Thursday, September 26, 2013

Eat Your Veggies: Zucchini Tots

The heavens opened up and the angels sang when I discovered this recipe.  I am going to be perfectly honest with you all.  I am not a natural vegetable lover.  Sure, I love a good salad and veggies like carrots, corn, squash...the usual suspects.  Unfortunately, I have had an aversion to green beans, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and broccoli since childhood.  I know green vegetables are important in my diet and I am always on the lookout for recipes that will help me to enjoy them.  I hit the veggie jackpot when I found the original recipe for these tots from Gina's Skinnytaste website. Click the link in blue if you would like to see her recipe.

I made a few changes and these have become a hands down favorite recipe in my family.  My husband could easily eat these everyday if left to his own devices. The recipe as written makes a dozen mini muffin sized tots that will feed 4 people.  You can double this recipe and feed these little beauties as fun and healthy finger food for a party.

Zucchini Tots
3 or 4 servings

1 large zucchini
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1/4 shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 egg substitute
1/4 plain breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a mini sized muffin tray with cooking spray.  Using a box grater, grate the zucchini until you have just over one cup.  Using a clean kitchen towel, squeeze all of the moisture out of the shredded zucchini.
Place the zucchini in a mixing bowl and add all of the other ingredients.  Stir until thoroughly mixed.  Spoon mixture into the muffin tin being sure to pack it down into the muffin cups.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.  Cool before removing from the muffin tin with a small spatula or knife.  Enjoy!
Tasty Tidbits:
Chemo has been kicking my butt but I am trying to get into the swing of blogging more.
I am looking forward to updating my fall wardrobe and I have already purchased a few pieces.
The weather is cooling down a bit and I am ready to start baking.
I haven't scrapbooked in a few years but I purchased one of Becky Higgin's Project Life kits and I can't wait to get started.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Chemo Beauty: Put Your Best Face Forward

As a chemo patient, do you know what I see when I look in the mirror?  I see an egg with eyes.  No, don't laugh at me.  I see an egg shaped bald head with no eyebrows and very few eyelashes so my eyes stand out even more.  Even though my big browns stand out, they are rimmed with dark circles that just make me look ill.  I don't want to look like an egg with eyes.  During this often difficult and stressful time, I want to look like myself again.  I have developed an easy makeup routine that uses affordable drug store products.  This simple but effective makeup helps me remember me...the me before chemo took away my hair, eyebrows, lashes and glowing skin.
When applying makeup always start with a freshly washed and moisturized face.  For my easy everyday look, I prefer to use a BB cream rather than a heavy foundation.  One of my favorites is the L'Oreal Magic BB Cream.  The formula is lightweight and non greasy but still gives a nice amount of coverage.  My next step is to deal with the heavy dark circles that chemo has given me.  I love the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circle Treatment Concealer.  This product is made for the delicate under eye area and it does not settle into fine lines and wrinkles but gives great coverage for dark circles.  After these two steps, I like to set everything with a pressed powder to help control shine and give my look all day staying power. One of my current favorites is L'Oreal Paris True Match Super Blendable Powder.  This powder creates a nice finish that never looks dry or chalky.  To get the glow back that chemo takes away, I love using bronzer and blush.  The e.l.f. Studio Contouring Blush & Bronzing Powder contains a matte bronzer that warms the skin and can be also used as a contour.  It is paired with a beautiful blush that adds life back into the cheeks. 
For my everyday look, I prefer a neutral eye in a matte finish.  I am LOVING the Sonia Kashuk Eye on Neutral Eye Shadow Palette.  These shadows have very nice pigmentation and last all day when I use them with my e.l.f. Primer and Liner Sealer.  Eyebrows are very important in my makeup routine because I don't have any!  I create a perfectly natural looking brow by using two products from e.l.f.  I use the double ended e.l.f. Eyebrow Lifter & Filler pencil and the brow powder from the e.l.f. Studio Eyebrow Kit.  I line my eyes with the Rimmel Scandal Eyes Waterproof Kohl Eyeliner.  These Rimmel liners glide on smoothly and set for a smudge proof finish that lasts all day.  Luckily, I still have a few good eyelashes left on my upper lids.  My bottom lashes are basically gone, so I don't bother even trying to use mascara on the remaining few.  I find that I need two types of mascara to get those lashes looking good and up to their full potential.  I start with a lengthening mascara like L'Oreal Paris Telescopic Mascara Clean Definition.  This mascara helps define and lengthen my chemo screwy lashes.  My lashes are short on the top and they seem to grow in strange directions now.  Using a lengthening mascara helps sets them back in the right direction.  After a coat of the first mascara, I then use L'Oreal Paris Carbon Black Voluminous Mascara.  This formula adds volume and thickness without clumps.  
Because of chemo, I tend to suffer from dry lips.  Due to dry lips, I no longer enjoy wearing thicker, matte lipsticks.  I have become a huge fan of the balm stain and lip butter formulas for my lip looks.  For a quick sweep of color that really feels moist on the lips, I use the Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter.  If I want something with more staying power, the Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain gives long lasting color with a minty scent that it is easy to apply and no mirror is needed. 

There you have it.  The products I use on a daily basis to get a natural but put together makeup look.  If you want to "step up" this look for a special occasion, I recommend the following products.
To achieve a more perfect and matte look foundation finish, I really enjoy Covergirl Outlast Stay Fabulous 3-in-1 Foundation. This foundation gives almost full coverage in a formula that includes a built in primer and SPF protection.  Your skin will look matte but not dry and the coverage lasts all day.  I rarely wear foundation but this is my go to product when I want that flawless face look.  Contouring and highlighting can add dimension to the face.  You can slim up your cheekbones and contour your entire face with the Milani Bronzer XL in Bronze Glow.  The bronzer in this duo has a matte finish which makes it perfect for using as a contour as well as a bronzer.  To get a subtle glow and highlight, try the Hard Candy Moon Glow Shimmering Luminizing Translucent Powder.  You can sweep this powder on the top of your cheekbones, center of the forehead, cupid's bow and tip of the nose to light up your face.  For a more dramatic cheek look, try the Nyx Powder Blush in Pinched.  This is a beautiful blush in a really flattering pink color that looks great on most skin tones. 

Now you know!  Products to achieve a perfect and easy daytime look and a few items to punch that look up to the next level.  Next up:  A step by step tutorial of how I apply and use these products.  Stay tuned!

Daily Bits:
*Pumpkin EVERYTHING is showing up in the stores and I am loving it!
*I am making Chicken Parmigiana for dinner tonight
*I want to start baking pumpkin bread even though it has been in the high 90's here
*Just received my Ipsy Glam Bag the other day so stayed tuned for my monthly review post

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Channel Your Inner 7 Year Old: Crispy Baked Chicken Nuggets

Do you ever have one of those days where you just want something crunchy, crispy and nugget like?  Chicken nuggets are a kid friendly staple but those of us over 18 enjoy them too.  My oven baked crispy chicken nuggets are a childhood classic with a more sophisticated twist.  Tender bites of chicken breast are coated with Greek yogurt to keep them moist and coated with corn flake crumbs seasoned with a variety of spices and kicked up with the smokiness of chipotle chili powder.
These nuggets are baked in the oven to crispy perfection so they won't break the bank when it comes to your daily calorie and fat intake.  I like to serve them with my husband's homemade barbecue sauce but almost any dipping sauce would be delicious.  Enjoy!

Oven Baked Crispy Chicken Nuggets
serves 4

2 large whole boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
2 cups plain corn flakes
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/4 cup reduced fat parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (mine is from Penzeys)
Fresh ground pepper
Sea sat
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.   Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.  Cut the chicken breasts into even nugget sized pieces and season with ground pepper and sea salt. In a large ziplock bag, add the cornflakes, onion powder, garlic powder, parmesan cheese and chipotle chili powder.  Add in a few grinds of black pepper and sea salt. Close the bag and use a rolling pin to crush the cornflakes.

Set the bag of seasoned corn flake crumbs aside.  Using a brush, coat each piece of chicken with the Greek yogurt.  Add the coated pieces of chicken to the bag of crumbs in batches.  Shake the bag to coat the chicken pieces.  Place on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for approximately 15 minutes and until crispy and golden.  Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Easy & Delicious: Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

Have I told you how much I LOVE my slow cooker?  There is nothing better than doing a bit of quick prep work and throwing everything into the slow cooker and walking away.  I can sail through the rest of my day knowing that dinner is handled.  Even better are the wonderful smells that fill your home all day while your dinner is slowly cooking away.

Slow cooking fits my chemo lifestyle as well.  In between treatments when I get the "cooking bug", I can whip up large quantities of food to freeze for when I can't cook during treatments.  As a chemo patient, your appetite can be so finicky and you just never know what will sound good to eat.  It is so nice to have a selection of healthy, home cooked frozen meals to have at your disposal.

This hearty Chicken Chili is a meal in a bowl.  I like to garnish mine with plain nonfat Greek yogurt and fresh chopped cilantro.  It makes a perfect autumn dinner and the leftovers are even better the next day for lunch.

My recipe is adapted from Gina's recipe on her Skinnytaste website.  Skinnytaste is one of my favorite websites for healthy and delicious recipes.  My family did not like the use of the packaged taco seasoning in the original recipe so I changed it up by using my own spices.  Here is the original recipe---> Skinnytaste Chicken Crock Pot Chili.
Slow Cooker Chicken Chili
serves 10

1 large onion chopped
1 can kidney beans rinsed and drained
1 can black beans rinsed and drained
1 can original Rotel
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1 12 ounce bag frozen corn kernels
3 or 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried jalapeno flakes (mine are from Penzeys)
1 teaspoon ground ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon ground chipotle chili powder
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Plain nonfat Greek yogurt (optional)
Fresh chopped cilantro (optional)

Combine all ingredients except for the chicken in the slow cooker.  Place chicken breasts on top. Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 6 hours (10 hours on low).  Half an hour before the cooking time is up, remove the chicken breasts from the slow cooker.  Shred the chicken with two forks and stir it back into the slow cooker.  Continue cooking.  Serve with a garnish of plain Greek yogurt and chopped cilantro.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What's In My Ipsy Glam Bag for August?

It is a great mail day when I find this shiny bubble wrap package in my mailbox.  My Glam Bag has arrived!  For those not in the know, the Ipsy Glam Bag is a monthly beauty subscription service.  Ten dollars a month gets you a bag of goodies complete with a makeup bag each and every month.  Products may include makeup, skincare and hair care.  If you are interested in starting your own Glam Bag subscription or learning more about the program, click here--->Get My Glam Bag!  Now, let's get into the goodies, shall we?

This has to be the cutest little lipstick I have ever seen.  Urban Decay's Revolution Lipstick in Anarchy is a beautiful and vibrant rose pink tone.  This formula is supposed to plump the lips and deliver maximum color payoff with a creamy shine.  This is a very generous sized sampled with beautiful packaging that is perfect for slipping into your handbag.  
Now we move from the lips to the lashes with Lash Booster Mascara by Pixi in Blackest Black.  Again, this is a very generous sized sample with a full sized brush.  This formula is both smudge proof and waterproof.  I will say that I am not a fan of waterproof mascara.  Being a chemo patient, I have very sparse eyelashes that I would prefer to keep and not lose from trying to remove waterproof mascara. If this had been a regular formula, I would be thrilled with this product.  
Here we have Mineral Eye Shadow in Bronze from Mica Beauty.  This is a mid-toned, shimmery bronze powder formula shadow that is extremely gentle, free of preservatives, chemicals, dyes, talc, oils, and other fillers.  This shadow is supposed to apply extremely smooth and last for hours without creasing.  This product is perfect for me.  I love bronze toned shadows with a bit of shimmer and I can't wait to try it.  Ipsy has given us another generous sized sample with very nice packaging. 
The Chella Dazzling Dark Brown Eyebrow Color Pencil is a twist up, mechanical pencil style for the brows.  I am thrilled to have received this generously sized sample.  Again, as a chemo patient, I have no eyebrows right now and I use brow pencil almost everyday to drawn on my brows.  Thumbs up for this one!
My bag included one skin care item that I am very interested in trying.  The Jojoba Charcoal Gentle Exfoliating Facial Scrub from Michael Todd is said to remove dead skin and impurities with jojoba wax beads and the power of activated charcoal.  I have heard so much buzz about this skin care line and this generously size one ounce tube will be put to the test.  
How exciting is this?  A full sized Urban Decay Intergalactic eye shadow in the beautiful shade of Moondust. This is a beautiful shadow that sparkles like nothing I have ever seen before.  It will be perfect for an evening look and the formula is very smooth and not chalky or powdery.  The packaging is also lovely.  
Last but not least, one of my favorite things about Ipsy...the cosmetic bag that comes with each Glam Bag.  This month's theme is Glamour Academy and the bag is a vibrant plum color with gold embossed Ipsy Glamour Academy crests and a zip top.  Cute and glamorous! 

Ipsy has another satisfied Glam Bag subscriber again this month and I am already anticipating next month's bag.  If after reading my review and seeing the products you would like to sign up to start your own Glam Bag subscription, click here--->Get My Glam Bag!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Recipe Remix: Strawberry Protein Pancakes

Last month I posted a very popular recipe for Blueberry Protein Pancakes.  These are so fluffy and delicious yet they give a powerful protein punch to get your day started the right way.  The other day I woke up craving a warm plateful of these so I started pulling the ingredients to get a batch started.  I suddenly realized that I had placed my last couple of overripe bananas in the freezer.  This recipe uses mashed banana as a fat substitute but the bananas I had were frozen bricks.  I thought I was going to have to scrap my breakfast plans but then I remembered that I often use unsweetened applesauce as a fat substitute.  I pulled out the jar and figured I could replace the mashed banana with half a cup of the applesauce.  I made no other changes to the recipe and they turned out delicious!
This version uses sliced frozen strawberries in the batter and I topped the stack with extra berries that had been warmed up and some sugar free maple syrup.  So delicious!  You really need to make these for breakfast.
Strawberry Protein Pancakes
(1 serving)

1/2 cup old fashioned oats (not instant oatmeal)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons of vanilla protein powder (I use Aria)
1 packet stevia or sugar substitute of choice
1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup Egg Beaters
splash of vanilla extract
1 handful of frozen strawberries

Heat a nonstick pan sprayed with cooking spray over medium heat.  Place oatmeal in a food processor (I use my Ninja blender) and pulse until oatmeal has turned into flour.  Place all other ingredients except for strawberries into food processor and pulse to blend until smooth.  Remove blade from processor and fold frozen strawberries into the mixture.  Drop by spoonfuls onto prepared hot pan.  These pancakes do not bubble like traditional pancakes so check for desired color after 1 minute and then flip to cook other side. Serve with syrup of choice or additional fruit.

Some of My Favorite Things-Beauty and More

I bet I caught your attention with the soulful brown eyed cutie in my title picture, didn't I?  Well, more about him later.  Let's talk about some of the beauty products I have been loving and using for the past month or so.
My first love is this fabulous nail polish called On a Trip from the Megalast line by Wet n Wild.  I really do love these nail polishes.  They are super affordable and have very fashion forward colors.  When used with the Seche Vite topcoat, I can easily get almost two weeks of wear out of my manicure.  This shade is just a beautiful mix of purple and blue.
The Expert Sensitive Gentle Refreshing Toner by Boots quickly became a favorite of mine.  Toners usually have a reputation for being harsh and stinging the skin.  This is one is completely different.  The formula is as gentle as water yet it removes any leftover dirt and makeup from the skin.  It is so gentle, you can even use it on your eyes with no irritation...seriously!  For days when chemo has gotten the best of me and I just don't feel well, cleansing with a makeup wipe and then using this toner help keep my skin in shape.  You can only purchase the Boots line at Target here in the states.  This product seems to be catching on because many times when I shop at Target, this toner is not in stock.  I have started buying it in twos so I don't run out.
Bath & Body Works had their huge half yearly sale last month in July and I indulged (a few times).  I had forgotten how much I enjoy the Cherry Blossom scent from B&BW until I saw the entire line during the sale. Cherry Blossom is a very romantic, powdery, soft floral scent.  I seem to get compliments whenever I wear it and it is light enough that it doesn't bother other chemo patients which is important when you are having treatment.  I like to layer for the most fragrance punch so I treated myself to the Creamy Body Wash, Triple Moisture Body Cream and Body Spray.   I much prefer the creamy formulas of body wash and lotion to Bath & Body Work's gel body wash and standard lotion.  The creamy formulas are so much more moisturizing for summer dry skin.
My next favorite is a nifty little palette from e.l.f. that I found at Target for under five dollars!  Such a deal! This is the Beach Beauty book type palette that includes eye shadows, lip glosses, blush, bronzer and highlighter.  You can do a complete makeup look with this one palette.  The e.l.f. line is a collection of really affordable products that are found at Target or on their website at  My only suggestion is to use a shadow primer with the eye shadows.  The shadows in this palette are a nice mix of colors and you can create countless looks.
Now, let's talk about a beauty UNfavorite.  I was very excited to try this product.  I had heard other people raving about it and when I opened the bottle at Ulta and sniffed, it smelled like a tropical vacation.  I am talking about the Hawaiian Tropic Shimmer Effect After Sun Moisturizer in Coconut Papaya.
This is meant to be an after sun lotion that helps moisturize the skin and leaves a light shimmer.  I can say that it smelled delicious in the store but once the lotion hit the air and my skin, it stunk like chemicals.  It had a rather plastic smell and last time I checked, coconuts and papayas don't smell like plastic.  As for moisturizing, it was no better than any other cheap, drugstore body lotion.  I was highly disappointed and it is sitting, lonely, under my bathroom sink.  I will probably end up just tossing it out which really does not make me happy.  Two BIG thumbs down.

Now on to happy things.  Yes, I am talking about the brown eyed lovey in the picture above.  Please meet  Georgie.  Georgie is the newest addition to our family and he is a purebred Yorkshire Terrier.  Georgie is a rescue pup adopted from the Yorkshire Terrier National Rescue.  

One day I was checking out Facebook like I normally do and I came across a picture of the sweetest little Yorkie I had ever seen.  His big brown eyes were so expressive and I could tell he was scared and just needed some love.  Turns out, Georgie was up for adoption and he was close to our home!  I quickly filled out the online application but was worried that I wouldn't hear anything back.  Much to my surprise, I was called the next day by Georgie's sweet foster mom.  She told me all about this little dog and we decided he would be a perfect fit for our family.  After that, things moved quickly.  My husband and I went to visit Georgie at his foster mom's house and we both fell in love with him.  A few days later, Georgie was brought to our house and we had a home inspection to make sure we had suitable conditions and a secure back yard.  Georgie had found his forever home!

We already have a one year old Yorkie named, Rigby and he and Georgie get along great.  Rigby is thrilled to have a new playmate.  I love having both dogs and refer to them as "the boys".  Adopting a rescue was the perfect fit for our family.  I wanted another dog, but I really don't have the energy for a puppy and all the work of potty training.  Georgie is a really mellow dog who loves nothing more than sitting on the couch with me or napping on the bed with me when I don't feel good.  I love him.

If you are thinking about getting a dog, please consider finding a rescue group for the breed you are interested in.