Archive | February 2013

A Healthier Blueberry Almond Coffee Cake

Hey there, happy weekend, all! It is Sunday morning here, and I couldn’t be happier. After an intense cardio-boxing class, there is a fun-filled day of sun and rest ahead. But first, a fun breakfast!
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I have to admit, during the week I am a boring breakfast eater. I love oatmeal, so I tend to eat some-sort of oatmeal or cereal combo with fruit salad almost every day of the week. That’s why I think the weekends call for something special, whether it be pancakes, french-toast, homemade muffins or breakfast out, just something different to mix it up.  My Mom always made us special weekend breakfasts growing up, so I hope to carry on this tradition for my family, too.

Anyway, it was fitting that I bake something blueberry-inspired this weekend, since I had a SERIOUS craving for blueberry muffins all week. Come to find out, we didn’t have muffin tins (fail!), so I decided I’d make a blueberry coffee-cake instead. The best part is, it’s delicious yet good for you too.  I, like most people I know, love muffins, cakes, donuts, and pretty much any baked good, but I’m not a big fan of buying them. I prefer to make them on my own to lighten them up a bit. So after some searching online, I found a recipe on Pinterest (what else!) that I modified slightly to add my own twist.

Just a quick tip—try to use a spring-form pan to cook this if you have one. If you don’t have one, use a flat baking dish, such as a 9X12. I had to go with my only option, a pie dish, and it took quite some extra time to cook due to the center being elevated. Either way, it was delicious yet light; a wonderful (healthier) breakfast treat for the weekend. We loved it, hope you do too!

Lightened-Up Blueberry-Almond Coffee Cake
Adapted from Southern Living

Ingredients:
1 large egg
1/2 cup fat-free milk 
1/2 cup vanilla fat-free (or lite) yogurt  ( if you don’t have vanilla, use plain)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

For the topping:

2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup oats (optional)

Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 400°F . Whisk together first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside.
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    2. Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in another mixing bowl. Then stir the flour mixture into the egg/liquid mixture until the dry ingredients are moistened. Careful, don’t over-mix! 
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    3. Next, toss 1 and 1/4 cups blueberries in 1 Tbsp. flour, so that the colors don’t bleed too much. Fold them into the batter, and pour into a lightly greased 9-inch spring- form pan. If you don’t have a spring-form pan, use a flat baking dish (like a 9X12). (Don’t use a pie dish like me, or it will affect the cooking time!) Sprinkle the top with remaining 1/4 cup blueberries.
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    4. For the topping, stir together 2 Tbsp. brown sugar, sliced almonds, oats and the cinnamon. Then sprinkle over batter.
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    5. Bake at 400° for 25 to 30 minutes, or until center is cooked through thoroughly. Cool in the pan on a wire rack 15 minutes, and then if you used one, remove the sides of the spring-form pan.
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    I love this breakfast, it’s so pretty to look at! The oats on the topping are just an idea, but I thought they added a nice crunch. Plus, with the caramelized brown sugar, it’s a winning combo. Pair this with a cup of fruit, and maybe some yogurt for a balanced brunch! I’ll be honest, it was hard to stop at one slice, but since it’s healthy, you can have another.Hope you enjoy this!

    Tell me, what is your favorite breakfast treat?

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    Mission’s Accomplished

    Hey there! How’s your weekend? Mine is almost over, but it’s been a great and mostly-relaxing one. On Friday, I finished my first class of the semester, and on Saturday, completed my first group project of the semester, too…Mission’s accomplished! 2 weeks of class 9-5 everyday including Saturdays was not my definition of fun,  but it’s worth it.  Now I just have to finish 2 more projects and take my exam, and 3 credits are coming my way. Works for me!

    Anyway, this week it was Valentines Day, and I have to say, it felt quite different celebrating in Australia. Normally I feel bombarded by the masses of candy, stuffed animals, and decorations in stores, but it’s just not as big over here (at least in our area).  I couldn’t even find Valentine’s m&m’s…the horror! I had to search high-and-low for the baking necessities to make a “valentine-themed” dessert for Brandon, but luckily I found what I needed eventually: pink marshmallows, red icing, and pink sprinkles for valentine Rice-Krispy treats : – )

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    I actually whipped these up on Wednesday night so they’d be ready for Brandon’s arrival. He’d been gone all week on business, so these were waiting for him in the fridge, and I’m happy to say he loved them. Then, on the night of Valentines Day, he surprised me with my very own homemade edible arrangement. Look at this beauty:

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    He spent HOURS on it, and I was so touched.  Isn’t he talented? In addition to this, he cooked  a delicious coconut-shrimp dinner with roasted veggies and rocket/parmesan salad, AND he bought cupcakes.

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    He’s pretty much the best!

    This weekend, after working on my project all night on Friday,  heading to an early bootcamp Saturday, and working on my project for 7 hours (!) the rest of the day, I was ready for a relaxing night filled with wine, pizza, and my favorite guy. My go-to dinner on the weekend is homemade pizza, and this Saturday was no exception. I must say, it was a good one!

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    Sunday morning we had a delicious brunch on the water. Muesli with berry coulis was the order for me.  Muesli has become my go-to brunch in Australia. I am obsessed.

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    Sunday has concluded with homework, take-out, and a quick facetime session with my favorites back in CT:

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    I love those little boys.

    How was your weekend? What’s your “go-to” weekend meal?

    Australia Loving…february

    Hello, hello! For anyone reading, I apologize for my week-long absence. As of last week, I officially became a student again (yay!) and ever since, I have  barely had a moment to breathe. We even had class on Saturday (I hope that never happens again)! But on a positive note, I’m loving being back at school and finally feel as though I’m studying something I actually want to be studying.  I really wish I’d done that the first time around, but with age comes experience, right ? Much to my surprise, I’m not the oldest one in class and  I didn’t forget how to study, so I should be prepared just in time for next week when I start my full schedule. I know I’ll have a lot to share in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, here’s some things I’ve been loving in Australia this month:

    1) .30 cent vanilla soft-serve cones: Yes, you read that correctly, .30 cents. Have I been living under a rock? Was I the only person who didn’t realize soft-serve was so cheap at McDonalds? If that’s the case, I’m making up for it at lightening speed…2-3 cones per week has been happening lately!
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    2) Fun drinks: I went out with a few of my girlfriends and ordered this “Key West Cooler”. It sounded American, which was why I chose it, and it didn’t disappoint! It was sweet yet refreshing.  Isn’t it pretty?
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    3) Simple dinners: The heat and humidity over the last few weeks has put a serious damper on my desire to cook. I’m thankful for veggie burgers, rotisserie chicken, sweet potatoes, eggs,  fresh fruit, and frozen vegetables. Even when I’m tired and don’t necessarily feel like cooking, it’s easy to eat healthy when I have those ingredients around!
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    4. Fresh flowers: Everything about flowers makes me smile. The colors, the smell, and the way they brighten up a room just makes me happy! Thanks to Brandon for these beautiful “back to school” beauties.
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    5. The entrance to my new school: It’s so tropical looking, I just love it!
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    6. New clothes: Thanks Mom for my dress : – )

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    7. Birthday cake flavored cookies: Or as they say in Australia “100s & 1000s”.  I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the name, but I sure do love the taste!

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    8. Care packages and cards: Receiving mail never gets old! Thanks to my thoughtful friends Michelle and Monique, and my family for thinking of me.

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    9. Warm walks in February with my favorite: I for one am still not used to this “summer” in the winter thing!

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    10. Researching my future puppy: Currently this happens about once a week. I can dream right?

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    What are you loving this week?