Sparkling Italian Creme Sodas with Canada Dry!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #AddSparkle #CollectiveBias #Shop 

sparklingsodasWhen I was a little girl, my family would occasionally take me out to dinner at this local spaghetti restaurant.  The food was your standard Ragu-type fare — in other words, nothing remotely “Italian.”  But they did have the best Italian Creme Sodas that I looked forward to ordering every time we dined there.  There was something about the combination of the sparkling water combined with that sweet cherry syrup, the smooth cream and the tower of whipped cream that had Lil Hayley hook, line & sinker.  It was probably because it was sweet, a drink topped with whipped cream, and tasted like I was drinking something glittery and sparkly — as a kid, you want to imagine everything you consume is magical.  And with the carbonation, it felt like I was having some mystical fairy drink.

But unlike Lil Hayley, Big Hayley doesn’t have the same metabolism, so drinking typical Italian Creme Sodas on the regular isn’t necessarily diet-friendly *cries.*  But thankfully, I figured out an ingenious way to make my own homemade and lightened-up Italian Creme Sodas at home using new Canada Dry Sparkling Seltzer Water.

Canada Dry’s new Sparkling Seltzer Water has zero calories, zero sodium and zero caffeine.  The Lemon Lime and Triple Berry waters are unsweetened and flavored naturally, and they taste awesome.  They’re such a refreshing, bubbly beverage that is so much more nutritious than your standard carbonated soda.  It’s water… only better.

DSC_0095aAnd this Sparkling Seltzer Water is the base of these lightened-up Italian Creme Sodas.  Simply combine the Canada Dry Sparkling Seltzer Water, a couple Tablespoons of sugar-free flavored syrup, a splash of creme, and ice!  Top with fat-free whipped cream and a cherry or lime wedge if you’d like, and voila!  You’ll be sipping pretty and adding some serious sparkle to your meal in no time :)

Ready to drink like a sparkly fairy princess?!

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Sparkling Italian Creme Sodas with Canada Dry!
Author: 
Recipe type: Drinks
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Refreshing, nearly fat-free and super low-cal, these Sparkling Italian Creme Sodas will add some delicious sparkle to your life!
Ingredients
  • FOR BERRY ITALIAN SODAS:
  • 2 bottles (16.9 fl oz each) Canada Dry Triple Berry Sparkling Seltzer Water
  • 6 Tbsp sugar-free raspberry syrup
  • 2 Tbsp fat-free half & half
  • 10 ice cubes
  • Fat-Free whipped cream
  • Cherries or chopped berries
  • FOR LEMON LIME ITALIAN SODAS:
  • 2 bottles (16.9 fl oz each) Canada Dry Lemon Lime Sparkling Seltzer Water
  • 6 Tbsp lemon juice or low-calorie lemonade
  • 2 Tbsp fat-free half & half
  • 10 ice cubes
  • Fat-Free whipped cream
  • Lime or lemon wedges, optional
Instructions
  1. Distribute 5 ice cubes among two mason jars or cups. Pour 8 ounces of Canada Dry Sparkling Seltzer Water into each glass. Top each glass with THREE (3) Tablespoons of flavored syrup or juice and ONE (1) Tablespoon of fat-free half & half. Do not stir the mixture!
  2. Top each glass with a heavy helping of fat-free whipped cream and garnish with a cherry, chopped berries or lemon/lime wedges. Serve immediately!

DSC_0107AThese Sparkling Italian Creme Sodas could not be simpler to make!  They’re light, super refreshing on a hot day, and such a great pick-me-up treat for kids and adults alike!  The Sparkling Seltzer Water tastes phenomenal and those fruity flavors definitely shine in these drinks.  They aren’t cloyingly sweet; just the right amount hits you with a nice, fruity punch and lots of sparkle.  These will surely become a new family favorite!!

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I found my Canada Dry Sparkling Seltzer Water’s in the Soda/Flavored Water aisle at my local Walmart.  It was super easy to find and sectioned on an endcap.  Right now, you can save 75 cents off any Canada Dry Sparkling Seltzer Water at Walmart stores — just click HERE!.  Or, if you share the page, you can save $1.75… which is worth it so you can stock up on all four flavors: Original, Lemon Lime, Triple Berry & Pomegranate Cherry!!  Just click the picture below to get your coupon!! :)

Canada-Dry-Sparkling-Seltzer-WaterHave a fantastical day!!

xo, Hayley

 

 

 

S’moreo Apple Salad

smoreosaladBe prepared to meet your new favorite summertime treat!

I don’t know about you, but I tend to have a bit of a pronounced lazy gene in me which is odd, considering I really typically loathe laziness in people, am always rushing around doing stuff, and have been diagnosed with OCD.  But admittedly, I’m more lazy when it comes to food.

For instance — I would eat SO much healthier if I had a personal chef.  Or if I didn’t have to constantly clean and prep fruits and veggies.  I don’t even know how to cut a mango, so I just avoid them.  And I love watermelon (it’s easily one of my favorite fruits) but cutting one makes me depressed and discouraged, so I usually just watch it sit on my counter for a month as a nice, hefty paperweight for my mail.

That’s why I supermega LOVE CrunchPak Apple Slices!  Not only are they delicious, but they’re fresh sliced apples that stay fresh naturally (using a mixture of vitamin C and a calcium solution) for up to 21-days!  They’re ideal for party trays or on-the-go snacking since they’re pre-sliced and ready to go.  No rinsing, no slicing, no worries.  Easy peasy!


They also have Apple Snackers, DipperZ and Foodles which are fun snack packs that I’m positively addicted to (I love the apple, cheese and pretzel Foodles!).  The hardest part is deciding what kind of dipper I want (ranch with carrots, peanut butter, yogurt, or caramel for apples). :)

And CrunchPak Apples work perfectly in this S’moreo Apple Salad!  If you’ve never had apple salad, we ought to remedy this.  Apple salad is more of a dessert than an actual salad (there are no beets or croutons in sight), but it’s a lighter dessert in both weight and being waist-friendly since you can swap out certain ingredients for light or sugar-free pudding/Cool Whip or reduced fat Oreos.  And it’s no-bake, making it a perfect treat for hot summer days and to sneak some fruit into a sweet and sinful dessert!

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5.0 from 2 reviews
S'moreo Apple Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
This delightful, no-bake apple salad tastes like s'mores, thanks to chocolatey Oreos, fluffy marshmallows and delicious chunks of apples!
Ingredients
  • 10 Oreo cookies, finely chopped
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
  • 1 pkg (14 oz) CrunchPak Sweet Apple Slices, roughly chopped
  • 1 box (5.1 oz) instant vanilla pudding (dry mix)
  • ⅔ cup milk
  • 1 (16 oz) tub Cool Whip Free, thawed
  • Chocolate syrup
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the vanilla pudding mix, milk and Cool Whip together in a large bowl until combined.
  2. Gently fold in the Oreo cookies, marshmallows and apple chunks to combine. Refrigerate for about 1 hour to set, then serve with a drizzle of chocolate syrup on top. Keep leftovers refrigerated and covered.

DSC_0584AIf you love pudding, you’ll love this S’moreo Apple Salad!  It has that soft pudding-like texture combined with crisp, juicy apples, soft and chewy marshmallows and crunchy Oreo cookies.  It’s SO delicious on a hot day!  I loved using the sweet CrunchPak apples, but green apples would work well here, too!

Have a fantastical day!!

xo, Hayley

Copycat Chocolate & Vanilla Wendy’s Frosties

copycatfrostiesFriends, it’s time you answered the age-old question for me.  Do YOU dip your fries in Frosties?

Personally, I find it to be a requirement every time I visit Wendy’s.  Nothing beats that sweet and salty combination of crispy, salted French fries dipped into that smooth, chocolate-y, cold Frosty.  Anytime sweet and salty is involved together, I’m game, and this happens to be one of my favorite combinations!  So. Stinkin’. Good.

As a kid, my siblings and I spent our summers at my grandma’s house just down the street.  We spent hours and hours swimming in her pool, watching Scooby Doo while we ate our (usually fast food) lunch, and then relaxed in the AC while we played Legos when it got too hot outside.

My parents were both quite strict and never let us ride our bikes around the block unsupervised, much less walk anywhere without an adult.  So of course, being the brats we were, we would convince our grandma to pleeeeease let us walk up to Wendy’s (a good mile away on a busy road) so we could buy chicken nuggets, fries, and Frosties.  And being a grandma who is incapable of saying no to our adorable faces, she said yes, handed us a $10 bill, and sent us on our way with pool-water hair and flip-flops to walk up to Wendy’s.  I remember thinking I was so cool as I flopped along the road with my younger brother and best friend, eager to get our Frosty fixes.

DSC_0410ASo understandably, Frosties have quite a special place in my heart.  I grew up slurping them, dunking my fries in ‘em, and rebelling while drinking them down a busy road without my parents knowing.  What a badass.

And now, it’s time for another age-old question: Chocolate, or Vanilla?

I’m normally a vanilla girl all the way, but there are some chocolate things I can’t get enough of, those being: chocolate frosting, chocolate milk, and chocolate milkshakes/Frosties.  There’s something so delicious and satisfying about a frosty chocolate shake or creamy chocolate icing on a vanilla cake.  In fact, whenever I’m making something with chocolate frosting, it takes all of my willpower not to eat the entire bowl.  But buttercream?  I pass it up no problem.

DSC_0407AHowever, I get it — not all of us are chocolate people, my family especially.  While we all love our beloved original Frosties, my mom and sister have a serous preference for the vanilla flavored one.  So when I saw that making Homemade Chocolate Frosties was just a matter of a few simple ingredients, I knew making Homemade Vanilla Frosties would be just as simple, too.  So I made ‘em both and… wow.  If you’re stuck between chocolate and vanilla, I’m afraid this won’t help since both are AMAZING.  The texture and taste is IDENTICAL to Wendy’s version, but with three simple ingredients, made in minutes in the comfort of your own home, and significantly lower-cal than the classic fast food version.

Since making these last week, my family and I have powered through several batches, and one is freezing as we speak right now.  I guarantee this foolproof recipe will quickly become a family favorite for its ease and deliciousness!  So… chocolate, vanilla, or never-answering-that-question-again-because-you-can-have-both?  I’ll take the latter :)

DSC_0406A*adapted from here 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Copycat Chocolate & Vanilla Wendy's Frosties
Author: 
Recipe type: Ice Cream/Frozen Desserts
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Wendy's Frosties are one of my favorite treats, but driving to the nearest Wendy's is often a chore in the high heat of summertime. These Frosties are made in minutes and taste identical to the real deal, AND are only four ingredients! They're sure to become a new family favorite!
Ingredients
  • FOR ORIGINAL CHOCOLATE FROSTIES:
  • 1 cup fat-free (or 1%) chocolate milk
  • ¼ cup fat-free sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tsp Coffee-Mate Sugar-Free Chocolate powdered coffee creamer
  • 1 tub (16 oz) Cool Whip Free, frozen
  • FOR VANILLA FROSTIES:
  • 1 cup fat-free (or 1%) milk
  • ¼ cup fat-free sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tsp Coffee-Mate Sugar-Free Vanilla powdered coffee creamer
  • 1 tub (16 oz) Cool Whip Free, frozen
Instructions
  1. In a blender (I LOVE using my Ninja Mega Kitchen System Blender for this!), combine the milk, sweetened condensed milk, powdered coffee creamer and Cool Whip Free (I like to chop the frozen Cool Whip in half with a spoon to make it easier to fit in the blender. Also, make sure your Cool Whip is still frozen!) Process the Frosty in the blender for about 30 seconds or until completely smooth.
  2. Pour the Frosties evenly among two tall glasses (I used pint-sized mason jars) and place in the freezer to chill, about 30-60 minutes. I prefer mine at the 60 minute mark as they're thicker and more of a genuine Frosty consistency.
  3. Serve immediately, or store leftovers in the freezer. Just thaw in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes, or until your preferred consistency, before consuming. This is very easily doubled!

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DSC_0415AI can guarantee you probably have these simple, everyday ingredients on hand right now — and why you aren’t making these Homemade Frosties is beyond me!  I love how identical the texture and flavor of these Homemade Frosties are to the original fast-food version — I seriously could NOT believe how tasty they were!  Most Frosty recipes require you to blend ice into the mixture to get that frosty texture — but freezing the mixture is what gives it that thickness and consistency without adding all of that extra chunk from the ice.  If you don’t have the powdered coffee creamers on hand, no worries — cocoa powder works in a pinch, but I like the delicious, creamy flavor and texture that the powdered creamers offer, especially the vanilla one.  It gives it that extra little bump that make these frozen treats so irresistible :)

Have a fantastical day!

xo, Hayley

Sherbet Lemonade Fizz {And A Cascade Ice Giveaway!!}

sherbetfizzI interrupt your normal daily activities to ask you a burning question: When speaking of a fruit-based dairy product sold in the frozen section, do you pronounce it ‘sherbET’, or ‘sherBERT’?

I have always called it ‘sherbET’ because, well, it’s just how I always called it.  No rhyme or reason as to why I never gave it a proper ‘Bert’ name.  But I know people who use the Bert term, and while I respect it, all I hear is, “Sure, Bert!” like you’re agreeing to something that someone named Bert said.

It just reminds me of that classic Airplane quote:

“Can you fly this plane, and land it?”
“Surely you can’t be serious.”
“I am serious.. and don’t call me Shirley.”

Just like when people pronounce ‘both’ like ‘bolth’, ‘draw’ like ‘drawr’ and ‘wash’ like ‘warsh.’  I get what you’re saying, I just have trouble concentrating with the extra letter present.  Then again, this is coming from someone who regularly creates new words and is used to no one ever understanding me. *sigh*

Anyway, no matter how you pronounce it, I have an awesome recipe and GIVEAWAY for you today!  Have you guys heard of Cascade Ice?  Cascade Ice is a zero-calorie, sugar-free flavored sparkling water that eliminates the unhealthy, unnecessary extras like sugar, sodium, carbs, caffeine and gluten.  In addition to zero-calorie, Cascade Ice also has a Sparkling Organic, Sparkling Essence and a Sparkling Mixer line.  And Cascade Ice comes in 21 fantastic flavors, like Orange Mango, Acai Blueberry Pomegranate, Blueberry Watermelon, and Pink Grapefruit, to name a few.

DSC_0383AI fell in love with Cascade Ice when I finally vowed to give up soda, and I haven’t looked back since!  My absolute favorite is the Coconut, with Blueberry Watermelon following closely behind :) Cascade Ice is an awesome soda replacement since it offers that same fizz you love with an amazing flavor, just zero-calorie and sugar-free, making it a great alternative that’s every bit as refreshing — just much healthier.  And it’s caffeine-free, so it makes a great option for those avoiding caffeine, or something to give to kids even before bedtime.

DSC_0378ASo if you’d like to win your own prize pack of Cascade Ice, just use the Rafflecopter below to enter! :) I’ll randomly select a winner on Saturday, June 14 :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

In the meantime, can I interest you guys in a super refreshing and delicious drink?  This Sherbet Lemonade Fizz is a combination between a drink, a punch, and a freezy treat that will definitely please a crowd.  It only has a couple of easy ingredients and comes together in seconds, so you’ll be sipping pretty in no time.

Bottoms up, friends!!

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5.0 from 2 reviews
Sherbet Lemonade Fizz {And A Cascade Ice Giveaway!!}
Author: 
Recipe type: Drinks
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
This frosty, chilly drink will please kids and adults alike! Comes together in minutes and is super tasty and refreshing on a hot day!
Ingredients
  • About ½ cup rainbow sherbet (or more to suit your preferences)
  • 1 bottle Cascade Ice Lemonade
  • 1 cup 10-calorie fruit punch
Instructions
  1. Using a cookie dough scoop, scoop miniature rounds of sherbet equally among both cups. I used about 4-5 scoops per cup.
  2. Pour ½ cup of the fruit punch among both cups. Top with Cascade Ice Lemonade and serve!
  3. If you want this extra freezy, consider briefly freezing the glasses before serving. You could also blend this mixture together with a couple ice cubes for a frosty treat!

DSC_0387AThese Sherbet Lemonade Fizzes are DELICIOUS and SO refreshing!  I love freezing my glasses before hand to make them extra chilly, especially after a hot day outside.  They’re great to serve with dinner or on their own as a fantastic dessert for kids and adults alike.  And if you’re feeling naughty, I wouldn’t be opposed to spiking these scrumptious drinks with some rum or vodka — think how tasty a lemon vodka would be here! :)

Be sure to connect with Cascade Ice for news, events, product info and more!  You can connect with them on their blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.  Thanks for entering, and good luck!!

Have a fantastical day!

xo, Hayley

{Guiltless} Key Lime Pie

keylimepieeeKey Lime Pie fans — or KLPF for short — rejoice.  Y’all have a guiltless version of your favorite treat starting now.

I am a recent convert of KLP.  While it’s not my favorite pie flavor, and I certainly wouldn’t choose it over say, apple or coconut cream, I do like it.  I like that tangy, sour bite and the creamy texture.  And I like limes, but usually only in margaritas, so it’s nice to enjoy them in something other than straight tequila and my depressing company of drinking alone.

And it’s only fitting I fall in love with KLP now because I’m headed to Miami next month for BlogHer Food and I have a pretty decent hunch that this particular pie is pretty darn popular down there.  Needless to say, I’m stoked to have a taste of an authentic Key West Key Lime Pie!

In the meantime, and because I live approximately a billion miles away from Florida, I need something easy to whip up when I get lonely and tequila isn’t an option (which, let’s face it, tequila is never really a decent option to begin with).  So I whipped up this Guiltless Key Lime Pie and whoa, y’all.  This is the cure for what ails your te-keeel-ya heart.

DSC_0063AYou will never believe this creamy, tart pie is made with lightened up, smarter substitute swaps and isn’t loaded with a billion calories or fat grams.  It’s light, fluffy, easy to prepare, and tastes pretty darned close to the real thing.

And if you don’t think so, well, try drinking a shot first and then get back to me.  Bottoms up!!

DSC_0057A*key lime pie recipe adapted from Hungry Girl’s Just Desserts cookbook

5.0 from 2 reviews
{Guiltless} Key Lime Pie
Author: 
Recipe type: Pie
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Love the tangy taste of key lime pie but hate the overload in calories? It's time to meet your new favorite KLP fix: this Guiltless version, which tastes every bit as creamy, tangy and dreamy as its usual counterpart!
Ingredients
  • 1 9" prepared low-fat graham cracker pie crust
  • 1 (14 oz) can fat free sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ cup key lime juice
  • ½ cup fat free sour cream
  • ¼ cup fat free liquid egg substitute
  • Zest of 2 limes
  • Cool Whip Free
  • Lime slices, for garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the prepared pie crust onto a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the condensed milk, lime juice, and sour cream. Whisk thoroughly until smooth. Add in the egg substitute and lime zest and mix until combined.
  3. Spread the filling into the prepared pie crust. Bake for approx. 15 minutes or until edges are firm. Do not over bake! Allow the pie to cool completely.
  4. Once cooled, refrigerate the pie until chilled, about 2 hours. Just before serving, garnish each slice with a healthy dollop of Cool Whip Free and garnish with a lime slice, if desired.

DSC_0065AI took this pie to a friend’s house and it was devoured by her family in seconds.  No one realized this tart and delicious pie was guiltless until I told them so.  The texture and bright, refreshing lime flavor is so spot-on that no one will know your little low-cal secret.  This pie will be a huge hit at your next gathering, I just know it — and if not, again — that’s what the tequila is for ;)

Have a delicious day!

xo, Hayley

 

Guiltless Lemon Coconut Cake

lemoncoconutHave you guys heard of Poshmark?

It’s kind of like eBay but pretty much consists of girlie clothes, shoes and accessories.  People sell things in their “closets” that they no longer want, but you can also work out trades or bundles with the sellers, and there’s no bidding required.  In other words, it’s pretty much my new favorite website.  However, there’s something eerily strange about Poshmark.

You see, when you order something, you pay for the item via Poshmark.  Poshmark holds onto the funds until the person ships the product and until you receive the product.  Once you get the product, you have to go into Poshmark and accept that you’ve received it.  It’s only then that the person gets their money.  Make sense?

However, what’s really weird is that every time I’ve ordered from Poshmark, I’ll always get an email and text reminder from them saying, “looks like your item has been delivered!  Please accept your item!” … literally SECONDS after the doorbell rings.  I’ll open the door, see the postman walking away, be reaching for my package, and bing!  Poshmark.

I get that they probably have a tracking ID on their packages or something, but have you ever had a package literally be absolutely, 100%, on-the-money correct when it’s been delivered?  Not I.  In fact, with most services, it won’t even update in the system that the item’s been delivered until a day later.  Or it’ll say ‘delivered’, but it won’t come for another couple hours.  But Poshmark is like.. the very second it happens, they know.

Which makes me wonder — is Poshmark really just an elaborate scheme for a 1984 kind of deal?  Is Poshmark Big Brother, watching our every moves?  Encouraging us to share and trade clothing with one another while tracking where we live?  Because how ELSE would they know to text me a reminder THE VERY SECOND I reach for my package?  Hm??  It’s like they have microscopic cameras installed around my house now or something.  Or maybe the postman is in on their grand operation to take over the world.

He probably hops back into his mail truck, alerts the Poshmark people over his walkie talkie that I’ve received the package, “now commence Operation Watchdog” and they know to send that text so I know that they know that I know they’re watching me.  Or something.

Or maybe I should stop online shopping.  Probably.  But then again, what kind of world would that be?

DSC_0195AAnywho, if Poshmark knows where I live — that’s one thing.  But if they start breakin’ in and stealing my Lemon Coconut Cake, that’s another.  This cake is easily one of my new favorites!  Lemon cake is just so reminiscent of springtime, and who can resist a light and tender cake bursting with fresh citrusy flavor?  And don’t even get me started on the coconut frosting.  It. Is. Phenomenal.  Light as a cloud, super fluffy, and loaded with coconutty goodness.  Paired together, the two make quite a team!  AND did I mention the cake is guiltless?

Now sit back, relax, and let this cake take over your world.

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4.3 from 3 reviews
Guiltless Lemon Coconut Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Cake
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-10
 
Enjoy this spring-y, refreshing lemon coconut cake without the guilt! Smart ingredient swaps make this indulgent cake guilt-free!
Ingredients
  • 1 box lemon cake mix
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 & ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 small box sugar free/fat free instant lemon pudding mix
  • 2 tsp lemon zest (about one medium-sized lemon)
  • 1 box instant coconut pudding mix
  • 1 cup cold fat-free milk
  • ⅓ cup powdered sugar
  • 4 ounces fat free or reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip Free, thawed
  • Shredded coconut
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally grease two 9" cake pans with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the cake mix, egg whites, water, applesauce, lemon pudding mix and lemon zest with a handheld electric mixer until combined. Portion the batter evenly among the two greased cake pans and bake for approximately 18-20 minutes or until the cakes spring back lightly when touched and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out mostly clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before gently inverting them onto wire racks to cool completely.
  3. Meanwhile, make your frosting: in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the coconut pudding, powdered sugar and milk and whisk until smooth. Stir in the cream cheese until combined. Then fold in the whipped topping into the mixture. Refrigerate the frosting until ready to serve, or about 1 hour.
  4. Place a cake round on a serving platter or cake stand. Top with HALF of the frosting mixture, spreading it just to about the border -- don't actually spread to the border or else it'll all mush out. Top with the remaining cake and frost the top. Generously pat on the shredded coconut to cover the top and sides of the cake. Serve!

DSC_0202AThis frosting is one of my favorites of all time!  I originally used it on my Lite Triple Coconut Cupcakes and fell in love.  It’s so soft, luscious and light, and sweet but not cloyingly so, thanks to the tang of the cream cheese.  I also love the raw chew of coconut, but if you’d rather, a crunchy toasted coconut would rock!  Plus, it totally makes this cake heavenly and pairs swimmingly with the bright burst of lemon!  If you’re a lemon fan, you oughta try this cake!  This would make adorable cupcakes, too! :)

Have a fantastical day!

xo, Hayley

 

 

{Fresh Fruit} Cheesecake Sugar Cookie Cups

cheesecakefruitcupsIf there’s one dessert I L-O-V-E, it’s cheesecake.

I always forget that I love it (which is weird, I know), but when my taste buds are reunited with it, I instantly remember how much I love it.  There’s something so unbeatable about that tangy sweetness and the lush fluffiness of a cheesecake.

Now, normally I’m not a big fan of fruit in my food.  Don’t get me wrong, homegirl — I LOVE me some fruit & eat it constantly.  I’m pretty sure my blood type is raspberries.  But when it comes to fruit and food, I’m kind of on the fence.

This probably has to do with my grandma’s affinity for “fruit salads” and all the many versions of them I had to try growing up.  I use the term “fruit salad” very lightly because it was probably as close to a fruit salad as a T-Bone steak is.  Technically, it was a super sugary fruit cocktail mixed with Cool Whip and whatever else, yet the flavor was about as nonexistent as the nutritional value.

And for every family get-together, every dinner, every holiday, there was always some kind of fruit salad.  And every time I was offered the salad, I would politely decline.  But she would continually push the salad onto us like some kind of fruit cocktail drug dealer.  “Want some salad?” she’d ask one minute.  “Hayley, want some salad now?” she’d ask a little later.  “Are you ready for some salad, Hayley?” “Try a little salad, Hayley.”

Orrrrr the time she put crushed pineapple in her sweet potatoes.  OMFG NO.  I was so stoked for my marshmallow-y, gooey sweet potatoes and after they hit my tongue my face distorted itself into some expression of disgust, shock and disappointment.  Whaaaaat were pineapples doing all up in my yams?  What kind of sick joke is this?  Needless to say, that was a year I was yamless and offered to take care of the sweet potatoes after that.

DSC_0232AAnyways, but lately I have been experimenting with reforming my ways.  There are plenty of desserts out there that get their infamy from fruit: cobblers, crisps and shortcakes, to name a few.  Also, all of the pies I like best are fruit-based: apple, blueberry, cherry… so I know I’m not past the point of no-return.  Hence why I wanted to make a cheesecake topped with tons of luscious, fresh fruit and prove to myself I could eat it and like it.

DSC_0235AAnd not surprisingly, this was pretty easy to do.  Who would pass up a crispy sugar cookie cup filled with creamy cheesecake and topped with fruit?  Especially that it isn’t fruit cocktail.  Or called a fruit salad.  And doesn’t have any surprise pineapple lurking anywhere that ruins your Thanksgiving.  It’s just straight-up, easy-peasy, in yo face cheesecake cups.  And you’ll LOVE them!

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5.0 from 3 reviews
{Fresh Fruit} Cheesecake Sugar Cookie Cups
Author: 
Recipe type: Cookies, Cheesecake
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
 
Celebrate the spring and summer seasons with these easy, tasty cheesecake cups! Luscious, no-bake cheesecake tops chewy sugar cookie cups that are loaded with fresh fruit.
Ingredients
  • 2 pkgs (24 count per pkg, or 48 total) refrigerated sugar cookies, room temperature
  • 1 (8 oz) pkg reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 (8 oz) tub Cool Whip Free, thawed
  • Fresh fruit (I used blackberries, strawberries, mango, peaches, and mandarin oranges, but feel free to use whatever you prefer/whatever is in season)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. VERY LIBERALLY grease 2 12-cavity standard-sized muffin tins with cooking spray and set them aside.
  2. Take two pre-portioned squares of sugar cookie dough and smash them together. Press them in the bottom and up the sides of a greased muffin cavity to form a cup of dough. Repeat with the remaining dough until all 24 cavities are filled.
  3. Bake for approx. 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden brown and the centers are just about set. Remove from the oven and cool in the pans for about 10 minutes. While the cookies cool in the pan, use the handle of a wooden spoon to gently create an indentation in the center of the cookie cup. This "well" will be used to put the cheesecake later.
  4. Very gently run a knife along the edge of each cookie cup and lift each cup out of the cavity. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with a handheld mixer until creamy. Fold in the Cool Whip gently to combine.
  6. Spoon the cheesecake mixture into each of the cookie "wells". Likewise, you could also pipe the cheesecake filling in if you'd like. Top each cheesecake cup with fresh fruit as desired. I garnished mine with lime zest, but feel free to garnish yours with leaves of mint, lemon zest, or orange zest. Serve immediately.

DSC_0234AAren’t these cookie cups gorgeous?  Nothing beats the creamy, tangy cheesecake filling with the chewy, crispy-edged cookie cups.  And the fresh fruit makes this dish healthy, so feel free to eat all the cookie cups you want without guilt ;) these little bites of heaven won’t last long at your house and they certainly didn’t at mine.

Have a fantastical day!

xo, Hayley

Lightened-Up Carrot Cake

24caratI’m an animal-lover.

But after owning rabbits, I can happily say I do not love owning rabbits.

It was a day like any other day.  I was probably being an emotional teenager in my bedroom when my younger brother and sister decided to go to the park with our grandma.  After being gone awhile they came home — but they weren’t alone.

In each of their hands was a black male bunny.  Some freaky old woman at the park was selling these random rabbits for $10 apiece and my grandma had the fantastic idea that they belonged with two immature children in a family that was ill-equipped to be rabbit-owners.  So she bought my brother and sister each a rabbit and literally sent them to our front door with a rabbit in their arms — no cage, no shot records, no hay — just my siblings cradling strange park-pilfered rodents.

So we went out and bought a cage and put our new male rabbits together in the cage.  Time passed and one day we woke up to discover something confusing and horrifying: there was a third rabbit in our cage.

This impostor bunny was much smaller, brown, and looked like it had just been born — which was kinda sorta IMFREAKINGPOSSIBLE since we had TWO MALE RABBITS… right, crazy park-lady?!  So we cradled this newborn rabbit baby that clearly materialized out of thin air and started calling all the news-stations insisting that males can get pregnant.  STOP THE PRESSES, Y’ALL.

[Side note: have you ever had to search a smaller animal for its, er, down-there area?  It’s AWFUL.  Can you imagine something 2876374 times your size rummaging around in your nether-fluff figuring out what gender you are?  TERRIBLE.]

Anywhooooo, since we didn’t really understand what in the fluff was going on, we went about our day.  Hours later upon our return from work and school, we went to check on our new rabbit only to find it… gone.  Like it had never existed.  There has been several times in my life where I’ve stopped what I’m doing and thought, I need to go to the mental hospital and this was one of those times.  How can a mysterious, magical baby rabbit just appear and disappear?  Everyone in my family saw the baby, so we either all drank the punch OR there was something seriously wrong here.

DSC_0038AIt wasn’t long after some research that we found out that male rabbits are basically the spawns of Satan himself and like to engage in cannibalism of their young to establish dominance or something.  AKA, they are frightening beasts and it was theworstthingever to explain where the baby bunny went to younger siblings without mentioning that “the dad rabbit ate the flesh, bones, and guts of the baby bunny while the mother watched.”

So not long after that — minus the fact that (SHOCKER!) my siblings weren’t responsible enough to care for random park-pawned rabbits — we found the rabbits new loving homes with some friends of ours who loved and had PLENTY of experience with cannibalistic rodents.  There’s something for everyone.

Anyway, so while I find bunnies to be adorable, irresistibly fluffy and sweet, I will never, ever own one again.  I love them, but only from afar and when they aren’t sold to us from strange rando grandmas in the park.

Speaking of bunnies, Easter is around the corner!  And you know what bunnies like?  Carrots.  And you know what people like for Easter?  Carrot cake.  But carrot cake is usually loaded with tons of fat and calories and butter (and deliciousness) which makes it a serious indulgence… something not a lot of people want to partake in since they’re trying to get their bikini bodies in check *coughMEcough*

So I made this carrot cake lighter with some simple swaps.  You won’t BELIEVE how moist, fluffy and SCRUMPTIOUS this spicy, sweet cake tastes!  It hardly tastes low-calorie and will definitely impress your guests with its bright, springy flavor.

Make it now or the bunnies will eat you.

DSC_0045A

4.8 from 4 reviews
Lightened-Up Carrot Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Cake
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
This scrumptious cake has all the classic flavors of carrot cake without all the guilt! You won't even realize this decadent dessert has been lightened-up!
Ingredients
  • 1 box carrot cake mix
  • 3 egg whites
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup pineapple juice
  • 1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • ½ cup raisins (if you'd like -- I did not use them)
  • 1 (8 oz) pkg fat free or reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • ¼ cup Truvia/Stevia (you can also use regular white sugar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 (8 oz) tubs Cool Whip Free, thawed
  • ¼ cup sugar-free/fat-free caramel sauce
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally grease two 9" cake pans with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the cake mix, egg whites, unsweetened applesauce, water, pineapple juice, crushed pineapple and spices together with a handheld electric mixer until smooth and incorporated. Evenly distribute the batter among the two pans and bake for approx. 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean or with moist crumbs. Allow the cakes to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, Stevia and vanilla until blended. Gently fold in both tubs of the Cool Whip to incorporate.
  4. Place one cake layer on a plate or cake stand and frost with HALF of the Cool Whip mixture, spreading it around evenly to the edges of the cake. Drizzle with about HALF of the caramel sauce.
  5. Top with the remaining cake layer. Top with the remaining Cool Whip mixture. Lastly, drizzle on the remaining caramel and sprinkle on the pecans. Allow the cake to set for about 10 minutes before cutting. Store leftovers in the fridge, covered in an airtight container.

DSC_0046AFor not being much a fan of carrot cake, I really enjoyed this cake!  It was SO light and refreshing — it doesn’t feel heavy like normal layer cakes do.  The actual cake itself has a light & tender crumb, thanks in part to the use of egg whites and unsweetened applesauce.  If you’ve never baked cakes with applesauce, you MUST!  While it does not give your cakes an apple-y flavor, it does give your cakes added moisture as well as slashes the fat and calorie content by  a lot.  You’re easily saving hundreds of calories by using egg whites and unsweetened applesauce rather than regular eggs and oil or butter… but you aren’t sacrificing any of that flavor — this is because of the punch of cinnamon & nutmeg and the sweetness & great texture from the pineapple.  It’s basically one of the dreamiest cakes you’ll eat!

Have a fantastical day, my little bunnies!

xo, Hayley

Skinny Snickers Brownie Pies

skinnysnickersDo you know someone that you NEVER see under pleasant circumstances and have thus associated this person as walking bad luck?  Or living crappy timing?

We’ll call her Giggles, because despite having terrible luck and being a mega troublemaker, she had an infectious, giggly laugh that also managed to irk out at horrible times.

So I grew up with Giggles and have thus known her my entire life.  We used to play together during the summer all the time — she lived down the street and would come swimming at my grandma’s, or we’d play Barbies until she annoyed me and I’d beg my grandma to please walk her home (I got pretty controlling with my Barbies and Giggles was far too careless with her outfits and interior decorating).  So there’s the obligatory background on my relationship with Giggles.  She was a good childhood playfriend (when she wasn’t messing up my Barbie homes) but that’s about it.

Fast forward to yeeeeeeearsss later.  My ex-boyfriend and I were driving home from getting sushi and we happened to be the first people at the scene of a terrible fatal car accident.  The driver had crashed into a tree and his car had caught fire.  My ex and I darted to the flaming car and started trying to pry open the doors while we screamed at the driver to get out.  Glass was everywhere — the windows had shattered and what hadn’t was melting — and the entire dashboard and engine of the car was on the driver’s lap.  After calling 911, touching his lifeless body to try to wake him up and waiting for what seemed like hours for the firemen, they finally arrived and took over.  My ex and I stood at the side of the road watching the EMTs use the Jaws of Life on this car, finally pulling the driver from the wreckage about ten minutes later… without his legs.

I stood there sobbing my eyes out, shaking uncontrollably, as I watched them drape the yellow tarp over his body on the ground.  Everything was spinning and I was freaking out — um, I had just seen a dead body and then watched said dead body be removed from a flaming car without its legs when moments earlier I had been eating sushi and talking about ugly baby names — and was in no state of mind to do anything but sit.  But lo and behold, in the crowd that gathered to watch the wreckage, Giggles appeared.

As if we were standing at a neighborhood reunion barbeque, or in the middle of Macy’s, or perhaps encountering one another while receiving root canals — really, anywhere would have been more preferable — Giggles begins chatting me up since we “haven’t seen each other in yeeeears!” and wants to know all about my life up to this point… how is your brother?  How’s your grandma?  Where do you work?  What’s your new favorite color?  Did the chicken or the egg come first?  As she bombarded me with questions in the light of a car fire, I just stood there motionless like is this even real?  Then she told me she lived in the trailer park around the corner with her husband who was about 70 years her senior and began prattling on and on and on about the mundane details of the last 15 years of her life while sirens blared in the background.

And then, a few years later, I was wandering around in the local grocery store with my mom.  That morning I had had a vicious panic attack and the entire day I was basically a walking, very-well-dressed zombie on the verge of crying and passing out the entire time.  As I stared aimlessly at candy, I noticed a woman wearing a sweatsuit with her hair done up like she was going to prom walk into the store and head straight for the pharmacy.  As I looked a little harder, I realized it was Giggles.

Panicked, I darted down an aisle to hide, not thinking that darting around in the store would appear somewhat suspicious to anyone, even people with a prom updo wearing sweatpants and slippers.  It was then that Giggles began to walk toward my general direction so I quickly leapt to somewhere else, frantically trying to find an aisle to hide.  I tried to find an aisle where things wouldn’t be commonly needed, like office supplies or adult diapers.  But sadly, my grocery store has terrible organizational skills and puts potato chips with pesticides and office supplies with candy and adult diapers with mascara so I knew that no matter what, Giggles could and would find me.

So I did what any normal person would do: I faced the back wall and refused to turn around for anyone.  A worker asked if I was finding everything okay and I said yes and continued staring at a wall of toilet paper.  As far as he was concerned, I was analyzing my options — I’m not wiping my butt on just anything, you know.  And eventually, my mom informed me that Giggles had left without noticing either of us and I was safe.  But the entire ordeal of hiding from her bouffant sent me into another panic attack in the dental hygiene/alcohol aisle.

DSC_0092AAnywaaaaays, have you ever noticed that diet and yummy food always has bad timing, too?  Whenever you’re on a diet, without faiiiiil you instantly crave something sinful and calorifically delicious.  I hear ya, and I’m here today to put a stop to that terrible timing once and for all.  No longer will you have to wistfully stare at the candy aisle jonesing for a Snickers because these Skinny Snickers Brownie Pies will satisfy any naughty craving!

DSC_0098A*adapted from Hungry Girl’s Snickers Brownies from her Hungry Girl Desserts Cookbook

4.7 from 3 reviews
Skinny Snickers Brownie Pies
Author: 
Recipe type: Pie
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Jonesing for a Snickers but dreading all the calories? These Skinny Snickers Brownie Pies will squelch your cravings for sweet without wrecking your diet!
Ingredients
  • 1 pkg Reduced Fat Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
  • 1 snack size package brownie mix (I like Betty Crocker's brand that comes in the red pouch)
  • ½ can pumpkin puree (of the standard size can -- and make sure it's pumpkin puree and NOT pumpkin pie filling!!)
  • ½ cup fat-free caramel dip
  • ¼ cup miniature chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup chopped sundae peanuts
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Liberally grease 12 cavities in a miniature muffin tin and set aside.
  2. Unroll the crescent rolls onto a flat, clean work space. Press the perforations together to seal it into a giant piece of dough. Cut the dough into 12 squares (4 lengthwise and 3 across). Press one square into each of the greased muffin cavities to form a cup. Try to get the sides of the roll up onto the sides of the cup to create a that cup shape.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the brownie mix and the pumpkin puree -- ONLY these two ingredients! You're not adding any other ingredients to the bowl. The mixture will be VERY thick.
  4. Drop a heaping Tablespoonful of batter into each of the dough cups. Bake for approx. 10-12 minutes or until the tops of the brownies appear set. Cool for a few minutes in the pan before transferring the pies to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Once cooled, spoon a teaspoon or so of caramel dip on top of each brownie pie. Top with a small sprinkling of chopped sundae peanuts and chocolate chips. Serve immediately!

DSC_0095AIf you’re wary on the pumpkin, let me explain: using pumpkin puree (and only the orange stuff!) in your brownie mix not only gives your brownies a chewier, almost fudge-like consistency, but it makes them significantly healthier than their oil, egg or butter-laden counterparts.  Yes, there is a sliiiight taste of pumpkin but it’s definitely not noticeable when smothered in buttery caramel, salty peanuts and crunchy chocolate chips!  These petite Snickers pies pack a powerful flavor punch and are sure to squelch any candy bar craving.  Give them a try!!

Have a delicious day!

xo, Hayley

 

Skinny Chocolate Peanut Butter Muffins

skinnychocpbmuffinDear People Who Wear White Pants,

I envy your fearlessness.  Your clean style.  Your ability to look at potential stain dangers in the face and say “SUCK IT!”

Because I, girl who fears germs, stains, and things that go completely out of my immediate control, cannot handle the concept of white pants.  To me, white pants are like the beacon of bravery.  People who do not fear the unknown can wear them with ease.  They’re like a valiant badge of confident bad-assery… something I will never obtain since white pants send shivers down my spine.

But logically speaking, don’t you guys ever worry about your white pants-wearingness?  I can’t help but have a minor panic attack when I see y’all flaunting your white jeans in public.  I mean, what if you spill coffee on yourself?  Or get a rogue smudge from ink?  Or — gasp — are near anything that is the color red, no matter what the substance is?!?  Pet a dog, your pants are hairy.  Eat some Cheetos and you don’t even have the option of wiping your fingers on that weird inner front pocket that is too small to hold anything of actual value, or else you’ll have cheese pocket and everyone will know your secret.

I MEAN DON’T YOU GUYS EVER THINK ABOUT THESE THINGS?!

Or do you just throw on your white jeans, all IDGAF and leave the house with nary a care in the world about stains and smudges?  So what if a red pen explodes ink all over you?  Who cares if muddy paw prints end up on your shins?  White Pants Girl don’t care.  You just go about your white pants business.  The world still spins.  Angels still sing.  Potatoes still potate.  You good.

And then there’s me — girl who freaks over any imperfection whatsoever.  One time I was wearing a brand new pair of hot pink jeans to school and I accidentally got a black ink smudge — easily the side of a pin head — on the thigh.  I left school early because my mind could not handle the obvious spot that was killin’ my image.  Thanks, OCD.

Anyways, you girls could probably eat a handful of these chocolate peanut butter muffins without getting a single crumb on your person, nary a peanut butter smudge.  I’m jealous — I mean, go you for being so clean and fearless!  I can’t bring myself to do it, but I can bring myself to eat plenty of these scrumptious muffins!

DSC_0081AThese Skinny Chocolate Peanut Butter Muffins are everything you want in a sinful food but made healthfully by using smarter swaps for ingredients.  Normally, muffins are hardly a healthy choice — your standard blueberry muffin at a bakery will set you back around 550-600 calories apiece!  But by making smart swaps — which are every bit as easy as making your traditional recipe — you can have plump, delicious muffins for a huge fraction of the calories and fat!  These chocolate muffins are made with Hershey’s Extra Special Dark Cocoa, giving them a richer, bolder chocolate flavor.  And they’re very simply topped with a drizzle of melted creamy peanut butter — no muss, no fuss.

You must make them, you valiant superperson!!

DSC_0079A

4.5 from 2 reviews
Skinny Chocolate Peanut Butter Muffins
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
These petite chocolate muffins are made with smarter swaps, giving you that rich, bold chocolate taste with a dreamy, creamy peanut butter swirl -- without all the guilt! *adapted from Taste of Home Bakeshop Favorites cookbook, pg. 163
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • ½ cup plus 2 Tbsp low-fat buttermilk
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 & ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate baking cocoa (can use regular baking cocoa if preferred)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ⅓ cup miniature chocolate chips
  • About ½ cup creamy peanut butter, softened to an almost melted consistency
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Liberally grease a standard muffin tin with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar until it resembles soft, wet crumbles. Add in the egg, then egg white, whisking after each addition (for this, I simply used a fork -- but you could use a handheld electric mixer if desired). Whisk the mixture quickly until it is light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the buttermilk, water, vinegar and vanilla until just combined. Lastly, add the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt until moistened. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  4. Evenly portion the batter among the muffin cups, about ¾ths of the way full. Bake for approx. 13-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean or with moist crumbs; do NOT over bake!
  5. Cool for a few minutes in the pan before gently transferring them to a wire rack. Put parchment of a paper towel under the rack to help with the mess, then drizzle the tops of the muffins evenly with the peanut butter. Serve!

DSC_0085AAccording to the recipe for which I adapted, each of these muffins should have approx. 145 calories and under 3 grams of fat, yet they’re full of sweet, rich chocolatey flavor and that satisfyingly salty drizzle of peanut butter!  Feeling even more naughty?  Consider drizzling Nutella on top for an ultra-rich chocolate fix!  Or for something spicier, try Biscoff spread.  However you choose to eat it, it’s sure to be tasty!

Have a fantastical day!

xo, Hayley

 

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