Saturday, December 31, 2011


Really, isn't a new year actually just the next day? Life goes on and every day is a new day. Somehow though it always means a time for reflection and dreams. What do we want our lives to be? What kind of person do we want to be? What changes do we want to make happen? I've been giving a lot of thought to both sides of this - both my personal goals, and questioning why 1/1/12 is all that different from 12/31/11 - it's really just a new day. Something we get every single morning! Still, I've taken the prompt of a fresh new year to reflect and have in mind things I'd like to do and goals for becoming the person I'd like to be. Whether I will get there in 2012 or not, I'm not so concerned about, but it is nice to have a clear mind about where I'd like to go.
  • I'd like to continue to find ways to support and inspire others in their own healthy goals - whether it's weight loss, healthy eating and cooking, or improving themselves in other ways. This may be in a public way or in a personal one, it might be big, or it might be a kind word or two of encouragement.
  • Define a way of being for myself and do my best to practice it every day - this is huge! Being present in the moment, not comparing myself to others, being kind to myself, being confident, not making assumptions, being positive, being compassionate, patient and listen.
  • Practice my own healthy lifestyle - eating whole foods that will improve my body and health and being mindful of what I put in my body; practicing yoga every day (or as often as I can!); cardio 2x week (jazzercise, walking, running).
  • Attend a Level 1 Baptiste Yoga Bootcamp in 2012 - both for the personal experience and growth in my practice, and to work toward becoming a teacher.
  • Run a 5k this year. I've never been a runner, but have enjoyed the challenge and feeling of accomplishment the times I've pushed myself to run further. I will need to train when the weather gets nicer, but I'm confident I can do this.
  • Lose the rest of the excess weight I'm still carrying around. I don't want to put a definite number on it for now, but it's at least 20lbs.
  • Simplify our lives. (I know, my new Iphone 4s is a step in the other direction since it's added a larger phone bill and created even more dependancy on technology, but it has also brought me much joy!) I'd like to continue to go through items in our house to sell or donate and make concious decisions in buying anything new.
  • Be mindful of our spending and saving. We both want to go to a bootcamp this year and a vacation would be wonderful too - to the tune of several thousand dollars. My goal is to put my entire paycheck into savings so we are only living on Thad's and put away $1000 each month of his into a longer term savings.
  • Create and keep to a schedule of cleaning and organizing our home.
  • Meal plan each week and shop specifically for what we will eat. Take the time to plan when meals must be made in advance so we are not tempted to spend unnecessary $ on meals out, waste food we have at home, or eat unhealthfully.
  • Make time for each other and for friends. Stay in contact with long distance family. I think I do pretty well with this, but it's something I'd like to be sure to keep in mind.
  • Volunteer. Help make a difference in someone else's life, whether it's someone I know, for a local organization, or donating to organizations that are improving lives in the world.
  • Record life! I'd like to blog more often and take photos more often because I think there is much to learn about ourselves by looking back and seeing where we've been, in order to understand more clearly where we are today.
  • Read a book each month about either yoga or personal growth

Friday, December 30, 2011

Torta Caprese

I went looking for a fabulous Italian dessert to serve to friends along with my Kale Lasagna. And I found it! a flourless chocolate cake, called Torta Caprese. This recipe was from a blogger who shared recipes from her favorite meals while in Italy. Unbelievable! and made better served with Talenti Sea Salt Caramel gelato on the side.

Torta Caprese
serves 12

  • 9 ounces (255 g) good quality dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces (I used Intense Dark 72% cacao bars by Ghiradelli)
  • 1 cup (225 g) butter
  • ¼ cup (25 g) cocoa powder (I used Hershey's special dark cocoa powder)
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract
  • 1 ¼ cup (250 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cups ground blanched and toasted almonds
  • 6 eggs, room temperature

    1. Toast the almonds in a dry pan on top of the stove or at a high heat in the oven. Grind them in a food processor.
    2. Preheat oven to 310°F and line the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan with parchment paper.
    3. Combine chocolate and butter in a microwavable bowl. Use melt chocolate function on microwave to melt chocolate. Be sure to stop it and stir along the way. (of course you could also melt it with a double boiler or very low heat and a heavy pan, but this works great for me with my microwave) 
    4. In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk together the melted chocolate mixture, the cocoa powder, almond extract and sugar until combined. 
    5. Add the ground almonds and whisk until combined.  
    6. Add the eggs one at a time, adding each egg after the first has been incorporated into the mixture. 
    7. Pour the mixture into the spring form pan.  Make sure the mixture is level and smooth on top.  Bake for 50 minutes. (start checking it at 45 minutes, it should be firm in the middle).  
    8. Cool, flip cake over onto cake plate and serve with chocolate spirals or shavings and powdered sugar.  Serve with gelato or whipped cream. 

    Sunday, December 25, 2011

    2011 Photo Shoot

    This year we did a photo shoot for our Christmas card around town in South Lyon. These photos were done by our neighbor, Jackie, in early December. Izzie tried to be cooperative and at least we got one nice one with her looking at the camera! (the bottom one is the one we used for our cards)

    Carrot Citrus Juice

    Usually it's smoothies in the morning and they're always green. However, it's Christmas and this juice sounded like the perfect complement to the Gingerbread waffles I made. It was! YUM! Will definitely make again. Have I said lately how much I love my Vitamix?

    Carrot Citrus Juice
    makes 3 large glasses


    • 1 cup cold water
    • 5 clementines, peeled
    • 1 apple, cored and sliced (peel on)
    • 1 inch thick slice of pineapple (core included)
    • 2 medium carrots, chopped
    • 2 cups ice cubes
    1. Add ingredients to Vitamix in order listed.
    2. Blend at high speed for 1 minute (start at variable 1 and increase)
    123 calories, .4g fat, 30mg sodium, 564mg potassium, 31g carb, 4.6g fiber, 22g sugar, 2.3g protein

    Gingerbread Waffles

    Christmas morning means a special breakfast! Thad, Cindy and I enjoyed Gingerbread Waffles this morning (and this recipe made enough for us to enjoy them again tomorrow!). You could call them wholesome, but probably not particularly healthy with the stick of butter in there. This recipe is adapted from a blog who adapted the recipe from Rachel Ray.

    Gingerbread Waffles
    makes 12 square waffles on my Cuisinart waffle maker


    • 3 cups unbleached white ultra grain flour (something new I bought at Costco and have been using in all my baking this month)
    • 4 tsp baking powder
    • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 2 tsp ground ginger
    • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
    • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 4 large eggs
    • 2/3 cup Sucanat (you could use brown sugar)
    • 1 cup canned pumpkin
    • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk (you could use almond milk or any kind of milk)
    • 1/3 cup molasses
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
    1. Preheat waffle iron
    2. In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Whisk and set aside.
    3. In your stand mixer bowl, beat the eggs and Sucanat until they are fluffy. Next beat in the pumpkin, buttermilk, molasses, and melted butter.
    4. Stir the dry ingredients into the mixture until just moist. Do not overstir. 
    5. Spray your waffle iron with nonstick spray or brush a little butter. Use a 1/2 cup measurer to scoop mix into each square on iron. It will be thick, I used the back of a wooden spoon to spread it out. Cook until crisp/browned.
    6. Serve with toppings of your choice - I used walnuts, butter and 100% maple syrup. 

    Saturday, December 24, 2011

    Christmas Dinner Recipes

    Christmas Dinner Recipes

    Almost a repeat of Thanksgiving, but have changed up a few things:
    • cranberry sauce - I found one on Whole Foods that used clementines and whole cinnamon I wanted to try, so it's on the stovetop right now!
    • Turkey with Herbes de Provence and Citrus by Giada De Laurentiis - makes the perfect Turkey every time. Thad has mastered making turkeys and this is his go to recipe.
    • Creamy Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes by Pioneer Woman - it's a given! Thankfully Thad has now mastered this recipe and pretty much makes it on his own. We make them the night before, put in crock and today they'll just warm up all afternoon and be ready for dinner.
    • Mushroom Stuffing with Shallots and Fresh Herbs by Whole Foods Market - everyone loved this recipe at Thanksgiving so it's now my staple stuffing recipe! This time I used a loaf of high 5 fiber bread from Great Harvest, cubed it up the night before and left it out to 'crouton' up!
    • Squash Bisque Soup - instead of making sweet potato anything, I opted for soup!
    • Roasted Asparagus - just roasted in oven with olive oil, salt and pepper
    • Cindy's chocolate pie - Thad's favorite! I now have the recipe, will post soon!

    Florida Pre-Christmas visit

    Since Thad couldn't take time off, I went to visit my family for a week before Christmas. The weather was beautiful and I got to spend a lot of time with my niece and nephew. Got yoga in twice, and even ran 2.33 miles (longest I've ever run continuously without walking in between!). Did some Christmas shopping, made a gingerbread house, wrapped presents at my parents, had a party at my parents house, and went for a walk on the beach. A very busy and fun filled week that flew by! Here's a few photos from the week:

    Christmas music on arrival at the airport in Ft Lauderdale

    Avery with her berry smoothie at my favorite Whole Foods

    silly! Brandon & Avery

    PJ Day at School

    PJ Day at School

    Wrapped presents at my parents'

    Bonfire and Smores at Christmas hayride

    Avery & Julia with Santa

    Avery playing soccer

    Santa and palm trees at Brian & Debbie's house

    Avery and me at the beach

    oh how I love the ocean!

    Debbie & Avery

    Perfect sand for playing in, it wasn't hot!

    Gingerbread chalet

    Expert decorators!

    Avery was so excited to use her EZ Bake oven we got her

    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    Christmas Baking

    Christmas Baking 2011

    Candy Cane Kiss Cookies - using the small Pampered Chef scoop, this recipe made 6 dozen cookies for me. This means buying two bags of the Hershey's candy cane kisses. (45 in one red container in downstairs freezer)

    Pecan Sandies - I doubled the recipe, used 1/2 whole wheat pastry flour, and ended up with 52 cookies using the small Pampered Chef scoop, baking for 13 minutes. I did end up chilling the dough after having some cookies spread too much. Ended up with too many 'mistake' cookies with this batch. Maybe subbing that much of the flour was a mistake! they are yummy though.

    Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip with Fleur de Sel - one of my most requested cookies! I know it doesn't scream holidays, but they are SO good, I only make them at the holidays. Chocolate and sea salt - such an amazing combination! I doubled the recipe and used my large Pampered Chef cookie scoop. It made 48 cookies.

    Snickerdoodles - believe it or not, this recipe is from Cooking Light. Thad declared them his favorite cookie. Using the small pampered chef scoop, you can get 64 cookies out of a double batch (5 min in oven). Using a large scoop you can get 30 cookies out of a double batch. (7 min in oven) I made some of each size this time - the big ones to save for Thad to snack on.

    Molasses Cookies - I've been making this recipe for about 15 years!  This time I used the small Pampered Chef scoop and it made 36 cookies. (usually I make them smaller and get 5 dozen).

    Cranberry White Chocolate Shortbread - yes, 4 sticks of butter! that's why they melt in your mouth. Using small Pampered Chef scoop, this recipe made about 6 dozen small cookies.

    Pistachio & White Chocolate Chip Cookies - a new recipe for me that I printed out last year and never made. They are crispy and chewy at the same time - which makes for a perfect cookie in my book! Using the small Pampered Chef scoop this recipe made 42 cookies. They baked perfectly at 9 minutes for me. Since I was almost out of pistachios (after the ones that went in the dough) I used just a couple on top of each cookie for garnish. Next time I'd do more like they did with the original recipe.

    Coconut Jays - with coconut, butter, powdered sugar, cherries and chocolate, you just can't go wrong! another favorite every year, it's really more a candy than a cookie. This time I used some bittersweet chocolate rather than unsweetened chocolate, so the chocolate was a little different consistency. I don't think anyone will complain though! A double batch made 44 cookies using the small Pampered Chef scoop.

    Chocolate Rolo Cookies - this batch made 48 cookies using the small Pampered Chef scoop. I had a great helper, my neighbor's daughter, Savannah. Baked perfectly in 8 minutes.

    Noel Nut Balls - Martha Stewart hasn't steered me wrong when it comes to cookies. These use pecans and bourbon and lots of butter! yum! Made 36 of them, maybe a little on the large side, and I know I definitely need to make another batch!

    Super Easy Fudge - seriously, super easy!

    Belgian Waffle Cookies - this recipe is from a family friend, however I used a pizzelle iron for it. photo shown before powdered sugar is sprinkled on top before serving.
    1 lb butter
    6 eggs
    1 T vanilla
    1 tsp salt
    2 1/2 cups Sugar
    4 1/2 cups flour
    (note - I used 1 cup of brown sugar and 1 1/2 cups white sugar instead)

    there were no written directions, but basically - let butter soften, then whip it in your mixer with the sugar. add in eggs and vanilla and mix again. in separate bowl combine flour and salt, then gradually add to sugar/butter/egg mixture, mixing just to combine. Then put in either plastic wrap or in a bowl with a lid and chill for at least 6 hours. Then heat your iron and put small balls of dough in center of each cookie spot on the iron (mine has 3). Press down and the iron will tell you when they're done. I use a small plastic spoon to peel them off the iron and put on cookie rack to cool. I also try to cut off excess around each one so they look better, but messy tastes just as good! 

    White Chocolate Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies - a new cookie for me this year. Delicious and pretty too :) Using Small Pampered Chef scoop, made 42 cookies, baked in 12 minutes.

    Raspberry Pinwheel Cookies - This is the first time I made a cookie of this type and we all loved them! buttery, crispy, and you can taste the nuts, coconut and jam. 

    Nanaimo Bars - These were AMAZING! OMG I could not stop eating them. Gone so fast that I didn't even get a photo. Okay, not really, but still, no photo!

    Peanut Butter Dog Treats - can't forget our best friends!