Chunky Monkey for Breakfast?!

A week or so ago I made our first attempt at ice cream and it was creamy and decadent. Shortly after our first bite, C asked if I could and when I would make Chunky Monkey ice cream. While I will eventually make it for him, albeit reduced-guilt, I couldn’t get the flavor combination out of my mind. Any morning that we are able to sleep in seems to require a special breakfast – waffles, pancakes, French toast, etc. As I have made more waffles than I care to count over the past month pancakes were the clear answer. I flipped through this book for inspiration on healthier breakfasts and made up one of my own. They are very easy to whip up and go down quickly, especially if dunked in warm buttery syrup…

Whisk up some whole-wheat flour, baking powder, salt, Splenda, cinnamon, and oats in one bowl.

In another some egg substitute, vanilla extract, milk, water and mashed banana.

Follow the normal pattern – add wet to dry and combine.

Next add in the chopped walnuts, chocolate chips, and banana.

Portion them out in to 2-bite pancakes and cook them until crisp on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside.


Chunky Monkey Pancakes (4 points plus/5 pancakes)

  • 3 tablespoons rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 packets Splenda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons fat-free egg substitute
  • 2 tablespoons non-fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 banana, half mashed and half diced
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate chips,  chopped
  • 2 tablespoons walnut pieces, chopped
  1. Preheat skillet over medium heat.
  2. In a medium bowl combine dry ingredients and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl whisk mashed banana, water, milk, vanilla and egg substitute
  4. Form a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet – whisk until just combined.
  5. Gently fold in nuts and chocolate.
  6. Use a tablespoon (or tablespoon-sized scoop) to portion out batter. Cook  approximately 3 minutes on each side – they will be slightly crisp on the outside and light on the inside.
  7. While pancakes are crisping warm syrup with a bit of butter (I use 2 tablespoons of syrup and 2 teaspoons of butter).
  8. These will not last. Nothing bite-sized ever does… I put them out on a platter and portioned out 5 for myself.

Another Birthday Dinner

What recipes did you grow up with? Maybe it’s restaurant dishes or a certain treat that stands out. There are several for me and often those foods are associated with a specific time of year or a person. For example, apple cake or muffins are a must have in January – or any time I need something special for my dad. As Carver tells it he and his sister were virtually raised on recipes from this book. My mother-in-law sent it to us one year and I have gradually added recipes from it to our repertoire. I must admit I was fairly hesitant about the tuna recipe below – Carver has asked for it for months and I have shied away. The original recipe calls for canned tuna which is an absolute NO in my book, and I was unsure of the cream and tuna. It just seemed unappealing to me. Carver finally convinced me to make it for his mom’s birthday this year and it was perfect. It says, “You’re special,” but it isn’t showy or over-the-top. Another quirk about Carver and I is we have a different definition of Strawberry Shortcake. I am of the classic school while Carver associates the dish with angel food cake in place of the shortcake. For this dinner I decided we should stick with what Carver remembered and it turned out very well.

Ahi Tuna with Creamy Pasta

  • 2/3 pound ahi tuna steak
  • 5 ounces whole wheat pasta
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
  • 1 lemon – zested and juiced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Before straining reserve 1/4 cup cooking liquid.
  2. Season tuna steak with salt and pepper. Preheat grill pan over high heat. Sear tuna for 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate to rest.
  3. In a food processor, combine heavy cream, lemon and garlic. Pulse until cream thickens – it will look like sour cream and takes less than 2 minutes so be ready! Fold in capers and parsley.
  4. Add sauce to pasta and mix so pasta is coated with sauce. The cream sauce should be fairly liquid and easily incorporate with the pasta, if it doesn’t gradually add a bit of the reserved pasta water to the mix and stir until you get the desired consistency.
  5. Slice tuna and serve on top of pasta.

Carver’s Strawberry ‘Shortcake’

  • 1 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 slices angel food cake, cubed
  1. Add half the sugar to strawberries, stir and set aside for at least 30 minutes. *macerate those strawberries*
  2. Before serving whip cream on high with a mixer until soft peaks form.
  3. Once you have soft peaks, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and beat again on high until stiff peaks form.
  4. Assemble the dessert: a spoonful of berries and sauce, a dollop of whipped cream, a handful of cake cubes, a spoonful of berries and sauce, and a dollop of whipped cream

Quality time with mom

So a few weeks ago my mom came to visit. It was a whirlwind weekend, but we got a lot done and it was nice to spend some quality time with her. The majority of our work was for the wedding but we did some serious eating while she was here to. There were 3 places I had to introduce her to. Pita Jungle, Sprinkles, and Seasons 52. Yummy… Such a yummy weekend. Falafel, hummus, cupcakes and salads… Especially because she brough cake pops! oh my… I must make these once I have guaranteed someone to help me eat them (Jen, Gina… ahem).

I did so well taking photos early in the day… But by the time we scarfed down cupcakes I was almost comatose and thus there are no dinner photos. Please forgive me. I promise to return to Seasons 52 to get you photos… Maybe a lunch shot would be more successful.






death by chocolate

chocolate, check. sugar, check. eggs, check. This recipe came from one of my favorite sources: Orangette Molly has yet to lead me astray whether it’s the oatmeal sandwich bread or the Italian vegetable soup. Today’s treat is the Winning Hearts and Minds Cake. In case you’re not connecting the dots, I’m talking about a rich decadent cake with a killer name. I think you need to make it just to brag you made something so amazing. I decided to make this as a morale boost but Molly from Orangette made it for her wedding cake. Granted this would even be perfect for any old Tuesday as it is simple and gives a big bang for the effort. The only downside to this is that it would be cruel to change this recipe – as tempting as it is to find a way to decrease the points value per serving.

Carver described this as souffle meets brownie meets cake and I have to agree with his findings. What I like is the depth of flavor, the contrast in textures and the subtle sweetness. Yes, I’m raving but the cake has earned it. Full disclosure, I edited the recipe a bit – increased flour from 1 tablespoon to 3, added vanilla extract and coffee.

Winning Hearts and Minds Cake

  • 7 oz good dark chocolate (I used Ghiradelli 70%), cut into 1/2″ chunks
  • 7oz unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons brewed coffee
  • 3 tablespoons flour

So first things first – preheat the oven to 375 and prepare muffin tins with liners and a quick spray of Pam; set aside.

In a medium glass bowl combine butter and chocolate, microwave for 1:30 pausing to stir every 15 seconds. You may not need the whole 90 seconds, but you need almost all the chocolate to be melted. Small chunks will melt with enough stirring. Whisk in sugar and set aside and let cool for about 5 minutes.

Whisk in eggs to chocolate/butter 1 at a time. Next add in remaining ingredients and whisk well to combine. Pour batter into prepared tin – for me it took 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon per cup. Now it’s time for the magic… Bake this in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes. I baked for 18 minutes, rotated sheet halfway through and then baked for another 5 minutes. Then remove them from the oven and cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes and finish cooling out of pan. Yields 12 cakes at 13 points plus per cake.

I’m told they are delicious with a cup of milk and well worth burning your tongue on… 3 guesses who shared that bit of information.




The Birthday Cake

Last week I attempted something I had never done before – a birthday cake, entirely from scratch. I was very pleased with the results, and of course started out with a Martha Stewart recipe. I made my typical substitutions to decrease the calories and fat while increasing the fiber content. I decided to make a lemon/raspberry birthday cake. The cake was moist and delicious, and people seemed to enjoy it. This isn’t the type of thing you can whip up in one day, but is a very nice option for a special occasion.

1-2-3-4 Lemon Cake with Lemon Frosting

Preheat the oven to 350 with two racks centered. Line two 8″ x 2″ cake pans with parchment paper and then spray with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, sift together 2c all-purpose flour, 1c whole wheat flour, 1T baking powder, 1t baking soda, and 1/2t salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream 1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature) on low-speed to soften, then raise speed to medium and add 1/2c unsweetened applesauce, beat until light and fluffy. Keep beating while gradually adding 2c granulated sugar; beat until fluffy. Gradually pour in 2 eggs and 2/3c egg white substitute; scrape down the sides and beat for another 2 minutes. With the mixer on low-speed, alternate adding in the flour mix and low-fat buttermilk (1 1/4c in total). Beat in 1 1/2t vanilla extract and the zest of 2 lemons. Divide batter evenly between the two pans.  I tap the pans on the counter a few times to get all the air bubbles out.

Bake the cakes in the middle of the oven for 45 – 55 minutes, until cakes are golden brown. As usual I rotated the cakes and switched the racks (top cake to bottom and vice versa) halfway through cook time. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then remove and let cool completely on wire rack.

Once the cakes had cooled completely I wrapped them (individually) in plastic wrap then in aluminum foil. I placed them in the fridge overnight, but did not stack them. At this point take out 3/4c unsalted butter; leave it to come to room temperature.

The next morning I removed the cakes from the fridge and unwrapped them about 2 hours before I intended on frosting them. I also brought the raspberry jam to room temperature. Make sure you have plenty of room for this project; I even lined the table with newspaper to make cleanup easier.

Make the frosting. Cream the butter (left out previous night) with 1/2 lb of powdered sugar (about 2c) and 1t vanilla extract; blend until well mixed. Add in zest and juice of one lemon and 4-5 drops of orange food coloring, and beat for an additional 2-3 minutes, until combined and pale-yellow in color. Set frosting aside. * As a way to decrease calories and fat, I made a half recipe (which is what I have instructed you in). The full recipe is simply doubled and will yield about 4c frosting for the cake, which will result in thicker layers of frosting on the finished product.

Now, layer the cake – You could cut the cake in half (hamburger style) and make the cake have 4 layers, but I chose the easier route which is just stacking the two cakes on top of each other. My cakes were very level so I didn’t need to trim the tops or clean them up very much. Lay out the two cakes, coat the top of one with raspberry jam – I used about 1/4c but you will need to eyeball it.

The scariest part, aside from transporting the cake is… Frosting the cake… I watched this video along with some YouTube videos several times to get a grasp on the right way to do this.

I topped the cake with 1/2 pint fresh raspberries and let it chill in the fridge until 20 minutes before serving.

Cake (muffins) to remember

As you all know I love a good muffin. I made a new one last night. As per my usual I adapted it from another recipe. The original recipe is my dad’s favorite cake, but I don’t have the correct pan for it so I had to improvise. This isn’t a sweet batter, but it’s moist and delicious. These are a great no matter the occasion, whether it’s a meet in greet (what I made them for), or just your weekly breakfast. My future mother in law crumbled up the muffin and added it to her Greek yogurt which looked very good. Carvers favorite is just warm with a cup of coffee. These are very flexible and with the added applesauce and apples they yield 1/2 fruit serving per muffin. Also a bonus is the smell that permeates the kitchen and beyond. (My father says I shouldn’t have messed with the original recipe, but I think he would understand once he tasted one.)
Muffins to Remember

Preheat oven to 350. In a small skillet, toast 2c chopped walnuts for about 5 minutes, remove from heat and let cool. Chop 2 medium Granny Smith apples, should be 1″ cubes, set aside. In a large bowl cream 1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature) and 4 oz unsweetened applesauce. With mixer on medium speed, add in 2c granulated sugar and mix until combined. Scrape down sides and add in 2 eggs (room temperature), 3T egg whites and 2t vanilla extract; mix well. In a small bowl sift together 3c whole wheat flour, 1 1/2t baking soda, 1/2t salt, 1t cinnamon and 1/4t nutmeg. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet with mixer on low-speed; mix thoroughly. The batter will be very thick. Fold in walnuts and apples until combined. Spray muffin tins with non-stick spray or line with papers. Fill tins until two-thirds full. Bake for 35 minutes, rotating half-way through cooking time. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 10 minutes, remove and let finish cooling on a rack. Makes 18 muffins, 1 muffin per serving. Points Plus: 3. 

my week measured by meals

The To-Do list around here is still a bit excessive, but we have been eating well and trying to keep up on sleep and fun.


As always it’s a matter of balance. In 23 days I will have handed in my last exam, and in 31 days I will be graduating. Somewhere around day 16 I expect being able to update more often. But until then, know that I am keeping on top of things and keeping myself healthy. I have not been able to include everything I want to (regular blogging, planned exercise, etc), but I have still gotten a lot done. This week is a major prep time for me as next week is packed.

Not much wedding planning going on now, but I have started looking for jobs. Last count was 3 applications in, I’m not sure anything will come from them but at least my name and resume are getting out there.

That’s all I have time for today, but remember to keep planning and enjoy what you do and everything you eat.