Monthly Archives: January 2012

Lego Themed Cupcakes {Birthday Boy Party Ideas}

This past Saturday my son had a few of his closest friends over for a “Lego” themed birthday party. As you know I was not feeling well a few days prior to the party. I was worried that we would have to postpone the party, luckily I felt good enough to make it a fun filled day for my 10 year old son and his friends.

I originally had a long list of fun and creative snacks and desserts I wanted to make for this special day but I just didn’t have the energy  to do it.  My son didn’t care, he told me he was happy to have friends over and reminded me to keep things simple. So I took his advice and made things easy,I went to Costco to by the Ghiradelli double chocolate brownie mix from Costco. Luckily I found this food blog, she had some wonderful ideas for a “Lego” themed birthday party. I took a few  of her ideas, such as the Lego themed cupcakes and Lego themed games. 

The boys all had a great time and loved the cupcakes! I even made one for myself, the face says it all!

 

Ingredients:
1 pouch of Ghiradellli chocolate brownie mix
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup grape seed oil (vegetable oil)
1 whole egg
12 muffin liners
 
Frosting:
1/2 recipe for vanilla frosting
blue food coloring
 
Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. In the meantime, prepare the Ghiradelli chocolate brownie mix per instructions on the box. Click here to view.
 
2. Line muffin tins with muffin liners, spray liners lightly with vegetable spray (makes it easier to remove liner from brownie cupcake). Even divide the brownie mix into the muffin liners, bake for about 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.
 
3. While muffins are cooling, prepare the icing, add blue food coloring and frost.
 
Lego marshmallow head pops:
Ingredients:
12 large marshmallows
12 mini marshmallows
yellow chocolate ~ 3/4 cup melted
black edible marker
12 lollipop sticks
 
Directions:
For step by step directions, click here.
1. Thread one large and one mini marshmallow per lollipop stick, continue until you have total of 12; set aside.
 
2. Melt the yellow colored chocolate using a microwave or double broiler to melt. Gently dip one marshmallow lollipop at a time. Let them air dry by inserting the lollipops in to a foam board or if you don’t care lay them on wax paper (note that the bottom will not be smooth).
 
3. Once dry, draw a face using a black edible marker to resemble a Lego guy.
 
I didn’t get a chance today to figure out the calorie content. My nutritional software program is acting up so when it is up and running I will update this post with the nutritional information. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Getting to Know Me a Little {Blogger’s Unplugged}

It’s Monday and I’m feeling better recovered nicely from my terrible cold and from my son’s 10th birthday party with his friends (stay tuned for the “Lego” themed cupcakes I baked).
I thought I’d start with week with a fun little quiz, called “Blogger’s Unplugged.” I  was recently  “tagged” by Geni from Sweet and Crumbly a few weeks back, so here it is.
 
1. What or Who inspired you to blog? In 2009, a year after I graduated with my Bachelors of Science in dietetics, I wasn’t having much luck finding a job and discovered I was pregnant with my third child. After talking to one of the career counselors at my college, she suggested I put together a portfolio of my workouts and recipes for potential clients. I thought a food blog would be more appropriate than walking around town with a portfolio asking if people wanted to take a look at what I had to offer. I like to thank the lady (sorry I forgot her name!) from Madonna University for inspiring me to share my passion for food and fitness with others! My food blog has brought great things into my life including meeting some amazing bloggers and wonderful clients!
 
2. Who is your foodie inspiration? My foodie inspiration, hands-down are my parents. Both of my parents were born in Italy, they both are wonderful cooks with different cooking styles. My mom likes to keep her recipes simple and light in contrast to my dad who loves to drench everything in olive oil and spice it up with many fresh flavors from the garden.  My dad is an unbelievable self taught cook! He makes the best stews, especially fish stews (hoping one day I could sit down with him to share some of his recipes). He also makes the best hand tossed pizza dough, he use to own a pizzeria in Detroit with his brothers when he first came to the states. He still likes to show off and toss the round shaped dough in the air for the grandkids!
 
3. Your greasiest batter-splattered cookbook is? Better Homes and Garden new Baking Book. This is my go to book for baking traditional Christmas cookies, cakes, and muffins. I think I got it as a bridal shower gift years ago, but I absolutely love it and can’t live without it. The last few years I’ve been experimenting more in the kitchen, taking a few recipes and adding my own “healthy” twist to the cookie and muffin recipes.  
 
4. Tell us about the best thing that you have eaten in another country, where was it, what was it? Hmm, I’d have to say pizza in Italy. I went to Italy as a teenager (palate of a teenager) with my parents and siblings to visit my parent’s home town. We traveled to Pescara (Abbruzzi), Frosinone (Lazio), Rome (Lazio), Pisa (Tuscany), San Marino (an enclave situated in Italy), and then back to Pescara (near my dad’s home town). I don’t remember the names of the café’s or restaurants we stopped at, but one thing I do remember was that the pizza was fantastic!
 
5. Another food blogger’s table that I’d like to eat at? I’d love to eat with everyone on my blog roll (see list on the very bottom of the page). On the weekends I’d love to kick back have a drink or two with Greg and Katherine, they seem like a lot of fun.  Of course, you need some appetizers to go with the drinks, so hoping that Caroline could join us with one of her amazing appetizers.  Sunday’s sound like a great way to start the day with a wonderful warm breakfast at Five Euro Foods and then over to John’s for a family style dinner. Can’t forget about dessert, must make a visit to Geni’s and then over to Kristy’s for some banana nut bread. I definitely would have to go to the gym on Monday, hoping that I could meet up and talk nutrition with Kelly while doing some cardio and of course afterwards fuel our bodies with one of her many nourishing meals. But if I had to pick one…….. it would be Linda at Savoring Every Bite! I adore her healthy creative twist on traditional Italian cooking; she’s like Giada DeLaurentiis but with a healthy Sicilian twist!
 
6. What is the one kitchen gadget that you would ask for this year? Hmm, I’m not a big kitchen gadget person for a few reasons, one I don’t have much space in my small kitchen and two I try to keep things simple but if I had to choose one, I’d say a food processor since mine just broke the other day. :( (Wouldn’t that be great if Kitchen Aid read this and sent me a brand new one! )
 
7. Who taught you how to cook? My parents, they taught me the basics at an early age (as young as 8), from how to boil water for store bought pasta to how to make pasta from scratch.
 
8. I’m coming for dinner, what is your signature dish? I’d have to say any pasta or chicken dish, however, I am known as the “smoothie lady” in my community.  My husband and I use to own our own smoothie business called Tropical Squeeze Smoothies in the metro Detroit area (we sold it in 2004 to a local business man). Though I cannot share the secret recipes from Tropical Squeeze Smoothie, I do have some wonderful smoothies on my site, such as mango-carrot orange smoothie, “anti-inflammatory” smoothie, or my kids favorite, the coco-nutty choco-chunky monkey smoothie, or the berry salad shooter green smoothie, or you can browse the category list under “smoothies” to find a smoothie recipe that interests you.
 
9. What is your guilty food pleasure? Anything peanut butter!
 
10. Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn? I use to be a realtor about 13 years ago, then I put my license in escrow when I went back to college for my nutrition degree in 2005. Now that my husband has his own real estate broker company, I decided (he decided for me) to get my real estate license up to date. I recently finished my continuing education and am now officially a licenced realtor (I know what you are thinking, I agree I wear many hats, too many hats at times! )   So if you or anyone you know that is looking to buy or sell their house in Michigan, give me a call or message me I’d love to help!
 
So, I’m suppose to pass this to other bloggers but it looks as if the blogger’s I follow have already been tagged. If you have never been tagged, consider yourself tagged! :)

Creamy Cannellini-Broccoli Pasta

 
 Today I’m under the weather. I caught my kids cold, all day I’ve been sneezing and wiping my raw red nose.  I really don’t feel like doing much other than sleep or curling up in bed to stay warm. Though I did come down stairs for lunch, I threw together some left over broccoli soup, made some lemon cannellini bean dip and decided to mix the two together to make a warm cream sauce as the base for my pasta! I have to say, this turned out pretty darn good for a last minute lunch.
 
Since I’m not in the mood to cook dinner tonight, I gave my kids two choices for dinner: 1.) we could order out, or 2.) I could whip up some more of my broccoli-cannellini pasta dish. Of course my kids chose to go out for dinner. My husband took all the boys out so I could get some sleep. I asked my five year old where they are going to dinner tonight, he replied, “Haha Fresh!”  :)   Omg, he cracks me up, I still can’t stop laughing about his response, he meant to say Baja Fresh! :)
 
Lisa’s creamy cannellini-broccoli pasta
Servings: 1 Serving size: 1
Weight Watcher points plus: 9
Calories: 348 /protein: 15 g/fat: 8 g/carbs: 56 g/fiber:6 g
 
Ingredients:
1/4 c. broccoli soup
1/4 c. lemon cannellini bean dip
1 c cooked pasta of your choice ( I used Dellalo orecchiette “little ears”)
seasonings of your choice: I added some black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese.
 
Directions:
1. In bowl, add cooked pasta, broccoli soup and cannellini bean dip. Mix and toss until blended. Add your seasonings and enjoy hot or cold!

 

 

Clean Eating Chocolate Cup Cake with Chocolate Icing

This is a clean eating chocolate cake recipe I have been playing around with the last few weeks. My inspiration for this cake came from Ellie Krieger’s moist mocha cake recipe, I made it earlier this month (minus the coffee) and we absolutely loved it. But I wanted to raise the nutrition bar with this recipe and kicked it up a notch with the ingredients to make them more wholesome. I used  honey, pasteurized honey for the cake and then for the frosting I used raw honey for it’s health benefits (the CDC recommends children under the age of 12 months not consume raw honey since it may contain botulism spores). You could use agave nectar but I ran out and used what I had on hand.

I made this cake for my son’s 10th birthday celebration (see football cake below) but didn’t add eggs because one of my nephews has an egg allergy. Overall my kids, my nephews, and my family loved it too.

My kids requested this cake the other day, they wanted me to pack it in their school lunch for dessert. I baked them little cupcakes with the clean eating chocolate frosting and embellished it with a heart-shaped banana slice on top of the cup cakes to remind them of how much I love them, plus this would make a  perfect Valentine’s Day treat! 

My son's 10th birthday cake!

Clean Eating Chocolate Cupcakes  without the frosting~ inspired by Ellie Krieger
Servings: 12/Serving size: 1 cupcake or 1/12 of cake
Weight Watcher points plus: 5
Calories: 155/protein: 5 g/fat: 7 g/carbs: 24 g/ fiber: 3 g
 
Dry Ingredients:
1.5 c. whole wheat pastry flour or white wheat fl our (regular ww flour makes a tougher, dense and dry cake)
1/2 c. dark cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
 
Wet Ingredients:
1.5 c. Greek low-fat yogurt or regular yogurt
1.5 c. unsweetened apple sauce (banana puree and pumpkin puree taste great too)
2 Tbsp organic unsalted butter, melted
4 Tbsp grapeseed oil
2 egg whites (tastes great without eggs for food allergy sensitive person)
1 ounce of good quality dark chocolate ~ 60% or more cocoa (melted, in microwave or double broiler)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c. agave nectar
optional: 2 – 4 Tbsp water to thin out batter if too thick
 
12 cup cake liners for cupcakes or one 13 x 9 baking pan for sheet cake. I used a ceramic bowl that happened to be in the shape of a football.
 
Method:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. If baking cupcakes, line the cupcake liners in muffin tin, lightly spray with vegetable oil. If using a baking pan, lightly spray pan so batter will not stick.
 
2.In a small mixing bowl, add all the dry ingredients and stir well until blended well; set aside.
 
3. In a medium mixing bowl, add all the wet ingredients, mix well until combined.
 
4. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredient in thirds. This makes it easier to blend well. You can whisk by hand or use a handheld blender, just don’t over mix or you’ll have a dense dry cake with pockets of air. The batter should look like fudge pudding,  if it’s too thick add a bit more puree or add some water to thin it out, try small amounts at a time like 2 tablespoons at a time.
 
5. Evenly pour batter into muffin lined tins, bake in the oven for about 18-20 minutes. I like to use a toothpick or butter knife to insert in the middle of cake to see if it comes out clean. When ready, place the cupcakes or cakes out of the oven, to cool before icing. My kids loved them plain without the icing.
 
********************************************************************************
  
Frosting ~inspired by Clean and Delicious with Dani Spies and Elana’s Pantry
Servings: 12 Serving Size: 1/2 tablespoon
Weight Watcher points plus: 1
Calories: 50/protein: 1 g/fat: 2 g/ carbs: 7.5 g/fiber: 1 g 
 
Ingredients:
1/2 c. dark cocoa powder
pinch of cinnamon
3- 4 Tbsp honey (agave nectar) ~ I used raw honey*
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
 
*side note: Do not give raw honey to children under the age of one year’s old, because it may contain botulism spores.
Honey has a thicker consistency than agave nectar, especially raw honey, so I had to add some liquid to thin it out.  I used water, about 0.5 to 1 Tbsp water at a time to get the frosting consistency that I liked. You can use a splash of milk, soy, coconut, or rice milk, etc. in place of the water. Also honey is much sweeter than agave, next time I’ll use agave nectar.
 
Method:
1. Mix ingredients together in a bowl, whisk until blended and smooth. Since I used honey, I added about 1.5 to 2 tablespoons of water, but you may have to play around with it.
 
2. When the cupcakes or cake is cooled frost! Enjoy!
 
* for the vanilla frosting on the football cake,  I used  Cherrybrook Kitchen vanilla frosting mix.
 
 ******************************************************************
Updated: June 16, 2012
 
Some Tips on the Cake to improve the texture:
  • If you are new to using whole wheat flour in your baked goods, I suggest starting with  1 part ww flour and 2 parts all purpose flour. Whole wheat flour has more protein than all purpose flour, which means it will result in a more chewier texture. 
  •  I made a mistake when I originally posted this recipe, I changed it to 4 Tbsp of grapeseed oil instead of 2 Tbsp.  
  • If the batter is still too thick (from using whole wheat flour)  add more oil or sugar but if you are wanting to keep it on the lighter side, add more applesauce to thin the batter out or water.

Week Four Whole Living Challenge {Broccoli Soup}

 
This is the last week of the Whole Living Challenge! Congrats if you’ve made it this far!Week 4′s challenge:  Ask yourself this question, “how do you feel today, compared to three weeks ago?” Take note of any changes that has occurred over the last three weeks with your body and your mood, do you feel any different? From here on out, challenge yourself by taking your eating plan up a notch. Raise the nutritional bar by adding more vegetables to your diet or Focus on adding more quality proteins, carbohydrates, and fats into your diet, and stop focusing on foods you shouldn’t be eating.  Whole Living Magazine suggests you challenge yourself here on out with incorporating the following foods in your diet:

  • Have 2 servings of fish per week {preferably wild caught, check out this site for safest fish to feed your family}
  • Eat 2 cups of dark leafy greens and at least 1 cup of fresh fruit per day
  • Add 2 or more herb/spices at every meal
  • Pay attention to portion size
 Whole Living Magazine suggests you avoid the following foods permanently:
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Artificial colorings
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Hydrogenated oils and partially hydrogenated oils
  • GMO {genetically modified organisms}
  • Nitrates {found in processed deli meats, bacon, pepperoni, etc.}
  • Foods with high pesticide load {click here for the list}
 Limit or avoid the following foods:
  • Caffeine
  • Processed foods/beverages
  • Alcohol

Today, I’m sharing a simple clean eating broccoli soup. You can add some half and half cream to the recipe if you like a creamier soup. I prefer my soup to be light and low fat, I added a tablespoon or two of my lemon cannellini bean dip to thicken it and add some texture and flavor.

Lisa’s Broccoli Soup
Servings: 4/serving size: ~1 cup
Weight Watcher points plus: 2
Calories: 82 /protein: 5 g/fat: 1.5 g/ carbs: 13 g/ fiber: 4.5 g
 
Ingredients
6 c.  broccoli (stems and florets)
2 c. broth low sodium (I used chicken broth, but you can use vegetable broth for vegetarians)
1-2 c. water (depends on how thin you want the soup)
1/2 cup chopped onions ~1 small onoin
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
 
Method:
 1. In a medium sauce pan add olive oil and onions, sautee on medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the onions are soft and lightly browned. Add the garlic, sautee for a few minutes longer; keep an eye on it burnt garlic doesn’t taste so good.
 
2. Add broccoli and broth, stir with a spoon. Let it cook for about 8-minutes or until it boils, I like to add the lid to the pan so the soup can heat up faster and so the soup doesn’t splatter everywhere. Lower the heat and simmer for about 5 more minutes.
 
3. Remove the sauce pan from the stove to puree.  I like to use my immersion blender to puree my soup, I leave the soup in the sauce pan and carefully blend until smooth. If you do not have an immersion blender, you can blend the soup up in a blender in small batches. This step you have to be very careful not to burn yourself when pureeing. Enjoy the soup while hot.
 
4. I’ll make big batches of soup to freeze for later. Store it in container or zip lock bags once the soup has cooled, label and date it, freeze for up to 3 months.
 
Nutritional Analysis for 1 cup of soup: calories: 82/protein: 5 g/ total carbs: 13 g/ dietary fiber: 4.5 g/ sugars: 3 g/total fat: 1.5 g/ saturated fat: 0 g/ monounsaturated fat: 1 g/ polyunsaturated fat: 0 g/ cholesterol: 0 mg/ sodium: 320 mg
 
% Daily Values based on a 2,000 calorie diet for adults: vitamin: k: 276? vitamin C: 186%/ vitamin A: 43%/ folate: 43%/ manganese: 17%/ potassium: 17%/ B6%: 18%/ vitamin E: 13%/ B2: 12%/ pantothenic acid: 10%/ magnesium: 9%/ calcium: 8%/ niacin: 8%/ iron: 7%/ copper: 7%/B1: 7%/ zinc: 6%/ selenium: 4%/ B12: 1%