I Don’t Know the Last Time…

I spent time in my kitchen cooking, baking, and then cooking some more.

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Bet you thought I was going to say blogging…

I guess you were right too!

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So, where have I been? Well…it’s a pretty long list!

 

Champaign for Christmas

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Yoga Six

Working

Mariano’s

Wisconsin for New Years

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Attempting Barre

Reading

Drinking Bubbles

Doing yoga on the Sky Deck

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Meeting Friends at Begyle Brewery

Baking Banana Bread

Teaching Kids Yoga

Taking Pics with the World Series Trophy

Rockclimbing

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Cuddling with Cooper

Meal Planning

Traveling to DC

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Told you it was a long list : )  Did I mention that it was also a fun one!

So here I am back at the blogging with Cooper on my lap and I’ve got some recipes for you. 

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Last Friday, after a busy morning, I decided to spend a bit of time in my kitchen.  Isn’t the whole point of having this awesome kitchen actually using it?

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The more challenging problem has been coming up with some down time to sit, type, and share all the amazing recipes with you.  With some help from impromptu house guests (my mom and dad), I made meatballs, jalapeno mac n cheese, Red Velvet Cake Batter Dip, and the most incredible Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars.

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I was a bit worried about the looks of these bars, but looks can be deceiving!

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These bars are absolutely delicious!

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And were met with rave reviews from everyone who tried them!

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Of course, I went dessert first, but I should also share with you the recipe I found in the Whole Foods Market Cookbook for Jalapeno Mac N Cheese.  And I will…just not tonight because I have to run.  We’ve got Saturday night dinner plans with friends (and I am bringing these oldie but goodie salad…Mmm!)

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What are you cooking and baking this winter???

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

From Mom Endeavors

Ingredients

  • ½ C butter
  • ½ C brown sugar
  • ⅓ C peanut butter
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ½ C sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 C flour
  • 1 C oatmeal
  • ¼ tsp salt

Frosting

  • 1 C chocolate chips
  • ½ C powdered sugar
  • 2-4 Tbsp milk
  • ½ C peanut butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix sugars, egg, and butters.
  3. Add flour, baking soda, salt, vanilla, and oatmeal.
  4. Spread mixture into a 9×13 pan and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. While that bakes, prepare the frosting (mix together the powdered sugar, milk, and peanut butter).
  6. Remove pan from oven and while hot, sprinkle with chocolate chips. When melted, swirl with the frosting.
  7. Enjoy!

Burgers, Brownies, and BS

The BOY and I got invited to a Burgers, Brownies, and BS party for Monday night’s debate, and because we live in the city, we were able to go…on a school night.  Not surprisingly, I only supplied the brownies.  And maybe a bit of BS!

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Also because we live in the city, we have been SO BUSY that I haven’t been able to sit down and share this recipe or do  much of anything except work and play.  So for that reason, the BOY and I are spending Saturday night in chilaxing, watching TV, and doing a bit of laundry.  Sometimes, life is just too exciting  : )

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So the real reason for this post is not political or to tell you how much fun I’ve been having lately although that might come up…It’s brownies!!!

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I went outside the norm and whipped up my first batch of black bean brownies!

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They were surprisingly easy and even more surprisingly tasty!

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Our game plan was to make a batch of homemade ice cream to serve with them.  However, we didn’t freeze our ice cream bowl overnight and sadly the ice cream stayed in liquid form.

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So instead, we concocted Brownie Cookie Dough Surprise (which really doesn’t have a surprise) and just consists of the brownies (warmed up is best!) topped with the cookie dough that didn’t go into our ice cream, whip cream, and a raspberry on top.  They were a HUGE hit and I don’t think anybody minded one bit.  The debate on the other hand…that is a whole another story…

Do you ever hide sub beans or healthy foods into your desserts?

 

Black Bean Brownies

From Chocolate Covered Katie

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups black beans (1 15-oz can, drained and rinsed very well)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder (10g)
  • 1/2 cup quick oats (40g)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup or agave (75g)
  • 2 tbsp sugar (or omit and increase maple syrup to 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup coconut or vegetable oil (40g)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup chocolate chips (115-140g) (Not optional. Omit at your own risk.)
  • optional: more chips, for presentation (I used white chocolate because that’s what I had)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all ingredients except chips in a good food processor, and blend until completely smooth. Really blend well. (A blender can work if you absolutely must, but the texture—and even the taste—will be much better in a food processor.)

Stir in the chips, then pour into a greased 8×8 pan. Optional: sprinkle extra chocolate chips over the top. Cook the black bean brownies 15-18 minutes, then let cool at least 10 minutes before trying to cut. If they still look a bit undercooked, you can place them in the fridge overnight and they will magically firm up!

Makes 9-12 brownies.

Pumpkin Banana Pecan Bread

If overripe bananas can’t get me back in the kitchen, I don’t know what can!

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I am totally out of the habit of cooking and baking.  Although we did impose our meal planning and lunch prep on my parents when we lived there, I didn’t do too much of the making of the food.  After 2 weeks in Chicago, I am beginning to adjust to my new schedule. I still work 4 long days but now I have Fridays off instead of Mondays. I must say, I liked it best when I had both Fridays and Mondays off this summer, but it was just temporary : )  Fridays off is a bigger change than you think…especially since I’ve been working the same schedule for like 7 or 8 years.  It means that my Sundays need to be productive.  Ugh!

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The BOY and I were out late last night at a wedding dancing our hearts out and making new friends.  It was a slow start to our day, but we had to shake off the sleep because we were hosting the BOYs aunts for lunch!  There was still a bit to do making our house a little neater…you know like piling boxes in the corner. Ha ha!

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We had a fantastic time showing them our new place and catching up over lunch and tasty food.  They left around 3:30pm and the BOY and I decided that we needed an afternoon of lounging around.  I don’t think we’ve had a lazy day of TV in a LONG time.  I walked over to the grocery store (with my cart) for a few week day essentials and then prepped veggie bags and snacks.  I threw an easy Monday night dinner in the crockpot and turned those overripe bananas into bread.

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Although I didn’t have much success with the oven on Friday, I wanted to give it another try!

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I had the bananas but was feeling for a bit of fall, so I chose a banana and pumpkin bread from Skinny Taste.

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This bread is really soft and delicious and I love the addition of pecans.  PERFECT!

I am bringing one loaf to work tomorrow and saving the other for our upcoming trip to Door County!

Don’t get too excited about hearing from me again as I have a busy week ahead but as we head into fall, I figured you all could use a bite of this bread : )

 

Pumpkin Banana Pecan Bread

From Skinny Taste

Ingredients

  • 2-1/2 cups white whole wheat or all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, not packed
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/4 cup (3 medium) ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 oz (3/4 cup) chopped pecans
  • baking spray

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease two 8×5 inch loaf pans with baking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, pumpkin spice, cinnamon and salt with a wire whisk. Set aside.

In a large bowl cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add egg whites, pumpkin, bananas, apple sauce and vanilla, and beat at medium speed until thick. Scrape down sides of the bowl.

Add flour mixture and pecans, then blend at low speed until combined. Do not over mix.

Pour batter into loaf pans and bake on the center rack for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

OMG! Worst Blogger Ever Award!

Friends…old and new! How are you???  Where has the time gone???

I swear it was like yesterday that I was blogging up a storm and then I took a quick break to move in with my P’s, start a new job, get my yoga certificate, enjoy summer, then move again (this time to Chicago), start another new job, unpack…and…Yeah…I’m still not unpacked…and yeah, I seem to still be on a break.  But anyways, the point is it is mid September and I haven’t blogged in a month.  Which earns me the Worst Blogger Ever Award!

So just a quick update…the BOY, Cooper, and I moved into the city Labor Day Weekend and we haven’t slowed down since.

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With help, we have been unpacking a million boxes (with many more to go)…

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I started another new job, cut off all of my hair again, and haven’t cooked a thing.

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Which might be why you haven’t heard from me.  I am working two part time jobs, learning the ropes, teaching a ton of yoga classes (last week, I taught 4 kids classes), exploring the city by bike, drinking wine, buying new furniture, and eating all of the Thai food my tummy can handle,

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Check me out…I’m a bike commuter!

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I bought a bubbie cart so I can walk to the HUGE Mariano’s down the block.

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Which is what I did this afternoon.  Have I mentioned that I live across the street from a yoga studio?!  It is right in between a coffee shop and wine bar and it makes me happy every time I look out the window.

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So this morning, I went to the most amazing yoga class, then came home to organize our bathroom.  Cooper had an afternoon vet appointment, which was very traumatic for both of us.  He wouldn’t go into his crate so we were super late.  When we got home, he ran and hid under the bed, so I took my bubbie cart to the grocery store.

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I’m sure you guys missed me but I am guessing that you missed Cooper more so I threw in a few of his pics.  After a busy week, I was happy to make dinner and decided on this Island Pork Tenderloin.  I came back from the grocery store and got started on dessert first.  As I was pulling out all of the ingredients, I realized that I didn’t have sugar.  Luckily, the BOY passes the store on his walk home from the train so he swung by and picked up sugar.

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Just some Friday night baking essentials.  My dessert came together easily except I couldn’t find sprinkles anywhere in our house. I tried all of my many kitchen cabinets and drawers (my new kitchen also makes me happy!) but there were no sprinkles.  I gave up and subbed in white chocolate chips for the sprinkles and threw some in the middle and on top.

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Apparently I am also the worst baker ever…ha ha!  Although I thought I had everything timed out, it appears our oven is not so strong so everything took WAY TOO LONG!  That being said, the bars still turned out phenomenal and were devoured by the BOY and I after dinner. 

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I just couldn’t decide if I like the crunchy sugary ends or the ooey gooey middle better!

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I kept the recipe as written below but know that this is a very forgiving dessert so you can probably whip it together with whatever you have in your pantry!  Even if you haven’t even unpacked all your pantry boxes : )

I have no idea what my blogging future holds but hoping to check in with ya’ll more often!

What’d I miss with you guys???

 

Cake Batter Sugar Cookie Bars

From Today’s Creative Life

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of white chocolate chips
  • 6 tablespoons softened butter
  • ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1¼ cup of gluten free flour or regular flour
  • ¼ cup of Nonpareil or sprinkles to mix in
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of Nonpareil or sprinkles for the top of the batter before baking

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease an 8" x 8" baking pan and set aside.
  3. Carefully melt white chocolate chips at 50% power in microwave, stirring often to make sure they don’t burn. Once they are just about melted, stir in softened butter and remaining ingredients (except sprinkles) which you will want to fold in gently at the very end. Spread dough into pan and cover the top of the dough with the remaining sprinkles.
  4. Bake for about 22 minutes or until the bars begin to turn golden around the edges of the pan.
  5. The bars will be a bit gooey when you remove them from the oven, they will continue to set as they cool for 30 minutes to an hour.
  6. Enjoy!!!

Island Pork Tenderloin {Awesome New Recipe}

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After the past week of just putting one foot in front of the other, I seem to have risen above my funk and am back to feeling like myself.  I’m sure the weekend spent feeding my soul with some QT husband time, chocolate, and fun helped!

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This morning’s first stop was the yoga studio.  One of my favorite teachers was subbing.  She told an amazing story about a golden Buddha covered in clay.  The moral being that we cover ourselves with layers of stress and expectations and that when we crack through them, our golden self is below and ready to shine through.  I was definitely ready to shine and was actually shining when I emerged 75  minutes later dripping in sweat.

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I thought the story was spot on and could have so many interpretations.  I’m thinking that I will use it for the kids yoga workshop I am teaching next weekend.  After yoga, I ran a few errands picking up a couple of gifts and groceries. I am all stocked up for an intense cheese plate for next weekend’s work party.

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I had leftover chili for lunch that I heated up as I unpacked all my food.  Then I put Tuesday’s dinner in the…you guessed it…crockpot.  I was in a baking mood and had the bananas to use, so I made mini Banana Maple Muffins with blueberries.

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I found the perfect mini muffin liners when I cleaned out my pantry.

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It was a productive day (for example I finally put away our snorkel equipment from the trip), and I happily curled up next to sleeping Cooper to watch a Law&Order marathon while blogging and emailing.  Around 6:20pm, I paused the TV to make dinner.  It’s super funny to watch Cooper who is his absolute laziest from like noon to 6pm spring up, stretch, and come to the kitchen demanding his dinner.

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So a few notes about tonight’s dinner recipe.  Number 1 and most importantly…it is AMAZING!  Like super awesome!  I followed the recipe pretty much as written except I only used a 1ish pound tenderloin.  I kept the spices the same so it was really strong and flavorful.

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I used my Le Cresuet because I know that it goes from stove to oven easily and I never know which pans can do that.  As for the glaze.  By the time I made that, I realized that I only needed half.  I used 1 tbsp garlic, 1/2 tbsp tobasco, and about 2 tbsp brown sugar.  When I tasted it, it tasted REALLY strong and spicy so I added a dash of cinnamon and coated my pork.  However, by the time the pork was cooked (this took about 25-28 minutes), it was spiced JUST RIGHT…not too hot at all.

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This recipe is easy and takes basically no time to prep.  We devoured our dinner with some leftover homemade ice cream for dessert.  And then sat down to enjoy the dynamic Grammy performances.

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You know it’s been a successful day when you’ve used basically EVERY utensil in your kitchen…ha ha!

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What did you think of the Grammy’s?

Island Pork Tenderloin

From Travels from East to West

For spice rub:

  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 pork tenderloins (2 ¼ – 2 ½ lbs total) trimmed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

For Glaze:

  • ¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp Tabasco

Stir the spice rub ingredients together in a small bowl and rub all over the pork.  Heat oil in ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet over medium high heat.  Brown pork, turning occasionally, about 4-5 minutes total.  Remove from heat, but leave pork in skillet.
Stir together brown sugar, garlic and Tabasco in a small bowl.  Pat the mixture on top of the pork.  Place skillet in the oven at 350.  Roast until thermometer inserted diagonally into the center of each tenderloin registers 140 degrees, about 20 minutes.  Let pork stand in skillet, loosely covered with foil for 10 minutes.

Long Holiday Weekend {In Review}

It’s Monday…And another short week!

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Can I get a woot woot?!

How was your holiday?  Mine was FANTASTIC!

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I started Christmas day with a calm and peaceful outdoor 5 mile run.  I know that I’m supposed to be sad, but I love being able to run outside without looking like an Eskimo in December.  I will be sad when it gets much colder this week!

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The cool part of my morning was seeing two deer snacking next to the path.  #GoodMorningDeers

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I showered and packed up my presents and at 10am, my parents came to pick us up for our annual Christmas trip to Champaign, IL.  We had so much stuff, there was barely any space left in the car.

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When we arrived, everyone caught up quickly and then gathered around the table for a gorgeous Christmas dinner!

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The rest of the weekend was festive and fun!

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We got stuck in a HUGE thunderstorm while trying to walk for coffee…

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Opened presents, cuddled with pups, and enjoyed winey Mary’s and TONS of food!

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Sunday we decided that it was another successful Christmas weekend and after one last meal, we drove back home.  Cooper was waiting for us and ready to cuddle!

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We had Sunday night birthday plans for Hibachi with my close girl friends and their hubbies.

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We had a great time catching up and chowing down.  After an exciting weekend, I crashed early last night.  This morning, it was back to the usual Monday routine…gym, grocery, laundry, etc.

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However, the weather was a disaster!  It was sleeting in all directions and the roads were slippery.  I prioritized my stops, including a trip to Costco, as I got ready for the next big holiday ahead…New Years!

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It took a TON of trips through the slush to get my car unpacked, each more miserable than the one before.  I was more than happy to settle back in to watch the Yule Log and bake up a loaf of banana bread this afternoon.

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And make Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps in the crockpot for tonight’s dinner. 

I’m thinking I’ll call it another early one…Cooper’s already upstairs waiting : )

 

How was your Christmas Weekend? Share the Highlights!

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.