Some Sweets for Saturday

Happy New Year’s Eve!

Two more dessert recipes for you guys!  I’m almost done posting all the recipes I promised you I would.

Peppermint Bark

Recipe inspired by


  • 12 ounces chocolate chips –> I used dark chocolate to try to make this a bit healthier
  • 1 pound white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/2 cup peppermint candy, crushed


  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Line a 9×13 pan with foil, letting it hang over the sides.  Spray foil.
  3. Pour the chocolate chips in an even layer on the foil.  Place in oven for 5 minutes or until almost melted.
  4. Remove from oven, smooth with an offset spatula or knife.  Place in refrigerator until cold and firm, about 20 minutes.
  5. Melt white chocolate chips in a double boiler or in a metal bowl over simmering water (don’t let bottom of bowl touch water), until chocolate is almost melted.
  6. Remove bowl from water and stir until completely melted, stirring in extract. Let cool a bit so it doesn’t melt the chocolate layer when you pour it on top.
  7. Pour this over chocolate layer, and, working quickly, spread to cover.
  8. Sprinkle with crushed candy.
  9. Chill until both layers are firm.  Lift foil out of pan and shake off excess candy.  Trim edges.  Cut into 2” wide strips.
  10. Peel bark from foil and cut each strip as desired.  Chill in covered container.  Makes about 2 pounds.

Lesson Learned:  Don’t wait too long between steps 6 & 7, or else the two chocolates won’t stick together and you end up with bark that falls apart.

The bark tasted great!  But I was bummed about the layers separating.  I still brought it with me to Tim’s cousin’s house on Christmas Eve though.  I just instructed everyone to make sure to take a chocolate layer with their white chocolate bark chip.

Better luck next time.  Any tips for me?

Mini Red Velvet Santa Hat Cupcakes

Recipe inspired by 5 Girls Chiropractic


  • Half an 18.25 oz box of red velvet cake mix
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tbsp applesauce
  • 1 large egg and 1 egg white


  1. Preheat oven to 325º
  2. Combine the cake mix, water, applesauce (healthier option than oil!), egg and egg white.  Beat the ingredients until smooth.
  3. Spoon the batter into mini-muffin tins, lined with your favorite holiday wrapper and bake for 15 to 17 minutes.
  4. Let the muffins cool for 1 minute before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Red velvet = festive!!

For the frosting, you can really do whatever you want.  You could go store-bought, you could use a marshmallow fluff, or you could try this low-fat cream cheese frosting that I decided to make.

Low-Fat Cream Cheese Frosting

Recipe inspired by SkinnyTaste


  • 8 oz 1/3 fat Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Beat together cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.

And for the Santa part?!

Just slice the top off the strawberries and place upside down on the cupcakes.  Put a dab of frosting at the top and use coconut to make a little pom-pom.

Super cute huh?

Lesson learned:  Dry the strawberries before placing them on cupcake.  If you don’t, the moisture makes the cream cheese frosting run a bit!

Special thanks to Shannon for letting me borrow her mini muffin tin!

Anyone baking any desserts to ring in 2012?!

Have a fun and safe New Year’s Eve, everyone!

Nix New Year’s Resolutions, Set SMART Goals

2012 is right around the corner.

Anyone else getting asked if they have any New Year’s resolutions for the New Year?

I love and hate New Year’s “resolutions.”  I think it’s a great opportunity to start off with that “clean slate” feeling, especially after the holiday craze.  It’s a time to reflect on the aspects of our lives we want or need to change and resolve to follow through with those changes.  I actually really enjoy breaking down my personal, professional, and health/fitness related goals each year.

But we all know that all too often people set out with these grand ideas on what they will change for the New Year, swear up and down that they will stick to the plan, and then what happens?

By February we’re in the same old rut again.

So what’s the secret to making resolutions you can actually stick to throughout the entire year, resulting in real change?

[Picture Source]

Nix New Year’s resolutions and set SMART goals instead.

SMART Goals, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, are:

  • Specific:  Goals should be specific and well-defined, with clear actions that will be taken.
  • Measurable:  Goals should be objective and measurable to that it is clear when they have been achieved.
  • Action Based:  Goals should be things you will actually do!  Goals should be actions (ie “I will do cardiovascular exercise for 30 minutes each day”), not outcomes (ie “I will lose 10 pounds.”)
  • Realistic:  Goals must be possible to achieve, given the time and resources available.
  • Timely:  Goals must have a deadline.  If there is no time frame set, there is no sense of urgency.

Think about some of the most common resolutions you hear people making, year after year.

“I’m going to lose weight.”
“I’m going to be better with money.”
“I’m going to make more time for family and friends.”
“I’m going to be healthier.”
“I’m going to quit smoking.”

Not only are these all very general, but they are all outcomes.  Think about it.  Isn’t losing weight the outcome, or the ultimate long term goal?  Skipping the over-ambition, and don’t make your resolution so daunting!

The key to successfully reaching a long term goal is to develop short term goals that are specific, measurable, action-based, realistic, and time-constrained to assist you along the way. 

Here are some examples.

Instead of:  “This year I’m going to drink more water”
SMART Goal:  “I am going to increase my daily water intake by 1 glass of water each week until I reach eight 8 ounce glasses every day.  I will start this on Monday.”

Instead of:  “In 2012, I’m going to eat more vegetables.”
SMART Goal:  “I plan on adding 1 serving of raw vegetables per day each week until reaching the recommended RDA of vegetables at lunch.”

Instead of:  “I really need to get more sleep.”
SMART Goal:  “I am going to go to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual to increase total sleep to 7-8 hours every night starting on Tuesday.”

See where I’m going with this?  Once each smaller SMART goal has been achieved, just re-evaluate.  SMART goals can always be changing!

One other piece of advice I have for you?  Don’t start on January 1st.  Because on January 1st, you most likely will be hungover and tired from celebrating on New Year’s Eve.  Or you might have a family party with all the leftover holiday desserts.  You’ll be tired, still be trying to get back to normal schedules, and not in that “fresh” state of mind  You might even have Monday the 2nd off from work since New Year’s falls on a Sunday this year.  I plan on “starting fresh” on Tuesday the 3rd once I’m home from my long weekend away and back into the swing of things.  Pick a date that works for you!

Do you usually make a New Year’s resolution?  Do you think you’ll try making a SMART Goal instead this year?  Anyone have any in mind yet? 

Stay tuned for my own SMART goals – I plan on posting them after the 3rd!!

Three Appetizer Thursday

Anyone entertaining for New Years this weekend?

Whether you are the one hosting or you need to bring a dish to someone else’s party, here are three healthy appetizer ideas for you. I made all three for Christmas, all three were super easy and fast to throw together right before company arrived, and all three were a huge hit!

Cranberry Avocado Salsa

Cranberry Avocado Salsa

Adapted from Beantown Baker, serves 4


  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 2 ripe avocados, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup halved cranberries
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Ground pepper to taste


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together lime juice, honey, and red onion.
  2. Add avocados, cranberries, and cilantro.
  3. Season with pepper and toss to combine.

Cranberry Avocado SalsaThis recipe was a huge hit with my family on Christmas Day. Good thing I tripled the recipe because it was almost all gone by the time dinner was served! The cilantro seasoning gave the appetizer a ton of flavor. Instead of regular white flour tortilla chips, I served this with Stacy’s Multigrain Pita Chips and Food Should Taste Good Blue Corn Chips. Both combinations were great! The salsa made for a really festive dish too, with the red cranberries and green avocado all mixed together.

tomato basil skewers

Tomato Basil Skewers

Adapted from EatingWell


  • 16 small fresh mozzarella balls
  • 16 fresh basil leaves
  • 16 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, to drizzle
  • Balsamic vinaigrette, to drizzle
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste


  1. Thread mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes on small skewers.
  2. Brush with oil and balsamic vinaigrette.
  3. Sprinkle with pepper, and enjoy!

Tomato Basil SkewersI didn’t count out the exact amount of mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes beforehand. I just made sure each skewer had two cherry tomato halves, 2 mozzarella balls, and 1 basil leaf. I ended up with 20 total skewers. You may notice that the above picture has 19… whoops! I used regular sized skewers, but cut in half. This was another festive dish with the red, green, and white color combo!

Cinnamon Apple Brie

Cranberry Cinnamon Apple Brie

Adapted from fANNEtastic food


  • 1 wheel brie
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 apples, chopped
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degress.
  2. Take the wheel of brie, and place it on a nonstick tray or a sprayed piece of tin foil.
  3. Add the dried cranberries on top, then add the chopped apple, and top with a sprinkle of cinnamon and brown sugar.
  4. Cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes, and then serve immediately with crackers so it doesn’t get cold!

Cinnamon Apple BrieCinnamon Apple BrieCinnamon Apple Brie Okay, maybe brie cheese isn’t the healthiest for you, but this was another big hit! The entire wheel was gone before dinner was served at my grandfather’s house on Monday, and I was asked to bring it back next year. Anyone else obsessed with brie cheese? We served these with wheat and whole grain crackers. Yum.

What are your favorite healthy appetizer ideas? Do you have any specifically for the holidays? Are you entertaining this weekend?

Have a great day!