The List

For as long as I can remember, I’ve used lists to keep track of my life.

Currently, I am working through a never ending to do list of work, wedding, and home stuff.  Including that darn oil change I keep putting off!  Sometimes it feels like my Monday is a chaotic mix of doing the stuff I didn’t do all weekend and prepping for the week ahead.

Yesterday was supposed to be a ‘To Do List’ kind of day but instead it was a spend a fun day shopping with your mom kind of day.  As we were trying on outfits in the Loft dressing room, we decided that shopping was a much better way to spend the afternoon than wedding planning.

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Shopping with post yoga hair : )

Sunday morning, my mom came by to grab me and play with Cooper before heading out for an amazing and sweaty yoga class.  After yoga, she had a quick return at Crate and Barrel which is right next door to Whole Foods.  We chatted, sampled, and shopped before sitting down with a hodge podge picnic style lunch of WF goodies.

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We came back to my house for a quick shower and a little more Cooper love.  Plus, we brought lunch to the BOY.  Then we headed back out for more shopping.  I found some adorable dresses at the Loft and some hot new shoes to go with them.  By the time we arrived back at my house, we were both tired.  But had enough energy for me to give a little fashion show of newly purchased dresses (and the above modeled romper).  We decided that making a list of things that need to get done for the wedding was good enough planning for this weekend.  The BOY ordered pizza for dinner, and I made a colorful salad with smoked salmon.

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I slept 10 hours through the first set of huge storms that rolled in and then met my trainer for a super tough and sweaty workout Monday morning.  On my way home, I stopped by Target and struggled to lift my arms to reach the top shelves : )  I also went to the grocery store to fill our fridge.  When I got back home, I ate lunch and got going with dinner in the crockpot.

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First step…homemade peanut butter!  I couldn’t remember if I shared this recipe with you guys, so this may be a repeat, but I have learned that any Thai peanut dinners are better with the homemade stuff!

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Once my crockpot was up and running, I was back out the door for more errands (yes, I finally got my oil changed) and a bit more shopping.  Time flew by so quickly that at 5pm, I realized my stomach was growling and grabbed a snack from one of my fave places!

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I arrived back home, preheated the oven and started to pull together lunch for the week before the Hawks game. I also wanted to make some cookies with my leftover peanut butter.  My oven didn’t heat up real quick, and I tried to make the cookies anyways. 

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Needless to say, it took forever and I’m now convinced that my oven is broken…bummer!  Just another thing to add to my list.  Luckily, this week’s meal plan involves a lot of grilling.  I stuck with the cookies and they eventually got baked enough to eat…soft and tasty…the perfect kind of cookie!

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Dinner also turned out amazing and was a huge success!  And I realized that I did share the recipe with ya’ll…it’s HERE

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Last night ended with excitement watching the Blackhawks bring home the Stanley Cup in Chicago!  Note: add find awesome Stanley Cup shirt to To Do list!

 

Meal Planning 6/15/15

Monday: Crockpot Thai Peanut Chicken

Tuesday: Sausages with Pasta/Zoodles

Wednesday: Ribs and Veggies

Thursday: Pork and Veggies

 

3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

From Gimme Some Oven

Ingredients
  • 1 cup peanut butter (crunchy or creamy), preferable homemade
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (and cross your fingers that it actually heats up). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.

Using an electric mixer, mix together the peanut butter, white sugar and egg until smooth.

Form dough into round tablespoons. Then roll in an extra bowl of sugar, if desired, to coat the outside of the dough ball. Place on the baking sheet at least 2 inches apart, and then use a fork to flatten and form a cross pattern.

Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cookies are just slightly browned on the bottom, being careful not to over-bake. Remove and let cool on the baking sheet for 1 minute, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Eat immediately or freeze!

Salty and Sweet

Everyone needs a little pampering now and again! Right?!

This weekend I scheduled a post test spring facial on Saturday (plus tea with my mom).

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And then Sunday morning, I met two friends from work for brunch before we cashed in our Groupons at the Salt Spa.  I’ve never been to a salt cave before, but I thought it would be fun to try.  We got a tour of the spa which has some interesting saunas and float pods.  Intrigued?  You can read all about the benefits of sitting/floating in salt HERE

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Then, we entered the salt cave for 45 minutes of quiet meditation.  Luckily, we knew in advance that were going to have to be quiet, which is why we scheduled brunch beforehand.

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There are a few different types of salt in the room plus the salt you inhale through the air.  The room is a bit chilly and as your blood pressure drops, your body gets cold.  I laid back in my chair and cuddled up with a blanket. I didn’t know what to expect of the quiet room, so I took some deep yoga breathes and tried to relax.  It was surprisingly easy and our 45 minutes flew by.  Afterwards, we had tea and chatted about food, supplements, and exercise.  I’m guessing that the spa is relatively new, and we were the only people there. The staff was friendly and it sounds like they have plans to make this an incredible and holistic wellness center.

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From Salty—>Sweet!  Can you tell what I made today?

After my girls morning out, I came home for lunch and grocery shopping with the BOY.  It’s been a long time since I’ve ‘baked’ dessert.  The BOY requested pumpkin pie with a crust from scratch.  Ummm No! 

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He settled for peanut butter magic cookie bars, which are similar to the original with a little PB mixed into the milk.

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My bars cooked while I did a little meal planning and spring cleaning around the house (while watching basketball of course).  What’s interesting is that I am extremely thirsty and every time I breath through my nose, it feels like I spent my morning at the ocean.  Except that it is super cold here (like we might get snow tonight), so it’s an odd feeling…a bit of a brain/body conundrum if you will.

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Other than that I chalk the salt cave up to a fun way to relax and enjoy some quiet time and even better when you do it with friends followed by tea in the meditation room : )

Have a SWEET night!

 

Meal Planning 3/22/15

Sunday: Slow Cooker Island Pulled Chicken

Monday: Apple Cinnamon Pork

Tuesday: Burger Night

Wednesday: Baked Teriyaki Chicken

Thursday: Ribs from Costco

Have you been to a salt spa?  Do you think you could do the floatation pod?

 

Peanut Butter Magic Cookie Bars

Adapted from Renee’s Kitchen Adventures

Ingredients

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1-14oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup peanut butter flavored chips
  • 1/2 cup sweetened, flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 oz. milk chocolate, melted, (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13” glass baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the graham crackers and melted butter. Pour into the prepared baking dish and press down firmly.
  3. In the same bowl you used to mix the base, combine the sweetened condensed milk with the peanut butter.  Pour evenly over the crust.
  4. Sprinkle the chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, coconut and chopped nuts over the milk/peanut butter layer.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until set. Remove from oven and cool completely. Drizzle with melted chocolate, if desired.  Place in refrigerator for a couple of hours to chill to help with cutting. Once chilled, remove from refrigerator and cut into bars.  Store in air tight container or freezer.

Not into peanut butter…the original Magic Cookie Bars are still and always will be amazing!

No Bake and Go Red

I love the bulk aisle at Whole Foods.  Well, I love EVERYTHING about Whole Foods, but the bulk aisle is always fun!  I have been craving some kitchen/baking time, so I stocked up on some no bake ingredients last weekend. 

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And then, never made anything : (  This BLOG used to be FULL of recipes and I haven’t made anything new in a few weeks.  To fix that, I bought ingredients for some no bake energy bites to snack on during study sessions and after workouts.  When I woke up this morning, I decided to whip them up before doing some work. I pulled out all the ingredients, found the recipe I wanted, and got to work.  What I realized is that I bought ingredients for two different energy balls and got them a bit messed up, which is why my recipe differs slightly from Erin’s.

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And because everything didn’t blend together as smoothly (I have a smaller food processor than is suggested and did eat a few of the figs during the week), I added in a bit of honey to help it all stick together.

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I packed up a few energy balls to take with me on this afternoons adventure at Macy’s and stored the rest in the fridge.

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It was a gorgeous 40 degree day, and I was almost sad to be heading indoors to the mall.

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I volunteered to demo yoga poses at the Go Red campaign at the local Macy’s to support women’s heart health.

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It was a fun afternoon educating women on how they can stay active and strengthen their hearts.  When I got home, the BOY started on dinner.  We did ‘make your own pizza’ night and it was fantastic!

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What is your favorite heart healthy habit or recipe?

 

Fig and Peanut Energy Bites

From Well Plated Erin

Ingredients

15 dried Mission figs (6 ounces)
7 pitted Mejool dates (4 ounces)
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
3/4 cup oats, either old fashioned or quick cooking (gluten free if necessary)
1/4 cup ground flaxseed meal
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Optional: 1 tbsp of honey

Directions

Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of your food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to loosely combine, then with a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Blend and pulse for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture begins to clump and sticks to the sides of the bowl, stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed.  If it doesn’t stick, then add in the honey.

Portion the mixture into your hands, then roll the mixture into any sized balls you like.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Once I Finally Left the Couch

By January 2nd, I was ready to leave the couch.  The BOY and Cooper…well that’s another story : )

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I slept over 10 hours and started my day with some detox green tea.  I got a David’s Tea sampler as a holiday gift and it is fun to try a different tea each day.  It looked brutally cold outside, so I bundled up for a grocery store run.  It was surprisingly warmer than I expected, so after the store, I decided to tackle an easy 30 minute run on the path.  I had enough time to come home and shower, eat leftover chili for lunch, no bake some bars (recipe below), and was back on the road…this time heading out for my New Year Facial!

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My skin desperately needed some TLC and I was looking for some moisturizing suggestions.  I left glowing and since my Mom was the facial after me, they scheduled some tea time for us in between.  It was sweet to catch up in front of the fire!  A huge bonus of my facial was that it came with a blow out. When the stylist asked how I usually do my hair, I told her that she should just do what she wanted, which of course turned out way cuter than I can do!

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It made me look all dressed up for the Shabbat dinner the BOY and I hosted for his sister and her boyfriend. 

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We feasted on chicken parm and roasted broccoli as we caught up on life.  We had warm, gooey, leftover caramel brownies for dessert.  They are definitely good enough to have 100 two nights in a row.  We also had the peanut butter bars, which I have had pinned for months.  They are very quick and easy and taste delicious!  I think made with a natural peanut butter, these would make the perfect power bar for long bike rides!

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Sadly, I crashed early last night (it was a long day) and slept another 10+ hours.  I slept through my workout time and confirmed this was the best idea when I saw the freezing rain and ‘wintery’ mix outside our windows (and covering our cars).  Today, we had a busy day of driving to a study session for me and wedding planning for both of us.  At 3:00, we were both thrilled to be back inside our warm house with a cold beer and college basketball (followed by a Law&Order marathon…woo woo!).  Tomorrow’s big adventure…lunch with the girls!!!

What have you been doing this year?  On the couch or on the go?

3 ingredient No Bake PB Oat Bars

From Cookies & Cups

Ingredients

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup honey
  • 3 cups rolled oats

Directions

  1. Line a 9×9 pan with foil. Spray lightly with non-stick spray.
  2. Melt the peanut butter and honey together until smooth, either in the microwave or stove top. Combine mixture with oats.
  3. Press into prepared pan. Place in refrigerator until set. Cut into squares.

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.

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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!

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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.

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

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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! 

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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!

Monday Weekend Wrap Up

Happy Labor Day!

I hope that everyone had a great weekend appreciating the last joys of summer and the ability to wear white : )

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We had a little bit of everything going on this weekend.  Starting with wedding planning Friday night, a Saturday AM hot yoga class and venue visits Saturday afternoon.  Followed by an early morning run with a buddy Sunday morning.  And then birthday celebrations in the city and shenanigans the rest of the weekend. 

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Now it’s Monday and I scheduled in some much needed downtime for us.  I feel like we have been running non stop with little time to catch our breaths.  Perhaps that is common of everybody trying to hold on to the last few moments of summer before it fades into fall.  And speaking of running, I have been preparing for the half marathon I am scheduled to do in 2 weeks.  I don’t know if it is this first taste of thick humid air, the fact that I am now 33, or all of the things going on in our lives right now, but I have not found my running groove.  Whereas I usually LOVE the 13.1 distance, I am not looking forward to this upcoming race.  Based on my recent runs (and lack of mileage), I’m sure that I will struggle a bit to finish…even without worrying about my time.

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It seems that there are many changes with age (which occurred to me as I was the oldest person at yesterday’s birthday party).  But I have to brag that I still got it when it comes to flip cup and can hang with the 20 somethings.  After sleeping in until 10am and spending the majority of the morning with my sister in law looking for a Thai place that was open to deliver us delicious fried rice (with no success), the only option I wanted for dinner was Thai!  We also did some wedding searching and pinning in between complaining about our lack of spicy peanut chicken.

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My favorite peanut butter in homemade Thai is homemade peanut butter!  We went to the grocery store on our way home from the city and picked up ingredients and I had fresh PB before the crockpot was heated up.

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I had dinner in the crockpot, laundry in the machine, and a few things picked up and was seated comfortably on my couch for an afternoon of quiet time.  Sad news…I may need to fire my wedding planner for sleeping on the job!

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Our Thai dinner turned out incredible (not that I am surprised as Erin has some mouth watering recipes) and totally hit the spot!

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What else hit the spot?  This weekend!  Spending time with friends and family, enjoying the outdoors, a much needed yoga class, and getting back to cooking and meal planning.  What more do you need?

 

MealPlanning 9/01/14

Monday: Slow Cooker Thai Chicken

Tuesday: BBQ Pork/Lamb and Green Beans

Wednesday: Turkey Taco Casserole

Thursday: Grilled Chicken and Veggies

How did you spend your weekend?

 

Slow Cooker Thai Chicken

Slightly Adapted From The Law Student’s Wife

Ingredients

2, 14-ounce cans light coconut milk

1 cup low-sodium chicken stock

1/4 cup peanut butter (homemade!)

3 tablespoons red curry paste

2 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

3 cups peeled and 1/2-inch cubed butternut squash pieces (about 1 pound) I didn’t use squash because the BOY doesn’t like it but I’m sure it would be awesome!

2 red bell peppers, cored and sliced

2 green bell peppers, cored and sliced

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 cups frozen peas, thawed

2 tablespoons lime juice (about 1 lime)

Directions

In a 5-quart or larger slow cooker, stir together the coconut milk, chicken stock, peanut butter, curry paste, fish sauce, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Place the chicken breast, squash, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, and onion in the slow cooker and stir gently to coat with sauce. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.

Thirty minutes before you are ready to serve, add the peas. Immediately before serving, stir in lime juice. Serve garnished with cilantro, atop brown rice.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cookies {with Chocolate Chips}

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I am spending my Saturday in Peoria, visiting a friend (plus her new baby) and touring my old college campus.  I am willing to guess that much has changed in the 10 plus years since I graduated and I can’t wait to check it out!

 

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Even though I’m gone, I am rounding out the week with another awesome recipe…this time for dessert!

 

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I was still in the mood for cookies, and so cookies I baked!  With my lovely kitchen assistant of course : )

 

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Actually, he wasn’t much help at all, but my cookies still turned out super soft and delicious!

 

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This recipe is a Pinterest find and I added in some chocolate chips for taste and texture (which I highly recommend!).

 

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These cookies were a huge hit with my coworkers who loved the mild cheesecake addition to your typical peanut butter cookie!

 

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Happy Saturday!!!!

 

This week in recipe awesomeness…

Grilled Romaine

Steel Cut Overnight Oats

Strawberry, Kiwi, and Kale Juice

Crockpot Green Chicken Curry

Loaded Oatmeal Cookies

 

 

 

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cookies

From Pixie Dust Kitchen

 

Ingredients

8 oz Cream Cheese, at room temperature

¾ C Creamy Peanut butter

¾ C Brown sugar

¼ C granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

2 C all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 generous cup of chocolate chips (optional but recommended)

 

Directions

Cream cream cheese peanut butter, sugars, and vanilla. Add in eggs one at a time, mixing until combined.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, salt, and soda. Mix into wet ingredients until just combined.

Let chill in fridge for 1 hour or up to two days.

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Scoop 2 tbs size balls onto cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. (Even if the middles look overdone, they will continue to cook and set up as they cool.) Let cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling wrack.

Cookies will keep for 2 weeks. Store in an airtight container.