Posts Tagged With: dessert

Patriotic Treats

 

 Wow. Summer is flying by even though it feels as though it has barely begun up here in the northern states. I’m doing my darndest to soak up every ounce of sunshine I can while it lasts. Lots of grilling, outdoor running/biking, and the occasional patio happy hour session.

Every year over the 4th of July holiday, we spend time with my fam up at their lake home in Turtle Lake, Wisconsin. This year we were able to spend 4 full days relaxing and enjoying the perfect weather. The addition of the new “Relaxation Station” turned out to be one of the best ideas ever!

relaxation station 

Per the norm, there were LOTS of fireworks in our back yard, beergaritas, tons of grilling, and waaaaaay to much food. Our fun-filled weekend also included a 10k run, a Corvette joyride, mini donuts and Ferris wheel rides, rocking out to live music, and campfire guitar playing/singing. LOVE.

 
firework

corvette

 

This year I decided to contribute to the sweet treats and for some reason felt the need to be patriotic. I also love me a good fruit pizza. This is super charming and can be whipped up in no time.

 4th of july fruit pizza

 

4th of July Fruit ‘Za

Roll of pre-made sugar cookie dough (16 oz)

1 container strawberries

½ cup blueberries

1 Hershey’s chocolate bar

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup granulated Splenda

8 oz cream cheese

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Spread the sugar cookie dough over a cookie sheet. Ideally you’d have a small enough cookie sheet to cover the entire thing. As you can see, I did not.
  3. Bake cookie dough 10-13 minutes or until lightly golden.
  4. Soften cream cheese in the microwave for 20-30 seconds.
  5. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, Splenda, and sugar until smooth.
  6. Remove cookie from the oven and allow to cool before applying the frosting.
  7. Spread cream cheese frosting over the entire cookie.
  8. Cut strawberries into halves. Top your cookie with blueberries and strawberries, along with your Hershey’s chocolate for the flag pole.

 

How fun is that? Almost too cute to eat. Well maybe not – I think I had 4 pieces in about 5 minutes.

 

 

What’s your favorite holiday-themed dessert?

Categories: Miscellaneous Musings, Recipes | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

What’s really in that sweetener?

 

Artificial-sweetener
I have a teensy weensy obsession with coffee (as if you didn’t already know that from posts like this one and this one).

I also prefer that my coffee taste like a candy bar, so I tend to load it up with flavored creamers and fake sugar. Naughty. Although I do consider myself a bit of a health nut, I just can’t seem to break this habit and switch to black coffee. Bitter… icky…boring…ugh. Can’t do it.

My little cancer packet of choice has always been Sweet ‘N Low, as it tends to be the sweetest of the many brands in the “fake sugar” category. I wanted to fully understand my addiction, so I did a little research on the various artificial sweeteners and their effects.

  • The artificial sweetener in Sweet ‘N low is saccharine, which is an organic molecule created out of petroleum (whoa) and introduced in the early 20th century. In the ‘70’s, animal studies found that it caused cancer in several organs and a warning was added to the label. This warning has since been removed but the stigma remains that saccharine is not completely safe for consumption.
  • If you’re more of a NutraSweet or Equal fan, your artificial sweetener of choice is Aspartame, which is a combination of phenylalanine and aspartic acid with methanol (2 amino acids). The FDA has done a number of safety evaluations of Aspartame, and reports have come back free and clear. However, other studies have shown that this sweetener may be an “excitotoxin”, like MSG, which can cause brain damage.
  • Splenda, which is made from Sucralose, may seem to be the least offensive of these first 3 little artificial devils. Sucralose is essentially sugar which has been chemically refined so that our bodies are unable to metabolize it. Thus, it’s calorie-free. Sucralose is also 600 (!) times sweeter than regular sugar.
  • Finally, there’s stevia, which is a calorie free, herb-based sweetener. There’s nothing artificial about it, which immediately gives it a vote up in my book. A number of brands have popped up, including Truvia, Pure Via, Sweet Leaf, Steviva, etc. Stevia is safe for diabetics – it will not spike your insulin levels.

 

One tidbit I was already familiar with is the fact that many artificial sweeteners “trick” your body into thinking it’s getting sugar. According to MaximizedLiving.com, fatty tissues can perceive sweetness, and although artificial sweeteners have no calories, they can cause your metabolism to slow. This tricks your brain into eating even more calories, which will then be stored as fat. So that mid-afternoon Diet Coke may not be so harmless after all.

 

The Verdict

Reading up on the various types of artificial sweeteners was a real eye-opener form me. Ideally, we would be able to appreciate our coffee, tea, and baked goods without the aid of sugar or other sweeteners (right!). Unfortunately for many of us, the sweetness is what makes these foods and beverages enjoyable. That tasty morning coffee is one of my favorite reasons to get out of bed in the morning 🙂

For me, it comes down to choosing the lesser of several “evils”. Given the many studies that have pronounced saccharine and aspartame unsafe, I decided to switch my daily sweetener to Stevia (or more specifically, Truvia brand). However, it’s important to read the labels carefully. Many brands contain additives (even Truvia is blended with erythritol – a sugar alcohol). If you’ve just gotta sweeten, pure Stevia would be ideal, along with other natural, unprocessed sweeteners such as honey and agave nectar. I do feel better knowing that the first thing I put in my body every morning is not chemically processed. See ya later, Sweet ‘N Low.

 

What’s your favorite sweetener? 

Categories: Miscellaneous Musings, More Eats | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

After Dinner Coffee-Cube Cocktail

coffee cube cocktail

 

I’m officially getting old. After a big family meal where overeating is inevitable, I could really use a nap. I’m finally beginning to understand why old people always need a cup of coffee after dinner to level themselves back out (or at least stay awake long enough to eat dessert).

Personally, I’m a bigger fan of the after-dinner drink. Just ask my friends about my go-to “banana Russian”. It’s life-changing, I promise. But for those days when you just need a little caffeine boost after dinner, I bring you the coffee-cube cocktail.

The prep work: make a pot of coffee and pour it into ice cube trays. It should fill about 2 trays. I used Dunkin’ Donuts French vanilla. Because, well, it’s the bomb.

Wait for your freezer to do it’s magic.

After dinner, put 4-5 cubes in your glass and add the following:

–          1 ½ oz Cake flavored vodka

–          1 ½ oz Kahlua

–          2 oz Bailey’s

 

I suppose the proper name for this might be a “coffee-cube cake butterfly”, but that doesn’t roll off the tongue very well.  If it sounds a little dangerous, you could always sub out the Bailey’s for milk. But then it would be called a “coffee-cube cake Russian”.

Call it whatever you want. I call it delicious.

 

Bonus: Unlike ice cubes that water down your drink as they melt, the coffee cubes just make it taste better! Enjoy!

Categories: More Eats, Recipes | Tags: , | 3 Comments

3-Ingredient Pumpkin Spice Cookies

pumpkin spice cookies

News Flash – I don’t bake. Ever. Or as Taylor Swift would say… like ever. ever. ever.

But I am a HUGE fan of pretty much anything with pumpkin in it. And I recently learned a little trick.  Write this down. Or don’t, ‘cuz you’re smart and you will remember. Combine cake mix with almost anything, bake it, and it’s gonna taste awesome.

We were headed to a party at a friend’s place and I wanted to bring some kind of a treat. Per the norm, I wanted it to be super simple. Enter, these fab cookies.

3-Ingredient Pumpkin Spice Cookies

You’ll need: 1 box spice cake, 1 15-oz can of pumpkin, and cream cheese frosting.

pumpkin spice cake

 

Mix the pumpkin and spice cake mix together, plop some cookie-sized spoonfuls on a greased cookie sheet, and bake for 35-45 minutes or until they reach your desired consistency. They will be very soft. you could also bake it in cake form if you prefer. Personally, I’m more of a cookie gal.

Once your cookies cool, top them with cream cheese frosting. I also sprinkled pumpkin pie spice on top for a little extra pumpkin yumminess. So I guess they are actually FOUR ingredient cookies. I really need to stop lying to you like that.

These were a hit at the party and were gobbled up in no time.

 

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Frozen Pumpkin Mousse with Graham Cracker Crumbles

You know how sometimes, you intend to make something specific, then it morphs into something entirely different? Yup, me too. That’s what happened to me on Thanksgiving. I had planned on making a creamy, fluffy, pumkin-flavored dip. As you may have deduced fom the title of this post, that wasn’t the end result…although it would have been mighty tasty had I left it as-is. In fact, the fluffy, creamy pumkiny dip was so good I was eating it in large spoonfuls out of the bowl. An apple or graham cracker simply would not pick up enough of this stuff to satisfy.

So  now that you understand how my goofy brain came up with this recipe, I’ll shut up and just give it to you already.

Frozen Pumpkin Mousse with Graham Cracker Crumbles

Ingredients

1 15-oz can of pumpkin
3/4 c brown sugar
3/4 c plain greek yogurt
2/3 container of cool whip
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
graham crackers, crumbled

Directions

Mix together the pumpkin with brown sugar, vanilla, and spices, then mix in the greek yogurt until fully blended. fold in the cool whip until combined. Try not to eat the whole bowl on accident before portioning it out.

Spoon into individual ramekins or (in my case), cute little teacups. Top with crumbled graham crackers and freeze until set. Remove from freezer about 20 minutes prior to serving to allow dessert to soften slightly.

What’s your favorite pumpkin recipe?  I can’t seem to get enough. SHOW. ME. The PUMPKIN!

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