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.

Make, Bake, Share!

OMG! Where did this weekend go?

It was a fun one but a fast one.  Thank goodness for Mondays or I’d get nothing done!

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The weekend started early Saturday morning with a couples workout…followed by our weekly trip to Target (in the same shopping center as the gym).  When we got home, I made another amazing Apple Pie Protein Shake.  This time I added in fresh cider which made it even better.  Before I left for the gym, I set out some butter (hidden on top of the fridge from Cooper who loves the stuff).

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Last week, I was sad not to have the right ingredients to make these mouth watering bars, hence the morning trip to Target.

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While the BOY rested, I got to work in the kitchen!  After our workout, my arms were a bit sore, so I probably should have used my big mixer instead of my hand mixer : )

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I followed the recipe as written except that I added in a few peanut butter chips (because I had them in the pantry).  These bars looked and smelled incredible, and it was tough to let them cool before diving in.  I kept myself busy cleaning bowls and reusing them for a batch of soft oatmeal raisin cookies (recipe to come).  I have to say, it is SO fun to use all my new kitchen tools and gadgets.  Even the measuring cups make me smile!

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The BOY and I had noon Spectre tickets and no set plan for lunch.  Last minute, we decided to swing by one of our favorite restaurants (Coppers Hawk)which is in the same mall as the fancy movie theater.  We had a fantastic lunch and of course a glass of wine.  We raced over the the theater only to discover our movie was at 12:15.  This gave us plenty of time to get cozy in the reclining chairs and order another glass of wine.  We love this theater!

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The movie was good, but no Skyfall!  We decided that a nap was in order and came home and climbed into bed. We woke up 2 hours later with Cooper curled up between the two of us, happy as can be.  We had Saturday night plans at my sister in laws and got home just before midnight crashing back into bed. 

As for the rest of the weekend…to be continued!

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I have a few new and different recipes to share and plan to spread them out a bit.  But I can tell that this one is already a favorite!  It makes a huge batch which is perfect for sharing with enough to freeze for later, so I have been sharing it with everyone this weekend!

 

No Flour Monster Cookie Bars

From Together As Family

Ingredients

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups quick oats
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-2 cups mini m&m’s
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips (or 1/2 cup PB chips and 1/2 cup chocolate chips)

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a cookie sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
  2. In large bowl, combine brown sugar, granulated sugar, peanut butter, and butter. With a hand-held blender, mix until pale in color and combined.
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla extract. Blend together.
  4. Add in the oats and baking soda. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, mix by hand until combined.
  5. Add in the m&m’s and chocolate chips (reserve some for top of bars if wanted). Stir together well until combined.
  6. Dump onto your parchment lined cookie sheet and spread out. I recommend spraying your hands with cooking spray to work the dough into the pan. Sprinkle the reserved m&m’s and chocolate chips on top (if wanted). Press down slightly into dough.
  7. Bake for 18-20 minutes. The edges will be lightly browned and the middle will still look pale and underdone, but it will finish baking as it cools. Let cool for at least an hour so the bars can firm up and come together. You do not want to over-bake these.

Bombshell Brownies & Apple Pie Bites

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Besides sitting around and drinking espresso in my kitchen (thanks to my amazing new Nespresso machine and milk frother that I am totes obsessed with), I’ve also been baking.  I know…it’s about time…right?!  At least that’s what my coworkers said!

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If these don’t get your mouth watering, I don’t know what  will : )

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Now on to the baking…when in need of recipes, there are countess options on my Pinterest board but one of my go to blogs for incredible desserts is Cookies&Cups.

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Enter…Bombshell Oreo Brownies!

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If you follow me on Instagram, then you saw I had a bit of a cocoa mishap.  Well, honestly a HUGE, my kitchen is covered in chocolate, situation.

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But I will tell you, it was totally worth it for these mouth watering brownies.

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My coworkers were thrilled to see that I had leftovers and agreed that this new recipe is a keeper!  After my brownies were baked, I went out for a quick bike ride before returning to the kitchen for another round of baking. 

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This one was a little more simple but just as tasty.  Because we just started the new year, apples and honey are customary, so an apple recipe was a MUST.

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This is a Pinterest favorite and something I knew that I needed to try!

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The ease of using crescent rolls saves time with this recipe without sacrificing any taste!  While the apple pie bites baked, Cooper found a hiding place in the kitchen where he could observe the action and seek out free tastes.

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My pie bites were a bit bigger than they should have been (they were harder to wrap than I thought they would be), but with a little extra butter, they browned perfectly and were sweet and delicious!

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Note: I recommend serving them warm with homemade ice cream, but cold for breakfast the next morning works too!

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And by the way, Homemade ice cream is also perfect for your brownies!

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Happy Almost Fall Ya’ll!!!

Bombshell Oreo Brownies

From Cookies&Cups

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 25 Oreo cookies coarsely chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F/175°C
  2. Line 9×13 pan with foil and spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs. Mix on medium speed until combined, about 1 minute.
  4. Add in salt and the cocoa powder and mix on medium until combined, 30 seconds to a minute.
  5. Turn the mixer to low and add in the flour until incorporated.
  6. Stir in the white chips.
  7. Spread half of the batter into pan. Top with the Oreos and spread the remaining batter on top.
  8. Bake 35-40 minutes until center is almost set.

 

Apple Pie Bites

From The Blond Cook

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice, and additional apple pie spice for sprinkling on top of crescent rolls
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ⅓ cup chopped pecans
  • 1 small Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced into 8 (1/2-inch) slices
  • 1 (8-ounce) can Pillsbury Original crescent rolls

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and apple pie spice. Set aside.
  3. Melt butter and toss apple slices in butter, set aside.
  4. Arrange crescent roll triangles on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Evenly distribute brown sugar mixture onto each triangle.
  5. Sprinkle each triangle evenly with the chopped pecans.
  6. Place an apple slice on the wide end of each triangle. Wrap crescent roll dough around each apple.
  7. Brush each crescent roll with remaining butter. Sprinkle lightly with additional apple pie spice.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

You Scream!

The biggest problem with our ice cream maker (besides the fact that it may prevent me from fitting into my wedding dress) is that Cooper has discovered it.  And by discovered it, I mean he can conveniently place his nose in the top while it churns, soaking in all of the dairy deliciousness!

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Our ice cream making has been working all week!  The recipe that started all it all is a Vegan ice cream that I found on pinterest. I was interested because it uses coconut milk and dates. 

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Typically dairy and I don’t get along, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying a good cheese or frozen yogurt run.   The idea of making dairy free ice cream sounded VERY appealing this summer.  I followed the recipe as written, but I think I have a different sized maker because it didn’t seem to churn well and stuck along the edges. I wonder if I would have been better off doubling the recipe?!

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Even with that, the consistency was just like fro yo as promised!  Mmmm!  Of course, I decided to stir in some dark chocolate chunks!

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It took all of my will power not to dig in and eat the entire container!  This looks to me like Fro Yo for one : )

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Also from the ice cream maker this week…the BOY made a custard and we used the easy vanilla recipe to make Oreo/M&M and Heath flavored ice cream for our 4th of July celebration on July 3rd!

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We had a beautiful day to celebrate the holiday with good friends, awesome food, and of course a dance party in the bounce house!

 

Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream

From ifoodreal

Ingredients

1 can (14 oz) full fat coconut milk

10 medjool dates, pitted

3 tbsp cacoa powder

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Chocolate chunks (optional)

Directions

Freeze the bowl of your ice cream maker overnight.

Place all ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a high speed blender.  Process until smooth.  Pour into your ice cream maker and churn according to directions.  Add chocolate chips if desired and allow ice cream maker to mix.

Consistency will be that of soft serve…Mmm!

I Scream!

As I mentioned yesterday, we had a fantastic weekend kicking off our wedding with a chef inspired shower!  The BOY and I were thrilled to open our gifts and before we even arrived back home, we had swung into Target for ice cream ingredients.

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It was after an evening of wine and pinning that I decided we needed an ice cream maker.  We started with the simplest recipe…just a few ingredients.  The BOY whipped everything together using some of our brand new measuring cups!

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He placed the bowl in the fridge for 2 hours while we finished cleaning and unpacking and then sat down for Thai.  After dinner, the BOY started looking up ice cream information and discovered that you have to freeze the bowl over night before you can make anything.  What? That should be in big bright letters on the front of the box.  Sadly, we realized that ice cream would have to wait until the next day.

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Luckily, there were other toys to play with, like a deep fryer and rice cooker!  This morning, I was only awake a few minutes before the BOY whipped out the bowl of ice cream and placed it in the ice cream maker.

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Who doesn’t want ice cream for breakfast?!

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By this afternoon, the BOY decided that he wanted to make another batch.  Before I knew what was going on, he had out pots and egg separators, whipping together a custard. 

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Which waiting in the fridge now to become ice cream batch number two.  I’ll let you know how it turns out!  But so far…the verdict is…homemade ice cream is the BEST!

Do you make your own ice cream?

What’s your favorite recipe?

 

Simple Vanilla Ice Cream

From Cuisinart

Ingredients

1 cup whole milk
¾ cup granulated sugar
pinch salt
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed or whisk to combine the milk, sugar and salt until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours, or overnight. Turn on the Cuisinart® ice cream maker; pour the mixture into the frozen freezer bowl and let mix until thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

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!

Almost Summer Saturday

Hey There!  Happy Saturday! 

It is feeling more and more like summer, which always puts me in a GREAT mood!  And although I haven’t blogged about it, I’ve been busy!

Exercise Updates:

I had a highly successful week of exercise, including a Tuesday morning walk with the BOY and Thursday morning ab work after my run.  You’ll notice I had some competition for my yoga mat.

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This morning, I was psyched to go to (instead of teach) yoga!  It was a super humid class and we worked our way into birds of paradise.  Note: using a block is helpful but you will not master this pose with wicked tight hips.  Also note…you can still have a lot of fun with it.

 

Almost Summer Stuff

With the warm (almost) summer temps, brings crisp and delicious white wines.  I indulged twice this week (two more times than my typical work week).  Once during Wednesday night’s Hawks game with an awesome Cooper’s Hawk blend.  And then again Thursday during sushi night!

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Summer is also accompanied by No Bake summer recipes and So You Think You Can Dance!  Woo hoo!  After  yoga, I brought in Mediterranean for lunch and began watching the new season of SYTYCD as I worked my way through my never ending to do list. 

 

Recipes

We are having friends over for a BBQ tonight and keeping our fingers crossed that the weather stays nice.  The BOY is grilling up shrimp and calamari…Mmm!  I decided I wanted to make a tasty no bake dessert.

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I settled on a Twix Caramel Apple Salad (from Pinterest)!

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I adjusted the recipe a bit because I had almond milk instead of dairy milk, but I think it is just as tasty. 

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Cooper kept watch from his perch in the cabinet!

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Once dessert was settled in the fridge, I decided to make a banana bread with my brown bananas.  As always, I went searching for a new recipe to try.

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I made a slight mistake…adding in lemon extract thinking it was almond.  Oops! I was able to scoop the majority of it out.  But although the plan was to freeze this bread for next weekend, I wanted to sneak a taste to make sure it wasn’t too lemony.

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The lemon flavor was non existent and this bread was absolutely amazing!!!  It took a whole bunch of will power not to dig into the entire loaf : )

 

Saturday Night

Our BBQ was really fun! Our friends brought their almost 2 year old daughter and we were able to blow bubbles and draw with chalk outside before sitting down for some fantastic grilled seafood, roasted potatoes and savory salad.  Dessert was a big hit too!

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And now it’s time to settle in and watch the Blackhawk’s game.  The neighborhood is alive with energy, but unfortunately, I have a splitting headache, so I am missing out on the rest of the festivities.

 

What do you like about summer Saturdays?

 

Twix Caramel Apple Salad

Adapted Slightly From iSave AtoZ

Ingredients

  • 1 small package of instant Vanilla Pudding
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 small tub of whipping cream (I used TruWhip)
  • 1 package of TWIX Bites
  • 2 Granny Smith Apples
  • Optional: Caramel or Chocolate sauce

Directions

  1. Whisk together milk and pudding and then immediately add the tub of whipping cream in it before it sets. Don’t use the full amount of milk as the box says.
  2. Dice the TWIX Bites into halves.  Dice the Granny Smith apples.  Stir them into the pudding mixture, and mix all the ingredients together.
  3. Allow it to set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Optional: Drizzle with Caramel or Chocolate sauce before serving it.

 

Best Banana Bread

From An Edible Mosaic

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
  • ⅓ cup plain low-fat yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • ½ teaspoon pure almond extract (NOT lemon!)
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
  3. Place the sugar and butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the banana, yogurt, vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste, and almond extract; beat until blended. Add the flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist.
  4. Spoon batter into an 8½ x 4½-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
  5. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Salty and Sweet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a SWEET night!

 

Meal Planning 3/22/15

Sunday: Slow Cooker Island Pulled Chicken

Monday: Apple Cinnamon Pork

Tuesday: Burger Night

Wednesday: Baked Teriyaki Chicken

Thursday: Ribs from Costco

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

 

Peanut Butter Magic Cookie Bars

Adapted from Renee’s Kitchen Adventures

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

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