Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chicken Fajitas

I had leftover peppers and onions from Christmas morning omelets, so I whipped these fajitas up for dinner last night and they were a hit with the hubby and kids! The best thing about this dish is that you can do all the hard work (dicing, chopping, slicing, mixing, etc.) ahead of time so when dinner time comes and the kids are antsy, all you have to do is throw everything on the stove and it's ready in minutes!

Chicken Fajitas

  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, chicken thighs, or steak (I used chicken tenders because they cook up so quickly and I always keep a big bag in my freezer)
  • 2-3 bell peppers (I used green, red, and yellow), stem and membranes removed and peppers quartered
  • 1 large onion sliced into 1/2" slices


  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
  • 3 teaspoons vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1-2 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayanne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder


  • Pleace meat in a zip-top bag or shallow dish. Place vegetables in another. In a medium bowl, combine all marinade ingredients and whisk well. Reserve 3-4 tablespoons of marinade for later use. With remaining marinade, add a splash to the vegetables and the remaining to the meat. Marinate for 4-6 hours and up to overnight.
  • Preheat bbq grill, indoor grill, or large skillet. If you're using a grill, place everything on at the same time. If using a skillet, slice peppers and onions first. Cook chicken for a few minutes on each side until cooked through and remove from pan. Cover with foil to keep warm. Add vegetables and cook until crisp tender.
  • Remove vegetables from cooking surface and slice. Slice meat. Toss with reserved marinade and serve along side any or all of the following:
  • Flour tortillas
  • Black beans
  • Rice
  • Pico de gallo or salsa
  • Diced avacado or guacamole
  • Sour cream

*recipe from Our Best Bites

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ruth's Chris' Sweet Potato Casserole

My husband has a serious obsession with Ruth's Chris and every time we eat there, we order their sweet potatoes. They are amazing! Even if you don't like sweet potatoes, you will love them at that restaurant. For Thanksgiving last year, I was assigned to make the sweet potatoes, so my mother-in-law and I searched around for Ruth's Chris' recipe and found it! They were so good and suprisingly so easy to make!

Ruth's Chris' Sweet Potato Casserole

Ingredients for the Crust:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (pecans preferred)
  • 1 stick butter, (1/2 cup, melted)

Ingredients for the sweet potato mixture:

  • 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs-well beaten
  • 1/3 stick butter


Combine brown sugar, flour, nuts, and butter in mixing bowl. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sweet potatoes, sugar, salt, vanilla, eggs, and butter in a mixing bowl in the order listed. Mix thoroughly. Pour mixture into buttered baking dish. Sprinkle the surface of the sweet potato mixture evenly with the crust mixture. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to set at least 30 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Three Grain Muffins

My grandparents came and stayed with me for a week over Thanksgiving and every time they visit, my grandpa calls to make sure I have a box of All-Bran in my pantry waiting for him. I didn't want the box to go to waste after they left last week, so I found this recipe for bran muffins and it made enough to feed an army! If you make these, you can keep the dough in the refrigerator for up to 1 week and just bake a dozen or so every morning and you can have hot muffins for breakfast every day!Three Grain Muffins

  • 2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 2 cups crushed shredded wheat
  • 2 cups All-Bran
  • 4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2-1/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • In a large bowl, combine the oats, Shredded Wheat, and bran. Add the buttermilk, water, oil, and eggs; stir for 1 minute. Stir in the brown sugar. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; add to the oat mixture and stir well.
  • Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Peanut Butter Bars

I have 2 apologies to make. First, I apologize for the delay in recipe posts. It's just been a crazy busy couple of weeks. Second, I apologize for the crummy picture of these fabulous tasting bars. I had just enough time to snap this photo before my husband whisked them away to a church meeting. If you ever need a recipe on hand that serves a crowd, tastes great, and is easy to throw together last-minute, then this is it!

Peanut Butter Bars


  • 1 cup creamy butter
  • 1 & 1/4 cups peanut butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. rich vanilla
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups old fasioned oats
  • topping: 1 & 1/2 cups peanut butter and 1 & 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter, peanut butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in baking soda, salt, and flour. Blend well. Fold in oats. Press a thin layer of dough into a jelly roll pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Drop tablespoons of peanut butter over hot cookie. Sprinkle semi-sweet chocolate chips over top of hot cookie and let melt. With a spatula, spread peanut butter and melted chocolate chips over the entire pan like frosting. Let cool so chocolate and peanut butter firm up. Cut in squares and serve.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Carrot Cake Cookies

My dad's favorite dessert is carrot cake, so when he came over for dinner last Sunday I tried out these cookies and he loved them! Everytime I make something new, I ask my dad for his opinion and if he gives me his approval and tells me he likes it, that's the biggest compliment I could get. He is definitely difficult to please since he grew up with my grandma making him homemade everything and she is absolutely amazing in the kitchen. His opinion means a lot to me....and believe me, he's brutally honest at times and will tell me if he doesn't like something I make. Luckily, these cookies got the stamp of approval! Give them a try! (and don't forget to add a little dollop of cream cheese frosting on top).Carrot Cake Cookies
1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup grated carrots (about 2 medium)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins or chopped dried pineapple
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper (I use Silpats). Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl.
2. Beat brown sugar and butter in large bowl with electric mixer (I use my Kitchenaid) until creamy. Add egg and vanilla; beat until well blended. Stir in flour mixture; mix well. Stir in carrots, walnuts, and raisins.
3. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake 12-14 minutes or until set and edges are lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheets 1 minute. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.
*makes about 3 dozen cookies

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Maple Bars

This is one of my all-time favorite desserts for a crowd (also given to me by my friend Katie and made for the same baby shower as the mint brownies). It has since become a favorite recipe among the ladies in my ward, so we have them at almost every church gathering. If you like maple donuts, you'll love these maple bars!! They would be the perfect dessert for Thanksgiving if you plan on hosting a big crowd. Enjoy!Maple Bars

Yellow cake:
  • Make a yellow cake (sometimes I use a box mix, other times I make it from scratch) and put it in a jelly roll pan that's been sprayed with Pam and dusted with flour. Bake for about 12-14 minutes, just until the top is a golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the midle comes out clean. Let cool.


1 cup butter

4 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup milk

3 & 1/2- to 4 cups powdered sugar

  • Melt butter in medium saucepan on stove. Add sugar and milk. Turn up to med/high heat and continue stirring until it starts to boil. Cook for one minute. Remove from stove and add powdered sugar. Mix and Mix until all the lumps are gone. ( At this point, I suggest pouring the hot mixture into your kitchenaid, then add the powdered sugar, so you can start your mixer as soon as possible and let it do all the work because mixing by hand doesn't work as well. It hardens pretty quickly). . Immediately pour onto cooled cake and spread evenly.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

3-Layer Mint Brownies

The first time I made these brownies was for a baby shower a few years ago and everyone begged me for the recipe afterward. My friend Katie had given me the recipe, so it's her I have to thank for all the compliments! Before I had this recipe, the only way I'd ever made mint brownies was to unwrap Andes mints and lay them on a pan of warm brownies and let them melt. Then I'd spread the Andes mint "frosting" on top. If I'm short on time then I still use that method, but otherwise this is my all-time favorite mint brownie recipe....and it's really easy!

3-layer mint brownies

1. Make a pan of brownies and let cool (I like the Ghirardelli brownie mix from Costco).

2. Mix together: 1/4 cup butter, 1 & 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1 capful peppermint extract, 2 tbsp. cold milk, green food coloring. Spread over brownies and place in fridge for 1 hour.

3. Make chocolate sauce: in microwaveable bowl, combine 1 healthy overflowing cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips with 1 tbp. butter. Melt in microwave in 30 second increments and mix until barely melted. Spread over buttercream layer and place in fridge 1 hour.

4. Serve cold.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Yellow Cake With Chocolate Frosting

My friend Katy asked me to help her make a birthday cake for her husband last week and, of course, I obliged! She wanted to use my "giant cupcake" pan from Williams-Sonoma that I used for Mackenna's first birthday cake and wanted to make a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. I searched around for a good yellow cake recipe that would be sturdy enough and I came across this wonderful recipe from the Wilton website. It's nice and dense, but still soft and delicious, perfect for decorating. After we finished decorating the cake and putting the fall-colored M&M's around the platter, we relized our cake perfectly resembled a pinecone! So, Katy's husband got a yummy pinecone cake for his birthday party...that's what he gets for being born in the fall!
3 cups sifted cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup butter or margarine
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cups milk


Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom of two 8-inch round cake pans and line with waxed paper or parchment paper. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. Cream sugar and butter together until light. Add eggs and vanilla to creamed mixture and beat until thoroughly mixed. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Continue beating one minute. Spread batter evenly in prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool layers in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely. Fill and frost as desired.

Chocolate Frosting:
I was at Trader Joe's earlier that day and one of the checkers recommended the chocolate frosting mix to me when he saw I was buying cake ingredients. I was definitely skeptical at first, but I couldn't have been more pleased with the look, taste, and ease of it. It's a great mix to have on hand just-in-case!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

When I was a newlywed, I would sit at my desk at work and look up new recipes to try for dinner and dessert everynight ( ya, I had a really hard job). Besides chocolate chip cookies, my husband's favorite dessert is coffee cake, so I tried this recipe one day and it instantly became our favorite. Now that Fall has finally made it's arrival to So Cal, I decided to make this cake for dessert and I'm so happy I did because my house smells amazing!

Sour Cream Coffee Cake


  • 2 tbsp. plus 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 & 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 12 tbsp. chilled, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 & 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp. nonfat milk
  • 1 & 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch square springform pan.

In a bowl, combine 2 tbps. sugar, the walnuts, and cinnamon. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; sift the mixture twice and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy. Gradually add the 2 cups sugar and beat until light and smooth, 5 to 6 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs a little at a time and continue beating until the mixture is thick, fluffy, and double in volume, 4 to 5 minutes. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla, 2 minutes more.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a rubber spatula, carefully fold in the flour mixture in 2 additions until smooth. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan and spread to the edges. SPrinkle the walnut/cinnamon mixture evenly over the batter. Spread the remaining batter over the top, making the sides higher than the center.

Bake until the top is set and springs back when touched, and the cake pulls away slightly from the sides of the pan, about 55-60 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 1 hour. Remove from the pan and set the cake on a stand or plate.

*I reserved some of the walnut/cinnamon sugar and made my own crumble for the topping, but you can also make a glaze that is amazing on top:

In a bowl, whisk together the milk and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Garnish the cake with raspberries, if desired, and drizzle the glaze over the cake.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Banana Drop Cookies

I wanted to make something besides bread, cupcakes, or muffins with my ripe bananas today, so I opened up an old cookbook given to me by my grandma and found this recipe. It was so easy and these cookies are so soft and moist! I added mini chocolate chips, but you can make them without chocolate chips if you want. Either way they'll taste great!Banana Drop Cookies
1 cup butter (I used butter-flavor Crisco)
2 cups sugar
3 eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cups mashed bananas

Cream butter well, adding sugar gradually. Stir in eggs and vanilla. Sift flour with baking powder, soda, and salt. Add to creamed mixture, alternating with bananas. Add a few handfuls of chocolate chips if desired. Drop by spoonfuls onto greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Friday, October 29, 2010

My favorite frosting

I've signed up to bring cupcakes to three different Halloween parties this year, so I went looking for a different frosting recipe than my usual Betty Crocker cookbook one. I came across this recipe given to me by a friend a few years ago and it was so easy to make and so delicious. It would be especially good on banana or red velvet cupcakes, but I used it on top of vanilla cupcakes and it was great too.
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 package (16 oz.) powdered sugar
beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in medium bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Gradually add sugar, beating well after each edition.
*keep refrigerated*

Thursday, October 21, 2010

We're Back!

After a long break from our repice blog, we are back with some great recipes for this holiday season!
This recipe was given to me by my friend, Lisa, and is one of my new favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes. My two favorite ingredients to add to cookies are oatmeal and vanilla pudding mix and this recipe includes both of them! I doubled the recipe, added Fall-colored M&M's, and brought them to a church gathering this evening, and they were a hit. I can't wait to make them with green and red M&M's this Christmas!

Chocolate Chip M&M Cookies
½ cup butter
½ cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
Put above ingredients in mixer and let run on medium for 10-15 mins.
Add 1 small package of instant vanilla pudding and mix.
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups oatmeal
2 cups flour
Sift above ingredients together then add to wet ingredients
. Mix on low until combined.
Add ½ package chocolate chips and ½ package of m&m’s and stir to combine.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Review: Power Oatmeal Pancakes

These turned out GREAT! Even after freezing them and re-heating for my 3 year old in the mornings this week. Above, I had them with non-fat vanilla yogurt and sliced strawberries.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Barbeque Chicken

I promise this will be the last of my barbeque sauce recipes for a while, but I just had to post this one because it is my favorite. My friend Darla brought this chicken over for me after I had my second baby and it was so delicious, I called her immediately for the recipe. To my surprise, it was the easiest crock pot recipe I've ever heard! I now make it all the time for salads, sandwiches, or just to have in the refrigerator as a snack.

Crock Pot Barbeque Chicken

1.Fresh or frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders
2.A bottle of your favorite barbeque sauce
3.Shredded cheese
Pleace chicken and enough barbeque sauce to cover the chicken completely in a crock pot. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. Remove chicken and shred with a fork. Serve over salad greens or on your favorite whole wheat roll with shredded cheese and extra barbeque sauce.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cheat Day- Crock Pot Ribs

Besides the recipe for banana muffins on the previous post, I could NOT make it through my second pregnancy without barbeque ribs. The weird thing was that I had always hated barbeque sauce, but thanks to weird pregnancy/nursing cravings, I can't get enough of it now! I found this recipe for crock pot ribs and they are absolutely delicious and ridiculously easy to make.
(Sorry, I seriously ate them all before I remembered to take a picture. That's how good they are)!
3 lb. boneless country cut ribs
1 onion, sliced
1 and 1/2 cups barbeque sauce (I prefer Lucille's)
pepper to taste
Put meat on bottom of crock pot; add onions and pepper. Top with BBQ sauce. Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours or at high for 4-5 hours.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hailey Muffins

Although I wouldn't call these muffins "healthy," I thought i'd share this recipe with any pregnant/new/nursing mother. My mom first made these when she was staying with my sister after she had her first baby, thus the name "Hailey muffins." I think my mom and sister pretty much lived off these things for the first week of Hailey's life. The ingredients are staples you always have on hand, they are very simple to make, and they are great to have around for any visiting company or when you need something to eat in the middle of night. They have quickly become a staple in our homes before and after we have babies.

Hailey Muffins

3 large ripe bananas
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup melted butter
1 and 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

1. Mash bananas
2. Cream sugar and butter.
3. Beat in egg and bananas.
4. Sift in dry ingredients and stir until moistened.
5. Bake in greased muffin cups at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

*tip: they are also great with the buttercream frosting recipe I posted on the very first post (banana cake).

Friday, April 9, 2010

Power Oatmeal Pancakes

My 3-year-old has to have pancakes every morning for breakfast. Most days I just heat up a gross store-bought frozen pancake for her. I'm making these this weekend and then freezing them so she can have something a little more substantial and healthy (I'll let you know later how they taste after being frozen). I'm looking forward to having these readily available for my own breakfast as well.

Power Oatmeal Pancakes
from Tosca Reno's, The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook


6 egg whites, beaten until fluffy
1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1 scoop whey protein
1/2 cup oatmeal (uncooked)
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup flax seed
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp canola Oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon


1. Place all ingredients except beaten egg whites in a food processor and pulse or blend until mixture is uniform.

2. Pour blended ingredients into a bowl and add the egg whites. Fold until just blended.

3. Prepare a griddle with cooking spray. Ladle pancake mixture onto griddle and cook until both sides are browned.

(My daughter will have syrup on hers; I'll try serving mine and my husband's with non-fat vanilla yogurt and sliced strawberries. Not sure how that will taste, leave a comment if you have a better idea of a topping for these pancakes)

*sorry no pictures, I will take some when I actually make these and upload them along with an update about how they taste after being frozen.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Multi-grain Linguine With Creamy Tomato Ialian Sausage Sauce

My husband's side of the family introduced me to the combination of pasta and sausage and I really enjoy it. I found this recipe on simplyrecipes.com and adapted it to so it would have fewer calories, fewer carbs, and leaner protein. My husband thought it tasted great and had no idea it was "healthy."

Multi-grain Linguine with Creamy Tomato Italian Sausage Sauce

2 tbsp. olive oil
3 shallots, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 pound sweet Italian Sausage, casings removed (I used Jenni-O)
1/2 pound spicy Italian Sausage, casings removed (Jenni-O)
1 cup whipping cream (I tried to substitue it with low-fat milk, but the whpping cream makes the sauce so much better and thicker. Use it if you have calories to spare :)
2 (14.5) oz. cans diced tomatoes in juice
1 tbsp. dried sage
3/4 pound multi-grain linguine
1/2 cup grated (reduced fat) parmesan cheese
1. Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add shallots and garlic and saute until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add sausages and satue until no longer pink, breaking them up a bit, about 5 minutes. Add cream; simmer 5 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice. Add sage. Simmer until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
2/ Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid.
3. Return pasta to same pot; add sauce. Toss over medium heat until sauce coats pasta, adding reserved cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls if mixture is dry. Transfer to bowl; sprinkle with cheese and serve.
Serves 6

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Training Tips......

First off, I'd like to Introduce myself, my name is Christina Norris, I've been training for almost 7 years and absolutely love it. The best "job" in the world, if you can even call it that. A little bit about me... I was born and raised in Carpinteria, CA. Went to Whittier College and got my BA in Athletic Training and played water polo and swam there. After graduating I went to South Bay Massage School and am a certified massage therapist. I'm currently finishing up my Thesis at Cal Poly Pomona to get my Masters in Exercise Physiology.

How Effective Are Your Workouts?

Here are a couple of ideas that may help amp up your workouts......
  1. Limit your workouts to 30-40 minutes. Though the tendency of some people who really want to get a lot out of their workouts is to spend a lot of time at the gym, the truth is that after 30 or 40 minutes, the benefit isn’t as great. To go that long, you’d have to lower the intensity of the workout, and that means that you’re spending too much time working out. It’s better to work out at a higher intensity for a shorter amount of time.
  2. High-intensity workouts. If you’re just starting out with exercise, it’s best to take it slow. If you’re running or cycling, for example, build up your endurance for at least a month before you get into anything more intense. That means going at a rate where you can easily talk without being out of breath. However, once you have that base of endurance, step up the intensity to step up the effectiveness of the workout.
  3. Protein. Many people don’t pay enough attention to getting the protein their muscles need to rebuild. If you don’t, you are going to get very little out of your workout, as both cardio and strength workouts require protein for building muscles. I recommend either whey or soy protein shakes.
  4. Water. Be sure to hydrate throughout the day. It takes a couple of hours for your body to absorb the water, so you can’t just drink right before exercise. Make it a habit to drink water regularly throughout the day.
  5. Carbs. Although the low-carb craze might say otherwise, carbs are our body’s main source of fuel. If you do intense workouts, you will need carbs, or you won’t have enough energy. If you do a shake, be sure to include carbs — or a banana is a great source of low fiber/high glycemic carbohydrates that you need for exercise.
  6. Shake before and after workout. It’s best to take a protein/carb shake just before your workout and then just after. Taking it before your workout increases the flow of amino acids to your muscles during training, giving them the building blocks they need. After the workout, the shake stimulates muscle growth. Also take a small protein/carb meal 60-90 minutes after a workout — a meal replacement bar would work fine.
  7. Slow lifting. Many people contract their muscles slowly and then release more quickly. But if you lift slowly in both directions, you are maximizing each move. Lift and lower to a 5-second count in each direction.
  8. Heavier weight. When you’re starting out, it’s best to start with lower weights so you can focus on good form. But once you’ve gotten your form down, it’s best to lift the heaviest weights you can lift while still keeping good form. Don’t sacrifice form for heavy weights — that is ineffective. But heavy weights, with good form, can give you better results in a shorter amount of time. Heavy weights are not just for those who want to bulk up — that’s a common misconception.
  9. One set, to failure. Instead of doing 2-3 sets, as many people do, maximize your effectiveness by doing just one, with heavy weights, until you can no longer keep the proper form. Lifting to “failure” doesn’t mean that you should lift the last few times with a wobbly or inefficient form.
  10. Compound exercises. Instead of isolating your muscles with exercises such as the bicep curl, you can maximize the time you spend in a workout by doing exercises that work out multiple muscle groups at once. With just a few exercises, you could get a full-body workout. Another benefit is that your muscles are working together as they do in the real world, rather than alone. Some great compound exercises include squats, deadlifts, good mornings, lunges, pushups, bench presses, military presses, rows, pullups, dips, and more.
  11. Balance lifting. Instead of having exercises where you’re sitting down or holding on to something or otherwise stabilized, it’s more effective to do them standing up, or on one leg, or on a Swiss exercise ball. These types of exercises force you to balance yourself while lifting, which brings your core muscles into play. This gives you a stronger overall body and allows you to lift more over time.
  12. Pick a cardio exercise you enjoy. It’s no fun to exercise if you hate it. And you won’t keep it up for very long. Pick something that’s fun — running, walking, swimming, biking, hiking, rowing, stairmaster, etc. After the initial phase when you’re getting used to exercise, you’ll start to have a blast and look forward to it.
  13. Mix it up. Don’t stick to the same workout routine for too long, or your body will adjust to the stress level and you won’t be getting an effective workout. For strength training, change your routine every few weeks. For cardio, it’s best to cross train rather than, say, to run every time.
  14. Good form. For strength training especially, and swimming, form is very important, but it’s also important for other types of exercise. If you’re strength training, start with lighter weights so you can work on your form. It’s good to have an experienced spotter or trainer who knows good form to help you for the first month or so. Never sacrifice form for heavier weight. For swimming, you’ll need to get a coach to teach you form.
  15. Hills. If you run or bike or walk for cardio, you’ll want to incorporate hills (after the first month or two of doing it at an easy pace on flat ground). These will make you stronger and make your limited workout time even more effective. Take them easy at first, but once you’re used to hills, you can get a good pace going. Either use a hilly route or do repeats on one hill.
  16. Circuits. One mistake that people make is to do multiple sets of the same exercise without rest between the sets. This doesn’t allow your muscles to recover and it’s a waste of your workout. But instead of doing a set, resting, and then doing your second set, it’s more effective to move on to multiple exercises in a circuit, so that you don’t rest between exercises but do rest each muscle group. This will give you a good cardio workout while you do your strength training.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

My pilates instructor knows how much I love to bake, so she wanted me to try this recipe she found in her Cooking Light Magazine. I was asked to bring a dessert to an Easter party tommorrow morning, so I thought tonight would be the perfect time to make this cake and I can't even tell you how delicious my house smells right now. And the cake tastes even more delicious than it smells! This recipe is a great alternative to the usual heavy, buttery coffee cake I'm used to making.
The "Enlightened Cook" (who published the recipe) explains, "Some coffee cakes might as well be called fatty cakes...We slimmed down this classic and used whole grains in the batter. The result: a moist and satisfying breakfast cake. Light baking is always tricky and adding the whole-grain goal upped the ante again. A combination of all-purpose, whole wheat, and homemade whole-grain rolled oat flour anchored the batter. With a little butter, light sour cream, and a mix of granulated and brown sugars, we acheived the best texture and flavor for the fewest calories and saturated fat."

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, divided
cooking spray
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, divided
1/3 cup butter
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 (8 oz.) carton light sour cream (such as Daisy)
2 tbsp. finely shopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 tp. ground cinnamon
1 tbsp. chilled butter, cut into small pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350 degress.
2. Spread oats in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 30 for 6 minutes or until oats are barely fragrant and light brown.
3. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.
4. Reserve 1/4 cup oats, set aside. Place remaining oats in a food processor; process 4 seconds or until finely ground. Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine processed oats, flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; stir with a whisk.
5. Place granulated sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 1/3 cup butter in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed for 3 minutes or until light and fluffy.Add eggs, 1at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Spoon batter into prepared pan.
6. Combine remaining 1/4 cup oats, remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar, nuts and cinnamon in a bowl. Cut in 1 tbsp. butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until well blended. Sprinkle top of batter evenly with nut mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 38 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, top is golden, and cake begins to pull away from sides of pan. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes; remove from pan. yield: 10 servings

Nutrition Facts:
calories 276, fat 11.5g, protein 5.5g, carb 38.5g, fiber 14g, cholesterol 61mg, iron 1.5mg, sodium 247mg, calcium 59mg

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Trainer Tips!

Britt and I are lucky to have a friend, Christina, who is an awesome personal trainer. She is amazing at what she does. One night I had a long talk with Christina about her eating habits and it has changed the way I fuel my body and help it to recover after a workout. I've noticed a difference in my running already.

Why do I mention this? Well, Christina is going to be contributing to this blog! Every week she will be posting tips on exercise/healthy eating.

ps. She would never have a "Cheat Day," so hopefully she doesn't notice those posts. HA!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I made this soup last weekend and it was the perfect, light meal for a warm spring day. I already had a rotisserie chicken in my fridge and all of the other ingredients are things I always tend to keep in my pantry, so it was easy to whip up real quick.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
from Holly Clegg's Trim and Terrific Gulf Coast Favorites

4 (6-8 inch) flour tortillas, cut into 1/4 inch strips (I used whole wheat tortillas)
1 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 and 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 (28 oz.) can chopped tomatoes with juice
6 cups fat-free chicken broth
1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chilies
1 (16 oz.) pkg. frozen corn
1 (15.5 oz) can navy white beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp. lime juice
1.5 tsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. chili powder
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 cup reduced-fat Mexican blend cheese
1 small avacado, peeled and diced

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place tortilla strips on baking sheet and bake 10-15 minutes. Set aside.
2. In a nonstick pot coated with nonstick cooking spray, saute onion and garlic over medium heat until tender, about 7 minutes.
3. Add chicken and continue cooking until chicken is done, about 5-7 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice, broth, green chilies, corn, beans, lime juice, cumin, and chili powder. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 10-15 minutes.
4. Serve soup topped with tortilla strips, green onions, cheese, and avacado.

Calories 209, Fat 4g, saturated fat 2g, cholesterol 37 mg, carbohydrate 24, protein 20g

Friday, March 26, 2010

Cheat Day- Easy Chocolate Cake

I call this recipe "easy" because it does not involve any baking on your part at all, just a trip to your local Costco! If you haven't ever tried their All-American Chocolate Cake (found in the bakery section), then you are truly missing out. It's AMAZING! My sister and I have used this cake for many different parties, showers, church functions, etc because it's such a pretty, impressive-looking cake and serves a lot. It's always a hit and one cake can easily serve 25-35 people, depending on how thick you slice it.

Costco All-American Chocolate Cake

1. Get in your car and drive to Costco (don't forget your card)!
2. Head back to the bakery section and look for a massive, 3-layer, round, chocolate cake with chocolate shavings around the outside.
3. Purchase cake
4. Slice and serve either by itself or with ice cream, whip cream, fruit/berries...the options are endless.
*The photo above was taken at a baby shower we threw and we served the cake with sliced strawberries and whipped cream.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sunday Pot Roast- the healthier version

I made this recipe (from Holly Clegg's Trim and Terrific Cooking) last Sunday when I had my family over for dinner and it received rave reviews. I threw everything in the crockpot before I left for church at 9am and when I walked in the door at noon, my house smelled delicious! I grew up having roast for dinner almost every Sunday and always made it the same way, until I found this recipe. One of the best things about this recipe is that it leaves a healthy "gravy" in the bottom of the pan that you can serve with it.

Easy Pot Roast

1 (4 lb.) beef sirloin tip roast, trimmed of fat
6 cloves of garlic, sliced or 1 tablespoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 large onion
1 (10.75 oz.) can reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup
1 (16 oz.) package baby carrots
2 cups peeled, cubed sweet potatoes (I ran out of time, so I didn't include these)
2 cups peeled, cubed red potatoes

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees (if not using a crockpot). Cut slits in roast and stuff peices of garlic throughout meat. Season meat with salt and pepper.
2. Spread sliced onion over the roast and pour soup over onions. Add carrots and potatoes. Cover and leave on low to cook all day if using a crockpot.
*Cover and bake 4 hours if using your oven. Add carrots and potatoes and continue cooking another hour or until tender.

Calories 249, Carbohydrate(g)14, Calories from fat(%)72, Dietary Fiber(g)2, Cholesterol mg)57, Sodium (mg)254

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Turkey Stuffed Green Peppers

My friend that I run with is a very healthy eater. She uses Daily Plate at www.Livestrong.com for a lot of recipes and told me to try this one because it was one of her favorites. Glad I did, because it was so good and my family loved it. My 3 year old was so excited to get her very own pepper with dinner inside of it. I made some adjustments to the recipe by using instant brown rice (instead of white rice that you add in uncooked, then have to wait an hour for the entire dish to cook), and I did forgo the cheese on mine, but other than that it is a pretty lo-cal meal (a little less than 300 calories per serving) and very simple. It's nice to finally use that spice rack I received as a gift at my wedding 6 years ago.

6 servings Green Bell Pepper

1.25 servings Ground Turkey - Raw
7.25 servings Tomato sauce
.5 cups Onions
1 servings Garlic Clove
1 teaspoons Oregano, Dried
1/2 teaspoons Thyme, Dried
1/2 teaspoons Rosemary, Dried
1/2 teaspoons Basil, Dried
1/2 teaspoons Rubbed Sage
1/8 teaspoons Pepper, Black
2 cups cooked instant Brown Rice


Slice tops off peppers and hollow. Set aside.
In a large skillet, brown the turkey. Remove and set aside. In the same skillet, combine 1/4c. water and 1/4c. of the tomato sauce with onion, garlic and herbs. Simmer until vegetables are tender. Stir in rest of tomatoe sauce, turkey and cooked rice. Stuff into peppers and place in a baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1/2 hour. Remove, top each pepper with about 1 tablespoon cheese. Return to oven for 3 minutes or until the cheese has melted.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How to lose 5 pounds in one day...

1. Spend a fun Saturday with your twin sis, her husband, and 2 children.
2. Eat at your favorite restaurant.
3. Come down with a horrible case of food poisening 24-48 hours later.

Although cooking/ eating healthy and exercising regularly are our favorite ways to shed extra pounds, this is definitely a quick alternative. However, we do NOT recommend it at all! We plan to resume our regular recipe-posting tomorrow, as soon as food sounds good to us again :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Crispy Southwestern Lasagna

If you like mexican food and lasagna, but don't like all the calories associated with those foods, then this dish is a great alternative. It's a great combination of mexican and italian flavors and you'll have more than enough left-overs for lunch the next day.

Crispy Southwestern Lasagna

1 pound ground sirloin (I substituted Jenni-O ground turkey)
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, with juices
1 (4 oz.) can diced green chiles, drained
2 tsp. chili powder
1 and 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
2 egg whites
2 cups reduced fat or fat-free cottage cheese
14 (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut into quarters
1 (15 and 1/4 oz.) can corn, drained
1 (8 oz.) package shredded reduced-fat Mexican blend cheese

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In large nonstick skillet, cook meat over medium heat until done. Add tomatoes and juice, green chiles, chili powder, cumin, garlic, salt, and pepper; set aside.
3. In small bowl, blend egg whites and cottage cheese well; set aside.
4. Coat a 13x9x2 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. COver bottom of baking dish with six quartered tortillas.
5. Layer all the corn, half meat mixture, half cheese, four quartered tortillas, then all the cottage cheese mixture, remaining half of meat mixture, and remaining four quartered tortillas, and top with remaining cheese.
6. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes. Serve (makes 8-10 servings)

Nutritional information per serving:
Calories: 239, Fat (g)7, Calories from fat (%)26, Saturated fat (g)3, Cholesterol (mg)40

Friday, March 19, 2010

my favorite breakfast right now

Although our trainer recommends plain oatmeal with half a banana and a small sprinkle of cinnamon for breakfast, I had to come up with something new. I just ate oatmeal every morning for too long and was getting sick of it. So here's one I have been eating every morning for the past couple of months and I doubt I will ever get sick of it. And it has our trainer's seal of approval.

1 Yoplait Smoothie pack (my favorite is the Strawberry banana)
1 cup whole grain oatmeal
1 cup protein powder (I got a big bag of this at Costco, really helps with muscle recovery)
1 cup fat free milk

Blend in blender. This makes enough for 2, so I usually leave half in the blender for my husband, who then adds some weight gainer powder to his smoothie. You can just use half of the smoothie pack and keep the other half in the freezer, then half the above receipe. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cheat Day--Banana Cream Cake

Sundays are my cheat days. To kick off the first post of our new blog, we'd like to share with you a fantastic recipe that's been in our family for years. It's obviously a 'cheat day" recipe and is by far one of our favorite cake recipes. Believe me, as soon as you try it, you'll forget all about making banana bread out of your "too ripe" bananas. I (Brittney) personally set aside 3-4 bananas each week so they'll be ready to use in this cake by the end of the week. Enjoy!
2 cups sifted flour
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1 and 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shortening (I use butter-flavored Crisco)
1 cup mashed bananas
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Pour dry ingredients over shortening. Add bananas, milk, and vanilla. Mix until dry ingredients are moistened. Beat vigorously for 2 minutes. Add eggs and beat for 2 minutes more. (stir in walnuts, if using). Pour into greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:
1 lb. powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup soft butter
Beat all ingredients with electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
*Recipe can also be found on back of C&H brand powdered sugar.
*As you can see in the picture, there is a trademark design in the frosting that you MUST do if you make this banana cake recipe. My mom and grandma always used a fork to make a basket-weave pattern in the frosting and it seriously does not taste as good without it!