February 26, 2010

Meg's Healthy Carrot Raisin Muffins

Nothing makes me feel as creative or fabulously domestic as baking does. I absolutely love turning on my thinking cap and testing new recipes out! Of course, in an effort to keep my waistline in tact, I like to have a sample of my tasty treat and then send the rest home with my dear BF or bring leftovers to work.

As delightfully decadent and as frequent as these treats appear, it is time to make the healthier choice for all and create something healthy and delicious to share with my dear friends. (You guys can thank me later.)

One of my favorite things to do is scour the Internet (mostly on my favorite site, allrecpes.com) for a scrumptious sounding recipe, add some MEGnificent imagination, and create a wonderfully healthier option!

I found this recipe for Morning Glory Muffins. The bones of this recipe were great! Amazing flavors, healthy fiber-full staples, BUT souped up with white flour, eggs and butter.

I played with it a little bit, mixed up the batter, poured the mixture into my muffin tin and then crossed my fingers. I calculated the nutrition facts using the allrecipes.com nutrition counter, brought the muffins to work the next morning, and put the nutrition sign next to the treats.

I was SHOCKED to find not even one muffin left at 2 p.m.! I figured with a sign next to the muffins designating that they were a "healthy" option, only a select few would want to indulge - boy was I wrong!

I received e-mails and comments all day on how delicious they were and how they didn't taste low-cal, low-fat! I told them it was a sneaky but tasty way to get vegetables and fiber into a yummy morning muffin!



Meg's Healthy Carrot Raisin Muffins


- 1 1/2 cups white flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 T. cinnamon
- 2 t. baking powder
- 1/2 t. baking soda
- 1/2 t. salt
- 2 cups grated carrots
- 1 apple (peeled, cored, chopped)
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1 egg
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 cup apple butter
- 1/4 cup no-sugar added applesauce
- 2 T. walnuts (chopped)



1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray muffins tins lightly with Pam cooking spray.

2. In a bowl, mix together eggs, apple butter and applesauce.

3. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, soda and salt.

4. Combine liquid ingredients with dry, until moistened. Stir in carrots, apples and raisins.

6. Spoon the batter into greased muffin tins, filling each 3/4 full. Sprinkle chopped walnuts onto the top of the muffin batter.

8. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until tops are golden.


Recipe Yields: 18 muffins


Nutrition Information

Calories: 180
Fat: 1.5g
Fiber: 3

Weight watchers: 3 points per muffin


Let me know what you think! Bon Appetit!


February 19, 2010

Craving Color

I don't know about you, but I am getting a little antsy for Spring! All of this drab weather and blah scenery need to go away soon!

Top 3 Spring Things I'm Craving:


1) Buying fresh flowers at the outdoor market




2) Running outside in the sunshine




3) Color. Color. Color.





So, I was thinking that before the flowers bloom and the sun returns to stay, why not start off color palooza... inside my home! Ever since I moved into my new place I have been thinking about what to do to jazz it up. Unfortunately I cannot add some vibrant paint to the walls, so I have to be creative when punching up the color scheme.

After browsing through magazines, reading my favorite design blogs (Little Green Notebook is a daily staple for me), and browsing through discount and thrift stores... I have come up with the perfect plan for me!



Right now I am totally loving the neutral couch with bright patterned pillows look. The neutrality of the couch mellows out the patterns, but it adds a punch of personality to the whole room.




Check out these Thomas Paul fabric pillows. To die for, right?



So, my plan is to choose an amazing, vibrant color pallet, save up the money needed for new amazing furniture (like neutral couches, colorful pillows and bright adorable slipper chairs), and then find some great artwork!




I am so excited! After a good month or so of thinking about it, I am finally starting to tie my ideas all together. Usually I am a very hodge podge thinker, but I want to make my living space warm and full of personality. I plan on doing lots of cheap DIY (do-it-yourself) projects like spray painting old furniture bright colors... love this green dresser! All of this talk gets my mind going... yikes!



Here's to spring! Happy decorating!


February 12, 2010

L.O.V.E.

Oh. My. Goodness. I love holidays! Ask anyone who knows me well, no wait... scratch that. Ask anyone who has even talked with me for 45 seconds how much I love every single holiday - they can totally vouch for my festive adoration. The 4th of July, St. Patrick's Day, Flag Day... you name it, I love it.


Well, good thing Sunday is Valentine's Day... Mmmm. As for those of you reading this and freaking out about that HUGE date slipping your mind, you can't go wrong with a sappy Hallmark card, nice dinner, and chocolate (when in doubt, the answer is always chocolate).

I got to thinking about why I love this particular holiday so much. For me it's not the fancy planned outing or being showered with gifts. I have come to the conclusion that I love Valentine's Day because it encourages people to be bold and tell you how much you mean to them. Valentine's Day is not solely meant to be shared with your significant other, but everyone and everything in your life that you love.

Most importantly, it is a day to be thankful for how happy those precious little things make your heart. As a tribute to St. Valentine, I want to share the many, many, many things that I love...

- Baking.
- Going on picnics.
- Yellow.
- Helping Cancer Patients.
- Sappy Love Songs.
- Girls Night.
- Dark Chocolate.
- 500 Days of Summer.
- Thunderstorms.
- Red Wine.
- Receiving Hand-written Notes in the Mail.
- Relaxing Bubble Baths.
- Snuggling.
- The Smell of Fresh Flowers.
- Best Friends.
- Long Chats w/ Mammy & Pappy.
- Fridays.
- Dresses.
- Authentic/Genuine People.
- Disney Movies.
- Calls From Brother Bear.
- My Co-workers.
- Kindness.
- Cooking for People I Love.
- Speaking Spanish.
- Laughing Until My Sides Hurt.
- Being a Porter.
- Time With My Seeessssttteeerrr.
- San Francisco.
- Coffee.
- Holding Hands w/ A.
- Blogging.
- Comments On My Blog.
- Pretty Aprons.
- Being Girly.
- Date Night.
- Sending Greeting Cards.
- Little Kiddos.
- Bella Louise Beast Porter.
- Forehead Kisses.
- Volunteering.
- Saturdays in River Market w/ Cousins.
- Fine Art.
- Black & White Photos.
- Decorating.
- Making New Friends.
- Dancing.
- Road Trips.
- Adventuring.


...I could probably go on forever. All of you have a very special place in my heart and I cannot thank you enough for your love. Wishing you a happy Valentine's Day full of love and blessings.





February 5, 2010

Petite Cinnamon Sugar Scones



The snow is softly falling on the trees right outside my window. What a perfect day to be snuggled up with my puppy, hot cup of coffee in hand and nibbling on a delicious cinnamon scone.

I know, I know... your mouth in now watering and those scones are all you can think about. Don't you worry, I have just the recipe for you. There are several scone recipes I've tried recently, but these top them all. I found the recipe on one of my favorite food blogs, Baked Perfection, and then I made some small changes.

The recipe is for Mini Cinnamon Sugar Scones, and let me just tell you, these babies
have every characteristic of the perfect scone: crumbly texture, not too sweet, sugar and spice. Delicious! These only took 25 min. start to finish, so perfect to make for out-of-town guests or a lovely brunch.

Petite Cinnamon Sugar Scones
recipe adapted from Baked Perfection

Scones:
2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/4 cups whipping cream (heavy cream)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon (by hand). Pour in whipping cream. Mix or knead by hand, just until combined (about 45 second). Mix will be sticky. Flour surface. Divide dough into two sections and pat into two rounds, each approximately four inches. Note: Score each round first with a knife into 4ths , then 8ths. Then cut and put on a greased large cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. Let cool five minutes, then glaze.

Vanilla Cinnamon Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons milk

Mix together until a thin icing consistency and pour or drizzle over warm scones. If you are not getting the consistency you want then just add a little more milk.

Optional:
Sprinkle course sugar on top of the scones immediately following the icing to add a pretty sparkle and texture.

Let icing set and then promptly serve with coffee or hot tea.

Hope you enjoy these as much as I do!


February 2, 2010

Grammy Controversy Debunked



There is nothing that Taylor Swift does that doesn't fly under the radar. Often criticized for her quick rise to stardom at such a young age, Swift is once again the bulls eye on the media scrutiny target.

Well, the 20-year-old singer/songwriter has done it again. On Sunday evening, Taylor Swift won the most coveted Grammy award for Album of the Year, beating out top contenders, Beyonce and Lady Gaga.

It didn't take long for the media to swarm and the haters to hate, many asking "Does Taylor Swift really deserve a Grammy?" Yes, I realize her performance at the Grammy Awards did not highlight her usually spot-on performance and singing, but really, why all the scrutiny?

Unlike Lady Gaga and Beyonce, Taylor Swift actually writes her own songs. Wow, what a concept! The music on her album is innovative, raw, honest, creative and all together quite catchy.

Not to mention her 5x Platinum certified album, "Fearless" , became the first album in 2009 to sell 1 million copies, and since then has sold more than 2.1 million copies internationally.

Swift is the top-selling digital artist in music history with over 24.3 million digital tracks sold to date. Her album also remained at no. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 11 weeks, where no album has spent more time in the no. 1 spot since 2000.

Sure, some can argue that Lady Gaga's bizarre outfits and Beyonce's bootylicious dancing backs up their performances, but when it comes down to it, Taylor Swift is raw, Grammy-worthy talent. Stripped from their producers and songwriters, all Beyonce and Lady Gaga have is a good voice, dance moves and sparkly costumes.

Sure if the award was Performance of the year, Beyonce takes the cake, but when it comes down to a solid album with multiple award-winning tracks, Swift is the leader of the pack by far.

Well, one thing is for sure, Swift isn't going to sit around and let the criticism get her down. Her sold-out "Fearless" tour is already on it's way to Australia as her hit singles continue to set records and climb the charts... take that Taylor haters!


February 1, 2010

Lasagna & Key Lime Pie... naturally.

Now that I have moved into my spacious apartment, I have been even more excited and inspired to cook. The over sized kitchen island looking into the living room makes it easy to create a masterpiece while catching up on the latest episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians... yes, I'm serious.

So, around 4 p.m. on Friday I decided that I wanted to discover a new recipe as well as impress my dear sweet BF with my mediocre culinary skills. Naturally, I logged into my life saving online cookbook and began searching. After a mere 5 minutes I stumbled across what was claimed to be the "World's Best Lasagna".




At first I was hesitant, but with more than 3,000+ people raving about it, I thought I'd give it a shot. So, I printed out the recipe, made my grocery list and I was off to the market!

Half way there I realized I didn't have anything sweet planned for dessert, and we all know how much I can't LIVE without my dessert. I shot BF a quick text on my BlackBerry to brainstorm for ideas and decided on Key Lime Pie, his favorite. Thank God for my internet capable handheld, or else I would have had no clue as to what ingredients magically constituted an amazing KLP.

I finally made it home with all of my groceries and began my lasagna adventure. Due to lack of a selection at my neighborhood grocery store, I modified the recipe slightly. I started the sauce so that when Adam got to my place we would be ready to layer the dense dish together. It really wasn't too complicated at all to assemble, and then we popped it in the oven for close to an hour.

Next on my agenda was Key Lime Pie - delicious! Oh. My. Goodness. If you want EASY that doesn't taste easy, this recipe is for you. Granted I made my own graham cracker crust, but the rest was pretty simple - mix, pour, bake, chill.

My apartment was quickly filled with the intoxicating smells of Italian seasonings. The time went off and the lasagna looked amazing! Trust me, it tasted 10 times better than it looked, and it looked pretty darn tasty!

After the lasagna popped out, I put the KLP in the over for a good 15 min. and then let it chill. I decorated the top with some whipped cream and lime slices for some added pretty color.



From the looks of our happy plates, I'd like to say we thoroughly enjoyed our feast, and the eager "I'd be happy to take some leftovers home" definitely assured me that I had hit a home run!

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Hope you enjoy these recipes!

World's Best Lasagna

Easy Key Lime Pie
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More delicious recipes to come soon - Bon Appetit!


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