Chihuly in Denver

There has been a Chihuly art exhibit at the Denver Botanic Garden in Cherry Creek ALL SUMMER LONG, and I finally made it there last week!

Chihuly at the Denver Botanic Gardens | No Thanks to Cake

I’m pretty sure that I’m the LAST PERSON in Denver to see this exhibit, and I’d say… better late than never!!  To all of my Denver friends, you must go see this!  You have until November 30th… you will LOVE it!

Chihuly at Denver Botanic Gardens | No Thanks to Cake

And, I almost missed it if I’m completely honest.   Pam, Ashleigh, and I had been planning for weeks to get over there, but you know how it goes… the weekends are booked, gross weather strikes, and then… out of nowhere the most gorgeous 75 degree October day appears, and we’re there!  Apparently, we weren’t the only ones with this idea.  The place was PACKED!

Chihuly at Denver Botanic Gardens | No Thanks to Cake

Nothing like seeing an art exhibit with a few hundred of my closet friends, after all… I didn’t mind so much, especially since I was with two good friends and had my trusty Canon Rebel in hand to capture a bunch of shots of the insane beauty of this 24-acre garden.

Chihuly at Denver Botanic Gardens | No Thanks to Cake

I thought it was awesome that the Chihuly team was able to add the beautiful glasswork in a way that just seemed so non-invasive to the existing landscape… and in a way that just seemed to emphasize the beauty of the garden.

Chihuly at Denver Botanic Gardens | No Thanks to Cake

Chihuly at Denver Botanic Gardens | No Thanks to Cake

In addition to the beautiful flowers throughout the garden, there are also gorgeous reflecting pools,  In a very Monet-like way, these reflecting pools set off the glass pieces beautifully.

Chihuly at Denver Botanic Gardens | No Thanks to Cake

Chihuly at Denver Botanic Gardens | No Thanks to Cake

Like many others, I was first introduced to Chihuly when I glanced up at the Bellagio registration ceiling in Las Vegas… and gasped at how lovely it was.  I had no idea that he did garden exhibits as well… so enamored by his work.  I also fell in love with the beautiful flowers at the gardens.

As someone who doesn’t have much land to grow flowers, I sure lust after them… My next place needs some flower beds, and perhaps a cute lawn boy (whether mine or hired.)  Until then, I’ll just visit the botanic gardens to get my fill…

Chihuly at Denver Botanic Gardens | No Thanks to Cake

Chihuly at Denver Botanic Gardens | No Thanks to Cake

Chihuly at Denver Botanic Gardens | No Thanks to Cake

Chihuly at Denver Botanic Gardens | No Thanks to Cake

It took about an hour and a half to make our way through the exhibit, seeing most (if not all) of the pieces that they had planted.  I stopped quite a bit for pictures, because there were just so many beautiful shots to be taken.

Chihuly at Denver Botanic Gardens | No Thanks to Cake

Chihuly at Denver Botanic Gardens | No Thanks to Cake

The most beautiful stop on our mini tour (and my favorite!) had to be this boat, filled with these brightly-colored orbs.  So stunning!

Chihuly at Denver Botanic Gardens | No Thanks to Cake

The exhibit itself runs through November 30th, and tickets are just $15 for adults (non-member), and $9 for children (non-member.)  They also have a lighted evening exhibit called Chihuly Nights that we are going to try to see before the end of the month.  These tickets are the same price, and I’ve heard that it is absolutely exquisite!

As blown away as I was by the exhibit, I also fell in love with the Denver Botanic Gardens during our visit!  I sincerely can’t believe that it was my first visit, and I know that it is far from my last.  Such an incredible place… I may ask Santa to make me a member for Christmas.  It just seems like a lovely place to visit and clear your head, or to visit with friends to see the seasonal flowers… while enjoying a picnic lunch.  I definitely need to spend more time here, member or not.  It’s just lovely!

Denver Peeps, run don’t walk… get there before November 30th!

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Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Mousse Mini Desserts

It’s no secret here at NTTC that I love mini desserts.

Not only do they offer great portion control, but they’re so dang cute!  I mean, check these little guys out!

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Mousse Mini Desserts | No Thanks to Cake

I adapted this recipe from the red velvet version I made earlier in the year.  And, I think I like them just as much transitioned into a spicy fall treat!

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Mousse Mini Desserts

Adapted from this recipe

Serves 16

1 small box sugar-free, fat-free cheesecake flavored instant pudding mix
1 container light Cool Whip
1 1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup spice cake mix
1/8 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 full sheets of graham crackers, crushed
sprinkles (optional)
INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Whisk together the pudding mix and the milk with an electric mixer.

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Mousse Mini Desserts | No Thanks to Cake
2.  Working quickly, sift in the spice cake mix and whisk together.  Note:  Use a sifter, as otherwise, the cake mix clumps can cause a consistency issue.

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Mousse Mini Desserts | No Thanks to Cake
3.  Add pumpkin pie spice and whisk together.

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Mousse Mini Desserts | No Thanks to Cake
4.  Use a rubber spatula to fold in the cool whip. Incorporate completely.

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Mousse Mini Desserts | No Thanks to Cake
Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Mousse Mini Desserts | No Thanks to Cake
5.  Puree the graham crackers in a food processor until finely ground.

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Mousse Mini Desserts | No Thanks to Cake
6.  Move mousse to a ziploc bag or a container that will allow you to pipe the mousse into the shot glasses.  Note:  I picked up little squeeze bottles at Crate and Barrel, and I’ve seen them at Pier One too!

7. Place 1 tsp. of graham crackers at the bottom of the shot glass, and then add mousse to begin the layering process.  Repeat until you reach the top of the glass.

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Mousse Mini Desserts | No Thanks to Cake
Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Mousse Mini Desserts | No Thanks to Cake
Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Mousse Mini Desserts | No Thanks to Cake
8.  When you reach the top of the glass, sprinkle with a tiny bit of graham crackers and top with pretty white nonpareils.

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Mousse Mini Desserts | No Thanks to Cake
9.  Refrigerate until it’s time to serve, and watch your guest ooooo and ahhhh over how good these are!!

 Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Mousse Mini Desserts | No Thanks to Cake
Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Mousse Mini Desserts | No Thanks to Cake
Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Mousse Mini Desserts | No Thanks to Cake

Per 1 mini dessert serving:

CAL 106; CARB 15g; FAT 4g; PROT 1g; FIB 0g; WW Points Plus: 3

 

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Mozzarella-Stuffed Pizza Burger

When I made that beautiful marinara sauce a few weeks back, I kept a bit in the refrigerator to eat throughout the week…  and it was about the same time that the Blogtastic Survey was going on, and one of y’all mentioned you liked my burger recipes.  With that little bit of synchronicity… the Pizza Burger was born.

Mozzarella-Stuffed Pizza Burger | No Thanks to Cake

Oh, delicious beautiful burgers… how I’ve missed you.  This one is CRAZY easy to make, and really it’s the sauce that makes this burger.  Here’s how I made it…

Mozzarella-Stuffed Pizza Burger

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

Mozzarella-Stuffed Pizza Burger | No Thanks to Cake

4 oz. extra lean ground beef or turkey

1 Tbsp. diced onion, heaping

1/4 tsp. Williams-Sonoma Pizza Seasoning

1/4 tsp. dried basil

1/4 tsp. dried oregano

1/8 tsp. garlic salt

1 wheel Mini Babybel Light Mozzarella Cheese

salt and pepper 

cooking spray

1/4 cup Super Simple Marinara Sauce or your favorite sauce

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  In a small bowl, add your ground meat and onions.

Mozzarella-Stuffed Pizza Burger | No Thanks to Cake

2.  Add your seasonings and mix well.

Mozzarella-Stuffed Pizza Burger | No Thanks to Cake

Mozzarella-Stuffed Pizza Burger | No Thanks to Cake

3.  Take half of the meat mixture and form a patty.  Add the mozzarella wheel on top.

Mozzarella-Stuffed Pizza Burger | No Thanks to Cake

4.  Top the mozzarella with the remainder of the meat mixture, sealing the edges.  Place the burger on a plate, and season on both sides with salt and pepper, optional.

Mozzarella-Stuffed Pizza Burger | No Thanks to Cake

5.  Heat a grill pan, skillet, grill, or George Foreman, spraying the pans with cooking oil before adding the meat to the grill.  Cook burger for several minutes on each side until done.

6.  Remove to a plate, and top with warm marinara sauce.

Mozzarella-Stuffed Pizza Burger | No Thanks to Cake

7.  Serve with your favorite side dish (I chose Garlicky Spinach with Laughing Cow Cheese). PS… Check out that gooey cheese below.

Mozzarella-Stuffed Pizza Burger | No Thanks to Cake

Mozzarella-Stuffed Pizza Burger | No Thanks to Cake

Mozzarella-Stuffed Pizza Burger | No Thanks to Cake

Per entire recipe serving:
CAL 225; CARB 9g; FAT 6g; PROT 34g; FIB 1g; WW Points Plus: 6

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Fabulously on the Move: Yoga for Beginners {Guest Post}

It’s been a LONG TIME since I hosted a guest post here on NTTC.  After going through the blogtastic survey process a few weeks ago, I realized how many of you wanted to hear more about exercise.  With this new knowledge (thanks again!!), I thought it would be a great opportunity to introduce you to some of my favorite bloggers who are amazing, many of whom I’ve met in person, and most of all… folks who inspire me!!

Fabulously on the Move Racing to Zen Jess | No Thanks to Cake

First up is the lovely Jess.  I met Jess this year at Fitbloggin, and we were quick friends!  Her warm personality, her bouncy curls, and that welcoming smile… I’m so glad to have met her, and I love her story!  A super busy mom, she just took a professional leap… leaving her traditional job, in favor of following her dream.  I love it when that happens!!

Today on NTTC, she shares her suggestions on getting started with yoga.  With a few simple poses that she demonstrates below, you too could be on your way to be practicing yoga regularly.  Thanks, Jess, for sharing your passion with us!

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I’m Jess from Racing to Zen and am thrilled to be guest blogging for Kelly! I recently completed my yoga teacher training and am excited to share with you what has become the foundation of my yoga practice – the classical sun salutation.

Many people are unsure of how to begin a home yoga practice, but when your budget is tight or you’re just looking for a simple way to unwind at home each night, sun salutations are a wonderful way to bring yoga to your living room. Sun salutations have a wealth of health benefits – improved circulation, regulation of your digestive system and calming your central nervous system. Adding yoga to your existing exercise routine is also a great way to improve your overall endurance. Learning and mastering a sequence can be a great confidence booster too – sun salutations can travel with you anywhere. And, let’s be honest here, who doesn’t love an exercise routine that ends with laying on the ground in corpse pose?

Yoga for Beginners Racing to Zen | No Thanks to Cake

You can follow along in the two photo collages. I’ll give you the English & Sanskrit words for each pose.

Yoga for Beginners from Racing to Zen | No Thanks to Cake

  • Begin in mountain (tadasana) or prayer pose – Feet hips width distance apart, knees unlocked, shoulders back and down, spine long. Take a moment to close your eyes and breathe in and out through your nose, centering yourself before you begin.
  • Upward raise (hasta utthanasana) – lift the hands skyward, getting length from your toes to finger tips. Turn the gaze up and slightly backward if you like.
  • Forward fold (utthanasana) – fold forward from the hips, bringing the head towards the ground and chest towards the knees. Let the head be heavy and put a deep bend in the knees to bring the chest closer to the legs.
  • Lunge (anjaneyasana) – from forward fold, lift your left foot and send it to the back of your mat, drop your knee and lift your chest to come in to a forward lunge.

Yoga for Beginners from Racing to Zen | No Thanks to Cake

  • Downward Facing Dog (adho mukha svanasana) – from lunge, curl your back toes under and lift and send the front foot to the back. Spread the fingers wide and imagine pushing your chest back towards your legs.
  • 8 Pointed Star (ashtanga namaskar) – from downward dog, drop your knees, shift your weight forward and drop your chest between your hands. The sit bones stay up and the “8 stars” on the ground are your two hands, your chin, your chest, your two knees and your two feet.
  • Cobra (bhujangasana) – slither forward like a snake, keeping the neck long and allowing the belly to drop to the floor. Remember that snakes don’t have butts, so don’t squeeze your glutes! Lift from your lower back only.
  • Downward Facing Dog – from cobra, push down into the ground with your hands and lift your sit bones back to the sky for one more downward dog.
  • Forward Fold – step the feet one at a time to meet the hands and fold forward.
  • From forward fold, you can roll back up to standing and start the same practice again, sending the right foot back in to lunge instead. Completing one round includes lunging with both legs.

After your sun salutations, enjoy savasana or corpse pose. If you have any worries about falling asleep, just set a timer on your phone, giving yourself 5-10 minutes of quiet, restorative time.

Thanks again to Kelly for giving me a chance to share with all of you! Enjoy your home yoga practice and Namaste to you all!

Heres’s a few ways that you can follow Jess:  Racing to Zen Blog, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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