Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

Chris Turns the BIG 3-0!

Last Friday Chris went out-of-town for the Moscone Conference in San Francisco and unfortunately we were apart for his 30th birthday.  We agreed to celebrate this past Saturday and thankfully everything I had planned, turned out great! Let’s recap…

In true Claire fashion, if it were up to me, I would have invited all his friends from all walks of life to a HUGE surprise party to help ring in his “dirty thirty.” BUT…Chris has a different take on birthdays and prefers to not make a big deal out of them…crazy! I wanted to respect his wishes by keeping it down-played and so instead I planned a fun-filled day with just the two of us…and plenty of his favorite foods.

On Friday I made him some rice krispy treats…just to get things warmed up….

I’ve really missed being in the kitchen and my all tofu/salad/semi-vegan diet has kept “cooking” to a minimum, so I really enjoyed making these.

Saturday morning was Starbucks and Belgium waffles from scratch!

After lounging around the house after breakfast, it was time to go to Victory Lanes for some extreme go-karting! We had a blast and Chris was really appreciative of our Saturday adventure plans that I had made for us.

I was kinda obsessed with the fact we got to dress up in fire-resistant suits….

The entire time we were racing around the track I was laughing inside my helmet! Seriously if you have not tried this and live in Charlotte, go!

When we got back we had built up quite the appetite so I made him a big BLT sandwich…

and a tofu wrap for me.

I tried to stay away from the waffles (I just had a green smoothie) and the heavy lunch, because I knew I was going to ditch my dietary standards for the night at the steak house that evening. It was inevitable…I don’t have the strength to order fish or vegetarian when I’m eating at a nice restaurant. It feels like such a waste.

While I can say dairy is all but out of my diet and eating animal by-products have been limited to only about 2 times a week, deep down, I’m still a meat and potatoes girl…

You can take the meat out of the diet, but you can’t take the desire out of the gal.

I had a filet and mashed potatoes for dinner and enjoyed every last bite. Knowing that I would go back to eating a mostly plant-based diet the next day, I figure what’s the point in living longer if you can’t enjoy a nice piece of meat and meltly mashed potatoes every once in a while? Everything in moderation….

I also took a few bites of Chris’ brownie sundae for dessert…

Wow how I have missed butter and ice-cream! I bought a Carvel ice-cream cake, that I will let Chris tackle himself, and leave my bad habits at our dinner table on Saturday night.

Today is a long day filled with cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping and I’m hoping to get a mani/pedi in! It’s a beautiful day outside so I’m thinking a gym session will get nixed for an outdoor activity with Daisy instead!

What are your plans on this warmer than usual Sunday?? Did you all have great weekends!?

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ALSO! I got a sneak peek at the new blog layout and I’m so excited to share it with you guys! I have complete faith in the graphic designer who is working on it and I’m supposed to see some final options on Monday. We are shooting to implement the new design on February 1st and I can’t wait to see what you guys think!


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A Celebratory Weekend

Saturday night I went uptown to Crave, a dessert bar, to help celebrate my friend’s Jane and Stephanie’s birthdays! There we feasted on some really great food, had laughs and caught up.

The menu had lots of great dishes and so we dove right in. First we ordered the crab cakes which were delicious, but then again I’ve never met a crab cake I didn’t like….

Chocolate cake was next up on the list, I chose not to eat it but heard it was awesome.

After gabbing and dancing the night away, the next morning I wanted to go to the gym but was still sore from upping my weight load at Group Power or dancing,  hard to tell. For breakfast I went with my usual but added a half bagel with cream cheese, YUM!

I just love this mixture, it’s a perfect combination: oats, yogurt and fruit. TRY THIS! You can add whatever fruit or yogurt flavor you wish. It reminds me of a parfait but healthier version and for some reason does not get old.

After breakfast it was time to meet my mom and sister for a bit of bridesmaid shopping. I loathe this process. I hate them all. I’m trying to walk the fine line between picking something the girls will really like AND trying to keep it affordable. The hunt continues…

After the errands we decided to head back to my mom’s house to make homemade pizzas. It was my step-dad’s birthday and so the agenda included dinner followed by  cake and a hilarious movie, Despicable Me.

Ta-da!!

Not the best looking pizza, but it was good. My sister did a great job baking and icing the cake…she is definitely the baker in the family.

I pretty much headed straight to bed when I got home in order to feel rested for the beginning of the week. BUT, then we got this SURPRISE!!!!!!!!!

Charlotte is officially having a snow-day today! I was surprised that my boss urged me to work from home but I am relishing every bit of it. Chris and I instantly knew we had to celebrate with this:

Hope every one is having a great Monday and for all you Charlotte readers, wa-whooo if you get to stay home like us!

How do you like to spend your snow-days??

Chistmas Sugar High!

It’s almost Christmas!

I’m ready to have a few days off work and to be forced to stay home in my p.j.’s for a change. Nothing will be open so therefore Chris and I usually make a grand breakfast and watch movies on the couch all day.

Don’t ya just love traditions!?

I’ll spare you the picture of my weekly breakfast, I’m pretty sure all my readers have grown tired of seeing my apple cinnamon goodness shots.

We had our company Christmas Luncheon yesterday and the meal was surprisingly above average. I always find it so hard to get mass-produced meals to be quality, but this came pretty close.

Then came the onslaught of desserts…my company had a dessert contest so almost every one came armed with their favorite and I was eager to try as many as I could.

After all that snacking, I was completely stuffed and thankful that my new-found love for the gym was back-because I need to work some of this off!

Yesterday while I was shopping for our Christmas cards (don’t worry, they got sent out) I picked up a Women’s Daily magazine and was thoughtfully reminded of a blogger’s feature published in the mag for Egg Land’s live Well Challenge.

It’s hard to tell but that is Tina Haupert of Carrots ‘N’ Cake!

Dinner was super un-creative and quick. I was so tired yesterday due to the gym. All this working out again is going to take some getting used to. I was getting quite comfortable becoming a couch potato.

Chorizo and Eggs

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped onions (green, red, or yellow onions) optional
  • 1/4 lb of Mexican chorizo sausage, removed from sausage casing (I used turkey sausage)
  • 5 to 6 eggs
  • Salt
  • Tortillas – optional
  • Cilantro – optional
  • Directions:

    Heat a large skillet on medium high heat. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in the pan. Add the chopped onions (optional) and cook until softened. Once softened, move to the side of the pan and add break up bits of chorizo into the pan. Use a wooden spatula to break up the pieces of sausage. Add the raisins. Stir until the sausage is cooked through, though not necessarily browned. If you are not using lean chorizo, drain the excess fat from the pan before proceeding. If you are not using lean chorizo, you may want to cook the chorizo first, draining the excess fat, then remove to a plate while you cook the onions in the remaining

     Crack the eggs one at a time, into the pan. Break the yolks and stir the eggs into the sausage. Add a light sprinkling of salt. Stir constantly until the eggs begin to set, but are still moist. Remove from heat.

    Serve immediately with a side of warmed corn tortillas and cilantro as a garnish.

    GIVING BACK!!!!!!!!

    If anyone still has some holiday shopping to do, I have a stellar suggestion on where to buy that your friends & family are sure to love! Christmas has become beyond materialistic these days so I always love when I can find a company where it pays in more ways than one to shop with!

    Enter GreenHeart!

    Greenheart is Chicago’s premier eco-fair trade non-profit shop, carrying both fair trade and eco friendly products. Greenheart carries a variety of goods including recycled accessories and handbags, home goods, gourmet treats, cookbooks, glassware, jewelry, toys, personal care, organic cotton t-shirts and more. Greenheart believes consumers have the power to affect positive World change by supporting sustainable and fair business practices in their purchasing choices.

    Apple Cinnamon Goodness.

    So I am pretty obsessed with the breakfast I’ve been eating all week. I know it might get boring to show you a constant collage of oats and yogurt in Tupperware on a daily basis, so I will try to at least switch up the fruit next week. But that is all I can promise because this breakfast makes me happy 🙂

    Oats, yogurt, a sliced up apple with some cinnamon….so tasty in the mornings.

    Since it’s been so freezing out I have been pairing it with some good ol’ hot chocolate (since I don’t do coffee).

    I met up with my cousin for lunch (a rare and special treat), we don’t get to see each other as often as I would like. We opted for some sushi and while I tried to order the miso soup to refrain from eating too much…

    the “special” happened. I just can’t contain myself when it comes to sushi. It’s one of my all-time favorite foods.

    Back at the office, it’s literally getting dangerous the amount of sweets circulating. I tried to refrain from diving into the HR supply of chocolate baskets but could not resist a white-chocolate covered pretzel. I’m a sucker for white chocolate.

    Didn’t go to the gym on Tuesday either. Just didn’t do it. I’m boycotting doing anything that involves going outside: checking the  mail, driving to the gym, I’ve even pondered the likelihood of getting Daisy to walk herself.

    Dinner was a jambalaya inspired meal. I wanted something comforting but at the same time, wasn’t a lot of work. I had some turkey sausage in the fridge so I decided use that. I sautéed some onions and threw it in a Trader Joe’s brown rice medley. So easy, SO good. I’m going to add it to the winter rotation of meals.

    With an Eat. Pray. Love mentality still on my mind, I decided to make some guilt-free brownies.

    Recipe courtesy of All Recipes.

    These were so good, I licked the bowl and didn’t even feel bad about it.

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 cup white sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

     

    Directions:

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×9 inch baking pan.

    In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in eggs. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; gradually stir into the egg mixture until well blended. Stir in walnuts, if desired. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.

    Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the brownie begins to pull away from edges of pan. Let cool on a wire rack before cutting into squares.

    January is going to be rough. 🙂

    Happy Thanksgiving from California!

    Hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving! Mine was especially special because Chris and I are in California visiting my Dad. We got in late on Wednesday evening and were exhausted from traveling. But this little touch of kindness cured all of that 🙂

    The next morning I woke up rested and ready to run! As a sort of homage to Lafayette, I opted to run down Mt. Diablo instead of the reservoir behind my parents house. It was so nice to run by all the awesome shops that have sprung up since I spent my high school years here. I went about 1.5 out because I knew once I came back, the hills in the neighborhood were going to be BRUTAL!

    They were, but I survived. Then I enjoyed a guilt free Thanksgiving feast!

    My step-mom decorated the table beautifully. I really liked her rustic yet regal approach this year. 🙂

    This year I spent a little too much on the appetizers beforehand. There was such a great assortment of cheeses. I was especially keen on the cranberry goat cheese log-Oh My God.

     We also had stuffed mushrooms, zucchini squares, fruit and a smattering of other delicious treats that I just could not avoid.

    Finally sitting down to eat the turkey was a hard task-but I was up to the challenge. 🙂

    Then of course came the dessert and wouldn’t you know there was a whole table dedicated to the after-meal course!

    …and this wouldn’t be America if we didn’t have some classic homemade Apple Pie! Mmmmmm

    Keeping in line with the holiday we had pumpkin and walnut waffles with fruit the next morning-I had been craving waffles so this was a special treat.

    Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. There are so many things to be thankful for this year and hopefully to come!

    Ah-Choo.

    With the seasons changing, so has my immune system apparently because I have gotten sick.

    Before I delve into what that may mean, let’s do a little re-cap:

    It was my birthday last Thursday and a fabulous one at that. Over the years, I have often celebrated my birthday with tons of people over the entire month of October-leaving my actual birthday feeling somewhat insignificant. So this year, I knew I wanted to keep things low-key. I didn’t want to plan anything for myself and instead spend some quality time with my quality loves.

    Work treated me to a yummy lunch at Nolen Kitchen and then I got a surprise cubicle makeover 🙂 Thanks to all my family, friends and co-workers for making me feel so loved~

    Cupcakes and candy for Halloween and my Birthday have been circulating the office more often than I like to admit

    For my birthday dinner, Chris took me to Mickey and Mooch where we feasted on seared tuna, jumbo crab meat, crab cakes, filet and mashed potatoes. I stuffed myself and relished in the guilt free birthday dinner.

    The weekend was pretty low-key. While I have enjoyed Halloween for many years, the reasons behind my celebrating have certainly evolved. When I was a kid it was all about the love of the candy. In college, it became about dressing up with friends. Now-I honestly didn’t want to spend the money this year so it became about scary movies with my soon-to-be hubby and passing out candy. Unfortunately for us, there wasn’t any trick-or-treaters 😦 Now I am stuck with bags of candy I’m trying to refrain from eating.

    This brings us to Sunday afternoon where I realize that I am sick. All the Therflu in the world couldn’t make me feel better and while my fever went up and down that night-Monday morning came too quick. I decided to take a personal day-which I hated. I decided to make the best of it and I slept until 11:30. After sleeping in for so long I was starving so I made some quick french toast for 1. For an awesome how-to on this quick breakfast, check out Healthy Tipping Point.

    Of course I put it on a Halloween paper plate, to make myself feel a little better.

    After breakfast I watched a movie off On Demand (Just Wright) and fell in and out of my coma. By dinner I was starving so I instructed Chris on how to make what was on our meal plan. Walnut-Crusted Chicken with a salad. It was easy and so moist. I wish I had leftovers for today’s lunch.

    Walnut-Crusted Chicken

    Recipe by Martha Stewart

    Ingredients:

  • 2 slices whole-wheat bread, dried
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 large egg white
  • 4 chicken breast halves, boneless and skinless (6 to 8 ounces each)
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • Lemon slices, for serving
  • Seasonal green salad
  • Directions:

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a food processor, combine bread, walnuts, and Parmesan; season with salt and pepper. Process until fine breadcrumbs form. Transfer to a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, beat egg white until frothy.

    Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dip each breast into egg white, letting excess drip off, and then into crumb mixture, pressing to adhere.

    In a large nonstick ovenproof skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned, 1 to 3 minutes. Carefully turn chicken over and put skillet in oven. Bake until chicken is golden brown and cooked through, 8 to 12 minutes.

    Serve chicken with lemon slices and green salad.

    After Dinner was some ice-cream, leftover walnuts and some chocolate syrup. YUM.

    Now back to what  getting sick means for me and the upcoming race…

    I’m officially passing on the November 6 Dowd Y Half-Marathon. This is a decision I have been struggling with for the past few weeks and while I feel like a quitter, I’m trying to rationalize that I’m just trying to listen to my body. The bottom line is that I’m not prepared. I can only run a solid 8 miles and I just don’t feel that is enough and time is out. Instead of giving up all together I have decided to run Thunder Road instead. In a way, I’m excited about it because it’s a bigger race with more participants. I’m still bummed about not meeting my goal but such is life, sometimes you have to re-evaluate.

    Lastly-I just want to give a HUGE shout-out to my San Franscisco Giants! They won the World Series last night and I could not be more proud!!!!!! Wish I was in the city to celebrate, but will be home for Thanksgiving 😉

    Photo courtesy of Dad.

    Bagged It!

    Last night I will admit that I “bagged” dinner. It’s pretty rare these days that I will take something frozen and heat it up for dinner but I couldn’t resist picking up some Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange Chicken. It’s really good for a frozen meal and I’d like to think that with a side of edamame beans, eating it every once in a while is OK. It takes about 10 minutes to prepare with rice and the beans just needed boiling. Not exactly my top post on “dining” but hey-it was Monday, I was tired and this was still so good.

    TJ’s Mandarin Orange Chicken

    I heated the chicken and the sauce up in our wok and boiled the beans for 5 minutes. I had some sesame seeds on hand so I added them to the mix. Easy Peasy! I had plenty of beans leftover so I decided to take them with me for a snack at work. These will come in handy this afternoon!

    I’m going to take extra precaution with what I eat today as well as drinking plenty of water. I have my weekly Tuesday night run with some people from work and the last thing I want is to look like a wimp. Generally the group will do a long 6 mile run at the park where the trails are anything but flat.

    I was feeling dessert last night….

    The seasons have officially clicked and therefore I have been craving some apple crisp. I love love love this dessert. It might be my favorite. It’s easy to make and so satisfying. I tried out a new recipe but I have to say I like this one better.

    Warm Apple Crisp

    (Recipe from The Food Network)

    Ingredients:

    • 6 McIntosh apples, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
    • 1/2 lemon, juiced
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
    • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup flour or fine graham cracker crumbs
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 stick butter
    • 1 pint vanilla ice cream

    Directions:

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a 9 by 12 baking dish, combine apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. In a small bowl, mix flour or graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and butter together using the tines of a fork and your fingers, working until even, small crumbles form. Sprinkle topping evenly over apples and bake 15 to 20 minutes until apples are just tender and topping is golden brown. Top dishes of apple crisp with small scoops of vanilla ice cream. YUM!

    One last thing that was bagged last night was the Braves by the SF Giants! They now are progressing on to the NCLS where they will play the Phillies! Sorry to all my Georgia friends but GO SAN FRAN!!

    (photo source-SI.com)