Tag - health

A little new year indulgence – dulce de leche

Happy New Year! OK, maybe I’m a little late with my wishes but that’s what happens sometimes. Life can be crazy!

So I love my kids – I mean totally, completely, insanely! But being a Mom can also be totally, completely, insanely overwhelming at times! Do you agree? And you know those long periods of time when your kids are home with you? School breaks, vacations, summer?! I love those times – until I don’t. So we have a bit of a unique school schedule here in North Carolina. My kids are on a year round school schedule. What that basically means is that they go to school year-round (duh!). The schedule is typically 9 weeks on, 3 weeks off. We love it! The breaks always seem to come when they are most needed and they aren’t so long that the kids are going stir crazy. I’m actually dreading switching back to a traditional schedule in a couple of years when my son goes to high school.

With all the advantages of the schedule, sometimes there can be disadvantages. For example, my kids were on break from mid-November till early December. Then they went back to school for 2+ weeks until Christmas break. Break ended on 1/3 and back to school they went – for 4 days. Then the big freeze with plenty of ice showed up. And so today they are home again with a snow day. It’s unlikely they will go back to school till at least Wednesday, maybe Thursday. Are you seeing an issue here? Too much kid time and not enough me time! How to get anything done? I know, do something they will also enjoy, like bake!

Although this time of year there are stories and blog posts everywhere about eating healthy and losing weight and cutting back on sugar and exercising till you drop and…well, you get the idea. We eat pretty healthy most of the time so the new year is not a flip the switch time for us. So instead of providing one more post with a healthy recipe, I want to give you an indulgence. And make no mistake this is an indulgence. Are you ready for it?

So once I made this amazing dulce de leche we had to come up with ways to use it! The first use was the Cinnamon-Spiced Hot Chocolate Cookies you see in the video (OK, in reality the first use was eating it by the spoonful!). Then the next morning we needed to figure out how we could eat it for breakfast so we made Apple Crepes (and a few banana ones as well)!

Since we were snowed/iced in, I had to find recipes that we had all the ingredients for. When I found the Hot Chocolate cookies I knew we had a winner. The problem was the dulce de leche. I didn’t have any! I also didn’t have any sweetened condensed milk to make some out of. So that left me with trying to make it from scratch. One last problem – the recipe called for whole milk and I only had 1%! Maybe this wouldn’t happen after all:( So I started searching for information on making dulce de leche from lowfat milk. I couldn’t really find a definitive answer. Lots of people said the fat was necessary so it wasn’t a good idea. But I didn’t find anyone who had actually DONE IT! So I decided I would be the one.

As you can see, the result was amazing! No problem whatsoever using 1% milk – look at that color!

So go ahead and indulge for the new year! You only need this amazing “caramel milk” in small quantities to make a big impact. Just make sure you have plenty of time before you start. It took about 2.5 hours from start to finish but only a small portion of that was hands on. If you find yourself stuck at home for a few hours, definitely give it a try!

What is your favorite thing to do with dulce de leche? Please share in the comments!

Perfect burgers and a healthy diet

Does anything say summer like perfect burgers fresh off the grill? I just love them! However, if you are eating healthy it can feel like this is a food to avoid. I disagree! It really is true that all things work in moderation. So what to do?

First, I love a shortcut as much as the next person, but be very careful of buying those pre-made burgers at the market. Why? The size! We were having a cookout for Memorial Day and when I went to Costco I was so excited to see that they had pre-made burgers and the price per pound was exactly the same as the regular ground beef. Score! Until I looked a little more closely. The burgers looked large to me and when I figured it out, each burger was a 1/2 pound! Are you kidding me? I’m not saying that people can’t eat that but if you are trying to eat healthy and watch your portions, you don’t want to be eating a burger that big. So I passed on the pre-made and resigned myself to making burgers for 20:(

Now I’ve been making burgers for a long time and it is always a process. I struggle to get them all the same size, they crack when I’m flattening them and it takes much longer than I think it should. Until this time!


I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before but I decided to pack the raw meat into a 1/2 cup measuring cup and weigh it: 4.6 ounces. Perfect. I tried it again: 4.8 ounces. Still perfect. I did it 3 more times and guess what? Every time it was between 4.6 and 4.8 ounces! No more struggling to get them the same size!


It went so fast! I kept scooping and packing the meat and then turned it out onto wax paper. Because they were already the perfect size and shape, all I had to do was flatten them a bit and they were ready to go. I was done before I knew it and there was very little cracking as I flattened because the meat was tightly packed together! And don’t forget to flatten the middle ever so slightly because that tends to puff up when you cook them:)


When the grillmaster (aka my hubbie) went to work, all he had to do was salt and pepper the burgers and throw them on a hot grill. They came out beautiful! Perfectly medium rare and all the burgers were cooked the same. We didn’t have some overcooked and some undercooked. Our guests raved about the food and one of the kids told us the burgers were “masterful!” Now I can’t really take credit for the whole process since my husband cooked, but I’m pretty sure the main reason they came out so perfect was the way they were made. At least that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself:)

So how about you? Any secrets on how to make the perfect burger? Will you try this method for getting them all the same size? I’d love to hear your thoughts!