The Perfect Summer Drink!

Written by Nicole Garrity on . Posted in DIY, Food, How To, Life, Uncategorized

When I think of summer, I think of an ice cold beverage in my hands while I sit outside enjoying the sunshine. I love drinking beverages with cut up fresh fruit to add a little extra flavor. From basic water with lemon, to my personal favorite which is fresh strawberry lemonade. I’m going to share with you the quick and easy way to make the best homemade strawberry lemonade. Put it in a mason jar with a jumbo straw and sit by the pool and enjoy your summer time! Xoxo

Fresh-Strawberry-Lemonade-13

What you’re going to need:

> 1 cup granulated sugar                                                          > 1.5 cups of fresh lemon juice (about 6 medium lemons)

> 1 cup water                                                                            > 6 cups of cold water

> 2 cups of fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced                     > 1 cup of chopped strawberries, chopped for toppings

> 1 lemon slice for garnish                                                       > Ice 

 

Steps: 

  1. In a small sauce pan, bring sugar and water to boil. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
  2. Place strawberries into a food processor or blender and process/blend until smooth
  3. Pour blended strawberries into the sugar water. Add the lemon juice then stir well.
  4. Pour strawberry lemon mixture and cold water into a large pitcher. Stir well and add ice to keep it cool. Pour into glasses and top with chopped strawberries and a lemon slice. 

 

 

Kitchen Tips Everyone Should Know

Written by Nicole Garrity on . Posted in DIY, Food, How To, Life, Uncategorized

I love figuring out new tricks and tips to make everyday chores or activities easier. In the kitchen sometimes there are way too many things going on at once and you just need a few little tricks to help speed up the process… or maybe you just need to know how to easily determine the freshness of some of your foods! Either way, I am going to share with you some of the little tricks I have figured out throughout the years that help me and hopefully will help you too! Xoxo

BeFunky_ed407596a1c5ce79eb0837248301867c.jpg

Egg Freshness Test

To easily determine how fresh your eggs are, all you need to test is if they float or not! Eggshells are porous and allow air to slowly in over time. As more air enters the egg, it gets lighter and lighter, which explains why it will eventually float. Eggs that stay at the bottom of a water are the freshest!

The easy way to store your freeze pops

In the freezer place the freeze pops standing up through the shelf bars. Keeping the freezes laying down makes cutting the tops off messy if sometimes the freeze isn’t melted all the day. Having them stand up leaves room at the top for a clean cut when you are ready to eat them!

Reheat sauce the easy way

If you want to easily freeze/reheat sauce there is a smart and easy way to do so. Poor the sauce into ice cub trays and freeze them. When you making a small pasta dinner and want to heat up some of the sauce, take a few of the frozen cubes and zap them in the microwave for instant sauce! (I love using this trick to make a quick pasta dinner if I’m having a busy day)

Reheat pasta is a doughnut shape

To reheat pasta quickly, leave a small circle empty in the middle of your plate so the pasta will cook more evenly. It works much more effectively than stirring the pasta several times. (Then add a ice cub of your frozen sauce and you’ve got a meal!)

Store ice cream in a zip-lock bag

A plastic freezer bag keeps the cold air from making the ice cream rock hard. Try to push out as much air as you can before putting it back in the freezer. You won’t have to run your spoon under warm water to melt the ice cream anymore!

Make yogurt freeze pops

It is so easy to turn your favorite yogurt into a cool treat. Take popsicle sticks and poke them through the top of the yogurt, but don’t push them to the bottom of the yogurt. Refreshing and healthy!

Keep lettuce fresh longer

Drape a dry paper towel over the top of a bowl of salad, and then cover it with plastic wrap to keep the lettuce fresh for a while week. Wonder how it works? The dry paper towel absorbs moisture from the lettuce, which is one of the main reasons why it wilts and turns soggy so fast. It is also important to get the lettuce as dry as possible before storing in the first place.

Chill wine without ice cubes

Frozen grapes placed into a glass of wine with keeping it chilled without watering it down. They are always delicious to eat once you finish your wine. (I use this trick about 3 times a week… or 4)

My Favorite Autumn Treat: Apple Pie Cupcakes

Written by Nicole Garrity on . Posted in DIY, Food, How To, Uncategorized

 

One thing I love about the autumn season is all of the delicious foods you get to eat! Fall is the best time to cook with my favorite fruit… freshly picked apples! I love making homemade apple cider or apple crisps paired with vanilla ice cream. One recipe I stumbled upon adds a new twist to an old recipe that everyone loves, but instead of plain apple pie, its apple pie cupcakes! Seriously try them out, they are amazing. Happy baking readers, xoxo.

 


Apple Pie Cupcakes 

Ingredients: For cake 

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp backing powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups grated apples (2 granny smith, 2 gala)

Instructions: For cake 

  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pans with cupcake liners
  2. in medium bowl combine dry ingredients; flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon
  3. in large bowl combine eggs, vegetable oil, sour cream and vanilla and whisk together
  4. gradually add the dry ingredients to wet ingredients and whisk until combined
  5. fold grated apples into cake mixture
  6. fill cupcake lines 2/3 full with batter
  7. bake for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean
  8. let cupcakes cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove to wire racks to finish cooling

Ingredients: For apple pie filling 

  • 3 apples, finely chopped (2 granny smith, 1 gala)
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Instructions: For apple pie filling

  1. place chopped apples, butter, brown sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon in medium size pan and cook over medium heat for about 18-20 minutes, until apples are tender. Stir occasionally.
  2. allow mixture to cool
  3. use an apple corer to remove the center of the cupcakes and fill with apple pie filling

20 Near Zero Calorie Summer Snacks

Written by Nicole Garrity on . Posted in Food, How To, Life, Uncategorized

If you love having little snacks throughout the day and want to find a healthier way to fill up, then I have the perfect list for you. If you don’t want to pack on the pounds this summer try trading your unhealthy snacks for some of these low calories treats! You can even make a whole low calorie meal with some of these ingredients!

ac0f47b532ce39597ea4f2b55c7951f4

  1. Radishes: These little bite-sized root vegetables are only 1 calorie per piece. Slice them up and add them to your salad or eat them alone.
  2. Cucumbers: Cucumbers are excellent at keeping you hydrated. They were comprised mainly of water and will help you feel full for longer periods of time.
  3. Celery: It’s rumored that it takes more calories to digest this crunchy vegetables than is included in the celery itself.
  4. Apples: A great on-the-go snack, apples help to fight hunger and are packed with nutrition. Apples are also a great way to quickly clean your teeth after a meal.
  5. Watermelon: Watermelon is another great fruit that quenches thirst and is guilt-free.
  6. Cauliflower: A half cup boiled cauliflower only has 14 calories. Mash it up for a fiber-rich, nutritious substitute for traditional mashed potatoes.
  7. Strawberries: 1 cup of strawberries has nearly 100% of your daily vitamin C. Take your friends and go strawberry picking for a healthy afternoon of fun.
  8. Mushrooms: No matter whether you grill, saute, or back them, mushrooms are an incredible low calorie snack.
  9. Summer Squash: Summer squash has half the amount of calories as winter squash. This means you can eat twice as much!
  10. Green Tea: Stop sipping your calories and grab some green tea. It’s a fat-fighting drink loaded with antioxidants. And the best part? It has zero calories!
  11. Green Beans: Dip them in your favorite low-fat dressing for a delicious, crunchy afternoon snack.
  12. Papaya: Shred fresh papaya and add it to your salad for a little sweetness without the calories.
  13. Tangerines: Keep a few tangerines on your desk for a healthy, easy snack.
  14. Garlic: Instead of butter and high sodium seasoning packets, always use fresh garlic for added flavor. A small amount delivers big taste, and will cost you minimal calories.
  15. Pineapples: This sweet tropical fruit is a giant zero-calorie snack. Toss it on the grill for a caramelized side dish at dinner.
  16. Endive: These crunchy and bitter leaves are a great addition to your salads, or on its own. They pair nicely with pears and blue cheese.
  17. Turnips: You can roast turnips like any other vegetable. Turnips are packed with flavor, and you won’t need a huge portion size to stay full.
  18. Leeks: Swap your onions for fresh leeks and you’ll find a unique flavor with fewer calories.
  19. Lettuce: Use lettuce as a wrap instead of a tortilla, and always go for the dark green leaves for more nutrients.
  20. Mangoes: Frozen mango cubes are a great way to cool off in the hot summer months.

Best Summer Foods For Weight Loss!

Written by Nicole Garrity on . Posted in DIY, Food, Life, Uncategorized

I recently found out that you can easily lose weight during the summer by adding a few certain foods to your meals. Who knew it was that easy?! Try replacing your normal side dishes with these three options and you will see a difference in a matter of a week! They are not only simple and delicious, but they actually help keep you healthy and full! You will be showing off your bikini ready body is no time! xoxo

 

Chilled Soups:

Chilled soups like gazpacho, cucumber-dill or other soups that contain lots of chunky vegetables are a great way to drop pounds. Low-calorie, broth-based soups at the beginning of your meal fill you up so you eat less of your high-calorie dinner. It makes for a great meal replacement or mid-day snack!

asparagussoup3

Watermelon: 

Who doesn’t love crisp and juicy watermelon when it’s hot outside? Half of watermelon comes from water, so it not only satisfies your thirst but also fills up your stomach! Remove any bread or greasy foods from your table and serve the watermelon instead! (fruit salad is also a good low-calorie summer snack to try)

juicy_watermelon_wallpaper-1

Grilled Veggies:

A plate full of grilled veggies is a must-have during the summer. You can add grilled veggies like onions, bell peppers, zucchini, carrots, asparagus and so many more to your dinner plate for that not only a filling treat! Mix the veggies in a salad, in a pita wrap, or even with some chicken for a light weight and healthy meal.

Grilled_veggies

My Latest Obsession- Water Infuser Bottles!

Written by Nicole Garrity on . Posted in Food, How To, Life, Uncategorized

Do you enjoy adding fresh fruit to your water to get a fresh flavor as much as I do? If so you are going to be in love with my latest purchase. I recently bought a Water Infuser Bottle and it is the greatest thing ever!! It is a glass bottle that has a tube down the middle to hold fresh fruit. The straw travels through the center combining both the water and the fruit. It is so refreshing and delicious!!

Fruit-Infuser-Water-Bottle.87914ff725a2ced3484dd3ea1323fce174

 

My favorite combination is the strawberry and kiwi. It helps with cardiovascular health, immune system protection, blood sugar regulation and digestion. Who knew the just mixing together fruit with your water could be so healthy?! Another one of my favorites is cucumber, lime and lemon. It helps with water weight management, bloating, appetite control, hydration and digestion. Trust me, once you start with these infusions you will never want to stop! Go buy one today and you can thank me later, xoxo.

Fruit-infuser-bottles

 

 

St. Patty’s Day Treats!!

Written by Nicole Garrity on . Posted in DIY, Food, Life, Uncategorized

St. Patrick’s Day is coming up and if you are extremely Irish like I am, then you are bound to have a green filled weekend!! I love this time of year because it is an excuse to dye your food green and not be completely grossed out by it! From Shamrock shakes at McDonalds to green bagels at Tim Hortons, the green food is everywhere!  Here are some fun and easy ideas for some green treats that you can whip up in a giffy! xoxo

  1. Green Pancakes- add some green food coloring to your batter during preparation to have green pancakes for breakfast!! Add some whipped cream and chocolate fudge on top to make it that much more mouth watering. 9f8bce7ac9b41be7d319b5a0ba57922e
  2. Shamrock Cupcakes- Before you add the batter into the cupcake holders, add marbles to turn the cupcake holders into shamrock shapes (See picture below).  Add the batter and cook according to normal instructions. Add some green food coloring and green icing to turn them into green shamrocks!! e368198a180ecc2a181a753f55e99c79
  3. Shamrock Shake- Combine 2 cups of vanilla ice cream, 1 1/4 cup of 2% milk, 1/4 mint extract, and 8 drops of green food coloring into a blender and blend together on high speed until smooth. Pour into cups and enjoy a minty green shake!!57437623d48447bf429c5fd01d723f10
  4. Pretzel Bites- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Put a piece of foil on a cookie sheet and lay out however many pretzels you want to make. Put a piece of chocolate on each pretzel, then put them in the oven.  Baking time will vary based on your oven and what type of chocolate you use. Usually it takes around a minute to cook or until the chocolate is soft. Once you think the chocolate is soft enough, take the pan out of the oven and place a green M&M on top of the melted chocolate. Let cool and enjoy! snacks-for-st-patricks-day--500x500

 

 

Superbowl Sunday Snacks

Written by Nicole Garrity on . Posted in Food, Life, Uncategorized

Superbowl Sunday is only a few days away, and even if you are not a football fan you will probably still end up watching the game. If you are hosting a Superbowl party or  attending one where you are required to bring a snack, today is your lucky day!  Today, I am going to share with you some of my favorite quick and easy snacks that are perfect for a Superbowl party. You can never have too much snack food at a football party!

302986ae0b55bb11a1c3b80a557de4cb

Chicken Wing Dip (my simple and easy way!): A few years back I attended a Superbowl party and while snacks were running low I offered to help whip up some last minute munchies. One of the other house guests began making the easiest chicken wing dip I have ever seen. You only need three ingredients and it takes only minutes to make!

f29666ad6df2f4b61d5415a15619594c

  • Ingredients: Cream cheese (the whipped kind is easier to spread), shredded cheese (cheddar is the best), and hot sauce (my favorite is Franks Buffalo Hot Sauce)
  1. Take cream cheese and spread a layer on the bottom of the bowl or pan you are using (I like to make about a 1/4 inch layer)
  2. Pour hot sauce over cream cheese and spread until it covers the cream cheese
  3. Add a layer of shredded cheese on top until you can’t see the hot sauce and cream cheese
  4. Microwave on high for about 1 1/2 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted
  5. Eat as is or mix up ingredients and wah-la!! You have the worlds easiest chicken wing dip

Bacon Beer Cheese Dip: (Only two quick steps!!!) This mouth watering dip is a must-have at any football party. It is not only delicious, but different than the regular every day dips. Serve with soft pretzel bites or pretzel sticks to get the best flavor!

SONY DSC

  • Ingredients: 2 cups cheddar blend cheese, 1 8oz. block of cream cheese, 1/2 cup crumbled bacon, 1 tps. dry ground mustard, 3/4 cup beer.
  1. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat warm up the  beer, stir in cream cheese and stir until melted, add in bacon pieces, dry mustard,  and shredded cheddar.
  2. Stir frequently until melted and smooth.

Pepperoni Rolls: Delicious little bite sized snacks that aren’t messy and everyone will love! Heat up some pizza sauce for the perfect dipping sauce! Quicker and different than just an ordinary pizza.

pizza rolls

  • Ingredients: 3 cans Pillsbury Buttermilk Biscuits (10 biscuits per can), 56 pepperoni slices, block of cheese, 1 beaten egg, Parmesan, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, 1 jar pizza sauce.
  1. Cut the block of cheese into at least 28 squares.
  2. Flatten a biscuit out and stack pepperoni and cheese on top.
  3. Gather up the edges of the biscuit.
  4. Line the rolls up (seam side down) in a greased 9×13 in. pan.
  5. Brush with beaten egg.
  6. Sprinkle with Parmesan, Italian seasoning and Garlic powder.
  7. Bake at 425 degrees F for 18-20 minutes.
  8. Serve the rolls with warm pizza sauce for dipping.

 

I hope everyone has a happy Superbowl Sunday!! Remember you can never have too many snacks and munchies to eat during the game. Pinterest has some amazing and delicious ideas that are effortless!! Try the simple recipes I gave you or try some of your own! Xoxo

How to: Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half

Written by Nicole Garrity on . Posted in Food, How To, Life, Uncategorized

Its hard to not be drawn to shows like “Extreme Couponing” and watch people save big on everyday groceries. Who wouldn’t want to learn how to cut your grocery bill in half?! Everyone knows groceries are expensive, costing the average household about $6,000 a year,  that’s about 10% of the averages families income. But how does one learn how to coupon and save money like that? There are many different guides to help you get started but one I came across really peaked my interest. Her name is Ruth and she is an ordinary mother who has a simple yet effective way to save money through not only coupons and other easy to follow ways. She has a website called “Living Well Spending Less” that touches base on not only couponing, but also organization and household tips. (Clicking on the picture below will forward you to her website) Here are the tips from her article about “5 Tips Everyone Should Know” to save money on groceries.

How-to-cut-your-grocery-bill-in-half-5-tips-everyone-should-know--614x1024

  1. It’s not about the coupons: ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS buy food when it is on sale. The bulk of your savings will come from in store sales, not from coupons. The bigger the promotion, the bigger the savings, so the first step in saving money on your grocery bill is to SHOP THE SALES
  2. Stockpile, Stockpile, Stockpile: In order to make sure you are always buying an item at its lowest price make sure you buy enough of that item to last you to the next sale, about 6-8 weeks. Things like pasta and cereal have a long shelf life, so these are the types of items to stock up on while they are on sale. Stockpiling will stop you from shopping more frequently thus saving you money long term.
  3. Eat Less Meat: Cutting back on meat a few times a month can cut a bill as much as $1,000 a year. When buying meat, remember to only buy what is on sale, and stock up if it is a great sale!
  4. Change the way you Meal Plan: Instead of planning last minute dinners and having to run out to the store to grab food, plan your meals ahead of time and use things you’ve stockpiled!  If meat is one of the items in your meal plan, but is not on sale, save money by limiting yourself to only one or two days cooking with meat. Look at your grocery stores weekly ad’s for sales to better plan for that weeks meals. Once you start making meal plans, it will better prepare you for what you need to buy on your next grocery trip.
  5. Learn to Match Coupons to Store Sales: Coupons normally come out before the weekend, so when you are planning your next big stop to the grocery store, make sure to look at not only the coupons but also the in-store sales. Learning how to stockpile with coupons only every 6-8 weeks could save you up to $75 a week. Coupons don’t normally expire for a few months, so gather up a small amount before you venture to the grocery store. Items that have long shelve lives like toothpaste, pasta, toilet paper, paper towels etc, you can normally get at a extremely low cost if you plan accordingly. Stores will normally offer a “Buy one, Get one” sale and by combining that sale with a coupon, you can get more for close to nothing. If you look at Ruth’s website, she has a “Beginner’s Guide to Cutting Coupons” with easy to follow instructions on how to get started!

Saving money is easy and anybody can learn how. Starting with just these few steps you will see your bill start to decrease and you will be more organized when it comes to grocery shopping.  To learn about more ways to help save money, check out Ruth’s website! www.livingwellspendingless.com

5 “Skinny” Drinks to Keep You Warm

Written by Nicole Garrity on . Posted in DIY, Food, Uncategorized

Skinny Mom is one of my favorite websites for delicious recipes that are both healthy and easy to make! Below are a few of my favorite recipes from an article in the Food & Nutrition section called “5 Warm, Skinny Drinks to Keep Away the Chill.” All of these recipes are quick and easy to follow! Nothing is better than knowing you are making a delicious drink that is also healthy. Some of the drinks listed are as little as 20 calories!! Check out Skinny Mom for more mouth watering treats!!! (Click any of the pictures below to get the nutritional facts!)

#1- Skinny Pumpkin Spice Latte

PumpkinLatte13_horRESIZED

  • 1/2 cup Libby’s Pure Pumpkin
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups coffee, brewed
  • *Stevia (or your favorite sweetener) to taste
  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine all ingredients except coffee and stevia
  2. Whisk until heated through and mixed well, about 6-8 minutes
  3. Pour over brewed coffee. Add stevia to taste. Top with cinnamon
  4. It can be heated to make another latte or served cold for an iced latte

#2- Hot Spiced Witches Brew 

320x260

  • 1 cup (208 g) dried sugar-free orange-flavored breakfast drink mix
  • 1/2 cup (12 g) sugar-free iced tea mix
  • 1/4 cup (52 g) sugar-free lemonade-flavored drink mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) whole chives
  • 1 continuous spiral of 1 orange
  • 1 continuous spiral of 1 lemon
  • 2 gallons (7.5 l) water
  • 2-inch (5 cm) cinnamon sticks for swizzles
  1. In large pot, slowly bring all ingredients except cinnamon stick to a boil
  2. Stir and reduce heat to a low simmer
  3. Serve hot in cups with cinnamon stick swizzles

#3- Skinny Up Spiced Cider 

skinny-spiced-cider-150x200

  • 1/2 gallon apple cider
  • 5 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/4 lemon zest
  • 1/4 orange zest
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  1. Pour 1/2 gallon of apple cider into a saucepan
  2. Add remaining ingredients into saucepan with apple cider, bring to a boil
  3. Cook 5 minutes; reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes
  4. Remove from heat (Makes: 11 Servings)

#4- Skinny Hot Chocolate (ONLY 20 CALORIES!!)

hot-chocolate

  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup water
  • about 2 packets of stevia (roughly equivalent to 2 tbsp sugar: adjust amount to taste)
  • dash salt (seas salt is best)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla or peppermint extract (optional)
  1. Combine cocoa, stevia, and salt into heatproof mug and set aside
  2. Microwave water on high for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes
  3. Slowly add hot water to dry ingredients, mixing constantly
  4. Add vanilla, peppermint, or any other extract of choice to add flavor

#5- Iced Caramel Macchiatto (My Favorite!!!)Screen-shot-2013-11-19-at-4.35.26-PM

  • 3/4 oz vanilla syrup
  • ice
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 2 shots espresso
  • caramel sauce
  1. Pour vanilla syrup into the bottom of your glass.
  2. Fill glass with ice almost to the top
  3. Pour almond milk over the ice
  4. Add some caramel sauce
  5. Pour espresso shot over the milk
  6. Add more caramel sauce (optional)

I hope you enjoy these 5 Warm, Skinny Drinks as much as I do!! xoxo