Using the Weather as an Excuse…

Sunday was a lazy day!

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It’s such a double edged sword…last weekend, we ran around and had a blast in the city, but I was missing some down time.  This Sunday, was all about the down time and of course I felt guilty about using the cold wet weather as a reason not to leave my house.  My day included… Me, the BOY, Cooper, and Netflicks…oh and few rounds of baking and laundry.  All while in the comfort of my jammies.  It was THAT kind of day!  And it was wonderful!

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Monday, I woke up recharged and ready to burn off some energy.  With the sun out, I knew I wanted to get out and run!

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Now this is my kind of running weather! I ran 6 miles along the path, along with my thoughts, and soaking up some sunshine.

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The rest of my day was typical Monday…grocery store, meal prep, and paperwork.

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I figured instead of starting of the week with what’s in my crockpot, I’d rather share these amazing cookies with you that I made yesterday.  I had all the ingredients on hand, and so in between episodes of Scandal, I ran back and forth to the kitchen to whip up the BOY’s favorite cookies!

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They are super sweet and will start  your Monday off right!

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Meal Planning and more recipes coming to you soon!  Today, I’m using the sunny weather as an excuse to not want to blog any more : )

 

Soft and Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

From Recipe Diaries

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup butter (softened)
  • 1 1⁄2 cups brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups oatmeal (quick cooking oats, but I used half and half)

Directions

  1. First, you put the raisins in a small pan of water uncovered and cook till puffy. Put in strainer to drain and cool.
  2. Cream and beat together (using electric mixer) the butter, brown sugar, and eggs.
  3. Mix together the flour (unsifted), soda, baking powder, cinnamon, oatmeal and add to the creamed mixture, using beater to mix.
  4. Last, add the raisins.
  5. With a spoon, mix them in ever so lightly.
  6. Drop by teaspoonfuls on lightly greased cookie sheets or Silpats.
  7. Bake them at 350 degrees for 8-9 minutes. Take them out before they get brown!
  8. Cool for a couple of minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to waxed paper to cool completely.
  9. Enjoy!
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Too Tired to Come Up with a Title

I seriously had a difficult time getting myself out of my warm cozy bed this morning!  And I think the BOY was struggling as well.  We had a really fun weekend!  Saturday morning, I was back on my mat with my last session of kids yoga this year.  It is a unique group because my younger class is all at the top end of the age range and have been doing yoga with me for a bit, so we were able to try some new stuff.  They stuck with it all and did great!

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My older class is a mix of abilities and new and experienced kids.  It is a huge learning experience for me to try to teach to everybody while making sure all of the kids feel successful and comfortable.  The morning flew by, and I left work feeling grateful to have the opportunity to share my passion for yoga with this amazing group of kids.

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I spent the rest of Saturday running around and luckily had some downtime on Sunday.  Then we went to my parents house to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah. 

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After dinner, the BOY and I went to Bed Bath for our registry completion event.  We bought a few big things for the kitchen including a gorgeous knife set and this…

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I am still drooling over it!

After the weekend, it’s no wonder when our alarm went off this morning, we were more than happy to stay in bed.   And Cooper was more than happy to join us!  While the BOY drove off to the train, I met my trainer for a strength session.

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Then stopped by the grocery store on the way home.  When I was in NY I had the simplest and tastiest Maple latte so I decided to recreate one while I unpacked groceries and took a little downtime to catch up on emails and make my list for the day ahead.  Big things on today’s list included an oil change, holiday cards, and setting up our Hanukkah décor.

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On top of that, I baked two loaves of Cinnamon Delight Bread and two dozen 3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies.

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Since I was making Thai Peanut Butter Chicken, I figured it would be easy to use my extra homemade peanut butter for cookies.  And I love that I always have ingredients to make this recipe in my pantry.

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Do you love my Hanukkah spatula???

After running around ALL day, I was absolutely exhausted!  And stuffed with leftover potato pancakes and cookies.  I made an easy dinner of turkey burgers before cleaning everything up and sinking into my couch.  Good Night!

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Meal Planning 12/07/15

Monday: Spinach Feta Turkey Burgers

Tuesday: Clean Peanutty Thai Chicken

Wednesday: Tilapia

Thursday: TBD

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3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

From Gimme Some Oven

Ingredients

    • 1 cup peanut butter (crunchy or creamy…I used homemade)

    • 1 cup sugar (plus extra for dipping if desired)

    • 1 egg

        Directions

        Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

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

        Form dough into round tablespoon-fulls. 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.

        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.

        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.

        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.

        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!