New Obsession: Trader Joe’s

I know that many of you have been enjoying Trader Joe’s for years.  Can you believe that Trader Joe’s just FINALLY showed up in Colorado in February??

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After letting the crowds die down a little and the overall mayhem settle, I finally made my way there!  OMG… so many yummy items to choose from!

Now, I don’t think I could really do all of my groceries here, but it’s perfect for picking up a few (or a LOT!) of specialty items.  I’ve found quite a few over the past week that are SO GOOD that I had to share.

New Obsession: Trader Joe's | No Thanks to Cake

Check out this cart full of goodies that I picked up on Friday when I was going there for “soup”… please also note that there is no “soup” in this cart.  Classic!

So… What did I buy and what did I love so far?

New Obsession: Trader Joe's | No Thanks to Cake

Arugula & Parmigiano Reggiano Ravioli

These ended up being an impulse buy.  Again, I was looking for soup… and somehow I ended up with fresh pasta.  Trader Joe’s has a wonderful selection of filled pastas to choose from – - everything from lobster to bolognese to arugula.  I went with the Arugula version and cooked it up as an amazing Friday night dinner.  Pairing it with a few other purchases.

Greens

Mini Heirloom Tomatoes and Organic Micro Greens

While the Arugula pasta cooked, I sliced a few mini heirloom tomatoes with a handful of organic micro greens and some basil olive oil.  Adding a little salt and pepper, this dish was fantastic and incredibly beautiful.  This is one to try.  VERY little oil, and mostly veggies…

New Obsession: Trader Joe's | No Thanks to Cake

 Mini Mint Ice Cream Sandwiches

And then…. I met these guys.  These 70-calorie for two ice cream treats are AMAZING!

New Obsession: Trader Joe's | No Thanks to Cake

They’re very Oreo-like, and filled with minty chocolate chip ice cream.  Try them….

Hold the Cone

New Obsession: Trader Joe's | No Thanks to Cake

These tiny chocolate-lined ice cream cones are ridiculous.  They are tiny, but amazingly good.  The chocolate coating is crunchy, revealing the creamiest of ice cream on the inside (even straight from the freezer!)  Also, only 70 calories… yep, get them, too!

Trader Joe’s Pizza Dough

New Obsession: Trader Joe's | No Thanks to Cake

I bought the Garlic & Herb flavor upon my friend Tiffany’s recommendation.  OMG… so good!  I made a really decadent pizza out of it.  And, actually split the ball of dough into 4 pizzas.  While this stuff is amazing, be very aware of the serving size and the calories you’re taking in.  It’s more than you’d think, unfortunately. But check out this pizza!  AMAZING!

New Obsession: Trader Joe's | No Thanks to Cake

The flavor combination that I came up with was a little crazy… but so delicious.  How about bacon, peppadew peppers, and fresh mozzarella?  Amazing with that salty, sweet combo.  I’m going to work to make it with a little bit of a lighter dough the next time, and I’ll share the recipe.  Good stuff!

Coconut Oil Spray

I’m incredibly late to the coconut oil game, but better late then never…

New Obsession: Trader Joe's | No Thanks to Cake

I’ve started roasting and cooking veggies with this stuff.  So good!

All The Sauces

I also feel like I bought all of their sauces.  Here’s a little peek at a few that came home with me…

New Obsession: Trader Joe's | No Thanks to Cake

And, truthfully, there are quite a few more in my pantry.  Barbecue sauces and curries, and so much more!

Since I am so new to Trader Joe’s, what other items do I need to try on my next TJ’s run?

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Currently: March

Happy Friday, My Dears…

We’re almost to the end of  March already!!!  That’s so hard to believe… but I figured there’s no time like the present to post this month’s “currently” post… Enjoy!

CURRENTLY: MARCH 2014

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Current Book:

I’ve been so busy lately!  Downtime, schmowntime… Who needs it?? {Um, I totally do!}  I took some time this weekend to just relax and disconnect.  In doing so, I stumbled across this book by Elin Hilderbrand… and I am loving it so far.  I’ve read a TON of her books, and I’m such a fan.

Summer People by Elin Hilderbrand | No Thanks to Cake

Her books also have a lovely way of taking me to Nantucket Island, on the beach and splashing in the ocean.  Needed that, Elin.  Thanks!

Current Music:

I got a new iPod last month, and it has been making me dig through my archives for songs I haven’t listened to in forever.  I may or may not have landed on some Air Supply last week… and I freakin loved belting it out in the car!  No judgment… who doesn’t love Air Supply??

Air Supply | No Thanks to Cake

Current Nail Color:

I’ve been rocking “Power Clutch” by Essie this month… LOVE IT!

Essie Power Clutch | No Thanks to Cake

It’s sort of a greenish-greyish color, and I’m wearing it on my nails and toes!  I do, however, feel summer colors coming on pretty quickly… stay tuned!

Current Drink: 

As always, I’m drinking mostly water… but I’ve gotten hooked on a new drink at Starbucks.  How about a tall skinny latte with 1.5 pumps skinny hazelnut and 1.5 pumps skinny mocha??

So delish!!!  And, I’ve needed the caffeine kick lately… so it’s been my afternoon pick-me-up!  110 calories worth of warm tasty goodness!

Current Food:

I’m eating a LOT of Jenny Craig these days, and I’m LOVING it!  Specifically their amazing cinnamon rolls…. they make my tastebuds sing!

Jenny Craig Cinnamon Rolls | No Thanks to Cake

Current Favorite Show:

Grey’s Anatomy has been amazing lately.  I’ve been watching it for years, and frankly… it was amazing, and then it sucked for a while, but it’s back to incredible again.  I must admit some of the draw to Grey’s Anatomy has everything to do with the Jackson-April storyline…

Jackson Avery | No Thanks to Cake

Move over, McDreamy and McSteamy…

Current Outfit:

I’ve been all about dresses lately.  Whether it be this sparkly number

A Night on the Red Carpet - Belcourt Theater Nashville | No Thanks to Cake

Or these dresses… from JCP, New York and Company, and H&M

Cute Dresses | No Thanks to Cake

 Hurry up, Warm Weather!!!

Current Wish List:

Another black tie event to look forward to…. yeah, I freakin’ love getting dressed up…

A Night on the Red Carpet - Belcourt Theater Nashville | No Thanks to Cake

Current Excitement:

I am heading to Phoenix on Sunday night for a work trip.  I’m excited to get out of Denver for a few days with one of my favorite co-workers.  There’s something delightful and healing about the desert.  I can’t wait to get there…

Desert | No Thanks to Cake

Current Needs:

I need to decide what the heck I’m doing for Fitbloggin this year.  I’ve booked my room and my registration… but I can’t decide if I’m going to spend a few extra days on the east coast.  I need to get with the friends and family and decide!

Current Indulgence:

Mug Cakes… after making this cake on Saturday night, it’s all I want to eat.  So delish!  Click here for the recipe details…

Microwave PB2 Chocolate Mug Cake | No Thanks to Cake

Current Online Obsession:

Sole Society – - I’m not sure how I even found their site, but they have the cutest shoes… including these DEA wedges in BEET that I had to order.  I have a feeling I’m going to be living in them for the next few months.  So cute!

DEA Wedge Sole Society | No Thanks to Cake

Current Inspiration:

This mantra, and saying it often…  It can shift your energy pretty fast, in the best possible way.  Try it…

Happy Healthy Wealthy Healed Whole | No Thanks to Cake

Current Mood:

Determined.

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Baked Sunchoke Chips with Laughing Cow Onion Dip

My friends at Laughing Cow Cheese sent me another delightful package of their cheese recently and challenged me to come up with a yummy snack to share with you all.

Their timing couldn’t have been better because their cheese arrived the same day that I received my very first Mile High Organics delivery.  I had ordered sunchokes (aka Jerusalem Artichokes) for the first time as part of the delivery.  I decided to see what they tasted like made into chips.

Baked Sunchoke Chips with Laughing Cow Onion Dip | No Thanks to Cake

These chips are INCREDIBLY easy to make, and remind me a lot of those super-tasty Terra chips.  I checked the ingredients on those chips and was surprised to see that sunchokes weren’t one of the ingredients.  The dip I made to pair with the chips uses Laughing Cow’s Sour Cream and Onion cream cheese wedges, and the taste is phenomenal.  This is the perfect guilt-free version of chips I’ve ever had… and I think you’re going to love them too!

Baked Sunchoke Chips with Laughing Cow Onion Dip

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

Baked Sunchoke Chips with Laughing Cow Onion Dip | No Thanks to Cake

3 sunchokes, about 2/3 cup sliced

1 wedge Laughing Cow Cream Cheese – Chive and Onion flavor, room temperature

2 Tbsp. light sour cream

1 tsp. minced onion flakes

1/4 tsp. onion powder

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. shallot-pepper seasoning (or garlic pepper)

salt and pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

2.  Combine cream cheese and sour cream in a small bowl.

Baked Sunchoke Chips with Laughing Cow Onion Dip | No Thanks to Cake

3.  Add seasonings and stir well.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Note:  I like lots of garlic and lots of onion flavor.  If you prefer less, adjust accordingly.  You could also experiment with other herbs and herb mixes you love.  Spice it up!

Baked Sunchoke Chips with Laughing Cow Onion Dip | No Thanks to Cake

Baked Sunchoke Chips with Laughing Cow Onion Dip | No Thanks to Cake

4.  Slice your sunchokes into thin chip-like slices.  Note:  I scrubbed my sunchokes clean, but did not peel them before slicing.

Baked Sunchoke Chips with Laughing Cow Onion Dip | No Thanks to Cake

5.  Place sunchoke chips on a baking sheet, prepared with cooking spray.  Spray sunchokes lightly with cooking spray, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Baked Sunchoke Chips with Laughing Cow Onion Dip | No Thanks to Cake

6.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.  Note:  Keep an eye on these guys, they can go from golden brown to burnt pretty fast.

Baked Sunchoke Chips with Laughing Cow Onion Dip | No Thanks to Cake

7.  Move chips to a small plate, and place your dip into a ramekin.  Begin dipping and enjoying this snack!

Baked Sunchoke Chips with Laughing Cow Onion Dip | No Thanks to Cake

Baked Sunchoke Chips with Laughing Cow Onion Dip | No Thanks to Cake

Baked Sunchoke Chips with Laughing Cow Onion Dip | No Thanks to Cake

Per entire recipe serving:

CAL 160; CARB 17g; FAT 7g; PROT 5g; FIB 0g; WW Points Plus: 4

Note:  The Laughing Cow® provided me with product and a gift card to experiment with their product. However, thoughts and opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the brand.

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Girls Getaway in the Mountains

March 2nd marked my SEVEN year anniversary of living in Colorado… and for those of you in Tennessee, can you believe it??  It seems like just yesterday that I packed up all my essentials and moved across country!  Seven years later, I am so happy I made the decision to move!

Now, even though I’ve lived here for that long… I finally did something that is VERY Colorado for the first time.

I finally went to the mountains in the winter!

Winter Park | No Thanks to Cake

Now, I’ve spent a bit of time up in the high country during the summer… but I’m not a skier or snowboarder, and I’m not the best driver in the snow and ice… so I never quite made it up there until this weekend!

Winter Park | No Thanks to Cake

When Kristen invited a group of girls to her dad’s condo in Winter Park, I couldn’t resist joining in!  I met Kristen through my friend Tiffany, and I just love her positive spirit!  She’s a native Colorado girl… so who better to serve as tour guide to this Southerner’s first trip up!

Winter Park | No Thanks to Cake

We ended up being a party of 4 – Kristen, Tiffany, and Ashley (who I just met for the first time this weekend!)

Girls' Weekend | No Thanks to Cake

We drove up to Winter Park on Saturday morning.  After unloading our stuff in the condo, we headed to The Village for lunch.  Kristen introduced us to our first ride on a people mover.  It is sort of like a lift, yet just moves you from parking lot to the village.

Winter Park | No Thanks to Cake

While there are Cheeky Monk locations in Denver, I had never been and we were all craving a hot meal on such a cold, cold day, especially after the windy ride in the people mover!  I settled on a Blackened Chicken Pita Wrap with a salad instead of fries.  So good!!!

Cheeky Monk Winter Park | No Thanks to Cake

Afterward, we walked around the Village popping into souvenir shops and visiting along the way.  The snow was coming down, but we didn’t let that slow us down!

Winter Park | No Thanks to Cake

Winter Park | No Thanks to Cake

We initially had great aspirations of going snowshoeing and playing in the snow, but when we were done with lunch and shopping, all we really wanted to do was head back to the condo and curl up on the leather couches in front of the fireplace.

This was my view for the next few hours… curled up under a down blanket.  We watched a movie, and some of us (me) took a nap.

Winter Park | No Thanks to Cake

Later that night, Kristen took us to her favorite pizza place for dinner – Hernando’s.  Such a fun little place with great pizza!  It’s been a while since I had real-deal pizza… so good!

Hernandos Pizza | No Thanks to Cake

Afterward, we went back to the condo, back to the fireplace, and opened a bottle of wine.  We snacked on green velvet angel food cake, and we found a fun game to play in the condo.  Have you ever played Table Topics?

Table Topics | No Thanks to Cake

It’s supposed to be a conversation starter, but we had so many fun answering questions that we did this for hours!  Here are some examples of what questions in the box look like.

Table Topics | No Thanks to Cake

It was so fun getting to know these girls better and JUST RELAXING a little on a Saturday night.  What a great way to re-energize after a huge work week!

Winter Park | No Thanks to Cake

We ended up grabbing a quick breakfast and heading home in the morning, so as to avoid crazy ski traffic.  Overall, I had a blast… and I know a little more what to expect next time I’m up there.  It also makes me want to spend more time up in the mountains and to see more beautiful places like this!

Thanks, Kristen, Tiffany, and Ashley, for a wonderful weekend… I look forward to spending time with you guys again very soon!  xoxo

Have you ever spent the weekend in the mountains?  What’s your favorite thing to do while there?

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