Archive for February, 2012

Apple Cider Popcorn

Popcorn is a fun and versatile snack. It can be healthy, however, I choose to eat delicious popcorn (I apologize to anyone who thinks plain popcorn is delicious!). Lots of butter and salt. Or covered in crunchy caramel. Or drizzled in melted chocolate. Or mixed with peanuts, pretzels, and M&M’s. It’s all good!

Today I was in the mood for some popcorn, but I didn’t want chocolate on it (I know, I must be ill!). I wanted something like caramel corn, but yet I didn’t want caramel corn (I can be so indecisive sometimes). I realized I was craving apple cider. Apple cider? Yup- Who knows- I just go with it :)

Anyways, you know I was on an apple cider kick a couple months ago (here and here), and I really thought I had satisfied the craving for another year! However, it’s back, but it’s quieter this time. Speaking softly and gently (ahhh).

So I decided to make some apple cider popcorn. I still had a few packets of instant apple cider mix left, so I mixed those into a candy coating, poured it over some popcorn, and baked it till it was crunchy. After it cooled, I couldn’t stop eating it- it’s so good!

Apple Cider Popcorn
Prep time: 25 minutes     Bake time: 30 minutes

1 cup popcorn kernels
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup butter
4 packs instant apple cider mix
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Pop popcorn using an air popper (if you use microwavable popcorn, make sure it is plain) into a large bowl. Transfer popped kernels to another large bowl and set aside (I always have unpopped kernels, so I transfer the popped popcorn by hand in order to sort out the unpopped kernels).

Preheat oven to 225 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugars, corn syrup, butter, and the instant apple cider mix. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly. Once it comes to a boil, attach a candy thermometer, and continue stirring until the mixture reaches 300 degrees. Remove from the heat and immediately add in the baking soda (be careful, as the baking soda will make the mixture bubble up) stirring till well combined. Pour the syrup over the popcorn (I did this in 2 batches), stirring well to cover all the popcorn, then pour the popcorn onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet(s). Spread the popcorn out evenly, then put the cookie sheet in the oven. Stir every 10 minutes, for a total of 3 times. After the 3rd time, remove from the oven and stir again. Then let the popcorn set until completely cooled. Break apart into pieces and enjoy! (Store leftovers in zip-locked storage bags)

Sugar mixture after the baking soda has been added

Question of the day: What do you like on your popcorn?

Made with love, not calories!

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It’s time for another Daring Bakers‘ challenge! This month is all about quick breads. Savory or sweet, these are easy to put together. Quick breads do not contain yeast, so there isn’t extra time involved in letting the dough rise. It’s a quick mix of ingredients, pour it into a pan, and bake away! Sweet quick breads are a wonderful addition to a weekend breakfast, while savory ones would be great for dinner or brunch!

The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis! Lisa stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles.

I am a fan of banana bread. However, any banana bread that I bake, has to have chocolate chips in it (what a surprise!)! A thought that came to mind was a post I read last month, from Heather Eats Almond Butter. She added mini peanut butter cups to her banana bread. What a great idea! While I didn’t add peanut butter cups, I did add peanut butter. Not a lot, so I think there is just the right amount of flavors- banana, chocolate, and peanut butter! I baked mine in mini loaf pans, but you could make a regular sized loaf, or make these into muffins!

Banana, Peanut Butter, and Chocolate Chip Bread
Makes: 8 small loaves
Prep time: 10 minutes     Bake time: 32 minutes

4 ripe peeled bananas, divided
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup + 4 teaspoons brown sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups flour
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray mini loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, mash 3 of the bananas (I do this with a fork), then add in the peanut butter and mix well. Stir in the eggs, oil, and heavy whipping cream. Add in the sugar and 1/4 cup brown sugar, stirring well to combine. Add in the salt, baking powder, and flour, and stir until just combined. Chop up the remaining banana into small bite-sized pieces and add into the batter, along with the mini chocolate chips. Stir gently to combine.

Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining 4 teaspoons brown sugar over the top of the batter. Bake in a preheated oven for 30-33 minutes (if you bake this in a normal loaf pan, you will have to extend the baking time).  The loaves will be done when the toothpick test comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool 15 minutes, then remove the loaves from the pan. Cool completely on a cooling rack. Enjoy!

Question of the day: Other than bananas (!), what do you like in your banana bread?

Made with love, not calories!

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Another week…another weekly running recap :)

Sunday: Rest + 1:40 plank
Monday: 45 minute run, 100 crunches, 25 (x2) push-ups, 1:45 plank
Tuesday: 30 minute HIIT, 30 minute walk, 1:50 plank
Wednesday: 1 hour walk, 1:55 plank
Thursday: 45 minute run, 100 crunches, 25 (x2) push-ups, 2:00 plank
Friday: 45 minute incline walk, 2:05 plank
Saturday: 9 mile run, 2:10 plank

Just 4 more days for February’s Plank Challenge! If you decided to participate, I hope it’s going well for you! Next week I will talk about March’s challenge! As you can tell from these weekly updates, I don’t vary my workouts a great deal, so these monthly challenges are a fun way to add something new into the routine (and to work different muscle groups).

Have a good week :)

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How cool is this?!!!!

In the last week, I have been tagged twice with the Versatile Blogger Award!

Michigan Fit Mom and In Fine Balance both passed this award on to me!

I am supposed to list 7 things you might not know about me, then I am to “tag” 15 other blogs with the award.

First up…7 things about me!

1. I have lived in Ohio all of my life.
2. I am owned :) by two Himalayan cats: Romeo and Juliet!
3. I ran Cross-Country in middle school and high school. I stopped running after graduation (took a 16 year break), then started again in 2007.
4. My first half marathon and my first marathon were run in the same weekend (Goofy’s Challenge- Disney World, 2008).
5. I would Love, Love, Love to open up a candy/pastry shop.
6. I dream in Chocolate!!!
7. Making and sharing great tasting desserts makes me happy! (my tagline: Made with love, not calories!)

Now the really fun part! The 15 blogs that I am tagging are a mixture of blogs I currently read and blogs that are new to me. Check them out- maybe you’ll find a couple new favorites!

1. Spilled Melk
2. A Smidge of Sweetness
3. Cravings of a Lunatic
4. Kristy Runs
5. Make it Naked
6. An American Cupcake in London
7. Bearrunner
8. Glass Half Full
9. Going Dutch
10. elisariva
11. Cookies & Crafts
12. Learn to Bake
13. Eat the Cookie
14. Food Babbles
15. Kaileen Elise 

Thanks again to Michigan Fit Mom and In Fine Balance!!

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I hinted at this recipe, oh, well over a week ago…and then never posted it.

Shame on me.

Well, all I can say is that these are worth the wait!

Remember the brownie filled chocolate chip cookies I showed you? This recipe also has a yummy treat hidden inside each cookie!

Using a brownie mix for the cookies, the filling is a mixture of sweetened condensed milk and coconut. So easy, and so good!

Coconut Filled Brownie Cookies
Makes 20 cookies
Prep time: 10 minutes    Bake time: 12 minutes

1 19.5 oz. box brownie mix (I used Pillsbury)
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil
5 oz. sweetened condensed milk (1/2 of a 14 oz. can)
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the brownie mix with the eggs and oil. Mix well (this will be thick). Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk and coconut. Mix well. Set aside.

Using a large ice cream scoop, scoop out some of the brownie mixture into the palm of your hand. Flatten. Then using a small ice cream scoop, scoop some of the coconut mixture and place it onto the center of the flattened dough. Carefully fold up the dough, molding it completely around the coconut filling. Place onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, leaving 2 inches in between each cookie.

Bake for 12 minutes or until the cookies are set. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the cookies onto a cooling rack and let cool completely. Enjoy!

Made with love, not calories!

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Fudgey Brownies

I Love Brownies!

Plain, or loaded with lots of goodies. It doesn’t matter. I love them!

Oh wait. There is an exception. I don’t really care for cakey brownies. I mean, I will eat them, but I will bury them under ice cream and all sorts of candy toppings. (Is that kinda like burying broccoli under cheese sauce?)

I think brownie recipes, for me, will always be a work in progress. See, I really like the one I’m going to share with you today. But next month, it just might not please me as much and then I will start to play with the recipe again!. Too me, that’s part of the fun of baking!

I’m making plain brownies today, as I want you to taste the actual brownie. However, feel free to add in extra chocolate chips or nuts to the batter!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have wrapped up half of the brownies and I’m on my way to deliver them to the ladies at the local library! I have to do this, or I will eat the whole pan of brownies…and while yummy, that will cause a belly ache!

Fudgey Brownies
Makes: 24 servings (13 x 9 inch pan)
Prep time: 10 minutes     Bake time: 20 minutes

1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a 13 x 9 inch pan with aluminum foil, and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a medium-sized, microwave-safe mixing bowl, combine the butter and chocolate chips. Microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring after each time, until the chocolate chips are completely melted and the mixture is well combined. Add in the sugar and brown sugar and stir well. Add in the eggs and vanilla and stir until well combined. Stir in the salt and cocoa powder. Gently add in the flour, stirring until just combined (don’t over-mix). Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, you can either continue to let them sit on the counter and come to room temperature, or you can put the pan of brownies into the refrigerator for 15 minutes (like I did because I am impatient!). After 15 minutes, remove the pan from the refrigerator and grasping the aluminum foil, pull the brownies out of the pan. Cut into 24 pieces and enjoy!

Question of the day: Which do you prefer? Fudgey or Cakey brownies?

Made with love, not calories!

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Time for another weekly running recap!

Sunday: Rest day (completed 1:05 plank)
Monday: 3 mile run, 100 crunches, 25 (x2) push-ups, + 1:10 plank
Tuesday: 1 hour incline walk + 1:15 plank
Wednesday: 30 minute HIIT workout, 100 crunches, 25 (x2) push-ups, + 1:20 plank
Thursday: 3 mile run, 30 minute incline walk + 1:25 plank
Friday: Rest day (completed 1:30 plank)
Saturday: 8 mile run + 1:35 plank

Wow! Are the planks getting hard for anyone else at this point (or is it just me)? I have started making my to-do lists while I’m in plank- to try and keep my mind off the time :)

Have a good week!

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