Easy Orange Coffee Cake

This Easy Orange Coffee Cake takes just 10 minutes of prep time and 20 minutes to bake – it’s perfect for a quick and easy breakfast treat, and special enough to serve when entertaining.

This Easy Orange Coffee Cake takes just 10 minutes of prep time and 20 minutes to bake - it's perfect for a quick and easy breakfast treat, and special enough to serve when entertaining.

I’m not sure if this is technically a coffee cake, but it is a fabulously easy sweet bread to serve in the mornings alongside a cup of coffee…so to me, that’s a coffee cake. ūüėČ

It’s such an easy “recipe” that I debated about even sharing it, but I made it as a quick and easy last minute breakfast last weekend and it was so super good that I decided I’d be doing you a disservice by not sharing. ¬†And since the holidays (and maybe last weekend weekend guests) are just around the corner, I figured that it couldn’t hurt to give you another breakfast idea to have in your repertoire.

This Easy Orange Coffee Cake takes just 10 minutes of prep time and 20 minutes to bake - it's perfect for a quick and easy breakfast treat, and special enough to serve when entertaining.

You just need a few ingredients: a can of biscuits (I used Pillsbury Grands), some sugar, an orange, powdered sugar, and a bit of cream cheese. ¬†If you live with people who will actually eat nuts in their baked goods (I don’t), some pecans or walnuts would be great here, too.

This Easy Orange Coffee Cake takes just 10 minutes of prep time and 20 minutes to bake - it's perfect for a quick and easy breakfast treat, and special enough to serve when entertaining.

The method here couldn’t be easier. ¬†You’ll place one of the 8 biscuits in the middle of a 9-inch round cake pan or pie plate, and cut the remaining biscuits in half. ¬†Then arrange the remaining biscuit halves around the center biscuit, making sure that the cut sides face the same direction. ¬†Brush ’em with butter, top with sugar, orange zest and nuts, and bake! ¬†Then drizzle with cream cheese icing when the cake comes out of the oven.

This Easy Orange Coffee Cake takes just 10 minutes of prep time and 20 minutes to bake - it's perfect for a quick and easy breakfast treat, and special enough to serve when entertaining.

And as you can see, I’m a pretty heavy-handed “drizzler.” ¬†My philosophy is the more cream cheese icing that you can fit on anything at anytime, the better.

This Easy Orange Coffee Cake takes just 10 minutes of prep time and 20 minutes to bake - it's perfect for a quick and easy breakfast treat, and special enough to serve when entertaining.

This recipe came straight from Paula Deen, and no matter your opinion of her, she does make some pretty darn good stuff. And when you can make a company-worthy quick breakfast in just a few minutes, I’m all for it. ¬†I’m already thinking of some really great variations on this for the holidays…maybe a cranberry cake with an egg nog frosting?

What are your favorite quick breakfasts for entertaining?

Easy Orange Coffee Cake
 
Serves: serves 8
Ingredients
  • 1 can (16.3 ounces) biscuits (I used Pillsbury Grands)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • ¼ cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)
for the frosting:
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan or pie plate with nonstick spray.
  2. Open the can of biscuits and place one biscuit in the center of the pan. Cut the remaining 7 biscuits in half, and arrange the 14 pieces around the center biscuit, making sure the cut pieces are facing the same direction. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter.
  3. Combine sugar, orange zest and nuts (if using) in a small bowl and sprinkle over the buttered biscuits. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops of the biscuits are golden brown.
for the frosting:
  1. In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar and orange juice together until smooth. If the frosting is too thick, add a bit more orange juice. Drizzle frosting over the cake and serve.

XO, Ashley

 

 

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Pistachio and Raspberry Financiers

Pistachio and Raspberry Financiers are the perfect little sweet to serve when you want a fun pick me up. ¬†Made with a base of pistachio and topped with one tart Driscoll’s raspberry, these elegant but easy treats are the perfect accompaniment to coffee or tea.

Pistachio and Raspberry Financiers are the perfect little sweet to serve when you want a fun pick me up.  Made with a base of pistachio and topped with one tart raspberry, these elegant but easy treats are the perfect accompaniment to coffee or tea.

If you haven’t heard of or made financiers before, today is your opportunity to change that. ¬†Oh, and you simply must. ¬†These petite little sweets are perfect alongside tea or coffee, or just a perfect little treat to grab and go. ¬†In fact, that’s how¬†the name “financier” originated: a French pastry chef created these cakes near the end of the nineteenth century for stockbrokers’ afternoon pick-me-up.

That’s just one of the fun little tidbits of French history you’ll find tucked between the pages of Dorie Greenspan’s new book, Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere. ¬†Now, I’ll be honest with you here: baking is not my forte, and the idea of attempting French creations sort of scares me to bits. ¬†But that’s the great thing about Dorie’s new book; her collection of uncomplicated French desserts accompanied by delightfully easy written instructions ensures that even the newbie baker has success with every recipe.

From Apple Weekend Cake to Bubble Eclairs to Cranberry Crackle Tart, you’ll soon find that elegant desserts don’t have to be difficult. ¬†Trust me, if I can make these dangerously addictive Pistachio and Raspberry Financiers, anyone can!

Pistachio and Raspberry Financiers are the perfect little sweet to serve when you want a fun pick me up.  Made with a base of pistachio and topped with one tart raspberry, these elegant but easy treats are the perfect accompaniment to coffee or tea.

The process is really very simple, and the ingredient list is short (usually one of my main requirements when deciding whether or not I want to make a baked good). ¬†These do take a little bit of pre-planning: you’ll want your batter to chill overnight. ¬†Otherwise, you need just 7 ingredients, and most of them you probably already have in your kitchen.

The base of financiers is traditionally almonds or hazelnuts. ¬†However, this version uses pistachios, and lots of butter! But it’s the butter that makes these little cakes super moist and luscious, and since we’re going to bake them in a mini-muffin tin, you don’t have to feel super guilty about eating them. ūüėČ

You’ll plunk just one raspberry on top, but it’s just the right amount in this bite-sized treat.

Pistachio and Raspberry Financiers are the perfect little sweet to serve when you want a fun pick me up.  Made with a base of pistachio and topped with one tart raspberry, these elegant but easy treats are the perfect accompaniment to coffee or tea.

Pistachio and Raspberry Financiers
 
Serves: makes 36 mini cakes
Ingredients
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup shelled pistachios, raw and unsalted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • ½ pint (1 cup) fresh raspberries
Instructions
  1. Put the butter in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until it melts and only just begins to take on a pale golden color. Pour the butter into a measuring cup with a spout and set aside.
  2. Use a fork to stir the egg whites in a small bowl just enough to break them up; set aside.
  3. Put the pistachios and the sugar in a food processor and pulse until the nuts are ground (it's okay if you have some chunks here and there). Add the flour and salt; pulse again to blend, and then transfer the mixture to a medium bowl.
  4. Pour the egg whites into the bowl and using a whisk or spatula, stir gently until they are blended into the nut mixture. Gradually add the butter to the mixture. It will seem like a LOT of butter, but keep stirring lightly and soon you'll have a thick, shiny batter. Perfection!
  5. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter and chill for at least 8 hours (up to 2 days).
  6. Center a rack in the over and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the molds of a mini-muffin tin with nonstick spray and place the pan on a baking sheet.
  7. Fill each mold half full with the chilled batter. Place 1 raspberry in the center of each cup.
  8. Bake the financiers for 24 to 28 minutes, rotating halfway through. The tops will be springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean when the cookies are done. Run a table knife around the edges of the muffins to detach them from the pan then cookies onto a rack. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Want your own copy of Dorie’s book (you do! you do!)? ¬†Just enter using the Rafflecopter form below. ¬†Pssst…be patient. ¬†Sometimes the Rafflecopter entry form takes a few moments to load.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

XO, Ashley

 

 

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Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

With a blend of chocolate, pumpkin, and fall spices, this Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread is a must for your fall baking list!

With a blend of chocolate, pumpkin, and fall spices, this Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread is a must for your fall baking list!

You guys. ¬†You guys. ¬†If you’re a pumpkin bread fan, you’ve got to make this bread. ¬†I mean, you really, seriously, have to make it {and then bring me a loaf, please}.

No lie, I’ve made this bread twice in the last week. ¬†The first time I made it, I scarfed down nearly half the loaf completely on my own in just a couple of days. ¬†Then, because I was disgusted with myself for eating so much of it, I packed up the second half and sent it home with my parents.

Two days later, I was regretting the fact that I gave away my remaining pumpkin loaf, so I made it again. ¬†And…repeat. ¬†I sent most of the second loaf with the Tall Boy to work, because oh my gosh. ¬†Eating two loaves of chocolate chip pumpkin bread in a week¬†does probably not bode well for fitting into my skinny jeans this fall.

But it might be worth it.

With a blend of chocolate, pumpkin, and fall spices, this Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread is a must for your fall baking list!

The first time I made this chocolate chip pumpkin bread, I used 1 cup of canned pumpkin puree, and the bread turned out completely, totally yummy.  On my second attempt, I subbed half of the pumpkin puree with some of my homemade spiced pumpkin butter, and the result was pure heaven.

You don’t have to use the pumpkin butter for this recipe, but if you have some on hand {and it’s not hard to whip up – it only requires mixing a few ingredients together and allowing them to simmer low and slow for about 30 minutes} I absolutely recommend it.

With a blend of chocolate, pumpkin, and fall spices, this Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread is a must for your fall baking list!

I dare you to make this bread and NOT eat more than one slice. ūüėČ

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling) OR ½ cup canned pumpkin puree PLUS ½ cup spiced pumpkin butter
  • ⅔ cup PLUS 2 tablespoons mini-chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and spray the bottom of a 8x4 loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together both sugars and butter until light and creamy. Add in eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in water and pumpkin/pumpkin butter on low speed.
  4. Add in flour mixture and beat on low until mixture is just combined. Stir in ⅔ cup mini chocolate chips. Spoon batter into loaf pan. Sprinkle the top with remaining mini chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon sugar.
  5. Bake 65 to 75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clear. Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely on a baking rack.
Notes
recipe adapted from Betty Crocker

 

 

XO, Ashley

 

 

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Spiced Pumpkin Butter

Making your own Spiced Pumpkin Butter is a snap, and you can do it for just a fraction of the cost of store-bought. It’s wonderful spread on toast or muffins, or added to your coffee, hot chocolate, or oatmeal!

Making your own Spiced Pumpkin Butter is a snap, and you can do it for just a fraction of the cost of store-bought.

I might have mentioned before how much I love Williams-Sonoma and all of their cooking gadgets and (un)necessities.  And this time of year, they sell a magnificent jarred pecan pumpkin butter.  But at the rate that I can consume it, I’d need a small loan to fund myself through the season.  Not only that, but I have this thing about making things from scratch.

You know, that thing where you tell yourself that the calories don’t count if it’s home baked versus purchased at a store or restaurant?

Mmm-hmm.  These calories soooooo don’t count.

Making your own Spiced Pumpkin Butter is a snap, and you can do it for just a fraction of the cost of store-bought.

You’re probably wondering why there are chocolate chips and a loaf of pumpkin bread riding sidekick in these photos. ¬†That’s because I used this spiced pumpkin butter to make the pumpkin bread, and it’s pretty much the best thing ever {recipe coming soon!}.

This chocolate chip pumpkin bread is wonderfully moist and flavorful, thanks to the addition of homemade pumpkin butter!

All you need are just a few ingredients and half an hour to make gourmet-tasting pumpkin butter at home, for just a fraction of what you would pay at the store.  Then spread it on bread, over yogurt and granola, in oatmeal, or on pancakes.

Or eat with a spoon.

Spiced Pumpkin Butter
 
Ingredients
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • ½ cup spiced apple cider (or apple juice)
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup pecan pieces (optional)
Instructions
  1. Bring all ingredients to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool completely, then spread on bread, over yogurt and granola, in oatmeal, or on pancakes.
  2. Or eat with a spoon.

XO, Ashley

 

 

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse

This quick and easy Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse is the perfect start to your day – it’s packed with protein and is an awesome way to stay satisfied throughout your morning!

This quick and easy Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse is the perfect start to your day - it's packed with protein and is an awesome way to stay satisfied throughout your morning!

I’m not really sure that Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse is the right title for this protein-filled snack.

But “fluffy chocolate whipped Greek yogurt layered with creamy peanut butter Greek yogurt topped with chocolate and peanut butter granola” seemed like too much of a mouthful.

Historically, I’m an oatmeal eater for breakfast, but every now and then¬†I get bored and need to switch things up a bit. ¬†But if I don’t have some protein in the mornings, I can be a real bear {just ask the Tall Boy}. ¬†Greek yogurt usually fits the bill when I’m looking for something different to jazz up my morning routine. ¬†And topped with granola? ¬†Well, even better – especially when that granola boasts 10¬†grams of protein per ¬Ĺ cup serving size!

This quick and easy Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse is the perfect start to your day - it's packed with protein and is an awesome way to stay satisfied throughout your morning!

Nature ValleyTM Protein Granola is a versatile product that can be added on top of many other foods or used as an ingredient. ¬†For my protein-packed breakfast, I layered Greek yogurt (half spiked with cocoa powder and a bit of vanilla and the other half with powdered peanut butter) with¬†Nature ValleyTM¬†Protein Granola Peanut Butter ‘N Dark Chocolate.

So.Crazy.Good.

I ate this for breakfast last Monday and it actually kept me satisfied until lunchtime – typically, I’m rustling around for a snack at my desk by mid-morning.

With clusters of whole grain oats, dark chocolate pieces (!!), and a touch of peanut butter, this is a great way to add protein throughout your day. ¬†Believe me, if you’re a chocolate and peanut butter lover, you need to give this quick and easy breakfast a try!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons powdered peanut butter OR regular creamy peanut butter
  • Nature ValleyTM Peanut Butter 'N Dark Chocolate Protein Granola
Instructions
  1. Whisk 1 teaspoon cocoa powder and ¼ teaspoon vanilla into ½ cup of vanilla Greek yogurt until smooth. Add sweetener to taste, if desired (I did not).
  2. Mix 2 teaspoons of powdered peanut butter (or regular peanut butter) into remaining ½ cup of Greek yogurt.
  3. Layer chocolate yogurt and peanut butter yogurt into a bowl or glass. Top with Nature ValleyTM Peanut Butter 'N Dark Chocolate Protein Granola - as much as you'd like! I think it would be great mixed in between the layers, also.

Connect with Nature Valley:

web | facebook | twitter 

XO, Ashley

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Nature Valley Protein Granola via Burst Media. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Chocolate Mocha Frosted Donuts

There’s no need to hit the bakery when you can make these Chocolate Mocha Frosted Donuts¬†at home in just minutes. ¬†Use International Delight Sweet and Creamy Light Mocha Iced Coffee to make the the chocolaty-glaze that takes these baked chocolate donuts up a notch!

mocha-donuts---title

So, summer is officially over for us here.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still in the 90’s (ugh) and we’re hitting the pool this weekend, but it was back to school for us this week. ¬†While I’ve been crying into my morning coffee, Doodle is¬†pretty pleased with his new second-grader status:

doodle

So, to cheer myself up and to make a special back-to-school breakfast, we made donuts. ¬†Specifically, these Chocolate Mocha Frosted Baked Donuts. ¬†So good, so easy, so chocolaty…and not as heavy on the calorie-count as those from the donut shop.

Especially not when you use International Delight Light Mocha Iced Coffee in the glaze.

But I’ll be honest, when I “sampled” this iced coffee prior to making the donuts, I just about sampled my way to an empty carton.

There's no need to hit the bakery when you can make these Chocolate Mocha Frosted Donuts at home in just minutes.

Anyone who knows me knows my love of coffee, so when I had the opportunity to create a summer treat with International Delight’s iced coffees…well,¬†I was pretty much in coffee-flavored baked goods heaven.

Have you tried these iced coffees yet?  My parents Рcoffee lovers like me, but not ones to drink iced coffees Рraved over this drink when they happened to stop by over the weekend during this photo shoot.

mocha-donuts-3

For this recipe, I used my trusty donut pan – if you don’t have one of these bad boys, I highly recommend getting one. ¬†It really only takes a few minutes to mix up your own donut batter, and you can a better-for-you version of bakery style donuts right at home.

mocha-donuts-2

Get in my face.

 

Chocolate Mocha Frosted Donuts
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup light brown sugar (packed)
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the chocolate mocha glaze:
  • 1¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons International Delight Mocha Iced Coffee
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • sprinkles, if desired
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325. Spray a donut pan with non-stick spray and set aside.
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Whisk together buttermilk, egg, melted butter and vanilla in a small bowl.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry together and stir together until well-combined. The batter will be fairly thick - I used a spoon to portion the batter into the donut pan cavities, filling each one about two-thirds full.
  5. Bake for 11 to 14 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. All donuts to cool in pan for approximately 5 minutes and then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the glaze:
  1. Whisk together powdered sugar, mocha iced coffee, cocoa powder and vanilla in a medium bowl. If the glaze is too thick, add more iced coffee until desired consistency is reached.
  2. Dip donuts into the glaze (I dipped mine twice), shake off the excess, and cover in rainbow sprinkles.

Do you love iced coffee as much as I do? ¬†Then be sure to head over to International Delight’s Facebook page to enter to win one of 100 tumblers given away weekly through the end of the month!

iced delight

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of International Delight. The opinions and text are all mine.

XO, Ashley

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Blueberry Banana Muffins

Made with whole wheat flour and packed full of fruit, these Blueberry Banana Muffins are the perfect breakfast for mornings on the go!

Made with whole wheat flour and packed full of fruit, these Blueberry Banana Muffins are the perfect breakfast for mornings on the go!

These Blueberry Banana Muffins were an impromptu breakfast Monday morning, simply because I had some super-ripe bananas hanging out on my kitchen counter. ¬†Quite honestly, I often let bananas turn spotted and brown just so I can make baked goods with ’em. ¬†You know banana baked goods are my favorite, right?

I also had a plethora of blueberries in my fridge, so I decided to combine the two in a quick and easy breakfast muffin.

Made with whole wheat flour and packed full of fruit, these Blueberry Banana Muffins are the perfect breakfast for mornings on the go!

While I love, love, love breakfast muffins, the prep work in some recipes is more than I want to deal with in the mornings.  You know those recipes Рthe ones that use every bowl and measuring cup in your kitchen, and take longer to mix up than they do to bake?

This recipe is not that one.

Seriously, these babies came together in just a few minutes – no mixer required – perfect for those mornings when you want a sweet bread for breakfast but don’t have a ton of time.

Made with whole wheat flour and packed full of fruit, these Blueberry Banana Muffins are the perfect breakfast for mornings on the go!

I used half white flour and half whole wheat flour in this recipe. ¬†I personally don’t like using ALL whole wheat flour in my baked goods – the texture comes out a little too tough and dry for my taste. ¬†I also used buttermilk in this recipe, since I had some leftover from making my blueberry cheesecake ice cream, but any milk you have on hand will do.

I also used a ton of cinnamon and vanilla, because those are two of my favorite baking ingredients. ūüėČ

Made with whole wheat flour and packed full of fruit, these Blueberry Banana Muffins are the perfect breakfast for mornings on the go!

The next time you need a quick and easy muffin, give this one a try! ¬†We scarfed them down in no time flat. ¬†If you don’t eat them all right away (?), these freeze just fine. ¬†Enjoy!

Blueberry Banana Muffins
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ cups mashed banana (about 3 large bananas)
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup buttermilk (or regular milk, almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, etc.)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1¼ cups fresh or unthawed frozen blueberries, divided
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 12 cup muffin pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, mix the bananas, egg whites, milk and vanilla extract.
  3. Mix the banana mixture into the flour mixture until just combined - do not overmix. Carefully fold in 1 cup of the blueberries. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan and dot with remaining ¼ cup berries.
  4. Bake 16 to 18 minutes at 350, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Notes
adapted from All Recipes

XO, Ashley

 

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Thin Mint Protein Shake

This Thin Mint Protein Shake comes in at under 250 calories, contains a whopping 38 grams of protein, and is only 6 Weight Watchers Points Plus per serving!

This Thin Mint Protein Shake comes in at under 250 calories, contains a whopping 38 grams of protein, and is only 6 Weight Watchers Points Plus per serving!

¬†I know, I’ve been a little MIA lately. ¬†I spent a good portion of February with a cold/flu, which is the third time since October I’ve had the same junk. ¬†And as I spent my days sucking on throat drops, downing hot tea, and generally feeling miserable, I came to a conclusion: I need to spend a bit more time taking care of me. ¬†Between work, Doodle’s karate schedule, the blog, and trying to fit in all of the other stuff I have to do (i.e.: laundry, groceries, trying to tame the havoc left behind by a 6-year old boy, sleeping on occasion), there wasn’t much time left over for me. ¬†And like most women, I tend to put my own needs at the bottom of the list.

And then I realized – I can’t take care of anyone else if I’m not taking care of myself first.

I’m not going to bore you with the details, but I decided one of the things I need to do for me is to make some changes to my eating habits – not an easy prospect when you’re a food blogger. ¬†Don’t worry, I’m not going to totally change the focus of my blog, but I am going to share some of my “healthier” recipes with you here and there – if only so that I’m not tempted to eat so many cakes and brownies during photo shoots. ūüėČ

And because I am a long-time Weight Watchers participant, I’m going to do my best to calculate points to go along with some of the recipes I share.

This Thin Mint Protein Shake comes in at under 250 calories, contains a whopping 38 grams of protein, and is only 6 Weight Watchers Points Plus per serving!

I always, always, always eat breakfast (typically oatmeal), but it doesn’t always¬†ever keep me full all morning. ¬†As a result, I end up snacking on other stuff (junk) until lunchtime – and when you work a sedentary job, that’s not a good combination. ¬†Lately, I’ve been mixing up protein shakes in the morning. ¬†I used to think protein powder was primarily for weightlifters, but I’ve found a scoop in my morning smoothies really does helps keep me full. ¬†I’ve been trying some various flavor combinations, and right now, this Thin Mint version is at the top of my list.

Thin Mint Protein Shake
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar-free chocolate pudding mix
  • ⅛ teaspoon mint extract
  • ½ cup water
  • ice cubes - I like my shakes thick, so I use 10-12; adjust to your preference
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in blender and pulse until desired consistency is reached.

Note: calorie count and points plus values do not include whipped cream or cookies.

NutritionLabel

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist; these nutrition facts are based on my best estimates based on the products I used in creating this recipe. Since I’m currently counting points on Weight Watchers, I’m calculating this information for my personal use. Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients, etc. ¬†This site is not a substitute for the services of a trained health professional. ¬†The nutritional information above is for informational purposes only.¬†

XO, Ashley

 

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Bakery-Style Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Don’t hit the bakery when you can make your own muffins just as easily! ¬†These Bakery-Style Lemon Poppyseed Muffins have a crisp crust, with the inside perfectly tender and soft. ¬† To get a big, rounded top, make sure you fill your tins all the way to the top, and use the baking tips outlined below.

Don't hit the bakery when you can make your own muffins just as easily!  These Bakery-Style Lemon Poppyseed Muffins have a crisp crust, with the inside perfectly tender and soft.

According to the National Weather Service, it’s been the 9th coldest start to February¬†in Wichita history. ¬†I’ve been wearing long underwear under my jeans on a daily basis – even while at home. ¬†I’m so over winter by now, I can’t even tell you.

So when the temperatures warmed up to the 50’s over the weekend, I couldn’t stop myself from breaking out the lemons.

After weeks of sub-zero windchills, temperatures in the 50’s seem like a heat wave – almost like spring!

Don't hit the bakery when you can make your own muffins just as easily!  These Bakery-Style Lemon Poppyseed Muffins have a crisp crust, with the inside perfectly tender and soft.

And spring screams lemon to me. ūüėČ

I’m also a sucker for breakfast muffins on the weekend, so the result here was obvious: my favorite bakery-style lemon poppyseed muffins. ¬†These also happen to be the Tall Boy’s favorite muffin, so it was a win-win around here for breakfast.

Don't hit the bakery when you can make your own muffins just as easily!  These Bakery-Style Lemon Poppyseed Muffins have a crisp crust, with the inside perfectly tender and soft.

Make sure to read the recipe instructions all the way through before beginning these muffins.¬†Sally‚Äôs best-ever muffin tip¬†directs you to¬†begin baking your muffins at 425 degrees¬†‚Äď baking for just¬†5 minutes.¬†Then,¬†lower your oven temperature to 375 degrees¬†for the remainder of your baking time.

It’s like muffin magic!

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
 
Ingredients
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ cups plain low-fat yogurt
  • For the drizzle:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 425. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray or line with cupcakes liners and set aside. Mix flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat sugar, butter, and lemon zest on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients in two installments, alternating with 3 additions of yogurt. DO NOT OVER MIX, or your muffins will turn out hard and tough.
  3. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Don't be afraid to fill them all the way to the top!
  4. Bake for 5 minutes at 425, and then lower oven temperature to 375. Bake another 15 to 18 minutes, or until muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Remove muffins from tin to wire rack and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine powdered sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl. Drizzle over cooled muffins.
Notes
recipe from Cook's Illustrated, baking tips from Sally's Baking Addiction

XO, Ashley

 

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Berry Power Smoothie

Thank you to Weight Watchers for getting my new year started off right. Though I was compensated for my time and commitment, all views, positive and negative, are my own.

Filled with fruit, Greek yogurt, and a bit of flaxseed, this berry power smoothie is a #simplestart to a new you!

So…2014. ¬†Canyouevenbelieveit?

If you’re like a lot of other folks, the beginning of a new year sparks a desire to make some healthy changes to your eating habits. ¬†Let me just say this: having a baby post age-30 + writing a food blog = the skinny jeans are not happening.

And I’m not so much as concerned about the skinny jeans as I am about maintaining healthy eating habits and setting a good example for raising a healthy child. ¬†But for me? ¬†It’s really, really hard. ¬†I have a terrible habit of ripping open a bag of tortilla chips after work in the early evening and just going to town. ¬†Willpower when it comes to food is not my fort√©.

I’ve been a long-time member of Weight Watchers – and not primarily because I have a lot of weight to lose. ¬†But when Doodle was about two years old, I realized my personal health was taking a backseat to my mommy duties. ¬†I was too tired, too stressed, too focused on everything else in my life to take time for me.

And that wasn’t good for anyone.

So I took charge of my life again, and signed up for Weight Watchers.  I lost weight, yes, but more importantly, I felt better about myself.  Healthier.  Stronger.  Happier.  In control.

And then…I started blogging. ¬†My snacks of fresh berries and veggies with hummus slowly became replaced with bites of cheesecake cookies and chocolate banana bread during photo shoots. ¬†My jeans got a little tighter. ¬†I felt tired and sluggish, and I knew I needed to make some changes – again. ¬†So when I saw Weight Watchers had a new Simple Start plan to get into the swing of things, it was just the push I needed.

Filled with fruit, Greek yogurt, and a bit of flaxseed, this berry power smoothie is a #simplestart to a new you!

The goal of Simple Start is to get you in the habit of eating good-for-you foods. During the first two weeks of this plan, you don‚Äôt have to worry about portion size. ¬†All you have to do is choose meals and snacks from the lists provided, and eat ’em. ūüėČ

Weight Watchers even created a¬†shopping list¬†to help you navigate the grocery store aisles. The meals have swap options and flavor boosts, and there are plenty of options for vegetarians. ¬†Yep, it’s really that easy.

Filled with fruit, Greek yogurt, and a bit of flaxseed, this berry power smoothie is a #simplestart to a new you!

Not only that, but on the Simple Start plan, you get 7 point-plus per day to spend on indulgences. ¬†That includes chocolate, peanut butter, and/or wine. ¬†I don’t know about you, but it’s the times that I’m too strict or deprive myself that I have a hard time staying on track. ¬†Knowing that I have a daily treat to look forward to really helps keep me motivated.

Filled with fruit, Greek yogurt, and a bit of flaxseed, this berry power smoothie is a #simplestart to a new you! While this smoothie isn’t specific to the Simple Start plan (I’ll talk about specifics in a later post), it is one of my favorite snacks when I’ve tracked points in the past. ¬†Loaded with fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, coconut milk, and a bit of ground flaxseed, you don’t have to feel guilty about indulging!

Tell me: what are your tips for maintaining a healthy diet?

Berry Power Smoothie
 
Ingredients
  • 1 banana, sliced and frozen
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup light coconut milk
  • 1 cup mixed berries (I used strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
  • 1 teaspoon flaxseed
  • 1 large handful fresh spinach, optional
Instructions
  1. In a blender, combine banana, yogurt and milk and process until smooth. Add in remaining fruit, flaxseed, and spinach (if using), and blend until desired consistency is reached.

XO, Ashley

 

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