Red White & Blue Swirled Berry Popsicles

FullSizeRender

It’s that time again… my favorite summer holiday is here! For me, the Fourth of July means a fun filled day of barbecuing, watching fireworks, and visiting with family and friends. No matter what you have planned, be sure to kick back, relax, and enjoy this great American holiday!

How are you celebrating the Fourth of July? Let me know in the comments below!

I leave you with a quick and easy Fourth of July themed popsicle recipe. These popsicles are good for you, sugar free, low fat and super tasty. You can use any fruits and berries you have on hand. Also feel free to play with the white stripe. You can use coconut milk, greek yogurt, heavy cream or anything else you can dream up. Enjoy!

FullSizeRender (1)

Red White & Blue Berry Popsicles 
Makes approximately 6 popsicles

Ingredients
2 cups fresh blueberries
2 cups fresh strawberries
6 ounces fat free Greek yogurt
15 drops vanilla stevia drops

Directions
In 2 separate saucepans, bring berries to boil with 1 tablespoon of water in each pan. Partially cover pans and reduce to a simmer for about 5 minutes until berries are saucy. Remove from heat and purée each sauce separately in a blender. Transfer the strawberry sauce to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

Fill pop molds 1/3 of the way with the blueberry sauce. Freeze for 3 hours or until frozen. Sweeten the Greek yogurt or coconut milk to taste. Fill the pop molds with 1/3 of the yogurt or coconut milk. Return to freezer for 3 hours or until frozen. Fill the molds, leaving 1/4 inch at the top with the strawberry sauce. Cover molds with tin foil and insert sticks until they reach the white layer. Freeze for another 3 hours or until solid. Carefully remove pops from molds; you can run some warm water over the molds to make this easier.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
You will end up with more berry sauce then you need for these pops. This is great to top pancakes, French toast, for mixed berry yogurt parfaits, oatmeal, cake ice cream, smoothies, shakes and more!

IMG_9654

Rainbow Fruit Kebabs

FullSizeRender

This past weekend was jam packed with activities and flew by way to quickly. On Saturday morning I participated in a 5k Color Run which was an absolute blast. In the afternoon our race team had a celebratory BBQ. I was torn on what we should bring with us to the BBQ. It was a pretty healthy group of individuals and I wasn’t going to be the person that brought 400 calorie cupcakes. No thank you. So I raided Pinterest boards on Friday for some healthy ideas. Sometime around 45 minutes later—after ogling pictures of adorable bulldog puppies and discovering exercises “guaranteed” to shrink my belly in 10 days—inspiration hit. I was going to make fruit kebabs. I mean who can argue with anything that Martha Stewart posts on her Pinterest board?

Since the BBQ was after the Color Run I decided to go with the rainbow theme and make rainbow fruit kebabs. These are hands down one of the easiest side dishes you can imagine. All you need to do is dice up some fruit, arrange the pieces on a skewer, and VOILA! You can get creative with the types of fruit you chose depending on what is in season.

Aside from making these spectacular kebabs, we had a few other fun activities over the weekend. On Saturday evening Matt and I saw D’Angelo in concert. I’ll admit, prior to the concert, the only D’Angelo song I remember was this one from high school. Wait until about minute 1:00 AND… drool. Then on Sunday we went to a lovely outdoor wedding for our apartment building neighbors.

IMG_9625

Rainbow Fruit Kebabs Recipe
Makes approcimately 20 fruit kebabs

Ingredients
10 large strawberries, halved
1 pound apricots, halved
1 pineapple, cut into chunks
5 kiwi, sliced
1 pint blueberries
1 cup grapes, seedless
20 skewers

Directions
Thread the strawberries, apricots, pineapple, kiwi, blueberries, and grapes alternately onto skewers, placing one to two pieces of fruit on each skewer. Arrange the fruit skewers decoratively on a serving platter.

Heather’s Helpful Hints 
Don’t feel that you have to stick to the fruit in the recipe. Feel free to get creative and swap out anything that you prefer. Maybe peaches instead of apricots or watermelon instead of strawberries. Have fun with whatever fruits are in season!

FullSizeRender_1

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Truffles


Dinner parties are fun, wouldn’t you agree?

Last weekend Matt and I had dinner with our downstairs neighbors in our apartment. They cooked dinner and we offered to bring dessert. No big surprises there. I was tasked with coming up with a dessert that was dairy, gluten, and egg free. It’s the first time I’ve been faced with such requirements as a baker and I was up to the challenge. I spent Friday looking at gluten free and vegan baking blogs trying to find some inspiration.

Deciding to bake a vegan dessert can seem like a daunting commitment. No milk? No eggs? Wait…no BUTTER?! But, thankfully, just because we’ve grown up thinking that we needed eggs to make our cakes rise and butter to make them rich, doesn’t make it true. And vegan desserts prove that. While they aren’t quite like traditional desserts, they’re just as good. Sometimes even better.

These peanut butter chocolate truffles fall into the ‘sometimes even better’ category. Aside from being truly decadent, these truffles will leave you intensely satisfied. One of the things I really like about this recipe is that it only requires five ingredients. No special gluten-free flour or almond paste. There’s a good chance that you already have these ingredients in your pantry.


Peanut Butter and Chocolate Truffles

Servings: 20 • Size: 1 truffle • Calories: 156.0 • Fat: 6.1 g • Carbs: 25.0 g • Fiber: 2.9 g • Protein: 2.1 g • Sugar: 20.5 g • Sodium: 98 mg

Ingredients
16 ounces Medjool dates, pitted
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup natural salted creamy peanut butter
1 heaping cup dairy-free bittersweet or dark chocolate
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil

Instructions
Blend/pulse your dates until they completely mixed and form a ball in your food processor. Add 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and mix once more to incorporate. Using a small melon baller, scoop out small balls and roll/form them into balls. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for 20-30 minutes to set.

In the meantime, drizzle on peanut butter until the top is coated. If your peanut butter is super firm and not spreadable (meaning it’s either dry or not the natural variety), add it to a small mixing bowl with ½ tablespoon of coconut oil and microwave to melt. Stir to combine, then proceed as instructed. Freeze again for another 15-20 minutes, or until the peanut butter has formed a semi-firm “shell.”

Warm the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave in 30 second increments with 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Remove truffles from freezer and, using a fork, scoop truffles up and quickly immerse in chocolate, using a small spoon to drizzle chocolate evenly on top. Then gently shake off excess chocolate and place back on parchment-lined baking sheet.

Top truffles with a small sprinkle of sea salt (optional), and repeat until all truffles are coated. Place back in freezer or fridge to set – about 30 minutes. Set out from the freezer or fridge to serve. For softer truffles, let come to room temperature.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
If your dates are not quite combining, drizzle in a tiny bit of warm water (1 teaspoon at a time) scraping down sides as needed, and mix until a rough paste or ball forms. If you add too much water it will be difficult to handle them later as they won’t freeze up well.

Dark Chocolate and Date Granola Bites

IMG_9398

Things have been a little quiet in the Sweet Precision kitchen lately. Don’t worry, I haven’t disappeared. And I actually HAVE been baking things. I’ve just been a little remiss when it comes to snapping some pictures and coming up with inspiration for a post. So instead of coming up with something witty to write about, I thought I’d just tell you how we’ve all been doing over the past month!

Life has been unexpectedly relaxing in Ann Arbor as we’ve headed into summer. Matt finished up his third year of school and is now beginning to study for his preliminary exam which he will take in August. One look at the list of books he is required to read has me thankful that my summer reading list only includes this and this. I had a quick trip to Minnesota to see a friend graduate as a Physician Assistant and to celebrate Mother’s Day. We then got to entertain when my college roomie visited Ann Arbor for a long weekend. Maya has been taking obedience classes (with limited success) and much amusement on our part. And now that it’s June, we Matt can plant the seedlings in our his garden. So that’s a run-down of what we’ve been up to over the past month!

Now onto the baking side of things…

Today, I wanted to share a no-bake recipe with you because as summer heats up, I find myself wanting to use my oven less and less. These granola bites are incredibly versatile and you can tailor them to include whatever strikes your fancy. I think they’re a great snack to keep in the refrigerator for those moments when you need a little treat. They’re like a homemade granola bar, but have the bonus of coming in a portion-controlled, bite size piece.

IMG_9394

Dark Chocolate and Date Granola Bites

Servings: 24 • Size: 1 inch balls • Calories: 106.0 • Fat: 4.0 g • Carbs: 19.0 g • Fiber: 1.0 g • Protein: 1.0 g • Sugar: 15.0 g • Sodium: 1.0 mg

Ingredients
1 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 cups dry old-fashioned oats
4 ounces unsalted cashews (chopped)
4 ounces mini dark chocolate chips

Directions
On a cutting board, roughly chop the cashews and set aside. Combine the dates and honey in a food processor, and pulse until smooth and combined. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, and stir in the oats, cashews, and dark chocolate chips until evenly combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Once the mixture is cool (and easier to work with), use a spoon or cookie scoop to shape it into your desired size of energy balls. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
Dates are a great alternative for sugar in certain recipes. With a subtle sweetness, they can be perfect for brownie batter or the base of homemade granola bars. Substitute two-thirds cup for one cup of regular sugar.

IMG_9408

Easy Weeknight Chili Recipe

IMG_9173

After a few beautiful 70 degree days, I was just beginning to think that summer was right around the corner. But then the inevitable happened last week… snowflakes. It was with much resistance that I broke out my winter jacket and mittens for one final hurrah. All grumbling and complaints aside, the unseasonably cold weather did give me the perfect excuse to cook one of my favorite winter meals—homemade chili. So before the Sweet Precision kitchen plunges into refreshing summer recipes, I’ll pass along one final dish that is perfect for dinner on a chilly evening.

I love this chili recipe because it comes together so quickly. Any professional chef will tell you that true flavor complexity is achieved by simmering your chili for many hours. However, the reality is that we don’t always have that much time to spare on a weeknight! This recipe includes enough spices to leave you with a complex flavor without hours of simmering. I like to make this recipe on a Sunday and then use the leftovers for lunch during the week.

One quick note about the chicken stock in this recipe. You’re free to use whatever version of stock you prefer. Whether it be bouillon cubes, canned stock, or even homemade stock. For years my dad used to tease me about using store-bought chicken stock. He would shake his head as I would explain that I simply didn’t have enough time make homemade stock for all my recipes. Well let me say that after using homemade stock in several recipes, I can say that you definitely can tell the difference. AND… it’s 100% worth it to take the time to make a big batch and store some in your freezer for future use. I’ll be posting about making homemade stock in the future, but for now feel free to check out this great recipe at All Recipes.

IMG_9168

Easy Weeknight Chili Recipe

Servings: 6 • Size: 1.5 cups • Calories: 260 • Fat: 4.0 g • Carbs: 34.0 g • Fiber: 9.0 g • Protein: 25.0 g • Sugar: 11.0 g • Sodium: 367.0 g

Ingredients
16 ounces lean ground beef (96% lean)
1 bell pepper chopped
1/2 cup onion chopped
2 garlic cloves
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (no salt added)
6 ounce can tomato paste
16 ounce can dark red kidney beans (reduced sodium)
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup frozen corn
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions
In a large pot, brown beef on medium heat, breaking up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. When cooked through, add pepper, onion, and garlic and cook 2-3 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, beans, chicken broth, corn, and spices. Bring to a boil and simmer about 10-15 minutes.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
A killer bowl of chili is not complete without toppings! Don’t forget to finish off your chili with some of your favorite toppings. I love Greek yogurt, sliced scallions, and of course plenty of grated cheddar cheese.

IMG_9172

Peach Upside Down Cake

IMG_9114

As a baker, usually I make something for a specific purpose. Whether it’s a cake for someone’s birthday or brownies for a work potluck—most of my desserts have a predetermined destination before I set foot in the kitchen. Last Saturday was one of those rare occasions that I stepped into the kitchen and baked a cake on a whim. No special occasion necessary other than the fact that both Matt and I wanted a treat. It should be no surprise that this cake mysteriously disappeared from our kitchen over the course of the weekend.

You might remember my recipe last year for a Pineapple Upside Down Cake. This cake is one of my absolute favorite desserts for many reasons. Most importantly, you don’t have to worry about frosting or decorating this cake. All you have to do is invert the cake pan and voila, you have your finished product. I also love the versatility of the recipe. You can use virtually any combination of fruit that you’d like to incorporate. Last weekend I tweaked the recipe a little and swapped out the pineapple and cherries for peaches and raspberries. Upside down cakes are a classic American dessert and were very popular in the 1950’s and 1960’s. I say why not give this cake a bit of a revival in your kitchen?!

IMG_9113

Peach Upside Down Cake
Makes approximately 8 servings

Peach Topping Ingredients
1/4 cup butter (melted)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup canned peaches cut into slices
1/2 cup fresh raspberries

Cake Ingredients
1/2 cup + 1/3 cup cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 egg yolks (room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 1/8 cup full-fat buttermilk (room temperature)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit 20 minutes before baking the cake.

Spray a 9” round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray, and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Melt the butter and pour into the prepared cake pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar onto the melted butter. Top with peach and place raspberries between the peach pieces. Set aside, while working on your cake batter.

Onto a parchment paper, sift together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Once all of the egg yolks are incorporated, add the vanilla extract and mix in.

Alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk, 1/3 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Start with 1/3 of the dry, mix well, and then add 1/3 of the buttermilk, and repeat two more times with remaining ingredients. Once everything is incorporated, beat well with a rubber spatula to make sure your batter is fully mixed and fluffy.

Pour batter into prepared pan with topping, and smooth with the spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. Check the cake after 20 minutes. When it is done, the top of the cake should be golden brown and spring back when lightly pressed in the center. A cake tester should come out clean. It should have begun to shrink away from the sides of the pan. Remove the pan to a cooling rack. Let rest 5 minutes. Run a small knife or metal spatula around the sides of the pan and invert the cake onto a cooling rack or cardboard cake round. Serve warm or and room temperature.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
Full fat buttermilk makes the best baked goods, but it’s hard to find a container smaller than a quart. So what should you do after you’re done with that buttermilk recipe but there’s still some left in the carton? Freeze it! Try freezing 1 tablespoon portions in ice cube trays. Once frozen, the cubes can be stored in a freezer bag and since they’re already measured, you can just pull out the number of tablespoon-cubes called for in a recipe. Freezing will cause the buttermilk to separate so just be sure to whisk it up before using in your recipe.

IMG_9112

Strawberry Birthday Cake

IMG_8822

I’m celebrating my birthday today, and everyone’s invited!

My favorite birthday tradition revolves around eating the most delicious strawberry cake you will ever taste. It’s a ritual I’ve had ever since I can remember. When I was younger, my mom always baked this cake for my birthday. I even remember her making it for my roommates and I when we were in college. It’s a recipe that’s been passed around between friends and family for years and has become one of my favorite cakes to bake… and eat.

This year was no different. I made my birthday cake last night and got to spend a few peaceful moments to myself in the kitchen. As I was baking, I started thinking about how 31 years of collecting knowledge is pretty cool. Tucking lessons away like lint collected in a  pocket. Saved tidbits from parents, friends and strangers. Things I’ve learned from wild successes and blunt failures. Afterwards, I was inspired to make a list of life lessons and truths that I’ve learned thus far. So without further ado, in no particular order, here are 31 things I have learned and know to be true on my birthday this year.

1. Surround yourself with people who love you and want you to be happy.
2. Remember to be true to yourself in all things you do.
3. Do things that are uncool. Later on, they usually end up becoming cool anyway.
4. Don’t take action when you’re angry. Take a moment to calm down and ask yourself if what you’re thinking of doing is really in your best interest.
5. Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself.
6. You don’t need to stuff your feet into shoes that hurt just because the shoes are gorgeous.
7. If I tell myself I can do something, I can usually do it.
8. If I convince myself I can’t do something, well then, it won’t get done.
9. Even though I might think I’m right, it doesn’t mean I always am.
10. Everybody is entitled to their opinion. I don’t have to agree with it, nor pretend I do. But their opinion belongs to them and it’s not up to me to judge.
11. A sore knee/shoulder/wrist doesn’t have to mean giving up exercise; it just means doing it differently.
12. No matter how many weights I lift, there is no way I will ever have Michelle Obama’s arms. In fact, I’ll probably injure myself instead.
13. It’s okay to wear earplugs when you’re at a concert/wedding/bar with ear-splitting music.
14. Saying no or “Sorry, I’m too busy” is okay.
15. It’s okay to ask someone to speak up or slow down if you can’t understand what they’re saying.
16. It’s okay to eat dessert first—and only.
17. It’s okay to take a nap in the middle of the day if you’re tired.
18. Don’t compare yourself or try to be someone else.
19. It’s easier to take a small action now instead of a big action “some day.”
20. Telling someone they’re wrong never leads to anything positive. Even if they’re wrong.
21. It’s OK if you don’t like something. Just don’t pretend that you do.
22. Stop watching so much TV.
23. Don’t listen to anybody who tells you “you’re missing out” by not going somewhere or doing something. You’re only missing out if you believe you’re missing out.
24. Do activities by yourself. Solo social activities (movies, dinner, concerts, travel) can be a lot of fun.
25. Stop texting or checking your phone when you’re with other people. It’s rude and it’s sad.
26. Drink more water.
27. Don’t compare yourself to other people. Compare yourself to you.
28. Friends really do come and go. Some come back. Some don’t. That’s OK.
29. You will make mistakes. So what?
30. It’s OK to feel sad.
31. It’s hard to accept your privilege in life. Doing so will make you more aware of the challenges and obstacles others face.

IMG_8831

Strawberry Birthday Cake
Serves approximately 12 people 

Cake Ingredients
1 box white cake mix
6 oz box strawberry jello
3 tablespoons flour
4 eggs
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup frozen strawberries (thawed and chopped)
1/2 cup water

Frosting Ingredients
16 oz box confectioners sugar
1/4 cup frozen strawberries (thawed and chopped)
1/2 cup butter

Directions
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9 inch round baking pans and set aside.

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix wet ingredients together, including strawberries. Slowly stir wet ingredients in with the dry being careful not to over mix the batter. Pour batter into baking rounds and bake in the oven and bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in the pan and then invert onto a baking rack to cool completely before frosting.

For frosting, cream together butter and powdered sugar using an electric mixer. Make sure butter is at room temperature prior to mixing. At very end, slowly add room temperature strawberries and blend until well mixed.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
Working with buttercream frosting can be tricky. If you’re frosting is “broken” the fat and liquid won’t emulsify, and you’ll be left with a bowl of fat globules that look like cottage cheese with soupy liquid in the bottom. The first potential issue is inconsistent temperature. Both your egg/sugar mixture and your butter must be at the same temperature. Another issue might be excess liquid. Unwanted liquid can result either from the addition of fruit or other moist flavorings. The best plan is to avoid a broken buttercream in the first place. You can do this by adding fruit and flavorings a little at a time. However, broken buttercream happens to even the best of us. Here’s how to get yourself back on track.

Step 1: Try mixing it a little longer and see if it comes together on its own.
Step 2: If it doesn’t come together with additional mixing, scoop out a cup of curdled mixture and microwave 5 to 10 seconds, until melted but not hot.
Step 3: Pour melted buttercream into the mixer while on medium speed and whip until combined. This works every time.

The Young Baker

Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins

IMG_8656

Seventeen degrees below zero. That is the temperature my iPhone read when Matt and I walked out the door yesterday. It’s the type of weather that makes you want to wear a massive jumper to work and put a pair of tights on under your pants. Even for a Minnesota girl, these temperatures are chilly enough to make me want to crawl back under the covers. Even our puppy went outside and did her business in record time. She then promptly looked up at me with eyes that said, “Carry me back inside… pleeease mommy!” Given the circumstances, I didn’t hesitate to pick her up and carry her back to the door.

One thing I love about the winter months is the fact you can use your stove as another heating source! Unlike the summer months when the absolute last thing you want to do is turn on the oven, it becomes an added bonus in the winter. This past weekend, I took advantage of the extra warmth provided by our stove and made a few batches of muffins. As you know, I’ve been on a muffin kick lately in the Sweet Precision kitchen. I love muffins because they’re so easy to whip up and there are infinite variations possible. This week I tried a mixture of oatmeal with applesauce to create a tasty and classic breakfast muffin. This recipe doesn’t have a lot of add-ins, which means that you can get creative by adding in fruit or nuts to spice things up a little bit!

IMG_8657

Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins

Servings: 12 • Size: 1 muffin • Calories: 113 • Fat: 1.0 g • Carbs: 23.0 g • Fiber: 2.0 g • Protein: 4.0 g • Sugar: 11.0 g • Sodium: 297.0 g

Ingredients
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1 egg

Directions
Place oats in a small bowl, pour in buttermilk. Let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.

In a large bowl, stir together whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda and brown sugar. Stir in oat/buttermilk mixture, applesauce and egg; mix well. Pour batter into prepared muffin cups.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
If your muffin cups are filled more than 3/4 full the muffins will have flat “flying saucer” tops. This is because enough room is needed for the muffin to expand before reaching the top of the cup!

IMG_8660

Valentine’s Rice Krispies Treats

IMG_8632

Winter has arrived in full force here in Ann Arbor. We received 15 inches of snow last week, and the forecast is still calling for more. It’s easy to be glum about the short days and bitter winds. Especially when Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, portending six more weeks of winter. However, there is so much to love about the season! Here are just a few of my favorite things about winter, which will hopefully have you embracing the next inch or two of snow that arrives in your driveway.

1. Tights and leggings
2. Cold, crisp air
3. Hot apple cider
4. Justifiable hibernation
5. Snow days and snow emergencies
6. Seeing your pets reaction to the snow
7. Winter sunrises
8. The first snow of the year
9. Fuzzy socks
10. Comfort food

Speaking of comfort food… a chilly winter day is all the motivation I need to do some serious baking. One of my favorite snacks growing up were the pre-packaged Rice Krispies that came in a little blue package. My mom and I used to buy them in bulk at Sams Club. While I don’t snack on them that often these days, I still enjoy one from the vending machine now and then. This week in the Sweet Precision kitchen, I decided to be a little creative and make some Valentine’s Day inspired Rice Krispies. All you need is a cookie cutter, red or pink candy melts, and some red sprinkles to take this every day dessert to the next level.

IMG_8629

Valentine’s Rice Krispies Treats
Makes approximately 24 treats

Ingredients
1/4 cup butter
4 cups miniature marshmallows
5 cups Rice Krispies cereal
red or pink candy melts

Directions
Melt margarine in large sauce pan over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until melted and well-blended. Cook 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add cereal. Stir until well coated.

Using buttered spatula or waxed paper, press mixture evenly and firmly in buttered 13 x 9 inch pan. Cut the treats into heart shapes with a 2- 3-inch cookie cutter when cool.

Melt the candy melts according to the package directions. Transfer into a plastic bag with a corner cut off for piping. Decorate with sprinkles and let chocolate set before serving. Enjoy!

Heather’s Helpful Hints
When making your treats, don’t crank the heat on the stovetop too high. I get it, you want to get these quick-to-make treats set as soon as possible so you can dig in. High heat is the prime culprit for rock hard Rice Krispies. It will take a few more minutes of cook time, but melt the butter and marshmallows over low heat. You’ll be rewarded with delicious, soft and chewy treats!

IMG_8633

Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins

IMG_8446

It feels like the month of January has flown by in record time! Matt and I rung in 2015 with family in Minnesota. Since then we’ve slowly been getting back into our groove in Ann Arbor. After two weeks of vacation, coming back to work is always challenging. However, there’s always some comfort in settling back into a routine and what is familiar.

I decided not to make any resolutions in 2015 because I inevitably start to lose motivation by the time February rolls around. Instead I decided to dedicate myself to working out with a trainer doing semi-private lessons with one of my workout buddies. I usually really enjoy group fitness classes so I was a little skeptical of working out with just one other person. Although each session is challenging, I’ve found that I’m really enjoying myself! One of the hardest parts is waking up for our 6 am workouts once a week. Although I am a morning person, it’s hard to get myself out of bed that early. Once I’m awake, the bigger question then becomes what on earth do I eat so early in the morning?!

These oatmeal blueberry muffins are the perfect answer to that question. They are packed with healthy ingredients and even got a thumbs up from Matt in a taste test. I love popping one in the microwave for a quick and easy snack. Considering they only have 130 calories and 2 grams of fat, you can indulge without guilt. So give these muffins a try and enjoy!

IMG_8456

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins
Makes approximately12 muffins

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups quick oats
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons agave
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh blueberries

Directions
Preheat oven to 400°. Line a muffin tin with liners and lightly spray with oil.

Place oats in a food processor or chopper and pulse a few times. Soak oats in milk for about 30 minutes.

In a medium bowl combine brown sugar, agave, apple sauce, vanilla, egg whites, oil and mix well.
In a third bowl combine whole wheat flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and whisk to combine.

Combine oats and milk with sugar, applesauce mixture and mix well. Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Fold in blueberries.

Spoon into the muffin tin and bake for 22-24 minutes.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
When you bake with fresh or frozen blueberries, the color is affected by the level of acidity in the batter. If the batter has a bit too much baking soda, the blueberries turn green around the edges. You can balance the acidity by adding in a little extra vinegar (or buttermilk, or whatever acid that is called for in the recipe) to balance out the extra baking soda, or you could even use a touch less baking soda in the next recipe.

IMG_8448