Protein Bars

I swear I’m not here only to make you binge on desserts and let your pants out! Contrary to what my blog may portray, we actually eat fairly healthy here at home (due to Nick’s influence, I can’t take credit!). Nick had asked me awhile ago to make him some protein bars that he had found online at Muscle & Fitness. While I followed the recipe exactly, they came out quite soupy and not the least bit edible. Not too long after that, It’s Melissa’s Kitchen featured protein bars that had very similar ingredients, but they came out MUCH better. Nick liked them and said they had a really nice flavor.

Continue reading

Homemade Granola

img_7927-2.jpg

I have always been a big fan of granola – the toasted, crunchy oats and nuts, along with sweet fruit make a wonderful combination, whether eating it in yogurt or by the handful. I ran into some problems, though, after discovering that I have a nut allergy, as one would be pretty hard pressed to find a package of store-bought granola that did not include some type of nut. So I figured I would need to go the homemade route if I wanted to enjoy granola again. However, it’s virtually impossible to find a recipe that does not include them and mostly out of sheer laziness I have never, before now, gone through the trouble of adapting a recipe (I know, it’s brutally taxing work). This granola tastes wonderful and I have been enjoying it mixed into my yogurt. I substituted Grape-Nuts cereal for the nuts in this recipe, which mimics the nice crunchy texture of nuts.

Continue reading

Super Super Bowl Suggestions

superbowl.jpg

It’s that time of year again – the game people wait all year for. Maybe you just watch for the commercials, or maybe you just watch for the half-time show, or maybe you actually watch the game! Regardless, a good many people will be sitting in front of the TV this Sunday cheering on someone. Now, far be it from me to rain on a “perfect” parade, but as a native Pittsburgher, I find it pretty darn near impossible to root for the Patriots. So many AFC Championship Games (and subsequent trips to the Super Bowl) squashed for the Steelers at the hands of the Patriots. So, without a doubt, I will be cheering on Lil’ Manning and the Giants on Sunday.

We’ll be watching this year’s Super Bowl from the comfort of our living room, just me, Nick, and couch-hogging-Einstein. Nothing fancy planned for our house. I know that many of you, however, will be hootin’ and hollerin’ with a house full of people! Even though I’m not having a party, I do have some favorite party and munchies-type food that I’ll throw out there in case anyone is having trouble planning their menu for the big game.

Continue reading

Soft Pretzels: Part II

img_7389-2.jpg

Ahh, the beloved soft pretzel. Before this past winter I didn’t realize that making them at home was so relatively easy. Sure, it takes some time with the rising and the baking soda bath, but each step is pretty simple and they are well worth it! The last time that I made homemade soft pretzels, I used this recipe, and they turned out great. It just so happened that I ran across another one this past week and coincidentally Nick asked me last night if I would make some pretzels. With the new recipe still fresh in my mind, I decided to give it a whirl. The major difference in this recipe is the rising time, which doesn’t exist in the other recipe. I think that’s what makes these much more plump. Also, the egg wash at the end gets the pretzels to brown up really nicely. We loved these pretzels, and I will be keeping this recipe as my standard soft pretzel recipe.

Continue reading

Ranch Pretzels


My friend Amber introduced me to this seasoning technique for crackers and pretzels and it’s so easy that I don’t think I’ll eat a plain bag of pretzels ever again! My measurements were to scale for the size bag of pretzels I used – adjust as necessary.

Ranch Pretzels
(Source: Amber’s Delectable Delights)

9-oz. bag pretzels
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1-oz. packet Hidden Valley Ranch Dips
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

2. Place the pretzels in a gallon-size ziploc bag. Add the oil, seal the bag and toss to coat. Add the dry ingredients to the bag, seal and toss again until all of the pretzels are coated.

3. Spread the pretzels out on a large baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the oil has absorbed into the pretzels. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Chicken Spread


I am hosting this month’s neighborhood girls’ night and have turned it into a spa margarita party! My sister is a consultant for an at-home spa company and I took the opportunity to invite the neighborhood girls over for a night of margaritas and pampering.

I made a chicken spread tonight and popped it in the fridge for tomorrow.

This chicken spread literally takes 5 minutes to throw together (now that I’m thinking about it, I didn’t really need to make it ahead… oh well, it’s the planner in me!). It’s a recipe that I received from my mom and one that is always popular at parties. I have received many requests for the recipe!

Chicken Spread (from my mom)

8-oz. cream cheese
Small onion, finely chopped
Small can (4.25-oz) canned chicken
1 T. mayonnaise
1 T. soy sauce

Blend all ingredients together with a hand mixer until creamy and combined.

Serve with your favorite crackers (I am partial to Ritz).

Hummus

Hummus is a traditional dip or spread that consists of mashed/pureed chickpeas and in its original form, tahini (a paste made of ground sesame seeds), lemon juice, and garlic. A popular way to serve hummus is as a dip with pita chips or cut up vegetables. It can also be slathered on flatbread or used as a spread on a veggie sandwich.

There are countless variations to classic hummus and I came across one that included roasted red peppers in a recent issue of Cooking Light magazine. Nick had asked me once before to try to replicate a roasted red pepper hummus that he had eaten while traveling in New Mexico. That attempt failed miserably! When I saw this recipe, I decided to give it another shot and tried to adapt the recipe to suit our tastes. This one worked and we’ll definitely be keeping this recipe!


Red Pepper Hummus (adapted from a Cooking Light version)

1/2 red bell pepper
2 1/2 T. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 garlic clove, quartered
1 T. olive oil

1. Preheat broiler.

2. Cut bell pepper in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place one pepper half, skin side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil 10 minutes or until blackened. Place in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 10 minutes. Peel.

3. Place bell pepper and remaining ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth, slowly adding olive oil until desired consistency.