Tuesday, February 28, 2012


In a tofu-nk and in need of ideas!

I realized I really haven't had much meat in quite a while. I might order it when I am out to eat, and I am happy to eat it if someone cooks it for me; however, I am not going out of my way to buy and prepare meat myself. I am not mostly vegetarian for moral or ethical reasons, or even really for 'diet' purposes. A lot of vegetarian dishes can have just as many calories as meat-filled dishes, depending on how they are prepared. While I didn't make a conscious decision to phase it out of my diet, it kind of happened naturally. Wanna know why?

My #1 reason for being mostly vegetarian is because I am cheap. Have you seen how much one pound of ground beef is lately? Not to mention I don't like touching raw meat (specifically, chicken). A block of tofu is $1.99 at Trader Joe's. Eggs are cheap too. I am going for the most bang for my buck here.

Eggs and Morningstar sausage. Tofu. Super versatile. Yum.

I have made or tried tofu prepared in a few different ways now (see recipes page for some of these recipes if you are interested!): tofu noodles, tofu pigs in a blanket, baked sesame tofu, tempeh in pasta sauce, tofu in soup, and I recently made up a delicious tofu marinade. My favorite way to eat it is sliced thin, marinated, and pan seared in my new cast iron skillet (one of my favorite purchases as of late). I will eat this tofu plain, and I have put it on a sandwich and used it as 'lunch meat.' A grilled cheese with mayo and tofu hits the spot, and provides a little more protein than just a regular old grilled cheese.

To make the marinade, I mix dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce, horseradish, and a bit of canola oil. Then I pour it over the sliced tofu and let it sit at least overnight.

I feel like I am now comfortable cooking and working with tofu. Now I need to expand my library of recipes! Please help! Also, if anyone has any good vegetarian frozen meals or snacks. I am stuck on Morningstar, (sausage, egg, and cheese biscuits!) but I know there have to be other good vegetarian options out there. I need ideas, please!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Not 5k ready

Last week, I had a realization: I had to run a 5K in about a week, and I had not run in about 2 and a half weeks. That stretch of not running started out with an epic 5-day migraine, and then I just got lazy. I did some pilates and eliptical-ing here and there, but I had no urge to run whatsoever. And, I still don't... 

But I have a 5K to run on Saturday. 3.1 miles. I hope I can run the entire time - if not, I am reminding myself that it won't be the end of the world. I tried running 2 miles on Thursday. It sucked, and my heart just wasn't in it. I had grand plans of going running again this weekend, but I was traveling and of course that didn't happen.

I was majorly craving pizza all weekend, so I went and picked up a calzone last night. My compromise was to walk the long way there and back to pick it up. That was my exercise this weekend!

So, here is my mini-training plan - making the commitment here, so hopefully I stick to it this week!

Monday: Eliptical (lunch) + pilates (after work)
Tuesday: 2.5 mile run
Wednesday: Eliptical (lunch)
Thursday: 3 mile run
Friday: Pilates (after work) + maybe walking
Saturday: 5K

Next Monday I start Best Body Bootcamp and am really excited!!! 8 weeks of accountability and a workout plan created for me. I am really looking forward to incorporating more strength training, and I really hope to  see results from it!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Skinny Macaroni and Cheese Soup

Yet another Skinny Taste recipe, tested out by yours truly...

This turned out surprisingly delicious! Also, it is very inexpensive to make. I happened to have the broccoli and carrots in my farmshare, and all of the other ingredients in my pantry. This would be very kid-friendly as well. I plan on packing it this week for lunches. Here's to hoping it reheats well!

You can check out the link above and check out Gina's recipe. Of course, I had to make some updates to Katie-fy it. Aka remove ingredients I don't have...

Skinny Macaroni and Cheese Soup


4 oz Smart Taste Elbows
1 1/2 cups onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp light butter
2 tbsp flour
2 1/2 cups fat free low sodium chicken broth
1 cup almond milk - unsweetened
pinch nutmeg
1/2 tsp dry mustard
salt and fresh pepper to taste
2 cups fresh broccoli florets, chopped into small pieces
2 tbsp parmasean cheese
1-1/2 cups 2% shredded sharp cheddar


Boil pasta in salted water according to package directions for al dente. Drain and set aside.

Chop carrot, onion, and garlic.

In a large soup pot or dutch oven, melt light butter. Add chopped vegetables and sauté on low heat until soft, about 5 minutes.

Add flour and fresh pepper to the pot and stir until smooth. Slowly add chicken broth, milk, nutmeg and dry mustard powder; whisking constantly. Set heat to medium-high until it comes to a boil. Cover and cook on low about 10-15 minutes.

Add broccoli florets and parmesean cheese. Stir well. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Cook uncovered until broccoli is cooked to your liking, about 5 - 10 minutes.

Add cheddar, mixing well until cheese melts and remove from heat. Add cooked elbows and mix well, adjust salt and pepper if needed.

Prepared per the Katie-fied recipe (serves 4)

296 calories, 37 g carbs, 12 g fat, 17 g protein, 5 g fiber, 733 g sodium

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sophia Grace and Rosie

These are the two coolest girls in Hollywood and they are 8 and 5 years old. Ellen found them and now has them do the red carpets for her at events like the Grammy's... just watch the videos and I think you will agree that they are amazing. Betsy and I need to become fast friends with them because we would just get along so well.

If you do nothing else today or tonight, whenever you are reading this... watch these two videos.

SG and Rosie go to the Grammy museum

SG and Rosie do the Grammy Red Carpet

They also got to sing with Nicki Minaj, go to DisneyLand, and go on a Toys 'R Us shopping spree - exclusively focusing on the Barbie aisles of course. 

I envy everything about their lives. They wear pretzel and ice cream bling necklaces, tutus, and tiaras. They are extremely polite which I can totally appreciate. Also, they don't get nervous, they just get hungry and get to take snack breaks. They have no idea that they are on television.They sing wildly inappropriate song lyrics for their ages. And they are just awesome. 

I have always had a secret dream of becoming a rapper. I wonder if SG would take me on as her protege? And Betsy can be an apprentice to Rosie and become a hype girl. This plan is flawless... 


I woke up at 3:30-ish this morning. I guess that is what I get for going to bed at 8:30 PM. Whoops, I fell asleep! Don't judge me.

I didn't look at the clock for a while, because I assumed it was 6 AM and I was just waiting for my alarm to go off. I oddly was not hearing any traffic, and logical Katie considered that maybe it was the middle of the night. I looked. It was almost 4 AM and I needed to try and go back to sleep. So I sang myself a little lullaby in my head and attempted to turn of my thoughts.

John Mayer has helped me through a lot of problems, and while he has had a lot of his own, he is still my favorite artist, a gifted guitar player and writer. I can't believe it has been over 10 years since Room for Squares came out. While my musical tastes have come and gone, John Mayer has consistently been there for me since I bought that CD my Freshman year of high school. I may still have a crush on him. He is a reformed bad boy now and I forgive him for his past transgressions! Lapses in judgement... we all have them. I can't wait until his new CD Born and Raised comes out this year.

Edit: shortly after I posted this, John released a portion of his new single on Tumblr. Now I really can't wait for his new CD to come out.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Extreme Couponing with Cake

Why pay full price for groceries when you can get them at a discount?

Starting in January, I started a grocery savings spreadsheet. I really have come to enjoy couponing. I used to do it occasionally, but now it is a habit. While I am nothing like those women on TV, I do my best on each trip to save some money and I now plan the things I buy based on if I have a coupon for them or not. It is now rare that I buy something full price: only if I really need it, if it is a splurge, or if I am at Trader Joe's, since they do not offer coupons (but have great everyday prices).

So far this year, I have saved $144 and spent $472 (30%!!!). That is $144 more dollars in my savings account today. $472 is a lot on groceries for a single gal, but I bring my breakfast and lunch almost every day to work, and eat dinner at home most nights. I had a terrible takeout habit on Friday nights; now I try and plan my meals around eating IN on Friday nights, but have a special treat instead of eating out. This Friday, I plan to make one of my favorite meals: pigs in a blanket and macaroni and cheese. And yes, I am still trying to lose weight. You can still eat the foods you love!!! Just in moderation, and I have found that tracking is key.

Here are some of the coupon websites that I frequent:
Coupon Divas
Proctor and Gamble Everyday Solutions
Target Coupons

And here are some of my coupon strategies:

I print all of my coupons online and do not subscribe to any newspapers or get inserts. I might start picking up a paper occasionally to get the benefits of those coupons as well.

I subscribe to the Coupon Divas newsletter and will keep on top of favorite brands Facebook pages and Twitter accounts for freebees and coupons.

I have a Target Red Card, and do a lot of my grocery shopping at SuperTarget (based on the coupons available at Target.com). With the Red Card, you get a 5% discount every single time you shop at Target along with some other benefits. I used my Red Card to get my iPad and got 5% off! Also, you can use one Target coupon and one manufacturers coupon per item.

My favorite store for deals is Harris Teeter. And I know this is a regional store - in Charlotte we have Food Lion, BiLo, and Harris Teeter (no major national grocery chains, that I have found). I consider Harris Teeter to be an 'upscale' grocery store with an amazing produce section, but when they put things on sale, they surely put things on sale. They also put coupons online that you can 'clip' to your customer rewards card. This is so easy and convenient! This week, Harris Teeter is doubling all manufacturers coupons (not e-coupons) up to $1.98!

Today's shopping trip was for peanut butter Cheerios (AMAZING, by the way.) and reduced fat crescent rolls. I also happened to stumble upon a few items on sale that I needed to stock up on anyway - but I didn't have a coupon. I had two coupons for the cheerios, which doubled, along with an e-vic coupon towards the rolls (it rang up as if I had two coupons for the two crescent rolls even though I 'clipped' it only once to my card). Harris Teeter allows you to use e-coupons as well as the manufactures coupons. I did not know this until today! I was amazed when I saved even more on the crescent rolls. I won't bore you with the rest of my shopping trip details, but I spent $16.17 and saved $8.18 (over a 50% savings!!!). I got 2 crescent rolls, 2 boxes of Cheerios, 1 4-pack of Velveeta single serving cups, 2 boxes of Kraft Veggie Mac and Cheese, and some grapes that were on sale. I think I did pretty good for the items that I bought! I promise I don't usually eat this much processed food... I just like to have it on hand for my 'comfort food' evenings like I have been having this week thanks to my never ending headache.

Dinner tonight: a Velveeta cup (thanks, Betsy for introducing me!) and a big bowl of PB Cheerios and almond milk. Yum! The food tastes even better knowing how much I saved... I can't believe I never couponed before!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love Song

I think this is my all time favorite Miranda Lambert song. I want this. Happy Valentine's Day. Here's to hoping that next year I have one. Until then, I know I'll be just fine. 

Kitchen Nightmares: Egg Edition

It all started out innocently enough: with a craving for some comfort food egg salad like my mom and grandma make so deliciously. Went to bed with a severe migraine, woke up with a slightly better but still there migraine and all I wanted was some comfort food. How hard is it to boil some eggs? Apparently, hard.

Let me back up here. I followed these simple directions on how to hard boil eggs.Not so easy. I should have known when I started peeling the first egg that it just didn't seem quite done. So my moronic resourceful self proceeded to put that egg back in the pot with the other unpeeled eggs. I was going to monitor the yolk to see when it was cooked. Not smart. I ended up with the picture above. And more not completely cooked eggs.

I gave up. I was out of my egg reserves and could not sacrifice another egg. So I turned to the microwave. Whatever. Eggs cook in the microwave? Sort of.

You see some normal colored hard boiled egg yolk poking out. That was the remainder of the 'test yolk' during the re-boil.

I settled for 'cooked enough' egg salad. I made 2 servings: one for today's lunch and one for tomorrow's. I took 4 hard boiled eggs (in theory, this was more like 3-ish), chopped 'em all up, added 2 tablespoons of Duke's Mayo and 2 teaspoons of dijon mustard, a packet of splenda and salt and pepper. That was it! Deceptively easy. What should be a 20 minute process took me 45, all the while my stomach was growling at me, mocking me.

It turned out decent enough. With cauliflower 'rice' on the side.

I blame it on the electric stove.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Breakfast for Dinner

This past week, I was on a serious breakfast for dinner kick. We have been getting fresh farm eggs in our farmshare each week, and since I don't have time to fix eggs in the mornings during the week, I have been incorporating them in my dinner. We also have been getting a lot of sweet potatoes, which are something I have recently come to enjoy. A lot. I like them when prepared savory, not sweet.

Which led me to this: sweet potato hash topped with fried eggs and a side of veggie sausage

My friend Christine inspired me to make this sweet potato hash - she gets full recipe credit!

This is now one of my favorite meals to make. It's quick, easy, satisfying, and most of all, it is nutritious!

To make the sweet potato hash, I shredded up a few sweet potatoes (1 large and 1 small, to be specific), squeezed out most of the water, and set them aside. I also diced up some onion. As much or as little as you would like. I sauteed the onion on medium-low in some cooking spray until it softens and semi-caramelizes. Then I added in 1 tablespoon of light butter and let it melt. Now you are ready to add the sweet potato shreds! Turn the heat up to medium high. Spread them around evenly and then don't touch them for a few minutes! When shreds start to brown, it is time to turn them. Keep repeating this until the hash has reached your desired level of done-ness! I topped with some truffle salt (a new addition to my kitchen) for something a little extra - regular salt will do, of course and still be just as delicious.

Then I fried up two eggs (over easy/medium) and topped them with salt and pepper, and then put them on top of the hash! On the side, I served up two Morningstar veggie sausage patties. The perfect breakfast for dinner!

Christine recommends using a cast iron skillet for this meal, which I JUST purchased. I can't wait to make this again this coming week with my cast iron!

Arts and Crafts time

After my hellish day on Thursday, I came home and redirected my energy. My coworker official guest blogger, Elizabeth, inspired me to do an art project! You need to know, I am not crafty. I don't like art projects. I used to scrapbook and like that, because all it involved was cutting and gluing.

This was the EASIEST art project in the whole world! And I happened to have all of the necessary components sitting around my apartment. Picture frames and scrapbook paper. The paper from my former scrapbooking days, and the frames I purchased at IKEA for a grand total of $2. I just hadn't filled them with pictures yet. I had a bare wall in my kitchen that needed some attention anyway. This was perfect.

I cut the scrapbook paper to match the size of the frames. I inserted the scrapbook paper in to the frames. I hung them with a hammer and nails. 

Easy peasy. 

So easy that I decided to do a second set for my bathroom. Yes, all of these frames were just sitting around my apartment. 

Now, I know this is not a revolutionary thing to do, but the last time I made artwork for myself was when I lived in Tennessee. I made a collage out of magazine clippings. That was a big step for me. And it looks very homemade. These beauties look like I bought them at the store! I may paint the natural frames, but that involves a whole 'nother level of craftiness. Maybe one day... 

Friday, February 10, 2012

This Friday night...

Friday nights are my favorite night of the week and I don't mind the routine of it one bit. The promise of over 48 hours of freedom and not knowing what the rest of the weekend will bring excites me! I have become increasingly lame in my old age and just like to stay in on Friday nights. I love to relax, catch up on DVR, read magazines, and sleep. The best part is waking up not hungover on Saturday morning. It's such an amazing feeling!

After yesterday's sort-of mental breakdown, I picked myself up and was extremely productive. I was mostly well-rested at work today, I got cast iron skillets and Target popcorn on my lunch break, and left work early because I am working on Sunday afternoon. I went to the gym and spent a record amount of time on the treadmill (90 minutes). Pick your jaws up off the floor. Then I went to SuperTarget and saved 40% on a $100 bill! Pick your jaws back up off the floor.

After a day like today, a girl's gotta eat. Tonight I made a Morningstar grillers burger on a sandwich thin with chipotle cheddar cheese (what?!?!) I know. I had the same reaction. Go buy it at Target. It said 'limited time only' on the package. Get some before I buy it all!

After going back and forth on what side I wanted to go with my burger, I settled on getting some veggies in today. I had been craving cauliflower for a while (weird.) and decided to make a cheese sauce for it. I think I finally perfected my 'light' cheese sauce tonight, which has made an appearance in mac and cheese before. This picture is about 1/3 of a head of cauliflower with the cheese sauce as prepared below.


1 tablespoon light butter
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup milk (I used unsweetened almond milk, but usually use skim)
1/4 cup 2% shredded cheese (I used mild cheddar but sharp gives it a stronger cheese flavor)

Recommended seasonings: salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash garlic and herb, garlic powder, dry mustard, and cayenne pepper. The list goes on...


Start steaming the cauliflower in a vegetable steamer (or on the stove). While veggies are steaming, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a pan on the stove over medium heat. Once melted, add the flour and blend. Cook the flour mixture for about three - five minutes. Now add the milk and stir until the flour mixture is blended. Bring this to a boil and then reduce the heat so that it is simmering. Add your desired seasonings, Continue to stir until the mixture is thickened. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Then add your main ingredient - in this case, cauliflower.

As prepared this cheese sauce has about 200 calories. You can pour this over pasta, cauliflower, eat it with a spoon...

Time to watch more TV and eat peanut butter Cheerios for dessert. Oh yeah, they make peanut butter Cheerios now. Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I may or may not have...*

... broken down in tears on I-77 after work while listening to these random songs. Don't ask.

... come home and wanted to continue the cry fest in the shower and then on the couch, but negotiated a deal with myself: I could do that only if I worked out first

... turned on my ipod shuffle and discovered the battery was drained

... got resourceful and busted out the spibelt, shoving my phone (for music) and keys (for the obvious) in to it

.... chosen to listen to Katy Perry and then switched to hardcore emo

... ran 2 miles at a sub-11 min pace, and walked 2 more at a sub-15 minute pace instead of eating my feelings in chocolate like I did last night

... returned from my run and instead of crying in the shower, did an art project for two different rooms in my apartment in about 15 minutes (more on that in another post)

Ok, now I am gonna go take a shower. There may or may not be tears. I hate being a girl. I hate PMS. You're welcome for the TMI.

Update: I did not cry in the shower. I had a dance party to Lady Gaga's The Fame Monster while bathing and shaving my legs. Only one wound occurred. Again, you're welcome for the TMI.

I totally did all of these things*

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Best Body Bootcamp!

Today, Tina at Best Body Fitness announced the Best Body Bootcamp! This could not come at a better time with bathing suit season well on its way here in North Carolina... I just signed up and can't wait to get started on March 5th!

I need a little boost in my workout, particularly in the arena of strength training. I don't have too much of an issue getting cardio in: I use the elliptical and/or run about 5 times a week. But, I really do not do my part in strength training. I try to occasionally do pilates or yoga once a week. and I think my weight loss (or at least inches-loss) is suffering because of it. My diet is (mostly) on track and I have established healthy habits. I really need some guidance and can't afford a personal trainer! This boot camp only costs $25.00 and provides an 8 week training plan that anyone can do - as long as you have a base level of fitness established.

I really enjoy reading Tina's blog. She has some great fitness tips, is very knowledgeable, and is very real! She is so honest about her life, her past, and her fitness habits. Her journey has truly inspired me to live my healthiest life. I can't stress the importance of that enough! I used to live a pretty unhealthy lifestyle, and while I am not perfect and won't pretend to be - I have made a drastic turnaround in my eating and exercise habits and have developed new, healthy habits that will last me a very long lifetime.

I encourage everyone reading this to invest $25.00 in Best Body Bootcamp and most importantly, invest some time into your fitness. This is a small investment to improve your health! I am looking forward to incorporating some guided and structured strength training in to my workout routine and seeing the results, along with my current use of My Fitness Pal to track my food intake and exercise.

Oh yeah, Tina has some really cool prizes that are going to be given away every week, as well as a cash prize coming from a portion of the registration fee at the end of the challenge!!!

I will be blogging about the bootcamp and my progress throughout the 8 weeks! Tune in on March 5th for the kickoff!!!

Guest Post: Crockpot Chicken and Vegetables

Hi Pieces of Cake Readers, my name is Elizabeth and I am Katie’s co-worker. I have worked with Katie since July 2011. We quickly discovered that we both have a mutual love for blogs: instant coworker bonding.

I am sorry I do not have a current picture of myself to go along with this post, so that you can picture me while I am sharing my recipe with you. However – I do have the second best thing. I have a picture of the celebrity I closest resemble, that I am ALWAYS mistaken for:

Ok Ok, maybe I look like her only a little bit different. 

I have been wanting invited myself to write a guest post for Katie’s blog. I sometimes get the urge to cook and half way to through the process forget to document the steps. This past Sunday I was home and had that urge and dived into 2 cooking projects – pretzel bites and a chicken slow cooker recipe. 

First I made pretzel bites with a cheese sauce:

I wish I would have documented the pretzels, but they were super hard to make and I advise against trying to do it yourself. So this post is going to focus on the chicken dish. 

Katie and I split a CSA share and receive a great box of local produce/eggs each week. I know she has written about the CSA in the past so I will not go into all the details again. We are in the middle of our Winter Produce Share and receive a lot of root vegetables. I wanted to make a dish that encompasses many of these root vegetables, something hearty and something that I could re-heat and have it taste great for dinner throughout the week. 

Ingredients: Onion, Mushrooms, Carrots, Parsnip, Radishes, Squash, Potatoes, Ginger, Salt, Pepper, Dried Basil, Dried Ginger, Thyme, Fresh Rosemary, Olive Oil, Chicken and Chicken Broth.

These are the veggies on hand that I wanted to use:

Pictured above: Onion, Carrots, Radishes, Mushrooms, Potatoes, Squash and Parsnip.
I washed the vegetables real well and then started to slice and dice them.

In the meantime I had my slow cooker out and had it on high and put about 2T of olive oil in the bottom of the pan and the sprayed the sides of the pan with olive oil via the Misto

Once all the vegetables were chopped up I tossed them into the slow cooker along with the spices/herbs listed above.

I put the slow cooker on high because I started this recipe at 3pm and wanted it done at a decent time at night. While the slow cooker ingredients were cooking, I cut the chicken into strips and browned the chicken. Once the chicken was browned I added it into the slow cooker.

I turned the slow cooker down to low once the chicken was added and let the dish cook for 4 hours. 
I debated on what to have with this meal, should I add rice or noodles? But since it was mostly root vegetables, I figure there was enough starch in the meal and that I should move on and just enjoy it as is.
It didn’t look too beautiful on the plate, but the taste was definitely worth the efforts in making the dish. I will certainly make this again.

Thank you for reading and hopefully Katie will let me post again. I do not have a blog but you can find me on Twitter.

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