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.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Recipe Remix: Low Fat Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

A few days ago I posted a recipe for my Low Fat Lemon Chocolate Chip Cake Bars and they are a delicious combination of yellow cake and semi sweet chocolate chips topped with a refreshing fresh lemon glaze.  And they are GOOD!  Well, if you are a chocolate lover, hold on to your hats.  I remixed the recipe for the chocoholics!  These are chocolate and nothing but chocolate and are topped with a vanilla glaze...perfection!  And still low fat...woot!  Bake a batch today, you will thank me. Enjoy!

To make the bars, substitute the yellow cake mix and vanilla sugar free pudding in my original recipe with your favorite chocolate cake mix and chocolate sugar free pudding.  All other ingredients and directions stay the same.  To make the vanilla glaze use a cup of powdered sugar, two teaspoons of vanilla extract and enough drops of milk (I use almond milk) to get the right consistency and whisk it up.  After I pour the glaze on the cooled bars, I chill them in the refrigerator to set the glaze.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Let's Cook: Salmon Patties with Creamy Dill Sauce

We all know that salmon is good for us.  Salmon provides the essential Omega 3 fatty acids that provide so many health benefits.  Unfortunately, not everyone likes fresh salmon.  I love fresh salmon and eat it every chance I get.  I enjoy it simply grilled with a squeeze of fresh lemon...delicious.  If you or your family members balk at the thought of fresh salmon, try these flavorful salmon patties on for size.

Wild Alaskan caught canned salmon gets dressed up with fresh vegetables and herbs.  Shape them into patties and brown them to perfection and serve them with my fresh and creamy dill sauce.  Dill is the perfect accompaniment to salmon.  My hard and fast rule for salmon is to always buy wild caught.  Most stores carry various brands of wild caught canned salmon.  This recipe will make eight nicely sized patties and you can easily halve the recipe if you have fewer people to serve.  Enjoy!

Beth's Salmon Patties with Creamy Dill Sauce
serves 4 (2 patties per serving)

2 cans of wild caught Alaskan salmon
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 yellow bell pepper
2 large stalks celery
4 green onions
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup fresh dill
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 cup egg substitute or 2 regular eggs lightly beaten
Jucie of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Drain both cans of salmon thoroughly and place in a large bowl.  Using a fork, break up all the chunks of salmon.  Dice the peppers, celery and green onions.  Heat a non stick skillet on medium heat and spray with cooking spray.

 Lightly saute the peppers, onions an celery until bright in color and slightly soft.  Season with fresh ground pepper and salt.  Finely mince the parsley and dill and add to the vegetables.  Remove pan from heat and allow to cool slightly.  Add the bread crumbs and egg substitute to the salmon along with the cooled vegetables and herbs and lemon juice.  Season with more salt and pepper and mix thoroughly to combine.  Shape into 8 patties.  Heat a clean non stick skillet on medium heat and spray with cooking spray.  Heat the patties on each side until golden brown.  Serve with fresh lemon wedges and creamy dill sauce.
Beth's Creamy Dill Sauce

1 1/2 cups plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon mayonnaise (I use the lower fat olive oil mayo)
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 green onions chopped
1/2 cup finely minced fresh dill
Juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Season with freshly ground pepper and salt. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Something Sweet: Low Fat Lemon Chocolate Chip Cake Bars

Are you in the mood for a sweet treat?  I know I am.  Some days I just need an afternoon pick me up.  Maybe a cup of coffee or tea and a little something sweet.  I am a lover of brownies and bars more than cake or cookies.  To me, bars are the best of both worlds.

Lemon Chocolate Chip Cake Bars are my lightened up version of a traditional cake bar.  Semi sweet chocolate chips add sweetness and the fresh lemon glaze adds some tartness.  I keep these light by using unsweetened applesauce in place of oil and egg substitute instead of whole eggs.  Even with these substitutions, these bars are cake-like and moist. The lemon glaze is optional.  They are delicious without glaze or make the glaze without lemon if you prefer a simple vanilla flavor.  A really nice sweet treat for your afternoon coffee break or any time of the day.   Enjoy!
Low Fat Lemon Chocolate Chip Cake Bars
16 bars or can be halved into 32 bars

1 box white or yellow cake mix (I use Betty Crocker Super Moist)
1 box sugar-free vanilla pudding
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup liquid egg substitute
3 tablespoons plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray.  Mix cake mix and pudding in a medium size bowl.
Add the water, applesauce, egg substitute and yogurt into the cake mix and pudding.  Stir to combine.  The batter will be very thick.
Add chocolate chips to the batter and stir just to combine.  Press the batter into the bottom of the prepared cake pan.
Bake the bars for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned on top.  Do not over bake.  Remove from oven and  allow to cool while you prepare the glaze.

Lemon Glaze

Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To a small bowl, add the powdered sugar, zest, juice and vanilla extract. Stir with a whisk until combined and there are no lumps. Pour the glaze over the cooled cookie bars in an even layer. Place pan in the refrigerator to set the glaze. Cut into bars.