Holiday Cheer skinny Peppermint Merengue Puffs


I simply love these merengues!!  And, so does everyone I make them for.  In fact, just last night, my friend was asking me (or rather placing a polite demand) that I make them!  My kids are crazy about them too!!  Now normally that wouldn’t be a surprise, because after all, these ARE cookies.  But, I don’t actually mind my kids enjoying these delicious delights because they are made of just egg whites and sugar basically.  Here’s the magic in that!:  The protein pairs with the sugar and they bind together molecularly, causing your body to regulate and NOT spike your blood sugar, so you don’t store fat like you would if you ate sugar alone.  It also prevents the sugar crash later.  With four active boys, I love any treat that keeps my kids from getting wound up and crazy.

Another reason you will love making these,  they are extremely low calorie cookies!    If you pipe about 100 cookies from this recipe, they are each only 6.5 calories!!  Aside from their festive look, that alone is a great excuse to eat them!!! I originally found this recipe online at SkinnyTaste, and have enjoyed it for a few years now!

These little Merengues are an impressive bring-along for that office work party, your family gathering, or just for at home enjoyment.  For a little fun, throw one or two in your cup of cocoa and make Christmas just a little more playful!  Enjoy!!

Skinny Peppermint Striped Merengue Puffs

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2-4 drops peppermint essential oil (or 1 tsp. extract flavoring)
  • For decorating: red gel food coloring, paint brush, piping bag

Directions:

Prep: Line a couple cookie sheets with wax paper  Set oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit

  1. Throw eggs  in a glass mixing bowl, and set it over a pot of boiling water so the steam can gradually warm your bowl and thus warm your eggs Without cooking them.
  2. Mix sugar and vanilla into eggs mixture and store continually until sugar is melted and dissolved (not gritty) and slightly foamy.
  3. Remove from heat (carefully) and turn on your beater or transfer to your kitchen aid mixer, and beat until mixture forms stiff white peaks. (Basically, they hold their shape when you lift and fold the mixture with a spoon)
  4. DONT FORGET TO ADD YOUR PEPPERMINT!!  I save this till the end so the oil of the peppermint doesn’t disturb the ability of the merengue to fluff up.  Oil of any kind will keep it heavy and flat.

Piping:

  1. With your brush, draw three evenly spaced GENEROUS stripes with the gel food coloring, starting deep inside near the icing tip, and draw upward to the top of the bag.  Make these lines distinct but generous because it has to last for the entire bagful.
  2. Fill the icing bag with merengue
  3. Pipe cookies about the size of a half dollar or slightly smaller in a beautiful twisted shape onto your lined pans.    Using a star shaped icing tip will help give this effect.

Bake:

  1. Bake in a preheated oven at 200f, for 1 hr. 15 min, to 1 hr 30 min.
  2. Take them out when they are crisp on the outside but slightly soft inside.
  3. OPTIONAL: Sprinkle with decorative sugar to add a wintery effect.
  4. LET THEM COOL COMPLETELY!!!  About 15-20 min.

Store in an airtight container.  Humidity will ruin these delights!

Enjoy all your hard work!!!


  
  

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hCG Diet: Hot Cocoa, Apple Pie, and an Egg omelet!

If you are doing or are interested in doing the hCG diet, the food can feel limited quickly, so I wanted to share a few of my favorite recipes with you thus far.  Here are three of my favorites so far…

HOT COCOA!!

  • 6-8 oz water in mug
  • 1 1/2 Tbs unsweetened Baking cocoa powder (Hersheys is awesome!)
  • Splash of Pure Vanilla extract
  • Stevia to taste
  • 1 Tbs Fat free half and half

Warm up your water first, then add everything.  Its not as rich and creamy as regular cocoa maybe, but on this diet, it still feels like a splurge!!  Enjoy the coziness!

APPLE PIE!!

  • Honey Crisp apple chopped (or two small Gala apples)
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. Cinnamon powder
  • 2 spoonfuls baking Stevia, or use your liquid Stevia.
  • (Nutmeg, Ginger, Allspice are optional.  Use to taste. )
  • Splash of water

Coat the apple pieces well with the other ingredients.  Place in a covered bowl, microwave for 90 seconds, remove and enjoy.  Be careful as it is piping hot!  Enjoy your dellcious dessert!

Egg Omelet

This would be your whole meal in phase 2.

  • 4 egg whites
  • 8 grape tomatoes, halved (or 1 roma tomato, diced)
  • 2 handfuls of spinach leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients, cook in your saute pan and enjoy this delicious omelet.  Here, the tomatoes serve as your fruit for the meal.  Eat up and Enjoy!

Orange Julius skinny protein smoothie

I recently discovered a new favorite smoothie recipe! I work out, and so I try to eat protein shakes frequently throughout the week, and I’m always looking for a new recipe that doesn’t TASTE like a protein smoothie. This one is a winner!! And, in honor of Memorial day, I used my festive American Flag cup. 🙂 Onto the smoothie…

This particular smoothie tastes like the classic Orange Julius drinks, or, for those who don’t know what that is, like your childhood favorite orange-dreamsickle popsickles! dreamsickle

 

It is soooo good, I’ve been having one every day for like two weeks now! And, even better, it doesn’t require a ton of ingredients. Now, there are a variety of ways you could do this. I add protein powder to mine, as well as grapeseed oil (you can add any kind of plant-based oil for belly flattening help- only 1 TBSP though!) And, I use natural sweetener and fat free milk to keep it light, but here is the basic gist for what will make a dreamsickle-y smoothie:

 

Basic Ingredients:

-1 Cup Orange juice

-1/4 cup milk to cream it up

-1 tsp vanilla flavor

-sugar to taste

-icecubes to thickness desired. (more ice, thicker smoothie. Less ice, more straw-friendly)

 

My recipe:

-1 cup orange juice

-1/4 cup fat free lactose free milk

-generous splash of vanilla flavoring

-3 to 4 packets (I like mine sweet!!) of Truvia, Pure Via, some other natural sweetener. Agave syrup is great too!

-Most of a scoop of vanilla protein powder.

-1 Tbsp grapeseed oil (at your grocery store on the oil aisle), or coconut oil. Most of these oils are under $6.

-1.5 cups ice-cubes (I like mine thicker)

 

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Pizza Soup! Can do crockpot style too!

Prep: 10-15 min.   Cook time: 30 min   Serves: 6 adults

Ingredients

  • 6 cups water
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pizza sauce
  • 1 jar favorite spaghetti sauce (29 oz)
  • 1-1/4 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped pepperoni (I quarter it)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes (about 3 or 4 romas)
  • 1 to 2 TBS minced garlic (in my opinion, the more garlic, the merrier!)
  • 1/2 TBS Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 lb ground italian seasoned turkey sausage, browned
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (for garnish)
  • Optional ingredients that add kick:
  1. Fresh chopped basil (a handful of leaves),
  2. sun dried tomatoes (1/3 cup or so, awesome flavor booster),
  3. 1 can black olives roughly chopped (wonderful!),
  4. 1/2 chopped green bell pepper (I don’t, but you can!),
  5. 1/3 cup small pasta, like penne (add in last 15 minutes of soup time)
  • Garnish: shredded mozzarella, grated parmesan cheese, 2 TBS Finely chopped parsley for garnish (optional),

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Chop everything that needs to be chopped (mushrooms, onion, tomato, parsley, basil, pepperoni), set aside.

2.  In a 6 quart pot, add your water, sauces, garlic, chopped goodies, well, everything except your ground meat and parmesan.  Bring to boil and lower heat to medium or medium low.  Cover and let cook while you brown your meat.

3.  In a separate saute pan, brown your Italian sausage ground meat, drain it, and add it to the soup.

4.  Keep it covered, let it cook for 15 minutes more.  Basically, until all the flavors blend.  🙂  Add the Pasta and parmesan, and let the soup continue to cook long enough to soften the pasta, probably about 10 to 15 minutes depending on your pasta.  (I always forget to add the pasta, and my soup is still quite hearty and filling!)

5.  Serve it up hot with mozzarella for garnish and nice melty cheesiness!!  You can use more parmesan and/or basil or parsley as a nice garnish too.  I say, if you’re going to cook, make it pretty!  Serve hot with fresh french bread or garlic bread and enjoy!!

NOTE: When making this, the ingredients are totally flexible.  The base flavors is the pizza and spaghetti sauce, italian sausage, parmesan and garlic.  Those are the real flavor bases.  Then, think about what toppings you might like on your pizza, and try those! I haven’t tried pineapple or ham, or anything like that, but try it, you might like it!

FOR CROCKPOT: Put all the ingredients, minus the pasta, in your crockpot, and cook on high for 3-4 hours, or low for 6-8 hours.  Add pasta 30 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!!

Original inspiration found here.

Fancilicious apple appetizer!

I saw a picture of something similar to this online and decided to try making it at our recent girl’s night.  It was easy, mostly healthy, and beautiful! 

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Ingredients:
6 to 8 sliced apples
Caramel ice cream syrup
Chocolate syrup
Semi sweet chocolate chips
Sliced almonds

Lay the sliced apples in a pretty fashion on a display tray.  Drizzle the caramel syrup all over it in a lovely design. 🙂  do the same with the chocolate syrup.  Sprinkle chocolate chips (mini morsels may work better than regular size) all over ot to your heart’s content!  Garnish/top with sliced almonds to finish.  Lay it out at your next party and see how many swooners hover over your pretty platter to take in the sight before they eat up the goods!  Enjoy!

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Strawberry delight!

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Servings: 12

Ingredients:

Strawberry topping:

1 16 oz bag frozen strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 package strawberry jello
1 cup boiling water
8 small ice cubes

Cream filling:
1 8oz package cream cheese (regular or lite)
1/2 tub cool whip
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Cake layer:
1/2 box vanilla cake mix
1 egg
3/4 cup water
2 Tbsp flour

Directions:
1. Combine cake mix (half package), egg, water, flour and mix on high for 2 min. Pour into a greased 9×13 pan and bake at 350 for 20-25 min. Cool completely.

2. Cream cheese filling: beat softened cream cheese and cool whip together until smooth. Add powdered sugar and vanilla, whipping until smooth. Let chill in fridge until ready to use.

3. Strawberry topping: I thawed strawberries in microwave until soft but not soggy, keeping the juices. Coursely cut up in bowl with a knife so the strawberries aren’t whole. In a separate container add 1 cup boiling water to the jello mix and stir till dissolved. Add in 1/2 cup sugar till dissolved. Stir in ice cubes until they are melted. Add in the strawberries w/ juices and let it sit in the freezer to thicken faster but DO NOT LET IT FREEZE!

4. When cake is fully cooled, spread cream cheese mixture evenly over it.

5. If strawberry mixture is thick enough to easily pour onto the top of the cake, do so. If it is too thin which it may well be (I.e. not jello consistency) that’s ok bc it will just drain down and soak into the bottom of the cake which tastes really good! The strawberry mixture is pretty flexible on how it turns out. The only thing you don’t want is a frozen block of jello that won’t spread. If you get that, try letting it sit in a warm place to melt down a bit.

6. Cover and let entire cake chill until firm enough to be sliced into. 30 minutes should do depending on strawberry layer’s temp when you pour it on.

ENJOY!! This turned out fabulous and I will def be making it again!

Jen’s awesome pasta carbonara

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Last night I wanted to use the mushrooms in my fridge to cook a great dinner. The dish originally was going to head a mediteranean style, but as I cooked I switched things around and it became this Bacon Parmesan Pasta Carbonara thing…and it was awesome!! Below is the “recipe”, but I didn’t measure anything so I’m going to be guessing at that. Tip for success, taste as you go!!

Jen’s Bacon Parmesan Pasta Carbonara

-1 pkg spaghetti (or other pasta)

-2 Tbsp butter

-Olive oil

-1 bottle parmesan cheese (not the tiny bottle, the large one, or use fresh too)

-1 cup mozzarella (or other meltable italian cheese blend)

-1 small carton mushrooms (about 2 cups)

-2 Tbsp mince garlic

-1 package real bacon bits (or cook up your own)

-3 roma tomatoes, diced (*optl: I soaked mine in some zesty italian dressing while I cooked, then rinsed and drained them so they weren’t too strong, but this is not necessary) -1 cup whole milk -1/2 cup half and half (I used both milks to keep it lighter. Not wanting a heavy sauce.)

-Large handful fresh basil, coursely chopped (keep a few sprigs aside for garnish)

-Spices: garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, italian seasoning (no salt kind)

DIRECTIONS:

1. First I snapped the spaghetti noodles in half and put them to boil once water was rolling.

2. Dice tomatoes and marinate in dressing if you’re doing that. Otherwise, just dice and set aside.

3. Chop basil coursely. Set aside.

4. Put butter in a large skillet and put over med-high heat. Heat until butter is hot and dump in chopped mushrooms, minced garlic, and sautee for a few minutes. Add in bacon bits. (I prob had about 1/3 to 1/4 cup I used). Let it saute a bit to get the flavor out of the bacon.

5. Add in the creams and let it get simmering. Stir every few minutes to blend flavors and to keep it from burning. Season to taste with: salt, pepper, onion powder and some italian seasoning.

6. Add parmesan cheese to the sauce. This will help it thicken a bit. I added prob 1/3 cup. You want it to have a distinct bacon and parmesan flavor. Let it simmer on low while you prep the pasta.

7. When pasta is al dente (flexible but no mush please!) Drain it, put it back in pot and add olive oil to slick the noodles so they don’t stick.

8. Season pasta with salt, pepper, garlic powder, italian spices (lightly) and parmesan cheese (another 1/3 cup or so, add more if desired). This makes a yummy noodle base that the kids might really enjoy by itself!

9. Transfer the pasta to a casserole dish and stir in the cream sauce. It should be a coating for the noodles but not have much for pooling in the bottom of the pan. Then stir in most of your tomatoes, keeping some aside for garnish (drained and rinsed if you marinated, you don’t want them too strong and you don’t want the dressing to throw off the flavor of your sauce).

10. Do the same with your chopped basil, mixing it all in.

11. Top the dish with a little bit more parmesan cheese (lightly) and cover with the italian blend cheeses. Put in the preheated oven (400 degrees) for 5 to 10 minutes or until cheese is browned. Remove from oven carefully, garnish w/ tomatoes and basil when served. Accompany this dish with garlic bread and salad or some other green. Enjoy!!

(sorry the pictures are slightly blurry, they looked clear on my phone.)