Friday, March 30, 2012

Low-fat Carrot Cupcakes

I made low-fat carrot cupcakes last weekend that looked and tasted delicious. I wanted to make a low calorie dessert, but I wanted it to taste as good as the high fat version. Sound impossible? With the right modifications, it's quite possible.  

To decrease fat content, I substituted unsweetened applesauce for the oil and egg substitute (Egg Beaters) for the eggs. In this recipe, I was able to lower the calories from 351 to 222 per cupcake, and decrease the fat content from 18 grams to 3 grams. That is amazing! 

Low-fat Carrot Cupcakes

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup egg substitute (Egg Beaters)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups grated carrots

1/4 cup light cream cheese, softened
 2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 12-muffin cup pan with cooking spray or line with baking cups.
Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
Beat the egg substitute and sugar until frothy and lightened in color. Stir in applesauce, vanilla, and grated carrot. Add flour mixture, and stir just until blended. Divide batter in 12 muffin cups.
Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 18-22 minutes. Remove to cool on wire racks.
Prepare the icing by beating together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar until fluffy. Frost the cooled cupcakes and chill until ready to serve.
Makes 12 cupcakes.
Each cupcake has 222 calories and 3 g fat.

Note: For the original version, use 3/4 vegetable oil instead of the applesauce, 3 eggs instead of the egg substitute, and regular cream cheese instead of the light. These cupcakes will have 351 calories and 18 g fat. 

Printable version
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Monday, March 26, 2012

Guest Bathroom Reveal

It feels so good to have the guest bathroom finished! Having a deadline (wedding shower) sure helped us complete it in a timely manner. I think I work faster and get more accomplished when I'm under pressure. If we had waited until this summer to remodel the bathroom, it would have taken us months to get it finished. From demolition to decorating, the bathroom took less than six weeks. That includes a delay when we had to wait for the guys to come back and redo the beadboard (after I had already painted it.) I had to then prime the new beadboard and repaint, then paint all the molding and cabinets. 

Everything in the bathroom is new except for the cabinets, baseboard, and molding. Hubby did an amazing job with all the plumbing and electrical work! He even added a new light over the tub. At the end of the post, I'll list the materials and where we bought them. I have lots of photos!

Wow! Check out the difference between before and after!  I couldn't be happier! I love to glance in the bathroom when I walk by just to see how pretty it is.

 Before                                                 After

Here is the list of materials:

Ceiling light: Portfolio light fixture from Lowe's
Vanity lights: Westinghouse mini pendants from Home Depot; globes from Lowe's
Mirrors: Allen+Roth distressed cherry from Lowe's
Faucets: Delta Mandara in satin nickel from Home Depot
Towel bar and tp holder: Delta Mandara in satin nickel from Home Depot
Cabinet hardware: Satin nickel from Lowe's
Granite and sinks: Giallo Ornamental from Durastone
Toilet: American Standard Champion 4 from Home Depot
Floor tile: Beige tumbled travertine from Floor and Decor
Shower tile: White subway tile from Lowe's
Shower niche tile: Ivory tumbled mosaic travertine from Floor and Decor
Accent tile: Subway tile and travertine trim from Lowe's
Wall paint: Valspar Light Raffia Satin from Lowe's
Cabinet paint: Benjamin Moore Advance White Satin
Shower curtain and rugs: Fieldcrest from Target
Towels: Fieldcrest Aqua Spill from Target
Vanity accessories: Michael's
Trash can and tp basket: Target
Iron decor: Hobby Lobby

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Western-themed Wedding Shower

Whew! We did it! We've been planning this shower for two months and it was a huge success! The wedding shower was for our oldest son, Taylor, and his fiancée, Jennifer. I can't believe their wedding is less than a month away!

The party was last Saturday at our house. The weather turned out perfect (except for a little humidity and wind), and we were able to have the party in the backyard.

The wind picked up during the day, so we had to tie the tablecloths down. At one point, some birds decided to roost in the trees above the deck. There were a few accidents my sister-in-law had to clean up. (Thanks, Tammy!) Luckily the birds left before the guests arrived.

The theme was western, so we decorated the tables with red and aqua (the wedding colors) bandannas and candles in lanterns from Pier 1.

 Inside, we set up the food (barbecue) on the kitchen counter and decorated the table for the desserts.

We bought the aqua canning jars on Ebay and added some western-themed items. The candles in the canning jars are flameless LED candles.

The J and T are MDF letters from Hobby Lobby covered with scrapbooking paper using Mod Podge.

 We filled small jelly jars with trail mix, added fabric, jute, and a tag for the party favors.

 The jars were piled in a wicker suitcase near the door. My daughter-in-law, Rebecca, made the tags and the sign stencil using her Silhouette.

Of course, Taylor and Jen had to play the Nearly Wed game hosted by my sister-in-law, Janet.

Wedding showers, even couple showers, are not a guy thing. I wonder what Taylor was thinking? Maybe, "What the heck is that?" or "Are we finished yet?"  I love this photo!

Thanks to Rebecca, Lucas, Janet, Granny, Tammy, Mike, and Robert for planning, shopping, baking, decorating, coordinating, and making the shower such a success!

Next party: rehearsal dinner!

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Back to blogging {and what's coming up!}

Life has finally returned to normal! Well, normal for us. I'm ready to get back into my routine and back to blogging. I've hardly looked at the computer for two weeks, and sadly, only wrote two posts. We've spent the last two weeks completing the guest bathroom, cleaning the house, sprucing up the yard, and taking care of last minute party details. The kids even pitched in before the party Saturday! The guest bathroom was completed (and decorated) last week, and the wedding shower Saturday was a huge success.

Hubby and I spent Sunday relaxing. We didn't sit around for long, though. After going for a long walk in a nearby park, we started new projects. Hubby began building a gate using old golf clubs! I'm not so sure about it, but I'll let you know how it turns out. I worked in the garden planting tomatoes, peppers, squash, and cucumbers.

So now, I'm busy selecting and editing photos from the shower and the bathroom redo for upcoming posts this week. I have several hundred to choose from! Here is a sneak peek:

Dessert table at wedding shower

New guest bathroom
Check back later this week for the bathroom reveal and some great party ideas!

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Monday, March 12, 2012

A Fantastic New Paint

I can't believe it's been a week since I last posted! Between working in the guest bathroom and preparing for the wedding shower this weekend, I've hardly looked at the computer.

If you missed my previous bathroom posts, we I decided to remodel the guest bathroom about five weeks ago. Unfortunately the workmen have had to return three times since finishing the work. There was quite a bit we were unhappy about they had to redo. I'm glad we didn't have them paint. I can't imagine what a fiasco that would have been.

I spent last week sanding, caulking, priming and painting. I haven't had the energy to take photos or write posts. Right now, I'm finishing up the cabinet doors and drawers. The plumbing is done, the lighting is finished, and the mirrors are hung. Hubby's been working hard all weekend. I promise, I'll take (and post) photos this week.

Right now, I want to tell you about a paint I recently discovered. I usually use Valspar from Lowe's on the walls, and Behr latex enamel from Home Depot on the woodwork. Both stores are less than 5 minutes from the house, so they're convenient, and the paint is relatively cheap.

This time I used  Benjamin Moore Advance paint on the woodwork.  It is A-MAZ-ING! You can read all about it on the Benjamin Moore website. It is a waterborne alkyd paint that performs like an oil paint, but cleans up with soap and water. The best part is the leveling ability. No brush marks! It has an extended open time and drys to a hard finish. You do have to wait 16 hours between coats, so it does take longer to get the painting done. It also takes 3-5 days drytime before placing anything on the shelves or in the cabinets.

I used white in the satin finish which has just a small amount of shine. The guy at the Benjamin Moore store told me that the semi-gloss finish was very shiny, and even though I used Behr semi-gloss in the rest of the house, I went with the Advance satin. Turns out they are similar in the amount of shine, but the Advance went on much smoother.

Now the price of a gallon of Advance paint is about $50-$60, expensive, yes, but so worth it.  I will definitely be using it on the woodwork throughout the house next time I paint.

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Spring has arrived!

Spring has sprung! The flowers are blooming, the bees are buzzing, and the birds are chirping!

Spring is by far my favorite time of the year. Everything is fresh, the trees are a beautiful shade of green, and the weather is near perfect around here.

I spent some time outside this weekend sprucing things up, as well as working in the guest bathroom. More on that in another post.

I thought you might enjoy some photos of the beautiful flowers in bloom right now, especially the azaleas.  Most azaleas only bloom a few weeks in the spring, but they are spectacular when they do.

 The azaleas in the following photos are not in our yard. I was standing in our neighbor's flower bed to take these shots.


There were a lot of bees: honeybees, bumble bees, and some I couldn't identify, but I knew they would sting if I made them mad. 

Pink azaleas are my absolute favorite! They make me smile.

This little gem was hidden behind all the other azaleas right next to our neighbor's house. I'm so glad they are used to me wandering the neighborhood taking photos.

Has spring arrived at your house? If it hasn't I hope you won't have to wait long.

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Friday, March 2, 2012

Bailey's Irish Cream Cake

The last couple of years, I've made an all Irish dinner on St. Patrick's Day. This year, March 17 is the date of a shower at our house for our oldest son and his fiancée. We'll be serving barbecue, so I thought I would make something  a little earlier.

Bailey's Irish Cream Cake

1 cup chopped nuts
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup Bailey's Irish Cream
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup Bailey's Irish Cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan. Sprinkle chopped nuts evenly over bottom of pan.

In a large bowl of electric mixer, combine cake mix and pudding mix. Mix in eggs, 1/4 cup water, oil, and 3/4 cup Irish Cream. Beat for 5 minutes on medium-high speed. Pour batter over nuts in pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan. While the cake is cooling, make the glaze (recipe below).
With a fork, prick holes in top of cake and pour half the glaze over cake. After glaze soaks into cake, invert cake onto a serving platter and pour remaining glaze over cake. Let cool completely before serving.

Glaze: In a small saucepan, combine butter, 1/4 cup water, and sugar. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup Irish Cream.

Don't wait for St. Patrick's Day to try this cake. It's delicious anytime of the year. The glaze is also yummy on vanilla ice cream!
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