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Have a happy and healthy day,

Apple Muffins

Now that the wedding has come and gone we get to delve back into our to-do list. The fun one that has things like update recipes and make macaroons on it… Not the one riddled with obligatory tasks like making table numbers. We are looking forward to fun and to relaxing. After all isn’t that what being newlyweds is all about?? Anyways, over the past few years I have adjusted this recipe from the original I was taught and the original one I posted here. This is where we are today.

Apple Muffins

  • 1 stick butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 ounces unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 small Granny Smith apples, cored and diced into 1/4″ pieces
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin trays with papers and spray papers with nonstick spray.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl sift together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.
  3. Cream together butter, sugar, applesauce, eggs and vanilla extract mixing until light,  airy and well-combined                   
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet in thirds and mix at a gradual speed – you don’t want to over-mix or make a mess. Mix the first two thirds then wait.   
  5. Add the diced apples to the remaining flour and stir to evenly coat the apples; add to muffin batter and fold to incorporate.
  6. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter.
  7. If you are making mini-muffins, cook them for 18 minutes rotating halfway through. For larger muffins you will need 25 minutes, again rotate the pan halfway through cook time.
  8. Let cool in pan 5 minutes before removing to cooling rack to cool completely.
  9. These guys are delicious with yogurt, coffee, or by themselves.

Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon

Last weekend it was finally warm enough to bring out the extra blankets and space heaters. I know – you would think that November in central Arizona should be warm. NOPE. From what I gather it took the long-time residents by surprise too. Either way that gave me permission to make some cold-weather dishes. For us this typically means chili and stew. Carver handled the chili on Monday and I believe he has just earned all future chili-making responsibility in the house (I will share that recipe later). I opted to bring out the big guns with Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon. I’ve made it once before and it was a big hit with Carver – possibly because I didn’t try to make it healthy the first time. I lightened up a little bit this time, but not so much that it wasn’t on the decadent side. A few notes about this recipe – I don’t have a proper stew pot that I can finish in the oven as mine is packed so I simply use the slow cooker for this. It’s much easier I find. Also I would STRONGLY recommend making this the day before you want to eat it. Or at least letting it sit and stew all day – your taste testers will LOVE you for it. My suggestion is to prep the ingredients the night before and put them in the slow cooker in the fridge. Then just pop it out and turn it on before you leave for the day.

Beef Bourguignon

  • 2 pounds tri-tip, trimmed and cubed
  • 6 slices reduced-fat bacon
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons light butter
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1-2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 28 ounces canned plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups quartered mushrooms
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions

Begin by prepping your beef and vegetables. After you have trimmed and cubed your beef you will need to dry it off, like this.

Preheat a large skillet and cook the bacon. Typically I just let the bacon render in it’s own fat with some cooking spray. Once the bacon is crispy place it on a paper towel on a plate to drain and cool. Remove excess fat from the pan and prep for beef with 1 teaspoon olive oil and a coating of non-stick spray. You will need to brown the meat in batches, being sure to brown each side like this.

We are only caramelizing here not cooking through, so HIGH heat and LOW cook times are perfect. Once the beef has browned, transfer to a slow-cooker.

Add 1 teaspoon oil and more cooking spray to the pan and add in carrots and onions and garlic. Remember this pan is HOT so keep the veggies moving so you caramelize but don’t burn them. If the onions are turning translucent it is time to remove them – quickly add salt and pepper to the veggies then put them in to the slow cooker with the beef. In the pan (off the heat) add in the butter and flour and stir with a whisk – this will be your thickener. It will turn a nice nutty brown and smell delicious. I use a spatula to transfer this to the slow cooker and then use the same spatula to make sure the beef and veggies get their fair share of the flour-butter goodness.

Back on the stove return the pan to the heat and add in the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, stock and wine along with the thyme and bay leaf. Break down your tomatoes in to bite-sized pieces and let the mixture boil gently for about 5 minutes. Once you have reached the five-minute mark the sauce will have reduced slightly and it can be added to the slow-cooker. Be sure to give this all a good stir so the sauce is evenly distributed.

At this point I cut up the bacon in to small pieces and reserve about half of the pieces in a little bag or bowl (this will be served on top of the final product). I add the bacon not being saved for garnish to the slow cooker along with 1 cup of warm water and the pearl onions; stir well again.

In a separate pan sauté the quartered mushrooms with 2 teaspoons olive oil until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes if you are stirring regularly over medium-high heat. Once they are ready you will add these to the slow cooker as well.

Now we wait. Another reason I suggest doing it while you are out and about is because you won’t be able to dig in to it until it is perfect. My slow cooker has a feature where after my cook time has expired it goes in to warming mode for 8 hours. So I would set it to HIGH for 4:30 and then the rest of the time it would just be kept warm and allowed to thicken. You could also keep it on low for 8 hours. Completely up to you.

1 1/2 cups of this delicious stew will cost you 8 Points Plus. And it begs to be served with slices from a crusty baguette. YUMM

Pumpkin Spice Scones

Pumpkin Spice Scones adapted from here:

  • 2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon skim milk
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

In a bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and salt. Add butter and, with a pastry blender or your fingers, cut or rub in until pea-size crumbs form.

In a small bowl, whisk pumpkin and 1/2 cup milk until well blended. Add to flour mixture and stir just until dough is evenly moistened.

Scrape onto a lightly floured board, turn over to coat, and gently knead just until dough comes together, 5 or 6 turns. Scoop dough out onto cookie sheet using a 2″ scoop.

In a small bowl, beat egg yolk and 1 tablespoon milk to blend; brush lightly over tops of scones (discard any remaining egg wash). In another small bowl, mix granulated sugar and remaining 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon; sprinkle evenly over scones.

Bake in a 375° regular or convection oven until scones are golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack; serve warm or cool. Yields 12 scones


Have you had…

1. A Sonoran hot dog? Have you heard of them? Yeah, I hadn’t either until an e-vite a few weeks ago. Basically it is a bacon-wrapped hot dog with various toppings. The traditional toppings are onions, beans, tomato and mayonnaise. I cannot even imagine how many points that would be. I’m sure that I could do the math if I researched how they were made, but I decided to just use all my activity points for the week (28) and call it even, because I may, possibly, have eaten 1.5 Sonoran hot dogs. I was surprised too! Normally I don’t go near hot dogs and I wouldn’t use the amount of mayonnaise they used in 2 weeks worth of sandwiches but they are the pros. We also had Mexican Coke, again if you’re unfamiliar with the distinction it’s the lack of high fructose corn syrup.
So what would make me eat things like this? A friend, and his birthday celebration. I certainly hope he enjoyed his party because I know we did. We went to Nogales hot dogs (20th & Indian school) for ours, but if you can find them elsewhere give it a try and live a little.

2. Sprinkles cupcakes? These were so good a text message wouldn’t suffice. I had coconut, Carver had key lime, and Jen red velvet. They were quite the cupcake: moist, flavorful, creamy, sweet… And a good size. Everything I want in a cupcake. That was another few points… I will be looking up the nutrition facts this morning after some grocery shopping. Whatever the points, it was so worth it.





Must-Haves for a Blissful Kitchen: Cooking Edition

This selection of must-haves is great for easy weeknight dinners, special date nights, or even throwing an impromptu dinner party. Whether you want to go Italian, Asian or completely American you will find it here. Using a little creativity and the other Must-Have lists, you can turn up the volume on any dish.

Artichoke Hearts Capers Aborio rice Mixed Nuts
Broccoli Florets Dijon Mustard All-Purpose Flour Olive Oil
Chopped Onion Egg Substitute Anchovies Onion
Fish Fillets Eggs Black Peppercorns Quinoa
Frozen shrimp/scallops FF/LF Cheese Canned Tomatoes Rice
Green Beans FF/LF Milk Chutney Roasted Red Peppers
Ground Beef FF/LF Spreads (cream cheese) Cinnamon Salsa
Ground Turkey Ketchup Cornmeal Sea Salt
Lean Cuisine or Smart One Meals Lemon Couscous Spaghetti Sauce
Peas Lettuce, variety Crackers – assortment Stock/Broth
Vegetable Blends LF Mayonnaise Cumin Vegetable Oil
Veggie Burgers Minced Garlic Dried Fruit – variety Vinegar – variety
Teriyaki Olives Carrots & Celery Lean poultry (not ground)
Unsalted Butter Parmegiano-Reggiano Cheese Dry Whole Wheat Pasta Sugar Substitute
Rustic whole grain bread Pesto Beans Cooking Spray
Worcestershire Pickles Honey Kosher Salt
Yeast Seltzer Hot Sauce Soy Sauce

Must-Haves for a Blissful Kitchen: Lunch Edition

Next up, all your helpful ingredients for delicious lunches every time. Whether you eat it at home or brown-bag it these items will hold up and keep your lunches healthy and will provide lots of variety.


Artichoke Hearts Dijon Mustard Vegetables: baby carrots, grape tomatoes, celery sticks Microwave Popcorn
Broccoli Florets FF/LF Cheese Canned Tomatoes Mixed Nuts
Chopped Onion FF/LF Yogurt Couscous Low fat & low calorie treats
Grilled chicken or steak Lettuce, variety Dried Fruit – variety Rice
Lean Cuisine or Smart One Meals LF Mayonnaise Dry Whole Wheat Pasta Roasted Red Peppers
Veggie Burgers Low-fat deli meats Garlic Salsa
Pickles Olives Vinegar – variety Spaghetti Sauce
Seltzer Pesto Canned Beans Stock/Broth