Busy Bee

You know, for mostly being off this week, I cannot believe how busy I’ve been. My reader has almost 100 blogs lined up waiting for me to read them. I just haven’t really been home, or if I have, people have been there and I’ve been really enjoying the time to do fun things. I’m not much of a sit at home type of person. But there are lots of work things I’ve been neglecting, so today I brought my lap top and to do list over to The Bux in order to get some things done.

This week has been pretty good about feeling like I’m back on track. I haven’t really talked about it,Β  but most of this month I just haven’t been feeling like I’ve been making the best choices for my body. Too many extra cookies and treats, too many skipped runs, and just a general lack of motivation. I know it’s normal, and especially now that I believe I am fully capable of completing this half marathon, and it’s now dark and cold at the time I used to run, it’s easy to justify hitting the snooze button. But this week has been better. There’s been some spinning.

Some running (well one day of running, but I also plan on running Friday and Sunday!)

And just in general more mindful eating. Don’t get me wrong, I still plan on enjoying the holiday treats, but I had been ignoring my tummy telling me when I was full and not stopping to think and decide if I actually really wanted something before eating it. If I really listen to my body and take my time to make decisions, I am 100x more likely to not feel guilty about what I eat because, honestly, sometimes I really do want to eat a cookie, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Yesterday was so exciting for me. You’re going to think I’m ridiculous, but whatev. I haven’t had a chance to really cook in what feels like forever. I’d been eating fast and easy and lots of TJ’s frozen enchiladas and Progresso light soups. Don’t judge me. But last night I invited my friend Ashley over for dinner which meant I had to actually cook. I had no idea what to make and no recipe, and I decided to throw something together and hope it turned out awesome. I’m really trying to get away from relying on recipes and take chances and try things that sound good to me. It’s okay if it doesn’t work every time, but last night was a huge success!

"Hey cute husband, make me look cute while I cook, ok?" Is that a slight double chin I see? Apparently Steve has forgotten the rules.

After dinner, Ashley and I baked some cookies. Yes, I’m crazy and actually have not quite hit my baking limit yet. I usually don’t like to bake with others because I’m a control freak a little particular, but Ashley was a great baking buddy and didn’t seem too put off by my bossiness. Sorry about that, Ashley. I hope you still want to be my friend after I spent the evening bossing you around like you were one of my students πŸ˜‰

Look at us, baking together. It's as if I actually work well with others!

The dough was really yummy. I generally don't like the dough to healthier cookies (they always just taste so much better baked), but this dough was really good!

While we waited on the cookies to bake, Winston was working on his cuteness. He has to keep up with his sister πŸ™‚

I've never met a dog that likes to be held as much as Winnie. Look at that face!

Finally our cookies were done and we got to decorate them!

Apparently when you buy your red food coloring at Walmart, what you actually get is pink frosting.

I can’t even tell you how nice it was to be able to spend the evening cooking and baking absolutely stress free. Happy holiday time to MEEEEE!!!!



Thanksgiving Eve

It’s so close, I can taste it! Literally πŸ˜‰ Was everyone else as busy as I was today? Steve and I woke up at 5am–gross. He wanted to get into work early so he could leave early and I had cooking on the brain and couldn’t fall back asleep once his alarm went off. Before I really got started on everything, I had a physical therapy appt that luckily did not involve any scraping action today. I did watch some other people get it though and apparently I really am a wimp because no one else was screaming in pain. But maybe I’m not a wimp, because look at my polka dotted leg!

I know my bruises are small, but small bruises hurt too!

After PT, I went to town on my food to do list.

1) Slice sweet potatoes for Baked Sweet Potato Chips βœ“

Steve came home just in time to take some beautiful food photos and make fun of me…a lot.

Still somewhat amused by him

No longer amused. Maybe when I'm holding the knife is not the best time to be a butthole πŸ™‚

2) Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars βœ“

Crust. My favorite part!

3) Super Simple Pumpkin Brownies βœ“

4) White Chocolate and Vanilla Bean Ice Creams βœ“

5) Yogurt Dipping Sauce for #1

Not to mention putting up some decorations πŸ˜‰

I love these silly little cups from Hobby Lobby

Soooo much to do! Luckily my family knows I don’t like to work alone, so they dropped by to keep my company πŸ™‚

I am so lucky to have married into the BEST family ever!

"I've had a hard day too, mom. Do you have any idea how hard it is to act cute so people pet me for hours at a time?"

"In case you weren't aware, I'm also cute in color."

My little sister is so pretty. Steve is going to beat the boys off pretty soon.

After cooking essentially all day long, I was off to work. One of those days where it’s a good thing that most of the time I really love what I do, otherwise it would have sucked. I ended up having a great time with my kids though and didn’t mind being there. I especially loved hearing the kiddos tell me what they were thankful for, and when some of them said the theatre, my heart melted. I am so proud to be a part of something that changes these kids’ lives! Anyway, while I went to work, Steve got to work on brining!

21 pounds of turkey people

Let me tell you, I love to cook, but I am SO glad to have Steve to take care of the turkey! That would stress me out like nobody’s business. Meat has always intimidated me. And this means all I have to do tomorrow is the mini corndogs, bake the sweet potato chips, and make the stuffing balls. I have big plans for early in the am, then I plan on coming home, popping open some champagne and enjoying the day with some of my favorite people πŸ˜‰

This Thanksgiving there are a few things that I am especially thankful for

  • I am in a healthier place with food than I have ever been in my entire life. It feels amazing.
  • I am proving to myself things that I always imagined were impossible. My body is capable of amazing things. I am so lucky to have a body that can do what I ask of it.
  • My dad has found the most amazing woman to spend his life with that brings joy to his life and our whole family. Janie has also encouraged all of us to make my grandma a bigger part of our lives and I am so grateful for that because I spent a lot of time taking her for granted.
  • And of course every day I am thankful for Steve, Winston, Clementine, my family and my incredible friends, as well as my amazing students that inspire me every single day.

I have so much love for this holiday. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!!

The Cooking Begins

The plan for today?

  • Grocery shopΒ βœ“
  • Cornbread for stuffing balls βœ“
  • Ice cream prep βœ“

Success. Still need one more thing from the store, but otherwise I am right on track! You know what else I did today?? I almost couldn’t believe it. I actually got my butt to the gym and STRENGTH TRAINED!!!! I know, that shouldn’t be such a big deal, but it is something I’ve been so bad about since I started training for PF Chang’s. Also, whenever I do strength train, I always want to post what I did, but I don’t know the names for half of it. So let’s just say I did abs, biceps, triceps, shoulders and lats. Hooray! I haven’t been so sweaty in a weights work out in a while. Unfortunately, I don’t feel quite as strong as I did when I was really focused on that leading up to the wedding, but it will come back. I just have to stay focused on the big picture.

After coming home from the gym, I immediately got to work! What makes hosting Thanksgiving about 100x more fun? Having most of your work done in advance! If all goes according to plan, my actual cooking on Thursday should be minimal and my drinking company enjoying should be maximized! Before I go into the prep work, let me just say that as much as I love the dinner and hosting part of Thanksgiving, I have something planned that morning that I am even more excited for. You’ll have to stay tuned for what it is, but I will say that I plan to be more thankful than ever! πŸ™‚

Okay, back to tonight.

Vanilla bean scraping. It's serious business.

Can we just talk about how one vanilla bean costs about $9 at Whole Foods and only $4 at Sprouts? I freaking love Sprouts.

"What next ice cream??? Give me the answers to all life's questions!"

Look at all this stuff we have lined up to cook with! And that's not even the half of it!

Cornbread crumbs. Not only baked, but crumbed. Is crumbed a word? I decide it so.

I β™₯ my kitchen

"Mom, when do we get to eat the food? Can it be Thanksgiving for us too?"

Egg yolks and sugar. Spoon, please.

What should I put in this cute little leaf? I feel like it needs to hold something amazing.

The fun will continue all day long tomorrow, and then, you know, the actual holiday. Can.not.wait. Happy early Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you all are as happy and excited as I am!


Skinnified Sunday: Peppermint White Mocha Cupcakes

Hi friends! I have been waiting for Starbucks’ official Christmas launch to make the cupcakes that have been on my mind since October! I would just like to say that with all the promoting I do, Starbucks should sponsor this blog or something haha. Hey there Starbucks execs…want to pay me to turn your delicious drinks into healthier baked goods? Let’s make that happen. I woke up yesterday bright and early (shocker…the idea of sleeping in is completely lost on me) and ready to bake!

Let’s pretend those extra laugh lines up there are just because it was early and my skin wasn’t quite awake yet. Oh well, at least they’re not frown lines. Anyway, moving on! Steve and I headed over to the bux to get some fresh coffee and via for the cupcakes and some coffee for ourselves. My recent order now that it’s cold outside: Grande bold coffee, 1 pump sf mocha, 1 pump sf peppermint, 2 pumps sf vanilla, steamed soy. Not a misto–that is like half milk, just with soy milk that is steamed and foamy. Tastes just like a peppermint mocha! Delicious. You have to get over the embarrassment of a complicated order, but it’s worth it πŸ˜‰

We came home and got right to the baking, while Winnie and Clem got right to their business: being cute.

“Mom, where are my cupcakes?”

Clementine lately has been really into humping Winston. She really wants to be the boss these days and it always cracks us up because he is so much bigger than her!

Winston is just like “yeah, okay, do what you want. I’m still the boss around here.”

Okaaayyyy, onto the cupcakes!

White Chocolate Sour Cream CupcakesΒ from Cake on the Brain

Skinnified Peppermint White Mocha Cupcakes

yield 36 mini cupcakes

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup Splenda
  • 1 1/2 packets Starbucks via (or any instant coffee)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 oz grain sweetened white chocolate + 36 chips
  • 1/4 cup strong coffee, + extra for brushing
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 egg whites


1. Preheat oven to 350,Β  line 36 mini muffin tins and spray inside liners (otherwise they will stick).
2. In mixer, combine flour, sugar, Splenda, via and salt.
3. Melt chocolate with coffee. Allow to cool slightly.
4. Add melted chocolate mixture to flour mixture and mix lightly.
5. Add yogurt, vanilla, peppermint, baking soda and egg whites and beat for 2 minutes.
6. Fill muffin tins 1/2 way to top, place 1 white chocolate chip in center, then fill up until they are 3/4 full (I pour it all into a freezer bag and cut a tiny hole in the corner).
7. Bake for 24 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean
8. Using a toothpick, poke several holes in each cupcake and brush with coffee.
9. Cool completely and frost with peppermint cream cheese frosting.

Original Frosting

from Gimme Some Oven

  • 8 oz. (1 brick) cream cheese, softened
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar (depending on the thickness you’d like)
  • 4 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract

My Swaps:

  • Low fat cream cheese for regular (-fat, -calories)
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar for 3-4 (-sugar, -calories)
  • 2 tbs light whipped butter for 4 regular (-fat, -calories)

Skinnified Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting

yield frosting for 40-50 mini cupcakes

  • 8 oz. (1 brick) reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbs light whipped butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract


1. Beat cream cheese, butter and extracts.
2. Slowly add powdered sugar, scraping down sides of bowl when necessary.
3. Transfer to freezer bag (or pastry bag if you’re fancy), cut small hole in the corner of the bag and frost!

C is for Clementine, W for Winston, S for Steve and A for Ari! Steve didn’t figure that one out right away πŸ˜‰ and the heart is for love–duhhh! Yeah, I’m a cheeseball

Oh yeah, top with sprinkles! It makes it more fun! Pink for peppermint, brown for chocolate. I am so original πŸ˜‰

They were soooo yummy! We had to take them immediately to our friends at the Bux and my mom so that our whole kitchen didn’t look like this

I also made regular peppermint mocha ones which I loved ALMOST as much. I just love white chocolate. Recipe coming soon. And before the season if over, you know there will be gingerbread latte (prob my fav Starbucks drink!), eggnog latte and caramel brulee latte treats coming your way. Stay tuned friends!

Skinnified “Spaghetti” and Meat Sauce

AKA Spaghetti and Meat Sauce gets a huge make over!

Normal Spaghetti and Meat Sauce:

  • thick starchy carb loaded spaghetti noodles
  • fatty ground beef and pork
  • bland tamatoey sauce

My swaps are simple, and they make a HUGE difference in this recipe nutrition wise, but do not lack any of the flavor or comfort of the original dish. Here they are:

  • Spaghetti squash for spaghetti (-TONS of calories, +vitamins and other good stuff)
  • 99% lean ground turkey for beef/pork (-fat, -almost HALF the calories)
  • Extra spicy seasonings to give a diablo flair (+yum)

“Spaghetti” and Meat Sauce

yield 5

  • 2 large spaghetti squash, cut length wise and seeded
  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 6oz can tomato paste
  • 1 packet spaghetti sauce seasonings
  • 1 1/4 lb 99% lean ground turkey
  • cayenne pepper (or any spicy seasoning), Italian seasonings, salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese (opt)


1. Rub olive oil evenly between 4 squash halves.
2. Season with salt, pepper and Italian seasonings.
3. Place face down in sprayed baking dish and roast for 40-50 minutes @ 375.
4. Brown turkey in large sauce pan.
5. Add tomato paste, seasonings and water (see packet for water measurements).
6. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until thickened and squash is fully cooked.
7. Remove squash from oven and using a fork, scrape out “spaghetti” strings.
8. Add “spaghetti” to sauce, stir well.
9. Top with Parmesan cheese if desired.
10. Enjoy!

**Some words on spaghetti squash**

  • When the squash is done, the spaghetti like strings will easily come out when scraped with a fork.
  • The texture is not the same as regular spaghetti, so if you’re expecting soft, melt in your mouth noodles, I’m sorry, it just isn’t so. It’s more like an al dente pasta–a little crisper, but the taste is seriously amazing.
  • I made this dish for an all male audience and one of them (Hermano) is 14 and picky. They all loved it.
  • Just TRY the spaghetti squash–this entire meal cost about $15 and has about 250 calories a serving. A FILLING serving. Just try it!!

Counting Down to Thanksgiving!

Hi friends! Today I am super productive in all the wrong ways. I have SO MUCH work to do, but can’t tear myself away from Thanksgiving planning long enough to do any of it. I’m a little burnt out on work, obviously. This morning started out amazingly. I got to sleep until 7:00 which is a really nice change for me, then I resisted the urge to get up and get things done and laid in bed and snuggled with my favorite guys. Winston is so funny in the morning. He rolls around and gets all up in my business and is perfectly content staying in bed for hours if I stayed there with him. I love that dog πŸ™‚

I also woke up with absolutely no work out plan since Kara and I had decided not to do spin. I REALLY wanted to take today off because my body is tiiiiired, but I know I have to take tomorrow off in order to have fresh legs for our 7 mile long run on Saturday, so I took Winnie out on a short and easy (hah yeah right, even a jog is NEVER easy for me, but I wanted to be one of those people who talks about an “easy run” for a second) jog around the neighborhood. We went 1.6 miles, and called it good. At least I got some movement today, right? Yeah, I’m being a little lazy. Maybe tomorrow if I have time I will go and do some upper body to make me feel like less of a lame-o.

After our jog, I showered and made myself a pumpkin pie smoothie and headed top Starbucks to get some “work” done. But so far all I’ve done is decide that one project cannot be done on my computer, and spend a ridiculous amount of time browsing Thanksgiving recipes. I am hoping to get my recipes together ASAP and post them before Thanksgiving, that way if anyone would like to snag one and use it, you will be able to. So far, here is the menu


  • Fresh bread (haven’t decided exactly what kind yet–suggestions?)
  • Sweet potato chips with yogurt dipping sauce
  • Deviled eggs (made by Steve’s mom, Lisa. Hers are deliccciiiooouuus.)


  • Stuffing (still haven’t found the right recipe and stuffing is my fav part!! Suggestions?)
  • Soup (butternut squash or sweet potato or pumpkin–or some combo of the 3, got any great recipes?)
  • Roasted garlic mushrooms (made them last year and LOVED them!)
  • Roasted veggies (This girl loves vegetables, so more than one veggie dish is totally acceptable! My mom is making these)
  • My mom’s famous (at least to me) mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top


  • Turkey πŸ˜‰


  • Pumpkin cheesecake (that I will modify from this recipe. If you’ve never visited Eat Better America, DO IT!!! Tons of great healthy recipes!)
  • Brownies with BUTTERMILK ICE CREAM!!! (I’ve never made ice cream, let alone tried to modify a recipe–any tips or suggestions?)

And there you have it folks, my 2012 Thanksgiving Menu! I’m so excited I can hardly stand it!! November is right around the corner, and I have my unexpected day off on November 11th to get ready and also do some early holiday shopping. I LOVE THE HOLIDAYS!!!! Also, if any of you AZ peeps I know and love find yourself without a family to spend this Thanksgiving with, PLEASE let me know. My doors are open and I would NEVER want anyone to spend this holiday alone! Sharing food with people I love is the epitome of happiness for this girl πŸ™‚

Date Night In

One of the main questions I get from people when I discuss my work schedule with them is “How does your husband feel about it?” or “How does it affect your marriage.” I usually smile and say it’s fine and he gets it and blah blah blah. The truth is, he does “get it” and honestly it is what it is, but it does affect our relationship, and lately we’ve been in a little bit of a rut because of it. I am left feeling spread pretty thin which makes me feel needy and he is left getting nothing from me because I don’t have a whole lot left to give, and it is not ideal. But the truth is, come December I will have more free time than I know what to do with and I will be back to being a much better wife and be able to refocus my energy and effort more onto the relationship. In the meantime, we just have to make this work. Luckily, I married the perfect man. Seriously, perfect, and although he may not always get things in a timely manner immediately, he always eventually understands what I need and then goes above and beyond to make me feel special.

Yesterday before I left for work we discussed how we were both feeling about things. Okay, that’s a lie. I talked in overly dramatic circles about how I wasn’t getting what I needed and I don’t feel important and blah blah blah. What can I say? Sometimes I’m a disaster. Anyway, it was all mostly legitimate feeling/concern and when I left, Steve asked if he could take me on a date. I said yes, but honestly was in no mood to get dressed out of my rehearsal clothes and be out in public. But he was trying so I went with it. While I was at rehearsal he was talking about reservation times and finding a place. I got home at about 5 and he banished me to the office while he got out my “surprise”. In case you didn’t know, surprises are the way to my heart. I don’t like to know they’re coming (my dad used to always TELL ME he had a surprise for me and it drove me crazy because I don’t like to not know things!), but when I walk in to a note or an iced coffee, I feel totally loved and special.

Finally I was allowed to leave the office and I came out to this

SURPRISE!!!!! If I would have been able to tell Steve exactly what I wanted, I would have asked to stay home and have dinner cooked for me. Good thing he is a genius. I think seeing him in my apron was maybe my favorite part. I’m sorry, but I think men are cute in aprons–does that make me a weirdo? Anyway, he had gone to my favorite store (Whole Foods) and stocked up on my favorite things!

Turns out, he had googled 2 of my very favorite foods (I don’t have an absolute favorite. I just can’t choose. It would change every day.)

Chilaen sea bass


Sweet potatoes

Have you ever had Chilaen sea bass?! It tastes like butter. Seriously. It’s pricey, but oh so worth it!

I got to play photographer while Steve cooked–it was a fun! But I realized that taking amazing pictures the way he does is way harder than it looks!

This amazing buttery brown sugar sauce was used to brush the sweet potatoes. I almost never use real butter so I kept sniffing all of the sauces and saying “Butter! Butter! Everything smells like butter! mmmm! Did you get this recipe from Paula Dean?!”

The good thing about staying in? Spending time with our children puppies! “Dad! What are you cooking? Can I have some? I want to surprise mom too with my amazing eating skills. I will share with her if you just give me a bite!”

“Look mom, I’m sitting! Now can I have some foods? Or at least have you carry me around like a prince? That would be nice too.”

“But excuse me mom and dad, when do I get my dinner? I don’t think you understand that the big bowl of dog food I just devoured was merely a snack. An amuse bouche, if you will…”

Once all the prep work was finished, it was time to take everything out to the grill! I love this part–I know nothing about grilling, so I get to stand there and watch in awe, and occasionally flip something.

I have a confession: When I watch Steve cook, I find it so hard not to give him notes/tips/direction! I HATE when people tell me how to cook, but I have such a hard time letting go of control and not being the one in charge. Guess that’s why I became a director haha. Anyway, it is much easier with the grill because I have no tips or intelligent input.

Prettttttyyy fire!

Of course the puppies were near by. “Dad dad dad dad dad!!! Did you drop anything for me? Look, I’m sitting. Would it help if I acted extra cute?”

At this point, I was practically drooling. I’m sure one classy date.

I am seriously so lucky to have the most amazing husband ever. Thank you babe for the PERFECT night and for always making me feel important and special! XOXO

What is your idea of a perfect date?