Peanut Clusters

Easy Chocolate Peanut Clusters Recipe

There are so many things that I love about his time of year. Christmas trees, decorations, the neighborhood houses all lit up, and of course the cookies and candy.

Christmas candy

In general, I am not a baker or a like to cook, but this time of year, I love to make Christmas candies and goodies to give to friends, family and co-workers. I usually like to try new things every year, however there is one candy that I make every single year; Peanut Clusters.

I make Peanut Clusters every year for a few reasons:

  1. They are so simple to make. All you need is 4 ingredients, a crock pot and a place to scoop them out and let them cool christmas candy
  2. It’s easy to make this in bulk – my husband has 50 people in his department and he likes to give each of them a Christmas card and a goody bag. (Yep, that’s a lot of candy!)
  3. Everyone loves it! Not only is it easy to make, but I get compliments every year on how good they are. I get asked for the recipe all the time, so I am sharing with you today!

Print Recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2  – 16 oz. packages of Candiquick Chocolate Candy Coating
  • 1 oz. semi-sweet Hershey chocolate bar
  • 2 cans Spanish Peanuts (salted and roasted)

Peanut Clusters

Instructions:

Place all of the chocolate in a crock pot and melt on high for about 1 hour.

chocolate

Once all the chocolate is melted, stir in the peanuts.

peanut clusters

Place waxed paper on a flat surface, and drop tablespoonfuls and allow to cool.

Christmas candy

Put in air-tight container and place in the fridge to store.

These are great to give as a gift during the holidays.  You can place them on a platter for holiday parties, or put them in a goody bag to give away. Either way, they are certain to be a hit with anyone you share them with!

Print Recipe!

Peanut Clusters

 

 

 

south lake tahoe

The Best Places to Eat in South Lake Tahoe

When planning a vacation, knowing where to eat can be a challenge, especially if you have never visited before. Being a frequent visitor to Tahoe in the winter to ski, we have had an opportunity to eat at many restaurants around town.

There are a few things we take into consideration when finding a place to eat:

  1. What kind of food we want to eat
  2. Price
  3. Location – especially in the winter
  4. Local restaurant vs. chain restaurant – we like the local ones!

Below you will find a list of restaurants our family loves! From breakfast and quick eats to nice dinners. There is a little something on this list for everyone. You might try one the next time you visit South Lake Tahoe.

Breakfast

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day! I could eat breakfast at any time during day, including dinner time! With that said, below are our two favorite breakfast spots in South Lake Tahoe.

Driftwood Cafe – The Driftwood Cafe is located in the Heavenly Village and is only open for breakfast and lunch. We have never actually eaten lunch there, but have for breakfast many times. My favorite dish on the breakfast menu is the Eggs Benedict! We have eaten there a number of times with various people and everyone always raves about how great the food is.south lake tahoe

Red Hut Cafe – There are two Red Hut Cafe’s in South Lake Tahoe. The food is amazing at both spots, but my favorite is the original one. It’s a small place with a 50’s diner vibe, and you can tell it’s a restored house. They carried the same feel into the new restaurant on Ski Run Blvd (that is now open for dinner), and even added a Soda Fountain section, but I still love the feel of the original one. Bottom line, either one you choose to go to will have a delicious breakfast!

south lake tahoe

Quick Eats

Because we like to ski, we are usually on the mountain at lunch time. However, the few opportunities that we had to check out some lunch spots around town, we found a few that are worth mentioning!

SPYDER Sale

Izzy’s Burger Spa – Looking for a burger in South Lake Tahoe? Look no further than Izzy’s Burger Spa. This small burger joint makes one of the best burgers I have ever had. Their menu contains extensive burger options along with chili and hot dogs. The fries are made perfectly every time; soft on the inside and crispy on the outside! They have limited seating indoors and quite a bit of outdoor seating. If it’s chilly outside, you may want to take it to go!

south lake tahoe

south lake tahoe

Blue Dog Gourmet Pizza – Looking for a pizza, salads or sandwiches? Blue Dog is the best choice in town! We have only eaten their pizza, but it’s definitely worth coming back to! Our favorite is the combination and the kids like the pepperoni here. They also deliver, which is very convenient when you don’t want to drive!

Dinner

FiRE + iCE – Fire and Ice is one of our favorite dinner spots in South Lake Tahoe. Located in the Heavenly Village, Fire and Ice offers a unique dinner experience that is fun for the entire family. Each person selects the veggies, starch, protein and sauce that they would like cooked and put it into a bowl. Then, head over to the large circular grill in the middle of the room and hand your bowl to the chef. They will grill up your dinner while you watch their entertainment! The vibe is great, and everyone in our family gets what they like! They also have outside seating with fire pits, which is a great way to relax and have a drink after a day of skiing!south lake tahoe

The Naked Fish – Do you enjoy sushi? If so, The Naked Fish is the perfect spot! They have restaurants in San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles and South Lake Tahoe. We have only eaten at the one in Tahoe, but it’s the only place we eat sushi when we are there. The atmosphere is trendy and fun, and a great spot for the entire family. They always have unique items on special, along with the standard sushi and roll options, along with basics for the kids (like chicken teriyaki bowls).

south lake tahoe

MacDuff’s Publick House – We had dinner at MacDuff’s only because my husband met the owner at the village. He invited us to come in and check it out and we fell in love immediately! We eat there every time we visit! Their featured dish is Real Shepard’s Pie. It is what my husband orders every time (pictured below.) I usually order the Chicken Pot Pie. I have thought about venturing out and trying something new, but when I only get to eat it once or twice a year, I stick with my favorite! The kids usually order the pizza, which they love as well!

south lake tahoe

Forest Buffet at Harrah’s – I’ll admit that I am not usually a fan of buffet’s, but this is one that I like. They offer a variety of foods which usually includes salad, Asian, Italian and American foods. There is usually a fresh carved meat such as turkey or prime rib. They also have seafood night which is worth the visit! The other thing that I like about this buffet is that there is something for kids too. Usually chicken strips and fries or pizza. It’s a great place for us to go with 2 teenage boys after a day of skiing!

Fine Dining

Capisce? Handmade Italian Cuisine – We absolutely love Capisce?! Keep in mind that I am Italian and my mom makes the BEST Sunday Gravy Sauce that you have ever tasted (at least that’s my opinion). With that said, it’s difficult for me to find Italian Restaurants that I like. I typically steer clear of the chain restaurants for that reason, but Capisce? is anything but that! Their pasta is fresh and sauces are amazing! Admittedly, I don’t eat red sauces at restaurants, but all of the others have been phenomenal! The kids love the pizza too!south lake tahoe

The Chart House – The night we ate at the Chart House the restaurant was basically empty, granted it was 10pm  at night because we were eating there before my sisters mid-night wedding! The service was amazing and the food, phenomenal. They also created a special menu for our party with my sister and brother-in-laws names and date of the wedding. It was a great touch! The only down side to this restaurant is that it is a little out of the way. In the winter, if it were snowing, I might not want to take that drive. On the up side, the views are absolutely breathtaking!

south lake tahoe

There are many other excellent restaurants in Tahoe. The ones listed are our 9 tops picks. We try to eat at each of these places least once or twice each year.

Do you have a favorite restaurant in South Lake Tahoe? Let us know! We will check out out next time we are there!

 

 

weight loss

How I Lost 5 lbs. in One Month (without counting calories)

Many women (and men) struggle with their weight. For me, it’s been a struggle almost my entire life. I have never been a ‘petite’ person, nor will I ever be. As a matter of fact, the modeling community would probably classify me ‘plus-sized’, but that’s a different topic for a different day!

Over the past 10 years, I have tried so many diets such as:

  • Food delivery diets that provide the perfect portion of food that I should eat
  • Diets with number systems correlating to the food I ate
  • Apps (oh the Apps!), counting calories and tracking exercise
  • Sprinkling ‘weight-loss powder’ on my food to make me feel full faster (yeah, remember that one?!?!)

Some of these were a total loss, while others helped but were not a sensible long-term solution. I needed to find something that was simple, could be incorporated into my daily life and that had the potential to become my new way of eating, not just a diet program.

How I lost 5 lbs. without counting calories

First of all, I am not a weight-loss expert or dietitian. I’m not a fitness guru or trained in any manner in this subject. I’m just a woman and mom who is trying to be healthy and am more fit now, and weigh less now, than my entire adult life. You should always consult with a doctor before making any change in your diet or exercise program.

There are 3 things that I feel contributed to my 5 lb. weight-loss during the one month period I am referring to:

  • Eating a gluten-free diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • 14-Day Detox Tea

Gluten-Free Diet

A few months ago, my husband and I decided to start eating a gluten-free diet. We had heard that there were many benefits to not eating wheat products, and among those was weight loss. At the time we knew nothing about gluten. We didn’t even know what being ‘gluten-free’ meant other than we couldn’t have pasta and bread, two things that we loved. Together, we decided to give this ‘diet’ a chance, and try it for one month to see what happened!

We put ourselves through an online ‘crash course’ and decided to take the plunge. It was challenging at first, because we had to check EVERYTHING. We literally had no idea what foods contained gluten and what foods didn’t. To make it more complicated, some foods have the ‘gluten-free’ label on them, while others do not. We were unsure how to  know the difference.

As we started reading labels, we noticed that any product that is not gluten-free states clearly in the ingredients sections, ‘contains wheat’. Once we discovered this, it made grocery shopping that much easier! More recently, we have found an app called ‘The Gluten Free Scanner’. This app allows you to scan almost any bar code to determine if it contains gluten. If it does, there is a red exclamation mark. If not, there is a green check mark. This makes shopping for gluten-free food even easier!

I am still conscious about what I eat. I try to stay away from ice cream, corn chips and mashed potatoes and eat more protein, vegetables and fruit, but I DO NOT COUNT CALORIES anymore. No logging food an an app or checking to see how much more I can eat that day. I just get to enjoy my (gluten-free) food!

If you are interested in learning about how we started our Gluten Free journey, check out these articles:

Exercising Regularly

I can not stress the importance of exercising on a regular basis. For me, not only did I want to lose weight, but being in my 40’s, I want to ensure that my body is preparing for getting older (ugh). My husband and I are very active golfing and skiing among other activities, but I will only be able to continue those activities as I get older, if I ensure my body stays accustomed to activity.

Exercising regularly doesn’t mean once in a while, or even once a week, as I had once thought. It means fitting in some sort of exercise 2-3 times a week. More if you can fit it in! Each one of us needs to determine what the best way to exercise is. The key to regular exercise and ensure the longevity of it, is liking it. (Yes, it’s possible to like exercise!)

For instance, a few years ago, I was asked to participate in a 5k run. I hate running. But I took the challenge, and determined to succeed, trained for months and was able to run the entire 5k! I was in great shape, but once the 5k wsa over, I never ran again, because I HATE RUNNING. I know it looks like I’m smiling in the picture below, but that’s because it’s almost over!

weight loss

Then, I started dancing. I love dancing and always have, but thought dance classes was something that ‘kids’ did. Once I realized that there are numerous adult classes for all skills, I decided to give it a try. I started with one day a week at first. Eventually, I built up to 3 days a week. Because dancing is something that I love to do, I can envision continuing through the years!

weight loss

Your exercise can also be as simple as walking. You can join a gym, take up yoga, do Pilates; it doesn’t matter what it is. As long as you are doing something!

14-day Detox Tea

I testing the 14-day Detox Tea from FitTea as part of a complementary program. Because I was testing it to provide the company with a review, I was diligent about drinking it every morning. During the 2 weeks, I drank less coffee, as I substituted my morning coffee for the tea, and I had a lot more energy. FitTea does not claim to promote weight loss, however, having lost the weight during the same month as drinking the tea, I felt that there might be a correlation and worth mentioning.

To read more about the 14-day Detox Tea, click here.

Some of you may be wondering if I keep the weight off?

The simple answer to that is yes, in the last few months I have maintained that 5 lb. weight loss. I wish I could report that I have lost more, but life has gotten in the way! Due to our crazy schedules, my dance days dropped from 3 day a week to 2 days a week, and now it’s only 1 day a week. There were also a few weeks that I didn’t exercise at all due to being out of town for work. In the coming weeks, the kids activity schedule will be slowing down and I will be getting back to dancing 3-days a week.

Even with cutting down on exercise and being months past the detox tea, eating gluten-free foods has helped me keep off that 5 lbs. No counting calories and splurging every now and then.

Just because this process worked for me, I am not saying it will work for you. But if you have been struggling, like I have, to find something that is sustainable over time, you may want to give this a try!

gluten free foods

10 Gluten-Free Foods You Must Try (even if you don’t have to!)

My husband and I decided to start eating gluten-free foods about a month ago.  Changing to this new diet was a quick decision for my husband and I. One day we were eating whatever we wanted, and the next we were eating gluten-free; completely uneducated about what that really meant. In the coming days, we had to give ourselves a crash course and begin to learn what we could and couldn’t eat.

Below is a list of the top 10 foods that we have eaten. Whether you eat a gluten-free diet or not, these foods won’t disappoint!

Continue reading “10 Gluten-Free Foods You Must Try (even if you don’t have to!)”

wine

Good Wines at a Good Price

If your like me, you enjoy a glass of wine every now and then! What I don’t enjoy however, is how much most wines costs. With that said, searching out inexpensive wines that we like to drink is always on my list of things to do. Keeping track of what we like and how much is costs enables us to make better choices when we are buying a bottle just for us, or buying a bottle for entertaining.

My husband and I are mostly a red wine drinkers. I am partial to cabs, while he is partial to Petite Syrah. I am also an avid Prosecco drinker, so you will also find my recommendations for Prosecco here as well. If you are looking for white wine recommendations, my sincere apologies. I am not a white wine drinker, and didn’t feel that I could offer recommendations on something I don’t drink.

Continue reading “Good Wines at a Good Price”

Gluten Free

My Gluten-Free Journey – Week 3

My husband gave this gluten-free diet 2-weeks. He said after 2-weeks he ‘would see’ if he wanted to continue. Well, he is! Which is a relief to me because it’s so much easier to stay on a specific diet if both you and your partner are eating the same things!

This Week

This week went well! I still have not eaten anything with gluten; no pasta and no breads, at least ones with gluten! This week we tried gluten-free pasta and gluten-free pizza. It sounds like it wouldn’t taste good, but the opposite was true.  It was actually tasty! It hasn’t been too difficult to stay away from gluten this far. There were definitely times that I wanted to reach for the kids goldfish or have a bite of their ‘regular’ pizza, but I resisted by finding something else that was similar.

We also tried our first gluten-free food that we didn’t really like; Edamame Spaghetti. We thought that it would be good substitute for regular pasta, but we were wrong! We prepared it as you would ‘regular’ spaghetti with red sauce, but we were not happy with the way it turned out. We have one more package, so we are going to do some research and see if we can find a better recipe!

Next Week

I am little nervous about next week. I have to go out of town for work for 4 days, and I am worried that with airport food, hotel food and no easy access to snacks of my own, I might be tempted to just eat a bagel or something like that. I am going to throw in some of my gluten-free bars to help with that, but it will be interesting to see what happens. Honestly, reporting my weeksresults to my readers does help keep me honest!

Continue reading “My Gluten-Free Journey – Week 3”

gluten free

My Gluten-Free Journey – Week 2

Two weeks being gluten-free and I am still hopeful! It’s been fairly easy for me to stick to the diet, even with a lot of crackers and breads in the house. I was able to go to dinner at an Italian Restaurant and not order pasta. It was difficult watching everyone else eat bread while we waiting for our meals, especially since I was starving!

My 3 main reasons for trying a gluten-free diet was to lose weight, reduce migraines (or get rid of them altogether) and reduce or get rid of the redness on the back of my arms (supposedly the result of a mild gluten allergy). Here are my updates on those 3 areas:

Weight – I have lost 3 lbs. in 2 weeks – keep in mind that I work out on a regular basis, but my work out hasn’t increased or decreased in the last 2 weeks.

Migraines – no migraines in the last 2 weeks

Redness on my arms – still there

Read about my highlights, challenges and favorite food find this week below!

Continue reading “My Gluten-Free Journey – Week 2”

Lentil Soup

Homemade Lentil Soup

When the weather begins to get a little cooler, fall starts to settle in.  There is no better way to warm up than with soup!

We were trying a new salad recipe one evening that called for Lentils. We had almost the entire bag left over and weren’t sure what to do with them.  My husband looked up multiple recipes to see what ingredients went into lentil soup. He checked what veggies we had in the fridge and decided to create his own!

The outcome was quite good!

When your looking for some warm comfort food on a cool fall evening, this lentil soup is a must!

Continue reading “Homemade Lentil Soup”

Gluten Free

My Gluten-Free Journey – Week 1

This first week of being gluten-free was easier that I thought it would be. After some research, I was able to determine general foods to eat and ones to stay away from. I am usually pretty good about not eating a lot of bread or flour tortillas already, so that wasn’t a huge change for me. The biggest change this week was around breakfast. I usually eat a whole grain waffle, or frozen breakfast sandwiches, so I had to move away from that altogether. I basically replaced it with eating gluten-free cereals such as Chex and Rice Krispy’s. While I enjoyed those this week, I’m going to have to find something else to add to the mix!

I am also worried about restaurant eating. We didn’t eat out much this week as we started our adjustment. However, we regularly eat out, especially this time of year because the kids schedule is so crazy. I learned this week that when we do eat out, it’s going to take some preparation before we go to determine what to order.

Below you will find my highlights of the week, failures of the week and favorite food finds. I have also included a daily food log for those who are interested.

Continue reading “My Gluten-Free Journey – Week 1”

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

One of my favorite brussels sprout recipes is simply roasting them. I have never been a big fan of brussels sprouts. As a matter of fact, I hated them when I was younger. You can ask my mom!

After not eating brussels sprouts for years, my husband decided to try a new recipe which included bacon and chicken broth. I would like to say that I loved them right away, but that was not the case! It took making that recipe a few times before I decided I liked them. However, once all of the additions were made to the brussels srpouts, they were no longer as healthy as they could be.

Then I came across this: Roasted Brussels Sprouts. It’s a simple recipe, but the outcome is delicious and healthy!

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