Chocolate Chip Muffins

2 Cups Flour
½ Cup Sugar
1 Tbs Baking Powder
½ tsp Salt
1 Cup Milk
1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Large Egg
1 tsp Vanilla
1 Cup Chocolate Chips
Preheat oven to 400. Grease 12 standard size muffin cups or line with paper liners.
In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
In a medium bowl, mix milk, oil, egg and vanilla.
Make a well in center of flour mixture. Add the milk mixture all at once stirring just until mixed and dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in chocolate chips. Do not over mix. Spoon batter into prepared pan, about ¾ full. Bake muffins until tops are golden and firm, 17-20 minutes.
Makes about 1 dozen.


Handy Substitutions

I don't know about you but I always find myself flipping to the back of a cookbook trying to find an easy substitution for something when I suddenly find myself without rum. I mean baking powder. ;)

But now you don't have to search for a solution either. You can bookmark this page and the next time you need 1 cup of miniature marshmallows but only have 10 large ones, you'll know where to turn!

Baking Products
  • Baking powder, 1 tsp.: 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar + 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • Semisweet chocolate, 1 oz.: 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate + 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • Unsweetened chocolate, 1 oz. or square: 3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa + 1 Tbsp. butter, margarine, shortening, or oil
  • Semisweet chocolate chips, 6 oz., melted: 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, 2 Tbsp. shortening, + 1/2 c. sugar
  • Unsweetened cocoa, 1/4 c.: 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate (decrease fat in recipe by 1/2 Tbsp.)
  • Corn syrup, light, 1 c.: 1 c. sugar heated to a syrupy consistency with 1/4 c. water (GENIUS!!)
  • Cornstarch, 1 Tbsp.: 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • Marshmallow cream, 7-oz. jar: 16 oz. package marshmallows, melted, plus 3 1/2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
  • Marshmallows, miniature, 1 c.: 10 large marshmallows
  • Pecans, chopped, 1 c.: 1 c. regular oats, toasted (in baked products); this is another smart one, especially for people with nut allergies!
  • Powdered sugar, 1 c.: 1 c. sugar + 1 Tbsp. cornstarch, processed in food processor
  • White sugar, 1 c.: 1 c. corn syrup; decrease liquid in recipe by 1/3 c.

Dairy Products

  • Buttermilk, 1 c.: 1 Tbsp. vinegar or lemon juice, plus milk to make 1 c. (let stand 10 minutes); 1 c. milk + 1 3/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • Sweetened condensed milk, 14 ounces: Heat 1/3 c. +2 Tbsp. evaporated milk, 1 c. sugar, 3 Tbsp. butter or margarine until sugar and butter dissolve
  • Sour cream: Plain yogurt


  • Tomato sauce, 2 c.: 3/4 c. tomato paste + 1 c. water
  • Chili sauce, 1 c: 1 c. tomato sauce, 1/4 c. brown sugar, 2 Tbsp. vinegar, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, dash of grown cloves, dash of allspice
  • Ketchup (for cooking): 1 c. tomato sauce, 1/2 c. sugar, 2 Tbsp. vinegar


  • Allspice, ground, 1 tsp.: 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon + 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • Apple pie spice, 1 tsp.: 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg, 1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
  • Bay leaf, 1 whole: 1/4 tsp. crushed bay leaf
  • Chives, chopped, 1 Tbsp.: 1 Tbsp. chopped green onion tops
  • Garlic, 1 small clove: 1/8 tsp. garlic powder or dried garlic
  • Garlic salt, 1 tsp: 1/8 tsp. garlic powder plus 7/8 tsp. salt
  • Herbs, fresh, 1 Tbsp.: 1 tsp. dried herbs or 1/4 tsp. ground herbs
  • Mustard, dry, 1 tsp.: 1 Tbsp. prepared mustard
  • Onion powder, 1 Tbsp.: 1 medium onion, chopped or 1 Tbsp. dried minced onion
  • Parsley, dry, 1 tsp.: 1 Tbsp. fresh parsley
  • Pumpkin pie spice: 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground ginger, 1/8 tsp. ground allspice, 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • Vanilla bean, 1: 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp.: 1 tsp. bottled steak sauce

Alcohol (use water, white grape, or apple juice to make up the rest of the amount of liquid called for in the recipe)

  • Amaretto, 2 Tbsp.: 1/4-1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • Bourbon or Sherry, 2 Tbsp.: 1-2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Brandy, fruit-flavored liqueur, port wine, rum, or sweet cherry, 1/4 c. or more: Equal amount of unsweetened orange or apple juice plus 1 tsp. vanilla extract or corresponding flavor
  • Brandy or rum, 2 Tbsp.: 1/2-1 tsp. brandy or rum extract
  • Grand Marnier, 2 Tbsp.: 2 Tbsp. unsweetened orange juice concentrate
  • Kahlua, 2 Tbsp.: 1/2-1 tsp. chocolate extract plus 1/2-1 tsp. instant coffee dissolved in 2 Tbsp. water
  • Red wine: Equal amount of red grape or cranberry juice
  • White wine: Equal amount of white grape or apple juice


Orange Breakfast Drink

1/3 Cup Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate, thawed (½ of a 6 oz can)
1 Cup Vanilla Ice Cream, softened
1 Cup Milk
1 Tbsp Sugar
Place all ingredients in a blender, blend until smooth.


garlic chicken farfalle


16 oz. Farfalle pasta
1 c. heavy whipping cream (I used half and half as a lighter option)
3-4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
2 to 3 cloves garlic,
1 Tbsp. pepper*
1/2 c. butter
1 lb. bacon, crumpled**
1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
1 (12 oz) LawryĆ¢€™s mesquite marinade with lime juice

*Seems like a lot of pepper, but it has a wonderful flavor when everything mixes together. If you're apprehensive, do less pepper. You can always add more.

**We like to cook our bacon in the oven (400 degrees, convection). Way less messy. And it's crispy every time. Time varies, so you just have to watch it. I think it's usually around 30 minutes. Allow to cool and then crumple (I totally wear disposable gloves for this part - surprise, surprise).

[ directions ]

Crock pot chicken and bottle of marinade on low for 6 hours. Pull marinated chicken out of the juices, allow to cool a little bit, and shred (I pull it apart). Set this aside. About a half-hour before serving, boil the pasta. In a small saucepan, melt butter, add garlic, whipping cream, pepper, parmesan cheese, and crumpled bacon. Whisk together on low heat for 3-4 minutes. In a large bowl, pour over cooked, drained pasta, add chicken and stir through. Sprinkle a little bit more shredded parmesan cheese on top.

pretzel hugs

This is the easiest snack ever. And the kids will love to help. This was the first time that we used the waffle-style pretzels (instead of traditional). BIG hit. Much better.


1 bag pretzels
1 pkg. M&Ms
1 pkg. Hershey "Hugs"

Place pretzels on baking stone or sheet. Place a Hug on each pretzel and bake at 200 degrees for about 8 minutes (just watch for the Hugs to melt). Remove from oven and promptly place a couple of M&Ms on each pretzel, pressing into the melted chocolate. Allow to cool before serving. At room temperature, this takes SEVERAL hours. I would recommend making these the day before you plan on eating. Or you can put them in the refrigerator to speed up the process.

Side note: You could also use Rolos in place of the hugs if you want to switch it up.


New Beef Stew

This took some time and effort, but was delicious in the end. Yet another Biggest Loser recipe!

What you need:

1 tablespoon whole grain flour
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
Pinch of ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 pound top round steak, cut into 1" cubes (I used pre-cut stew meat)
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces button mushrooms, halved (I omitted these because I hate mushrooms)
1 chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried thyme
28 ounces low sodium beef broth
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" cubes

What to do:

In a medium resealable plastic bag, combine the flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add the beef and shake the bag until all the cubes are coated. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

Set a large nonstick soup pot over medium-high heat until it is hot enough for a spritz of water to sizzle on it. Add the oil. Add the reserved beef cubes to the pot in a single layer. Cook for about 1 minute per side or until browned. Reduce the heat to medium and add the mushroom, onion, garlic, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon and scraping any browned bits from the pan bottom, for about 10 minutes or until the onion is tender.

Add the broth and carrots. Increase the heat to high. When the broth comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low so the mixture simmers gently. Cover and cook for 45 minutes.

Add the potatoes. Cook for 45 minutes or until the beef is fork tender. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired and serve immediately!

Crispy BBQ chicken pizza snack

Another Biggest Loser recipe to the rescue! Quick, easy and incredibly delicious!

What you need:

1 whole wheat tortilla (8")
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
1/2 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
2/3 cup chopped chicken breast (I used Tyson's canned chicken because it's already ready to go!)
1/4 cup slivered red onion
1 and 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro

What to do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place the tortilla on a small nonstick baking sheet. Bake for 4-5 minutes per side or until crisp. Poke any air bubbles that may form with a fork. Remove from the oven. Top the tortilla evenly in layers with the sauce, cheese, chicken, onion and cliantro. Bake for 2 to 4 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted. Slice and serve immediately!

"Sexy Joes"

I recently acquired the Biggest Loser cookbook. I've been trying several different dishes and have yet to find one that I'm disappointed with. This is a healthy, but satisfying alternative to your everyday sloppy joes... and tastes better!

What you need:

1 pound extra lean ground turkey
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 and 1/2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (I left it out because I'm not a big spicy fan)
2/3 cup chopped yellow onion
1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper
3/4 cup low sodium tomato sauce
3/4 cup chili sauce
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Whole wheat buns

What to do:

Mist a medium nonstick skillet with olive oil spray and set it over medium-high heat. Add turkey. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, breaking into large chunks, for 4 to 6 minutes or until no longer pink.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine vinegar, Worcestershire, honey and hot-pepper sauce. Whisk to blend and set aside.

Drain off any liquid that has accumulated in the pan. Add the onion, bell pepper, tomato sauce, chili sauce, chili powder and the reserved vinegar mixture to the pan. Stir to blend. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat so mixture simmers. Cook for 20 minutes or until the mixture is thickened.

Spoon over buns and serve immediately!