Tag Archives: Review

Granola gets me every time

Some of my obsessions are obvious: Shoes, wine, mani / pedis … But I probably haven’t proclaimed my love for cereals enough on the ol’ blog.  Why?  Because I get major “fat kid” moments whenever a box is near.

Picture something like this:

Naava apparently loves her Raisin Bran Crunch

I’d say that’s really quite accurate.

I’m also this way with granola.  Probably more so because I think anything made of — or including — oats is fat kid worthy.

So when Love Grown Foods offered to send me (me!) some granola, I jumped at the chance, knowing my thighs would possibly hate me later.

Granola trio from Love Grown Foods

Three awesomely delicious flavors: Cranberry Pecan, Almond Raisin, and Chocolate.

Last week I slipped the Almond Raisin in my laptop bag for my trip to Denver because there is nothing worse than being entrenched in work without food.  Believe me, I turn into a beast.  I ended up snacking on this the entire week.   How it lasted nearly 7 days, I have no idea because this is good stuff.  And by good, I mean quite possibly ranking up in the top 3 granola I’ve ever had.  Yeah, that good.  Tons of clusters, coconut flakes (nom!), and whole almonds and raisins were a huge win!

Vanilla Chobani, Love granola, strawberries

I polished the rest of it off with a yogurt bowl (how else can you incorporate the end-of-the-bag crumbs?).

Next I opened the chocolate.  Why?  Not because I love chocolate (I do, though), but because I’m skeptical of chocolate granola.  So far, any that I’ve tasted are just “ok.”  Love granola is more than okay.  Again, those clusters AND actual chocolate chips.  The flavor reminds me almost of no-bake cookies that you eat around Christmas.  Nom!

Because I don’t want to snarf down 3 bags of granola in two weeks, I’m saving my Pecan Cranberry for a few more weeks.  Once I open it, there’s no holding back.  Oh and yes, I have hidden this from the hubby.  Mwuahahahaha.

You can find Love Grown granola at these locations.

What gives you your “fat kid” moments?  Mine are PB, cereal/granola, chips/salsa, popcorn.

If you were to add 2 must have ingredients to make the perfect granola, what would they be?  Mine would be maple syrup and almonds.

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The Bread Winner and a Chickpea Recipe

It’s mid-week people, let’s keep it up!  I have been a busy bee lately with work, life, etc.  When I’m not doing anything at all, I start to get anxious as if I’m forgetting something.  Then I go on a tangent thinking of all the things I could be doing, like putting up Christmas decorations.  I need a good dose of calm — I think that can be found in Pinot Noir, no? ;)

So last week, I found out from the gorgeous Lea on Healthy Coconut that I was a winner of two loaves of bread from Julian Bakery in Southern Cali (lucky for me they sell in Northern Cali stores too AND across the country!).  Have I ever / Would I ever turn down bread?  Heck no!  Love it, especially grainy, earthy, hearty breads and this is just what was promised.

These are the two loves…errr I mean loaves I received :)

My 2 loaves of awesome bread!

I received the Low Carb and the Cinn Raisin.  I’ve only broken into the Low Carb one since Thanksgiving foods went and infiltrated my life last week!

TJ's PB on low-carb bread

To me, a good test of how tasty bread is is how well it can stand alone or how well it can stand toasted with some PB and a cup of coffee.  I chose the latter ;)  And it did NOT disappoint.  This bread is the essence of filling nutrition.  And for the health – nuts out there, check out the ingredient list:

Smart Carb # 1 Bread (1 Net Carb)

Ingredients:

Fresh Ground Whole Grain *Wheat, Sprouts of *Kamut, *Spelt, *Rye, Lentils, Sesame Seeds, *Millet, *Quinoa, *Amaranth, Ground Flaxseed, *Wheat Bran, Oat Bran, Eggs, Undenatured Whey Protein Isolate (90%), Chicory Root (Inulin Fiber), Wheat Gluten, Yeast & Sea Salt

Pretty impressive, no?

I can’t wait to dig into the Cinn Raisin which I have in my freezer.  I plan to make a pumpkin bread pudding with it…nom! 

Onto the chickpea recipe, which I made for a Thanksgiving appetizer and have been munching on ever since.  Note that I tripled the recipe I’m about to show you ;)

Draing and rinse your ‘peas good

Hot chicks

 In a small bowl, add 1+ tbsp EVOO, 1 tsp dried rosemary, and some cracked ground black peppa.  Then add the juice of one lemon (I think half a lemon would be just fine too).

Squeeeeeeze your lemon

 Now stir it all up and pour your ‘sauce’ over your chickpeas (that have been transferred to a bowl / tupperware, etc). 

Douse your peas

 Shake, shake, shake and make sure all your lil ‘peas are coated.  Then ignore it for an hour.  

Just before you’re ready to roast, preheat your oven to 400deg.  Arrange all your chickpeas on a cookie sheet (with rim) so that they are single layer.

Bake them at 400 deg for 45 minutes (turning 2x).  This is what they’ll look like:

Roasted and ready to go

Now, don’t do what I did and seal them up in a tupperware container before they have completely cooled, or they will get a bit mushy and lose their crunch appeal.  They were delicious nonetheless and I’m totally going to make them again.  Can I just tell you how good they tasted in leftover stuffing too? ;)

Have you tried Julian Bread?  I’m eyeing the Southwest cornbread and want to know who has tried it!

What other roasted chickpea recipes can you offer up? 

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Make this for T-day dessert: Pecan Spice Cake with Maple Frosting

Last week I hinted that I was having a pre-Thanksgiving on Saturday with all my fave foods and most favorite person: my bestie.  Now, you never really have to have a reason for having a pre (or post, for that matter) Thanksgiving dinner, but this one was extra special.  You see, my bestie just left for her cross-country move to Boston.  Yes, sadly, Andrea and her hubby are moving to Boston for new and exciting opportunities.  While I am so happy for her new adventure, I am also quite sad.

My bestie is my right arm.  She is my Friday-night vino friend.  (Heck, she is my Tuesday-night vino friend).  She’s my pedi partner.  She’s my fellow shoe hoarder.  She’s my shopping spree amiga.  She’s my go-to on days that are low and the person I call when I share my happiest news.

As we parted ways on Sunday, it wasn’t “good-bye” but rather “see you soon.”

A word to you Boston:  you have no idea what’s in store for you ;)

Okay let’s get to what this post is all about!  Thanksgiving day dessert(s) =)

CL Pecan Spice Cake with Maple Frosting

I don’t think I’ve ever made a more delicious cake.  This is restaurant quality flavor, texture, and decadence.  So.  Freaking.  Good!  Please make it.   You will not be sorry.

Cooking Light Pecan Spice Cake with Maple Frosting:

Ingredients:
Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Dash of ground cloves
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (I used I can’t believe it’s not butter)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I used 1% lowfat buttermilk)
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans (I used unsalted lightly toasted pecans from TJs)

Frosting

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (I used Log Cabin Lite)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2+ tbsp chopped pecans

How to make:

  1. Preheat oven to 350deg
  2. Spray cooking spray on bottom and sides of 2 (8-inch) round metal cake pans [note: CL suggests laying wax paper down first, which I omitted and it was fine].  Lightly flour.
  3. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  Mix together well.
  4. In large bowl, place 1 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup butter.  Beat by hand (or with mixer) until light and fluffy.  Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with flour mixture, and beat until well combined.
  5. Fold in 1/3 cup pecans.
  6. Pour batter evenly into two prepared cake pans
  7. Bake for 24 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean
  8. Invert cakes on wire rack until cool.

Cakes done, moving onto frosting

How to make the frosting:

  1. Put a small pan on stovetop on medium heat
  2. Add 1/2 cup brown sugar, heavy whipping cream, maple syrup, butter, and dash of salt
  3. Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar dissolves
  4. Cook 3 minutes without stirring (slightly reduce heat)
  5. Scrape brown sugar into bowl
  6. Add powdered sugar and beat by hand (or mixer on high)
  7. Add in vanilla

Now you’re all set and just have to put your bottom layer of cake on a platter.  Frost top and add second layer.  Frost entire cake, sprinkling pecans on the top.

Andrea presents you with this;

Bestie and best cake ever

And if you have a big sweet tooth like we do, you might want to make some pumpkin pie too:

Pumpkin pie and pumpkin ramekins

Or if you’re my hubby, you’ll need at least one of these:

Applecrisp: serves 1 hubby or 6+ guests ;)

And after a fabulous dinner (to be shared in another post), your dessert plate may look like this:

Bliss

Seriously, this was the ultimate dessert trifecta.  I highly recommend bringing the maple frosted pecan cake to your Thanksgiving dinner.  And then, eat whatever is left over for breakfast ;)

What dessert do you most look forward to on Thanksgiving?

Applecrisp or apple pie?

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Healthy, tasty chocolate bars in every flavor!

TGIF people!  The beginning of this week crawled by but the last few days were a whirlwind — in a good way..err sorta. 

I have to say a big thanks for all your comments / advice on my possible narcolepsy.  I may give melatonin another try or, heck, I may just need to relax for a whole day and do nothing.  This is much much harder than it seems.

And is just me or is the early night fall causing you S.A.D.?  I feel so blah after 6p, wandering around like a lost puppy.  Sheesh, I’m full of “woe is me” this week ;)

One little treat I’ve been covering this week is Attune’s Chocolate Probiotic Bars!  Annelies (love her!) sent me a few samples to try.  I’d liken them to the Adora disks that are floating around the blogosphere, so of course I was willing to try.  I even got to select my own flavors…mwuahahaha!

This is what their site says regarding the bars:

a better way to get your daily probiotics

Mmmm…imagine the moment that you bite into the blissfully rich taste of chocolate. Now add the perfect amount of rice crisps for a satisfying crunch. Then imagine that delicious treat helps promote healthy digestive and immune systems. Add to that, our chocolate probiotic bars are gluten free and come in three decadent dairy free flavors, along with our luscious milk chocolate flavors and creamy white chocolate. Sounds dreamy. But it’s not a dream. It’s an Attune® probiotic bar. Everything that helps you feel your best should taste this good.

  • Most clinically tested probiotic strains
  • 3-8 grams of sugar
  • Excellent source of calcium
  • Only 80-90 calories  
  • 3 grams of fiber
  • Take it on the go
  •   

But wait for the flavors — talk about possibilities!

Chocolate Crisp Chocolate Crisp: Real, rich chocolate with rice crisps for a familiar, tasty crunch that’s just right!
Dark Chocolate Dark Chocolate*: The antioxidant power of smooth, dark chocolate with 68% cocoa content. A truly healthy pleasure!
Mint Chocolate Mint Chocolate: Real, rich chocolate and rice crisps mingle with refreshing mint flavor that will wake up your taste buds. That’s cool!
Blueberry Vanilla Blueberry Vanilla: Take a break from pure chocolate with a creamy, crispy combination that delivers the amazing flavor of fresh-picked blueberries and smooth vanilla ice cream. After one bite, you’ll be back for more.
Coffee Bean Dark Chocolate Coffee Bean Dark Chocolate: The richness of dark chocolate meets the satisfying crunch of whole coffee beans for a taste sensation that will wake up all of your senses
Raspberry Dark Chocolate Raspberry Dark Chocolate: A symphony of smooth dark chocolate jam-packed with sweet raspberries for a fresh, flavor combination that will make your tastebuds sing.
Milk Chocolate Almond Almond Milk Chocolate: The classic duo of milk chocolate and diced almonds come together for a satisfying, crunchy chocolate bar.

 

Photo Fail : Attune chocolate bar Win

When I got the package in the mail, I gently opened it ripped it apart to discover the goodies within.  I have no clue what was going on with the picture above.  I think I was trying to show you the little bars and at the same time getting highly impatient at waiting to have my first taste.

Below are the flavors I received and my thoughts:

  1. Blueberry Vanilla — this was so true to taste and perfectly sweet.  I actually only ate half and saved the other half because it satisfied my craving.  Well balanced blueberry and vanilla, although I was actually anticipating blueberry milk chocolate, not white — but hey, I’m an equal opportunity chocolate lover!
  2. Coffee Bean Dark Chocolate — I ate this evening with a glass of Pinot, because dark chocolate goes with Pinot right?  LOVE this flavor.  There were whole coffee beans within adding a nice crunch and it was the perfect percentage of dark cacao.  This bar easily measures up to gourmet chocolate covered espresso beans.
  3. Chocolate Crisp: the most straightforward of the three.  It kind of tasted like a more mild (less sweet) Nestle Crunch.  It was tasty, but I’d go with number 2.
  4. 

What flavor would you try?  Maybe Annelies will send you some ;)

Oh and any bloggers out there have lasik done? Please tell me your experience. I  have a consultation on Tuesday!

Happy Weekend =)

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Spiced Persimmon and Pecan Muffins, if you please

Tis Monday again, which I honestly don’t mind.  I actually enjoy being thoroughly busy and running from meeting to meeting.  I think it has to do with my desire to multitask.  Either way, bring it on Monday!  :)

Apparently, as of late, Cooking Light has become my new bff (best food friend) because I have yet another CL recipe to share with you.  The question is, will they hold up to the PB Banana Bread from last week???

Spiced Persimmon and Pecan Muffins

What you need:

CL Persimmon muffins

 

  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans, divided (I used TJ’s)
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar (I used light brown sugar)
  • 1 1/2 tsps baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1 cup plain fat-free yogurt
  • 1/3 cup mashed Hachiya persimmon and 1/2 cup diced peeled Fuyu persimmon (I used one type persimmon and mostly mashed for just under 1 cup total)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tsps peeled fresh ginger (I used 1 tsp dried powdered ginger)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (I used TJ’s organic dried whole cranberries..nice and tart!)
  • Cooking spray

Here’s what you do:

  • Preheat oven to 375 deg
  • Spray cooking spray on 2 dozen muffin tins
  • Bake 1/2 cup pecans on cookie sheet for 8 minutes (I baked for less as I started with roasted pecans)
  • Combine flours through cloves in a bowl and mix
  • In a separate bowl, combine yogurt and next 6 ingredients (through eggs) (I had the mashed persimmons in at this point, see pic)

Flours and mashed persimmons/liquids

  • Add liquid mixture into flour mixture until well incorporated
  • Fold in cranberries and toasted pecans

Batter up

  • Scoop batter into 18 (I made 23) muffin tins
  • Sprinkle each with remaining pecans
  • Bake for 17 minutes (until toothpick comes out clean)

They may just look a little something like this when you’re done ;)

Persimmony muffins just for you and you

So how were they?  Pretty-dang-good.  I don’t say great because I am still majorly sulking over my loss of PB BB last week.  These were honestly really tasty and were reminiscent of a carrot cake muffin with a pumpkin spice kick.  Gotta admit that I’m not a huge fan of nuts in my baked goods.  And I think I was sort of hoping that these would taste more like my bestie’s persimmon bread pudding, which is out of this world.

All that said, I’d give ‘em a go and serve ‘em up a breakfast to the masses.  They will definitely please =)

Oh and stay tuned for an early Thanksgiving feast I’m having on Saturday.  Mwuahahahahaha!!!!!

Have you cooked / baked with persimmons?  If so, what did you make?

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Try it: pumpkin gnocchi and some dump cake

Hope everyone had a great weekend — I’m so glad to hear many of you had planned indulgences with tasty treats, baking, and some me-time :)  That’s happiness!

It was a short whirlwind weekend for me in the Midwest, but the wedding was pretty darn fab and we had a great time.  AND Shoes-Day is going to be pics galore so check back tomorrow ;)

Earlier this month, I hit up World Market to simply pick up one bag of Pumpkin Spice coffee.  Well if you read here, you’ll see I picked up the coffee and a whole lotta other yum!  This happened to include the pumpkin gnocchi.  I decided to save it for a day when my pumpkin partner in crime could enjoy it as well.  Enter Thursday night!

Say yes to pumpkin pasta

In the background of this photo, you can see I’ve got a little bit of a sauce going, which is about 2 tbsp EVOO, 2 Light Swiss Laughing Cow cheeses, and healthy dose of dried Sage.  In less than 10 minutes you have a really quite flavorful Fall meal that looks like this:

Parmesan dusted sage pumpkin gnocchi

This was seriously tasty!  I highly recommend getting these pumpkin gnocchi at World Market and doing a similar sage sauce.  Really really fab! =)

Pre-dinner, I felt like doing some baking but seeing how my time seems to be nonexistent, I decided to do what any girl would and take a make a dump cake ;)  I’ve heard of ‘em, but never made one myself…until now!

I’ve been looking for a great excuse to use this can of blueberry filling:

Blueberry anything is a WIN for me

Let me walk you through just how easy this is, mmmkay?

  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg
  2. Take out a 9×13 pan (smaller would work too, but this is a good size to start with).  No need to grease the pan either.
  3. Open up your can of blueberry filling (or cherry, or pineapple, etc, etc)
  4. Pour evenly into bottom of your dish using a spatula
  5. Layer about 1/2 cup of sweetened coconut (why? because it’s in your cupboard so why not?).  You could also try raisins, craisins, nuts, oats, etc.
  6. Start sprinkling 1 box of yellow cake mix (I used Duncan Hines Vanilla) on top evenly over the entire pan.
  7. Cut up 1 stick of butter (yes I said ONE stick of butter) and distribute evenly on top of the cake mix.  I use Blue Bonnet in most of my baking.  You could also melt the buttter and drizzle over the top for better distribution.
  8. Put in oven and bake for 50-60 minutes.
  9. Remove, eat, enjoy :)

Here’s what a few of the steps look like:

Step 6, vanilla cake covering half so far

Step 7 -- Bring on the butta!

Ready to dig in

This tasted just like Blueberry cobbler with a hint of vanilla and coconut and was so freakin’ good.  I was a bit shocked actually.  It would have tasted even better with some vanilla bean ice cream ;)  Is this a healthy recipe?  Nope, sure isn’t, but it tasted damn good and ya know what?  Food should taste good! =)

Have you ever made dump cake?  What do you put in it?

Are you going to try pumpkin gnocchi?

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Shoes-day!

I know I left you with a bit of a teaser last week with the Louboutins and I’m going to make you wait a little bit longer ;)  You see, I want to pair them with some more fabulous than what was included in last week’s wear. 

Two other things appear in this version of Shoes-day: my bestie (no surprise there) and blonde hair.  Bare with me on this…I was born blonde and in the summer, I’d get sunkissed streaks.  In the winter, it tended towards a rather unfortunate shade of light brown, but it somehow worked.  Very early on I started getting my hair highlighted (my Mom was best friend’s with a Spa owner so it was like playing dress up, but with hair).  Periodically I’d “go dark” for about 3-4 months at a time, but inevitably returned to my, err, roots, sorta ;)  Then late 2009 I went brown again…and loved it.  The response was favorable from others too =)  But brown is a lot of upkeep if it’s darker than your normal hair color (and if you seem to be getting a pesky grey or two or ten..grr). 

Okay, back to blonde-ish once again.  I did the first go round after sitting in a chair for over 4 hours in August.  Torture really.  Then I had another appointment on Saturday.  I specifically said that I didn’t want to go too blonde and to go heavy on the low-lights.  But my hair certainly has a mind of its own and was not playing by the rules.  I ended up quite a bit blonder than I wanted to go.  Pooey. 

Let’s just get to the shoes then, huh? 

Bootie time

 

Just in time for Fall fashion, it’s booties!  Gotta love ‘em.  And want to know what else?  Both pair were under $30!  Yep, bestie A and I like our trends to come cheap at times so we have no shame testing out the latest fashions cheap-style before making a more costly investment.  Both these shoes were purchased at the end of 2008 (or early 2009?) from either GoJane.com or Alloy.com (don’t remember!).  Naava is not wearing any booties ;) 

Bootie kiss

 

A’s are on the left in grey and mine are on the right in taupe.  Both are size 7.5.  As for comfort, overall, they’re okay.  Mine have somewhat of a weird incline, but now that I’ve broken them in (after a whopping wear of maybe 4 times total), they mold rather nicely. 

I’m digging the bootie trend and have invested in some other pairs which will likely make an appearance ;) 

Do you own any booties?  If so, what brands are you loving?

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