Out Like a Lamb

This title seemed only fitting after my initial March post titled In Like a Lion.  Thankfully, after a few snow storms and quite a chilly month, March did come to an end more like a lamb than a lion.  With 50 degree weather this weekend, the BOY and I have been able to walk along the path out back and clean off the grill.  And since today is Easter, we have a nice relaxing day planned!

 

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I got a rejuvenating 9+ hours of sleep last night and woke up right before 8am without an alarm.  I made a filling breakfast omelet before going to a 10am yoga class.  I was super excited to see that my yoga studio was open today and happy to leave the house while the BOY got busy with his meat smoker (see previous post for fully explanation).  This morning’s class was tough yet revitalizing.  I don’t think I have sweat that much in months!  At the end of our relaxation, I would have been happy to stay on my mat soaking in the good vibes and peace throughout the room.  When I left the studio, the sun was shining and for the first time, it smelled like spring!

 

The BOY and I spent the day at home hanging out and enjoying some much needed down time!  I finally had time to upload music to my new computer (I desperately need to update my ipod) and set up my training schedule for spring.

 

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For dinner, we made a full chicken on the grill.  Ok, I just said we, but the only thing that I did to help was find the spices in our spice cabinet.  The BOY did all of the work and was quite proud of himself!

 

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Rightfully so…it was a pretty awesome dinner!

 

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As the month comes to an end today, here are a few accomplishments worth mentioning…I increased my activity level, adding some speed intervals and took care of myself with a massage.  The BOY and I created some successful meal plans and hosted a dinner party.  There was a ton of basketball thrown into the mix too!  I got to the pool twice and made some decent headway towards IRONMAN March.

 

IRONMAN March Update

 

Swim

1.25 miles out of 2.4 miles

 

Bike

23 miles out of 112 miles

 

Run

34 out of 26.2 miles

 

 

March Goals

Try some new classes

     -I finally made it to a spin class!

IRONMAN March

     -This is such a fun goal!  I finished the run portion,, but have a long way to go on the biking and swimming, so I am making this the IRONMAN March/April goal.

No added sugar

     -I seem to have forgotten about this goal.  Oops!  My eating has been about the same and I still have some changes to make to feel comfortable in my tri suit this spring.

Unplug more often

     -Although I posted quite a bit this month, I did take time to unplug from reading and writing, which I think has helped me de-stress, especially during the workweek. 

 

April goals

-IRONMAN March/April

-Find (and then use) my heart rate monitor

-Set up my Tri/Running schedule

-Feel comfy sporting my bathing suit in Florida

-Figure out what to do with my Google Reader List (I’d be lost without it!)

 

 

Ok, after all of this seriousness, I had to finish the post with a funny!

 

Funny Passover Ecard: My version of pornography is spending Passover week staring at cupcake boards on Pinterest.

The BOY’s New Hobby

New at our house, that I can share with you now that my anger has somewhat dissipated, is the smoker that I returned home to find after spending two days at my parents in the beginning of the week.  Apparently the BOY thought we needed one of these in our backyard and ordered it from Amazon. 

 

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What is hilarious is that the smoker is the talk of the backyard neighborhood.  All of the guys have been stopping by to inspect the smoker and talk meat.

 

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You probably think that I am kidding, which is why I had to capture it on film!  I, on the other hand, am not so amused!  Meat just doesn’t get me all worked up, so instead I spent the afternoon baking cookies and spring cleaning.   The good news is that along with playing with his smoker, the BOY also cleaned up his grill and refilled the propane tanks.

 

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On the BOY’s agenda for this weekend…smoked brisket (apparently also known as pastrami) and beef jerky. 

 

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For me, the BOY made salmon and asparagus on the grill for dinner last night.  Who knows why he served it to me on a Christmas plate!

 

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The BOY also bought this contraption to make Beer Can Chicken.  Which for Passover is going to be Soup Can Chicken!

 

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This is the game plan for tonight’s dinner, so I’ll let you know how it turns out!

Need I also add, that the BOY has been talking about his smoker all week long, including a few phone calls to me at work to talk meat.  In one, he actually asked me if I would come home and clean out the inside of the chicken he just bought?!

Ahhh…But if this new hobby means he will be making more dinners, I could, perhaps get over it!

 

Do you have a smoker?  What’s the hype?

Does your husband, boyfriend, roommate have a new toy or hobby that you just don’t get?

How Paleo Helped Passover

Typically Passover (a time where Jewish people do not eat bread, flour, yeast, or corn) is known for it’s blah food.  As children, we would be so excited for that first bite of matzah every year, but as the days wore out we quickly got tired of matzah nachos, matzah pizza, and matzah PB&J.  As an adult, I’ve tried to get a little more creative with my Passover food…often cooking up a quinoa stew or something similar on the weekends to eat throughout the week.  In the past few years, the BOY and I have barely eaten any matzah during the 8 days.  We can usually make it a a few days on leftovers from our family sedars and then it’s the weekend and the BOY gets excited to cook up his favorite red meats.

 

As I was a trying to figure out what to eat for a pre-run breakfast (oatmeal is out during Passover) this morning, I realized that I could totally make my new favorite pancakes.

 

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They didn’t turn out so pretty looking, but they are a nice balance of carbs and protein which is perfect before a workout! 

 

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A quick pre-run selfie (complete with sunglasses)…Hooray for sunshine!

 

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Last weekend’s running group of four decreased to two, but it was great to catch up with my friend.  We are both running the half marathon in 5 weeks and haven’t done many miles.  This morning we ran about 8 miles (72 minutes).  I felt better than expected considering last night’s weak dinner, but I did slow towards the end.  It was a gorgeous morning for an outdoor run!  We have big plans to run again in two weeks (next week is the Shamrock Shuffle) and increase our miles before the race.  Post run, I snacked on pear with almond butter and chugged lots of water.  We had a few errands to run and then were back home for lunch!

 

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Although I don’t follow the Paleo diet, the blog world is abuzz with the newest Paleo recipes.  Many of which use almond meal in place of flour…which is PERFECT for Passover!  This afternoon I made Chocolate Chip Cookies from Fast Paleo.

 

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Heads up, this recipe uses one egg and maple syrup at room temperature, so pull them out of the fridge early.  After you make your dough, refrigerate it for 30 minutes.

 

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I had heard that the dough tastes fantastic, so I had to try it before making my cookies!

 

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Somehow it actually tastes like cookie dough!  It’s amazing!!!  And I’m not just saying that because it’s Passover and I’m slightly starving : )

 

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The cookies baked up soft and puffy.

 

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I had to try a bite while they were warm with the gooey chocolate.

 

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The recipe made one dozen cookies, which is the perfect amount to get the BOY and I through the last few days of Passover.

 

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These cookies are delish (and the BOY totally agrees).  I can see why they are called the BEST!

 

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I would make these any time of year!

 

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You can guarantee they will be making an appearance at next year’s Passover dinner.

 

 

What holidays do you change your eating habits for?

What is your favorite Paleo recipe?

 

 

 

The Best Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

From Fast Paleo

 

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups sifted blanched almond flour (I used almond meal from TJ’s)

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted (melted, not softened)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 whole egg

1/2 cup chocolate chips (kosher for Passover if desired)

 

Directions

In a bowl, mix together your almond flour, baking soda, and sea salt. In a separate bowl mix together your melted coconut oil, vanilla extract, room temperature maple syrup, and room temperature egg. Incorporate your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients, then add your chocolate chips.

After everything is mixed, preheat your oven to 350F and refrigerate your batter for 30 minutes.

Once the 30 minutes are up and your oven is heated, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or Silpats and roll your dough into even balls-to whichever size you desire.

Put them in the oven for about 5-7 minutes, then take them out and slightly flatten them with the back of a spatula. Put them back in the oven for about 5 more minutes, or until they look done.  You will see just a hint of golden brown. 

Remove from the oven and set on the counter to cool.

 

 

I found a few other recipes for Almond Meal Cookies worth checking out!

And you can always make my favorite Clean Almond Butter Cookies!

I Went Swimming Again

Say What???

 

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Yes, I have now been to the pool the same amount of times (twice) in two weeks as I did all of last summer in prep for my triathlon.  I’d say that is a good start!  Especially since I haven’t even signed up for any summer tri’s.  I am considering one on father’s day and one the end of July.  Tri training is a great way to get in shape and cross training worked well when I did my first marathon in 2011. 

 

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So yesterday morning when the only thing I wanted to do was stay in bed, I crawled out and into a swim suit.  Again, my goal was 20 minutes of swimming.  I did 10 minutes of freestyle (new this season with my new goggles is that I can breathe on both the right and left side) and then about 8 minutes of kickboard drills before finishing off with a few more laps.  The reward, as always was the hot tub waiting for me when I finished.

 

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Friday is typically my day off from working out, but I did drag the BOY out for a 10 minute walk around the neighborhood.  It was 50 degrees today, and the snow pile in our front lawn is almost fully thawed.  It’s been a rather uneventful Passover so far so tonight the BOY and I had a rather uneventful dinner.  I’ve been feeding my carb cravings with chocolate…not too good for the waist line but nice on the taste buds : )

 

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They BOY is already asking when I’ll make another batch of Matzah Toffee.  Now that HIS college basketball season is over after a sad Indiana loss last night, he is transferring his attentions elsewhere…the grill : )  With warm weather expected this weekend and no bread in sight until Tuesday, we are hoping to spend some quality time soaking up vitamin D out back.  Woo Hoo!

 

Alrighty, I have a run planned for early tomorrow morning, so it’s a little TV for me and then off to bed!

Happy Weekend Ya’ll!

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Chocolate Fudge Cake {Revisited}

I woke up Monday morning with plans for CrossFit, but my stomach wasn’t feeling 100% and it looked like a REALLY tough workout.  I’m not one to usually shy away from a challenge, but an intense weekend of workouts combined with this IBS fare up didn’t sound like a good plan for CrossFit.  Especially since there were like 90 burpees involved!  Instead, I had a productive morning of Passover baking before going to a noon Hot Yoga class.

 

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The yoga class was a wonderful idea.  I love the physical and emotional benefits of sweating away in a hot room pushing my limits in strength, balance, and flexibility.  That morning, my legs were shaking immediately after entering high lunge and chair pose.  I blame Saturday and Sunday’s leg heavy workouts.  The core work and stretching at the end of the class was a wonderful way to wind down the weekend.  When I came home, I had another Passover dessert to make.

 

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Don’t be scared away by the word Passover because this is the Best Flourless Chocolate Cake EVER!

 

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I discovered this cake around Passover time a few years back, but this cake is good enough for year round consumption.  The last time I made it, it came out in a few pieces.  So I was determined to do it right this year.

 

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The cake came out of the oven with a bit of a lump.

 

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That soon turned into a crater.  I decided to let it cool fully before taking it out of the pan.  And then decided to just travel to my parents with the cake still in the pan.

 

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Where it stayed…so I decided to sprinkle it with powdered sugar and serve it from the pan.  The cake tasted just as good, if not better, than I remember!  This is one INCREDIBLE chocolate cake.  Not too rich, but with a creamy chocolate flavor.  We had a beautiful Passover evening at my parent’s house with delicious food and great company!  I’m so exhausted from the last few nights of fun (and wine) that I am heading to bed early tonight.

 

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In honor of Passover, I made another one of my favorites…

 

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Matzah Toffee!

 

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This might be my best batch yet!

 

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I love the dark chocolate flavor from the Trader Joe’s Pound Plus bar!

 

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I’ve been collecting some new Passover recipes, so we’ll see have time to get to this weekend!

 

Anyone else celebrating Passover?

How’s it going?

 

 

 

Chocolate Fudge Cake

From Southern Living

 

Ingredients

Vegetable cooking spray

Unsweetened cocoa

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup margarine

3/4 cup sugar

3 large eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

 

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly coat a 9-inch pieplate with cooking spray, and dust with cocoa.

2. Melt chopped chocolate and margarine in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, 3 to 5 minutes or until smooth; whisk in 3/4 cup sugar, whisking until blended.

3. Whisk together eggs and vanilla in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in chocolate mixture, whisking until blended. Pour into prepared pieplate.

4. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until edges are dry and center is set. (Do not overbake.) Cool in pieplate on a wire rack 30 minutes or until completely cool. (Cake will fall slightly when removed from oven.) Dust with 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar just before serving.

 

 

Matzah Toffee

 

Ingredients

2-3 sheets of matzah (broke up as needed)

2 sticks of butter

1 cup brown sugar (I used light)

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 Trader Joe’s Pound Plus dark chocolate bar (or 1 package of semi sweet or dark chocolate chips)

 

Directions

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cover a 9×13 pan with foil or parchment paper.  Spray well with Pam to cover.

-Break up matzah as needed to cover the entire bottom of the pan.

-In a saucepan on the stovetop, combine butter and brown sugar, stirring constantly until boiling.  Continue to stir for 3 minutes until thickened.  Cool slightly and then stir in vanilla.

-Bake in preheated oven for 5-7 minutes until mixture starts to bubble.

-Remove from oven and cover toffee with chocolate chunks.  Return to oven for 2-3 minutes until chocolate starts to soften.  Spread chocolate with a spatula to cover toffee.

-Optional: cover with almonds, walnuts, sprinkles, or anything else you want!

-Let cook completely or place in fridge/freezer before breaking apart.

-Store in airtight container in freezer.

Passover Fruit Compote {Revisited}

Passover is here again!

Bring on the flourless food!

 

I think you may be confusing Passover with the South Beach Diet

 

Monday night we are going to the home of our close family friends, and Tuesday my mom is hosting.  I volunteered to make one of my favorite Passover friendly recipes that appeared on the blog 2 years ago.

 

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I’ve never met a fruit compote that I don’t like, and this is a great recipe any day of the year!

 

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It takes a little bit of prep because the fruit needs to soak in cold water overnight.  The next morning when everything is soaked and plump, heat your fruit in a large saucepan with orange juice (I used fresh squeezed), water, cinnamon, and cloves.

 

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Warning: your house will smell amazing with the combination of cloves and fruit.  After about 45 minutes, pour your fruit mixture into a baking pan and cover with macaroons.

 

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Bake for 20 minutes until warm and delicious!

 

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This recipe can be served for brunch, as a dinner side, or for dessert!  It is the perfect combination of sweet fruit topped with soft, toasted coconut goodness!

 

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It is easy to prepare ahead of time which makes it perfect for mid week meals.

Getting ready for Passover…here is a list of more tasty Passover dishes!

 

 

Passover Fruit Compote

From Baltimore Jewish Times

 

Ingredients

2 pounds mixed dried fruits (prunes, apricots, apples, pineapple, pears and figs)

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup water

6 whole cloves or one-half teaspoon ground cloves

1 stick cinnamon or one-half teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon lemon juice

8-10 crumbled macaroons (I used one entire package)

 

Directions

Soak dried fruits in cold water to cover overnight. Drain the fruit and place in a saucepan together with the orange juice, water, cloves and cinnamon. Simmer gently for 45 minutes, then add lemon juice and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes longer.

Drain the fruit, reserving liquid, and place fruit in a shallow ovenproof casserole or pie plate. Add just enough liquid to barely cover the fruit. Sprinkle with the crumbled macaroons. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 20 minutes.

Serve warm or cold. Makes 8-10 servings.

 

This is a great dessert for leftover macaroons!

Note: If you want to make this in advance.  Soak and cook fruit per instructions.  Place in baking dish and refrigerate.  Before baking, cover with macaroons and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars {+ Bonus Recipe}

March Madness provides plenty of time for afternoon blogging!

And Baking!

 

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Do you have recipes that you make once and then forget all about?  And then a few years later you recognize that you have all of the ingredients and can’t figure out why you’ve waited so long to make said recipe again?

 

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Somehow I ended up with two unopened bags of Reese’s peanut butter chips and immediately Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars came to mind.  I hunted down the recipe which was saved on my computer.  Although I haven’t made these in years, I knew exactly where it was.

 

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These bars are really easy but taste WAY more elegant.  The dough requires that you blend cold butter into the flour mixture.  I recently saw on a blog that this can be done in the food processor.  So I gave it a try and it worked magically!  Within a few seconds, my butter was blended perfectly.  Transfer the flour mixture into a bowl and stir in one egg to form your dough.

 

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Place half of the dough on the bottom of a greased pan.  Then layer with jelly, peanut butter chips, and more dough.

 

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The dough bakes up puffy and soft with warm oozing jelly!

 

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You definitely need to let these cool before digging in.  But not completely if you are looking forward to the warm peanut butter chips and dripping jelly.

 

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These bars are a true crowd pleaser!  Who doesn’t love the combination of peanut butter and jelly?

 

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I’ll tell you this…the BOY can’t keep his hands off them!!!

 

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My favorite way to store AND eat these bars is straight from the freezer.  When they are chilled, the peanut butter chips are crisp and the jelly still juicy!  My mouth is watering just thinking about these bars waiting for me in the freezer!

 

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I warned you that I had another recipe to share!  When I was reading through blogs this week, I found this cookie bar recipe on Fearless Homemaker.

 

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Since I had a fraction of a bag of mini M&M’s hanging in the pantry, I knew I had to make these too!

 

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Since I didn’t have a full bag of candies, I used some chocolate chips as well.  One can never have too much chocolate in cookie bars!

 

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Typically M&M’s are safe in our house because I’m just not a huge fan, but these M&M Cookie Bars are so soft, chewy, and delightful, they were not safe at all!

 

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If you’re looking for something fun to make for an upcoming holiday, use the bright Easter colored candies!  The pastels will brighten up these cool spring days!

 

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More Bars for Your Sweet Tooth

Triple Chip Blondies

Magic Cookie Bars

Pumpkin Blondies

S’mores Bars

Slutty Brownies

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Peanut Butter M&M Blondies

Oat N’ Toffee Grahams

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

 

 

 

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

Makes 16 bars

 

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter or margarine
1 egg, beaten
1 cup grape jelly
1 2/3 cup (or 1 bag) peanut butter chips

 

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 9-inch square baking pan. Set aside.
Stir together flour, sugar, and baking powder.  Cut in butter with pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles course crumbs. Stir in beaten egg until blended.  Reserve half of the mixture and press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Stir jelly slightly; spread evenly over the crust.  Sprinkle 1 cup of peanut butter chips over the jelly.  Stir the remaining peanut butter chips (around 2/3 cup) into the reserved crumb mixture.  Sprinkle it evenly over the top of the peanut butter chips.
Bake for 25-30 min or until lightly browned.  Cool completely on a wire rack.  Cut into bars.

Note: These taste incredible frozen straight from the freezer!

 

 

Bonus Recipe!!!

 

M&M Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Adapted from Fearless Homemaker

Note: The recipe as written below is half of the original recipe

 

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

1/4 cup white sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 12oz bag M&M’s, divided or 1 cup M&M’s and 1/2 cup chocolate chips

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Adjust the oven rack to lower-middle position.Grease an 8×8 inch pan and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter + sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and mix well.  Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until just combined; do not overmix.

Fold in 1/4 cup of mini M&M’s and 1/2 cup of chocolate chips (or 1/2 cup of M&M’s).  Turn the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the spatula. Sprinkle the remaining M&M’s on top and press in slightly.

Bake 25-30 minutes, until the top of the bars is light golden brown, slightly firm to the touch, and edges start pulling away from sides of pan. Cool completely before cutting.