Watermelon Sorbet

watermelon1

I’ve been looking at watermelons in the stores a lot lately. It’s so hot outside (100+ degrees – heat index) and a nice, refreshing watermelon was what I was craving!

So, I went to the local produce stand and bought my first watermelon of the summer. I was having company over last night and wanted to end the meal on a lighter note. I was originally looking at The Perfect Scoop for inspiration, but I didn’t have limes. I was afraid to use lemons instead, but found this Alton Brown recipe on Joelen’s blog. It used lemons! YAY!

I’ve never cut up a watermelon, so I was sure that I was going to make a juicy mess. It wasn’t all that bad, but look at how GORGEOUS and ripe this watermelon was…mmm!
IMG_0262
The verdict? This was a light, refreshing sorbet and a definite MUST for the summer! Seriously make this for your 4th of July party! Your guests won’t be disappointed! Also, it’s (along with other fruit sorbets) VERY skinny, especially if you made this with Splenda, which I didn’t have on hand at the time. :)

I’m submitting this to Joelen’s monthly Tasty Tools event, which features the ice cream maker! I’m sure there will be a ton of great summer treats for this blogging event so definitely start following her blog if you haven’t already!

Watermelon Sorbet
Source: Alton Brown -  found on Joelen’s Culinary Adventures

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound, 5 ounces diced watermelon, muskmelon or honeydew
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons vodka (omitted)
  • 9 ounces sugar, approximately 1 1/4 cups

Directions:

  1. Place the melon in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Add the lemon juice, vodka, and sugar and process for another 30 seconds. Place the mixture into the refrigerator until the mixture reaches 40 degrees F; depending on the temperature of your ingredients and refrigerator, this could take 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Pour the chilled mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer the sorbet to an airtight container and place in the freezer for 3 to 4 hours before serving.

Makes 12 (1/2 cup) servings.
(I added a little too much melon than stated, and it was overflowing in the ice cream maker, so I estimated based on 1.5 quarts yielded instead of Alton Brown mentioning this yields 1 qt.)

Calories: 112, Fat: 0.4g, Fiber: 0.5g
POINTS*: 2

Southern Shrimp & Grits

IMG_0248

This is a very well known dish around here. The last time I had this was at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans in a BBQ Shrimp form with brie mixed in the grits. It was decadent and wonderful!

DH’s dad gave us a bunch of frozen shrimp and at first, I was going to make a Shrimp Scampi. However, after watching a throwdown for Shrimp & Grits, DH and I changed our minds. :)

We knew that we couldn’t have the heavier versions featured, so I turned to Cooking Light online for some inspiration and I found a great recipe! I will say, the only thing we will do next time is omit the bell peppers. DH and I agreed that it just tasted like it didn’t belong in there at all.

Southern Shrimp & Grits
Source: Cooking Light

Ingredients:

  • 3  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2  teaspoon  hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
  • 1 1/2  pounds  peeled and deveined large shrimp
  • 2  bacon slices, chopped
  • 1  cup  frozen chopped onion
  • 1/4  cup  frozen chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  bottled minced garlic
  • 1  cup  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2  cup  chopped green onions, divided
  • 5  cups  water
  • 1 1/2  cups  uncooked quick-cooking grits
  • 1  tablespoon  butter
  • 1  teaspoon  salt
  • 3/4  cup  (3 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Combine first 3 ingredients; set aside.
  2. Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic to drippings in pan; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in shrimp mixture, broth, and 1/4 cup green onions; cook 5 minutes or until shrimp are done, stirring frequently.
  3. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan; gradually add grits, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; simmer, covered, for 5 minutes or until thick, stirring occasionally. Stir in butter and salt. Serve shrimp mixture over grits; sprinkle with cheese and remaining green onions.

Nutritional Information
Serves 6

Calories: 408, Fat: 12.5 g, Fiber: 2g
POINTS*: 9

Keeping it Fresh!

wfmwbannerKRISTEN
My husband and I decided to splurge on a FoodSaver post-wedding. It was one of the things off our registry that we really wanted to have, because meat is pricey when you are buying it in smaller packs. So, to save money I usually raid Sam’s once a month and buy our meats in bulk.

Our usual meats that I buy are chicken breasts, ground turkey and ground beef. We save a good bit of money buying in bulk, and we just package our meat in portions for 2. I used to use saran wrap, then foil,  and then put that in a quart sized freezer bag. However, now, I just take the FoodSaver bag roll, cut it to size, seal one side, put meat in and seal the other side. It sounds hard, but really, it’s not!

Besides saving us time on sealing foods, it also saves us major freezer space!

Check out my bottom freezer drawer! This thing used to be overly full with the same amount of meat!
IMG_0245
Another great thing? It makes food last longer in the freezer as well! Not that we don’t use meats often enough, but hey, it’s good to know that it’s keeping our food fresher than the old method!

This is the machine model that we splurged on. I like that it has a built in roll holder for easier storage.

source

This machine definitely works for us! To see what works for other bloggers, check out We Are That Family!

Happy One Monthiversary!

It’s hard to believe at this time one month ago, I was getting primped and ready for the big day!

I remember the excitement that ran through my head and the sheer “I don’t care what happens anymore.” mood that I got in when we hit our first snafu. I just wanted to get married!

While I still don’t have my pro pics, here’s a few pictures to tide you over until they come in!

cake
Our beautiful (not to mention, delicious) cake and Gocco’ed napkins!

kingcake
Our LSU themed kingcake!

mary

This one is fairly laughable. We were supposed to kneel after placing the flowers at the Mary statue…I plain forgot!

I’m so happy to be married to my husband. He totally gets me and makes me feel awesome! Here’s to many more happily married months to come!

Almost National Champs! :)

Not sure if I mentioned my obsession for anything LSU related, as I am LSU alumni. I don’t really pay much attention to baseball in general, but this year, the baseball team is REALLY good. So good, in fact, that they are playing University of Texas tonight for the National Championship. Who’da thought? (I’m more of a football fan…don’t come between me and my football!)

geaux tigers

Yes, I painted myself EVERY game my senior year of college! Totally worth it btw…

I figured I might watch this game tonight (after kickboxing hehe). Like I said, I’m not really into baseball but when it comes to the Tigers being possible National Champs against TEXAS? (If Texas baseball is anything like Texas football, I’ll definitely be watching!)

So, before football season starts in a couple of months, I’ll get to say “GEAUX TIGERS!” in excitement tonight. :)

My health goals!

I’ve been lightly treading the waters of embracing my diet/fitness fully since the wedding. I’m back to watching what I eat, but sometimes I splurge all too much! I used to be so much more determined. I need my willpower back, and I’m hoping the accountability of this blog entry plus whoever reads this (yoohoo! anyone? bueller?) will keep me going.

Right now, I *grumble* am flirting with 250 lbs.

By the end of the summer (end of August), I WILL be in the 230s.
By Thanksgiving, I WILL be in the 210s.
By New Years, I WILL be in ONEDERLAND (that’s weight with a 1 in front of the two other numbers, not a 2)
By my 26th birthday, I WILL be in the 180s.
By summer 2010, I WILL be at GOAL! (170 lbs.)

Those are my health goals and PLEDGE to myself and to you guys! I will get healthier and blog about my triumphs, falls, whatever happens. I know it won’t be easy, but my health is worth it!

I will be giving myself some great rewards for reaching these goals too…

Reaching end of summer goal  — Lowlights/Highlights to darken hair up
Reaching Thanksgiving goal — new dSLR camera!
Reaching New Year’s goal — a (tiny) shopping spree for new clothes
Reaching 26th bday goal — an iPhone…oh I want one SO bad!
Reaching GOAL — Lifetime of health and who knows!

Oh and to help someone else out with their health goals, go to 344 Pounds blog. He is asking for readers to give him a killer workout!

Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake

IMG_0242

While it may not be the prettiest icing job, (I tried to make it swirly and messy to look like dirt) I have to admit this will be one tasty cake for my sister-in-law. Today is her birthday, and I told her I wanted to make her a cake. I know she likes chocolate, so I got the holy grail of chocolate cake recipes to food bloggers everywhere: Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake.

I will admit, when they say the batter will be thin, it will be thin as a drink! You will think you botched the recipe and did something wrong. However, as weird as this is, the cake comes out completely perfect and from the tops I shaved off, it tastes incredibly rich, moist and amazing!

These are a few royal icing flowers that I made for the cake. I learned these in course 2 of the Wilton Cake Decorating classes. From top to bottom: apple blossoms, primrose, pansies and daffodils.

IMG_0235

My skills are VERY rusty (it’s been a year since I’ve made these) but I think I did an OK job.

Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake
Source: Hershey’s Kitchens

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
  2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
  3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost cake. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

There are many variations to this recipe if you don’t have 2 – 9″ pans. I ended up doing the 3 – 8″ pans variation below:
Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

For the frosting, I used two batches of Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Frosting. This was the perfect amount with a little leftover to use on the shaved cake tops to eventually make cake balls!

Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
  • 2/3 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Low Fat Cake Batter Ice Cream

IMG_0236

I told myself that I needed to find a WAY lower fat ice cream after making the cake batter ice cream last time. I didn’t calculate the nutritional facts until recently and I was shocked. Most low-fat ice creams calculate by the 1/2 cup so I decided to stay consistent with that to get comparative information.

Full Fat Version
Calories: 363.6
Fat: 24.8 g
Fiber: less than 1 g

Whoa! Look at the amount of fat in there! I will admit, it tasted dang good, but is 1/2 cup of ice cream worth THAT much fat and calories?

So, I went to Cooking Light to find some lower fat alternatives. I then found this recipe for Peppermint ice cream and decided to use the base to see where that would get me.

Low-Fat Cake Batter Ice Cream
Source: adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 cups of 2% milk, divided
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 14oz. can of fat-free condensed milk
  • 2/3 cup cake mix
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Take 1 1/4 cup of milk and mix with egg yolks in a heavy saucepan at medium heat for about 8 minutes or until thickened. Do not let the mixture boil. Let the mixture slightly cool.
  2. Mix remaining milk, vanilla and condensed milk together in a separate bowl. Slowly add the egg mixture to the milk mixture. Mix in cake mix until thoroughly combined. Refridgerate mixture for about 1 hour.
  3. Put in your ice cream maker for 25-30 minutes. Makes about 1 quart or 8 – 1/2  cup servings.

Here’s the nutritional information on this recipe:

Low Fat Version
Calories: 311.4
Fat: 4.4 g
Fiber: less than 1 g

Unfortunately, for this trial, I didn’t save much in calories. However, look at the fat difference! Wow!! So, I’m getting there in finding a good diet-friendly alternative for cake batter ice cream. :) I’ll continue to play with ingredients, though, to try to get the calories lower.

Priorities

wfmwbannerKRISTEN

I’m going to start doing a “Works for Me” every Wednesday, because I love reading people’s tips that work for them. So, I’ll share some of what works for me! :)

I’m very much a “to do” list kind of person. Lists help me remember things I need to do when I get home and I get a little giddy inside when I scratch out a task. My list helped a lot during wedding planning, but at first, it was a little overwhelming.

So, I found a method for time management and tasks. It’s called the ABC method, and I find it to be a great way to set your priorities straight.

If you are looking for this explanation in a nutshell, basically you label your priorities “A”, “B” or “C”. I like to organize it with “A” is something I need to do today, “B” is something I need to do this week and “C” is something I need to do this month.

Here’s an example of a list:

B — call AT&T to fix bill
C — change last name
B — call dentist to make appointment
A — load & run dishwasher
C — cross-stitch baby pattern for friend
B — get inspection sticker

Of course, you can label all A’s, B’s and C’s together, but I write a list in a journal I have as it comes up in my head, so this works for me.

How do you make/organize your “to do” list?

For more “Works for me Wednesday” entries, visit We Are That Family.

Cherrybrook Cupcakes: Review

I received this mix a long time ago, courtesy of Blake Makes. Between moving, planning the wedding, etc. I totally forgot that I had this mix (plus a coupon for frosting).The company is Cherrybrook Kitchen, and they are known for baking mixes for those of you with certain food allergies.

Last week, DH’s family had a BBQ and invited his cousins/aunts over. One of the kids was allergic to peanuts, so I knew that this was the time to use the mix. (I would rather be better safe than sorry since I didn’t have any labels to my baking staples to ensure they were peanut free.) I went to Target and got the frosting with the coupon I received as well and went to town!

I will say that this makes a very weird batter. Almost smelled like pancakes and when the mini cupcakes baked up, it was VERY light and airy. Tasted good too, but not like the standard yellow cupcake I’m used to.

IMG_0230

The frosting reminded me more of a cinnamon roll icing. It was translucent and you cannot pipe this on. It isn’t stiff at all. It tastes just like a standard powdered sugar glaze/icing. So, it’s not too bad.

IMG_0231

All in all, this is good for those of you with allergies. I wouldn’t buy this again for myself, because it’s very pricey ($4 for a mix and $4 for a frosting). I will say though, the kid who was allergic to peanuts went to town eating these! So, if I ever have to bake again for someone with allergies, I know where to turn!