop in your mouth...mmmmmmmm...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Wonderful Weekend

The hubs and I drove down to his hometown, Raleigh, NC for a weekend of fun. Raleigh is where his parents, two brothers (and their family's!) and his sister lives. It was sweet Lily's baptism weekend and Lily's Mom's (Lisa) Birthday---so we had lots to celebrate. On Saturday the hubs and I went for a nice long walk, then I went to the pool with one of my good newly married friends who lives in Raleigh while the hubs went off to play some golf with friends. After that I went to dinner with another good friend and it was sooo wonderful catching up. She is moving from Raleigh to Greenvile, SC soon and oh how I am going to miss her not being in Raleigh! No fear....I will visit in SC. :)

Sunday was a glorious and perfect day. We were off to church in the morning for Lily's baptism. It was a very sweet time. The minister was great and Lily did wonderful as well. The gown that Lily wore was 93 years old and has been in the family forever. Lily is the 3rd of the three Hoffman grandchildren to wear this beautiful gown.

Lily sharing a moment with her Grandma:

After church, we went to Lisa's parents house for a yummy lunch and more celebration of Lily and for Lisa's birthday. A wonderful time was had by all...a memory we will cherish forever.

I have a feeling I won't be cooking much this week as we have TONS of leftovers that we need to eat before heading out of town on Saturday. On Saturday we are going to Holden Beach, NC with my in-laws and brother and sister in laws. We are staying until is going to be a good time! I mean, who doean't have a good time at the beach??

Happy Monday to all!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Will never buy pasta sauce again. Ever.

Or, at least while tomatoes are in season. We had a couple of ripe tomatoes from our garden and my neighbor brought a TON of tomatoes over from his garden. We also have an abundance of fresh basil from our garden. All these fresh tomatoes are fabulous, however; the hubs doesn't like tomatoes unless they are cooked. Hmm....what to do with all of these tomatoes? Make fresh pasta sauce! I can't believe that I had never done this yet. It.was.amazing. This was seriously the best pasta sauce I've had since I've been in Italy and that was about six years ago. The sauce was so fresh, so flavorful and so amaaaaaaaaazing. You HAVE to make this and make it soon. You will fall in love and will never buy pasta sauce again. Ever.


1 tablespoon butter
8 small tomatoes, diced (I had 1 yellow tomato which is why you see yellow in the pic)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic salt
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
1 clove garlic, grated


Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat; cook the tomatoes in the melted butter until they begin to fall apart, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the basil, olive oil, garlic salt, salt, and pepper.

Slowly stir the flour into the mixture and cook until it begins to thicken, 5 to 7 minutes.

Stir the water through the mixture to break up any lumps of the flour. Mix the garlic into the sauce and simmer another 5 minutes. Serve hot.

*I served with TJ's turkey meatballs (yum!). I put them in the sauce while it was simmering to warm them up. Served the sauce and meatballs over whole wheat penne. End of story.


What are you doing good for your heart today? I'm off to the gym soon to lift some weights, then getting outside to enjoy this FABULOUS is 62 degrees outside...what?! This is amazing esp. after our 100 degree temps just a couple days ago! I will be heading off for a nice, long walk. This is perfect running weather, but I'm not there yet...ugh. Ahh...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tequila makes it all better

Not everything I cook or bake comes out wonderful. Last night I made a black bean salad for a women's group that I'm in...but sadly, I didn't love it.

It wasn't bad, just wasn't a total win for my tastebuds---therefore you won't see the recipe posted. The salad was made up primarily of black beans with lime juice, a tiny bit of olive oil, shallots, cilantro and avocado. Sounded yummy to me and it wasn't bad, just needed more oomph. In fact, I think it would be fabulous served over some tequila marinated chicken or fish...hmm...I think I'm liking that idea. Perhaps that is what I'll use the rest of the black beans salad for! Tequila makes it all better, right? ;)

We have a bazillion fresh tomatoes from our garden and from our neighbor's garden. So tonight I'm making homemade pasta sauce! Be back with the recipe soon...

Leaving you with a couple quotes I found and really like:

"Courage is very important. Like a muscle, it is strengthened by use." – Ruth Gordon

“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.” - Plato

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Decorating a Room

The hubs and I have one room left in our house that needs help...major help. We call this room our "fireplace room." It will basically be our living room, however; we are both stuck on calling it the fireplace room for some reason. We have a TV in our family room, so this room will be used more for relaxing, reading and chit-chatting by the cozy fire. Well...not by the cozy fire this time of year seeing that it's almost 100 degrees outside...wowzers!

Here is the room when we bought the house:

Here it is now:

(That table was just in the room for a party I was having, and yes, that ginormous picture over the fireplace will be replaced in our decorating process...)

We have painted the wainscoting white and painted the walls a pretty grey-ish color. We also painted the beams on the ceiling white (they used to be the dark wood color). This room used to have a popcorn ceiling (only room in our house with this, thank the lord), but we had that scraped and removed right before we moved in. We have also added some recessed lights and a ceiling fan. This is all great and wonderful, but we have no furniture in the room. It is been like this for over a year now...just hasn't been a top priority...until...NOW! It is out goal to have this room done by this Fall so that we can enjoy the fireplace this Fall/Winter and so on.

For this room, I am thinking something along the lines of a French Country style. A modern room with a touch of country. I tried to find a picture to help you visualize, but couldn't find one that I liked.

We have special ordered a couch and it is set to arrive sometime in September. This is perfect timing as we still have a few finishing touches we need to do with paint in the room. We had to special order the couch because we special ordered the fabric. Apparently this takes a lot of time. The color we decided on is a really pretty grey/blue...should look great in the room.

We were given beautiful lamps from friends that needed new lamp shades. I think I found some that I like from Home Goods for a steal! Here they are:

I kept the receipt in case in the end, they aren't my fav. I love them now though!

I just came across this mirror the other day and am SO in love with it. I was bummed however; when I saw that it's not as large as it looks in the picture. Was hoping this would be the perfect mirror to hang above our fireplace. Hmm...may have to think of another place for this fabulous mirror to go!

Eventually (maybe this Winter?) we are going to get a mantel for the fireplace as well. I mean, Santa needs to put presents in the stockings hung from the mantel! ;)

I have been toying with the idea of painting our fireplace while. Although I think it would look awesome, I also love how it looks now. As for now...I think we will keep it as it is.

I am thinking of doing a collage of pictures over the couch. We just got this picture while at my parents beach house in Pawleys Island. I am SO in love with it and can't wait to hang it.

We are heading to Holden Beach, NC, with my husband's family in a couple weeks and I want to get more beach type pictures there to add to our wall of pictures.

My parents were getting rid of two coffee tables they had, so we took them. They are beautiful and were in great condition, yet I did not like the dark wood color for this room and they needed a little updating.

After much of the husband's dismay, I decided on painting the tables myself. I wanted to give them a whitewashed/country look so went for it. I was a little scared with this process, as I am not very good with this kind of thing. No fear...I have learned LOTS! This was the best online tutorial I found and used. I also had great help and encouragement from my sweet sister in law, Elise, who is fabulous with design!!!! :)

Here is the table with three coats of paint on it:

After putting three coats of paint on the table, sanding to give it a bit of an antique look, then two coats of water based poly to seal, it was done! Horray! I purchased two new handles from Home Depot.

Crap, not in love with these. They look a little to sleek and "new" for this scruffed up table. Instead, I splurged a little and got two handles I love from Anthropolgie. that's better! :)

I have one more of these tables to to paint...

*Have you ever re-done furniture? Any tips for me? Any decorating ideas/suggestions?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Me...on TV

Yesterday was just one of those weird days. Not weird bad, weird good...but just weird. A few odd things kept happening. I won't go into all of the details, but around lunchtime yesterday I opened up my e-mail to find an e-mail from CBS in Richmond asking me if I would come do a cooking demonstration live next week. What? Me? on TV? WAY. My Dad is in the media business and when I was younger I was on a couple commercials, but that's about as far as my TV stardom went. Now, we're only talking the Richmond news, but still I'm not too sure about having a large camera in my face. Especially folks, this will be live...yup, no cuts or re-do's for this baby. One time and one time only. lol. Oh my. Anywho...for those of you who live in Richmond, I will be on 'Virginia This Morning' on CBS on Friday morning, July 22nd sometime between 9:00 and 10:00 am. I am not sure what I will be making yet...any suggestions???!!!

Last night the hubs and I finished off these enchiladas. Yummy and so filling.

On Sunday evening we had hand made fresh Crab Cakes from "The Crab Lady." "The Crab Lady" is this adorable little old lady in Murrels Inlet (a hop skip and a jump from my parents beach house in SC). She hand makes phenomenal fresh crab cakes, spring rolls and other wonderful eats. Everything she makes is amazing. My parents sent us home with a few crabs cakes to enjoy once we were back home. Along with our crab cakes we had fresh broccoli, TJ's mac n'cheese (the hubs fav) and a spinach salad with organic/farm fresh blackberries and sliced walnuts. Yum.

Daniel put the red casing that was over the blackberries over Zoey's head. haha. Gang puppy!

"Dad, why did you do that to me?"

"Hey! Don't forget about me!"

*Have you ever been on TV? Any tips/suggestions for me? Help!!!!! :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Leg injury update

Do you remember this post? Good news and Bad news. Bad news first: I still can't run. Good news: I am getting closer to being able to run again soon! I have been working with a physical therapist for the past three weeks and it is going well. We have been doing lots of stretches that I do on my own twice a day. We have recently been doing "active stretching" to help prepare my muscle for running again. I have been feeling much better and feel that running is in my near future. horray! I haven't been cleared yet, but I think it'll be soon. I see my therapist on Thursday this week, and I don't think I'll get cleared then because it's not 100% yet, but I'd say we're working at 90%. I think in 2-3 more weeks I'll be back running.

When I am able to run again, I am going to take it slow. Starting with one mile at a time. This kills me as one mile seems so miniscule, however; I do not want to re-injure myself and I want to do this right. One mile to start with and then I will slowly increase my mileage.

I will continue to keep you all updated on my progress.

What have I been doing for exercise you may wonder? I have been doing the stair master. I used to die on that machine if I did it for 15 minutes, but now I have gotten up to 45 minutes! I also have been using the elliptial, walking lots, taking body pump classes (LOVE!) and doing weights. As my husband would agree, I would become a crazy person if I could not exercise. Thankfully I have still been able to do these things...everything, but running.

Have you ever injured yourself and it held you back from doing something you love?