Awesome August

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It’s crazy for me to think that this month and the summer are coming to an end!  I know I say that every month, but I think August just flew by.  The main reason is that we were soo busy!  I thought it would be fun to recap what an Awesome August we had before diving into next month’s goals.  And, I wanted to show off this super cool medal that I just got in the mail for my 3rd place finish in last month’s triathlon.

 

What made August SOOO Awesome…

 

Family in Town

 

Door County Vacation

 

Urban Assault Ride

 

Birthday BBQ Fiesta

 

And sharing a little more information all about me!

 

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Stone’s Throw Winery, 2012

 

Even with a few different celebrations and some tempting sweets around (I’m talking about you Oreo Peanut Butter Pie), I did a good job sticking with my healthy habits.  I did, of course, enjoy some treats (this time I’m referring to you Fro-Yo), but in moderation, and I was able to follow my hunger cues and not eat until I was stuffed.  This is definitely a step in the right direction (or a Non Scale Victory as my Mom calls them)!

 

 

August Goals

Avoid MORE white flour and sugar in an attempt to shrink my middle

    -If I had to grade this, I would give myself a ‘C’.  I am more conscious about it, but I am still eating too much white stuff!

Make yoga (classes and home practice) a priority to keep stress levels in check

    -I have been getting to yoga classes, and I did some meditating on my own up in Door County.

Sign up for some local road races

    -I broke my toe, so I missed out on the Rugged Maniac, but I did love the Urban Assault ride.  As my toe continues to heal, I will hopefully get into some more races.

Get moving on vacation!

    -I biked every day and loved every moment of it! That’s an A!

 

September Goals

This month it is all about getting back to the behaviors that keep me feeling my best, so I am keeping it nice and simple!

 

-Continue with the Healthy Habits Recharged with focus on avoiding white flour and sugar, following hunger cues, and slowing down to chew

-Ride a distance PR on my bike (anything over 52 miles)

-Stay calm, chill, zen…whatever you want to call it.

 

 

I will be off hiking/camping with some friends this weekend.  When I get back, there will definitely be stories (and recipes) to share.  I hope ya’ll enjoy your 3 day weekend!

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How would you grade yourself on your August goals?

What are you doing this Labor Day Weekend?

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Making the Most of Leftovers

My morning started off quite nice with a complimentary beverage of my choice from Starbucks.  Well, actually when my alarm went off, I had no idea what the noise was.  After a 4 day weekend, I guess I forgot the sound of my alarm : )  I did get myself up and out for a 5 mile run.  The weather was perfect for a cool morning jog, and my toe held up just fine.  I’m still not particularly fast, but running feels good!  I’m ready for my toe to heal and get back to building up my miles, but I will just have to be patient. 

After the run…came the free venti cinnamon dolce birthday latte!

 

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It was a sweet way to start the day, but even sweeter was this cool sign and these adorable gift bags waiting for me at my desk!

 

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It’s people doing yoga in the shapes of the letters. I loved it!  My birthday buddy (who decorated my desk) got me the cutest pair of Lululemon socks (one says RUN and one says FAST) and homemade granola, which is the best granola I’ve EVER eaten.  I’ll have to ask her to anonymously leave me the recipe soon, since I won’t find out who it is until December.

 

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After a happy day at work, I whizzed home to pick up the BOY and head out for the Mariano’s Grand Opening! 

 

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The store was jam packed with fresh and colorful produce and people.  It was late, but we explored all of the aisles impressed with the selection…especially in the bakery and bulk bins!

 

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By the time we got home, it was after 8:30pm, which is why I won’t take too long for the rest and the real purpose of this post.  As I’ve mentioned when I described this incredible salad, we had a whole bunch of leftovers from this weekend’s BBQ.  Yesterday, I decided to turn everything into enchiladas.  In the past, I’ve only made enchiladas with red sauce, but I got it in my head that I wanted to try making a Mole Sauce.  I looked online for a few different recipes.  The catch…I didn’t want to have to run out to the store.  I found a few recipes and chose one from Positively Vegan.  I had everything in the house that I needed to make a quick sauce, and all my leftovers to turn into enchiladas.

 

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Instead of carob, I used cacao, and then threw everything into the blender.

 

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I was dong well until the last ingredient…diced tomatoes.  How is it possible that I didn’t have a can of diced tomatoes in my house???  I did have some farm share tomatoes, so I added those instead.  My mixture was thick and brown. 

However, here was only one problem…I had no idea what mole was supposed to taste like.

 

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I proceeded forward making the enchiladas…beef, rice, and cheese for the BOY and chicken and leftover veggies for me.

 

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I poured the sauce over the top and loaded the BOY up with cheese.

 

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The BOY walked in the door from school just before I pulled dinner out of the oven.

 

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I was nervous to serve my first mole, but it actually turned out REALLY good.  The BOY ran off with his plate before I could get a good pictures, but once he tasted the enchiladas, he was surprised (that I had made the sauce) and impressed with my effort. 

 

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I think a full can of tomatoes would have balanced out the chocolate flavor a bit, and I picked up 3 cans at Mariano’s this evening…just to have in the house for the next time!

 

Typically, I am happy to eat leftovers for a few days, and I don’t think about spicing them up.  This was a creative way for me to use all of our meat, tortillas, and cheese, and it was a HUGE success!  I was so proud of my dinner, that I had to share the mole sauce with ya’ll tonight!  It is so easy to fill tortillas with whatever leftovers you have in the house, cover them in this delicious sauce, and bake with cheese.  Enjoy!

 

What is your favorite way to use leftovers???

 

 

 

Easy Mole Sauce

From Positively Vegan

 

In your blender, place, but don’t blend:

1/2 cup raw cashews
1 cup vegetable broth
The broth will soak the cashews for a few minutes while you add everything else.

 

Next add all of the following to the blender:
3/4 cup carob powder (carob is a legume, and contains protein)
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
3 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
3 T agave syrup or nectar
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lime
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes (the tomatoes go on top to keep all the powders from "poofing" out the top of the blender)

Blend until very smooth. Pour as much as possible into a saucepan or bowl.
Add 1/2 cup water to the blender, put the lid on, and shake it up to loosen all the last bits of sauce. Stir the water/sauce into the rest of the sauce, and you won’t waste a bit.

 

Note: If making enchiladas, spread sauce on bottom of pan, place stuffed tortillas over the top, cover with mole sauce and cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

 

In the mood for Mexican, these are my two favorite enchilada recipes!

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

Unbelievably Delicious Low Fat Enchiladas

Ahhhhh

Thank you everyone for the sweet birthday wishes and comments this weekend!  It is always fun to share the celebration (and of course the recipes) with ya’ll!

 

I have been waiting all summer for this 4 day weekend as I transition from Fridays off back to Mondays off, and it worked out so well to have it be the weekend of my birthday.  It gives me an entire day to relax, recoup, and recharge after a crazy busy summer and an exciting weekend.  Although the BOY and I mostly laid low yesterday, it was nice to catch up on some sleep last night!

 

I woke up this morning with (insert sigh of relief here)…

Ahhhhh, an entire day to myself!  First up, Chai tea in my new tea press!

 

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It turned out incredible!  I’m so excited to have this fancy new toy (I bought it on sale at Sur La Table yesterday) for hot and premade iced tea.  It complimented my breakfast which consisted of a spinach egg with toast and Door County jam.

 

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First up on today’s list…

 

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Laundry

 

And…

 

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Dishes

 

Then, I was off for my morning bike ride.  One can never have too many pairs of socks with colorful bikes on them!

 

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Since my toe is feeling so much better, I tried to get into my spin shoes, but it was just too painful, so I was back on my hybrid again today.  In a few weeks, my mom and I are doing a (modified) Century Ride.  The game plan is ride ~60 miles, and I have not been getting in any long (more than 25 mile) rides.  So today, I headed out for a long ride!

 

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I wasn’t exactly sure how far I would ride, but I hit the trail first…then headed up north.  I hit some serious construction early on, and had to fend for myself along the busy roads.  But I made my way to the quiet streets lined with barns, farm animals, and huge homes.  It was beautiful!  I even saw this funny sign that says Farm Machinery Crossing.  Have you ever seen such a thing?

 

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Despite the construction, I found my way back home.  I was feeling great until I hit mile 30 and  got a wicked side cramp, which never happens to me while I’m biking.  I finished the last 5 miles, but had to slow down a bit.  When I got home, my legs were sore, but it felt great to get in a long and scenic ride this morning.

 

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After a super quick shower, I was ready for a late lunch.  We have tons of Fiesta leftovers that I was able to turn into a fresh colorful salad, with a veggie burger for some added protein.

 

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I think this might be my new favorite plate!!!

 

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And this might be the best salad that I’ve ever made!  It was so tasty that it didn’t need any dressing!

 

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The only thing that could top it…an amazing dessert involving THESE (but we’ll get to that!).

 

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First, I should show you a few of my accomplishments besides laundry, dishes, and getting a new phone from AT&T.

 

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Before

 

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After

 

Ok, now on to the yummy part of the post…

While I was nibbling on these dark chocolate covered raisins from Trader Joe’s last week, I came to the conclusion that they would taste unbelievable in banana bread.  I HAD to test my theory.  I even picked up some overripe bananas at the store for just this reason.

 

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If you’ve been reading LWYD for a while, then you have probably seen a fair share of banana bread recipes.  I have a bunch of them in my recipe binder and have found even more online.  For today’s bread, I went with Mom’s Banana Bread from Cooking Light.  Can you believe that I’ve had this recipe in my binder since 1996?!

I followed the banana bread recipe exactly.

 

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But only stirred the flour mixture briefly…

 

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Before dumping in the majority of the dark chocolate covered raisins.

 

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I folded in the raisins until everything was just combined and then poured the dough into 4 prepared mini loaf pans.

 

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I was worried that the raisins would sink to the bottom, but when I pulled the bread out of the oven 40 minutes later, it looked PERFECT!

 

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I let the bread cool slightly and then immediately sliced off a piece to try…

 

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The banana flavor in the bread was incredible, and the bread was full of warm, gooey dark chocolaty covered sweet raisins, that made my mouth very happy!

 

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As strange as it may sound, banana bread and dark chocolate covered raisins make the perfect couple!

 

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You should give it a try!!!  I recommend making the mini loafs to share with your friends!

Then sit back and say…Ahhhhh!

 

Here is my long list of favorite Banana Bread Recipes:

Classic Banana Bread

Clean Banana Bread

Flour’s Famous Banana Bread

One Bowl Banana Bread Walnut Bread

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Rum Coconut Banana Bread

Strawberry Banana Bread

 

 

On another note, I spent some time this weekend updating my Being Me (had to change my age and all), Eating Well, and Staying Active pages.  Next on my list is the Recipe Page.

 

And because Monday can never have enough randomness, I have to share the exciting news…

Mariano’s in Schaumburg (less than 2 miles from my house) opens tomorrow!  The BOY and I are already planning a trip there tomorrow night!

 

I hope you had a great Monday!  What did you do???

 

 

Dark Chocolate Covered Raisin Banana Bread

From Mom’s Banana Bread in Cooking Light

November 1996

 

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Ingredients

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup light butter, softened

1 2/3 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)

1/4 cup skim milk

1/4 cup low-fat sour cream

2 large egg whites

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 container of Trader Joe’s dark chocolate covered raisins

Cooking spray

 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine sugar and butter in a bowl; beat at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended. Add banana, milk, sour cream, and egg whites; beat well, and set aside.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt; stir well. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture, beating until just blended.  Fold in chocolate covered raisins

Spoon batter into 4 (5 x 2 1/2-inch) miniature loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Let cool completely on wire racks.

Note: To make one 9-inch loaf, spoon batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray; bake at 350º for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Yield: 1 loaf, 20 servings (serving size: 1 slice).

Celebration

It’s been a fun week of Birthday celebrations beginning with a special Birthday/Graduation party on Tuesday.

 

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Then on Thursday, a coworker who happens to have the same birthday as me, brought me these beautiful flowers from her garden!

 

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Friday, we got to spend the day with my brother and his girlfriend (who has the same birthday as me) including a fun nice dinner out at Cooper’s Hawk.  Yesterday, we hosted my friends and their adorable kids over for a Fiesta BBQ.  It was a team effort as my friends brought lots of delicious food, including a homemade guacamole.  I made some of my summer favorites including this cream cheese corn dip and Wendi’s zesty black eyed pea salad.

 

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My best friend helped me chop up some veggies for this fresh green salad.

 

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And the BOY was in charge of the meat.

 

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Everything turned out incredible! The BOY marinated the meat for a day and it was so flavorful and juicy in the fajitas.  I love the DIY set up for a fiesta BBQ because it is so casual and easy.

 

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Even with such a filling dinner, we all saved room for dessert!

 

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We had everyone’s favorite Cookie Cake with extra frosting!

 

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And I made an Oreo Peanut Butter Pie.

 

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And these Triple Chip Blondies from Our Best Bites.

 

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They turned out soft and sweet, and I highly recommend that you make them!

I’m such a huge fan that I’m gong to share the recipe with you RIGHT now, so here it goes…

 

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They come together quickly and are full of your favorite chips!

 

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Tell me you don’t want to dive right into that pan of dough!

 

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The bars are the perfect combination of crispy on the edges, but soft and chewy on the inside, with tons of wonderful flavors (I used white chocolate, milk chocolate, and butterscotch).  You could even add some nuts if you’d like, but they certainly don’t need them.

 

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I skipped the chocolate glaze due to time, but I would recommend giving it a try!

 

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These bars are totally birthday worthy and they freeze well so preheat your oven and whip up a big batch!

Your friends will be thrilled with the results.  And you will thank me!

 

 

Triple Chip Blondies
From Our Best Bites

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter
2 cups light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour, lightly spooned into a measuring cup and leveled with the back of a knife
2/3 cup chocolate chips, plus 1/3 cup for drizzling on top
2/3 cup white chocolate chips
2/3 cup peanut butter chips or butterscotch chips
1 teaspoon coconut oil or shortening

 

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9×13″ pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

Melt the butter. Combine in a large mixing bowl with the brown sugar. Add the vanilla and the eggs and beat on medium speed until combined. Add the flour and mix until just combined. Add the chocolate chips (excluding the 1/3 cup reserved chips), white chocolate chips, and peanut butter or butterscotch chips and mix until combined.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on top. Allow to cool completely. When cool, combine the reserved chips and the coconut oil or shortening in a small freezer zip-top bag, seal it, and heat it in the microwave in 15-second increments, mashing the bag with your hands until the chocolate and oil are smooth (repeat as long as necessary). Cut a small corner out of the bag and squeeze the melted chocolate over the baked blondies. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.

 

 

What dessert do you always have for our birthday?

I got to have two of my favorites this week…chocolate chip cookie cake and angel food cake.

All About Me…

My friend over at Trkingmomoe’s Blog kindly nominated me for the Inspiring Blog Award.

 

 

The way this award works is that I tell you 7 things about myself and spread the joy by passing the award on to some of my other favorite bloggers.

But first, I want to give a HUGE shout out to Trkingmomoe!  She has the most beautiful desserts, including this Blackberry Wine Cake, and is always making the most delicious looking dinners.  I so appreciate all of her kindness and thoughtfulness on Luv What You Do!


So without further ado…Here are some things all about me!

 

1. Today is my 31st Birthday!

 

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2. Fro Yo is my favorite treat!  To celebrate of my 31st Birthday, I spent my morning in a yoga class and then went to Cooper’s Hawk for lunch and Bamboo Spoon, the new frozen yogurt place in town, for dessert.  With a stop by Sur La Table (one of my favorite stores) in between . 

 

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3. I am my grandpa and grandma’s only granddaughter.  I have 5 boy cousins and a younger brother.

 

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4. I have broken 5 bones (including 2 little toes), had 1 surgery, and worn 5 colorful casts.  The coolest cast was the Chicago Bulls one…this was the 90’s people!

 

5. In elementary school, I had the wildest perm.  It lasted like 2 years!

 

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6. I ran my first marathon in Chicago last fall.  My goal was 4:00 hours and I finished in 4:00:37 (with a bathroom break).  I have an unspoken (now spoken) goal to run a sub 4 hour marathon and complete a half Iron Man.

 

7. My 8th grade letter to myself (the one they send you when you graduate high school) had a lot to say about who was dating who, but also said that I wanted to be a psychiatrist or a physical therapist.

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And an extra for Good Luck…

8. My 30th Birthday was not at all what I had planned, but ended up being a special and memorable experience with my family in New York!

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Learn More About Me…

7 More Things

11 Questions

30 Years of Good Stuff

 

 

Ok, it’s your turn…

I know I just gave a shout out to some of my favorite bloggers earlier this week, so this is a shorter list!

 

A Nutritionist Eats

Averie Cooks

Little Bitty Bakes

Pinch of Yum

Blueberry Smiles

Clean Eats Fast Feets

The Caffeinated Runner

The Domestic Rebel

 

 

I love learning about you!  Tell me something random or how you like to spend your birthday!

Oreo Peanut Butter Pie

Do you ever look at the clock in the middle of an intense team Wii bowling competition to discover that it is 4:15 in the morning?!  Yikes!  That is totally what happened to me last night this morning when the BOY, my bro, and his girlfriend spent hours in front of the TV bowling.  We didn’t even believe my brother when he said the time.  Luckily by 4am, I was drinking water but that didn’t make me any less tired when I woke up after only 5 hours of sleep.  I think I could have slept all day.  I would have loved to, but the BOY and I are hosting an End of the Summer BBQ today, so there was lots of cooking and cleaning to do.  We had so much fun with the Fiesta themed for Memorial Day that we decided to do it again!

I had a sous chef (my brother) to help me with some of the chopping while I made breakfast.  Since the 4 of us spent the day hanging out in suburbia yesterday, I didn’t get a lot of prep done, so this morning, I was up and working in the kitchen right away.  The first item on my agenda was dessert.  I have an old recipe for an incredible no bake pie that I thought would be perfect for the warm weekend, but I was a little ambitious choosing to make my own pie crust, instead of buying one (like I always have in the past).

 

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Since I was at TJ’s, I picked up some of their Oreo-like cookies.  Believe it or not, I have never tried Joe-Joe’s before.  I have been missing out for sure!

 

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The crust turned out thick, tasty, and was exactly what I needed for this pie!

 

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The next layer involves fudge topping!  My recommendation is to microwave the fudge so that it is easy to spread. 

 

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And although the recipe says you don’t need to use the entire container, I HIGHLY recommend it!

 

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Then comes the peanut butter layer…which is always my favorite!

 

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Your final layer…the one and only Whipped Cream!

 

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Lots of whipped cream…with a few cookie crumbs sprinkled across the top!

 

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Pure Pie Perfection!!!

 

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The pie was a huge hit at our fiesta.  I haven’t made it in so long and it was even better than I remember!

 

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We had such a fun day celebrating the end of summer with my friends and their families!  And, it was an early enough night that the BOY and I can crash and catch up on some sleep : )

 

 

 

 

 

Oreo Peanut Butter Pie

From Cooks.com

 

1 Keebler ready-made Oreo pie crust
1 (4oz) box instant French vanilla pudding mix
1 cup cold milk
3-4 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (or more if you like…which I do)
1 jar chocolate fudge sauce
1 regular container Cool Whip (thawed)

 

Have pie crust ready. OR, if you want to make your own crust, combine 1 box of crushed cookies with 1/4 cup melted butter.  Mix well and form into a pie plate with your hands.

Carefully spread/frost the bottom and sides of pie crust with fudge sauce (if really thick microwave for a few seconds). You won’t need to use the whole jar (but I think that you should!).

In a bowl, blend instant pudding and 1 cup milk using a whisk.

Using an electric mixer, add the peanut butter (mixture will be thick). Spoon onto the fudge layered pie crust.

Top with Cool Whip. Garnish with any Oreo crumbs from the pie crust.

Refrigerate.

11 Question Blogger Fun

I must say that I feel terrible.  Rebecca over at Blueberry Smiles nominated me for this blog award way back in July.  At the time, I was getting ready for my vacation and since I got back, I have been selfishly blogging all about it.  I was so honored to be nominated…especially because Rebecca’s blog is so lively and inspiring!

 

 

I was so excited to be nominated for a blogger award that I didn’t even think about what it meant.  I just looked it up to learn the following:

 

The Liebster Blog Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. “Liebster” is German for “favorite”. This award is the “favorite blog award” then.

The rules for this one state that you answer the 11 questions asked of you by the Blogger who gave you this award.  Then create 11 new questions and tag your favorite bloggers to answer them.

 

Sounds like fun right?  So here are my questions from Rebecca…

 

1) If you had 2 weeks and unlimited funds……where would you vacation

This is easy and my close friends and family know the answer for sure.  The BOY and I would go island hopping vising Fiji, Bora Bora, Tahiti and all the other unknown islands of that area staying in suites on stilts overlooking the ocean and spending time at the beach, in my infinity pool, and getting pampered with massages and champagne : )

 

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My trip to Australia in 2006…as close to Bora Bora as I have ever gotten!


2) If _____ is on the menu at a restaurant, I always order it

Matzah Ball Soup…but my Dad’s recipe is truly the BEST!

3) I never leave home without____________

Bags…I have like 5 when I head out to work and always bring my reusable grocery bags with me to the store.

4) What’s a skill/hobby you want to learn?

Photography.  I’m photo obsessed and would love to improve my skill!

 

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5) What’s a food you’ll never eat?

Cottage Cheese

6) What magazine do you read every single month?

Be warned, the list is long: Cooking Light, Clean Eating, Fitness, Shape, Us Weekly, Chicago Magazine, SELF, Vegetarian Times, Women’s Running, and Rachael Ray.

7) What’s something you’ve learned about yourself from blogging?

I have quite a lot to say…

Although I guess many of you already knew that.  Really, I am learning the challenges of writing and the power of being a writer.  A lot has happened over the past year and a half and my ability to sort through my thoughts, write them, confidence in sharing them, and support from the blogging community amaze me more and more each day.

8) Best blogging advice?

Always stay true to yourself and who your are!

9) Guilty pleasure?

Besides the long list of magazines???  It would have to be pedicures and massages (although I desperately need a facial too).  Or I guess you could say day dreaming about Bora Bora.

10) What advice would you give to your 15 year old self?

See Number 8!

And…Wear sunscreen, stay away from processed food, enjoy every ounce of laughter with your friends, respect your parents, and have confidence that it will all work itself out in the end!

11) Are you introverted or extroverted?

Extroverted!!!  Always have been and probably always will be!

 

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Thank you for the fantastic questions…it was a fun way to end the week and prep for a 4 day weekend!

And on a super duper fun note, Trkingmomoe just nominated me for the Inspiring Blog Award…so more random facts to come!

 

 

So here are my 11 questions for you?

1) What was the first CD that you ever bought?

2) If I could have any animal as a pet, it would be a ___________

3) I have seen every episode of ___________ TV show.

4) What are you most excited to cook or bake this fall?

5) Who in your family lives the farthest away from you and where do they live?

6) What is the last book that you read?

7) If you were snowed in by yourself for an entire day, how would you spend your time?

8) The piece of clothing that I can’t live without is __________.

9) What always seems to find its way into your cart at the grocery store?

10) When I was 10, I spent my summers ___________.

11) How did you feel about the 1st day of school?

 

 

Tag, You’re It!!!

The Avid Appetite

Sally’s Baking Addiction

Satisfy My Sweet Tooth

Bendiful

Sugar Coated Chef

Change of Pace

A Lot On Your Plate

Random Musings and Occasional Rants

Running Through Red Lights

Run Like a Girl

A Better Year to a Better Life

 

 

Now it’s your turn…answer one of the questions!