Realistic Cooking Ideas

for Busy People! And sharing our life adventures along the way!

boardwalk thousand islands

I hope everyone had a wonderful summer and settling into fall! The last couple of months have been extremely busy at work and trying to fit in some summer fun! In September we went to the Thousand Islands for a fantastic vacation with beautiful, warm weather! This past weekend we celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary and had a wonderful dining experience at Mangia Ristorante & Caffe in Orchard Park. Today I am sharing the wonderful dishes we had at Mangia Ristorante & Caffe and a few pictures from our travels with more to come later. New recipes will be coming over the next few weeks! Let me know what you did this summer and I will try and catch up on everyone’s blogs over the upcoming weeks!

Dinner at Mangia Ristorante & Caffe
Cocktails and yummy appetizers to start the evening!
Mangia wine

Mangia appetizer

Mangia bread

The main entrees were just excellent! Greg had the Bistecca Alla Filettos, which is two 4 oz. filet of beef with a wild mushroom demi glaze over garlic mashed potatoes & escarole. The filet of beef was perfectly prepared!
Mangia Steak

I had the Pollo Adriatico, which is a boneless chicken breast with crab meat and asparagus in a garlic & basil white wine cream sauce. Absolutely delicious with the chicken so tender!
Mangia chicken

For dessert we each had a Nutty Irishman as our after dinner drink. Greg had the strawberry cheesecake and I had the tiramisu. Both were just excellent and a perfect way to close out a delicious dining experience!
Mangia Nutty Irishman
Mangia Strawberry Cheesecake
Mangia desset

And a quick peek into our vacation…. Below is a picture from Clayton NY antique boat museum.
Boldt Home Boat

Our view of Boldt Castle while having breakfast – so relaxing – I could get use to having breakfast with that view!
Breakfast with view of Boldt castle

A view of Boldt Castle just before we got off the boat.
Boldt castle

Boldt Castle at night.
Boldt Castle at night

Greg and me on a walk with a beautiful view!
Boldt Castle in the background late summer 2015
View of Boldt Castle in background

St James United Church of Christ front door

When going for walks through the village of Hamburg, I always enjoyed this church door. It reminds me of a medieval door! I love the black iron work and it is just a beautiful building – but it was the door that got me! What do you think?

Church front door Hamburg NY

St James United Church of Christ Side of the Church

And be sure to check out Thursday’s Doors by Norm who started this fun adventure!

Chocolate Peppermint Muffins Plated side view

Indulge your sweet tooth with these minty chocolate muffins made from good-for-you ingredients. These wonderful chocolate muffins are not made with flour but instead chickpeas! It might sound odd but many people cannot tell the difference – the muffins are light in texture and delicious! These can be made as 24 mini-muffins or 12 regular muffins. The mini muffins are nice if you are going to a brunch and want to bring a dish.

Chocolate Peppermint Muffins Plated

They also freeze nicely. I make my snacks for work ahead of time and then freeze them until needed!! Healthy snacks are really important to losing weight and not overeating. I always struggled with this and depended too much on protein and carbs bars – that actually turned to fat. Now I have a baking morning where I make healthy treats and freeze them. When I need a treat I just take it out of the freezer. I also use plain greek yogurt with berries and apples with almond butter as a treat. Below are Oatmeal Muffins, Zucchini Muffins, and Chocolate Peppermint Muffins. My muffins tend to collapse a bit after taking out of the oven but they are still delicious!!

Variety of snacks

This recipe came from The Beachbody Blog and is part of the 21-Day Challenge and you will want to follow their recipe for accurate conversion of containers.

Chocolate Peppermint Muffins out of the oven

1 (15-oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Wet Ingredients:
3 large eggs
½ cup raw honey, local
3 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
½ tsp. pure peppermint extract

Dry Ingredients:
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda

Preheat your oven to 350° F. Prepare 24 mini-muffin cups by either lightly spraying with non-stick spray or mini muffin paper liners.

Place the chickpeas in a food processor and blend until smooth. Then slowly add the wet ingredients blending into the chickpeas. Slowly add the dry ingredients and blend until smooth.

Divide the batter among the 24 mini-muffin cups. Bake for 15 – 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Chocolate Peppermint Muffins Plated front view


Recently I joined Beachbody as a Coach since I appreciate their holistic approach to living. This past weekend I attended the local Buffalo Super Saturday that is held on a quarterly basis. Almost 300 coaches and guests in the Buffalo New York area got together to hear inspirational stories on how people are transforming their lives through Beachbody programs and support networks. It was a great opportunity to meet local coaches that you might see on Facebook and build relationships with them. Plus it is nice to meet other people in person who are interested in transforming their life and helping others.

super saturday

We learned more about new products that have just been released that includes Boost (I am already trying this new line), a new performance line for supporting workouts, and Shaun T’s new CIZE dance workout (my deluxe package has already arrived!). And I almost forgot to mention the raffles for great products like Autumn’s new cookbook FIXATE!


One of the first things I noticed about Beachbody coaches is they are normal, everyday people trying to improve their lifestyle. A few are in excellent shape and look like personal trainers – but that was not the norm. People are attracted to Beachbody because their holistic approach works and most of us has experienced failed programs or promises that it is refreshing when something actually works!!

At the end of the event, we did a CIZE workout together! Shaun T is an excellent trainer and motivator. He teaches you each dance, step by step and slowly brings it all together. Then at the end you CIZE IT UP which means you are dancing at a much faster pace – or what you can do! For these dance routines if you find it hard to learn the arms and footwork together start with the foot steps – then add the arms. Plus on the workout CD, Shaun T has a reverse angle demo to help you! But do what you can and keep moving! Below is a video from our Buffalo Super Saturday. There is a glimpse of me in the far back, to the right, in the yellow Shakeology shirt! I am not going as fast as the girls in front who are much younger than me! Don’t you feel like working out after watching the video – a lot of great energy!

Click here for Buffalo Super Saturday CIZE workout!

Body Beast Hat
Below are a few takeaways from the event. I hope a few of them speak to you and what changes would you like to make in your lifestyle? For me it is to lose some weight, lose inches, put on more muscle and have the endurance to do INSANITY (that is next year’s goal!)

  1. Be an advocate for yourself! Put yourself first!
  2. Personal development is important. Beachbody is a holistic approach that includes healing your personal life if it is needed.
  3. Beachbody is a lifestyle change. Not a diet or a fad. You are making healthy changes day by day and changing your life for the better!
  4. I love this one – You have nothing to lose – but weight! You have to want to change more than stay the same. It is up to you.
  5. Beachbody challenges us to help people meet their goals and live healthier lives!
  6. For the next 12-months you need to be ambitious! Everyone matters. Workouts and nutrition need to have intensity!
  7. Be a Beachbody coach – there is no catch. You do not need to sell – you can be a Discount coach for the 25% reduction on products.
  8. Sharing your story is important – you never know whose life you might change!
  9. You may not need to lose a lot of weight but need to transform your body. The 21-day challenge can help you put on muscle and fine tune your eating habits.
  10. Know the ingredients in your shake. Are the ingredients healthy- is there a lot of added sugars or chemicals? Or do you purchase it because of taste or cost?

I do have a Facebook page called “The Fitness Edge” and you can follow it by clicking this link. The Fitness Edge will share information about Beachbody but also general healthy tips, motivational tips, and some of our daily adventures! I post 2 – 3 times a day.

This fall, maybe late September I will be starting a CIZE challenge group if anyone is interested. You do not need to live in WNY – but you do need to purchase the CIZE challenge pack – more information in another posting. But as a teaser… we will have a closed Facebook group where on a daily basis you can share how you are progressing and if you are struggling we are all in this together to help each other! The support network is important so you are not on your own trying to meet your goals. That is when we get frustrated and give up!

Gingery Nectarine and Plum Cake - closeup of sideview of the cake copy

This is a beautiful cake that is nice for a special occasion or whenever you need a dessert that is a bit different and not covered in a sweet icing. It is a small cake, which means servings are small and pretty much guilt free!

Gingery Nectarine and Plum Cake served on plate

I adore ginger, which means there is a lot and you could use a combination of fresh and ground if you run out of the fresh ginger or do not have fresh ginger. But remember fresh ginger has an aroma that ground ginger loses! The lower end of the measurement will provide a flavor of ginger but if you like a more prominent ginger flavor you should definitely add more! Serve with a side of whipped cream topped with cinnamon for an added burst of deliciousness! This is a rustic cake so do not be concern about placing the sliced fruit perfectly! Doesn’t it look delicious and beautiful!

Gingery Nectarine and Plum Cake - closeup of cake copy

I adapted this recipe from Fine Cooking Appetizers: 200 Recipes for Small Bites with Big Flavor.

You bake the cake partially before adding the fruit topping.
Gingery Nectarine and Plum Cake - out of the oven before adding fruit

Then add the fruit topping and return to the oven to finish baking.
Gingery Nectarine and Plum Cake - fruit topped on cake before baking

Then it comes out of the oven looking gorgeous!!
Gingery Nectarine and Plum Cake - baked cake out of the oven

Serve warm or at room temperate. A bit of warmth is nice to bring out the flavors!
Gingery Nectarine and Plum Cake served on plate with whipped cream

Cake Dry Ingredients:
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. to 1 tbsp. ground ginger
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Cake Wet Ingredients:
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla
2/3 cup sour cream, light

Topping Ingredients:
1 Plum halved, pitted, and cut into 1/8- to 1/4-inch slices
1 Nectarine halved, pitted, and cut into 1/8- to 1/4-inch slices
1 – 2 tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
3 tbsp. firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
Whipped cream, for garnish (optional)

Cake Directions:
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 9×2-inch round cake pan with non-stick spray. Lightly flour the side, shaking out any excess flour. Then line the bottom with a parchment circle cut to fit the pan. I like to turn the pan over a piece of parchment paper to trace the outside of the pan to make it easier to cut out and fit.

In a medium bowl combine the dry ingredients. In a mixer cream the butter and then add the brown sugar blending until well incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until just blended and then adding the vanilla.

Fold in half the dry ingredients, then the sour cream, and finally the remaining dry ingredients. Spoon the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake for 15 minutes.

Topping Directions:
Make the topping by combining the sliced fruit and the grated ginger in a medium bowl. Toss until the ginger is well distributed. Then add the sugar and flour. Mix the ingredients to evenly coat the fruit. Remove the cake from the oven after it has baked for 15 minutes. Place the topping evenly over the cake. Work quickly and do not worry about being perfect. Return the cake to the oven and bake for about 35 – 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool the cake on a rack for about 15 minutes. Then run a knife around the inside edge of the pan to make it easier to remove. Place a cookie rack on top of the cake pan and holding onto both the pan and cookie rack flip the cake. The pan should easily remove from the cake. Remove the parchment paper and then lay a flat serving plate that you intend on using to serve the cake on the bottom of the cake and flip the cake so that the fruit is on top. Serve warm or at room temperature. Add whipped cream if you like.

Susan Call Hutchison

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