Flying High

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Happy Monday!

 

Although I don’t typically work Mondays, I worked today but because it is a SHORT holiday week, it wasn’t too bad.  Although because of the short week, it was BUSY!  After Saturday’s snow fall, the sun came out Sunday.  The trees were gorgeous and it actually felt like winter.  The BOY and I cleaned off our cars (which was quite a chore).  Then we carpooled to our separate breakfast plans. I met my girls, which was super fun as always!

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I had a little down time to watch the start of the Bears game before changing and going to an Acro Yoga workshop at my yoga studio.  I didn’t really know what to expect but I always love trying new things on my mat and getting inspiration for my kids classes.

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This workshop was unique and challenging.  I got asked to partner up with two sweet girls who had some experience with acro yoga.  They were very patient with me and together we tried a whole bunch of new and dynamic poses.  I had opportunities to base and to fly, both of which were fun and nerve wracking.

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It’s scary and empowering to let go of your insecurities about your body and strength and give in to something new (and off the ground).  In some ways, I surprised myself with my strength and ability to trust.  And it reinforced how much I LOVE being upside down.  What can I say…I’m an ex-gymnast!

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The class was all fun and excitement, so I was surprised by how sore I was during this morning’s 6am yoga class.  My back muscles are still talking to me.  Must be all that time in bird pose!  I would be lying if I said that I didn’t try to convince the BOY to base me on a few moves, but so far it isn’t happening : )  Now that I’ve tried acro and aerial yoga, I am eager to add some more into my practice!  It’s always fun to shake things up!

 

Have you ever tried acro yoga? Do you want to?

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Fall Into Winter

Yea…it happened!  The storm that everyone was talking about has arrived and I have only one word to describe our street…

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WHITE!  When I woke up this morning both of our cars were covered.  Surprisingly, the BOY didn’t give me too much hassle to wake up early for our training sessions.  Dare, I say, he actually likes working out ; )

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He cleaned off the car, while I warmed up inside…

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Our workouts were tough, but good (I hate jumping lunges more than anything else…well, except maybe burpees) and the snow continued to fall while we worked up a sweat.

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Our big plan was to go straight to the Target to pick up necessities for the day.  As is our snow day tradition, ingredients for chili, snacks, and wine found their way into our cart along with a few other household things.  After Target, we swung by the dry cleaner and then Starbucks for a post workout ‘recovery’ latte.

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We were happy to get back inside and warm up.  Our original plan for the day was to get a bunch done and go out for dinner.  Since I wasn’t working this morning, I took advantage of some down time and a few old bananas.

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I turned them into the amazing Flour’s Famous Banana Bread (using the recipe from Averie’s blog) while watching college football.

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Cooper has anyone ever told you how helpful you are in the kitchen?

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No I didn’t think so!

Our fail for the day was that we only planned for one meal, chili, and because of timing it needed to be dinner. We thought about ordering our favorite delivery food, Thai, but the BOY  has been eager to try the new Mexican restaurant that opened up near our house.  A plan soon developed as we decided it would be quicker to walk the .4 miles there than clean off one of our cars (for the second time). 

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We bundled up and braved the first big snow storm of the season.

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Then, came home and devoured or lunch before taking an afternoon nap.

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I woke up first and decided I wanted to bake again.  What can I say, the snow has me in a nesting mode!  The BOY said that after last week, he wasn’t in the mood for cookies but that if I made oatmeal cookies, he might have a few.

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Rough life…right?  I found a fun pumpkin oatmeal recipe and instead of chocolate chips, subbed in white chocolate and cranberries.

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In an attempt to make them look blog worthy, I even added a few extra chips on the top.

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The addition of pumpkin to the oatmeal cookies makes them a little cake like and totally delicious!  I think if I make them again, I would add a little more spice. I can see where if you were doing chocolate chips, you wouldn’t want too much nutmeg, but with the white chocolate, I think more spice would work well.

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Around 3:30pm, the snow seemed to be stopping, leaving us immersed in a winter wonderland…just in time for tonight’s big freeze!  If I’m reading the preliminary reports correctly, it looks like we got at least 10 inches of snow in the last 18 hours.  WOW!

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When the BOY (and Cooper) woke up, we regrouped in the family room for more Big Ten College Football.

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Meanwhile, I did a million loads of laundry (including rugs and blankets), treated the BOY’s back pain, and managed to feel really relaxed and pulled together at the same time.

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I was telling the BOY that I love our newish snow day tradition of staying in and laying low.  We always have a lot of fun together, and I’m looking forward to staying in tonight with wine and games…and probably some more football!

Enjoy your Saturday Snow Day!

 

Pumpkin Oat White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

Slightly Adapted from Cooking Classy

 

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups quick oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips + more for the top of the cookies
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger for 30 seconds, set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until creamy (occasionally stop and scrape down sides and bottom of bowl throughout entire mixing process). Blend in egg then blend in vanilla extract and pumpkin puree. With mixer set on low speed, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until combined. Mix in chips and cranberries (if you want some chips to show through, set some aside to press into tops before baking). Let batter rest 10 minutes (this just gives the oats some time to absorb the liquids so batter isn’t so sticky and cookies don’t spread so much).
  3. Scoop dough out 2 Tbsp at a time (I used a 1 1/2-inch cookie scoop, which I recommend using for evenly shaped cookies and fill it heaping), and drop onto Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheets, spacing cookies 2-inches apart. Bake in preheated oven 12 – 14 minutes. Allow to cool on baking sheet several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Five for Friday XXVII

1. This morning’s ridiculous yoga look…

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It might be worse than Wednesday’s : )

I have to say that I loved getting to 6am yoga 3 times this week.  What a treat!  My kids yoga class was supposed to start tomorrow, but we canceled due to weather. I do have plans to attend an acro workshop on Sunday.  Can’t wait!

 

2. Wednesday night as I pulled in the drive way, there was a skunk hanging out in front of my house. It was pacing back and forth between the garage door and front door (probably driving Cooper nuts).  I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do, so I hid in my car.  When it strolled off around the house, I opened my garage door and ran inside.  I tried to get a picture but my phone camera was too slow.

 

3. All my Instagram friends saw the excitement on the BOY’s face when Gus’s Fried Chicken opened last weekend.  We brought in chicken and sides (including my favorite fried pickles and sweet potato pie) to celebrate his and my brother’s birthdays in the city last Saturday.

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4. Despite having a pantry full of tea, I found myself lost in the scents of Teavana this week.  I bought way more tea than I care to admit including the most delicious spiced apple cider tea.  Winter…I am ready for you!

 

5. I just got my professional wedding photos back and I am obsessed!  I love that our wedding party totally brought their personalities into the shots and the photographers captured all the joy and excitement of our reception.  WARNING: You may be seeing a TON of wedding pics in the weeks to come!

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Consider yourself warned…LOL! 

Happy Friday!

A Taste of Door County

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Whenever we travel to Door County, we return home with a car full of tasty goodies.  There are annual favorites (we bring my dad a pie from Bea’s and I love Koepsel’s Pumpkin Butter and Jellies) and there are recent additions (spaghetti sauce from Sammy Rae’s) and this year’s newest find…Island Orchard Cider and farm fresh apples.

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One thing I always pick up is a big bag of dried cherries.  I like to say that I will put them in salads like my local favorite at Wild Tomato, full of goat cheese and cherries, but ultimately I just love to bake with them.  When I was searching for recipes to make this past weekend, it was the cherries that caught my eye.  Add in the chocolate and oatmeal and the page was bookmarked!

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Although the point of this book is to make BIG cookies, I decided to keep these ‘normal’ sized.

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These cookies are a soft oatmeal cookie with the addition of chocolate.

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And in case that is not enough…more chocolate chips and tart dried cherries make these cookies unbelievably addictive!

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Once baked, these cookies needed to hide out in the laundry room…so silly…I know, but it’s the only way to keep Cooper’s nosy nose out of them.  Then, they will be packaged up and sent off to New York for Thanksgiving.  I did bring a few to work, where they were a HUGE hit, and the BOY and I have been snacking on them all week.

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We have been enjoying all of our DC goodies.  Can’t wait to go back and stock up on more!

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Do you bring home food when you travel?

Some of my best finds were tea and spices from Israel and chocolate (and of course wine) from Napa!

 

Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

From Big Fat Cookies by Elinor Klivans

 

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract (I just did 1 teaspoons of vanilla)

2 1/2 cups oatmeal (not quick cooking or a mixture of quick and not quick)

1 cup dried cherries

2 cups milk chocolate chips (I think semi-sweet worked really well too)

Directions

Position a rack in the middle of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or Silpats).

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon into a medium bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until smoothly blended, about 1 minute scrapping the sides as needed.  Add the eggs, vanilla, and almond extract and mix until blended, about 1 minute.  The mixture may look curdled.  On low speed, add the flour mixture and oatmeal, mixing just until the flour is incorporated and the dough looks smooth again.  Mix in the dried cherries and chocolate chips.

Using a regular sized scoop or 1/4 cup measure, scoop the dough onto the prepared making sheets, spacing at least 2 inches apart (if making big cookies).  Bake the cookies one sheet at a time (I did not do this) until the tops feel firm and look dull rather than shiny, about 22 minutes.  Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then use a spatula to transfer to a cooling rack.

Store in airtight container for 4 days or freeze.

Rainy Day Deliciousness

Sometimes, my mornings start like this…

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All bundled up for 6am yoga! 

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Rainy weather calls for hearty meals.  Monday, I made the most delicious dinner in my crockpot (in between whipping up about 7 dozen cookies).

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I’m not typically comfortable with bone-in chicken thighs but it’s good to try new things…right?!  I mixed up a honey garlic marinade and smothered my chicken and veggies in it.

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I cooked the chicken on high in my crockpot for 4 hours, but next time I will try low and slow.

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The result was magnificent!  The BOY was thrilled with his hearty and flavorful dinner.  It was the perfect meal for these shorter and wetter days!

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We ate all the chicken Monday for dinner, but I had plenty of veggies leftover for lunch this week.  As odd as it sounds, the sauce and veggies mixed beautifully with salmon.  I love the flavors of fall! 

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And speaking of fall flavors, these cookies make a really delicious dessert!

 

What do you like to eat/drink on rainy days?

Do you look ridiculous in your cold weather workout clothes?

 

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken and Veggies

From Damn Delicious

Ingredients

  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 16 ounces baby red potatoes, halved
  • 16 ounces baby carrots
  • 16 ounces green beans, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves (optional)
FOR THE SAUCE
  • 1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine soy sauce, honey, ketchup, garlic, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes and pepper.
  2. Place chicken thighs, potatoes, carrots and soy sauce mixture into a 6-qt slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours, basting every hour. Add green beans during the last 30 minutes of cooking time (See note below).
  3. OPTIONAL: Preheat oven to broil. Place chicken thighs onto a baking sheet, skin side up, and broil until crisp, about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Serve chicken immediately with potatoes, carrots and green beans, garnished with parsley, if desired.

A few notes from me: I would add your green beans in earlier. Even on high heat, they were a bit crunchy and I cooked them for 1 hour.  Also, I did try to broil the chicken but my oven broiler is on the bottom, so they didn’t get so crispy and beautiful.

Soft Pants, Baking, and Comfort Food

It was a great day for soft pants! 

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After an early morning yoga class and my typical Monday errands, I happily climbed into my comfies for an afternoon at home.

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My mom signed me up for Thanksgiving baking, so I spent yesterday searching for new recipes to try.  My parents are leaving for New York next weekend so I figured I could bake cookies ahead of time, freeze them, and they could drive them out.

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My first batch was a seasonal cake-like cookie full of delicious pumpkin and sweet butterscotch chips.

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I was so excited to bake that I brought out the big guns…my mixer.  Oh mixer, how I love thee!  I wish I was able to see pictures of the dough because I was a little nervous when I poured it out onto my baking sheet.

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But my cookies baked up puffy and bright.  Actually, they would be perfect to make sandwiches if you stuffed them full of frosting or ice cream…Mmm!  The cookbook doesn’t lie as they are some really BIG cookies!

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They aren’t the most attractive looking batch, but totally worth giving them a try this fall!

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I ended up with more than enough cookies for Thanksgiving and a few for the BOY and I this week : )

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He has wants me to add that they should be called ‘muffin tops’ but I tried to explain that might make them even less attractive…ha ha!  Before this batch was cooled, I had already whipped up a second bowl of dough…

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But I’m going to leave you hanging on that recipe!

With the weather turning cool, I was craving a comfort style meal.  Blame it on this weekend’s trip to the city for fried chicken (the BOY’s favorite chicken place just opened in Chicago) or the fact that Thanksgiving is next week…I dunno!

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But, I have a hearty chicken and veggie recipe in the crockpot now, so I’ll let you know how it turns out!

 

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dessert?

I LOVE Sweet Potato Pie (which we had with our fried chicken this weekend)!

Pumpkin Butterscotch Chip Cookies

From Big Fat Cookies by Elinor Klivans

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Line two baking sheets with parchment, then butter the parchment.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together with an electric mixer for about 1 minute on medium speed, until it’s smooth and a light yellow color. Scrape the bowl as needed.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, add the oil, pumpkin and vanilla and mix until smooth. Add in the flour mixture until incorporated, then stir in the butterscotch chips.
  5. Use a 1/4-cup capacity ice cream scoop or a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop the dough into mounds onto the prepared baking sheets. Space the mounds about 2-1/2" apart. Smooth the tops of the mounds with a spatula if desired.
  6. Bake the cookies for about 16 minutes, switching racks and rotating the pans about halfway through the baking time. When done, the cookies will feel firm and a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean and dry. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. If desired, dust the tops with powdered sugar.
  8. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days, if they last that long.

The First Frost is the Coldest {and a Tangent Tuesday}

So I was ready for a bit of a change…

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And a rich new fall hair color!  After rocking my natural color for a good 10 years, it was time to have some fun!

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I had a super busy Monday…the gym, a lunch date (tacos and guac), shopping, crockpotting, and then a hair appointment.  I got home after sun down but even the BOY noticed my new hair color.  Unlike when I got bangs and it took him 3 days to notice, this week he approved right away.  We had leftovers for dinner.  Our friends are amazing and sent us home with ribs, mashed potatoes, and cake : ) 

We have an exciting week ahead…our 1 month anniversary (is today!) and the BOY’s birthday…so lots to celebrate!

And celebrations require sweets!

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This weekend, I made the most amazing Monster Bars and Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.  Both are disappearing quickly.

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This morning, I took my new tennies for a test drive. 

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It was about 30 degrees and way too cold.  Well, I’m sure in a few weeks, I’ll be wishing it was that warm, but it got me thinking…Brrr…that first frost is the coldest (and toughest)!

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I ran about 5 miles and although I LOVED my new shoes, my fingers didn’t warm up until 3 patients into my day : )

I’ve ran out of tangents so I am off to bed…

What’s your Tuesday tangent?

 

Meal Planning 11/09/15

Monday: Leftovers

Tuesday: Crockpot Chicken Curry

Wednesday: Sushi for the BOY’s Birthday Dinner

Thursday: Tacos

 

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

From Two Peas and Their Pod

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
3/4 cup of raisins

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a small bowl add the raisins and cover with water. Let them sit for five minutes. This will help plump them up.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth and creamy. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture. Blend until combined. Stir in the oats and raisins.

Spoon about a tablespoon of dough into a round ball, leaving space between each cookie. They will spread a little. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes. Take them out when they are golden at the edges but still a little under baked in the middle. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to cooling rack.