Boozy Pineapple Shake

Disclosure: I received a sample of Smirnoff Reduced Calorie Sorbet Light vodka in exchange for a fair and honest review. Please drink responsibly. All opinions are 100% my own.

Pineapple Vodka Shake

Oh my goodness, y’all. I feel like we just had wintry weather last week. Ok, we actually did. I feel like summer is fast approaching, and all I want lately is fruit, fruit, fruit! I’ve been eating strawberries by the pint, and I’m back in smoothie making mode. Of course, I’ll miss the days of turkey and stuffing, but I have a feeling those days will be back before we know it!

I was recently approached by the folks at Smirnoff, and they mentioned that they have a line of reduced calorie Sorbet Light vodkas. I love a good fruity drink, and flavored booze seems to be all the rage lately. What really caught my attention was when they mentioned that their newest flavor is pineapple coconut. It just so happens that my drink of choice is Malibu and Pineapple Juice. Anytime we go to a bar, and I don’t feel like perusing the menu, my go-to is this drink. So, when I received this sample of pineapple coconut vodka, I knew I had to do a fun twist on my favorite drink.

When we went on our Caribbean cruise, we noticed a place on the cruise ship that made boozy milkshakes. Oh, twist my arm….I had to try one! They had a pineapple shake version, and I thought I’d try to recreate it in a lighter version at home. This shake couldn’t be simpler to make, and it tasted so much like the one I enjoyed on our cruise! It’s not exactly the lowest in calories, but it’s a lot lighter than a strawberry margarita. I used light vanilla ice cream, as well as frozen pineapple chunks to keep it nice and thick, and of course, there’s pineapple juice and the Sorbet Light Pineapple Coconut vodka. I’m seriously going to multiply this recipe and make a pitcher of it for our next party! If you love pineapple/coconut drinks, give this a try, and if you don’t like too much alcohol in your drink, reduce the vodka to half. :-P This recipe makes one large shake!

Boozy Pineapple Shake
Source: an original

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz. Smirnoff Sorbet Light Pineapple Coconut vodka
  • 4 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup light vanilla ice cream
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks

Directions:

  1. Throw all of the ingredients in a blender, and blend until the mixture is smooth.
  2. Serve the drink in a fun glass and garnish with a pineapple slice. Enjoy!

 

 

Blood Orange Sangria & 6 Years of Blogging

bloodorangesangria

This is the time of the year where I eat a ridiculous amount of citrus fruits. Mother Nature was very smart to allow citrus to grow during the cold season, because I eat about 2-3 satsumas or oranges every day to avoid catching whatever tends to go around. At about 30-50 calories each, it’s also a wonderful snack option for me in my calorie counting.

I’ve always been curious about blood oranges, because they are such a gorgeous ruby red color on the inside. The lovely folks at Frieda’s Produce, who I met at PMA back in August, sent me a bag of these oranges to try since the holidays were approaching. Since it was the holiday season, I knew I had to make something boozy. A sangria sounded perfect since I could prepare it the night before, and just bring it over for my family’s party. Super simple!

I ended up adding some blood orange juice to this simple red sangria recipe, as well as a few sliced oranges in the pitcher. It really made for a nice presentation, and I have to admit that the orange slices leftover after the sangria was gone was pretty darn delicious.

bloodorangesangria2

This is just a great drink to bring over for a celebration. Like I mentioned before, it’s easy to throw together and it’s so cute to fill a glass with sangria and add in a few fruit slices. It just makes for a nice presentation, and it’s super fun.

Blood Orange Sangria
Source: adapted from Food & Wine

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of fruity red wine (I used Chianti)
  • 4 oz. brandy
  • juice of 2 blood oranges
  • 3 oz. simple syrup
  • 3 blood oranges, sliced

Directions:

  1. In a pitcher, combine the red wine, brandy, blood orange juice & simple syrup. Stir until well-combined. Add in the orange slices, and place the sangria in the refrigerator for 4-8 hours, or overnight to chill it well.
  2. Serve the sangria chilled. Enjoy!

Since this drink puts me in a celebrating mood, I figured it would be perfect to share with y’all today. Today is my 6 year blogiversary! I can’t believe that it’s been 6 years since I blogged about turkey meatballs, diet coke chicken & biscotti (forgive the pictures). From the bottom of my heart, thank you for every comment, email and tweet. I love getting to know y’all, and I completely appreciate your support, especially lately with my weight loss journey and my upcoming half marathon!

As a thank you, I want to offer you guys a giveaway! One lucky reader will have a choice between a gift card to Target or Amazon.com (e-gift card sent via email)!

blogiversaryprize

To enter the giveaway, please use the Rafflecopter widget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: This giveaway is is open to readers in the continental US only. Entries will be accepted until January 23rd at 12:00am (central standard time). Winner will be emailed (make sure you leave an email address in the form), and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. The winner will be sent an e-gift card for either Target or Amazon (winner’s choice).

Disclosure: The blood oranges were sent at no cost to me by Frieda’s Produce. The gift card giveaway is provided by The Nifty Foodie.

 

Berry-Nana-Cado Smoothie

berrynanacado

I started running again this week, and I was SO shocked that I was able to do 10 minutes of running at a time. It has been way too long since I last hit the pavement, and it felt wonderful to get back to it. With working out, though, comes a mean appetite. I come home starving, even if I have something before my run. My favorite snack post-workout is a smoothie. Just throw the ingredients in, and let the blender do all the work. When you feel like collapsing on the sofa and staying there for hours after a hard workout, this is my kind of recipe.

I usually just go with a banana/protein powder combination, because it seriously tastes like a milkshake. I prefer to buy bananas super cheap at our local grocery store, when they’re overripe. 3 bunches of bananas for 99 cents? SCORE! I’ve been known to purchase 5-6 packs of bananas, and I just take a few minutes to quarter the bananas and place them in one layer in a freezer bag. Easy peasy. For this smoothie, I went protein powder-less, and tried something different: avocado.

Now, before you cringe, avocado is a fairly mild food. It’s not like I threw guacamole in the blender…avocado alone lends a creamy consistency to the smoothie. This recipe couldn’t be easier either…throw all of your ingredients in and blend away! You’d be surprised…seriously. It’s great, and it’s surprisingly filling, since there’s no protein powder in this recipe. :-)

Note: This post is my entry for the “Wake Up Breakfast with California Avocados” link-up/contest, being hosted by Dine and Dish & Cookin’ Canuck.

Berry-Nana-Cado Smoothie
Source: heavily adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 of a medium California avocado (pitted and flesh removed)
  • 1 1/2 cups low calorie orange juice (I used Trop50)
  • 1/2 of a frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries (no sugar added)
  • 1/4 cup frozen strawberries (no sugar added)
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 6-8 ice cubes

Directions:

  1. Throw all ingredients in the blender, and blend until all ingredients are blended well. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Peanut Butter & Jelly Protein Shake

Peanut Butter & Jelly Protein Shake

This past week, I’ve been spending my afternoons prepping the gardens/weeding/planting annuals. Wasn’t it just Christmas? Man…can’t believe it’s almost April, y’all! With the weather starting to warm up over here, the colder the beverages, the better. I started making iced coffees a couple of weeks ago, and now, I just can’t get enough of smoothies/shakes.

As far as this shake goes, peanut butter and jelly is a favorite of mine. Move over ham sandwiches…if you offer me a PB&J, I’m going for it! I wanted to try these flavors in a shake, and while I used frozen fruit instead of jelly, the flavors (strawberry/peanut butter) work beautifully together. This was so refreshing, and filling (thanks to the protein powder). It’s definitely a goodie!

Peanut Butter & Jelly Protein Shake
Source: an original

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. peanut butter

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender, and blend on high until everything is smooth (about 2 minutes).

Banana Biscoff Protein Shake

Banana Biscoff Protein Shake

My husband is a protein shake nut. He makes them for breakfast every day, and this stubborn gal thought…there’s no way a shake would make me feel full. No way. I need food…the chewing kind,  you know? Well, one day, my husband introduced me to a protein based smoothie at a local smoothie place. The medium was apparently only 270 calories, according to their nutrition facts, so I wasn’t expecting much. I was pleasantly surprised that the texture wasn’t gritty, it tasted great and I got full halfway through drinking the thing. Whoa…that was the first time a smoothie from there made me feel full. The difference between my normal muscle punch and this? The protein powder.

I was hooked on those smoothies for a while, until I they changed their menu. The smoothie I quickly fell in love with was calculated wrong (calorie wise). Instead of being 270 calories, the menu suddenly said 300-680 calories (depending on fruit you chose). WHAT???! So, I emailed the company, and asked what my smoothie REALLY was (telling them the fruit that I usually choose).

510 calories.

What.the.heck??!

I mean, I knew there was SOME variation from one fruit to another, but what I didn’t know is that some of their fruits sit in sugar juice. No WONDER it was so tasty. I was drinking 1/3 of my daily calories! Needless to say, I quit going to that smoothie place and decided it was time to make my own. I could save money and have complete control over the calories & ingredients.

This idea came to me after I saw this recipe. Banana and Biscoff? Sounded awesome, so I decided to try it in a smoothie. OMG…it was like dessert and it was the perfect treat after a work-out.

Just a note: When it comes to protein powder, I use this. I chose this protein powder based on recommendations from friends and a few of y’all. It has a pretty mellow flavor (perfect for blending in other fruits and flavors), and it’s not gritty at all.

Banana Biscoff Protein Shake
an original

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium frozen banana (cut in slices before freezing)
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tbsp. biscoff cookie spread
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup ice

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in the blender, and blend together until all of the ingredients are well-blended.

Top 10 Recipes of 2012

Man, what a year it has been! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season with their friends and family. :-)

Most years, I feel like time has flown by, but for some reason, it feels like last January was truly a year ago. So many great things have happened to us this year (as well as some really crappy events).  

Some highlights and not so highlights:

  • It was our first full year in our new house, which has been such a blessing. It’s just awesome to finally have friendly neighbors, who don’t throw their trash in our backyard or play loud music at 2am (side-eye to the neighbors at the old house).
  • My husband and I have both decided to live healthier. Between us, we’ve lost over 150 lbs. this year. (I’m sure my husband is rolling his eyes at me sharing this, but seriously..I’m gonna brag here!) That’s just amazing to me. I’m so proud of us.
  • Another weight loss highlight. I fit into a clothes size that I haven’t been able to wear since 10th grade. That was 12 years ago. OMG!
  • A not so highlight. Hurricane Isaac…don’t want to go into too much detail with that one, but yeah, hurricanes suck. Oh, and for the record, labradors don’t care if the winds are 50 mph outside. If there’s rain/water, it’s playtime! (ugh)
  • I think I’m making some good progress on my 101 Goals in 1001 Days list.

And of course, it’s been another fun year blogging. I really appreciate all of y’all taking the time to read my tiny corner of the Internet. Thank you for your sweet comments, emails and tweets. In January, it’s gonna be this blog’s 5th anniversary, and I’m just amazed by all of the friends I’ve made and people I’ve “met”  through this blog. You guys are the best!

Just to round up the year, I wanted to share with y’all your top 10 most read posts from 2012.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies w/ Salted Caramel Buttercream

10. Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Salted Caramel Buttercream - These whoopie pies were made for a work fundraiser, and they were a huge success. Great pumpkin/spicy flavor, and the salted caramel buttercream just makes them super indulgent. Pumpkin + caramel is a wonderful combination!

Red Velvet Bundt Cake

9. Red Velvet Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting - I love anything red velvet. This bundt cake is a fun change from a regular cake, and it was pretty easy to throw together and bake!

Baked Oatmeal

8. Baked Oatmeal - My breakfast has been forever changed by this. This oatmeal is not soggy at all (which I hate about cooked oats), and it’s very sweet with the addition of bananas.

Peanut Butter Cookies

7. Peanut Butter Cookies - Just simple, classic peanut butter cookies. :-) Very good!

Candy Corn Oreo Truffles

6. Candy Corn Oreo Truffles - Oreo truffles are insanely good, and it was fun to make these with seasonal flavors. Always a favorite when I bring these truffles to work!

Fresh Strawberry Pie

5. Fresh Strawberry Pie - I’m SO glad strawberry season is back. I need to make this pie again…it’s not rich at all, and since it involves no cooking (except for the crust), it tastes so fresh!

Snickers Cupcakes

4. Snickers Cupcakes - Oh, I totally need to make these again. If you love Snickers, you will LOVE these!

Homemade Strawberry Lemonade

3. Homemade Strawberry Lemonade - Meyer lemon season + strawberry season? Um…guess I need to make this too and ASAP!

Red Velvet Swirl Brownies

2. Red Velvet Swirl Brownies - These were just delicious, and so pretty too! Perfect for Valentine’s Day!

Spinach Strawberry Salad with Feta

1. Spinach, Strawberry, Pecan and Feta Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette - This is a huge favorite of y’alls. I think Pinterest made this a popular one, and it is VERY easy to throw together! This is a salad you want to make for your next party…it’s an awesome combination!

Thanks so much for reading this blog, and I hope everyone has a Happy New Year! Time to get used to writing/typing “2013″. :-)

BlogHer Review: Michelob ULTRA Light Cider

As the summer is starting to rear it’s ugly head around here, I can’t help but think of all of the ways that we cool off around here. The pool, ice cold watermelon, NOLA style snowballs, air conditioning….those are a few that come to mind. I also think about fun, light (adult) beverages to enjoy when it heats up around here. Beer is the usual thing that comes to mind for a lot of people, but y’all….beer really isn’t my thing. Wine isn’t my thing either actually. Don’t freak out….I’m learning. My friends are trying to teach me. Haha! I can drink a riesling or moscato, but I’m no expert at all. For example, I found myself texting my best friend when a pot roast recipe called for a red wine. Uh yeah, when a whole WALL is nothing but red wines, it can be overwhelming.

I’m so glad I’m getting this off of my chest, y’all.

While I’m not a fan of the ever-so-popular beer, I am a fan of another bottled beverage: hard cider. Back in college, I remember going to a pizza joint with friends where they were known for having 3908490396 things on draft, give or take a few. :-P It was then that one of the gals I went with ordered a hard cider. I had to find out about this drink, since this gal swore up and down that this particular drink tasted nothing like beer. It tasted like carbonated apple awesomeness. Uhm, WHAT??! So yeah, I had to order one for myself. Yeah…I was pretty much hooked, y’all!

So, when I heard that Michelob was coming out with their own lightened version of a hard cider, I was very excited. Since I’m currently calorie counting, I find that often times I have to say “no” to adult beverages since alcohol tends to hog the calories. A bottle of this is only 120 calories, which is about 1/3 less calories than the average hard ciders out there.

Here’s a little bit of information about Michelob ULTRA Light Cider:

Anheuser-Busch’s Michelob ULTRA announced the newest addition to its portfolio, Michelob ULTRA Light Cider, a naturally sweetened and gluten-free cider made from crisp apples. Featuring one-third fewer calories (120) and a more mellowed sweetness than traditional ciders, Michelob ULTRA Light Cider is ideal for year-round enjoyment and provides a light, refreshing alternative to white wine, champagne and heavier ciders.

“As more people continue to discover cider, we’ve found that many view traditional ciders as either too heavy, too sweet or both,”" said Ryan Moore, vice president of premium lights, Anheuser-Busch. “”This perception has often times limited ciders to a seasonal beverage during fall and winter, but we saw an untapped potential to expand the category as a year-round option. Michelob ULTRA Light Cider fills this void with a lower calorie cider with a milder, but distinct, sweetness that can be enjoyed straight or over ice.”"

Hard Cider Review 2

Now, it’s been a while since I’ve had a drink like this, but after trying it, I have to say this one is my new favorite. I’m used to drinking a pretty sweet hard cider, which in the Summer, just isn’t that appealing. It was refreshing to drink Michelob ULTRA’s Light Cider since it had a much more mellow sweetness (due to it being naturally sweetened) and just had a great, crisp apple flavor (since it’s made from hand picked apples). With the weather warming up like crazy around here, I really like that I can enjoy this with a ton of ice to keep it cold outside or of course, just drink it straight out of the bottle. Another plus? This drink is gluten-free!

Michelob Ultra Light Cider

Since the summer is here, I really would love to know which favorite summer meal or activity do you think would go best with Michelob ULTRA Cider?

Personally, I think this would be the perfect drink to enjoy after taking care of the garden and just relaxing on the patio with a super cold bottle of this in hand.

Check out the sponsor’s site or the Michelob ULTRA Light Cider page on BlogHer.com for more information. They’re available NOW nationwide (excluding CO, UT, WY and OK) in six-packs of 12 oz. clear glass bottles.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a six pack of Michelob ULTRA Light Cider, as well as compensation, in exchange for an honest review.

Homemade Strawberry Lemonade

Homemade Strawberry Lemonade

The first time I ever tried Strawberry Lemonade was at Chilis. I went to dinner once with friends, and in the many times we went there as college students, I never noticed the drink before until the waitress mentioned it. I really thought it would be a disgusting Hi-C drink, but when the waitress bought it out, it contained strawberry puree. I was in love. I’m sure it had 900 calories a glass, but it was just SO good and sweet! Now, I don’t go to Chilis as much anymore, but whenever I end up there, I have to have it! I’m sure some of y’all are judging me for liking something at Chilis, but just give me a little slack here. :-) I think the last time we ate at Chilis was several months ago…it’s definitely not a place we frequent.

A while back, I saw this recipe for homemade strawberry lemonade. I waited until strawberry season came around, bought a bag of lemons, and made a pitcher of the stuff. Let’s just say I had three glasses of this in a row that evening. This stuff is GOOD and super easy to make!

Homemade Strawberry Lemonade
Source: My Baking Addiction

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups of water, divided
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 8-9 small lemons)
  • 4-6 cups cold water (I used 5 cups)

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Make a simple syrup by heating and occasionally stirring the mixture on medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Allow the mixture to fully cool before doing the other steps.
  2. Puree the strawberries in a blender or food processor with 1/2 cup of water.
  3. In a large pitcher, add the strawberry puree, cooled simple syrup and lemon juice. Stir the mixture until everything is well-mixed.
  4. Add 4 cups of cold water and taste. If you feel the lemonade needs more water, add it a cup at a time until the lemonade tastes great to you!
  5. Stir the lemonade really well and serve it over ice.

Note: It lasted about 2 days in the fridge (since I finished the pitcher by then), but it may last longer.

Foodbuzz 24×24: A Culinary Journey Down the Muddy Mississippi

When I was a little kid, I had such trouble spelling “Mississippi”. Was it too many “s”s or the double “p” that threw me for a loop? I just couldn’t get it. My house was less than a tenth of a mile away from the river, and I just couldn’t spell it. That bothered me. My parents taught us a little fun way to spell it eventually, and now I can’t ever spell Mississippi wrong. When in doubt, I tell myself “M-i-s-s… I-s-s…i.P.P.i”. There was an emphasis on the cap letters, so it became a bit of a rhythm to say it in my head that way before spelling it out.

Since I grew up living so close to the Mississippi, I’ve seen the river have its ups and downs. Literally. When the river gets high in the Spring, boats appear like they are floating on the levee. And of course, when it gets low, you’ll barely see the tops of the boats. It’s crazy how much it varies, and this year was no exception. For the first time in almost 40 years, the river was so high that the Corps of Engineers had to open a spillway north of Baton Rouge in order to save New Orleans and Baton Rouge from catastrophic flooding. Sadly, this spillway isn’t just land. People actually built their homes and farms in the spillway, so they had to evacuate. While I’m glad that nothing catastrophic happened to our big cities, it still hurts to know that some people suffered from this.

While I was watching a news segment about the river one night, I couldn’t help but think about the massive journey that the water takes. All the way north from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. There are so many different cities that the river just flows by, and my husband had the greatest idea. A culinary journey down the river–from Minneapolis all the way to New Orleans. Our party idea featured foods that are notorious in the major cities along the river: Minneapolis, St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans. I was so stoked when Foodbuzz let me know that our party proposal had been accepted for this month’s 24×24, so I called up our families and had them over for this awesome party!

For Minneapolis, we grilled up the famous Juicy Lucy burger! You can’t go wrong with a cheese stuffed burger, and this burger was one of the favorites of the meal!

Jucy Lucy

For St. Louis, we baked a gooey butter cake. We served it with ice cream and various summer fruit sorbets. The cake is a yeast based batter on the bottom and of course, a gooey butter base layer on top. Many of us (myself included) have never had a gooey butter cake, but it was a great hit! I think next time, this would go perfectly with some fresh fruit.

Gooey Butter Cake

For Memphis, we made some fabulous BBQ Baby Back ribs. This was my first time ever working with ribs, and it really wasn’t that bad. These were very flavorful ribs and super tender, since they were in an oven for a good part of the morning before finishing off on the grill!

BBQ Baby Back Ribs

And of course, for New Orleans, we made some grilled corn grits. Grits are a favorite around here, and in one of our favorite restaurants, this is how they make the grits. It’s fabulously rich and flavorful! You probably don’t want to know how much heavy cream and butter are in these grits, but I’ll tell you anyway later when I post the recipe! :-)

Corn Grits

Oh, and since we’re all from Louisiana, we had to add in a little lagniappe for NOLA: Hurricanes. I mean, how could you NOT? For a hot, summer day, these are always a hit!

Hurricane

*all recipes will be shared on the blog at a later date*

It was so wonderful to spend time with our families, and I’m so glad everyone enjoyed the food. You know it was a good party when people ask for the leftovers and recipes as they’re leaving! :-)

Dessert Time

Family

Thanks so much to Foodbuzz for making this party happen! We really enjoyed the different foods from cities along the river, and also had a blast spending time together!

 

Sprite “Icee”

Sprite Icee

My husband and I are on an Icee kick lately. I know those drinks are full of sugar and not the most diet friendly, but man, they are SO refreshing! When I saw Bridget of Bake at 350 post about this easy idea to make your own Icee with an ice cream machine, I couldn’t wait to try it!

Of course, the texture really isn’t an Icee. Icees are much lighter to me, so I would actually call this more of a slush. It’s still pretty darn yummy, though and VERY easy!

Sprite “Icee”
Source: Bake at 350, originally from Cuisinart

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups of cold soda (any regular soda..this won’t work on diet)

Directions:

  1. Pour the cold soda in an ice cream maker.
  2. Let the soda freeze in the maker for about 30 minutes.
  3. Enjoy!