Pumpkin, meet Butter Cake

Hello!

I’ve missed you all sooooooo much!

45 hr of work+ nursing school = when the heck do I get to blog?

I have finished up another semester of working towards my BSN, and am on Winter Break. Alleluia! But despite that equation of little sleep, a girls still gotta eat, right? So no worries, my blog family. I’m still a cooking machine!

Last year, I brought bourbon-spiked sweet potato casserole to the table. This year, I’m still keeping it orange.

There is a bakery I grew up on in Philly called Stock’s Bakery. The sticky buns, danishes, and donuts are massive. Every Easter, Grandmom gets pound cake for everyone.

But… on special occasions, we get butter cake. Not like Betty Crocker butter cake… BUTTER CAKE!

How in the world can I make this decedent, guilty pleasure? I’ve asked the universe since I was a wee one.

When I was younger, Stock’s would sell out of butter by noon. If we remembered, we would call and reserve it. It is nothing fancy to look at:

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All Photo Credit: Stock’s Bakery Facebook

 

Off-white, cracked surface, in a shallow metal tin, wrapped in wax paper. The End.

Then you cut into it, and as you remove your knife from the pan, you watch this gooey, creamy filling mask the metal of the cutlery. This thin square you have just cut is melt-in-your-mouth heaven!

Oh my goodness, I think I’m drooling on my keyboard.. Oops!

Then, last year, on one of my Cooking Channel binders, I saw Bobby Deen make a lighter version of his Mama’s Gooey Butter Cake. Game on, Bobby, game on. After reviewing his recipe, I cut it back a bit more using applesauce, liquid egg substitute, and a reduced fat cream cheese. (I can’t believe cream cheese is the secret!) But then October hit.

It’s Pumpkin Season!!!

Then November rolled around, and suddenly, it’s Thanksgiving! The family has been in a funk over the past year, and getting even funkier, but with my own apartment, now, and a dad and an uncle so close to me, it was my turn to have my very first thanksgiving!

On the Menu:

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NOT sharing

 

  • Rosemary and apricot glazed turkey breast
  • Bourbon-Spiked Sweet Potato Casserole
  • Roasted Thyme and Lemon Veggies
  • Cranberry sauce made from scratch
  • The last of the beloved Grandmom Thanksgiving Stuffing from the freezer
  • Turkey gravy
  • Spinach Roll (A Wilmington institution, Serpe’s Bakery, caught fire last year and had to close. They reopened and we had to get a slice of tomato pie. While there, Dad mentioned how difficult it must be to make their spinach and pepperoni rolls. I accepted the challenge. I think he knew I would, that sneaky old man!)

But it isn’t quite Turkey Day without…

Turkey… duh..

No, dessert!

With pumpkin on the brain, the warming scent of cinnamon air that fills the season, and a partial (very large) can of pumpkin in the fridge, the gears began-a-turning…

When I made Bobby’s cake, the “crust” was much thicker than Stock’s. Ok, let’s cut that back. Flavor was there, but… Ok, let’s “Fall” this thing up!

 Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

10-16 slices

The Cake

  • ½ package of carrot cake or spice cake- cake mix
  • ¼ cup milk of choice
  • 1 tsp lemon juicepump
  • ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce, maybe pumpkin

The Gooey

  • 8oz fat free cream cheese, room temp
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin, NOT pie filling
  • ¼ cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp light buttery spread (like Blue Bonnet light, or Country Crock light)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ¾ cup powdered/confectioners sugar

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Mix all cake ingredients well. Transfer to a 9 inch pie pan or square pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

Beat the filling ingredients, slowly incorporating the powdered sugar. Pour over the cake batter and smooth the surface.

Bake 30-35 minutes, and allow it to rest and cool.

 

Optional: Drizzle with melted white chocolate. Why? Just because.

Nutrition (1/16):

Calories: 100, Fat: 1g, Sat. Fat: 0.4g, Cholesterol: 2.2mg, Sodium: 192.6mg, Carbs: 19.8g, Fiber: 0.7g, Sugars: 12.8g, Protein: 3g

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It is a rich cake, so with a bit of whipped cream, 1/16 is quite guiltlessly satisfying. But be my guest to cut a bigger piece… You’ll want to! 

Daniel was invited to a co-worker’s house at his new base, for which I was very thankful. I think he was super excited, too, because he baked three pies to take with him! Yeah, he bakes! Crazy, right?!

So after some good company, yummy food, a glass of wine, and a slice of Fall heaven, it was time to relax.

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The following day, I was back in the kitchen! I baked ALL day! I may or may not have raided the discount rack at the farmers market and bought like 20lb of apples….

You’d think after baking 2 apple pies, 3 batches of cookies, and about 10lb of apples worth of applesauce, I’d be exhausted, right?

I could not pass up the invitation to catch up with my friends at Tim and Tori’s house! I went to high school with both of them, and now they are engaged! Timmy was my first crush in high school and Tori is one of my bridesmaids.

I walked into Timmy and Tori’s house to see a kitchen of my high school crushes! Some of them I haven’t seen since high school graduation! It was like we never parted! Hugs and laughs the whole night! It was absolutely fantastic and just what I needed to break away from the stress, monotony, and isolation of being a working student.

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I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving, surrounded by love and laughs!

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Veggies and Vitamins

Wednesday

Since I could not squeeze in my cat nap, I took my (lack of) energy into the kitchen, along with my laptop, and channeled my racing mind into something constructive. I spent about 45 minutes sending out resumes before whipping up a fiberful and filling shake bowl, that kept me full for countless hours! It was just what I needed to power my 12 hour night shift.

Carrot Cake Protein Shake

(adapted from CCK’s Milkshake)WP_004311

  • 3 oz carrot, chopped and steamed
  • 1 frozen, very ripe banana (if not very ripe, use the frozen banana trick)
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 tsp Splenda brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • slightest pinch of salt
  • 1-2 packets Splenda, added sweetness, if desired
  • water, or milk (for richer taste)
  • ice
  • guar and xanthum (optional)

I was going to top the bowl with raisins and chopped walnuts. Sound delicious, right? Instead, I crumbled a quarter of a Cinnamon Raisin Gnu bar (Gnu makes a carrot cake bar, but I’m not a real fan of it). The bowl serious hit the spot and I wasn’t hungry for almost 8 hours!

Hard At Work

Hard At Work

My shift began a little rocky. Not because I had a tough assignment, just because I was still in a funk, dwelling over the missed job.  After getting my head back on straight, the night went great.

I brought the last piece of Eggplant Parm Frittata and topped it with Chipotle salsa. I brought a bundle of celery  sticks for snacking, and loaded up on raw veggies from the caf. I even had a bite of a butterfinger cake one of the nurse made. (Come on… did you really expect me to pass up anything with the word “butterfinger” in it?) But it only added to my  pride when I was one little sliver and done for the night! It was just enough to satisfy my sweet tooth and to say I had some!

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Later in the night, I required something… I wasn’t hungry, but I couldn’t stop thinking about eating something. Rather than hitting up that cake in the fridge, I grabbed a dum dum sucker from the basket and few Teddy Grahams, and was completely unphased!

WP_004317On my drive home, all I wanted was stewed tomatoes. I know it sounds odd, but I could just burst waiting to get my hands on that can! Upon arriving home, there were no cans of stewed tomatoes. I could have sworn I had a can! Diced? NO! Crushed? No. Fire Roasted? Gah! Where are my stewed tomatoes? Alas, I pulled a pepper out of the refrigerator and bit into it like an apple, in disappointment and defeat. I went with the flow and here I am. I just finished my shift up and am blogging away, dipping bell pepper and romaine into one of my favorite brands of sauce, Rising Moon Organics!

Hopefully, looking at a computer screen will tire me out so I can catch some Zs before tonight’s shift!

Thursday

With the success of yesterday’s Carrot Cake shake, I decided to make it for dad, today! After his first swing he said, “Hey, thats pretty good!” Following another gulp, “Cinnamon… mmmm… and I can’t taste the carrots! ” Dad doesn’t like cooked carrots… at all… same as beets… so I love when I get those veggies and vitamins in him! Later, I received a text from dad, “Damn good shake.” I think he liked it!

I had a few beets left in the fridge and definitely wanted to utilize them before they started to go bad.

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  • 1 scoop vanilla protein shake
  • 1/2 beet, peeled, chopped, and steamed
  • frozen mixed berries and fruit
  • 1/2 tsp SF orange jello powder
  • 1 packet Splenda
  • cinnamon

I wasn’t hungry but, then again, I haven’t been hungry for two days, now. I needed to eat just to try to maintain normalcy. I topped it with pretzel sticks, shredded coconut… I was so indecisive. I wound up topping it with PB2, goldfish… I just couldn’t make up my mind. Probably because I wasn’t really hungry.

I got two call backs, today, for jobs. Guess what? I didn’t qualify because I don’t have experience! It so frustrating! I was getting really down on myself. I tried to channel my feelings into a brisk walk. When I arrived at Wawa, I grabbed a coffee

Since the jar of sauce was open, and today being National Pasta Day, I drained a bag of Tofu Shirataki Spaghetti, chopped up a bunch of spinach, and topped the lot with Garlic and Chantrelle Mushroom Pasta Sauce, and bit of Chipotle salsa for a bite! However, my body had other plans. My stomach started bothering me and I felt so out of it. Well, my dinner turned into rice cakes and crackers. I guess I have dinner for tomorrow.

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Chocolate and Vanilla Cake Walk Into A Bar…

Monday

I spent the entire, and I do mean entire, day in bed! Barry and I both have night shift and neither one of us felt a real reason to get up.  In fact my “breakfast” was a sugar free oreo and a spoonful of Barry’s grandmother’s homemade apple sauce! And that’s just because Barry had them in the room! Haha!

I arrived back home, after picking up dinner for the family, and jumped in the shower. I got out just in time to whip up a shake and enjoy dinner with the family before heading to work. While the family ate their Wendy’s, I made a bowl. Frappe Away I said to myself.

Today is National Frappe Day. What the heck is a frappe? I googled and found out it is typically a coffee and ice cream based drink. Well, no ice cream went into the blender, but Cafe Latte protein powder did. Between Barry and my girlfriend, Rebecca, both of whom call me “Pumpkin,” were partial inspirations for the end result of my meal. Since I, unfortunately, did not have any open cans of pumpkin, I substituted the fiber with a handful of frozen apples. Did you know October is National Apple Month? (I know… I’m a pillar of useless knowledge…)

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The crunchy and nutty topper for this bowl was unsalted, hulled pumpkin seeds and Kashi Go Lean cereal.

I headed off to work to find out I was being pulled to another unit, a unit I have never been to before. Its always slightly nerve-racking being pulled to another unit. What are the nurses like there? Whats the acuity of the patients? Am I on the floor or a 1:1? How long will I be on the unit for?

Luckily, none of these things were a problem, tonight. In fact, the nurses were welcoming, sociable, and helpful, and my 11 patients were of managable acuity! I actually was pulled for the complete 12 hours of my shift.

Tuesday

I met with my girlfriend and co-worker, Amy, a little after 1am and we went to the caf, where I grabbed some raw vegetables from the salad bar. Rather than crushing saltines into my Wendy’s chili, I dipped these vegetables. Genius! The Wendy’s near my house was recently rebuilt and opened last week. I have been craving chili ever since. I was floored when I checked the website to find a small chili was 180 calories! I expected a small container, but was content with being able to get a chili, in the first place. When I asked the woman if she gave me the right size, she compared it to the large and I was floored, once again! Score!

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I was one happy camper as I emptied the chili hot sauce packets into my cup and dug in.

WP_004153We’ve been Boo-ed!” Huh? Apparently, theres this game going on around the hospital where units make bags of candies, and sneak them into unit’s break rooms then the game continues. Damn, Butterfingers get me every time! Luckily, I was one and done! Yay, Sammy!

My sleep was cut short today as I was awoken by a call from my manger with some not so pleasant news (more to come on that matter). There was no way I could get back to sleep and, in fact, I was up for the rest of the day before coming back to work. My breakfast? Corn chips and a Babyruth.

All day I wanted to eat, although I knew I wasn’t hungry. But then, I began feeling an emptiness in my stomach, so I ate. It turned out that emptiness was actually part of my emotions. To try to counter act this feeling, it was a two shake day.

I’m sort of childishly excited for today’s food-iday: National Fluffernutter Day! I kept swaying back and forth between making a shake or a sandwich to celebrate. I was never a fan of fluff as a kid. Well, maybe thats not the way to put it. We just never bought it. Same thing with Nutella. We never bought it so I never really developed a taste for it until I tried my little brother’s nutella one day. Same goes for the Fluff. I remember, last year during my refeeding, I would dip Nilla wafers into fluff. Sometimes, I would grab a spoonful of PB and then dip into the Fluff jar. If I wanted something extra sweet, I’d do a nutella and fluff combo!

Anyway, I decided I would feel more satisfied with a bowl:

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  • 1 scoop of Chocolate OR Vanilla shake mix
  • 1 Tbsp fluff
  • 1 tsp peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Chocolate PB2
  • xanthum and guar, optional

To substitute for the bread, I topped the sweet bowl with Fiber One bran cereal. (Its pretty shade of green is from added spinach).

A bit after, I realized my anxiety was manifesting itself. Rather than NOT eating, I WAS eating. Luckily, I recognized it, and preoccupied myself with mopping the floor and going through clothes to donate. When dinner time arrived, and heavy eyelids began, I  whipped up another bowl to hold me over until it was time to eat at work.

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  • 1 scoop Chocolate protein
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Chocolate PB2
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp SF caramel syrup
  • pinch of salt
  • 20 fat free pretzel sticks, broken

It totally hit the spot and I loved the salty sweet crunch that I constantly crave.

I was on the floor for the first four hours of my 12 hour shift. My 1:1 patient was supposed to be going home tomorrow, so I wanted to spend some time with then before they left.

Wednesday

After a breezy first four, my time ended abruptly with assisting to de-escalate an upset parent and assist a nurse with removing an IV. I felt great when I was able to help the mother stop crying and make her laugh.

When I got into my patient’s room, the patient was super excited that I’d be spending the rest of the shift with them. I, then ,found out my patient’s discharge date had been pushed back to Friday. That means I get two more shifts to see them.

After the snack I had done earlier in the day, I packed a light meal for work. Plus, my nerves were still so wrecked that I didn’t have much of an appetite. But boy, oh, boy, was I in for a rude awakening.

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Yeah!

As if I wasn’t stressed enough, and manifesting it with body hating, I had that Cajun Trail Mix and all of this candy in my face! The nurses agreed that I deserved to have day a candy. Its funny how I eat candy when I’m spazzed. I’m stress eating, but body conscience. I take a bite out of piece and throw it away. Bizarre. Nonetheless, the nibbles did not stop me from hating myself as I returned to the 1:1 after eating some leftover eggplant parm frittata around 3am.

WP_004159Deb brought this in, too! Candy Corn M &M! What a combo! These candy pieces are bigger that the typical chocolates and made with white chocolate instead. Addicting. While trying to find a link to these M&Ms for you, I found these! I’ve never seen these. Ever! Is it for real? Does anyone know? My jaw almost hit the floor and I’m enveloped in curiousity! I returned to my patient’s room, after some well-deserved ranting, and counted down until 7am when I could leave.

Full or body hating guilt and a dwindling self worth, I tried to keep my mind occupied by blogging and reading.

I must admit that I was, finally, able to finish a book that I wanted to read. Its been years since I’ve been able to read a book for fun.

After work, I couldn’t wait to hit my bed. Today, on a day when I actually feel tired after work, I had to stay up to take my uncle to a doctors appointment. His procedure required sedation and he, therefore, needed a ride to and from.

WP_004160Luckily, it didn’t take very long and I killed some time at Wawa grabbing a coffee and a packet of apples to hold me over. Upon arriving home, I snagged a few pretzel sticks and almonds and curled up into a ball to awake about 5 hours late! Victory! I had finally slept!

Once awake, I hopped in the shower and assisted Frank with making my little brother dinner, while also sending out countless resumes! Last night, I was reading up on detox soups, many of which contained beets and ginger. I figured I could work with that and wound up creating what tasted better than Red Velvet Cake!

Better Than Red Velvet Cake ShakeWP_004161

  • 1 scoop chocolate protein
  • 1/2 small beet, peeled, sliced thinly and microwaved for 3 minutes
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/3 cup frozen pitted cherries
  • 1/2 Tbsp sugar free fat free cheesecake OR white chocolate pudding mix
  • splash of SF chocolate syrup, for added sweetness
  • xanthum and guar (optional)

I’ve never like Red Velvet Cake. It was always one of those sweets thatI didn’t understand. Its like if chocolate and vanilla cake had a baby and the baby couldn’t decide what it wanted to be when it grew up…

Once the fruits and vegetables were blended, the color reminded me of the cake, and rather than going full on “detox,” I went with the inspiration. I topped my bowl with broken pretzel sticks and chia seeds.

With the remaining half beet, I repeated the slicing, and combined it with sliced baby carrots, a chopped cherry pepper, onions, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes into a Tupperware all to be, later, used to top a bed of chopped romaine and reduced fat blue cheese crumbles. It’s National Moldy Cheese Day, hence the moldy cheese in my salad… Once arriving at work, I was greeted with this:

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“Happy Pediatric Nurse’s Week from Bayada Health!” Thanks Bayada. Start my shift with an oatmeal cookie and some M&Ms? Don’t mind if I do. One and done, baby! I was a happy camper, once again, with my self control, and felt no guilt about this treat!

Thursday

I spent my shift much like I did the night before; the first 4 hours on the floor and the last 8 in my 1:1. Before falling asleep, my patient asked if I would care to watch a movie with them. And so we laughed until the movie ended. Around 2 am I was relieved from my post to eat. I warmed the previously prepared vegetables in the microwave and tossed them with the romaine and blue cheese. I love how the warm veggies melt the blue cheese, and their juices combine to create a dressing for the salad! Its a salad with which I’ve never been disappointed! Following my meal, I snagged a mini Twix from the abbondanza supply of candy, and another half a cookie, sealing the deal with a cup of hot coffee.

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I always take time at the hospital as a learning opportunity and asked the nurse if she could explain to me the difference between “covering” for carbs and “correcting” with insulin. I was so pleased to discover that I had already had a solid understanding of how to do so, and worked with the nurse making up a few examples to ensure I had a firm grasp on the subject. Woo Hoo!

I returned to the room of the 1:1 and spent my remain hours charting on my patient, scouring the web for pediatric nursing positions, working on Be Well Bundo, stretching, and reading another book.

Following work, I drug myself to, yet another, morning appointment, but not before grabbing a bite. Who would think that soup would be the breakfast of choice? On this cold morning, it was all I could think about. I heated up a cup of Progresso’s Chicken and Barley (I’m a sucker for barley), topped with a bran crackers, and warmed myself up.

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This time, the appointment required manual labor and as I left the hospital, I prayed the rain would hold off until my task was complete. We are fortunate enough to have a home with a fireplace, my favorite feature of the house. I am planted in front of it throughout the fall and winter months. I’m surprised the floor isn’t indented with my butt print, by now. We were, also, fortunate enough to have been connected with the city to receive free wood. As the city chops trees, the lumbar is piled at a local park on the east side. If you schedule an appointment and complete the labor, yourself, you can take a truckload of FREE wood each month. We took full advantage of it, last year, and I wanted an early start, this year. I took the first available appointment and Frank and I headed over, bundled up, tiredly fighting the weather in a battle of time.

The forecast for the next four days is nothing but cold rain. Oh, joy! According to the weather tracker on my phone, between 7 to 9 there was a decreased chance of rain. Our appointment was for 830. As we pulled up, it was chilly and lightly raining. We loaded up the bed of the truck and by the time I got home, I was dead to the world and it began raining harder.

I stumbled into the house, eyes barely open, and made a B line to the couch where there was an inviting  comforter calling my name. With hoodie up and slipper socks on, I was out in a matter of seconds, contacts in and all (not smart by the way… crazy dry eyes).

I woke around 330pm, or so, trying to go back to sleep. No luck. And here I am. Catching you up on the haps.

Ciro is 5!

My morning started out the way I love to start my Sundays: with Church! Today, was special, though, because Barry went with me! It means a lot to me to be able to share something so personal, like my faith and Church family, with him.

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WP_003666After mass, Barry and I came home, after a brief stop at my uncles, for a little breakfast. I was heading to a party in a few hours, but was definitely hungry. I made an egg with spinach and salsa to hold me over, and a veggie omelet for the boyfriend.

After parting, I drove to celebrate Frank’s nephew’s 5th birthday! I love Frank’s family! Plus, Cal’s family, his niece, is Filipino and make yummy food! There is always a nice spread. On the menu this year was lamb and feta sliders with tzatziki, grilled chicken and bratz, mei fun noodles, veggies, fruit salad, cookies, blueberry cobbler, hummus, barley salad, pork lumpia, seasoned potatoes and more!

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I made sure to fill up on loads of celery and fruit!  I was feeling pleased with myself.

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Cal really outdid herself on the desserts. Everything was Angry Birds themed for Ciro. Cal baked carrot cake cupcakes, red velvet cupcakes, and the most delicious Angel Food Cake I have EVER eaten! I typically despise Angel Food Cake, but Cal’s was airy, light, and delicious! I, of coursed, begged for the recipe! Frank and I split the carrot cake cupcake and a small slice of Angel.

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We only get to see the family a few times a year, so I love catching up with everyone and being interrogated about the whereabouts of Barry! That was my fault :/ I didn’t know I could bring him. Haha!

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WP_003688After meeting up with Barry and providing him with party delicousness, I was so hungry! But why? I had drank a bottle of water, and decided to try some fiberful steamed broccoli with garlic powder to curb whatever I was feeling. Despite finishing another bottle of water, I still felt hungry. I snacked on some of my moms trail mix, making sure to stay within a serving size, which is so difficult with trail mix!

I began to fell anxiety, so I called dad. He has helped ease my mind enough where I can now fall asleep!

Good night blogworld!

Long Awaited

I’ve been working for 4 years, each year increasingly harder. I’ve battled eating disorders, lost and rekindled relationships,  traveled the country with Phi Theta Kappa, started this blog, and so much more! On May 22, 2013, all my hard work payed off and I graduated with my Nursing degree. Now comes the time to celebrate! The days leading up to the party were filled with excitement and a list of things to do! I have been cooking, cleaning , and preparing for 3 days straight! It all paid off! The food, the people, the environment… everything was a success!

I had a vision on my party, the OCD was kicking in, and it worked out just the way I wanted it to! Friends and family surprised me and brought deviled  and pickled eggs, cookies,  huge tray of broccoli rabe, and my grandma’s  yummy coleslaw to the party. I, on the other had, was a cooking machine! I laid out veggie platter with non-fat onion dip, POPCORNERs (delicious) and fat free pretzels with homemade black bean and corn salsa (recipe to come), and homemade honey mustard dip (always a hit at the Bundo parties). I also prepared two trays of tomato pie, Hungry-Girl’s I Can’t Believe Its Not Potato Salad (crazy good), my moms seafood macaroni salad (recipe to come), a simple garden salad, and a big fruit salad!

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I was even surprised by how much my brothers helped out, too! Dom was cleaning the house and preparing the yard, and James made lime seasoned tortilla chips for the salsa I had made.

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The day before the party, dad and came over, and together, we made some incredible food! Dad grilled 20 lbs of sausage on the grill, while I sliced up endless onions, peppers, and mushrooms, and minced a ton of garlic! I love cooking with color! As the sausage settled, I cubed up chicken breast, seasoned it, and seared it.

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The end results were 3 trays of Sausage, Peppers, and Onions, and 2 trays of Chicken Spezzato! All of it went!

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My Aunt Dona contributed her famous deviled eggs, grandma, her coleslaw, Aunt Chrissy, a small lunch meat platter, Penny, Spicy Thai Noodles, and Uncle Eddie, his famous Lemon Ricotta Cookies. Gwyn, a woman I used to work with at my old job, brought pickled eggs (the only pickled eggs I’ll eat) and 5 bottles of Spumante! She said she wanted something for everyone to toast with!

My Aunt Cathy, and godmother, the baker in the family, asked what type of cake I wanted. I love her carrot cake and her cream cheese frosting, but not everyone likes carrot cake. So what did she do? She made cake pops! Not like that ball of batter on a stick… These were like push pops! She arrived early for the party, and we assembles small cupcakes sandwiched with frosting and berries and jimmies (or sprinkles, as many call it). Chocolate, vanilla, carrot cake, strawberry! Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries! She went all out! They were delicious and the perfect size to touch that sweet tooth! She is crazy talented! (If you’re in the area and want her contact info, message me or leave a comment).

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My dad said a toast, thanking everyone for coming, for their support throughout all my highs and lows, and how proud he was of my accomplishments! Gwyn surprised ma n jumped up, stating she wanted to make a toast, as well. Her toast was more of a blessing, to have God guide me through my nursing practice to care for his children. It really meant a lot to  me!

The house was decorated with the typical graduation gear, as well as various shades of green, my school color, and a couple pictures from the past year.

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Drinks included various beers, water, sodas, and the occasional margarita. What really made me laugh was my grandma. She got pretty tipsy on the Spumante and was saying the funniest things! I had to help her to the car when she left! I was cracking up at some of the things! She also insisted that Barry ask me to marry him at the party! She apologized for being so wobbly as she walked explaining she had to take her meds differently today since she was going for blood work in the morning. She then explained she was going to get a mammogram done, exclaiming, “They want to play with the ol’ tits!” She and I stopped dead in our tracks, and just laughed! Shes a trip sometimes! When I called her this morning, she told me how much she loved the sparkling wine. She was in luck that I had 2 bottles left. I’m going to bring her one up on Friday.

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It was an amazing day, filled with special family and friend. My Uncle Eddie invited Harry, one of his friends from grade school, who I love! Hes a hoot. In fact, I go to his birthday party every year, and when we have reunions for our grade school, we jitterbug! I was shocked when he came. Another special guest was Mrs. Miller. Iv’e kept in contact with this woman for about 16 years. Why so long? Because she was my kindergarten teacher.

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The evening ended with a the neighbors and us socializing on the porch, sharing in stories and laughs.

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It was raining most of the day… but the porch and house sufficed. A lot of work went into this party, but it was most definitely worth it!

Is it Gnu to you?

Gnu is by far one of my favorite bars! I take them everywhere and for any occasion! They come in a variety of flavors, all delicious, and most recently, they have released some mini bars of three of them. These bars remind you of oatmeal bars, but much more hearty and filling; and they use real fruits, veggies, and natural ingredients! Theres almost 1/2 a days worth of fiber in these bars, that range from 130 to 140 calories! What, What!!

The generous people of Gnu recently sent me some to review for the blog, so here it goes:

Banana Walnut

We know my love for all things Walnana! So having it in non-perishable bite size form is aces! They also make this in their standard size, as well. I recommend this one for breakfast or mid-morning snack.

BlondieWP_001602

You would think that when I’d want something sweet, I’d reach for some chocolate, but not if this baby is in the house. This has all the flavors of a blondie, minus the fat and calories, and loaded with fiber! MMMMM! I love the surprising bits of white and semi-sweet chocolates!

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Blueberry Cobbler

I typically enjoy any blueberry bars as breakfast, but I could eat this any time of day! It loaded, and I do mean loaded, with blueberries in every bite!  You can tell they use the real deal because even the bar itself has a blue hue from the juices.  Its not that tart or imitation blueberry flavor like more blueberry flavored foods. Its actual blueberry  bliss!

Carrot CakeWP_001603

This is probably the only bar of the entire Gnu line, that I’ll typically pass on. It has a nice blend of carrots and spices, but I, personally find pleasure in their other varieties.

Chocolate Brownie

I love this one! They even make it snack-size in a 70 calorie bar! It doesn’t taste like your idea of a brownie, like most reduced-calorie snack brownies. Its packed full of fiber, and makes me feel like I’m being naughty with a sweet treat! Seriously, 12g fiber in a brownie?! Whod’a thunk it? (I like dipping it in PB, too!)

Cinnamon RaisinWP_001598

Holy Raisin! This baby it spectacular! I love the sweetness and juiciness of the raisins. Its like I’m eating a cinnamon raisin cookie from a bakery.. its that good (and so much better for you)! This is also made in a 70 cal mini bar.

WP_002770Espresso Chip

When I first bit into this one, I wasn’t quite sure… If you have ever had chocolate covered espresso beans, its very similar.  I recommend this for all you coffee lovers, as it has ground coffee beans and chocolate chips. (Warning: this does contain caffeine!)

Orange Cranberry

I really have to be in the mood for this one. I’m not a huge orange cranberry fan, but this is not too overwhelming. I had to eat this one twice to appreciate its flavor, but like I said, I’m not much of an orange cranberry connoisseur. I’ll let you review this one. Comment below.

WP_001604Peanut Butter

You all know I am a nut butter fiend, so I have some pretty high expectations of anything thats followed by the word “butter.” Sold! It doesn’t have an over whelming peanut butter taste, like some bars, but its just enough to give you that salty and filling tease.

You can find these bars in various corner, convenient  and grocery store, as well as some VitaminShoppes. But heres where you can find the best deal of all: right on the website. If you’re ‘gnu” to Gnu foods, check out their 5-Bar Sampler!

Enjoy!

Easter Sunday

Happy Easter, everyone!

This morning began with Easter mass, one of my favorite masses of the year. I love seeing a packed Church, all the little kids in their Easter outfits, and reuniting with people I haven’t seen in years (like kids I went to grade school with, and people my dad when to grade school with! Yeah, its a pretty tight congregation)!

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The beautiful altar. I belong to the most beautiful Church I’ve ever seen!

??????!

One of my best friends, Paul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After stopping by the cemetery, I headed home to prepare Easter breakfast. I found a recipe for Carrot Cake Waffles a while back and immediately knew that  I had to make these today! Using Katie’s recipe, I adapted them to be whole wheat and low fat waffles. I also made a cream cheese drizzle to go on top (whats carrot cake without cream cheese frosting?), and accented the dish with some crushed walnuts. I hope you enjoy!

Carrot Cake Waffles with Cream Cheese DrizzleWP_001719

makes 8-10 waffles

Waffles:

3/4 cup Heart Smart Bisquick

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

2/3 cup shredded carrots

1 cup flax milk (milk of your choice)

2 Tbsp sugar free syrup

2 Tbsp unsweetened apple sauce

1 1/4 tsp cinnamon

2  1/2 tsp vanilla extractWP_001723

Cream Cheese Drizzle:

1/4 cup fat free cream cheese, room temp

4 Splenda packets

1/4 cup flax milk

1 tsp confectionery sugar (I use Ideal brand)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all the waffle ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. Heat your waffle iron and heavily coat with non-stick cooking spray. Pour 3/4 to 1 cup of batter on heated and sprayed waffle iron. (You can add more milk if you want to thin out the batter). Cook until your liking. Whisk all ingredients for cream cheese frosting together. Drizzle frosting over waffles and top with shopped walnuts.

After some operator difficulties, they were beautiful! I loved the coloring of these waffles and the bit of natural sweetness that carrots release when they are cooked. I really enjoyed these and cant wait to make them again. The drizzle was just sweet enough to really play off the carrots. I served these with some super quick and easy Banquet Brown n’ Serve Maple Sausage Patties. The maple sweetness accented the syrup in the waffles!

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Using the ingredients above, each waffle only contains about 80 calories or so! And you get a some vegetables early in the day!

I bet these would be pretty spectacular Belgium waffles, too!

With it being the end of Lent, I took a nibble of a protein bar today while dad got back his chocolate! We both messed up once on Lenten promises, which I think is pretty good.

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A typical Easter dinner in the Bundo house is a bake spiral ham, fingerling potatoes, cabbage and green beans. This year, I will be working. Frank surprised me and baked a ham just in time for me to take some to work. To substitute for the cabbage, I brought some brussel sprouts. I think I’m the only person in my house who loves these little balls of leafy goodness! I finished this meal with an Easter brownie!

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It doesn’t look too appetizing in this picture, but it most certainly was!

I thought I'd try bring the Easter Bunny to work

I thought I’d try bring the Easter Bunny to work (looks more like a cat)

As arrived home after a busy shift, I had two feelings: sleepiness and a hankering for ham. I entered to kitchen to find 1 left over waffle from this morning. I folded this in half and laid a few slices of spiral ham while some lemon tea brewed! A great way to end my Easter night!

As I drove to work and reflected on the day, I started remembering some Easter memories from my childhood. The one I can see most clearly is when I was about 9 years old. My mom said, “What else did the Easter Bunny bring you? Whats behind the picture?” The picture she was refering to was one of those RoseArt velvet coloring pictures… anyway… I peak around the back of the picture to find two rectangular papers. As I read the tickets to myself, it clicked and I began jumping up and down. “What is it?” my mom said. “I GOT BACKSTREET BOY TICKETS!!!!”

HAHAH yes, I was a BSB junkie back in the day and BSB was my first concert! What are some of your favorite Easter memories?

So Bubbly

Wow! I must have gotten a great night of sleep! Even my mom has been asking me why I’m s bubbly today.. I just don’t know! Plus, I feel much better than yesterday!

I began my clinical morning with a shake. The recipe called it a Pineapple Upside Down Cake, but I tasted no such thing…

Anyway… After a day of clinical, I ran to the store and while I was there, I picked up a yogurt that caught my eye. It sounded so heavenly… Yoplait 100 Greek Tropical yogurt… Pineapple, mango, passion fruit! MMMM with some flax! Perfecto! A fantastic afternoon snack! I cant wait to buy that baby again!

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Dessert was also something new I picked up at the store. I have seen this for a while, but have been trying not to buy it simply to avid temptation. Today, I decided it was okay… Pepperidge Farms Carrot Cake Cookie! Big chunks of white chocolate and walnuts, sweet spices! Wow-zah! I won’t lie, I definitely ate two!

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I finished my presentation and some paperwork today. I am prioritizing my work, but I must say, I missed a god workout today. I plan making up for that tomorrow!

Before heading to bed I made a cup of chamomile tea and prepared my lunch for my long day tomorrow in the hopes for another good eating day!