Snicker Bites

I am using a photo of my rum balls because these look quite similar on the outside. This is another recipe for some quick and yummy no bake desserts.

What you will need to make Snickers bites:
- 200 g unsalted ground peanuts
- 100 g cornflakes 
- 100 g milk toffee, or soft chewy caramels 
- 200 ml heavy cream 
- 250 g of dark chocolate 
- 50 g of honey

How to make Snickers bites:
- Crumble the cornflakes, you can do this by putting them in a plastic bag and squishing with your hands or taking a hammer to them. 
- Mix the cornflakes and the ground up peanuts.
- Chop up the caramels into small pieces, pour the heavy cream in with them and melt on a low heat until you get a nice smooth cream.
- Pour the cream over the dry mixture and mix thoroughly.
- Leave the whole thing for about 15 to 20 minutes in the fridge to cool.
- After cooling form into balls, or if you want you can do a different shape and roll them into ground peanuts or sugar or sprinkles.

Photo Credits: My photo.


Pizza poofs

Hubby and I love movie time and what comes with that? Snacks! 
I thought I would try and make some sort of a Pizza pocket/bite thing and while these bad boys aren't the prettiest they sure were tasty, cheap and quick. Also if you make a bigger batch you can freeze them and then later on just pop into the oven.

What I used:
- A packet of ready rolled pizza dough
- Fresh mozzarella, I bought one packet (one ball/ 200ish grams I think) and I ended up using it for 2 packets of dough and still having some left over
- Spaghetti sauce/pizza sauce/ heck ketchup 
- Some pepperoni, or other meats if you prefer. 
- If you want to add spices like oregano and such go for it.

How to:

- The dough is already rolled out so you just unwrap it and lay it down flat. 
- Cut it into equal size squares. Now mines were a bit chunky but I didn't mind. So if you want bite sized tiny snacks make small squares, they WILL grow in the oven. 
- Spread some sauce/ketchup in the middle, don't go too close to the edges as you don't want it running out later.

- Add on a chunk of cheese (you can put more than one kind of cheese if you want) and pepperoni or other meats.

- Fold the corners of the square over so you make a little pillow like thingy.

- Put the little pizza pockets that you made on a baking tray (you can use baking paper but its not necessary just grease the baking tray instead).

- I baked mines for about 20 min on Gas Mark 6, but that would depend on the size you make so just bake them until they are golden brown.

This was the first time I attempted this, they were absolutely delicious, although I forgot that the dough would rise so they ended up being a bit more poofy and chunky than I had expected. I am not complaining though! And neither did the hubby. 
If you are wondering why one of them is completely different and weird..... I can't remember what I did to it, well I can see what I did I just can not remember why in the world... but hey! You can make them in that shape too!

Next time I am using this same dough to try and make some bread sticks. I am thinking some butter, garlic and herbs thrown together and ....well I haven't thought that far ahead and to be quite honest I am making myself hungry.

Note: All images are mine.

Rum Cookies

I think we all need a bit of alcohol in us from time to time, this goes for cookies too!

What you will need to make spiced rum cookies:
- 175g (6oz) of unsalted butter, softened and a bit extra for greasing
- 175g (6oz) dark muscovado sugar
- 225g (8oz) plain flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 2 tbsp dark rum

How to make spiced rum cookies:
- Preheat your oven to 180 *C (or 350 *F, Gas Mark 4) and grease two baking sheets.
- Cream together the butter and sugar, you should whisk it until its all light and fluffy. Sift together the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda, coriander, cinnamon, cloves and the nutmeg into the creamed mixture.
- Stir in the rum into the mixture. place 18 spoonfuls of the dough onto the prepped baking sheets.
- Make sure you space them apart giving them plenty of room to expand. Flatten each one of them slightly with the back of a spoon (you can take the liberties when shaping them).
- Bake your spiced rum cookies in a preheated oven for 10-13 minutes or until golden. 
- Leave the cookies to cool and crisp on a wire rack before serving.

Can you guys tell I'm really wanting some cookies this morning or what? 

Photo Credit: Photo is mine.


Slow Carb Diet

First it was one book, The 4-hour Work Week by Tim Ferris, then I just had to have another. He is effortless in his writing, non condescending and it just flows page after page.
The second book was The 4-hour body. One section of that book is about weight loss and it talks about a slow-carb diet. This diet is based on foods with a low GI (Glycemic Index). You are not allowed starches or anything sweet pretty much.

Allowed Foods:
- Eggs
- Lean meat, preferably organic, grass fed etc. but in my case that is not a reality because I can't fork out the cash for the good stuff.
- Beans and other legumes, chickpeas should be eaten in moderation though.
- Vegetables, but no yams or potatoes those are too starchy.
- Condiments are allowed as long as they are not sugar laden and/or cream based. So for instance Caesar dressing is a no-no, so is ketchup but hot sauce and mustard are ok.
- Seasonings and herbs are also ok.
- Unsweetened cocoa and vanilla extracts are ok to be used too.

Banned Foods:
- Dairy, no milk, cheese or anything that comes even near being milky cheesy or delicious. If you absolutely must then small amounts of cottage cheese are allowed. But who wants that right? 
- No delicious bready goodness of any kind.
- No soy byproducts such as tofu, soy milk, soy shakes
- Again no potatoes, yams or any other starchy veg.
- Rice, oatmeal and grains in general are out, this includes corn, popcorn... I'm not sure if corn is a grain but either way it's not allowed.
- No cereal.
- No pasta.
- Ketchup and any salad dressings and sauces with sugar, no corn or maple syrup or fructose either.
- No alcohol, except dry red wine in moderation if it tickles your fancy.
- This one might surprise you but, no fruit other than olives, tomatoes and avocados in moderation.

Food Preparation:
- Deep fat frying, especially of battered and breaded food, is a big no-no.
- Pan frying food (bit again not battered or breaded) is ok. If you have a non stick pan that allows you little or no use of fat/oil even better.
- Cooking, steaming, microwaving and baking is all allowed. So is grilling and any other method that wouldn't soak the food in grease.

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Cheat Day:
One day of the week should be a designated cheat day. This is not optional and is an integral part of the diet. So don’t think you are doing yourself favors by not eating on this day. Use this day to pig out and eat all and any food that you might have been missing and or craving during the rest of the week.

Rule #1 Avoid “white” carbs
- Pretty self explanatory and these foods are covered above under banned foods.

Rule #2 Eat the same few meals over and over again
- Tim thinks that simplicity is the key. If you set a routine and follow it you will be more likely to succeed.
If you eat 2 eggs and 2 slices of back bacon each morning without having to plan and think about it you are more likely to follow through. 
He says pick above allowed ingredients, make up 3-4 different meals and repeat them. It makes things simple.
- In my opinion, whatever works for you, we are all different.

Rule #3 Don’t drink calories
- You need to drink a lot of water, on or off this diet. You can drink as much as you want of unsweetened tea, coffee or other low/no calorie drink. 
- Do not drink milk (no soy milk either), normal soft drinks or fruit juice.
- If you must you can have a single diet soft drink (no more than 450ml).

Rule #4 Don’t eat fruit
- To summarize his explanations, humans naturally did not have fruit year round, let alone all the fruit that is available to us now.
- Fructose gets converted to glycerol phosphate more efficiently than pretty much any other carbs do. Glycerol Phosphate-> triglycerides-> fat storage.
- My two cents is, on top of all of this most of the fruit in the grocery stores is laden with chemicals and gmo anyway. So unless you are buying organic, local and in season it MIGHT not be as healthy and harmless as we think.

Rule #5 Take one day of the week off
- According to research spiking your calorie intake dramatically will increase fat loss because it ensures that your metabolic rate doesn't slow down from the extended restriction of calories.
- There will be a spike in your weight, due to water gain, after the binge day but that will disappear within a day or two and it ensures larger weight gain in the long term.

That is it in a nutshell. You can read more, in a lot more detail with many explanations, examples, and more in the 4-Hour Body book. You can also Google and research the diet online and find a ton of information that you can use without buying the book.

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My experience after a week on the diet:
- I have not worked out. My week has been pretty sedentary (office life). 
- I have started eating breakfast which I never do. 
- I haven’t been hungry as I can eat however much I want of the allowed foods.
- I am eating less, less often but feeling much fuller and not even thinking about food. 
- It was a lot easier than I thought and I craved things a lot less than I thought I would.
- My coffee suffers the most. I am using almond milk as a substitute but man, it is just not the same.
- The night before our cheat day hubby and I made a 2 mile trek to the store. We figured it wouldn't hurt our weight loss to walk 10k steps. The plan was go crazy and grab whatever you are craving, no limits! To my surprise I had trouble picking stuff out. We bought a lot less than we anticipated.
- After the binge day I didn’t lose weight that day or the day after but I still lost inches. I’ll take it.
- I have lost a total of 4.6 lb in a week. Not bad considering the fact that I am not working out, not starving or hanging upside down while drinking some weird oil.

Have you heard of this diet before?
Have you tried it?

Photo Credits: My photo.



How to marinate and pickle mushrooms

Here is a small how to for all of us who cant resist grabbing that teeny jar of pickled mushrooms, despite the ridiculous price tag. Next time you are at the grocery store resist the urge and pick up these instead;many of the ingredients you most likely already have at home- Mushrooms – Garlic bulb – Vinegar – Whole black pepper – Vegetable oil – Salt – Clean glass jar.

You can use these ingredients to create your own marinade, play around with it you can always add a thing or two or skip on something. However, if this is not your thing you can always pick up Italian dressing or many other oil based dressings and seasonings at the grocery store and just soak your mushrooms in that. This takes, depending on your taste and how strong you want the aroma to be, anywhere from couple of hours to a few days.

This option comes in very handy for last minute dishes when entertaining or such, you can prep it in the morning and by dinner when guests arrive your mushrooms are ready to wow them.

For those of you that want to try creating your own marinade read on:

-Wash and clean your mushrooms thoroughly.

-Put the mushrooms in a pot of lightly salted water, big enough to hold all of them and have them be completely covered (or swim in, as some like to do that) with water.

-Bring the water to a boil and drain your mushrooms.

-Combine all your ingredients, adding the right amounts by your taste standards until you are happy with the taste and the aroma. + The amount of marinade you will need is enough to cover all of your mushrooms once they are in the jar.

-Pour half an inch or so of marinade into a warm glass jar, now put in all of your mushrooms and then finish it off by pouring in the rest of the marinade in so it covers the mushrooms completely but you leave some room at the top of the jar.

-Close the jar tightly and let the mushrooms sit for about half an hour or so at room temperature, you don’t want to put them into the fridge while warm!

-After the mushrooms have cooled of you can put them into the fridge.

-Clean glass jar does wonders. + You can either buy one or use an old pickle or jam jar. Make sure the jar is thoroughly washed, otherwise the smells and the flavors might mix and it wont be pretty.
-Add some extra vegetables. + Vegetables such as carrots, peppers or onions can pickle just as nicely as mushrooms and they look lovely and colorful when presented.
-Mushrooms usually come in a little box, they are either sliced or whole, a boxful will do just fine for your first time pickled mushrooms. + It doesn’t matter whether you pick sliced or whole mushrooms, however the whole ones look more presentable somehow.


Homemade orange and spice tea

So I decided to experiment some more with black tea and spices that I have around the house and now I have a new favorite! The orange and spice tea.

What you will need to make orange and spice tea:
- One tea bag of black tea, or if you are British just plain tea.
- Some ground ginger.
- Some mixed spice.
- A tiny bit of orange juice concentrate or orange juice if you want.
- Milk.
- Water for the tea... duh.. 

How to make orange and spice tea:
- Prepare the tea as you usually would but leave enough room in the mug for milk and juice.
- Add in the ginger and mixed spice. I have them in shakers but I think I put in anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 of a teaspoon of each into a mug.
- Stir it, stir it real good.
- Add a dash of milk, same amount you would to coffee or again if you are British just make your regular tea and add the spices!
- And now just a tiny dash of orange juice concentrate.
- Optional: Sweeten to taste.

All done and it is soooo yummy!

Photo Credits: My photo.


Puffy Origami Star Tutorial

What you will need to make a puffy origami star:
- Scrap paper, this could be printer paper, magazine pages, make sure you have about 11 inches in length.
- Scissors.

How to make a puffy Origami star:

- Take your scrap paper and cut out thin strips, you can start out with about half an inch wide
strip ( I wouldn't go wider than that) and make it really long. That way you can practice and see what is going on. Although I did find that the wider strips give me some problems later on when trying to puff up the star, so I suggest you cut out different width strips so you can test out what works for you. I like to make them about half a cm in width and about 11 inches long, so magazine pages (the colorful advert ones) are perfect for this.

- Now that you have your strip you will make a knot. Do this by making a loop at one end of the strip and putting the tail through.

- Flatten the knot, and tuck the short tail into the loop, or just fold it over. Now you should have something that resembles a pentagon.

- Take the long tail (rest of the strip) and fold it over following the edges of the pentagon until you run out of the strip.

- The remaining piece of the strip should be tucked into a fold on the pentagon, you might need to trim it if it sticks out the other side.

- Now you need to press the edges of the pentagon so they puff up and create the star. Some people do this edge by edge, but I prefer to take it in both hands and press it, this leaves me with one of the edges that I do separately in the end.

I realize that while this is quite simple to do it might seem confusing or hard to understand when reading the instructions so I found this video online that does a great job of demonstrating in case you need extra help:

Best Pedometer Under 20

This is a review for the Omron HJ-203 Pedometer.
First and foremost I have to let you know that I am NOT utilizing this to its fullest potential.
When I was looking for a pedometer I wanted something that will measure my steps and calories mainly, and I wanted it to be cheap.

Price: Under $20.00
Pros: Multifunctional, small in size.
Cons: Apparently the lack of the belt clip.
Color: It comes in a variety of white and: yellow, orange, pink, green, purple, or black and grey
Packaging: A no fuss cardboard box with a detailed instruction manual booklet that tells you all you need to know.
Size: Approximately 2.5inx1.5in excluding the strap.
Battery Life: Supposedly 3 years, I have had it over a year now and no problems.

- Daily step counter
As you might have guessed, this counts the number of steps you have taken! Now there is one thing worth mentioning as far as this goes. I suppose this was not meant for the way I use it (pop it on in the morning along with my glasses and take off before bed) but to be clipped on when you are going for a walk or whatever.
That is why it has one little tick that might make some people think it is faulty. It is not.
It does not count the first four seconds when you start walking, unless you continue to walk after the 4 seconds. It does this to avoid counting the steps that are not a part of the walk.
I, personally do not mind this as it tricks me into making a little bit more steps and is in the end good for me.

- Daily distance walked
I have bought my pedometer in the UK so this displays the steps I took so far that day in a converted form of kilometers. I have seen US based ones that have miles on them.

- Daily calorie burn counter
I really, really wanted this one because there are about fifty different ways you could calculate the calorie conversions and you cannot ever know if your steps are the same as that person online who posted the conversion. Same goes for any other action. So this was one of the things that was a must as far as having a pedometer goes.

- Daily fat burn counter
This converts your steps into the grams of fat you have burned. It is quite useful and eye opening but also depressing as far as I am concerned. For instance, yesterday my 10,300ish steps are only 26.8g of fat.... too small of a number so I tend not to pay attention to it as much. But it is definitely good to have.

- Action mode
The Action Mode is a mode you can choose when you want to keep track of a specific activity. For instance, if you want to get specific measurements of the walk or jog you are taking.
I, personally, have never used this function so I cannot really comment on it.
Why? Well at first I had no need, and then I got my pedometer all sorts of dirty when gardening one day and then I took some heavy cleaners to it and rubbed off the lettering.... which caused me to forget that the button is not just there to bring the display up.

- Clock
Pretty self explanatory.... it tells time!

- Memory
This function memorizes your stats for the past seven days which is rather nifty if you are keeping track and want to know if you are doing better or worse than a couple of days ago.

- Cheer Squad
When you hit 10k steps in one day this lovely little fella shows up on your display and keeps dancing and happily cheering you on!

When my Omron pedometer was delivered it was in a smallish cardboard (well paper rather.... you know what I mean!) box. Nothing too fussy which is right up my alley. I decided it might be best, at least this once, to actually read the instructions before continuing.
I wanted this bad boy for a while so I was not going to mess a thing up.
The instruction manual is quite easy to read and easy on the eyes. It has plenty of photos, instructions and explanations of how and why. You can take a peek at it here :

Before using the pedometer you have to set it up by putting in your stats. I believe it takes in your height, weight, and you will have to measure out your stride. So it is quite tailored to your body and it will not measure the same amount of steps for someone who is 5"2 and someone who is 6" tall. Not sure how the weight comes into play but I am sure they know and that is all that matters.

Once you are all set up, to bring up the display you press any of the buttons. The pedometer is on 24/7 and will track all your steps as long as it is attached to you so do not get worried if the display is off. The pedometer goes into sleep mode after several seconds, this means that it saves the battery by not displaying the information if you are not looking at it anyway. It is still tracking so have no fear!

Now for the attaching of the pedometer to your self. Another thing I looked for in a pedometer is something with a clip. I did not want a stupid band that has to be on my arm or something for everyone to see if I do not want them to.
The Omron HJ-203 hes a little strap which you attach to it and a small plastic clip. It works like a charm for me.
I will usually have it either in my pocket, if pockets are not available I clip it either to the hem of my top, or to the waistline of my pants, I often clip it to the belt loops as well.
Now I was told some customers are complaining about the fact that it does not have one of those pager type of clips which you clip to your belt. That is true, and for me, that is not a problem at all. If this is a must for you then I suggest you move on and look at a different pedometer.

- Durability:
Trust me, I am not the one to take utmost care of such things. Often times it dangles around me and gets smacked about, I have fallen on it, slept with it, accidentally buried it (gardening, do not ask), scratched it, got it stuck, dropped it a number of times, flung it down the stairs, and yes it has been washed and dried.... and it is still going strong!
So it is pretty darn durable if you ask me, true some of the letters have rubbed off but for what I put it through I do not mind one bit.

Overall, we are all different and have different needs. For some this pedometer will have far too many options and functions while for others it wont have enough information.
As far as I go, it works like dream for me and I would definitely recommend it!

There was some confusion about the clip, and can it or cant it be clipped to a belt so I took the closest pair of pants with a belt (hubbys and snapped a few photos).
Technically it can be clipped onto his belt as you can see. The belt is leather and when I take the clip off the little teeth leave a mark as I tried to show in the last photo, the longer the clip is on the deeper the mark... so not sure how advisable that is. But yeah it definitely does not have a belt clip as such.
Those are a few other ways I clip it, I also clip it onto the waistband of the trouser itself or on my tops.

I hope that makes more sense as far as the clip goes!