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Monday, April 20, 2015

Brownie Brittle Toffee Crunch Cupcakes

Brownie Brittle Toffee Crunch Cupcakes

I realize that I post a lot of dessert recipes to the blog. Normally it's one dessert recipe after the other. Sometimes I just get on a dessert kick and that's what I want to post to the blog.

I also realize that I just posted a blog post about Fat Shaming & PCOS jammed in between those dessert recipes.

I'm not oblivious to how that looks. Here's a girl telling you that she gained all this weight and can't loose it because she had PCOS and then she's posting 100000 dessert recipes on her blog.

Yeah ok......

Well here's the secret, I don't eat all of these dang desserts. GASP

I know right? haha ;)

I know that's not some super amazing secret but people have got to understand that when I make 24 cupcakes for a blog post that I'm not sitting at home on my couch eating 2 dozen sweet treats and binge watching Dr. Phil.

Brownie Brittle Toffee Crunch Cupcakes

Sure I have to taste the desserts. I mean how could I blog about them or adjust measurements and perfect them if I didn't taste them? But that doesn't mean I'm shoveling them into my face.

Also, just because I post 3 dessert recipes in a row one week doesn't mean that I had all of those desserts in my house that week. Sometimes I make desserts, photograph them, write up the recipes and then shove them into my "to publish" folder and wait a while before putting them on the blog.

Brownie Brittle Toffee Crunch Cupcakes

So what happens to all of the goodies that I make if I don't eat them all?

Lately it means that I'm packing up containers of treats and sending them off to work with BigBear. Those guys work their tales off so they can use the extra calories ;) haha.

For example, last week I sent them about 56 "Candy Explosion Cookies" to use up the easter candy we had in the house and this morning I packed up about a dozen cookie cereal marshmallow treats for them. (both of those recipes will be on the blog soon too!)

But if they're not going to work with BigBear, they're coming to my office, BigBear is hording a few or they're being picked up by friends.

One year I even dropped off 7-8 giant plates of decorated sugar cookies at the homeless shelter because I wanted to decorate Christmas sugar cookies (and get a little practice in) but I didn't want all of those cookies in my house afterwards. (if they're not there I can't eat them haha) So we called the local homeless shelter, got permission to bring them (since they were homemade I wanted to make sure it was ok), wrapped them up and took them down a few days before Christmas.

Brownie Brittle Toffee Crunch

So I made these Brownie Brittle Toffee Crunch Cupcakes for Brownie Brittle back in the fall of last year, photographed them and they've just been siting in my "drafts" folder since then because I was waiting for the right time to share them.

Brownie Brittle Toffee Crunch Cupcakes

I adore these cupcakes and that Toffee Crunch Brownie Brittle but sometimes I've just got to have a "feeling" that it's the right time to post something before it makes it's appearance. haha

Today is the day!

These Brownie Brittle Toffee Crunch Cupcakes are ready to make their appearance on the blog. :)

Brownie Brittle Toffee Crunch Cupcakes

These rich chocolate cupcakes are topped with a homemade cream cheese butter cream icing, drizzled with chocolate icing and topped with Toffee Crunch Brownie Brittle!

These beauties even have Toffee Crunch Brownie Brittle baked right into them! 

One last thing before I end this post. 

Today's my mother in law's Birthday!! 

I couldn't have been blessed with a more wonderful mother in law. 

Happy Birthday, Mom!! We love you!

Brownie Brittle Toffee Crunch Cupcakes
By: Angie Barrett
Makes 24 cupcakes                                                    (Click to Print)

For Cupcakes:

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup regular cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup vegetable oil
teaspoons vanilla
1 cup boiling water
4 oz Toffee Crunch Brownie Brittle, crushed 

For Icing:

1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
8 oz cream cheese
2 lbs. powdered sugar
5 tablespoons caramel sauce
2 tablespoons milk

For Topping:

1 cup chocolate frosting (canned or homemade) OR 1 Cup chocolate sauce
1/4 cup crushed Toffee Crunch Brownie Brittle
1 piece of Toffee Crunch Brownie Brittle for each cupcake (24 Pieces Total)


For Cupcakes:

Pre-heat the oven to 300F. 

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. 

Next add in the eggs, milk and oil. Mix Well. Stir in the vanilla. Stir in 4 oz of Toffee Crunch Brownie Brittle that has been crushed into crumbs.  Carefully mix in the boiling water.
(this batter will be very thin)

Pour batter into cupcake liners that have been placed into a cupcake tray. 

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 300F for 30 minutes or until done. 

Let cool.

For Icing

Cream the butter in the bowl of a mixer. 

Add cream cheese and mix well. 

Slowly add the powdered sugar to the butter and cream cheese while mixing on low.  

Add vanilla and milk. Mix in the caramel. Mix until combined. 
To Decorate:

Frost the cupcakes with the vanilla icing. 

Drizzle chocolate icing or chocolate sauce over the cupcakes and sprinkle each cupcake with a little but of the crushed Toffee Crunch Brownie Brittle. 

Top each cupcake with a piece of Toffee Crunch Brownie Brittle.

Brownie Brittle did pay me to develop and photograph this recipe but I'm sharing it with you because I love them and I love these cupcakes. As always, all opinions are my own.
Click Here to Keep Reading..... "Brownie Brittle Toffee Crunch Cupcakes"

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hot Fudge Cake Ice Cream Sundae

Hot Fudge Cake Ice Cream Sundae

It's been kind of quite on the blog lately. Sorry about that. I went out of town on a mini vacation to Wilmington/Carolina Beach for a few days and since I've been back I've been playing catch up on e-mails and work. I swear, sometimes I need a vacation from my vacation and about two weeks to play catch up.

Also, if you e-mailed me or commented about my PCOS post, I'm still sifting through e-mails! I promise you that I am not ignoring you. I had no idea that people would respond they way they did! Thank you all so much for your support!

Hot Fudge Cake Ice Cream Sundae

I actually made these Hot Fudge Cake Ice Cream Sundaes a while ago, wrote up the directions and photographed it, only to leave it hanging out in my "drafts" folder in the blog because I wasn't sure of when to post it. It was kind of cold when I made it (you know because it's easier to photograph cold ice cream when it's cold and not 100 degrees outside haha)

Hot Fudge Cake Ice Cream Sundae When we were in Wilmington we stopped by Brusters one night for some ice cream after spending the day at the Azalea Festival.

I got a small scoop of Chocolate Marshmallow (which I'm totally recreating for the blog asap!) and Nikki got a Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae! After one taste I remembered that I had made this Hot Fudge Cake Ice Cream Sundae for the blog!

Then last night Crystal came by to pick up the girls (we did a little baby sitting so that her and her hubby could go out to dinner for their anniversary) she mentioned how they had tried to go get dessert at a local ice cream shop but that they were all out of her favorite (the hot fudge cake sundae!)! After that I knew that I had to get this on the blog right away!

Hot Fudge Cake Ice Cream Sundae

The warm chocolate cake and rich hot fudge in the bottom of this freezing dessert is just perfect with the smooth vanilla bean ice cream!

Plus, that warm chocolate cake /cupcake has an amazing, dreamy chocolaty center!

But how does one get the "liquid chocolate gold" into the center of the cupcake or cake?

There are two options.

You can either add a little scoop of chocolate frosting to each cupcake batter well right before you bake it and then bake as normal or you can add the chocolate centers after you bake them.

I went with the second option.

With this method that I used here you don't have to make tons of ice cream sundaes right away. You can store the cupcakes and then heat and stuff as needed....I mean unless you want to eat 24 Hot Fudge Cake Ice Cream Sundaes at once. haha I mean who am I to judge? ;)

Cupcake for Hot Fudge Cake Ice Cream Sundae

So what I do is, after I've baked my cupcakes (once they're cool enough to touch but still hot) I carefully cut the center from the cupcake.

Cupcake for Hot Fudge Cake Ice Cream Sundae

You can either use a little knife or a cupcake corer like the one I used in the photo.

Remove a chunk of the center.

Cupcake for Hot Fudge Cake Ice Cream Sundae

Add in about 1/2 or 1/4 of a teaspoon of chocolate frosting to the center of the cupcake.

Cupcake for Hot Fudge Cake Ice Cream Sundae

Then close the cupcake back up. The heat from the cupcake will melt the frosting!

Cupcake for Hot Fudge Cake Ice Cream Sundae

Place that cupcake into the bottom of your glass (or bowl) and build your Hot Fudge Ice Cream Sundae on top of it!

Hot Fudge Cake Ice Cream Sundae


Now yes, Hot Fudge Cake Ice Cream Sundaes are perfect for a hot summer's day or a warm spring evening, but to be honest, I'd eat this all year long!

Hot Fudge Cake Ice Cream Sundae

I'm dying to try my hand at making some more ice cream flavors and ice cream sundaes at home! I've got Strawberry Shortcake Sundaes and Turtle Sundaes on the brain along with homemade ice cream flavors like the chocolate marshmallow, chocolate mudslide and homemade peppermint patty ice cream!

Hot Fudge Cake Ice Cream Sundae

I have a feeling that we're going to have an ice cream filled spring and summer!
Hot Fudge Cake Ice Cream Sundae
By: Angie Barrett -
                                                                           (Click to Print)


Chocolate Cupcakes (from a Box or from Scratch)
Chocolate Frosting
Hot Fudge
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, I used Blue Bell Ice Cream
Chocolate Curls
Whipped Cream


Mix and bake chocolate cupcakes either from a box mix or make them from scratch.

As soon as the cupcakes come out of the oven, carefully cut a hole from the middles and stuff them with about 1/2 teaspoon of chocolate frosting. Carefully press the cupcake top back into the  middle of the cupcake to cover the frosting. (this will melt and give the chocolate cupcake a gooey chocolate center)

For the Sundae, place the chocolate cupcake into the bottom of a glass (or bowl). Top with Hot fudge. 

Scoop vanilla ice cream over top of the hot fudge. 

Drizzle on more hot fudge, top with whipped cream and add chocolate cures. 

Serve right away.

Click Here to Keep Reading..... "Hot Fudge Cake Ice Cream Sundae "

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Baked Egg Pizza Subs #12bloggers

This morning I'm waking up in one of my all time favorite cities, Wilmington, NC. I'm also waking up to discover that my blog may hate me because it deleted the entire post that was supposed to go live today. 

Blogger also deleted the 2nd post that I wrote today for these Pizza subs. 

Perhaps the 3rd time is the charm.....if not, I give up. 

The cool breeze and the smell of bacon is blowing through the apartment right now so that's helping with my stress level at the moment haha and plus were hopefully headed to the ocean in a bit so that's helping. ;)

Like I mentioned, I'm in Wilmington, which is my favorite city and I'm totally tying to convince Big Bear that this is where we need to live.

I've been coming to Wilmington since I was a teenager with my bff and her boyfriend (which is now her husband) and BigBear and I use to come down to visit on the weekends when we lived at Camp Lejeune. 

BigBear and I had our first kiss at Carolina Beach with the ocean in the background and we even had our first date here. Awwwwe.

Haha but lets move back to reality for a bit and talk about these Pizza Subs. 

They're perfect for brunch, lunch or dinner. If you've ever had a french bread pizza, they taste like that! 

BigBear had two right as soon as they were done, I managed to grab one and then pack up the rest for us to have for lunch the next day! So good!

I put ham, sausage and ground beef on ours but you can put whatever you want on yours! Whatever you normally put on your pizzas would be perfect for this!!

Baked Egg Pizza Subs #12 bloggers                       
By: Angie Barrett -
Makes 6 Baked Egg Pizza Subs                                   
                                                                                            Print Recipe Here
3 sub sandwich buns, cut in half length wise
2-3 tablespoons butter
8 oz ground hot sausage
8 oz ground beef
3 teaspoons 7th Wonder Seasoning (Or any other type of Salt-Free Seasoning)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
6 oz pizza sauce (homemade or store bought)
3 slices of ham
1½ cups of shredded cheese
6 eggs
Pre-heat oven to 400°F.
Add the sausage and beef to a large skillet or pot. Add in the garlic and 2 teaspoons of the  7th Wonder Seasoning (Or any other type of Salt-Free Seasoning). Cook sausage and beef until browned. Drain if needed.
Lay sub sandwich bread halves onto a baking sheet. (I had the best luck with keeping them from burning and sticking when I lined my baking sheet with foil or parchment paper)
Spread a little of the butter onto each piece of bread.
Toast in the oven for just a few minutes to slightly crisp the bread.
Spoon pizza sauce onto each bread half.
Top with some of the ground beef and sausage.
Top with cheese.
Rip apart the ham slices and add the pieces on top of the cheese.
Use the back of a spoon and press a well into the middle of the sub.
Crack an egg into the well. (Do this for each pizza sub.
Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes or until eggs are done to your liking. 

This month's #12blogger theme is all about brunch recipes! Check out all of these brunch recipes, because I'm in love with them all

Strawberry French Toast - Million Moments
Grapefruit Scones - Around My Family Table
Fresh Strawberry Cinnamon Rolls with Champagne Cream Cheese Frosting - Betsy Life
Berry Chia Seed Yogurt Parfait - See Vanessa Craft
Mango Libre for a Crowd - Bread Booze Bacon
Cinnamon Sugar Mascarpone Bruschetta - {i love} my disorganized life
Strawberry & Lemon Cream Crepes - Love Bakes Good Cakes
Baked Egg Pizza Subs - Big Bears Wife
Coconut Popovers with Orange Flavored Butter - Home Cooking Memories
Cream Cheese Blackberry Pastries - Pink Cake Plate
Berry Breakfast Pizza - Cooking on the Front Burner
Homemade Blueberry Muffins - A Night Owl Blog

Click Here to Keep Reading..... "Baked Egg Pizza Subs #12bloggers"

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Fat Shaming, PCOS and of course Food Blogging


It's a novel. I'm sorry. I just couldn't stop. I have been debating on if I should write about anything other than recipes and trips for the past year. It's always been in the back of my mind and normally I type things out and then double press that backspace button faster than the speed of sound.

I freak out about writing about personal problems because I feel like I'll get the exact same response that I get in real life when I try to talk about something that's really emotionally bothering me..and that's a lot of eye rolls and people brushing it off to change the subject. People that are suppose to be there to listen to me. I've pretty much stopped trying to make excuses for people, I just listen to their problems now and try to be the supportive friend for their issues instead.

Tonight I saw a post from a semi local girl named Whitney Thore about the #ImNoAngel‬ campaign that Lane Bryant started on Monday. I say "semi local" because Whitney is local but lives about an hour from me in Greensboro,NC. She doesn't know that I exist but I know her as "Producer Whitney" from a local radio station (107.5KZL) and she made me laugh on the way to work many times. You might know her from her new TV show, My Big Fat Fabulous Life. I swear that this woman has more confidence in her pinky toe than I have had in my entire life

I watched one of Whitney's videos over on the TLC channel a few nights ago and just re-watched it now, it's called Getting Support from Mom & Dad, you can jump over and watch it but long story short, it's a little clip about Whitney talking about her Dr. Appointments and wanting to be happy and a few well intended comments from her dad about her needing to loose weight. I've heard more of those speeches from doctors, family and friends for a long as I can remember. I've never felt like I was enough, I was ok but I would be perfect if I got to the next step. No one was concerned about the toll it took on me, they saw a problem that deserved their opinion but that was it. 

--- "You'd do better with blogging is you lost that weight, maybe you could get your own TV show" - so that's the secret to success, dangit! 

--- "You'd sell more pampered chef items if you lost weight, no one wants to buy products if they think they'll make them fat" - geez thanks

---"You lost 15 pounds? Keeping at it because you're still not as small as you were when you got married"

--"You should try this gluten free, dairy free, taste free meal option" - I don't remember asking for your menu advice and that sounds gross.

--"You mean you DON'T eat all of those sweets and all of that food you put on your blog? What do you DO with it?" -- shocking I know, I don't sit around and eat 24 cupcakes at a time. Shame on me...I give them away! geez

I'll be honest with you. I don't like much about me.

Damn..... right?

That wasn't very nice.

Ok, well, I like my freckles, sometimes they make me look tanner than I really am. And sometimes I like my fingernails when I've had them done at the nail salon. My smile is ok too, when I've used enough teeth whiten to make sure that there isn't a smudge of tint to them other than pearly while.

I don't remember the last time I looked at a photo of myself or looked at myself in the mirror and seriously thought "You're enough, you're rocking this and you're great just like that." Maybe when I was 5. Sometimes I can get to the "well, at least you don't look like totally crap" phase when flipping through pictures.

It's more often the total opposite with a good 20 minutes of pointing out what's wrong with my face, hair, outfit or body and making resolutions that I won't uphold.

I wasn't big when I was little. I was quite thin actually. I started gaining weight when I was probably in 4th grade (that was the first time I looked at a school photo of myself and thought "eww") and I stayed chunky until I hit 11th grade.

Hell, when I was in high school I did a total flip between my 10th grade year and the last two years. I left the 10th grade with braces, frizzy poofy hair, I was overweight and wore baggy clothes. I returned to school my 11th grade year, with straight/white teeth, straight hair (thank you lord I had learned how to operate a hair straighter), I was the smallest I had ever been, my clothes were cute and I was dating a senior. I had people in my homeroom that didn't even realize it was me and it was awesome. This was also the point in my life when half of a cheeseburger made me feel like I was so full I was going to explode and I was skipping breakfast and lunch. Ok, maybe I would have chips or french fries for lunch and if was sneaky I could eat them without looking like a piggy.

Even then, I had friends and some family members that were more than willing to let me know that it wouldn't hurt to loose a pound or two or more. No matter how much I didn't eat or how little I weighed, my friends were 100 times smaller than me. Looking back now, I realize that we were all ridiculously tiny, but it didn't feel that way back then.

In high school and in college, I thought about my weight 95% of the time. Even now, it's always in my mind. No matter what I'm doing, no matter where I am, "Do I look fat?" is constantly steaming through my head. If you see me out and about, I can bet you my life that it's in my mind. I'm wondering if you're judging me. Are you thanking your lucky stars that you didn't gain weight like me.  It's like on repeat, just sitting there above everything else that's happening in my life.

I don't know what it is about fat or chunky comments that literally engrave themselves into my brain. If you've ever made a comment or joke about my weight, believe me, it's there and I'm constantly reminding myself of it. Oh and if you've ever said anything to me about someone else being fat, I've thrown that into the pile too.

I cheered for my college's football team for one year. I wasn't fat, well I mean now that I look back on photos, I wasn't huge. Maybe I wasn't as freaking tone as some of the other girls but I wasn't a manatee. I quit cheering because my boyfriend (at the time -- the one from high school) came to see me cheer at one of our games and after the game, I ran up to him and asked him how the liked the game and the cheering and he responded with "It was ok, but you need to loose that weight in your arms if you want to cheer." -- He also broke up with me the night before homecoming. -- not really because of that but yeah, I quit cheering and I sunk into an ugly dark depression.

I again lost weight. I started working at a restaurant in town and I was on my feet for hours at a time. I went to class in the mornings and between walking for 9 hours a day/night and sleeping all day after class until my shift started I started to thin out even more.  Even then, being pretty small, I was still wearing large work shirts when the other girls were wearing smalls. I was eating salads before work as my "one meal of the day" and ,still, I wasn't enough. I felt huge and gross.

A waiter that worked a lot of the same shifts as me, who I won't name, was never shy about joking around that I needed to eat another salad or that I needed to spend more time in the tanning beds or at the gym. Jokes, I assume they were jokes because I laughed them off and I did hang out with him a few times outside of work (in a group that is) and we always had fun but he was always there to remind me that more lettuce never hurt anyone. :\

Even one of the guys that I had a mini crush on at the restaurant made me turn the other way when he openly expressed his disgust of "fat people" one day as a group of people entered the restaurant, a group of people that I knew and loved. And from that moment on I questioned if all he saw was a short chubby girl when he looked at me. I secretly wish I had had a arm spasm and knocked him in the nose.

I have literally had the panic of "being fat" following me around for the past 2 decades.

I actually didn't really get fat until after I got married. Yep. When I look back on photos from when I was younger, I was thin. I didn't feel it then and when I think about those times I still feel huge but the photos show a girl who hated the "fat" thin girl she saw in the mirror. I've got one photo from a party back in 2005 and when I see myself, I think "DAMN, eat something, Angie", but I also remember the night that photo was taken and remember that I didn't want to be at the party because I felt bigger than the other girls there and felt out of place.

That's me, on the right. So huge right? Um No... but I felt like it.
When I got married I weighted about 125. I was the happiest I had ever been. I had met the most amazing man, fell in love with him and was loved by him like I didn't think I could be. I was a young bride and I was finally at what I thought was my perfect weight. I still wasn't thrilled with photos that were taken of me but I also didn't want to rip them into shreds. {I cried after my bridal portraits were done because I hated how I looked in them yet now it's one of my favorite photos and I have it hanging in my living room)

That's me at my wedding in 2007

That happiness with "me" lasted for 5 months.

I was on Depo-Provera, it completely got rid of the worst cramps of my life and it regulated my hormones. Most people gain weight on it. I lost weight and had tons of energy. (I didn't know it was regulating anything, all I knew was that those cramps went away, I was loosing weight...oh and that pesky monthly female torture time had been shut off!Young me thought that this was the best thing to happen in the history of history).

When we moved to Camp Lejeune, I decide that at the beginning of summer that I would just try regular birth control pills (too much info for a food blog? Sorry) and my body freaked out.

Along with the hormones in my body just literally saying "F You", I was spending the first summer of my marriage 4 hours away from home in a military town with a new husband, no friends and no job. I ended up finding a work at home job (I worked for DirecTV....possibly the worst job ever, 12 hour shifts of listening to people scream in my ear about their damn tv not working) but that meant I had gone from a 9 hour shift on my feet as a waitress to a 12 hour shift on my butt. I was also in full housewife mode and I was teaching myself to cook and eating more than I had in the past 5 years.

My job at DirecTv was literally, me in my "home office" (our spare bedroom with the door shut) for 12 hours straight. Alone. Listening to people yell and cuss and just be damn hateful all because they're TV wasn't working just like they wanted it to. Listen to that for 12 hours and tell me that your head won't want to explode. I had my first melt down half way through one of my shifts about 2 months into our marriage. I ripped the cord from my phone mid call, called Thomas and sat in the middle of the living room on our tiny little house on base and cried like an insane person and I couldn't breath and I couldn't stop.

I gained 80 pounds in 6 months.

I lived in my Pjs and sweat pants. Because, hell, who needs real clothes when you're working in your home office 12 hours a day and you never go anywhere.

I don't know when it happened to be honest. When Did I realize that I had gotten huge? Probably when we got ready to go the beach for a family vacation and I couldn't fit into anything. The summer before was the first time in history that I had wore a two piece on the beach and this summer I was  marshmallow puff. Even my hubby says that "it happened over night".

I went to doctor after doctor on base and they couldn't have gave two flying flips about why I was there. Their only advice was "go to the gym and eat less". I got a personal trainer at the gym on base who was also not helpful. The first  day he made me do lots of tests, weighted me and measured me. He walked me out to the machines pointed to them and said "Do 15 reps on all of those." He went back to his office and I left after an hour of pain and sweat. I didn't see him again.

Me, Summer of 2008. According to the personal trainer on base I was "morbidity obese", This was also one of my vacation photos that I showed to a certain family member and when I asked if I look fat in this photo, they responded with "Kinda, yeah".
When BigBear deployed to Iraq in the summer of 2008, I quit my job and focused on me. I had started having panic attacks and I needed a break from everything. I spent the summer, hanging with my new friend Tara, going to the beach on base, going to the gym, taking yoga, taking belly dancing classes and ONTOP OF THAT I forcing myself to walk miles and miles each morning through our neighborhood and down the country roads we lived by. My poor dogs hated me, my feet and legs hated me. I lived off of pre-packaged nutrisystem when I was at home and slim fast drinks. I did loose some weight, but not a lot. I lost enough to wear a bathing suit again (a full bathing suit, no more cute 2 pieces for me...ever) and I felt semi pretty the day I stood on base and watched my husband step off of the bus after way too many months in the desert.

Fall of 2008, waiting on base for Big Bear's' homecoming from Iraq
 Right before Thomas came home that summer, I started having the worst pains in my body that I had ever had in my life. Something was wrong with the bottom half of my stomach and I literally thought I was going to pass out. The pain shot through me, I felt the blood rush to my face and I hit the ground. Thankfully it was in my living room/hallway and my friend Tara (who was there) took me to the ER. Again, military doctors, no cares in the world and I was giving a shot and a z-pack and sent on my way.

Thomas got out of the military in 2009, he had a rough time adjusting to civilian life and finding a job. He had some health things that needed to be taken care of so I put myself onto the back burner. We moved back home to VA and I got my job back waiting tables. But this time I hated it. I didn't adjust well and had a mini break down. I quit and when I say I quit, I just literally quit one day because I had a breakdown and I couldn't handle it anymore. My parents hired me to work in their office and that helped me pay our bills.

I went back on Depo but this time because I wanted to use it against getting prego. We were going through enough, I didn't want to accidently bring a baby into our screwed up life right then. My stress went up and my weight again went through the roof. After 3 moves, 2 jobs and a crappy farm house with no heat and no air, I had had as much as I could take and depression rolled back around. This time though I had a husband to take care of and bills to pay. BigBear was battling a depression too but unlike mine, I viewed his as being the most important and then biggest demon that we were facing.

I'll admit it, though I didn't talk about it on the blog, food blogging and cooking for the blog was one of the ways I kept my head a float. Even if no one came to read the blog and even if I got picked on by my friends for staying in the kitchen and cooking "all day", it was there and I could share the recipes that I loved, the meal that I was making in my kitchen....the stability in a world that I felt was crashing down around me.

But through all the bad that was going on around me, I also have to take care of myself. How could I be there for my husband if I couldn't handle myself.

My pain after every meal had returned and one morning I woke up with the worst pain in my chest and stomach. At first I thought it was just a tummy issue but after I got up and laid on the couch for about half an hour, I realized that my chest felt like it was getting ready to break in half and I couldn't breath. My husband was a Volunteer Medic/Firefighter, tossed me into the car, drove us to the fire dept that he was a member of while radioing for someone to meet him at the fire dept to drive the ambulance. Literally the most terrifying trip of my life. I was put into the back of an ambulance and my husband switched into medic mode and hooked me up to weird wires and heart monitors. I barley remember the ride, it's almost like remembering a dream. Later on I learned that what I had experienced was "Pleurisy", that's when there is inflammation of the tissues that line the lungs and chest cavity. It also mimics a heart attack and it freaking hurts. 

So between that and the panic attacks, weight gain, my womanly body functions MIA found and the fact that I was still getting sick every time I ate, it was time to visit some more doctors. 

That led to Duke doctor visits, tons of Dr. visits and procedures here in VA (I've had more blood draw and thyroid checks that one needs to have in a life time) and a liver biopsy at Duke....a full filled trip of having them plunge a huge needle into my side. Still after all of that, most of the doctors ended our visits with "Just work out and loose weight and you'll be fine." I'll never forget the 500 pound looking woman doctor at Duke listening to me tell her about my healthy issues, struggle to loose weight and concerns and her looking at me and saying "You just need to loose weight" and waddle away. -- ok that was mean of me to say but @#%&@%$&@%$ are you freaking kidding me. One doctor even told me that the gym would do nothing for me and I just needed to cut down to the smallest amount of food possible and that would fix me.

Christmas (2009?) after lots of weight gain
 I didn't even get a smudge of helpfulness until I started seeing my new "woman doctor" here in VA. I expressed my concerned about everything and she as well just brushed me off and told me to loose weight. I went back a year later and told her that wasn't enough. I was stilling having all of my issues and I couldn't get pregnant. Whoa....again....too much for a blog? Sorry just cover your ears. 

By that point, I'd been off of birth control for a while but nothing was happening and when I say nothing, I mean NOTHING as far as what women should experience normally. That's when after many test and examines, my doctor was convinced it was PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome).  Just typing those letters make me want to throw up. You can read about it here if you want to, it's got lots of fun symptoms and my doctor also told me that she's sure that it's the reason that I was gaining weight and couldn't loose it. I was put on hormone pills and those pills forced womanly monthly functions that were so painful that I had to stop taking them. 

And then it was there, one of the big reasons that I gained my weight and can't get rid of it. No matter how many people, family members, friends or doctors think that a few less meals and more time at the gym will solve all of my problems, I finally had a medical answer as to why I couldn't make it just happen. 

2013 - my first time on TV and I panicked for a week before this because "TV adds weight" -- great, just what I needed

Most women won't talk about their dealings with PCOS or infertility or weight problems that come with it. It's like a dirty secret that no one needs to know about. I mentioned it on my Facebook about a year ago and got so many e-mails and messages from friends that are dealing with the same thing but haven't spoken about it because it's not something that people just bring up in random conversation. Ps. if you're one of those woman who's ashamed and sad just know that you're not alone. I know it doesn't make it any easier but at least you're not some weirdo that's all alone. :)

But even with a name and medical reason I still hate it and I still freak out about being fat. I cry in dressing rooms and constantly wonder if people in public are judging me. If the topic of obesity in America comes up or someone makes a comment about foods that make you fat or the gym, I automatically feel a thousand eyes baring down on my neck....and hips...and thighs. It's probably not really happening, it might be but it feel like it is. My best friend and I went out for drinks the other night. I hate going out for the very reason of just feeling like a giant blob but I agreed to a night out and I needed a drink. We met a lady at the bar that we started chatting with, she was a bigger woman but she had no issues with it and she let us know many times. Which was awesome until she uttered the words "Ain't no shame in being bigger, girl! Us Big girls gotta stick together." She then proceeded to "drop it low" in the middle of the bar and I begged for a lighting bolt to strike me down.

A lot of the foods that we normally eat now are ridiculously healthy, we (BigBear and I) went on a 30 day whole foods challenge last year and it opened my eyes to so much. This is the best I've ever eaten in my life and I feel good, but my body shape wouldn't tell you that. I love fruits, I've converted my husband into a veggie lover and I'm a freak about checking labels. Now do I still eat regular boxed food, um yeah... but not even close to how much I use to. I didn't give up all of my favorite foods but I'll tell you that there are more lean meats, fruits and veggies in my grocery cart that ever before. The past year has been amazing as far as me being even more active and eating good food. I can't sit still unless I'm writing a post (even then I have to take tons of breaks because I hate being still), unless I'm at work, I'm always on my feet. 

My body shape however tells you that I sit in front of my TV and binge on M&Ms and Cheese Puffs. That is how the world see's big people. They automatically see them as lazy people that eat fast-food and junk all day. Now I'm not saying that all big people have medical issues, I'm just saying that not all larger people are that way because of late night double cheeseburgers and milkshakes for breakfast. 

Do you know how many times I've wanted a milkshake this year!! Gaw!!! But have I gotten one? Nope. I've had ice cream like 2 times so far this year and 1 of those ice cream cones I shared with 3 other people haha (family members! haha)

Meeting Paula Deen last year. I literally can't stand photos of me straight on like this. But Paula's in this photo so I just couldn't delete it, even though I pretty much hate my part of it.
Being a food blogger opens your eyes to all kind of things. People are amazing and people are also awful. I see recipes that fellow bloggers post and if they are anything other that super healthy you can bet that with the "yum, that looks so good" comments that you're going to have some "this is why people are fat" comments. I'm more of a "if you want to eat it, eat it" kinda girl when it comes to other people but I've learned that people are more than willing to let you know that you've made the worst food decisions of your life no matter what you're eating? Eating normal? You should be eating healthier! Eating Healthy? You should be eating organic! Eating Organic? You should be eating clean! Eating Clean? You should be eating dairy, vegan and gluten free! If you were eating this way, you'd loose that weight-- does it ever stop?

I probably could accept myself and maybe I'd be ok with me if it wasn't for the pressure that the outside world puts on everyone. The pressure to be perfect and thin when it's out of your control and your body is fighting with you every step of the way. How do you deal with that?

I'm working on it this year. I'm going to turn 30 this year and I'm working on loving me. My husband loves me, why can't I love me. Who am I trying to impress? OH yeah... every freakin body.

Right before my 29th birthday party last year. - With my most amazing, supportive husband. 

Obviously I'm not going to give up on loosing weight, I'm freaking trying y'all, but I'm tired of feeling like crap about who I am. I'm tired of trying on clothes and crying because someone might to think that I look gross.

I'm headed to the beach in 2 days and I bought some spaghetti strap sun dresses to wear while I'm there. You have NO IDEA how hard it was for me to throw those dresses onto the cash register and hand over my debit card to buy them. I also bought a cute new shirt to wear with a pair of shorts....I don't wear shorts.
This past March at DisneyWorld

I'm starting a new chapter of loving me and I'm already scared to death and already humiliated. How can I accept something and love something that I find gross?

However, I'm using inspiration from Whitney's No Body Shame Campaign, two new dresses and a trip to my favorite city with my best friend this weekend to kick-start it.

So with that, I'll end this dreadfully long rambling post.

My first goal? Make it through the weekend without telling myself that I look like crap.

Ps. I'm wearing this dress this weekend....and also attempting to not hyperventilate after pressing the publish button on this post.

You'll have to check my instagram this weekend to see if I really wore it or if I chickened out. It doesn't have sleeves and shows my arms, I'm panicking a bit. Although I'm sure my best friend will pull me out in public wearing it, kicking and screaming.

Click Here to Keep Reading..... "Fat Shaming, PCOS and of course Food Blogging"

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Chicken and Broccoli Penne Alfredo

Chicken and Broccoli Penne Alfredo

I'm ridiculously excited about making it another year and turning 30 this year (not til June though!), and I normally think that 30 isn't bad because I'm not going to be "old"....until I watch videos like this and listen to teenagers talk about how weird things were in the 90s and that 25 years olds are "old". Wait...what...I'm pretty just that I was 18 like 2 years ago ;) I mean for-real. Come on guys. 30 isn't it? haha

Speaking of getting older, I keep reading all of the articles about giving up pasta and starches and how older people need to lay off of the sweets and carbs. (like older than 29 people! What the HE-double hockey sticks )

Geezzz, just put me outta my misery why don't ya.

Chicken and Broccoli Penne Alfredo

Well, let me just tell you something. That just ain't gonna happen y'all.

Yep. I brought out the southern twang.

I just can't give up pasta and it's not ever gonna happen.

I'm pretty sure that my body and soul both need pasta in order to function!

Chicken and Broccoli Penne Alfredo

So what did I make to show em? Homemade Chicken and Broccoli Penne Alfredo!

You're gonna need:

3 boneless skinless chicken breast, diced or cubed
3-4 cups broccoli florets
Olive Oil
16 oz penne pasta
2 sticks of butter (1 cup)
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons paprika
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons white pepper (or black pepper)
2 cups freshly grated Parmesan 
Extra Grated Parmesan for garnish (optional)

Ekkk that does look like a long list doesn't it? Ok, look at the photo below. The items you need look a lot less intimidating when they're in a photo, don't ya think?

Chicken and Broccoli Penne Alfredo

Of course you don't have to make this with chicken or the broccoli but why wouldn't you?! It's so good that you're going to be begging for seconds!

Chicken and Broccoli Penne Alfredo

*sign* seconds, something in my past. Yeah, yeah, I won't be giving up pasta anytime soon but I have trimmed down my portion sizes a TON and I won't be going back to seconds any time soon.

No matter how much I'm craving them.

Chicken and Broccoli Penne Alfredo

So when you make this Chicken and Broccoli Penne Alfredo, have an extra bowl for me, k?

I suppose that I do need to stick to watching my serving sizes even if I'm hell bent on never giving up pasta.

Plus, I do kinda want to fit into these new dresses that I bought for our beach vacation. Dang.
Chicken and Broccoli Penne Alfredo                         (Click to Print)
By: Angie Barrett -
Serves 4-6                                                                          

3 boneless skinless chicken breast, diced or cubed
3-4 cups broccoli florets
Olive Oil
16 oz penne pasta
2 sticks of butter (1 cup)
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons paprika
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons white pepper (or black pepper)
2 cups freshly grated Parmesan 
Extra Grated Parmesan for garnish (optional)


Cook pasta in a large pot filled with salted water. Bring pasta to a boil and cook for 12-15 minutes or until pasta is done. Drain and pour back into pot. 

While the pasta is cooking, add the chicken to a skillet with a little olive oil. Cook on high for a few minutes to crispy the sides and then and cook over medium heat until cooked throughout.

Cook the  broccoli florets. I normally just add them all to a pot of water and heat for about 4-5 minutes until they're tender and bright green. Remove from heat and drain. Gently rinse in cool water. set aside. 

For the Alfredo sauce, add the butter and heavy cream to a sauce pan or skillet. Add in the paprika, pepper and garlic. Whisk together. Heat over medium to high heat until hot. 

Add grated Parmesan and whisk until melted. Raise the heat until the sauce starts to boil and then turn the heat off. Whisk well. Sauce should thicken as the cheese melts but won't be super thick.

Add the sauce to the pasta. Toss to coat. Add in the Broccoli and chicken and stir to combine.

Garnish with Extra Grated Parmesan!

Serve Immediately.

Big Bear's Wife Tip: After this sits in the fridge it does get rather thick. I find that a splash of milk or cream before re-heating helps!

Chicken and Broccoli Penne Alfredo
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