Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Oatmeal Pumpkin Date Bars

We had no cookies in the house (gasp!) and I had yet another craving for some pumpkin goodness.  With what we had at the casa, these bars were thrown together.  SO yummy and not horribly all that bad for you.  Enjoy!


1/2 stick of butter (softened)
1/2 c. dark brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 egg whites (or 1 whole egg or Egg Beaters = 2 egg whites)
1 c. puree pumpkin
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. sifted all-purpose flour
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. quick cooking oatmeal
1/3 c. dates, chopped

In mixing bowl cream butter, sugar; beat in eggs. Add pumpkin, vanilla, lemon; blend well. Sift together flour, soda, cinnamon and oatmeal. Gradually blend them into batter. Stir in dates. 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add batter in pan sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake until firm approximately 15 minutes and lightly brown. 

*Are you doing anything fun for Halloween this weekend?  Tomorrow I'm off to my first Personal Trainer's conference in SC for a few days, so no Halloween partyin' for me.  I'm really looking forward to my conference though!  I am also looking forward to handing out candy to the cute little trick-or-treaters on Monday.  Hope y'all have a great weekend....GO TIGERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Broccoli-Quinoa Casserole

I have so enjoyed getting back in the kitchen now that my big exam is over.  Mainly, I have been making tons of recipes from my favorite blog: How Sweet It Is.  I mean, as I've said before, Jessica's recipes are AMAZING.  Not one has failed me yet.  Major win in my book.  Last week I made this perfectly crisp and sweet Bourbon Glazed Salmon.  It was to die for.  The hubs and I will DEF. be making this again soon.  Also, last week I made Jessica's 3 minute fudge.  Another amazing, quick and easy, melt in your mouth (literally) recipe from How Sweet It Is.  Love.  I made this fudge less than a week ago and it is already gone...true story.  The sad part is that the hubs was out of town most of last fingers point at me.  Yowzers.

Tonight, I wanted to make a special Sunday night dinner tonight and it was so yummy!   I used some of the bourbon glaze leftover from the salmon to coat the chicken.  I cooked the chicken in the skillet and added the glaze for the last 5 minutes of cooking.  So delish.

Pictures from the hubs iphone, I left our camera at my parents house by accident

I also found this Broccoli-Quinoa Casserole on Pinterest.  (Have I mentioned I'm obsessed w/Pinterest???)  I knew I had to try it ASAP.  The hubs and I LOVED this dish...and, quinoa is so good for you.  Win, win, win!  We also had a side of corn for extra veggies.  :)

I adapted the recipe a bit so here is my version below:  Go make this!!!!!!!


One 10 oz can low-fat condensed Cream of Mushroom soup 
1/3 cup reduced fat mayonnaise 
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/4 cups reduced fat shredded cheese (I used soy-cheddar)
1/2 teaspoon Splenda/sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Dash freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups cooked broccoli
1 1/2 cups  COOKED quinoa (see note)
Feshly grated Parmesan cheese
To cook quinoa:
3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Rinse quinoa in a fine sieve until water runs clear.  In a small saucepan combine the quinoa, water, and salt.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to low and cover.  Cook for 18-20 minutes, or until fluffy and the white ring/tail is visible.  Fluff with a fork.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a shallow (8×8 in or 5-6 cups) casserole dish – or individual ramekins – with vegetable cooking spray.
In a large bowl combine the soup, mayonnaise, milk, shredded cheese, Splenda, pepper, and nutmeg until well mixed. Stir in the quinoa and broccoli.
Spoon mixture into prepared casserole.  Sprinkle on a couple tablespoons of Parmesan and bake for 35-40 minutes (20-25 minutes for ramekins) or until bubbly on the edges and golden.  Makes 8 generous 1/2-cup servings.

*For dessert I made Oatmeal Pumpkin Date Bars...another amazing recipe you won't want to miss.  I will have it posted soon!  Have a great week, y'all! :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ithaca is Gorges

Phew it's been a while since my last post and we have been busy bee's!  A couple weekends ago the hubs and I hopped on a plane and flew up to Ithaca, NY.  My Grandparents live here (my Mom's parents) and we were way over due with a visit to see them.  The hubs had never been to Ithaca, so we had a great time exploring as well as getting in some quality time with my grandparents.  While my Grandfather slept in in the mornings and when they took naps in the afternoon, the hubs and I headed off for some adventures.  My Grandfather has lost a lot of his energy so he was in bed a good part of our visit.  It is very hard to see this as he had always been a very active person, but he has always been so great at staying positive and we had some great conversations about life.  

Daniel and I went on a hike to Buttermilk Falls and saw many beautiful waterfalls.  Surprisingly, I had never been here was so beautiful.

We also went to the Ithaca Farmer's market twice!, I LOVE this farmer's market.  If we had one as nice and wonderful as this in Richmond, I would do my grocery shopping there every week.  I could have gone crazy here.  They have everything from fresh organic fruit/veggies to hand made clothing.  Love, love, love.  The also awesome thing about this market is that it's open every day.  Amazing.

We went on a walk through the beautiful Cornell Plantation...took the hubs on a driving tour of Cornell...drove along a highway that overlooks the stunning Cayuga Lake...went to Wegmans (LOVE this grocery store...wish we had one in Richmond...) and indulged with sharing a gigantic eclair that was melt in your mouth amazing.

When with my Grandparents we enjoyed catching up with them and enjoying each other's company.  Daniel did a few house chores for them as well as some yard work.  They REALLY appreciated his hard work and help!  I made dinner both nights we were there and did some grocery shopping for them (I was more than happy/excited to go to Wegman's more than once!).  The first night we were there I made Black Bean soup.  My Grandfather can only eat soft foods, so I wanted to cook something that he was able to enjoy, too.  The Black Beans soup was sooooo good...and super easy to make.  We will def. be making this again soon.  Along with the soup we had broccoli, fresh bread and apple slices.

Black Bean Soup:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons chopped jalapeño chile with seeds, divided
  • 2 15- to 16-ounce cans black beans, undrained
  • 1 15-ounce can petite diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth


Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, and garlic; sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 6 minutes. Mix in cumin and 1 teaspoon jalapeño. Add beans, tomatoes with juice, and broth; bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook until carrots are tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer 3 cups of soup to blender and puree until smooth. Return puree to pot. Simmer soup until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon jalapeño, if desired.
Ladle soup into bowls.

The next night (our last night), we had my Mexican Chicken and Rice Bake and had my Aunt and Uncle and cousins (who live in Ithaca as well) over for dinner.

This was another easy food for my Grandfather to eat and another easy one to make...healthy too! :)  We had a very wonderful visit, but I found it very hard to say goodbye.  As my Grandfather held my hand he told me how happy he was that Daniel and I found each other and what a wonderful couple we were.  He went on to say a few more tear-jerking comments, but I was trying to hard to stay strong and to not shed a tear.  I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes, but fought hard (very hard) to hold them back.  I did not want to leave my Grandpa crying...I wanted to leave him with my smile...

*Stay tuned for more posts on recipes, fitness, why I've been wearing my glasses (ugh) and about how I'm going to be on TV again...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Soft Iced Pumpkin Cookies

Have you noticed that I'm obsessed with pumpkin????  I put pumpkin in my overnight oats this morning...I make pumpkin chili, pumpkin brownies, pumpkin bread and the list goes on and on.  I have not gotten the Starbucks pumpkin latte yet this year as I am waiting for the weather to turn colder so it will be perfect on a chilly Fall day.  I can't wait for this...Starbucks is a "special treat" for me as is so darn expensive that I RARELY justify spending that much on coffee.  Their pumpkin latte and the peppermint mocha are my two exceptions ;)

The hubs and I are heading to Ithaca, NY this weekend to visit my grandparents (my Mom's parents).  My Grandpa is 97...I think?  I have lost track, but he's up there.  He is really the most amazing man.  He is SO smart, with it and healthy for a man that age.  My Grandma is a few years younger than him but still doing well, too.  The still live in their own Grandma still cooks and bakes and tends to the house and their amazing garden.  I definitely get my good genes and health from them (well and of course from my parents!).  Daniel and I are very much looking forward to a visit with them this weekend.  The hubs has never been to Ithaca, so I am looking forward to showing him around the pretty little city.  I am going to take my camera and hopefully practice on my camera skills!  It will be a very special and meaningful weekend with many memories made.

We are flying to Ithaca, but I still wanted to make some cookies to bring to my Grandparents.  Pumpkin it is!  I just had one of these cookies and another one is calling my name...they are SO yummy, moist, and bursting with "fall-like" flavors...a must try!

  • 1 1/2  cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
  • 1 cup  Pumpkin
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • Glaze (recipe follows)


PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Grease baking sheets.

COMBINE flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in medium bowl. Beat sugar and butter in large mixer bowl until well blended. Beat in pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Gradually beat in flour mixture, then stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets.

BAKE for 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Drizzle Glaze over cookies.

 2 cups sifted powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in small bowl until smooth. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tofu Pad Thai

I had a craving for Thai food.  Then, I was inspired by this posting to make some tofu pad thai.  Yummm.  I basically used the same recipe, although when the hubs and I took our first few bites, the taste didn't "wow" us.  Everything about the recipe was wonderful, except the sauce wasn't much of a sauce, so it tasted a little bland.

Thankfully I had this fabulous TJ's sauce in the fridge:

It was a life recipe saver!  TJ's always knows how to get it done.  I highly suggest that you go buy some pronto.  The hubs is out of town tonight, so I had leftovers for dinner and mmmmmm the sauce totally makes the dish.  Now, my Thai craving is fullfilled! :)

Hope ya'll are having a great week so far.

P.S.- Did you see that little Clemson napkin next to our meal?  That's right...GOOOOO TIGERS.  I am SO very proud to be a Clemson Tiger right now.  Let's just hope and pray they keep up the good work...

P.P.S.- The new iphone came out today!  I am so getting one...can't WAIT to get rid of my droid!

Monday, October 3, 2011

"You gonna eat your cornbread?"

The hubs and I tend to say this phrase often when eating cornbread.  Please excuse the bad language!

Over the weekend Fall seemed to come full force!  That was ok though...I am finally ready for it.  :)  We had some friends over Saturday night to watch football and I made this yummy chili from my oh so favorite blog.  I changed a couple things to it, but here is the original recipe.  Below is my version:

Easy 5 Step Chili
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 lbs lean ground beef
1 29 oz can tomato sauce
1 29 oz can tomato puree
1 29 oz can and 1 12 oz can of diced tomatoes in juice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 15 oz cans of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt & pepper to taste
Chop onions and garlic (and any other vegetables). In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped veggies and sprinkle with salt. Cook for 5-8 minutes, or until soft.
Add in ground beef (or meat) and cook until meat it heated through and no longer pink. Add sauces, tomato paste, and beans. Add spices and seasonings and stir. Let cook for at least 20-30 minutes, or up to 8 hours.
Note: This recipe makes a very chunky chili. Feel free to add more/less sauce depending on your preferences.
*Must serve with cornbread!  We also topped our chili with soy cheddar cheese and hot sauce.  Mmm, mmm, mmm.  Perfect football watchin', fall weather food!
And a big thank you to my sweet husband for the beautiful flowers he gave me for passing my exam...
Also a big thank you to my brother and sister in law for the beautiful flowers they brought me as well!  Thank you all!!!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Done, done and DONE.

I PASSED my Personal Trainer's exam!!!!!!!!  I could NOT be happier about this.  As explained here, I have been studying for my ACE personal trainer's certification for a little over a month now.  I am certified under AFPA, but once I began working at Capital One, they wanted me to get my ACE certification.  I am DONE studying!!!!

I had always dreamed of one day getting my ACE certification, but I thought I'd wait a few years to get this.  I got certified under AFPA earlier this year, so I thought that one certification was enough to tackle in one year.  Well, I was wrong.  But, I am LOVING my new job, so this was defiantly some great motivation to get it done.  

I have been studying my a$$ off for the past month and a half.  Working 40 hours a week plus studying has left me with very little time to do other things I enjoy, but I knew it would all be over with before I knew it.  My husband was a huge help with studying...often on weekends and while we were eating dinner he would quiz me and this was so helpful. A few days before the exam I was feeling just fine about it.  Then, the morning of the test came and I began to get very nervous.  I drove to the testing center and began the exam.  While taking the exam, I tried to calm myself and take deep breaths, but it was hard.  During the exam I would often get so nervous about passing the exam that I felt I could loose my marbles...if you know what I mean...I just HAD to pass the test!

After a little over 4 hours of taking the exam I hit the "submit answers" button on the computer and BOOM...I FLIPPIN PASSED!!!!!  I was shaking I was sooooo happy!  I immediately called the hubs and was freaking out (and still shaking) telling him the news.  Then it was on to call the parents.  My Mom was in a doctors office visiting some clients (for work) and she quickly answered the phone to hear the news and then said she'd call me back once she got out of the office.  I called Dad and he was super happy!!! :)  Then, my Mom called and was crying about how happy she was that I passed.  

You wonder, gah, I mean, it's just a test...right?  Well, I have always had a tough time in school and was never an A student.  I always work my butt off, but just have never been able to do extremely well in school and exams have ALWAYS been hard for me.  I am such a hard worker and study hard, so it's been very frustrating for me in the past.  Long story short, that is why everyone was so happy that I passed!  And, everyone knew how important and how much this test meant to me.

Enough on the test.  This weekend has been absolutely perfect.  No studying anymore for this lady!  Friday evening began having dinner with my fabulous sister and brother in law.  My sister in law is preggers and due the end of January with a baby girl.  We are super excited about this!!!!  We all went out for Mexican and then came home and crashed.  It was a long week and my bed was calling my name.  We slowly woke up Saturday morning and enjoyed each other's company over coffee and my husband's famous chocolate chip waffles.  My sister and brother in law's 2 year anniversary is tomorrow so they were heading off from Richmond to continue their celebration trip.  After they left the hubs and I ran 5 miles.  The weather was PERFECT yesterday.  Sunny but cool....a fabulous first day of October.  Our run felt so great.  After the run the hubs went to play golf with a friend and then I went shopping!  I then came home and made chili (recipe to come tomorrow!), cornbread, and pumpkin brownies.  We had some friends over for the Clemson football game (GOOOO TIGERS!!!) and for dinner and of course some good beers.  It was a great evening and a perfect day.  A day without worrying of studying and doing what I wanted to do.  Perfect, just perfect.  

Thank you to all of my wonderful family and friends for the encouragement and support through studying for this exam.  I really am SO blessed to have such amazing family and friends in my life.  I could not have done this without you all.  

Happy Fall everyone!