Healthy Party Snacks

Good morning! This post comes after a number of people emailed me to find out the great recipes behind Colleen’s health-i-fied engagement party snacks… Not only have we been friends since we were 12, but she’s an awesome cook, and a great comedian (and if you want to see a great proposal, check out how her husband proposed to her on stage )

 

Colleen and I at her Wedding 🙂

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Congratulations Shoshana! I’m so unbelievable happy for my good friend Shoshana Davis….mostly for her engagement, but also because now I have one less friend living the happy single life. If only I could get my friends to start having babies then when we all go out I won’t be the only one pretending to still function after 8:00 pm. 🙂  (I have a 18 month old)

I threw Shoshana a “mini-engagement” party after Adam proposed to her here in Arizona, and I am sharing some of my mini-party tricks.

I am a hard-core calorie counter, and when I was in the store searching for mini party foods, I just couldn’t bring myself to have disgusting high calorie full of fat party food at my house! Mostly because if it’s in the house I loose all sense of self control and eat until I look like I’m pregnant again (no joke).

My first trick was to serve vegetables and hummus for two reasons

 1. They are a healthy way to fill up quickly and avoid party snacking binges

 2.  I have no problem with left over vegetables in the house.

My next trick was to serve finger sandwiches, that way I could eat more than one (which I almost always do at a party) without over eating!

Colleen's Tasty Finger Sandwhiches

I start with whole grain bread, the kind we use here at my House is Natures Made Honey Wheat, it is whole grain but not overly grainy and offensive to people not use to eating whole grain food. I also make a few different kinds of sandwiches so everyone has something they’d like to snack on. Here were my choices for Shoshana’s Party

  1.  Light Swiss (using laughing cow cheese)  and turkey
  2. Cucumber and fat free cream cheese (with dill)
  3. Grilled Mini-Paninis, made my using havarti cheese and I Can’t Believe It’s not Butter spray on my George Forman grill.  

 Lastly I needed desert, I thought Carrot Cake cupcakes would be cute, but Carrot Cake although sounds healthy, (carrots, right?), is absolutely the calorie devil from calorie hell.

 

health-i-fied carrot cake a la Colleen (with hand drawn rings!)

But, I remembered a recipe from my very favorite calorie countress The Hungry Girl! Here is the recipe:

Colleen’s Notes:

You can buy the 15oz can of pumpkin and use half of it.

Pumpkin works great with chocolate cake mix as well!

Ingredients

1 box of carrot cake mix

8 oz  of pure pumpkin

Directions

  1. Pre-Heat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Place cupcake wrappers in baking tins
  3. Add 8oz of pure pumpkin to the mix (do not add any other ingredients)
  4. Mix the batter until smooth
  5. Bake for 19-21 Minutes

 

My number one trick is that you NEVER tell anyone that what they are eating is healthy until AFTER they eat it!

Bye, Bye, Bye (singing ‘Nsync in my head)

We spent our last morning in AZ, lounging around. We found a cute French café by our hotel and grabbed a yummy breakfast and played in the Butte’s fancy pool. It was the perfect morning for a bit of swimming! Hot, but not yet over 100 degrees at that point!

Essence Cafe in Tempe - Two Thumbs UP!

colorful macaroons!

fresh fruit salad and a piping hot quiche!

Love the pool at the Buttes!

pre-sunburned-swim

post - swim - with rosey red sunburns!

Next, we headed over to my favorite store … To some, this place is terrifying, but to me, it’s my happy place.

bring it on, ladies!

Last Chance is a one of a kind store buried in a basement of a strip mall Camelback in Phoenix.  Nordstrom has “The Rack” but this is even better.  Think piles of Jimmy Choos, DVF clothes, and Michael Kors bags – for under 100 bucks. The store opens up at 10am, but people start lining up before the sun rises. They read rules before the door opens.  For example, you may not steal from another shoppers cart or you may not purchase more than three (ie only three purses per day) of any item.   You know, stuff that they read before you enter a typical store 😉

I scavenged the store, while Adam sat on a bench – he’s not as big a fan of competitive shopping as I am, as I live for black Friday – and came up with a lot. I got a pair of North Face boots, and Steve Madden Boots for 20 bucks, but my biggest find was a red Longchamp bag. I LOVE these bags, and could not believe my luck. Yes, it might have been dramatic, but I told Adam to guard it with his life as I continued to graze the store. While I got in line to checkout,  I asked A for the time, to which he replied 2:30, already worried that we had a flight to catch I started to panic.  Then from behind us, a lady said, “it’s not 2:30, it’s only 2:05, don’t let him trick you!”,  quickly other women joined in pouncing on my lovely fiance’s attempt to get out of that mad house. Gotta love shopping comraderie!

we took these awesomely cheesy photo booth pics outside Last Chance - My fav store doubles as an arcade. Score!

And we’re off to NYC!

Do you like to bargain shop?

We’re engaged!!!

The Proposal!

Yes, I know I gave away zinger in the headline, but I can’t help myself, I’m so excited! (As one of Adam’s cousins screamed on the phone – insert a thick NY accent here – “Youuu’rrrreee eennaggggeedd to beee marrrrriiieeeeeeddd!!!!!)

We booked our trip to Arizona months ago, and from the start Adam asked me to make Saturday, our “date day.” I left on Tuesday and his plan was to meet me out there for the long weekend  – Our 2 year dating anniversary fell on Wednesday, so we’d be a apart for the day, but planned to celebrate on our “date day.”

 

Remember the flowers Adam sent me for our date-iversary?

Adam’s a complete romantic (we’re lucky that one of us is, because I have the romantic inklings of a paper bag) and would not give me any details about our DD. My friends all predicted that he would propose – and I adamantly denied it. The boy had promised that he’d give me a heads up so my nails could be properly manicured (I mean, a city girl has to have her priorities straight – good ring nail color is a big one!)

Saturday, started out great. We woke up at the Arizona Biltmore. We stayed over that night in their Ocotillo rooms as part of my freelance piece on AZ Spa Resorts. They are just amazing, the rooms are gorgeous, and the staff is unbelievable. Here are some highlights, you’ll get to see more, when my story comes out!

Ocotillo's private pool. Lovely!

 

Kids would love it here!

LOVED this room!

truffles in a chocolate box - LOVE this hotel!

 

We went to Over Easy, a little breakfast nook in Phoenix featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. We do a lot of traveling and have made it a tradition to try out some of restaurants featured on Triple D! They’re always unique, yummy, have lots of (healthy and unhealthier) options, and are not over priced.  Over Easy was not an exception. I asked the waitress what she recommended and before I knew it – I had chicken fried steak. I’ve NEVER eaten or ordered that before in my life, and I’m not sure how it happened – literally, but it was amazing. I shared it with Adam, and had an amazing ice coffee. Their iced coffee is made with evaporated milk, and has hints of cinnamon and mint. It’s a GREAT treat for a hot Phoenix morning!

Delicious!

Next, Adam went to CVS and packed up a cooler with water, ice, and snacks. He’d had warned me to bring a bathing suit, so I thought we were going to a water park of some sort. That idea soon changed when we ended up on the Apache Trail, headed towards Roosevelt Lake and Dam. My parents used to take my fam on this drive as kids – but I do not remember it being nearly as scary – clearly, my worry wart attitude has increased with age – the drive starts out as a winding paved road riding up steep inclines and back down into the canyon, as if not scary enough, it soon turns into a single lane dirt road (for both directions) going up, down and around mountains without guard rails. It was like a real life rodeo – so fun!

Doesn't it look like you're surrounded by no one?

We ended up parking at Roosevelt Lake, and walking to the Marina – where I saw that my boyfriend had taken a boating course and gotten his boating license. (Read: He did a very good job of hiding a 16 hour course from me – maybe my journalistic skills need to be sharpened ;))

Captain Adam K!

 

We got into the boat – let me say, for not having EVER driven a boat before, that Adam is one fine captain. He’s a natural.

He maneuvered us over to a little cove, and tried to drop the anchor, but the steep drop off of the mountain, meant deep waters, and it wouldn’t catch. We were rebels and decided to drift a bit. Adam asked me if I wanted my present for our anniversary. I said yes, of course. Duh, who doesn’t want presents? He told me that he got me something to help me with my writing and pulled out a fancy shmancy Droid Tablet and said he put some blogging software. I was shocked. That’s a BIG anniversary gift.

I couldn’t see the software though, because of the glare (love the hot AZ sun!) and Adam started getting nervous – which was odd and just hit play on the tablet. It started playing our song – Phil Vassar’s version of My Next 30 years and was a video montage of photos. He called it our “top ten” moments – think David Letterman, but a lot more mushy. Number 9, was our first Halloween together, number 2 was our first date (Which he noted had no photos, because it would be creeptastic to take a photo with a girl on the first date) and number one had a picture of the lake, and asked the question Why?  At this point, I was still clueless. He told me the tablet wasn’t my real gift and got down and one knee and proposed.

 

he could not have done better - just what I wanted!

Cry-Laugh-Cry-Laugh - Smile for Picture - Cry - Laugh - Cry - Laugh

 

I was cry-laughing. He was not sure if I was happy, sad, or seasick, and the boat started ramming into the rocky cliffs (remember we decided to drift … ) It was amazingly hysterical. As he put the ring on, the AZ boat patrol came over to try and help. We yelled that he just proposed and that we were fine.  Happy, not sad. Distracted, not stuck. Adam got out the paddles and pushed us away from the rocks.

Rocks, don't you understand that someone is getting engaged? Please don't hurt the boat. Thanks, Shosh

I found out that he had talked to my sister earlier in the week, and got her “permission” as well as my father the night before. I do not think I can gush enough about how much effort he put into this. He really wanted to make this happen in Arizona so I could celebrate with my closest friends and celebrate with my parents. It was perfect.

After we started calling people, everyone wanted to know the same thing:

  1. How did it happen? See above
  2. What is the ring like? He had a jeweler design the band for me, using a stone passed down from his great grandmother, to his grandmother and then to his mom.
  3. When’s the wedding?  No clue! We’re taking a few months to be pumped about our engagement and then we’ll figure out more details.
  4. Where’s the wedding going to be? Since we live in New York, but my family is Phoenix, and we both have fam all over – this is a hot button issue (just like immigration) – the answer is the same as above. We’re not sure yet

We finished up the night by getting snazzied up and heading to dinner at the Top of the Rock. We were staying at the Buttes Resort in Tempe, and coincidently their restaurant is one of the most romantic in the city. Adam, of course, being him, had already made a reservation and let them know that we’d just gotten engaged. The resort sent up chocolate ice cream and champagne, and the chef cooked us a special dessert, it was absolutely gorgeous (Top of the Rock mini-review: Top of the Rock is a great romantic date spot because of the view, but A and I both agreed that we’ve definitely had tastier food for the price).

bubbles!

Summer Salad!

 

Cheers to us! 🙂

salmon with geek yogurt sauce

Thanks Top of the Rock Chef for this yummy dessert!

Such a wonderful day, with a wonderful person!

 

Whiskey Facts!

True fact: I hate whiskey.

True fact: I went to a whiskey tasting with my parents.

True fact: The best part was the mini-brownie!

Last night, I went to a whiskey tasting with my parents and some of their friends at Total Wine and More in Glibert, AZ. Unfortunately, I did not end up liking it any more than I did before, but I did learn a lot.

the types of whiskey we tried....

Did you know…

  1. Whiskey can be spelled Whisky or Whiskey – Americans added the “e”
  2. Bourbon has to be distilled in Kentucky
  3. You can pair scotch with strong meats (like salami)
  4. Whiskey originates from Ireland
  5. If you add a drop of water, whiskey it drastically changes the taste of the product
  6. You can purchase Whiskey “stones” – so you can ice the beverage, but not dilute it.
  7. Shoshana cannot handle the taste of Whiskey, Scotch or Bourbon

    two of eight samples

 

what to eat with whiskey, bourbon and scotch … or just eat 🙂

chocolate covered strawberries, massages, and roses

I’m working on a very cool freelance story on spa vacations in Arizona, and yesterday I spent the day visiting two of the nicest spas in the area. (Check out some of my previous freelance pieces)

I started out at the Four Seasons, in Scottsdale – it was amazing, and so relaxing. But, you’ll have to wait until my piece comes out to see the full experience. Here are some highlights.

view of the mountains at the Four seasonschocolate covered strawberry post treatmentcooking the stones for the hot stone massage!

 

cooking the stones for the hot stone massage!chocolate covered strawberry post treatment

My next stop was the Arizona Grand Resort – and I was like a kid in a candy store. That place is truly amazing – but same as above, you’ll see the full story in November.

WATER PARK!!tasty fruit tray in the spa

 

tasty fruit tray in the spa

The best part of the day, was my surprise flowers from my amazing boyfriend Adam. He knows just how to make me smile!

the way to my heart is to send flowers!