2012!

Happy happy NEW YEAR!

It’s 2012. Can you believe it?

I hope you all rang in the new year and rang out the holiday season with lots of joy. While I was with the BF, which is always a good way to spend the holiday, I’m fighting of sickness–yet again–so it was a mellow evening.

Which gave me lots of time to think.

HIGHLIGHTS OF 2012 (in no particular order):

1. Moving to Denver!!

2. Getting my job! (A blanket statement that includes all of my new friends and new experiences that have gone along with said job).

3. Moving in with the Boyfriend!

4. Finally visiting Portland, Oregon!

5. Explorations in my new city!

6. Thanksgiving in Seattle and Christmas in Bozeman.

7. Starting this BLOG!

8. Skiing more!

9. Spending a few solid months living with my parents before moving out for REALS.

10. And, surprisingly, working at the nursing home!

‘Twas a good year, my friends, and I especially loved sharing it with you!

Now for 2012…here is what I want to happen. Resolutions, you might say.

1. Get into graduate school. (Say what? Stay tuned on that front!)

2. Make my first overseas excursion with the Boyfriend in tow. Poor thing, he always gets left behind! Or, at least finally go to New England to check out their fall foliage, baby.

3. Complete my job (it’s only a one-or-two-year commitment–I love it but I’m also ready to really start my career!) and continue to learn from it, and continue to make relationships with my kiddies.

4. Really commit myself to eating right and exercising.

5. That one’s so important it needs two. I’ve signed up for a long-term yoga class and this eight-week program to get you fit. I think it’s called Insanity and I’m scared, but I need to get my butt in gear.

6. Learn to be financially responsible. I need to stop spending money on boots (I have a serious illness) and save up for stuff! Like trips. I’m jonesing.

7. Scuba dive again! I loved it–read about my first experience here and my training adventures here.

8. Cook more. In addition, make bread. I got Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Day (!!!) and I want to make sandwich bread and bread to give away as gives and sugary breads…pretty much all of them. On that note, I also have Mastering the Art of French Cooking that I’ve barely cracked open (it’s scary!) and I want to try to cook some truly complicated stuff out of that. Like a duck.

9. Actually learn to crochet. I sound like such a housewife. And maybe learn to knit too.

10. WRITE MORE. Keep tending to this baby.

11. Worry less. LET goooooo.

There you have it. I have a good feeling about 2012, and I hope all of you do too!!!! xo.

Semi-Healthy Carrot Cupcakes

Happy Monday everyone!

As it unfortunately keeps raining here–despite a small window on Dad’s Day where we ran the dogs around–I’ve been doing some baking lately. Some of it has been not-so-healthy, but lately I’ve been learning some healthier-baking tips, like substituting applesauce for some of the oil.

Brilliant, no?

One dessert I had some trouble finding a healthier alternative for is carrot cake. I loooove carrot cake, and I love that you can pretend it’s healthy, even though sadly, it really isn’t.

gotta love it

However, while flipping through my latest issue of Fitness magazine, I stumbled upon the following recipe, played with it a little, and the result is delicious, popular, and with about a pound of carrots in them, kind of good for you!

CARROT CUPCAKES:

Ingredients:

  • Nonstick cooking spray/muffin liners
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 7 egg whites, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3 cups finely shredded carrots
  • Raisins, chocolate chips or chopped nuts: optional.
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 8 oz. reduced fat cream cheese

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line several muffin trays or spray with nonstick cooking spray. *NOTE: Recipe can also be made into bars by spraying a 9 X 13 inch pan.*
  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together egg whites, applesauce and oil. Stir into flour mixture. Stir in shredded carrot and other optional fillings.
  4. Spread batter in muffin tins. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.  Cool completely on a wire rack.
  5. In a medium bowl, beat together sifted powdered sugar and cream cheese until smooth.
  6. Frost cupcakes and enjoy!!
One thing I changed (besides the addition of chocolate chips and making it extra cinnamon-y) was that I kept my brown sugar a little lumpy, letting it break up in the little cupcakes for a little fun surprise. I also switched to cupcakes, as I always find I have more self-control to have just one or two cupcakes, rather than cutting myself a GIANT piece of cake…they’re like pre-made into serving sizes! Plus, there are few things happier than cupcakes.
That’s it for now, folks! As always, let me know if you have discovered any delightful recipes, or if you try this one out successfully! 
Until we meet again. 🙂

No Chicken

Oops.

I believe I said I would put up a recipe for that chicken…but after making it, it just wasn’t quite blog-worthy. However, I did make my own Italian bread crumbs–from scratch! It’s easy: preheat the oven to 300 degrees F, and place in several slices of (I used wheat) bread. Several slices will go far: I used four and I had way to many crumbs! Leave the bread in the oven for about an hour, turning several times. After the allotted time, take out, crush into crumbs, and add choice Italian seasonings. I kind of go crazy with spices, and I hardly ever measure them, but I used oregano, garlic powder, a tiny bit of cayenne pepper, freshly ground black pepper, a little bit of dried onion, and some paprika.

yum. bread crumbs.

You can also just use the pre-made Italian seasoning mix…but either way, lots of flavor!

Since I failed to actually complete a “top ten” for last week, I will attempt to make it a top ELEVEN this week. We’ll see how it goes…

Orange Dream Smoothie

Maybe because the weather is finally (did I just jinx it?) getting a little nicer up here in the North, all I’ve wanted to eat is produce, and this cool, fruity drink is my latest obsession! It truly is a creamy, healthy dreeeeeeam. 

ORANGE DREAM SMOOTHIE

  •  1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (probably optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Combine in a blender until smooth! Serves 1-2.

**I have made this several times, all with successful results, so experiment! My favorite so far is using skim milk with a splash of fat free half-and-half, Tillamook‘s Vanilla Bean yogurt (my current brand of yogurt I’m obsessed with, although  Chobani might be taking center stage soon) and a dash of lemon juice, usually freshly squeezed.

Now that I’m really craving one of these…I can’t wait for breakfast!

p.s. I’m always on the lookout for fabulous smoothie ideas, so hit me up! 🙂