Striving For Healthy

I want to take a break from weddings for a second and talk about my second favorite subject: food. Seriously, I love food. While I was in college we must have gone out to eat at least 4 times a week. So of course the “freshman 15” followed me. When I left college and started my first job, that’s when things started to turn around, weight wise. I was making all my meals and going for regular walks. Eventually I cut out a lot of the fattening meals, focused on the healthy ones and “amped” up the physical activity and I lost all the college weight.

So since many women try to lose weight before the wedding, I thought I’d help y’all out with a little recipe swapping.

So many people deprive themselves of things they like to eat when they want to lose weight. It almost never works especially when you find pictures like this everywhere:

(Thanks Pinterest) And you cannot tell me you don’t salivate a little when you see that? Two of the best comfort foods in ONE sandwich? Who doesn’t love a good burger with Mac n Cheese?

I really wanted that burger, but I would have to somehow make it healthy…CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

Instead of beef I chose to make a delicious eggplant burger. (Mine are not pictured, this is the gorgeous picture from the blog that holds the recipe)

 

It has eggplant, humus, cannellini beans, onion and so much other good-for-you stuff all ground up into one burger. I love veggie burgers, but you have to be in a cooking mood to make them. They have a lot of ingredients to them and can be a little complicated to make.

For the macaroni and cheese part I picked up gluten-free rice macaroni. And, since I was already in the organic section, I also picked up some organic cheddar cheese. It looks like it turned out alright.

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And, as a side dish, I went with baked sweet potato tater-tots. Here is how the pretty Pinterest picture looked:

And here’s how ours came out:

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Now besides the fact that we didn’t put the, in a fancy basket, I think they turned out well.

So how did I do? I am basing this around the calorie count of a Macaroni and Cheese burger from the Cheesecake Factory.

A Macaroni and Cheese burger from the Cheesecake Factory: 1,150 calories

My Eggplant Mac n Cheese Burger (Including the bun and the inevitable tomato & lettuce you’d put on it): Right around 580 calories, just about half of the cheesecake factory burger.

The tots are about 40 calories per tot, making 4 tots around 160 calories.

So the whole meal is fewer calories than one Cheesecake Factory Macaroni and Cheese burger. Is it the healthiest meal in the world? Absolutely not. I’m sure I’d be better served with a good salad. But sometimes we have to splurge, but the splurge doesn’t have to be a real leap. You don’t have to eat everything on the dollar menu and wash it down with a gallon of ice cream. A big part of losing weight is learning to eat smart. Being able to have the foods you want, just by substituting ingredients. In that way you don’t have to deprive yourself, but you don’t have to do the diet backstroke either!

I love a good challenge so if you have a recipe you’d like to see me “make healthy” send it my way! I just may feature it here on the blog!

Maine Maple Sunday!

My favorite food time of year is upon us! It’s one of the perks of living in New England, genuine maple syrup.


We have a whole Sunday dedicated to this sweet treat! So this Sunday is Maine Maple Sunday AND 5 months till our wedding! How scary is that thought? There is still so much to do, I seriously have no idea how it’s all going to come together…

…which is exactly what I will be contemplating when I chow down on pancakes on Maple Sunday.

If you live in New England, or just want a New England wedding, you should definitely have a brunch reception with genuine maple syrup. Especially on a crisp, cool day, brunch can really hit the spot!Pinspiration


Maple syrup doesn’t just have to be lovingly drizzled over your breakfast treats, you can make maple ice cream and maple taffy! And no New England wedding would be complete without some delicious maple syrup favors!

If you live in Maine stop by your local sugar house an early Sunday breakfast! If you don’t, have some pancakes this Sunday and celebrate from afar!

Family Style Wedding

I used to have HUGE Thanksgivings as a kid. My mom spent the better part of two days cooking and baking, making delicious food for an extravagant family feast. Now, my job being what it is I don’t really get a Thanksgiving anymore. Working nights has some pretty big downfalls and not having a tasty turkey feast is one of them.

Since my family lives far away, I wanted to create that Thanksgiving feel, just in the wrong month. There are at least three ways (I know of) that people serve dinner at weddings. Buffet, Sit-down dinner, and Family Style. I think Family Style is the least chosen style of serving, but it certainly is the most fun style, and can also be the cheapest!

Photo By: Leo Patrone

In a family style dinner all the food gets brought to the table and guests serve themselves, just like a great, big Thanksgiving dinner. It’s one of the cheapest styles too because your caterer shouldn’t have to charge extra for servers as in a sit-down dinner.

I just love the atmosphere the picture above creates! Exactly the kind of warmth and love I hope to have!

Cutting Costs With Cake

Ok, you guys know I love cake. I love looking at cake, baking cake, and, of course, eating cake. When I have time, I LOVE watching those shows where they basically create art out of cake. I have always wanted to have this awesome wedding cake that makes a statement.

Wellllllll…..statements cost money. A lot of money. Since our wedding is small, there is no reason for us to have a HUGE cake that no one would eat. I do love to bake, and had considered baking my wedding cake myself. Here a few creations of my own, mostly for birthdays.

 

The good thing is, I’m not the only one in the family who makes cakes! So we have decided to save money, by making our wedding cakes. I know it’s kind of a risk, but the person helping has experience in cake, so I think it will be ok. Homemade cakes can be so beautiful in weddings and I really like how they look kinda rustic all by themselves.

Not only is making your own cake a great way to save money, but they usually taste better too. Nothing against bakeries, but the big, elaborate wedding cakes tend to be more dry and flavorless. So if you make the cake yourself, you can control how moist and delicious it is!

YUM! How many of you have made, or will make your own cakes? Is it worth it? I know, after having baked a lot of cakes, that it is a lot of work, so making four or so cakes would be a big task!

Guestbook Ideas, Favor Ideas, AND Chocolate Cake!

I have been so tired lately. It has been a black hole of work, home, sleep, work, home, sleep. This is my favorite month of the year, but it has just been raining non-stop and no one can enjoy the fall when it’s pouring rain. bleh.

I was so down today, I just needed something delicious. Ever just need dessert? Yeah, today was one of those days. PMS + Horrible Weather = Me getting fat on dessert. I don’t always have time to bake some awesome creation so instead I take the easy way to deliciousness and all you need is 5 minutes!

I’ll share my 5-minute secret:

4 Tablespoons Flour

4 Tablespoons Sugar

2 Tablespoons Cocoa

1 Egg

3 Tablespoons Oil

3 Tablespoons Milk

3 Tablespoons Chocolate Chips (optional)

A Dash Vanilla

1 Large Coffee Mug

Put all of that in the coffee mug, mix it all around REALLY well, get out all the chunks of flour, stick it in the microwave for 3 minutes. After that, you are all done! And you have a ready-to-eat chocolate cake!

That is my fiance on the mug! I designed it and had it made for him 🙂 an inside joke of ours!

Now I understand the cake doesn’t look like the most delicious cake you’ve ever had, but you get what you get for five minutes. 🙂 The chocolate chips really make the cake super yummy and it is the perfect dessert to eat on a cold and rainy night.

I make this cake a lot, because it takes five minutes, and I get a yummy dessert, but today as I was making it, I was thinking about how much I love baking. I bake something almost every week for my friends, and I love trying and learning new recipes. So why not incorporate a little of that into the wedding? I’m really leaning towards using recipe cards as a guest book!

I love the thought of recipes passing from generation to generation, and I would love to have a great recipe along with my guests’ well-wishes! I of course realized that I was probably not the first person to think about this as a guest book idea so I sought it out on Pinterest. Some recipe card inspiration for you!

So if you can make cake in a mug, you can have delicious favors in a jar! If cooking and baking is your thing, why not send your guests home with your favorite recipes, easily transported home in a jar, and super easy to put together!

I personally want to try the quick bread! It looks like a super yummy recipe!

What the Wedding Industry Wants You to Do…and What You Can Do Instead! Part II

I always thought the most expensive part of the wedding would be the venue…and I wasn’t totally wrong, but a close second (and maybe a first depending on your venue) is the food. Food for a wedding is an overwhelming, jaw-dropping price tag that I don’t think anyone sees coming. I’m only feeding 50 people and I couldn’t believe it. It doesn’t matter if you are going sit-down dinner or buffet style, the price is still astronomical.

The situation I have now is the best option for us, but originally I thought I would cut costs by asking the caterer to serve “home cookin” southern-style type meals. Everyone loves chicken, macaroni and cheese, and mashed ‘taters! Even with serving food that isn’t considered “fine dining” it still costs an arm and a leg. So here are some ways you can cut costs on your food budget.

I know this is going to sound nuts but have your hors d’oeuvres passed out by the catering staff instead of a buffet or table.

I know, I know, all that food looks expensive…and it probably is, I just like to tease you. 🙂 If the catering staff passes out your hors d’oeuvres it controls food intake. You may be looking at a little more in cost for the staff, but your guests probably haven’t eaten in hours, and those hors d’oeuvres are the first thing they get to devour, so they go pretty fast. If your caterer has to re-stock hors d’oeuvres that’s more money out of your pocket.

Next I’m going to ask you to break a rule of the wedding industry.

Only one meat option. I know it is customary to have at least two choices of meat for dinner, but trust me, it’s not that big of a deal. Instead, offer once choice of meat, and lots of vegetarian options as sides (which tend to be cheaper). Your guests who don’t like their meat will still be able to have plenty of sides to fill them up.

And now onto dessert! This is where my advice isn’t entirely needed because most people are breaking out of this box by themselves…but what is the biggest dessert item that the industry says is a MUST have?

Yup. The cake. And not just any cake. If you want YOUR wedding to be THE talked about wedding you must get a SEVEN TIER wedding cake. Wait…what? I don’t think even the biggest of wedding parties could consume that much cake. That is a lot of dessert. I don’t think I could eat more than 50 slices…

Seriously though, you absolutely do not need a seven tier wedding cake. If you are like me and love dessert, there are some much more awesome, cheaper options, or, to be honest, if you love cake, you can still have it, just, please, not seven tiers tall…I hate to see good dessert go to waste.

All Photos From The Sweet And Saucy Shop

Cupcakes, Mini Pies, Macarons, Cake Pops, and Pudding in a Mason Jar…mmmmm it all looks delicious! Now of course don’t choose all of these options, that would defeat the purpose of cutting costs. But it is much cheaper to do small items in bulk than it is to do one big cake. Some of these, like the pudding in a jar are very DIY-ish too. Then, if you still want a cake on top of that, get a small two tier cake for just you, that way you still have something to cut into.

If you still aren’t convinced, and you love the WOW factor of a seven tier cake, it is possible on a tight budget, you just have to pull a fast one on your guests. The bottom layer of your cake will be all cake, and the rest of the layers will be styrofoam. You’ll cut the cake and none’s the wiser! If you have a large wedding, serve sheet cake as the alternative (SO MUCH cheaper), or if you have a small wedding, get 2 or 3 of the seven tiers in cake and the rest in styrofoam.

Those are just a few tips from the BIGGEST offenders of a budget. The cost of something is all in your hands! Be creative and think outside the box! You can absolutely pull this off! (At least that’s what I tell myself every day!)

If you have any other money-saving tips I want to hear them! I love your comments, so keep ’em coming!

GEEK WEEK Food & Drink!

Ok so THIS is an area where I really want to bring out the geek in our relationship: cake. I know I have had ideas in the past about a nice rustic cake to go with the theme, but I’m really coming to believe that sticking to a theme is less important than highlighting what makes up you as a couple. So I think for our cake we really want to do something fun and geeky. Of course I had to grab some inspiration, of not only cake, but some awesome geeky food and drink too!

I first want to highlight some of the really fantastic geek cakes out there. There are SO many, but here are some of my favorites!

The Mario cake is hands down my favorite cake! I love that it’s so bright and colorful, and of course Mario gets his princess in the end…if only she would stop getting kidnapped, then they could at least settle down! If you want to make your own geek cake, the Rubik’s Cube is linked to a tutorial on how to make it! It doesn’t look too hard either!

But I want to give special attention to a truly awesome cake. This cake was made by the famous Charm City Cakes which is featured on the show, Ace of Cakes, and it is probably the most awesome geek cake ever:

This is an EPIC reproduction of the final battle in Ghostbusters, in which they defeat the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man! Who DOESN’T love this scene? If this happened in real life, I probably would have run outside and made gigantic s’mores. AND I haven’t shown you the most awesome part of the cake yet!

How cool is it that they made the streams light up? It’s a good thing that nothing bad happened to the cake, as the streams are crossed, and we all know, you don’t cross the streams!

Cake isn’t the only food where elements of geek can be incorporated! Here are some favors and snacks that would make any geek wedding shine!

How fun are the cereal snacks? Your guests will definitely smile at these little touches!

How about some geeky drinks?

I also love the retro Pez Dispensers, this will definitely bring guests back to those comics they loved as kid!

If you want to maybe class up your geek a little bit, how about an 8-bit wine bottle?

8-Bit Vintners will bottle wine with the 8-bit label for any classy geek occasion!

Are you choosing to show your geek through your cake? Maybe your drinks? I am still leaning toward a very geeky cake!

 

 

 

 

To Bake? Or Not To Bake…

So I kind of love to bake…I’m pretty sure I’ve said it before, but I bake every week. It’s a pass-time of mine. So the idea had crossed my mind to bake some sort of cake of my own for the wedding. I quickly dismissed the thought because if it didn’t turn out, I would never forgive myself. However, after speaking with the venue/caterer people, and their statement that a cake would drive the cost of the food up, I began to reconsider the idea. I had always wanted a wedding cake, and wedding cupcakes just didn’t seem to cut it for me. If I could just have a little cake, maybe just something for us to cut into, that would be awesome. So I formulated an idea.

I think I like the idea of having the caterers create these:

Click the photo for an awesome How-To!

They would be so cute AND cut down on the cake cost (and the cake cutting cost)! BUT so I can have my cake (and eat it too) I will try my hand at making this cake:

Click the picture for the full recipe!

That way, it’s a cute little hive with honey bees, surrounded by a cupcake flower garden! Perfect right? Sure…if I could actually pull it off. The only cakes I’ve ever made are round. I don’t do cakes shaped like things…mostly because I’d screw it up royally. I tried a fondant cake once…that did not end well. But for the sake of experiment to see if I could, and for the joy of you all out there, I tried it.

The cake itself is a honey banana cake. It tastes like banana bread, which I love, so no problem there. Part of the cake is baked in a pan, but to create the “hive look” the other part is cooked in a bowl. The bowl takes about 10-15 minutes longer to cook, but they both came out splendidly. And, as with all my cakes, they sit in the fridge over night. This helps solidify and cool the cake, and actually locks in moisture! Refrigerating tip courtesy of Paula Deen, so you know it works!

The next day, it was onto tackling the buttercream frosting. This is real buttercream folks, not that powdered sugar crap that tastes artificial.

And apparently for real buttercream you need about 6 sticks of butter. For this whole cake process I needed a total of 8 sticks of butter…that’s FOUR CUPS of butter. Talk about adding to the thighs!

Buttercream takes a lot of love, attention and whisking. SO MUCH WHISKING. My arm hurt by the end and the boy had to take over for some of it. As you may remember I am not cool enough to own a stand alone electric mixer, so my electric mixing has to be done by hand…thus my huge biceps…

I finished off the buttercream with some honey, vanilla, a bit of salt and some yellow food coloring to give it that “beehive color.”

Next I cut and stacked the cakes to give it that sloping effect hives have, then I slapped on the buttercream, between the layers and all over the cake. After smoothing it all out, I traced a spiral patter along the sides and top to give it the textured look. Instead of sculpting bees out of marzipan I just used some icing gel and piped the bees on the cake. I didn’t have enough money for marzipan, or the talent of sculpting…so I may leave that for another practice run of the cake. Here is…drum roll please…the final product:

It looks NOTHING like the professional picture, and yet I am happy with it. I accomplished what I set out to do, and now I know I can do it. It looks homemade, which is the look we are going for anyway. So right now I am seriously looking at the idea of making this cake. I will do many more runs of this in the future, probably trying out different flavors of cake to see what we like best.

What do you think? Has anyone else made their own cake? Sound off brides-to be! Would you ever attempt this to save money?

My Second Love

I am 100% completely in love with food. Everything about it, preparing it, smelling it, tasting it…all of it. If it weren’t for my rigorous exercise regimen I am pretty sure I would have to be rolled out of my house. Surprisingly, when it comes to wedding food, my tastes are very simple. When I was a child my favorite meal, no joke, was box macaroni and cheese, ham-steak, and applesauce. I was pretty easy to please. 🙂 So while that probably won’t be served at our wedding, we will have pretty simple tastes. One word will hopefully define our food: cookout. We are total fans of grilling, especially in the summer. Summers in Maine are cherished because there is maybe four months of warmth before the chill sets in again, so at the first hint of warm weather (which here is 55-60 degrees) Mainers break out the grilling stuff.

Now for the choosing of food. At first I thought this was a plus for our venue, but now I’m thinking it’s a minus, the venue comes with catering. Because of our simple tastes and wanting a BBQ the food cost is low, but the staff still has to be paid, driving the cost up. It’s too bad we couldn’t just borrow a grill, get the men to run it, and serve everyone burgers, fries and potato salad. When I seriously thought of my dream wedding atmosphere, it was like when I went to church pot luck dinners and everyone tried all different kinds of home cooking. I must have eaten my weight in food at those dinners.

So I want to share with you some DELICIOUS looking food that is inspiring the feel for our wedding:

Burgers, Fries, and Pickles! MMMMM!

Gotta have my Mac!

Delicious oven-baked chips! Awesome for a cocktail hour summer snack!

Zucchini Bites! A little healthier than chips but just as delicious!

What is more homey and comforting than breakfast for dinner!

And of course, one of the most important wedding aspects: the cake! My dream cake is probably too expensive, but I love it so!

This website has all sorts of rustic wedding cakes!

Wedding cake tip: Get buttercream. It’s cheaper and tastes SO much better than fondant. Fondant may look cleaner, but it is just nasty tasting, trust me.

There is another wedding cake I just LOVE and I even has the recipe to make it. I dare not make it myself. I may be a baker, but there is no way I could trust myself to make my own wedding cake.

Too Cute!!!

The catering company told me that the cheapest way to go is cupcakes. I don’t know if I can make that step. I love cake, I especially love beautiful and decorative cakes. I know cupcakes can be decorative, but…but…I love tiered cake…here are some cute cupcakes that I think would still be awesome to use in place of a tiered cake.

Who doesn’t love chocolate?

I love the way these look! They could be mixed in there with the chocolate for a pretty display!

Love the special Bride and Groom Cupcakes!

And of course a great display to go with everything!

So we have a lot of decisions to make and prices to think about! What will the food at your wedding be like? Forma dining or hometown cooking? Are you having a tiered cake? I’d love to see it! Remember to Keep In Touch!