Sunday, April 27, 2014

Carrot Cake Trifle

For our Easter supper this year I made this huge trifle out of carrot cake and cream cheese mousse. 
I love the way trifles look - all those pretty layers with different delicious flavors. 
This went over very well. I thought for sure I would have a ton left over that I would be eating for a week. 
It all disappeared. 
Never underestimate the power of a trifle. 
Those layers just do something to transform cake into something magical. 
FYI - Trifles are also a great way to use up a cake that has had "an accident" coming out of the pan. You know, broken into pieces or is really crumbly for some reason. Trifle layers hide all mistakes!

Carrot Cake Trifle

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
  pinch salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup mayonnaise
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups grated carrots
1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple, with juice
(The pineapple I buy is a little bigger than 8 oz but I still use the entire can and it turns out fine. )
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
3/4 cup dried cranberries

Cream Cheese Mousse
8 oz (1 pkg) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups whipping cream

1/4 cup pecans, toasted & finely chopped

Cake - Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line 3 - 8 inch round cake pans with parchment paper cut out to fit the bottom, lightly spray with cooking spray. Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in a bowl, and set aside.
Cream together the sugar, mayonnaise, eggs, and vanilla extract with an electric mixer until blended, scraping the bowl occasionally. Stir in the flour mixture, then fold in the carrots, pineapple, pecans, and cranberries. Divide evenly between the prepared cake pans.
Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan, and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.  
You will need 1 1/2 cakes to make the trifle - you can freeze the remaining 1 1/2 cakes for another use.
Cream Cheese Mousse - in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with the sugar and vanilla until smooth.
In another bowl, beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form.

Scrape the cream cheese into the whipped cream and beat briefly, until just combined.
Prepare trifle - Cut the 1 1/2 carrot cakes into 1 - 2 inch cubes.

Place one layer of cubes into a glass trifle dish (or flat bottomed salad bowl), covering the bottom of the dish.

Cover with 1/3rd of the mousse.

Then layer another layer of cubes, another 1/3 of the mouse, and the remaining cubes.

Top with remaining mousse and sprinkle with the chopped pecans.

Chill, covered, until ready to serve.

Aaaawwwww yeaaaaaah!
Look at all that carrot cake-y mousse-y goodness. 
A couple of things - I used our Carrot Cake With Pecans And Cranberries for the cake base. It makes 3 cakes - thus we use half and freeze half. You could use any carrot cake recipe but you want it to be moist and dense like this one!
Definitely toast the pecans - it adds to the flavors.
Don't be tempted to use a "regular" cream cheese frosting instead of the mousse - it will be too sweet. The mousse is light and fluffy and not terribly sweet, which goes wonderfully with the dense and moist carrot cake. 
Great for Easter or anytime you want to fancy up your dessert. 

Be sure to visit these great sites for tons of fun and tasty links: Carole's Chatter, The Mandatory Mooch, The Chicken Chick, Ms. enPlace, Hungry Happenings, Jam Hands

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Strawberry Cheesecake Oatmeal (Single Serving)

I am really having a lot of fun turning desserts into oatmeal flavors. 
All recipes that were inspired by decadent desserts that I am trying my best to not eat a lot of. 
Of course, I still want treats. 
I love desserts but I don't love that they go directly to my thighs. 
It's okay though. By coming up with these fancy schmancy baked oatmeal flavors I am still able to indulge in all my favorite flavors but in a healthier way. 
I think this strawberry cheesecake oatmeal was a big success. It really, really, really reminded me of strawberry cheesecake. In fact, I think I only had one bite where I was like "Oh, right, I'm eating oatmeal".
There is only 1 spoonful of cream cheese in this but you would never know it. It really has the flavor of a full-on cream cheese baked cheesecake. 
The best news - according to Myfitnesspal - the nutritional count is:
262 calories, 37 carbs, 5 fat, 16 protein. 

Strawberry Cheesecake Oatmeal (Single Serving)

1/3 cup Quaker Rolled Oats (or quick oats)
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp graham cracker crumbs
11/2 pkgs Sugar Twin Stevia
3 large strawberries, diced small
2 Tbsp 0 fat Greek yogurt, plain
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup 1% milk
1 egg white

Cheesecake Layers
1 Tbsp Philadelphia Light Cream Cheese, divided
1/2 pkg Sugar Twin Stevia

remaining Philly Light Cream Cheese (from above)
1/2 tsp graham cracker crumbs

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray a single serving, oven safe dish with cooking spray, set aside.
In a small bowl, combine oats, baking powder, graham cracker crumbs, Stevia, and diced strawberries. 
In another small bowl, whisk together Greek yogurt, vanilla, milk, and egg white until well combined.
In a small bowl, stir together the cream cheese and Stevia. Divide into 3 equal pieces. Place a piece of plastic wrap on a small work surface. Press the 3 pieces of cream cheese into flat discs - you may need to dip your fingertips in water to help prevent sticking.

Mix the Greek yogurt mixture into the oat mixture and stir to combine.
Place 1/3 of the mixture into the prepared oven safe dish.
Top with 1 of the cream cheese discs.

Layer another 1/3 of the cream cheese and another disc of cream cheese.

Top with remaining oatmeal mixture but DO NOT place the last cream cheese disc on top.

Bake at 350 for approx 20 - 30 minutes, until oatmeal is puffed up and browned and is not jiggly.

Remove from oven and place the remaining cream cheese disc and the graham cracker crumbs on top. Let sit about 5 minutes before serving. (It is very hot when it comes out of the oven!)

*Important Note* - You may want to place a pie plate or something similar directly below the dish in the oven as this tends to bubble up a bit and spill over. 

Who wouldn't want a big ol' bowl of strawberry cheesecake for breakfast?
Crazy people, that's who.
Okay, okay, okay. Maybe it's a little too much for your breakfast. (Pssshhh....whatever...) Make it your dessert then. 

Look at all that gooey, cheesecake-y goodness! 
It's only 262 calories. 
That's my kind of indulgence. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Warm Spinach Salad

I like bacon.
In fact... I love bacon. Sue does too. Her motto is "Bacon Makes Everything Better". It's true. 
We could fry up a pound or two of it and just dig in.
Unfortunately society tends to look at you sideways you when you just eat bacon and nothing else. 
I had to come up with a way to eat bacon but make seem like it was just a coincidence that I was doing so., no, no, I'm eating a healthy and nutritious salad - what do you mean there's bacon in there?
Bacon salad. 
Ummm.... I mean.... spinach salad which just so happens to also have bacon in it. 

Warm Spinach Salad

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 pkgs Sugar Twin Stevia
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
1/4 tsp paprika
dash of Worcestershire
1 clove garlic, minced
salt & pepper

5 cups baby spinach, torn
3 slices bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 of a purple onion, sliced thin
12 grape tomatoes, halved
5 button mushrooms, sliced

2 pecan halves, finely chopped
1 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, shredded

In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, Stevia, sesame seeds, paprika, Worcestershire, garlic, and salt & pepper. Set aside.

Place the 5 cups of spinach onto a serving plate (or bowl). Set aside.

In a large frying pan over medium heat, cook bacon until it just starts to crisp. Add in onions, tomatoes, and mushrooms.

Cook and stir until mushrooms soften - about 2 - 3 minutes.
Stir the dressing into the frying pan with the veggies. Simmer 2 - 3 minutes until veggies reach your desired level of doneness and dressing thickens slightly. 
Use a slotted spoon to remove the veggies and place them on the spinach. Then take a spoon and drizzle as much of the dressing from the pan over the salad as you like. 
Sprinkle with the chopped pecans and Parmesan cheese.

The spinach wilts a little from the heat of the veggies and makes this a lovely dinner that doesn't feel like a salad. I love the tangy dressing but found I didn't have to spoon too much on the salad as the cooked veggies retain a lot of the flavor and moisture. 
According to Myfitnesspal, the nutritional count is - 354 calories, 22 carbs, 16 fat, and 25 protein. 
That's for the whole recipe - it is a single serving!
(Salad only - 326 calories, 16 carbs, 15 fat, and 24 protein)
(Dressing only - 29 calories, 6 carbs, 1 fat, 1 protein)

See... it's healthy to eat bacon. 

Be sure to visit Hun...What's For Dinner and Mama Buzz for some fabulous links!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Skinny Caramel Macchiato Shake

I've decided that no fat Greek yogurt is one of the best inventions ever. You can use it to create the most magnificent treats and not lose anything in the substitution. 
This shake, for example, is stupendous. You do not miss the ice cream at all. It is still creamy, rich, and very thick thanks, in part, to the Greek yogurt. 
I haven't had a milkshake or a caramel frappe in months and months and months because I am watching what I eat and trying to cut out a lot of the sweets. That being said, I am aware that a little indulgence once in a while is good for the soul. 
When you can indulge in something phenomenal that also just happens to be not all that detrimental to your dietary intake then the stars align and all is right in the universe. 
This shake, for example, brings harmony and unity.
Don't believe me? 
Try it.
You'll see. 

Skinny Caramel Macchiato Shake

1/2 cup no fat Greek yogurt, plain, frozen
1/2 cup cappuccino, frozen
2 packs Sugar Twin Stevia
1/2 cup 1% milk
2 1/2 Tbsp Smuckers Fat Free Caramel Ice Cream Topping (or similar)
ice cubes

1 Tbsp Cool Whip, light
1/2 Tbsp Smuckers Fat Free Caramel Ice Cream Topping (or similar)

Place frozen Greek yogurt, frozen cappuccino, Stevia, milk, and first amount of caramel ice cream topping into a blender (food processor should work in a pinch).

Process until smooth. 
Add ice cubes (I used about 2 handfuls of ice) and process until desired thickness is reached. 
Pour into large glass and garnish with the Cool Whip and remaining caramel ice cream topping. 

The nutritional count for this amazingness - for the shake AND the toppings - (according to Myfitnesspal) is: 286 calories, 52 carbs, 2 fat, and 17 protein. 
I know the carbs are still kind of high BUT compared to a "regular" caramel milkshake it is way less. From what I can find online a "regular" caramel milkshake is about 550 or more calories, 72 to 82 carbs, 20 or so fat, and 10 or so protein. (That is an average of several different recipes I found on different sites.) 
Oh - by the way - I simply froze a regular cappuccino bought in a coffee shop in ice cube trays to get the "frozen cappuccino" called for in my recipe. I estimated 1/2 cup because I used 4 fairly large ice cubes. You can use more or less as you prefer. 

I can't decide if this is my favorite or if our Mounds Cheesecake Milkshake is my favorite. 
I guess it depends on my mood. Caramel is this one, chocolate is the other. 
I do know that both are incredibly decadent and you would never know they are "skinny". 

Be sure to check out Easy Life and Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons and My Turn (for us) and Horrific Knits for some fabulous links!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Low Carb Low Cal Waffles

I was pretty excited by how these turned out. The batter was thinner than I was hoping but the end product was better than I had expected. I made these in a silicone waffle pan that bakes in the oven but I am certain these would work in a regular waffle maker or even in a skillet as pancakes.  (Update - see below for pics of ones I made in my Belgian waffle maker) 
This makes 6 waffles, each 67 calories, 6 carbs, 3 fat, and 5 protein.
I make 3 waffles one serving so - 200 calories, 19 carbs, 8 fat, and 15 protein per serving. 
Add on 2 chopped strawberries and a tablespoon of maple syrup and you have breakfast for 250 calories, 29 carbs, 8 fat, and 15 protein. 
That works for me, thank you very much. 
Oh, by the way, these are also gluten free if you are worried about gluten!

Low Carb Low Cal Waffles

1/2 cup 0 fat Greek yogurt, plain
2 eggs
3 Tbsp 1% milk
2 pkgs Sugar Twin Stevia 
2 Tbsp ground flax 
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350. Spray silicone waffle pan with cooking spray, set aside.
In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt, eggs, and milk until smooth. 
In a smaller mixing bowl, stir together Stevia, flax, cornstarch, cinnamon, and baking powder.  

Slowly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until smooth.

Pour evenly into prepared pan. 

Bake at 350 for 10 - 15 minutes, until tops are browned and waffles have risen.

Carefully invert waffles onto cookie sheet.

Place back in oven and turn on broiler. Broil until tops are well browned and appear dry. About 5 minutes - keep an eye on them.

Serve hot with your favorite toppings. 
Only 67 calories per waffle... how awesome is that? I ate 3 and then froze 3. I reheated the frozen ones in the toaster oven (from frozen) and they turned out just perfect. 
These are great for breakfast or brunch or for when you want breakfast for dinner. They are also awesome little snacks for any time of day!

**UPDATE** - I made these in my Belgian waffles maker and they turned out fabulous! The recipe above made 2 Belgian (large) waffles. Recipe can easily be doubled to make 4 Belgian waffles! 

They are even crispier made in the waffle iron.

As pictured above - 1 Belgian waffle, 2 Tbsp whipping cream, 2 Tbsp no sugar syrup, and a few blueberries - breakfast for under 300 calories. Whaaaat whaaaat!! 

Baked Mexican Layered Dip

Sometimes the most delicious foods are just not terribly pretty.
Take this dip, for example. 
Not pretty at all...but so so so good. 
I brought it to our Easter dinner as an appetizer and it disappeared in about 10 minutes. The kids absolutely loved it. Sue and I have made the "regular" Mexican layered dip in the past and we both agreed this version is way better. Baking it in the oven just puts it over the top. 
Just be careful when you go to serve it. It is crazy hot when you take it out of the oven and will burn the heck out of your tongue if you dive into it. 
Not that it happened to me. 
Okay. It happened to me. 
I may have been a little too eager to try it. Lesson learned. Let it sit for a bit to save yourself some grief. 

Baked Mexican Layered Dip

Bottom Layer
1 can (14 oz) refried black beans
1/2 cup salsa

2nd Layer
1 cup prepared guacamole

3rd Layer
1 (8oz) brick cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
3 tsp taco seasoning

4th Layer
3/4 cup salsa

5th Layer

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray a 9 inch, deep dish pie plate with cooking spray, set aside.
In a small bowl, stir together the black beans and salsa.

Spread evenly in prepared pie pan.
Next - spread the guacamole over the beans in the pie plate.
In another bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Add in the sour cream and taco seasoning and beat until smooth.
Spread over the guacamole. **HINT - it helps to drop the mixture by spoonfuls over the dish and then gently spread them together. (see photo below)

Top the cream cheese mixture with the salsa. Spread evenly.
Finally - top with the shredded Tex-mex cheese. 
Here is the layers in one photos -- 

Bake in 350 oven for approx 30 minutes - until cheese is melty and dip is bubbling. 
Remove from oven and serve hot with Tostitos "Scoops" tortilla chips or regular tortilla chips. *Note - it is extremely hot when it comes out of the oven - be careful*

You can make this as spicy as you like. I used mild salsa but you could easily use medium or hot, you could add some cayenne pepper to the taco seasoning or a dash of hot sauce, you could use a different blend of cheese - ie: Kraft Habanero shredded cheese
Also, the amounts are forgiving too: For the salsa layer I just used up what I had left (3/4 cup) but you could use 1/2 cup or a full cup if you wanted to.  And for the amount of cheese, we like things cheesy so we used a good 2 handfuls of the Tex-Mex but you could cut back if you wanted to. 
Another note - I cooked this for 20 minutes, to where the cheese was just melting, took it out of the oven, wrapped it in a towel to keep it warm, then drove to my sisters house (15 minutes) and popped it in her oven for another 10 minutes or so to finish cooking it. 
You could just as easily prepare this ahead of time and keep it refrigerated until ready to cook it. Just remember to bring it out of the fridge while your oven is preheating to warm it up a bit. 

Be sure to stop by these blogs and check out all the great links! - The Chicken Chick, Ms. enPlace, Hungry Happenings, Hun...What's For Dinner?Carole's Chatter