Easy Cheese Plate

I have been known to overdo it when it comes to entertaining. In my past life, I would have steered away from this easy cheese plate, for fear it was too easy to impress. This has lead to disaster on more than one occasion (see: Mother’s Day). Add this to the list of the Taste Tester’s great annoyances. He has been known to complain or even be hesitant to host certain events due to this charming quality. But, he has a point. When you are overwhelmed and frazzled, it doesn’t really matter how good the food tastes, your guests probably aren’t going to have a great time. After all, your guests came to see YOU, not the back of your head as you stir pots and pull things in and out of the oven and maybe set off the fire alarm.

That’s why, when it comes to entertaining, I have tried to adopt the keep it simple policy. I have found that guests are impressed enough with your presence and the fact that they are being served a delicious meal. No need to make complex dishes, just focus on simplicity to maximize time for enjoying one and other’s company. Read more

Shepherd’s Hand Pies

In honor of the holiday yesterday, I wanted to drop in today with a quick little celebration post. What, you didn’t know yesterday was a holiday? Your work and school didn’t close in honor of National Pi Day? That’s Pi, not Pie, as in 3.14 or March 14. So maybe it’s not the most famous holiday, but any holiday observed with the eating of pie is worthy of celebration to me. So, if you forgot to celebrate yesterday, let’s roll out our crusts and make up for it this weekend.

Read more

Green Muffins with Banana and Kiwi

Lately, I have been on a bit of a smoothie kick. I would say the Taste Tester and I have been on this smoothie kick, except that the Taste Tester has been less than enthusiastic and supportive about this recent habit. I love the idea of starting our day with a whole bunch of fruits and veggies. TT, on the other hand, loves the idea of starting his day with nothing but coffee and maybe a granola bar mid-morning. And, I will admit, some of my smoothies have been less than delicious. Without going into too many gory details, let’s just say that sweet potato in a smoothie doesn’t exactly work. We have always been protein shake drinkers, but I was recently given a NutiBullet Rx, which has greatly broadened the realm of fruits and veggies that I can blend into a smoothie. This thing will blend anything. I have been using it for several weeks now and it consistently produces completely smooth smoothies in 1-2 minutes. (#notsponsored!). The introduction of this new appliance and the cookbook that came with it has lead to the purchase of many items I would not have previously considered purchasing. One such item is the gigantic box of pre-washed spinach.

Read more

Heart Shaped Wontons

Wayyy back in the day when I first started this blog and had nothing but time and next to no obligations to fill it, I was very creative in the kitchen. I had lots of ideas, some of which never made it to the blog because they were disastrous and some of which never made it to the blog because I was either unsatisfied with the photos or lazy or a combination of both. One of such recipes was a wonton recipe, which I have re-created several times but never actually posted. The idea was quite simple. Basically, I got wonton wrappers, filled them with a mixture of habanero jelly and cream cheese, fried them, and blew the Taste Tester’s mind with their deliciousness. It was a super simple, super impressive, and super delicious recipe. And, I have been keeping it from you for YEARS.

Annd that doesn’t change today. Instead, today, I have taken that recipe and turned it into these cherry, Nutella, adorably heart shaped wontons. I will be honest though, once you have mastered this recipe you can change the filling to pretty much anything and it will taste phenomenal. Read more

Chickpea Party Mix

What’s your favorite snack food? It’s hard to pick just one. There are many, many versions of chips, nachos, dips, etc. that I can eat without stopping. But, if I had to pick just one thing that can be found in a bag, I have to choose party mix. My number one favorite is that Gardetto’s brand party mix that my parents used to take in the car on every road trip, along with Milk Duds and maybe some Twizzlers. And of course Gatorade for my dad. A close second would be Chex mix, which is quite similar to Gardetto’s except for what it adds in crunchy cereal goodness it detracts in subpar rye chips. Read more

Meal Plan for January 16-22

So, I’ll get to the meal plan in a bit, but let me just brag on myself for one whole week of no alarm snoozing! I didn’t think it was possible, but I have made it through. I feel like I have made it through the hardest part and it will only get easier going forward. I keep reminding myself that if I stick with it, eventually the sun will be out when I wake up!!

Let me interrupt this bragging session with a little truth: I totally got out of bed when my alarm went off 5/5 days last week. BUTTTT, on Friday, I hopped out of bed, got dressed, took my dogs outside, THEN decided I was way too tired to work out and went to crawl back in bed for an hour. So, not perfect, but technically I didn’t hit the snooze alarm.

I am doing so much better with working out and I am feeling better because of it. Working out in the morning is crucial during this busy season. There have been many days that I have intended to do a second workout in the evening but completely run out of time. Having those workouts finished in the morning makes me feel not so guilty about this.

I have also been eating way better and mostly stuck with the meal plan last week. I ate dinner twice at work, both times opting to order out instead of packing a dinner. Right now, my dinner-at-work nights are spontaneous and sporadic, so I haven’t been able to plan ahead. I have been able to keep things pretty healthy by mostly ordering soups and salads. As the season wears on, I may have to revise my approach.

Last week, I did have time to try out one of my new recipes, this salmon recipe from Cooking Light magazine. Both TT and I actually liked the fish, which is new for us as we are not big fish eaters. I was not impressed with the potatoes, which may have been due to me adding wayyyy too much oil. Either fry the potatoes or don’t, but don’t go half way like I did. You will end up consuming all the grease, with none of the delicious crispiness. The horseradish sauce was also delicious, even TT, who does not like horseradish, enjoyed it. I replaced the fresh dill with dried as that’s what I had on hand.

Yesterday, TT and I attended the brunch buffet which did not disappoint. I was able to control myself around the shrimp cocktail this year, opting to eat breakfast first and save the cheese and shrimp for the lunch portion of the meal. Topped off with an ice cream sundae, it was a great meal as usual. But, after a big, unhealthy meal on Sunday, I really have to watch my “treats” this week, especially at work.

Here’s the meal plan for the week:


Bulletproof coffee or smoothies/protein shakes, keeping it simple and healthy.


Leftover Mediterranean food from the weekend, supplemented with sliced cucumbers and salad. I am limiting myself to two yogurts per week. This week, Siggis was on sale so I stocked up. I am so pumped to try the peach flavor!


On Sunday, I made chili and cornbread to keep as leftovers for the week, as I will likely have to eat at work a few times. Hopefully TT does not get tired of eating the same thing 3-4 times this week.

Monday: This week’s Recipe Club recipe, which can be found here and on my Facebook page.

Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday/Friday: Combination of me eating at work, leftovers from Sunday and Monday, and one night, a very modified version of this recipe (TT doesn’t like soy sauce or black pepper) that I read about on Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity, which I mentioned in last week’s post.

Apologies for the lack of a plan! 3 more weeks!

Weekly Meal Plan: What We’re Eating (or interested in eating) This Week

One thing many healthy lifestyle and food blogs agree on is meal plans. If you want to eat healthier, lose weight, live a healthier life, etc.; it seems that the key is meal plan, meal plan, meal plan. I don’t disagree. Knowing what you are going to eat for the week definitely takes a lot of the opportunities for “bad” eating off the table. When we are pressed for time, stressed, and most importantly HUNGRY (or even hangry), it opens the door to bad food decisions that we may live to regret. Setting aside time on Saturday or Sunday to prepare for the coming week can make a huge difference in the success of failure of your healthy eating plans.

To help keep myself honest, each weekend, I will share my weekly meal plan with you. Hopefully, you will find it inspiring and it can be a useful resource in planning your week as well. This will also help ME in actually planning my meals and thinking about the coming week. I will share what challenges I anticipate for the week and how I plan to deal with them.  So without further ado I present: Read more

The Recipe Club

My sister's version


Yesterday, I posted about my New Year’s Resolutions. I am happy to report that for the second day in a row, I woke up with no snooze alarm! Lest you think I am a bastion of willpower, let me let you in on a secret. At night, before I go to bed, I set the alarm on my cell phone. Then, I get out of bed and put my phone far out of my arm’s reach. Then, in the morning, I am forced to get out of bed to turn off the alarm. Once I’m out of bed, my dogs are looking at me longingly and my workout clothes are all laid out, so I figure I might as well go ahead and get dressed instead of crawling back into bed and hitting that snooze button.

So far, this technique is working for me. The Taste Tester (TT), however, is not a fan. Jealous of my newfound resolve and willpower and also a big believer in snoozing, he has decided to set his alarm earlier than my alarm, thereby waking me up and giving me the effect of the snooze alarm, even though I am not actually hitting the snooze button. The joke’s on him though, because this gives me the best of both worlds. I still get the gradual wake-up the snooze alarm gives me, but I am also out of bed at just the right time. No over-sleeping and starting the day off rushing. Instead I am up at 6:30, ride my exercise bike, make my coffee, and slowly get ready for the day. Aside from letting my dogs out 3-4 times, chasing one dog up and down a steep hill in our backyard because she won’t come inside, and spending part of the morning outside in frigid temperatures in my bathrobe; it’s pretty much the perfect start to an excellent day. Read more

New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year! Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions? If you did, have you abandoned them yet? Because New Year’s Day is a holiday and my workplace observed the holiday yesterday (Monday), I decided not to start my New Year’s resolutions until today. So far, I am 100% on-track to achieving my resolutions, but it’s only been one day.

According to statistics, most of us (somewhere between 80-92%, studies disagree), will totally fail at our New Year’s resolutions. Why is that? Well, it seems most of us make resolutions that are either impossible to achieve or impossible to gauge success. For example, maybe you resolved to lose weight or live a healthier lifestyle. Well, how exactly can you measure that? Technically, if you lose one pound, you have “lost weight.” But, I imagine most who resolve to lose weight want to lose more than 1 pound. And, what if you lose 5 or even 10 pounds but then gain it all back over the course of the year?

So, today, as we officially get back into our new year routines, let’s take a minute to re-vamp our resolutions and set ourselves up for success, shall we? Read more

Reese’s Peanut Butter Brownie Bites

Second on the list of fastest cookie recipes is a recipe that is not a cookie at all. Or really even a holiday treat per se. At least I don’t associate these with the holidays. I associate these Reese’s Peanut Butter Brownie Bites with every single event which required me/my mom to show up with a dessert. This was definitely my mom’s go-to recipe when I was growing up because it checks all the boxes that moms (and everyone else!) needs: Easy. Fast. Can keep all ingredients on hand. And it has the perfect job for little helpers, whose little fingers are perfect for unwrapping all those Reese’s cups. Read more