Category Archives: baking

Fall Bucket List

Happy fall ya’ll!  So in my last post I talked a little about fall fashion, and posted a link to some of the items I have purchased for the upcoming season.  Which I have not been able to wear since that post!  So to keep the fall theme going in my life – because you know I am a little jealous of those that actually get to experience fall – I have decided to make a bucket list of all the “fall like” things I want to do I am able to do in Louisiana!

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  1.  Decorate the house/porch/patio
  2. Go to a football game
  3. Make apple cider
  4. S more’s by the fire-pit
  5. Go to a corn maze
  6. Paint pumpkins
  7. Make homemade apple sauce
  8. Go on a picnic
  9. Have a chili bar for dinner
  10. Make caramel apples
  11. Bake pumpkin bread
  12. Take a family bike ride
  13. Homemade hot cocoa
  14. Host Thanksgiving
  15. Give thanks and be greatful

 

As you can see it is a very short list with a lot of cooking type activities……this is what happens when you live in a place that doesn’t have cool weather, changing leaves, or apple orchards!

Hopefully you guys will be able to enjoy some awesome fall activities with your families!

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Let’s talk cake

I have been a little absent from the blog lately…….for various reasons. Kids, summer fun, no net service, work, etc. The list goes on. I would like to make it up to you. In the form of cake!

Now I can't give you cake, they have made the transfer then Internet option available…….yet. However, I can give you a recipe for the tastiest, easiest summertime cake ever!

 

  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 1 can crime of coconut (ya know up piña colada stuff)
  • 1 container of whipped cream
  • 1-2 cups shredded coconut
  1. Mix cake according to box directions and bake……while this is going on open can of cream of coconut and mix well.
  2. When cake is baked use a fork to “punch” holes all,over the top…..I do mean all over!
  3. Pour the can of cream of coconut over the cake (or two cans if you really feel feisty).
  4. Place in fridge to cool completely.
  5. Mix cool whip and shredded coconut together, spread on top of cake and serve!

That is it! Easy, tasty, and totally addictive!!

 

 

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Glad that’s over!

So I am hoping that everyone’s Valentine’s day was a super one 🙂

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Mine was awesome with too many treats…let’s just pretend that this day of sweet binging didn’t happen – after all calories and such do not count on holidays right?

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I started my day off with cornmeal pancakes topped with laughing cow strawberry cream cheese wedge & strawberry preserves.  After all we must have a little pink action on love day.  This was a great breakfast that lasted a while, and I was thinking this will be a good day…..

Then our supervisor showed up to do a formal evaluation on us (myself & my partner therapist on campus).  This lead to too many chocolate chips being popped into our mouths!  You see we had planned a cute little treat for our babies yesterday.  We gave them a graham cracker square (just 1), let them put pink icing on it, then top with a few  chocolate chips.  I would have been fine with not having any until I noticed the partner purchased Ghirardelli chocolate chips!!  Who can resist that.  Of course with them being in front of you on a table it seems you are constantly popping a couple into your mouth.

Then we had cake in the lounge in the afternoon for one of our custodians that is leaving us.  I wasn’t going to get a slice, until she insisted that I have some of her cake because she didn’t want to have to take so much of it home.  So I had a small piece.  At this point I was feeling pretty darn yucky.

But I promised the boys some frozen yogurt for their v-day treat.  We went to the knew for-yo shop that is literally with a couple miles from my house…..boy am I in trouble.  I don’t have a photo to show of it since I left my phone at home :(, but I had a little red velvet & a little white chocolate raspberry with blueberries, strawberries, and cheese cake squares on top.

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Then the fun began!  I had to get ready for the hubster’s v-day dinner!  He works 12 hour shifts with his new job so we had a very late dinner for us.  I normally would have eaten already since I can’t stand to eat then immediately go to bed, but it was a special night so I waited for him.

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We started with a small salad that was made with spinach, beets, cucumber, celery, and trail mix on top.  Topped with a orange marmalade-Dijon vinaigrette.

I absolutely loved this salad!  The trail mix is Archer Farm’s sunny cranberry trail mix (so good), and the dressing is a tablespoon of dijon, tablespoon olive oil, tablespoon of balsamic, add in orange marmalade until reach desired sweetness level.

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Next was our main dish, one of the hubster’s favs – blackened shrimp-pesto pasta!  He loves anything with shrimp and anything with pesto for that fact, so I knew this dish would be perfect!  I also served a slice of garlic bread with his meal, while I opted for a few triscuit crackers for my meal.

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A little vino with dinner is necessary on the day of love 🙂

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Next up was dessert.  As you can imagine I wasn’t too enthused about this after a day of sweets, but I wanted to have one for the meal since it was a special occasion.  For this I decided to go with a more mellow dessert as opposed to a super sweet one.  I used a box of devil’s food cake mix.  In the mix I subbed milk for the water, cut the oil in half and added an extra egg.  This made is very fluffy and soft 🙂  I stirred in about 1/2 cup of butterscotch chips into the batter, then poured it on a jelly roll pan and baked it at 325* until toothpick came out clean.  I cut the cake into squares, topped with whipped cream, and a cherry 🙂

The hubster loved this dessert.  You see he isn’t one for super sweet stuff any way, and he is more of a cobbler type person than cake.  But he did love this cake since it was just sweet enough, and I didn’t use an icing. 

It was the perfect Valentine’s day meal!!  I loved having this time with him (kiddos were already in bed), and in my opinion it was the perfect candle light dinner served at our very own table, eaten in our pj’s!

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WIAW – Getting it back

So I bet you guys are graciously throwing yourselves back into old eating habits, doing cleansing, and trying to get back on track after all of the holiday festivities, right?

Ok be honest, raise your hand if the above applies to you! ( imagine a crazy blonde lady standing next to you with both arms flailing in the air – that would be me!)

So lets dive back into my “back on track” eats shall we!

I have been enjoying oat bran again in the mornings. It is perfect for chilly early mornings! Of course I also enjoy my eggs and roasted sweet potatoes as well, along with my cup of coffee 🙂

Lunches and dinners have been a lot of salads lately. This is not necessarily because I am doing the whole back on track thing, but more a craving since I haven't really been enjoying salads to much over the holiday season . I think my body is just craving the goodness of them! I have also experimented with using the gluten free microwave “mcmuffin” at more meals besides breakfast. I had one with a laying cow cheese wedge one night, and made one to stand in for my hamburger bun on burger night!!

Snacks have been my usual cravings of fruit and nut butters. I tell you I just can't get enough of that combo. Lately it's been apples with almond butter, or pears with peanut butter. I also made a huge batch of granola that is surely going to be the death of me. The recipe I used called for a cup of maple syrup and two cups of oats. So yummy but so sweet, need to scale back on syrup next time. Other snacks have been nuts and raisins, yogurt, protein shakes, and larabars.

So not a bad start to being back on track right? Can't wait to see what has been crossing your plates lately, and a big thanks to Jenn for hosting our fabulous weekly party!

 

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WIAW – Getting it back

So I bet you guys are graciously throwing yourselves back into old eating habits, doing cleansing, and trying to get back on track after all of the holiday festivities, right?

Ok be honest, raise your hand if the above applies to you! ( imagine a crazy blonde lady standing next to you with both arms flailing in the air – that would be me!)

So lets dive back into my “back on track” eats shall we!

I have been enjoying oat bran again in the mornings. It is perfect for chilly early mornings! Of course I also enjoy my eggs and roasted sweet potatoes as well, along with my cup of coffee 🙂

Lunches and dinners have been a lot of salads lately. This is not necessarily because I am doing the whole back on track thing, but more a craving since I haven't really been enjoying salads to much over the holiday season . I think my body is just craving the goodness of them! I have also experimented with using the gluten free microwave “mcmuffin” at more meals besides breakfast. I had one with a laying cow cheese wedge one night, and made one to stand in for my hamburger bun on burger night!!

Snacks have been my usual cravings of fruit and nut butters. I tell you I just can't get enough of that combo. Lately it's been apples with almond butter, or pears with peanut butter. I also made a huge batch of granola that is surely going to be the death of me. The recipe I used called for a cup of maple syrup and two cups of oats. So yummy but so sweet, need to scale back on syrup next time. Other snacks have been nuts and raisins, yogurt, protein shakes, and larabars.

So not a bad start to being back on track right? Can't wait to see what has been crossing your plates lately, and a big thanks to Jenn for hosting our fabulous weekly party!

 

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Surely I will be rich!

So I am assuming that all of you guys did eat your peas and cabbage for New Year’s to guarantee your health and wealth!

I am also assuming that you guys are in the same boat as I am with sooo much cabbage in the house. 

Oh you mean that is only me?

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Well I like to shop seasonal produce.  Many of you guys already know this.  I also like to eat healthy, wholesome foods. 

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So considering that it is winter, and we have no gardens overflowing with produce, we must accept what veggies/fruits are available until a later date.  Which also means that one must think outside of the box sauté pan when you are faced with the same vegetable multiple times a week!

But let’s talk about how we like to eat cabbage.  I love, love, love…..did I say love??  Cabbage rolls.  What do I not love?  Having to make cabbage rolls.  They are soooo time consuming.  I mean you have to peel the leaves off without tearing, blanch them, stuff and roll them, try your hardest to keep the filling inside, try  your hardest not to drop any of them while you are trying to transfer the roll to the baking dish……ok I think you get the idea!

But what I do like is the flavor of that dish.  So I have decided to share with you my deconstructed version of this.  It is easier but just as tasty!

Cabbage “Roll” Casserole

  • 2 tbsp. oil, divided
  • one small head of cabbage
  • one lb ground meat
  • medium onion, diced
  • one tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • one can diced tomatoes
  • one can of tomato sauce
  • one can of el pato mexican style tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

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Brown ground meat in a pan over medium heat, breaking apart as it cooks.  Remove ground meat and set aside.

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In the same pan add oil & diced onion.  Cook over medium heat until the onions are translucent and brown, about 5 minutes.  Add the minced garlic, thyme, and paprika, and cook another 2 minutes more.

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Add the diced tomatoes with their juice, tomato sauces, and ground beef.  Add water to the pan.  Simmer about 15 minutes, or until thickened.  Now is the time to preheat your oven to 350*

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While the meat simmers, heat more olive oil in a large pot, add the cabbage, and cook over medium heat until the cabbage is wilted.  Season with salt and black pepper.

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Once the meat sauce has cooked, add in the brown rice, and gently combine. 

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Spray 13×9 casserole dish with non stick spray.  Place half of the cabbage into the bottom of the dish, top with half of the meat mixture, then another layer of the remaining cabbage, and top it off with the rest of the meat mixture.  Cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes.

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Remove from foil and sprinkle on the cheese.  Bake uncovered an additional 20  minutes, until the cheese is melted and turning brown.

Then wait a few minutes for it to cool before you dive in with a fork.  Trust me this step is totally necessary!

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Hot, melty cheese does not make your mouth feel good.  But this lovely casserole will make you taste buds happy 🙂

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Who says you need to spend hours rolling cabbage leaves for cabbage rolls?

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Menu Monday

How was your weekend?  Mine was super busy.  I had to work on Saturday, and then I decided to do some major rearranging on Sunday.  I worked in my kitchen in an attempt to make it more efficient.  I will keep you posted on how that is going in the future.  I am really pleased with some of the changes so far, but I am not yet ready to reveal them on the blog.

I have decided that it is time to start putting some money into home improvements instead of fashion, lol!  Much to the hubster’s surprise 🙂

That of course doesn’t mean that fashion will suffer, it just means that larger purchases will be put on a waiting list for awhile.

Of course spending the day working in one of my favorite rooms has allowed me the chance to get back into the weekly cook up habit.  I have dinner ready to go for the next two nights!

  • Sunday – hamburger steaks, gravy, mashed potatoes, roasted broccoli.
  • Monday – Lasagna and salad
  • Tuesday – fajitas
  • Wednesday – grilled chicken, pesto potatoes, steamed veggies
  • Thursday – leftovers
  • Friday & Saturday – leftovers/wing it

I have started including my Sunday meals in the plan since I am cooking most Sundays now.  The hubster leaves on Thursday nights to go hunting; therefore, he is home by lunch on Sunday’s so I do have to cook that night as well.  I know it is kinda crazy to put it on here when I post the plan on Monday’s, but who knows maybe you will get some inspiration!  I know I love to see meal plans on other blogs to give me ideas for dinner 🙂

Have a wonderful week!!

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Confessions……

I suck as a blogger lately!  No really I do!  I have to confess to that.

Between work, kids, hubby I am sure that I am sucking at many things lately.  Now you may ask exactly why do I feel this way?

Because I haven’t pulled my camera out of it’s bag in weeks.  I haven’t photographed any pictures with it.  All photos from the past two months or so have basically been iphone photos!

Now while my phone does take nice pictures, it doesn’t hold a candle to the rebel.  Oh and I haven’t cared one iota what they look like.  A nice background?  A nice prop?  Nah not needed.  Just snap a pic and use it!

Then there is the sporadic posting.  Like this week, which in my defense has been CA-RA-ZY!! 

I promised a recipe post for yesterday.  Then an all day meeting was scheduled which means I didn’t post.  I am surely glad no one was depending on that for their life.  Because if they were then I would be responsible for the funeral bill!!

But no matter I am here today to confess my downfalls.  To attempt right my wrongs.  To give you a post, a recipe, and a taste of fasion 🙂

So enjoy this one, who knows when the next one will pop up!

I was so super excited Wednesday about a few things that I wanted to share with you yesterday.  If you follow me on instagram then you already know some of the excitement, but for those of you that do not I will fill you in!

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I ran my first 4 mile run without any walking breaks!  Now to many this may not be a big deal, but for me it was  a PR 🙂  Oh and the weather is perfect which is why I do not look the least bit sweaty!

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I found this little gem a my local farmer’s market.  So you say what is so exciting about fig preserves.  Well take a closer look……

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Yep, sweetened with juice!  The farmer’s market now has an entire collection of no sugar added jams.  I was so excited to find this, figs are my fav!!  Their collection includes apple butter, blueberry preserves, strawberry preserves, cherry preserves, apricot preserves, and apple!!  Nice collection if I say so myself!

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Of course this means that I has to enjoy it with breakfast the next morning.  Now for another very exciting discovery.  Gluten free, micorwaved “english muffin”!  I found this on  Carrots and Cake the other day, and was so excited to see it!  Oh and it is also paleo 🙂

Finally “bread” is back in my life!!  I have eaten this exact breakfast for two days in a row!

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In other happy news I have found a way to use my gluten free all purpose that isn’t so gross anymore.  I used it this past week as breading for my “fried” foods.  The hubster is in hunting season full swing which means lots o venison for me 🙂  He requested fried backstrap the other night.  So I obliged.  I cooked his the usual way, but for mine I used my gluten free all purpose, and I “fried” it in a couple tablespoons of coconut oil for a healthier version.  It was so good, I couldn’t really tell a difference between the two!  I also picked up a plantain to try it.  I basically sliced it and cooked in a little coconut oil.  I am not sure if this is the appropriate way to cook them, but they were very bland to me.  I didn’t care for it at all so if any of you have other recipes/ways to cook them please share!

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Today is dessert day at work.  We have a theme for every Friday from here til the holiday break, and today was desserts!  Of course part of me wanted to bring something healthy to share, but the old me had to have my fav.  Chocolate cherry cake with old fashioned fudge icing!  Holy sugar heaven!!

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I am having a fabulous soup for lunch today.  I had it for dinner the past two nights.  It was perfect to warm  me up after my 4 miler in chilly weather.  Which by the way my knees were bothering me so I am thinking it is time for new running shoes!  Also for those seasoned runners out there please give me tips.  How much do you stretch before a run, after a run, what stretches do you do, how do you warm up???  You know those types of things!

Fiesta chicken & vegetable soup

  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • bell pepper of choice, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cipotle powder
  • 1 can rotel tomatoes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons (the kind in your silverware drawer not measuring spoons) of tomato paste
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 small head of cabbage, chopped
  • 1 bag frozen peas
  • 4-5 diced chicken breasts
  1. heat the oil in soup pot on medium heat, add onion and bell pepper saute for about 5-6 minutes
  2. add garlic and seasoning to veggies, stir to coat
  3. add tomatoes, tomato paste, and chicken broth – bring to boil
  4. add in cabbage and peas (or any veggies of choice this is what I had on hand) and chicken
  5. Simmer on low for about an hour, until all veggies and chicken is cooked.
  6. Serve with toppings of choice such as avocados, cilantro, sour cream, cheese, etc.

The idea of the soup came to me while talking to a friend about taco soup.  You see taco soup is a favorite of mine but beans are not my friend.  It is one of those foods that I have determined my body does not like.  I mean it goes beyond just the normal gas issues one has with  beans so we avoid those.  Also corn/beans are not allowed on the paleo diet.  So I decided to replace the beans/corn with other veggies, add chicken, and call it by a different name.  Similar to taco soup and takes care of that craving. 

So that about sums up my week in one long post!  Hopefully I can balance out posting next week.  I need to get back into the habit of drafting my posts on the weekends so all I have to do is touch them up and publish each morn.  I also have been contemplating a vlog lately.  I really enjoy watching you tube videos.  I have toyed around with the idea of doing one for the blog and starting a channel for all things that I love.  Some makeup videos, some fashion, and some cooking.  So tell me how you feel about that idea?  Do you enjoy you tube videos?  Is this something you would like to see on the blog, or would you rather read about the happenings on Helen, Naturally?  All input is welcome!

Have a super wonderful weekend!

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Menu Monday

Wow that week went by fast!  Now we are all fully engrossed in the Christmas season 🙂


Which just happens to be my favorite season and holiday.  I love this time of year.  Of course I could stand a little colder temps here, but even with the warm temperatures I love this time of year.

This week is going to be full of some of my favorite “winter” foods, as well as one night of the hubster’s choices.

  • Monday – hungarian stew, steamed veggies
  • Tuesday – “fried” back strap (venison), mashed potatoes & gravy, “fried” plantains & merletons
  • Wednesday – fiesta chicken soup
  • Thursday – leftovers (hubster leaves for camp)
  • Friday – leftovers/salad
  • Saturday – who knows it’s just me and the kiddos!
  • Sunday – chicken & dumplings for my  man!!

Lot’s of winter foods headed my way! 

On another note we had Thanksgiving dinner with my hubster’s family last night.  Or at least the other half of his family.  For those of you that are newer readers, his parent’s divorced when he was a babe, and both of them remarried.  So we had dinner with his siblings and step-mother (we lost his dad last May).  It was very nice to have a second dinner!

But on that note my assigned dish was dessert.  As you know I have been mainly gluten free for a couple of months now, so naturally I wanted to make my dessert gluten free so I didn’t feel miserable for the next few days.  Did.  Not.  Happen!

I hate gluten free all purpose flour!  Like really, really dislike it.  Well you know it tastes like beans.  I DO NOT want my desserts to taste like beans.  Oh and I do not care how many times you try to convince me that using beans/bean flours in your recipes are great without the bean taste.  If all the sugar in yesterday’s recipe didn’t camouflage that flavor nothing will!  So I chunked it and used regular all purpose flour.  I will feel bloated and nasty after this past weeks eating for the next two weeks I am sure. 

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What I Ate Wednesday

Well I can’t really say that I have such a stellar post prepared to share with you guys this week.  I have been enjoying some new recipes, as well as some basic things that I usually eat (such as salads), but in all honesty I haven’t been photographing every little thing I have been eating.  Oh and I tend to be a creature of habit, which means I eat a lot of salads!!

 Spooky Snacks and Healthy Halloween Treats

But in honor of Jenn’s lovely party that she throws every week, I do have a few things to share with you guys.  Oh and before I forget one lovely little healthy fall treat 🙂

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Breakfasts usually bounce between a two ingredient pancake or scrambled eggs w/ veggies & border sauce.

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Lunch is usually leftovers or some type of salad.  Mostly I tend to lean towards salads for lunch since they are super easy to pack!

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For snack this week I have been enjoying my granola from Paleo People.

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Dinner is always some type of protein with a yummy veggie or salad on the side such as baked chicken thighs and steamed cabbage.

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But in honor of this months theme (as well as the fact that every girl needs some dessert in her life) I had to give in and come up with a healthy fall treat.  Boy am I glad that I did this.  You see I have been forgoing most any type of sweetness other than whole foods.  I have only used honey twice in a small little drizzle, and I have only had maple syrup once (teaspoon) on pancakes.  Now there is a very good reason why I have been saving myself for sweet enjoyment, haha sounds kind a crazy right??  But more on that later!  For now I have to share with you my lovely little version of Paleo Pumpkin Pie!!

   

  • 1 tbs. coconut oil, melted
  • 2-3 tbs. almond meal
  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 2 jars of banana baby food (2nd food jars)
  • 4 tbs egg whites
  • 2 tbs coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  1. preheat oven to 350*
  2. put melted coconut oil in bottom of pie dish.
  3. sprinkle almond meal on top of oil and press until soaks up the coconut oil to make a “crust”  only use enough almond meal to cover bottom of dish.
  4. combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and mix together.
  5. pour into pie dish and bake in oven for 45-50 minutes

I used baby food in place of sugar to give this little treat some sweetness.  It is very safe to say that it is not as sweet as a traditional pumpkin pie, but it is sweet enough to be a dessert.  You could of course add a little honey or maple syrup to the recipe to sweeten it more, but I did not need any more sweetness added.  Oh and it is totally healthy, made with all whole foods, and you can eat it without any sense of guilt.  That is a win, win situation to me 🙂

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