January 31, 2012

Dip, Baby, Dip!


With Valentine’s Day coming up, everywhere I go I see the same thing:  CHOCOLATE, and lots of it!  This decadent dessert treat, which comes in many different varieties (dark, milk, white) is delicious by itself, but often times even better melted, and dipped with other tempting treats.

When I found this Tropical Foods “Dipping Chocolate Deliciousness” blog contest I was so excited to explore unique and yummy dippable snack foods using their delectable dipping chocolates.




Here are Grocery Lane’s Top 5 Favorites:

1.  Sweet:  Dark Chocolate Dipped Oatmeal Cream Pie

Soft, sweet and cream filled.  Topped with dark chocolate turns this kiddie treat into an adult dessert. 


2.  Salty:  Milk Chocolate Dipped Potato Chips

Using plain potato chips with our without ridges mixes the perfect combination of salty and sweet. 


3.  Chewy:  White Chocolate Dipped Dried Bing Cherries

White chocolate with any dried fruit is delicious, but dried bing cherries are chewy, tart and perfect.


4.  Crunchy: Dark Chocolate Dipped Short Bread

Buttery and crumbly short bread cookies are wonderful by themselves, but even more decadent dipped in dark chocolate. 


5.  Savory:  Milk Chocolate Dipped Bacon Strips

  Smokey and crispy bacon tastes delicious under a layer of ooey gooey milk chocolate.  It’s official – opposites do attract!


These chocolate covered creations barely scratch the surface on all of the amazing combinations that are waiting to be discovered.  Use your imagination and have fun!

For more information on these dipping chocolates and Tropical Foods visit www.dippingchocolates.com

January 30, 2012

Menu Monday


What a fun weekend!

We celebrated a bridal shower for our friend Jill at a downtown Orlando eatery called Spice before hitting the town for her Bachelorette Party – Round 2.



There were lots of gifts, fun games and adorable desserts.  We feasted on a heavy appetizer spread of sushi, chicken quesadillas (with a kick), spinach artichoke dip with pita, and a variety of flatbreads - the steak and blue cheese was my favorite. 

There was also plenty of wine flowing during all of the wedding themed festivities.





I even won a gift basket!  Yippeee!




Only 33 days until the big day – and we couldn’t be more excited!  St. Augustine better watch out, we’re going to own that city!




After the shower, we had to pick up a few things and then headed to “Bachelorette Headquarters”, the Dawkins residence, to get ready for the nighttime shenanigans.




Our homemade spread was made up of the following delicious dishes:

  • Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
  • Fruit Kebabs with Dip
  • Pesto Feta Chicken Pinwheels
  • Tomato, Cucumber, Feta Bites
  • Chicken Salad Croissants
  • Taco Dip and Chips
  • Red and White Sangria
  • Champagne Punch






Everybody was asked to wear black dresses for our night out on the town while the bride wore a sassy red dress.




Fun girls out for a fun night!







After quite a fun weekend, I am already looking forward to another one coming up…swimming with the manatees in Homosassa Springs!  Now I just have to get through this thing called work so we can get to the fun stuff!  Here is our menu plan for this week:


M: Baked Spaghetti

T: Chicken Wine Bake w/ Veggie Cous Cous and Broccoli

W: Low Fat Hotdogs w/ Pesto Feta Orzo Salad

Th:  Black Bean Soup w/ Chicken and Yellow Rice + Roasted Carrots

F:  Lasagna w/ Salad and Garlic Bread

Sa:  Steak and Baked Potatoes w/ Roasted Green Beans

Su:  Mexican Pizza


Have a good one!

January 28, 2012

Orange You Glad



Florida = sunshine, beaches  and oranges. 

This delicious Orange Creamsicle smoothie recipe is great for a hot, and sunny day at the beach or an after work treat.  With only 5 ingredients, this healthy concoction is not to be ignored.  Ice cold, refreshing and perfect!




Orange Creamsicle Smoothie

Print this recipe!

  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 6 ounces low fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1/3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 ice cubes

Combine all ingredients and blend for 20 seconds.  Serve immediately in a feel good glass.

-original recipe found @ www.food.com




Have a great Saturday!  7 mile run down, now off to celebrate my friend’s Bridal Shower and Bachelorette Party! 

January 27, 2012

FF–Smoke and Mirrors


Happy Fashionable Friday!

One of the perks of losing weight is buying new clothes.  That can also be one of the most frustrating and costly effects as well.  When I started my “weight loss journey”, (can you tell I watch a lot of Biggest Loser?!) I loved to go shopping and try on everything I could in smaller sizes.  Shopping was no longer disappointing or stressful, but actually a lot fun. 

I loved getting snazzy duds and bought quite a bit of newness at the beginning of my weight loss.  The only problem, which is a good problem to have, was that I kept losing weight and suddenly my “new” clothes were again, too big.




This dress is an example of one of those items.  I love the color and print and remember that this was the first size 12 that I bought and was so excited about my accomplishment.  Now it is too big, but I can’t seem to part with this particular piece. 

The challenge?  Find a way to make this dress work appropriate and wearable without looking frumpy and too big.

I know that fit makes or breaks the clothes, (I watch a lot of What Not To Wear also) but with a little bit of smoke and mirrors, I figured out a way to make it work.  By adding a belt and cardigan, a great disguise takes place.




This dress, although big, is still very functional for work and is worth holding on to!  Whether it is a boxy shirt or oversized dress with no shape, try adding a belt to define your waistline and a cardigan to add color and hide large arm holes (which was a problem with this dress as well) and prolong the life of your clothing.

Good luck – TGIF!

January 25, 2012

Love Bucks–Part II

As promised, Love Bucks - Part II.  These coupon books are SO EASY to make and you can be as creative as you want. 

I love to use buttons to embellish mine for two reasons 1.) my Nana gave me her huge button collection she had from her many years of sewing in this awesome tin and 2.) "Buttons" is my nickname from Mike, so it's always fun to incorporate them into these special coupons.

To make them you really, truly, only need paper (cardstock works best) and a stapler, but can add glitter, rhinestones, rafia, ribbon, stickers, and of course, buttons to take it up a notch.

I seem to always make them for Mike during Christmas and on his birthday, but these are a great addition to any holiday.  Especially with Valentine's Day coming up.  Enjoy!


Easy, quick, cheap and from the heart...my kind of present!


Choose your paper and embellishments if desired. 

Ideas for paper choices: 
  • Colored Cardstock
  • Scrapbooking Paper (abstract designs or themed)
  • Note cards/Stationary

Cut the paper to the desired size and shape.  Hearts would be cute for Valentine's Day while an oval shape would be perfect for an Easter basket surprise!


Lay out the embellishments on the paper with the desired outcome in mind.


Using regular Elmer's School Glue, Tacky Glue or even hot glue, place a small dot under each embellishment and let dry.  You can embellish just the cover or even add a bit of fun on each individual page.

Even if the glue comes through the button holes or seeps out of the sides, it will dry clear.


Decide what coupons you want to include in the book and how many and get writing!  Of course, if you don't love your handwriting, you could always print them on stickers to put on the card, but I think handwritten is the way to go, it makes it that much more homemade and "from the heart".

I always include an expiration date and you can also include time limits, monetary limits, exclusions, or inclusions as well.  Examples given below.

Coupon Ideas for Adults:
  • Uninterrupted afternoon nap
  • No Dishes Tonight
  • Take me out to dinner
  • Remote "Control" for a night
  • Movie Date/Rental of Choice
  • Massage (back, neck, foot)
  • Car Wash
  • Win an argument
  • Mani/Pedi
  • Weekend Sleep In - includes pancake breakfast
  • Homemade dinner and dessert of choice
  • Deja Vu (pick one coupon twice)

For kids/teens:
  • Stay up 30 minutes later
  • Extra story tonight
  • 20 minutes of undivided attention
  • 15 minutes of video game/computer/TV time
  • Skip 1 Chore
  • 1 Bear Hug
  • Cookie Making Session
  • Board game of Choice
  • Movie Rental of Choice (w/ popcorn)
  • 1 toy of choice (set $ limit)
**There are lots of other ideas for Romantic Coupons, that aren't included on this post, as some were pretty racy,  but can be found by using Google, or using your imagination.  Have fun with it!


These are great for husbands, wives, and kids of all ages.  I made blank one for Mike this year, assembled it and then he chose the coupons and wrote them to give to me. That is always an option if your significant other doesn't want to get in touch with their "crafty side" but still wants to participate.


January 24, 2012

Why did the chicken cross the road?

To get into the tetrazzini!

This is an excellent chicken pasta casserole bake that my mom used to always make on Saturdays for Gator Football gatherings.  I loved this dish growing up and Mike was hooked the first time he had it as well, and is definitely one of his favorites.  

I make this for any occasion; from weeknight meals (makes great leftovers) to pot luck gatherings and everything in between.  Versatile and easy – my kind of meal!


The following recipe is the general version that I make most times, but the best part of this dish is that you can add an array of different ingredients to liven it up every now and then. Bon appetit!


Chicken Tetrazzini
Print this recipe!
  • 1 box spaghetti noodles
  • 1 container baby bella mushrooms, cut into fourths
  • 1/2 of a large sweet onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1 12 oz container of canned chicken (drained), or 1-2 chicken breasts cooked and chopped
  • 1 cans reduced fat Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 6 oz reduced fat cream cheese
  • 3/4 C reduced fat sour cream
  • 1 C reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Boil noodles according to package directions and drain.  While the noodles are cooking, in a separate (deep) pan, sauté the onion and mushrooms in about 1 T of olive oil until cooked through and tender.  Salt and pepper and then add pressed garlic.  Cook for 1-2 more minutes.

IMG_2633 IMG_3336
IMG_3337 IMG_3338

Add the chicken, soup, cream cheese and sour cream into the onion and mushroom mixture.  Stir to combine.  Add the drained noodles* and mix well.  Transfer mixture into a 9x13 baking dish (or baking dish of choice) and bake for 20 minutes.  Top with cheese and bake for 10 more minutes.

*reserve about 1 C of the pasta water to add to the mixture to thin out if desired.

Variation ideas:
  • Veggies– add diced tomatoes, broccoli or even frozen peas to add color and more vegetable power.  The possibilities are endless!
  • Instead of topping with cheese, top with panko (Japanese breadcrumbs).  Just mix the bread crumbs with a little bit of garlic salt, parmesan and olive oil for a crunchy topping.
  • No chicken?  Use turkey instead.
  • Remember, if the recipe quantity is too large for your needs…halve it!  It will be just as delicious.

January 23, 2012

Menu Monday

Good morning!

Before we get to Menu Monday, I have to tell you about Ice Cream Sundays!  We are not usually huge dessert people, but sometimes we do go through phases.  Mike is definitely an ice cream lover and I need something sweet at the end of a meal every now and then.

One of our traditions we started a while back, is that whenever we are training for a race we reward ourselves for a hard week of running every Sunday...with ice cream.  We still eat it in moderation, but love looking forward to a nice dessert treat after a week of pretty intense exercise.

For our first batch of ICS treats we chose Skinny Cow Ice Cream Sandwiches.  So yummy and still low fat.  The cookies and cream are tasty, but I still love the Mint Chocolate Chip variety the best!


As for our menu plan this week, we're pretty busy.  Between running, soccer and parent/teacher conferences we needed a simple game plan. 

Besides surviving this week, my goal is to also try to add some new smoothie recipes to the mix and report back with some yummy variations.  Until then, have a good one!

M:  Leftovers

T:  Veggie Scramble w/ Hash browns & Greek Yogurt Parfaits

W: Tuna Sandwiches w/ Apple Slices

Th: Meatloaf w/ Stuffing and Roasted Green Beans

F: Creamy Veggie Chicken Pasta

Sa: Jill's Bachelorette Party

Su: Pesto Chicken Stromboli w/ Garlicky Carrots

January 22, 2012

Local Yokels


Hi everyone, it’s been a while!  I can’t wait to share our awesome weekend with you. 

After our 6 mile run yesterday morning, Mike and I waited to hear what our group had in store for the weekend. We spent yesterday and today celebrating our friends Jenny and Jason’s birthdays and took in all that the outskirts of Orlando had to offer.  We loved enjoying all of these hidden gems!


We kicked it all of yesterday afternoon at a local winery in Clermont, about 35 minutes north of Orlando. 

Lakeridge Winery is located on a beautiful plot of land and has many outdoor weekend events that are either free admission or require a small donation.  We took advantage of the Winter Music Series and their complimentary wine tasting.







As far as the wine was concerned, the Reserve Cuvee Noir was our group favorite. After purchasing a few bottles we set up shop outside for the next couple of hours.  Music, wine and beautiful weather made for a perfect afternoon with friends.


















Next stop:  Dinner at the Tiki Bar!

The Tiki bar is only about 10 minutes away from the winery and was so much fun.  Waterside dining, a beautiful sunset and TATER TOTS!












After refueling on burgers, wings, and tots (this was not the most figure friendly weekend) we headed back to Orlando for some more late night fun. 

On our journey back we found a hidden karaoke bar, The Golden Cue and Pub, in which Jenny was the star – they gave her her own microphone for the night. 

Not only were we belting out hits like Shoop, Dixieland Delight, Rocky Top and The Thunder Rolls, but they also had hula hoops available – so fun!







After a flat tire (ugh) upon returning to Orlando, we headed out for the last stop of the night with more singing and dancing at the new country bar downtown, The Staggger Inn.  Great music and a tailgate sticking out of the wall; priceless.




We turned in (a bit) early because we had a 7:15am wake up call this morning to head to DeLeon Springs for a make your own pancake extravaganza (you may remember this post) to put an exclamation point on our weekend.


DeLeon Springs3




Pancakes for everybody, all the toppings and orders of eggs and bacon.  The perfect morning after breakfast, complete with butter…lots of butter!






The JD2 creation.



My favorite toppings in the 5 grain batter.



The winner of “Pancake Wars” – JD and Mickey Mouse.




It’s official:  Stick a fork in us – we’re done!