Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pumpkin Gingerbread Loaf

Before I started this cooking/recipe blog, I used to occasional post recipes on my “other” blog.  This is a repost from that blog, but when I made this bread the other night I realized that it wasn’t on this blog!  This recipe is delicious and a must for fall baking, so I felt it necessary to to share.

Ever since the first day of Fall last week, a lot of the foodie blogs that I read have been posting pumpkin recipes.  I LOVE pumpkin!  So, I was inspired to jump on the pumpkin bandwagon and bake something scrumptious. 

This afternoon I baked this incredible Pumpkin-Gingerbread Loaf.  I've always loved regular pumpkin bread (thanks to my mom at Christmas time) and this bread adds the ginger element, which just makes it outstanding.  It's moist and comforting with the pumpkin flavor and then it's got a slight ginger kick.  YUM!  I could easily eat half a loaf or 3-4 muffins...it is THAT good.




I found the recipe a few years ago on Recipezaar.  Since I'm always trying to make recipes a bit healthier, I cut back on the sugar by 1/2 a cup, used whole wheat flour and subbed half egg whites for the eggs.  It's not much of a "healthy" modification, but I figured even a little bit could make it more figure friendly.  The recipe makes 2 big loafs (9-inch pans).  I like to make 1 loaf and 12 muffins, so that I can have somewhat of portion control. :)  It also freezes really well.  If you decide to do muffins, they'll take about 22 minutes to bake.  Seriously, you have to make this bread...it is AMAZING and a wonderful Fall treat!





12 muffins, minus 1 due to Quality Assurance. :)

Pumpkin Gingerbread Loaf by Recipezaar

Printer-Friendly Version

  • 1 cup margarine/butter
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 teaspoons ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup nuts (optional)
  1. Cream together margarine, sugar, and eggs.

  2. Combine all dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture alternately with water and pumpkin.

  3. Beat well.

  4. Pour into 3 well greased loaf pans.

  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minute or until toothpick comes out clean.

Monday, November 8, 2010

We Have a Winner!

Thanks to all of those who entered my CSN Stores GIVEAWAY!  Welcome to those new readers of Sara’s Sweets and to you old readers, thanks for sticking around. :)  Without further ado…the lucky winner, picked at random, is…

3 Boys and an Old Lady!!

Congrats, Old Lady!  I’ll be in contact with you very soon.

Thanks again to all who entered!  And of course, many thanks to CSN Stores for allowing me to have this GIVEAWAY!  Have a great week everyone.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Paste e Fagoli and a GIVEAWAY!

As a preferred blogger for CSN Stores, I have the opportunity to host another giveaway for one of you fine readers!  Yay!  By now you all know that CSN Stores has over 200 online stores with a ton of different items to choose from.  You need new dining chairs?  No problem.  What about a ceiling fan?  They got it.  Or how about a tool case?  You know they have one!  And now is your chance to get something that you need!  Those great folks at CSN Stores have offered one of my lucky readers a $50 gift code to any of their sites.

CSN Stores

I’ll be randomly selecting one lucky reader to win this GIVEAWAY!  There are 3 ways to enter and all entries must be received by midnight (AZ Time) on Saturday, November 6th and here’s how you enter:

  1. Leave a comment telling me which what restaurant recipe you wish you had the “copycat” recipe for

  2. Follow ME on Twitter @saraboff, or if you already do, let me know

  3. Become a Follower of Sara’s Sweets, or let me know if you already are

*Please leave separate comments to let me know that you’re a follower on Twitter or of the blog.

And now onto today’s recipe!  I enjoy Olive Garden very much.  I could go there and eat soup, salad and breadsticks all the time.  Actually, I could go there and just make a meal out of the breadsticks…but that’s besides the point.  One of their soups that I like is Pasta e Fagoli, and it just so happens that in my Top Secret Restaurant Recipe cookbook, there is a  recipe for it!  This soup is delicious.  It’s full of beans, meat and little, funny shaped pasta that I’ve never bought before!  Plus, it is hearty, it’s warm and it’s just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  It’s perfect dinner or lunch a winter day! Now if only I had the recipe for the breadsticks from Olive Garden…






Pasta e Fagoli, Copycat Recipe from Olive Garden

Printer-Friendly Version


  • 1 pound Ground beef
  • 1 small Onion
  • 1 large Carrot
  • 3 stalks Celery
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 2 14.5-oz cans Diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz can Red kidney beans
  • 1 15-oz can Great northern beans
  • 1 15-oz can Tomato sauce
  • 1 12-oz can V-8 juice
  • 1 tablespoon White vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Thyme
  • 1/2 pound Ditali pasta


  1. Brown the ground beef in a large saucepan or pot over medium heat. Drain off most of the fat. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic; sauté for 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients (except pasta), and simmer for 1 hour.
  2. About 50 minutes into simmer time, cook the pasta in 1 1/2 to 2 quarts of boiling water over high heat. Cook for 10 minutes or just until pasta is al dente, or slightly tough. Drain.
  3. Add the pasta to the large pot of soup. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes and serve.

Monday, October 18, 2010


One food that makes me think of fall is apples.  I love apples!  Gala apples are my favorite.  They are sweet and crisp, and I buy them in 10lb bags from Sam’s Club.  Since I was away from home for a few weeks, I didn’t have a chance to eat many apples and I was worried they weren’t going to survive much longer.  So, I needed an easy recipe to use up my apples…and that is were this delicious recipe comes into play!

I Googled “applesauce” and this was the first recipe that came up.  I honestly had no idea that applesauce was so easy to make!  I cut up some apples, added some sugar and spice and ta-da, 20 minutes later, I had applesauce.  Who knew!?  The Gala apples are wonderful to use in this recipe because of their natural sweetness and I subbed brown sugar for white.  I took a taste-test bite after I mashed up the apples and boy-oh-boy, warm homemade applesauce is mighty delicious!  Jeremy even said, “Ya know, this is better than the store bought, jar kind.”  That it is, Jeremy.  That it is.



My beautiful Gala apples.



Homemade Applesauce

Printer-friendly Version


  • 4 apples - peeled, cored and chopped (I didn’t peel mine and it was still good!)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. In a saucepan, combine apples, water, sugar, and cinnamon. Cover, and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until apples are soft. Allow to cool, then mash with a fork or potato masher.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

And the Winner is…

Thanks to all of those who entered my CSN Stores GIVEAWAY!  All thanks to all the new readers who somehow came across my blog and entered.  I love new readers!  Without further ado…the lucky winner, picked at random, is…

Natalie from The Sweets Life!! 

If you guys aren’t familiar with Natalie’s blog, you should check it out because she makes all sorts of drool-worthy foods!  Congrats, Natalie!  I’ll be emailing you soon.

Thanks again to all who entered!  And of course, many thanks to CSN Stores for allowing me to have this GIVEAWAY!  On a side note, I’m home for a whole week before I head out on a business trip, so I’ll have a few new recipes going up soon!  Have a great week everyone.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

I’m Still Around…and Just to Prove it, I’m Having a Giveaway

Hello friends!  I’m so sorry that I haven’t posted a delicious recipe since the beginning of September.  It’s my travel season for work and sadly, I haven’t been home lot lately to cook!  But don’t worry, only a few more trips and I’ll be back in the kitchen cooking up some tasty treats.  In the meantime, to make it up to you, it’s time for a GIVEAWAY!!  The sensational people at CSN Stores have offered one of my lucky readers a $50 gift code to any of their sites.  If you remember from past giveaways, CSN Stores has a variety of products, such as dutch ovens, baking molds and even shoes!!

Nordicware 51000 - 6Pleaser SED219/BPW - Seduce-219 Pump in Baby Pink / White Patent

Cooking supplies AND shoes all in one place?!  I’m SO there! :)

I’ll be randomly selecting one lucky reader to win this GIVEAWAY!  There are 3 ways to enter and all entries must be received by midnight (AZ Time) on Thursday, October 7th and here’s how you enter:

  1. Leave a comment telling me which you would choose: new cooking supplies or new shoes

  2. Follow ME on Twitter @saraboff, or if you already do, let me know

  3. Become a Follower of Sara’s Sweets, or let me know if you already are

*Please leave separate comments to let me know that you’re a follower on Twitter or of the blog.

Good luck!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Crack Brownies

Hi there, blog readers!  I hope you are all doing well, and I hope that none of you are on a diet.  If you are on a diet, I beg you, please, please, please look away right now!  I’m not joking.  The recipe that is soon to follow is not for those trying to watch your waistline.  It’s part brownie, part rice krispie treat and part peanut butter cup.  You will not be able to eat just one!  Not looking away?  Well, alright, but don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Mmmm.  I came across this recipe for “Better-Than-Crack Brownies” on a blog that I read and the minute I saw the picture I just knew that I had to make them.  I’m not even that big of a fan of brownies or rice krispie treats…however, put them together with a layer of peanut butter cups in between and you’ve won me over.

Jeremy asked me to make a dessert for him for the week, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try this recipe.  Sadly though, he wasn’t crazy about this recipe.  He said it was “too peanut buttery.”  Excuse me?  Did my husband really just say that?  I think I was in shock for a few minutes after those words came out of his mouth.  How did I marry someone who doesn’t share my love/obsession with peanut butter?  I don’t think that anything can ever be “too peanut buttery,” especially when paired with chocolate.  Oh well, more for me then. 

This brownies are very rich, but I love that the rice krispies add a bit of lightness and crunch to them.  They are so delicious!  The evening after I made these, we went to dinner and movie with our friends, Jayla.  I brought us each a “Better-Than-Crack-Brownie” to sneak into the theater and they loved them.  I even ended up given them extras.  Being so delicious and having the word “crack” in their name, the brownie’s name somehow got shorten and by the end of dinner, Jeremy and Jayla were calling me a crack dealer who was sneaking crack brownies into the theater, in my purse.  Good thing the cops weren’t around.  I have a feeling that our conversation about crack brownies could have sounded a bit suspicious. :)










So good!

Crack Brownies, adapted from How Sweet It Is 

  • 1 batch box brownies
  • 1/2 cup salted almonds
  • 3/4 cup chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups
  • 1 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups cups Rice Krispies Cereal
  1. Mix brownies according to directions, and bake for 20-25 minutes in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Remove and top with peanuts and peanut butter cups, and bake for 4-6 minutes more.
  2. While they are finishing baking, melt chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter. Stir in cereal. Remove brownies from oven and evenly pour chocolate mixture over top.
  3. Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.
  4. Cut, eat and use serious self control to avoid eating half the pan.

Monday, August 9, 2010

And the Winner is…

Hello friends!  Sorry for the delay in announcing the winner of my CSN Stores GIVEAWAY, but I was out of town this weekend and just too busy to blog!  First of all, let me thank all of those who commented, became followers of me and my dog on Twitter and became followers of this blog.  Never before have I had so many comments, nor did I know that so many people read my blog.  So, thanks for boosting my confidence. :)

Alright, I know you’ve all been anxiously awaiting the results, so let’s get to them.  With the selection help of Random.org, the lucky winner of the $50 CSN Stores gift card is…

#56 - The Tree Huggin Momma


Congratulations, Tree Huggin Momma!  I’ll be emailing you within the next day with details on your $50 CSN Stores gift card.

Thanks again to all who entered and to CSN Stores!  Stay tuned to Sara’s Sweets for more delicious recipes and giveaways in the future!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

CSN Stores GIVEAWAY & Cinnamon Rolls

Those wonderful people at CSN Stores have done it again.  They are allowing me to host a GIVEAWAY on my blog to one of you lovely readers!  Awesome, right?

CSN features over 200+ stores with tons of products at incredible prices.  They offer le creuset cookware, furniture, pet products, outdoor products and so much more.   But what are they offering you, you ask?  CSN has graciously offered to give one of my readers a $50 gift card in the form of a promotional code that can be used on any product on their site....yippee!

I’ll be randomly selecting one lucky reader to win this GIVEAWAY!  There are 5 ways to enter and all entries must be received by midnight (AZ Time) on Friday, August 6th and here’s how you enter:

  1. Leave a comment telling me what you would spend your $50 gift card on at CSN Stores

  2. Follow ME on Twitter @saraboff

  3. Follow CSN on Twitter @csnstores

  4. Follow MY DOG on Twitter @dieselboff (he’s pretty funny!)

  5. Become a Follower of Sara’s Sweets

*If you become of follower on Twitter or on Google Reader, leave separate comments to let me know.

Alright now let’s get onto today’s recipe because it sure is a good one!  About a week ago while at work, I got the sudden urge to make cinnamon rolls.  It was really weird.  I haven’t eaten a cinnamon roll in quiet awhile and I’ve never made cinnamon rolls before, but knowing that I had a packet of yeast at home, I figured, why not!

In my search for a recipe, I found 2 that I liked.  I selected the recipe below because it had great reviews, but I liked the “overnight” technique of this recipe by Alton Brown of Food Network, especially since my plan was to take them into work in the morning. 

My only  modification to the recipe was that I used whole wheat flour and light cream cheese.  You see, using those two ingredients completely cancels out all the calories from the 3 sticks of butter that are in this recipe.  Really, they do! 

Speaking of the 3 sticks of butter, I’m not gonna lie….they are totally worth it!  These cinnamon rolls were light in texture, flavorful in the cinnamon/sugar filling and rich in the frosting.  Pretty much they were amazing!  Right after they came out of the oven, I took them to work, so my co-workers could experience them being warm and gooey…that’s when cinnamon rolls are best, right?  I set them on the counter at 7am and the pan was wiped clean by 7:30am.  No joke!  Food goes fast in my office, but I’ve never seen it go that fast before.  In fact, I almost didn’t get to try one!  If I hadn’t moseyed into the kitchen for coffee at 7:20am, my chance to try these beauties almost ceased to exist!  If my co-workers didn’t love me already, I’m 99.9% certain that they love me now that I brought them cinnamon rolls.





Rolled out dough.


About to go in the oven.


Out of the oven.


Frosted with copious amounts of icing!

Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls by Recipezaar (newly named Food.com)

Printer-friendly Version

  • 1 ( 1/4 ounce) package dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup margarine, softened
  • 8 tablespoons margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. For the rolls, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl.
  2. Add sugar, margarine salt, eggs, and flour, mix well.
  3. Knead the dough into a large ball, using your hands dusted lightly with flour.
  4. Put in a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
  5. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, until it is approx 21 inches long by 16 inches wide.
  6. It should be approx 1/4 thick.
  7. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  8. To make filling, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
  9. Spread the softened margarine over the surface of the dough, then sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon evenly over the surface.
  10. Working carefully, from the long edge, roll the dough down to the bottom edge.
  11. Cut the dough into 1 3/4 inch slices, and place in a lightly greased baking pan.
  12. Bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown.
  13. While the rolls are baking combine the icing ingredients.
  14. Beat well with an electric mixer until fluffy.
  15. When the rolls are done, spread generously with icing

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I’ve always been a fan of chili.  It’s warm.  It’s chunky.  It’s delicious.  And you know what else I like about chili?  It’s so versatile and everyone has their own recipe!  The possibilities are endless.  Meat or no meat?  Chicken or beef?  Beans or no beans? Veggies or…well, you get the idea. 

Chili is a great recipe if your doing P90X because the different phases of the nutrition plan that accompanies the workout of P90X are all pretty low carb.  I found this recipe by just Googling “P90X Chili,” and then I just adjusted per our tastes.  Not only is this chili is packed full of protein, but it’s also flavorful, hearty and easy!  Add a side salad and you’ve got a delicious low carb dinner…whether your doing P90X or not.





Mmmm, chili.

P90X Chili

Makes 7 1/2 servings, 1 cup servings


  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ground chicken breast
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • 28 ounce canned crushed tomatoes
  • 15 ounce canned kidney beans - drained, rinsed,
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2 – 2 1/2  tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Place turkey in the pot, and cook until evenly brown.
  2. Stir in onion, and cook until tender.
  3. Pour water into the pot.
  4. Mix in tomatoes, kidney beans, and garlic.
  5. Season with chili powder, paprika, oregano, cayenne pepper, cumin, salt, and pepper.
  6. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes.
Read more, plus nutrition facts!: http://caloriecount.about.com/p90x-chili-recipe-r385258#ixzz0th4rQiWp

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Ice Cream Pie

Yum, yum, yum!  This is the new favorite dessert in our house.  I’ve made it twice in the last 3 weeks.  I came across the idea for this dessert on the Eat Better America website and thought that it’d be perfect for summer! 

I made it for the first time when my family came up to visit and it was so good, that Jeremy requested it again for when Jayla came over last week.  Speaking of Jeremy, I have a cute story about this recipe.  When I first told him that I was going to make an ice cream pie for dessert, Jeremy gave me a confused look and said, “But won’t the ice cream melt in the oven?”  Ah ha ha, cute, huh?  I explained that I wouldn’t actually be baking it  and he still seemed skeptical, but I think I convinced him that it’s good.

So, my inspiration for this ice cream pie was from this Healthified Turtle Ice Cream Cake.  I actually had all the intentions of following that recipe, but then I thought, “Well, there is premade Oreo crust at the store, so why should I make my own?”  Then, I asked Jeremy if he wanted a different kind of ice cream than vanilla and he wanted strawberry.  Personally, I was thinking Cookies ‘n Cream or Coffee would be excellent, but he’s not a fan of those.  Really, this recipe is more of a method.  Use whatever kind of ice cream you like.  Use a graham cracker crust instead of Oreo.  Add as much hot fudge as you want.  Or substitute butterscotch topping.  Use peanuts instead of pecans.  Or whatever.  You get the idea.





Eat me!

Sara’s Ice Cream Pie

  • 1 store bought Oreo cookie pie crust
  • 2 - 3 cups reduced fat chocolate ice cream, slightly softened
  • 2- 3 cups reduced fat strawberry ice cream, slightly softened
  • 1/2 cup Sugar free hot fudge topping
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • Sugar-free caramel topping
  1. Drop chocolate ice cream by small spoonfuls over crust; carefully spread until smooth. Freeze 1 hour or until firm.
  2. Spoon and carefully spread fudge topping over ice cream. Sprinkle with pecans; press lightly. Freeze 1 hour or until firm.
  3. Drop strawberry ice cream by small spoonfuls over pecan layer; carefully spread until smooth. Cover; freeze at least 8 hours or overnight.
  4. To serve, let stand at room temperature 5 to 10 minutes to soften. Cut into 8- 12 wedges. Place each wedge on individual dessert plate; drizzle each with caramel topping and additional nuts, if desired.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Broccoli Salad

I think broccoli is my favorite vegetable.  Well, no, I take that back.  I might like carrots a bit more, but broccoli is a close 2nd.  Have any of you tried the Broccoli Salad that you can buy in a kit at Costco?  If you haven’t, I can tell you that it is delicious.  However, I’m also going to tell you not to go buy it and to just make this recipe because it tastes exactly the same, if not better! :)

This Broccoli Salad is one of my new favorite side dishes, thanks to a blog that I visit frequently, Anne Strawberry.  I’ve made it about 3 times in the past month or so.  It is full of fresh broccoli, crunchy toppings and a sweet dressing, and it’s just delicious.  This Broccoli Salad is crunchy, sweet and savory all at the same time and it makes for a quick side dish.  I’ve made the original recipe below and then I’ve also made a few modifications to suit our tastes.  I don’t like a lot of dressing on my salads, so you’ll see below that I decreased the amounts a bit.





Ready to eat!

Broccoli Salad by Anne Strawberry


  • 4 - 6 cups chopped broccoli flowerets (I use 6 cups)
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • ½ cup toasted sunflower seeds (1/3 cup - I tried using pecans once, but preferred the sunflower seeds)
  • 1/3 cup raisins (I use Craisins)
  • 8 strips cooked bacon, crumbled


  • 1 cup mayonnaise (3/4 cup - I use Light Mayo)
  • ½ cup sugar (1/3 cup)
  • 1 ½ T. apple cider vinegar (red wine works, too) (about 1 tbs)


  1. After making dressing, toss on salad and combine.
  2. Serve immediately.

Monday, June 14, 2010

M&M Dream Bars

Hello friends, have you ever thought you blogged a post, only to find out 3 days later that it never went through?  That's what happened to me.  I thought I posted this on Friday, but just realized that it never went through due to a server error!  And here I was thinking that just no one was reading my blog. :)  Well, here is another tasty, sweet treat for you! We had a graduation BBQ at my work last month for those students, that work in our office, who graduated. As usual, I signed up to bring a dessert (does that surprise anyone?).

I’ve made this recipe a couple of times before, as it’s any easy go-to-dessert, plus it’s delicious. The first time I made these bars, I took them to my friend Alli’s parent’s Christmas party (easily jazzed up with red and green M&Ms)…and I’m proud to say that her mom requested the recipe and they are now a yearly additional to the dessert table! :)

These bars are sweet, chocolaty, nutty and are like a big oatmeal cookie! There is a layer of sweet gooiness in the middle that really amps up the recipe from other bars. I love them! They are fabulous…and of course, they were all eaten up by my co-workers!

Bottom “crust” layer.
Gooey deliciousness.
Right out of the oven.


  • 2 cups oatmeal

  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup coconut

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup melted butter

  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter

  • 1 cup M&M' 

  • 1 cup chocolate chips  
  1. Combine oatmeal, brown sugar, flour, coconut, baking soda, and salt; add melted butter and stir until moist (the mixture will be crumbly). Reserve 1 1/2 cups and press remaining crumbs into a greased 13X9-inch baking pan (I line the pan with non-stick foil.). 
  2. Bake 12 minutes at 375°F. 
  3. Combine milk and peanut butter; carefully spread over baked crust. Sprinkle on M&M's and chocolate chips. Sprinkle reserved crumbs over chocolate pieces and lightly press crumbs down. 
  4. Bake 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool completely before cutting. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

EatSmart Nutrition Scale – Product Review

A few weeks ago, the wonderful people at CSN Stores approached me with the offer to do a product review.  Get any product from their many online stores, receive a substantial credit to purchase the product and then post a review on my blog?  Heck yea!
So, out of all the numerous products that CSN stores I selected this wonderful EatSmart Nutrition Scale with Digital Scale and Nutrient Calculator (try saying that ten times fast!).  This scale is one of the coolest kitchen gadgets that I've ever seen.  Not only does it weigh your food for you, but it can also tell you the the amount of calories, carbs, fiber, sodium, fats, vitamin K and six other nutrients from thousands of packaged and 999 whole foods.  Pretty cool, right?
The EatSmart Nutrition Scale has come in very handy recently, since Jeremy and I are still on the P90X nutrition plan and our protein needs to be weighed out in ounces.  Plus, it’s just fun to measure random foods now. :)  Let’s take a look at it…
Measuring chicken, in ounces. 15 oz of chicken to be exact.
Yellow Bell Pepper, Code 167, 6.7 oz., plus, calories, carbs and fiber.
Sodium, potassium, magnesium.
Total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol.
If anyone is looking for a food scale, this one is awesome!  Check it out at the CSN Stores website, or take a look at some of their other items.  They have everything!  Seriously, from computer desks to barbeques to dog beds, they’ve got it all.  Thanks CSN for letting me do this product review!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Most Amazing Carrot Cake

What’s up, doc?


Carrot cake is probably my most favorite cake.  It’s delicious and it’s got carrots in it, so it’s totally healthy and fat free, right? :)  My dad loves carrot cake, so for his birthday last month I baked him one!

This is by far, the best carrot cake  that I’ve ever had!  It’s flavored with the perfect amount of spice and it is filled with carrots (of course), pineapple, coconut and pecans.  Plus, when paired with a cream cheese frosting…oh my…it’s pure heaven! 

I’ve made this recipe a few times and surprisingly, I don’t make any changes to it.  Something weird happened when I made it for my dad though.  I’m pretty sure that I was paying attention and using all the right measurements, but for some reason my batter was very dry and tough to stir.  I added a few tablespoons of skim milk to smooth it out, and the cake turned out fine and delicious…but it was just weird.  I still don’t know what happened.  Oh well.  If you have a carrot cake lover in the family or if you just want to try the most delicious carrot cake on the planet, I recommend this recipe.





Just call me “Sara Lee.”


After I “fixed” the batter.


Frosting ingredients.


Cooling cakes.





Carrot Cake, by Recipezaar

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained

Wilton Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan or 2 round 9 inch pans.
    2. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; make a well in the center and add sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla. Mix with wooden spoon until smooth.
    3. Stir in carrots, coconut, walnuts and pineapple. Pour into 9x13 inch pan and bake for about 45 minutes, or in round pans for 35 – 40 minutes.  Don't panic, the centre will sink a little.
    4. Allow to cool; when cool, frost the cake.
    5. To make the frosting: Cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth; add the icing sugar and beat until creamy.

    Sunday, May 16, 2010

    Chicken Marengo and Spinach Citrus Salad

    Yum, I have such a delicious meal to share with you all today!  One of my favorite shows on Food Network is The Next Food Network Star.  (Whoo, the new season starts on June 6th!  Who’s excited??)  Last season, Melissa d’Arabian won the competition and got her own show, which I rather enjoy.  Melissa’s signature cooking technique that helped her win was her 4-step chicken. 

    Last Sunday, I was watching Food Network re-runs last and saw her make this chicken Marengo and spinach citrus salad.  I’d never heard of Chicken Marengo before, but her easy cooking technique and the deliciousness of the food convinced me that I needed to try this recipe…and I’m sure glad I did.

    The chicken Marengo reminded me of a lot of chicken cacciatore.  It’s filled with tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and yellow bell pepper, and it is yummy!  Plus, with Melissa’s easy 4-step cooking method, I was surprised to see that it came together in about 30 minutes and all I had to do was spend about 10 minutes on the salad.  Speaking of the salad, let’s talk about it because it too was fabulous!  I wouldn’t think that spinach and citrus would be a good combination…but what-da-ya-know, it is!  The spinach is mild, the orange segments are tart, the dressing is light and refreshing, and the pecans…oh my, the pecans…they are seasoned with rosemary and cayenne, and they MAKE the salad!

    I’m so glad that I made this recipe and I plan to make it again.  Jeremy and I just ate the chicken Marengo and the salad (trying to stay low carb for P90X), but this could easily be paired with some white or brown rice for a complete meal.  A few modifications, per my style, I skipped the flouring of the chicken and I used 1 cup of chicken broth as a substitute for the white wine and beef broth.  With the salad, I used baby spinach and next time I’d probably use 4 cups instead of 3 because there was a lot of dressing for only 3 cups.  As for the dressing, I only had olive oil so I used that and only used 3 tablespoons.

    Mmmm, just thinking about this recipe makes me want it again.  We had extra veggies/sauce and I ate that later in the week for lunch over a turkey burger patty.  SO good!  I’m going to have to look into some more recipes from Melissa d’Arabian because she’s totally won me over with this recipe.  It has my highest recommendation! 



    Ingredients, minus the chicken.


    Prepped veggies.


    Spinach salad ingredients.


    What a great dinner!

    4 Step Chicken Marengo by Food Network


    • 3 large chicken cutlets, sliced into thin paillards (slice while partially frozen)
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (skipped this)
    • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil (used olive oil)
    • 1 medium sweet onion, sliced
    • 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
    • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and julienned
    • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
    • 1/2 cup white wine (used chicken broth)
    • 1/2 cup beef broth (used chicken broth)
    • 1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
    • 1/2 tablespoon butter


    1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, to taste, and lightly dredge in flour.
    2. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat and add the chicken. Brown on both sides, until nicely golden, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and set aside on a plate.
    3. In the same pan, add more oil, if needed, along with the onion, mushrooms and peppers and sauté until softened and fragrant, but not limp, about 5 minutes.
    4. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
    5. Stir in the tomato paste and cook a few minutes to cook out the raw flavor.
    6. Turn up the heat, and add the wine/wine to deglaze the pan and let it reduce for 2 or 3 minutes.
    7. Add the beef broth and tomatoes.
    8. Once the mixture begins to bubble, add the browned paillards and any juices from the chicken and reduce the heat to a simmer.
    9. Cook until the chicken is warmed through, about 3 minutes.
    10. Turn the heat off and stir in the butter.
    11. Transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately.

    Spinach and Citrus Salad with Sweet and Spicy Pecans


    • 3 cups fresh spinach, washed and dried, cut into chiffonade
    • 2 green onions, chopped
    • 1 orange, supremed and halved
    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
    • 1/2 cup pecan halves
    • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • Citrus Dressing, recipe follows


    1. Put the spinach and green onions in large salad bowl and sprinkle with the halved citrus supremes.
    2. In a small saute pan over medium heat, add the butter and sugar and stir until the butter is melted.
    3. Add the pecans and toss until the pecans begin to brown.
    4. Stir in the rosemary and cayenne and stir just a few seconds to release the aroma.
    5. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
    6. Sprinkle the pecans on the salad while still warm.
    7. Drizzle the dressing over salad and serve.

    Citrus Dressing

    • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • 2 tablespoons orange or grapefruit juice (or a combination)
    • 3 tablespoons canola oil (used olive oil)
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil (omitted this tbs)
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    In a small bowl, add all the ingredients and whisk until emulsified.

    Sunday, May 9, 2010

    Protein Shake

    If any of you check in on my “other blog,” you’ll know that last week Jeremy and I started the P90X workout and nutrition plan.  The nutrition plan is broken down into a few different phases, which vary depending on what part of the workout your in or your desired results.  We are currently in Phase I, which is a high protein/low carb eating plan.  Sadly…low carb means no cookies, cakes, candies or Sara’s Sweets!  Bummer, right? 

    I know you’re probably thinking, “Sara, what are you going to blog about if you can’t eat delicious treats?!”  No need to worry, my friends.  I’ve got a few “sweet” recipes saved up to blog about and I thoroughly plan on continuing to bake treats for my friends/co-workers, so I’ll have plenty to blog about!  Plus, I’ll have some delicious new P90X recipes to share.

    The first recipe has become a favorite breakfast of ours and it is the protein shake.  It’s such an easy and quick breakfast, plus it’s surprisingly very filling (hello, protein)!  We bought chocolate flavor protein powder and we used strawberries as the “berry,” which resulted in a delicious, strawberry, bananay, chocolate shake.  Yum!

    I highly recommend this delicious shake if you’re looking for a filling, quick and easy breakfast.  And of course, it’s nutritious!





    All the protein shake, just for me?



    P90X Protein Shake


    • 1 cup skim milk
    • 1 scoop protein powder
    • 1/2 cup berries
    • 1/2 banana
    • 1/2 cup ice


    1. Combine all ingredients in a blender.
    2. Blend until smooth.
    3. Drink up!