Lately I’ve Been (VI)…

Waking up early to go to the gym


Watching the Bears finally win!

Drinking Napa wine

Buying new makeup


Making Buffalo Chicken Chili for our annual chili party

Planning for Thanksgiving

Running in the snow


Laughing at the Big Bang Theory

Studying for a professional test

Reading books in my kids yoga class


Taking the BOY to Bonefish for his birthday dinner

Reading a great new book!

Meal planning

Taking Cooper selfies



What have you been doing lately?

Taste > Perfection

Whoopie pies are a labor of love!

But when the BOY requested them for his birthday dessert this weekend, of course I said YES!

However…I cheated a little bit.  Instead of going to my favorite Whoopie Pie book, I went to the baking aisle and bought a cake mix.  A girl only has so many hours in a day and mine have been busy studying, cooking, and cuddling with my cat.  So I figured a few short cuts would be just fine.  The BOY wanted a chocolate peanut butter combo and thanks to Pinterest, I was able to find plenty of options.


I chose a triple chocolate cake recipe.  In my haste, I totally overfilled my adorable little whoopie pie pans, but they tasted just the same.  Don’t worry, I checked!


My next problem came when I tried to pipe the peanut butter frosting onto the cookies.  Unfortunately, I cut my bag all wrong allowing frosting to ooze out from all angles.  This led to a messier situation than I expected, and I was so covered with frosting that I couldn’t get any shots.


There may have been more frosting on my counter than made it into my sandwiches.


But despite my lack of precision, the pies turned out GREAT!  I put a few aside for the BOY to enjoy on his birthday (he ate 4 the first day) and froze the rest for future consumption.  Except that I did slice off just one tiny bite from the freezer section and discovered that they taste exactly like a peanut butter chocolate ice cream sandwich! 


No joke!  They are addicting!

Consider yourself warned!

Do you make special desserts for birthdays?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies

From The Pink Flour

Makes 16 sandwiches

For the Cake Cookies

1 chocolate cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (350 degrees for convection).

Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat together the cake mix, eggs, water & vegetable for 2-3 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat (or invest in a whoopie pie pan). Scoop the batter on the baking sheet using a small ice cream scoop, approximately 1 1/2 – 2 inches in diameter.

Bake for 8 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool on baking sheet for 1 minute and then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.

For the Filling

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (crunchy would work too!)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar

In a stand mixer (or using hand mixer), beat together the cream cheese and peanut butter until smooth.

Add vanilla and powdered sugar (1 cup at a time) and beat until light a fluffy.

Fill pastry bag (or plastic bag) with frosting and snip end of the bag. Turn one cookie upside down and pipe frosting on to the cookie and then top with another cookie.

Store in airtight container or freeze!

Getting into the Pumpkin Spirit

I love pumpkin just as much as the next blogger and even though I’m a little late to the pumpkin game, I dove right into the spirit with a few orange recipes this week.


To start, I made a pumpkin chili in the crockpot.  With talk of the first PV (polar vortex) of the season on the horizon, I knew that I would want some chili this week.  Last year, I made an awesome Pumpkin Quinoa Chili, so I was willing to give the combo another try.


After I got everything in the crockpot, I busted out my food processor (I swear my kitchen does not have enough counter space or outlets to support all my toys).  I have been wanting to make some raw energy balls to bring into the office for an afternoon pick me up.


Of course I went with the pumpkin ones.  Although my texture was a little off, the flavor of these balls was great!  I will have to try them again…


You can check out this website for the full Pumpkin Pie Energy Bites Recipe.  If they turn out a little gooey, then I suggest freezing them. It worked like a charm!  Back to the chili…my pumpkin chili turned out thick and spicy!  I happen to love it, but it has a mushy texture.  So if you don’t like that kind of thing in your chili, then add in some extra beans or lentils.


And although they look pretty funny, check out the Whoopie Pies I made for the BOY’s 33rd Birthday today!  He ate 4 of them!

Recipe to come…


Meal Planning 11/11/14

Monday: Chinese Leftovers

Tuesday: Crockpot Pork

Wednesday: Turkey Tacos

Thursday: Leftovers


What was the first pumpkin recipe you made this fall?

Turkey Pumpkin Chili

Adapted Slightly From Garnish with Lemon


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound ground turkey (lean)

2 – 15 oz cans diced tomatoes (drained lightly)

2 – 15 oz cans pumpkin puree

1 15-ounce can tomato sauce

4 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

3 tablespoons cumin

2 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, chopped


In a large fry pan, cook onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until translucent. Add turkey and cook until meat is no longer pink.

Spray the bottom of a crockpot and add the turkey mixture.  Layer on the tomatoes, sauce, pumpkin, spices, and chipotle peppers.  Stir and cook on low for 4-5 hours.

Serve with avocado, cheese, sour cream, chips or corn bread.

Five For Friday XXVII

1. I got a few new books this week that I have already started paging through.  I am having so much fun teaching the kids yoga classes and am always eager to learn new ideas, strategies, and poses.  Especially for the middle school kids where boosting self esteem and promoting independence is so important.

IMG_20141106_203604230 IMG_20141106_203609964


2. Yesterday was a super exciting day as the BOY got sworn into the Illinois State Bar Association!  I took the day off work with my mom and his mom.  We were beyond proud to support him as he took his oath.



3.  Afterwards, we all went out for Ramen.  The timing couldn’t have been better as I woke up with early signs of a cold and Miso is known for its health benefits.  Because the bowl is HUGE, I was thrilled to indulge in leftovers again today.



4.  Then…we swung by the Buddy Foundation (which was Cooper’s home before we adopted him last year).  Each week, the BOY and I put spare change and money into a donation bucket and we decided that we wanted to donate this year’s money to this no kill animal shelter.  It is such a positive place and Cooper has become a huge part of our family.  The four of us played with kittens and despite their adorable smiles and sweet purrs, we managed to walk away without one.  We were, of course, more than thrilled to come home to our favorite feline : )



5.  Wednesday night’s dinner was easy, tasty, and healthy so it is definitely worth sharing. You can find the full recipe HERE, but I created an even simpler version.  On a baking sheet, I placed the chicken, covered it with seasoning and cheese, baked it for 10 minutes.  Then, I added the lettuce, drizzled it with olive oil, salt, and pepper, baked it for 5 minutes and then sprinkled everything with a bit of sea salt.  Although it might have been a little better on the grill, it will be a close second when the grill gets closed up for the winter.



What was the highlight of your week?  What’s on the agenda for this weekend?

Month of Gratefulness

I read somewhere at my yoga studio that they are doing a ‘Month of Gratefulness’ board.  I didn’t see too much more but it reminded me about the importance of being thankful for all of the good things in my life.  Obviously, there are the big things…I am healthy,surrounded by family, about to marry my best friend, and happy!  But there are also the little things from day to day that I am grateful for.  An email from a friend, that first bite of expensive dark chocolate, a cuddle from Cooper, or a beautiful sunrise.


I started my month Saturday with our kids yoga class.  It’s a great group of kids and we had tons of fun playing in the leaves, celebrating fall, and stretching tight hamstrings before hibernating during our relaxation.


Afterwards, I met two of my close high school friends for lunch before uncorking a delicious Napa wine with the BOY for a quiet dinner in.  Sunday began with an intense and exhausting hot yoga class.  Then, I was off to the St. Jude Fashion Show with my Mom and a group of ladies.  If you remember, my mom and I volunteered here last year and decided that we wanted to participate this year.  We recruited 8 other people to share our table and celebrate the efforts of this magnificent hospital.


One of the most exciting parts (especially since nobody at our table won a raffle) was getting a bright red hair streak for donating to St. Jude.  I’m not gonna lie, it’s super fun and matched my red dress perfectly!


This morning was a busy one (exercising and cleaning) and then I worked a half day.  I’m taking Thursday off to watch the BOY get sworn into the Illinois State Bar Association (can you say super grateful for this?!), so I caught up on a few patients today.  I should add that I am grateful for generous and kind coworkers as well.  My month is off to a fantastic start (even though one person in this household isn’t handling Daylight Savings time so well).


This would be Cooper singing for his dinner 90 minutes early last night.  The BOY and I were both trying to study and couldn’t stop laughing at his emotional attempts to elicit an early dinner.  I am so grateful for laughter!  Speaking of dinner…here is the game plan this week!

Meal Planning 11/03/14

Monday: Crockpot Chicken Curry

Tuesday: Grilled Shrimp and Veggies

Wednesday: Parmesan Chicken with Roasted Romaine

Thursday: TBD (we both have the day off!)


With so much to be grateful this month, I’m going to try my best to appreciate the little things and celebrate the big things.

What are you grateful for?

A Little Snow Can’t Stop Me

Hey All! 

Happy Halloween!


This Halloween Friday was a great way to wrap up the work week.  Although there was talk of the ‘worst storms in 18 years’, it turned out to be a relatively dry (although super windy) day.  In fact, we woke up this morning with SNOW on our cars.  I was lucky enough to go into work late and had planned on an AM run.  Let me tell you…after the last winter we had, ain’t no sprinkling of snow gonna to stop me from running outside on a day like today.  I dressed in some warm weather gear, complete with wool socks, and took to the path for a chilly but sunny run.


By the time I got home, I was sweating!  And super happy that  little chill didn’t persuade me out of my run.  After work, the BOY and I went out for dinner.  As we discussed dessert, I confessed that I have been craving some spiked cider.  The BOY agreed and offered up his bourbon to compliment the sweet cider we found at the store.


I warmed up the cider with cinnamon sticks and cloves and we sipped this warm bevvy while we watched the Bulls game.


The plan is to head to bed early as I am teaching kids yoga on Saturdays at work starting tomorrow morning.  We are doing a fall theme and I am excited for this new group of kids to begin.  I have a nice mix of kids who have participated in past classes and new kids.  Each class, my confidence and skills grow and we always have a lot of fun!  Although it also sounds like fun to stay up drinking warm adult beverages : )  I was thinking mulled wine for Thanksgiving, but we might have to switch that to spiked cider!


Since it’s the last day of the month, it’s GOAL time!  But first, the BOY just put on a Michael Jackson song and Cooper immediately hit the ground break dancing.  I wish I had captured it on video because he’d be a YouTube sensation!


So anyways…we were talking about goals.

September/October Goals

1. Really start eating more greens

I’ve been better but not great!

2. Do weekly yoga

Yes!  Between teaching the kids and my own practice, including unique workshops and gong meditations, I’ve been getting in a lot of yoga and loving it!

3. Go for long bike rides

Major fail! Even with the best of intentions, I haven’t had the time to get my bike out for any long rides.  We’ll have to see if the weather stays warm enough for any future rides to come.

4. Volunteer for the marathon

My mom and I had a BLAST volunteering this year.

5. Move forward with wedding plans

Some have told me that I need to slow down but I am super happy to share that most (if not all) of our big wedding plans are set and booked.  We will definitely be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the months ahead!


November/December Goals

1. Exercise 5 days per week

*Just a little background…I joined a group at the yoga studio PUSHing us to work hard to meet my goals during the last 90 days of the year.  One of the goals is to workout 5 days a week.  So far, I have rocked this goal (hence the sunrise pic above).  Hoping to keep this up through the end of the year.  BTW…PUSH stand for Persist Until Something Happens.

2. Host our first Thanksgiving

3. Teach another community yoga class

4. Eat clean (even during the holidays)

Since the end of the year is usually busy, I’m going to keep the goals simple and doable and end them (and this post) there…


How did you celebrate Halloween?

What are your goals for the last 60ish days of the year?