Bora Bora Blues

I have the most serious case of the Bora Bora blues…


Sure, I miss the crystal clear water and the sunny skies but I truly miss the ability to unplug, unwind, and do whatever I want, spending almost 100% of my time with my best friend and love.  No, I don’t expect you feel sorry for me…I wouldn’t, but thought I should at least be honest about my current state of mind.


Saturday morning, our alarm went off and I actually turned it off (on accident).  We arrived at the gym 10 minutes late, but the BOY’s trainer had a flat tire so we were all on the same page.  I was especially empathetic after my recent flat and dead battery last Monday after my car sat on the driveway for 2 weeks untouched.  My trainer worked us both out and totally took it easy on us.  Although our trip was extremely active, I haven’t worked out all week (sleep was a priority to get back into my routine and not fall asleep at work this week).  The goal for Saturday was to just get back into our routine and then maybe burn a few calories.


Mission accomplished!  We had enough time to chillax back home before driving into the city for a fun catch up brunch with my fam.  We chose not to spend Saturday night in the city for a few reasons, mainly because I was too lazy to pack a bag and wanted to wake up at home and didn’t want to leave Cooper alone for the night.


Oddly, almost all of my post vacation pictures on my phone are of this guy…do you think we missed him?!  Saturday night, the BOY and I stayed in to watch the Indiana basketball game, play with kitten, and drink some wine.


Sadly, I didn’t make it up that late and went to bed around 9:15pm to read.  The BOY followed shortly behind and we both slept for a glorious 10 hours.  Sunday morning, the BOY wanted to make breakfast and we enjoyed a delish mix of biscuits, eggs, and bacon.  After a quick weather check, I decided to skip yoga and head out for a run.  It was cold (because it’s not 75), but for February in Chicago, quite mild!  And my phone said it would be much colder (and possibly snowing) on Monday.  I ran just short of 5 miles enjoying the fresh air.  The BOY and I decided to spend Superbowl Sunday being lazy at home just the two of us. 



Which means that I did some laundry, gave Cooper tons of love, and we watched the Entourage movie before the game even started.  We ordered Thai food for dinner.


And I tried to channel my vacation vibe by enjoying my midday drink of choice…white wine.  Although I didn’t have a pool, I did threaten to change into my bathing suit : )  Day time wine always makes life better…right?!


We watched the Superbowl with no real opinion on the winner but totally enjoying the half time show …




And some Cooper love (while donning my brand new Snuggie)…


Monday, I slept in and was moving slowly, arriving for Hot Yoga just as the class was starting.  I snuck in with an ‘I’m Sorry’ wave to the teacher and grabbed the largest open space which happened to be the front of the room.  We warmed up in supine and about 10 minutes later after my intention was set, I found my way into my first downward dog…discovering that the class was full of 3 rows of guys behind me.  I had to laugh to myself…after feeling a bit sad about doing yoga without my vacation views, a soccer team really isn’t a bad runner up.  Ha ha!


Yoga definitely helped shake those Bora Bora blues as I worked through the asanas and breathing.  It didn’t give me enough patience to wait 4 hours at the social security office to change my name, but it did remind me of all that I love (and appreciate) in my non Bora Bora life : ) 


How do you shake the post vacation blues?

What did you do for Superbowl Sunday?

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…



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 ; )


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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). 


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


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


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.


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


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


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.


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!


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


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.


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



  • 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


  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.

10 Things to do During a Snow Storm

You would think after last year, I’d have snow days all figured out.  And, actually we kind of do.  The most important part is planning ahead of time so that when you are stuck at home, you have plenty of food (chili is a must) and activities to keep you busy…hence yesterday’s Target trip.


Here is how we kept ourselves busy during yesterday’s snow day…

1. Clean Off Your Car (and head out to a yoga class)

2. Make Chili (and serve it with Frito’s and beer)


3. Do Laundry

4. Nap


5. Bake Brownies

6. Read/Study


7. Stay in Your PJ’s ALL Day

8. Watch Movies (or Law&Order marathons)

9. Nap Again


10. Catch Up on Blogging (I did set January goals…right?!)

And an extra for good luck…

11. Take ridiculous selfies (plural) with your cat!



January Goals

1. Study, Study Study!

GOAL MET…I think they know me at the library now.

2. Continue to exercise 5 days a week

Due to schedule changes, I’ve only been exercising 3-4xweek and that’s just how it will be until mid March.

3. Sign up and get prepped for a triathlon

ALMOST MET…I’ve got it narrowed down to two and a friend to train with me.  I did sign up for the Soldier Field 10 miler.  Woo Hoo!

4. Try new recipes/Revisit my cookbooks

Oh man! I’ve been a bit lazy on the cooking front, passing those duties off to the BOY.  I’m thinking that this may be the norm until my test.


February Goals

I’m sure these 28 days will fly by and beyond work and studying, I won’t have much time to focus on anything else, so I thought I would keep it SUPER simple!

1. Continue to prioritize studying

2. Drink less soda (an old/new habit that has crept back up with studying…however, it messes with my tummy and sleep so I need to be better about it)

3. Eat clean


How do you spend your snow days?  What are snow day food musts?

Five for Friday XXVIII

1.  It was wonderful having a nice long weekend after Thanksgiving to catch up on sleep, family time, household stuff, and studying.  Imagine my surprise when I picked up a bug of sorts and bee lined home at lunch on Tuesday with an upset stomach.  Boo!  Thankfully, I had a loving nurse to nap with me.



2. Good thing, I was feeing better by Thursday night to go to the BEARS game!  Although the Bears played…well, like the Bears.  I still had a great time with my brother.



3. It was all fun and games until I couldn’t find a taxi after the game and had to SPRINT like I was running the Chicago Marathon to the train station.  I would have missed the train, but it was running late.  I arrived in a heap of sweatiness but was so happy I didn’t have to wait another two hours until the 12:40am train!  Perhaps I shouldn’t have stopped to take this selfie : )



4.  On the way downtown, I tail gated with tea and a turkey sandwich while I finished the book I’ve been reading (and loving) called What Alice Forgot.  It is about a woman who wakes up missing 10 years of memories and in a completely different place in her life than she expected.  It is well written and definitely gets you thinking.


5.  To wrap up the week, the BOY and I had Friday night date night of Thai food and Prosecco.  Happy Friday to All!



Tell me about your week…what’s new and fabulous?

Autumn Chopped Salad

It was an interesting week here as we moved from 80 degree summer weather straight to talks of snow.  Ugh!  I was home sick on Thursday with a stomach bug and spent much of the day like this…


Except for when I was drinking ginger ale and eating soup. Cooper didn’t seem to mind and was more than happy to soak up the extra love and attention.  Friday it was back to work and then straight home for Friday night services.  The BOY and I spent Saturday together with his family celebrating the end of the high holidays.  I slept a good 10 hours Friday night and the BOY and I took a 90 minute nap on Saturday.  The extra sleep helped and I felt better each day.  I woke up this morning ready for Sunday Funday with our friends.


One thing is for sure, autumn is in the air!  When I offered to bring a salad to our friends house, I searched Pinterest for some fall salad inspiration.  I came across a few simple recipes, which always remind me how easy it is to throw together a unique and tasty salad.  I decided on one and since I was going to the grocery store, I had my entire week long meal plan and grocery list figured out before 9am.


When I returned from the store, I got to chopping…

All of the fruits for this gorgeous salad and veggies for Buffalo Turkey Chili.  Which went into the crockpot for tonight’s dinner!


The Bear’s game ended in a bad last minute loss, but our lunch complete with this salad was fantastic!  I shared the leftovers with my friend for her lunch tomorrow and I have plenty of ingredients left to make another salad later in the week.  It was a super Sunday Funday catching up with our friends, talking wedding and reading stories to their adorable 1 year old daughter.  Better luck next week Bears…

What is your favorite fall salad?

Autumn Chopped Salad

Adapted Slightly From Iowa Girl Eats

6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 pear, chopped
1 apple, chopped
1/4 cup almonds, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup Poppy Seed Salad Dressing (or more or less)
2 Tablespoons (fig) balsamic vinegar (or more or less)


Add romaine lettuce, pear, apple, almonds, dried cranberries, and feta cheese into a very large bowl, then add salad dressing and balsamic vinegar to taste. Toss well then serve immediately.


With my longest training run of the year ahead of me, I called in reinforcements.




Of course my mom, was more than happy to come ride with me during my 16 mile run this morning.  But more importantly, I think she was excited to meet Cooper.




Wouldn’t you be???


I probably stayed up a little later than necessary watching the Bears preseason game last night, but I’m just so excited that football season is upon us!  This has been an exhausting week, and I was feeling nervous about today’s 16 miler.  A big thank you to Leslie whose post reminded me to find my Garmin cord and charge my watch last night.    And a HUGE thank you to my Mom who chatted with me and cheered me on every step of the way…except for when she bumped into some of her friends on the path : )



pre run/bike selfie!


Today’s run went pretty well.  I haven’t pulled up all my stats (mostly because I haven’t read the instructions that go along with my watch), but my first 8 miles went really smooth with sub 10 minute miles.  I was actually trying to slow myself down so I didn’t run out of steam at the end.  Which between the heat and fatigue, I almost did.  Having my Mom to chat with made the 2+ hours fly by and I’m hoping to book her for future runs.


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Upon returning home, I was al about the stretching.  Cooper, on the other hand, was all about the trying to drink my coconut water.


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He has a thing for cups no matter where they are…and no fear of water!




Anyways, I’d love to chat more about running, but we are off to take Coop for his first vet visit.  And then the BOY and I are heading out for a late lunch.  We’ve got close friends coming into town this weekend, and after this morning’s run, I’m guessing I will need a nap.  I must say that I am happy to have a strong 16 miler behind me.  As the marathon gets closer and closer,  my nervousness rises!


Week in Review

Monday: 5 Miles

Tuesday: 8 Miles

Thursday: 8 Miles Race Pace (barely but I made it in 71:25)

Friday: 16 miles 2:40


Weekly Mileage: 37 miles

Post-Superbowl Cucumber Tomato Feta Dip

One of the benefits of CrossFit is that you have to sign up a few days in advance.  Why is this so good?  Because it holds me accountable to get to the gym on Monday mornings like this one, when I’d much rather stay in bed.


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I did take a quick peak at the website to see that we were doing ‘Tall Paul’ this morning, but I had no idea what that meant!  I brushed off my car for the third morning in a row (thinking again how cool it would be if I had snow shoes) and trekked off to the gym.




Confession…I stayed up a little later than usual last night watching the Superbowl and then Elementary, of course.  We had so much fun at my best friend’s house eating dinner, watching football, and hanging out with her two adorable children. 




The appetizers were unique and delicious!  This Feta Dip was a big hit.  Because the BOY doesn’t like tomatoes, I only added them to half of the dip and didn’t stir everything together.




I used an herb flavored feta, and the addition of Cavendar’s (one of our all time favorite seasonings) was perfect!




We had a very un-football like dinner.




And every single thing was flavorful and satisfying!




It’s amazing how colorful this spread was!  We all dug right into the food, going back for seconds.  I mentioned to the BOY that we should bring in Indian food more often!




The exciting thing is that we even have leftovers for lunch today.  After CrossFit, I refueled with a Green Juice Smoothie (I have been craving this ginger infused drink since last week) and am about to dig into some tasty leftovers.  I know compared to most, I have it easy today with a quiet day at home watching Biggest Loser, doing chores, and prepping for Friday’s trip to Florida!


Oh Yea and we are going to Yogurtland!

Yogurtland is having free yogurt and toppings TODAY from 4-7 pm.  We’ll see you in line!



Did you stay up late last night?

How are you recovering today?



Cucumber Tomato Feta Dip

Adapted From The Girl Who Ate Everything



about 1/3 cup olive oil

1 container of grape tomatoes, diced or quartered

4-5 green onions, sliced thinly

1 small cucumber, diced in small cubes

8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (see Note)

2-3 teaspoons Cavender’s Greek seasoning



On a large platter drizzle olive oil until you have a thin layer on the entire platter. You may use more or less here depending on your preference.

Add the tomatoes, green onions, cucumber, and feta on top of the olive oil. Sprinkle with the Greek seasoning to taste.

With a spoon carefully combine the ingredients.

Serve with warm sliced baguettes or pita chips for scooping up the dip.

Sunshine, Snow, and Sunday

So we made it through January!

What do you think?

Is 2013 all that you wanted it to be???




I hope so!  If not, there is plenty of time to get started on your new year’s intentions!  I woke up this morning to another sunny day with a fresh coat of snow covering my car.  The first thought that ran through my head was…I wish I had snow shoes!  I would go again this morning exploring the forest preserve by our house.




Instead, I headed off to my weekly Hot Yoga class.  I stayed up late watching the Indiana Victory last night, so I didn’t make it to my usual 10am class.  As I was walking in for the 11:30 class, I bumped into my Mom and a friend who had just finished their class.  It was fun to chat about yoga and homemade energy bars, and my Mom mentioned that she was jealous that she missed yesterday’s snow shoeing adventure.




After class, the BOY and I made a quick run to the crazy crowded grocery store.  Being that it is Superbowl Sunday, I was not in the least surprised.  We are spending the evening at my best friend’s house and had a few last minute things to pick up.  It is no secret that I am a huge fan of football, and even though I have no strong feelings about the winner of tonight’s game, I am looking forward to a good match.  It is tough to talk Superbowl without bringing up food, so I want to refer you to THIS POST dedicated to football food and the 2012 Beer Bowl




I did make hummus and a new dip for tonight (pictured above with recipe to come).  However, we are doing something a little different.  We are straying away from traditional football food and having Indian food for dinner.  My best friend and I have been talking about getting together for Indian for weeks, so we thought it would be fun to combine the two events.




It occurred to me this morning that it is already February, and therefore, time to reflect on the previous month.




The month went by quickly, but really was a lot of fun.  I started the year with a clear head and some healthy soup!  I was nominated for the Liebster Award and shared some new info and old pictures.


I spent a bunch of time in the kitchen whipping up some healthy recipes…

Chickpea Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Stew

Chicken with Figs

Slow Cooker Turkey and Bean Chili

Clean Peanutty Thai Chicken

Lentil Chili


Along with a few sweet Treats…


Cookie Dough Pretzel Bites

Peanut Butter Bonbons



And the BOY and I totally robbed Yogurtland!  On the activity front,  I have been going to CrossFit and getting creative with my lack of gym membership by running at the indoor track.




I didn’t write any specific goals for January, but really just tried to find balance, stay centered and stress free, and return to a healthier lifestyle mentally and physically.  So far, I’d say that I am on the right track, and look forward to carrying this good feeling on to February. 


February Goals

-Sign up for the Chicago Marathon

-Try some classes (ie Bikram yoga)

-Avoid added sugars, fake sugars, and high fructose corn sugar

-Maintain work/life balancec


You can read my 2013 Bucket List for an entire year’s worth of intentions.



How was your Sunday?  What are your February goals?

Bye Bye Bears and Brownies

It was a sad Sunday watching the Giant’s and Bears win their games, being forced to cheer for Green Bay, and then the Bear’s didn’t make it to the playoffs.  The saddest part, no more Sunday Funday.  I mean, yes there is still football on Sundays but with my #1 and #2 teams out, I’m not as interested.




Good thing we have Indiana Basketball to keep us busy : )  I recently found this picture and thought it was really funny (and not only because of this awesome sweatband)!  It was taken in NY and I’m rocking my first Bear’s gear!


From Football –> To Brownies


I’m sure you noticed these mouth watering brownies on my December 31st postWhen I was in Florida, my aunt and I sat down to read through some of hers and my grandmother’s old recipes. 




It was so special to spend this time with my aunt browsing through the huge pile of cookies, cakes, casseroles, noodle puddings, and cheesecakes and learning more about her (and my Dad’s) mother.  One thing I learned…my Grandma LOVED her chocolate!   When my Mom and I did our holiday baking in my kitchen, we filled the day kitchen tales from her mother too. 




One of the recipes my grandma used to make that my aunt often makes now is brownies.  So when the BOY requested brownies for our NYE dessert, I was excited to make this recipe for the first time.




The recipe calls for a 13×9 pan, but I knew that many brownies would be dangerous, so I halved the recipe and used a smaller pan.  This is still too many brownies for 2 people, but we are always happy to share!




Per the BOY’s request, I didn’t add any nuts or chips, so these brownies are super fudgy with a nice, smooth texture.  And, they pack plenty of rich, chocolaty taste.




But I just couldn’t resist a little flair…I’m sure you’re not surprised : )




So I drizzled some white chocolate across the top of the cooled brownies. 




It took some serious willpower not to dig right in and try these brownies immediately.  But we had the most amazing dinner ahead of us, so we were able to wait.






Grandma’s Brownies

Adapted from BAKER’S One Bowl Brownies




4 oz. BAKER’S Unsweetened Chocolate

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

2 cups sugar

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup flour

Optional: 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, walnuts, chocolate chips, etc



Heat oven to 350°F.

Spray a 13×9 inch pan with cooking spray.

Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.

Blend sugar with the eggs and vanilla. Stir into chocolate mixture.  Add flour and nuts (if using); mix well. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake 30 to 35 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.) Cool completely before cutting to serve.

Note: If you like a thicker brownie, I would recommend following the recipe as written but using a smaller (9×9 or 8×8) pan.  If you want a less fudgy brownie (I’m not sure why you would), use only 3 eggs.



Aunt T…Did I miss anything???

Forth Annual Bear’s Chili Party

Bears vs Green Bay = Big Game

Throw in a Hanukkah Party…it’s an even bigger deal

And make it our 4th Annual Bears Chili Potluck…Now, you’ve got yourself one fun Sunday Afternoon!



2011 Bears Chili Potluck

Old Picture…Same Great Crowd!


I was in charge of dessert, and I knew exactly what I wanted to make!




This recipe was given to me by a close friend, who at the time didn’t know I was a blogger, but did know that this would be right up my alley.  It was right around the time I was living on Cake Batter Fudge, and I have been looking for an excuse to make it.  This years Annual Chili Party sounded like the perfect event.


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Every year, we have more than enough food and fun to go around.  It’s amazing I even had room for anything this afternoon after all of my taste tests : )




We had an amazing spread of appetizers, cornbread, salad, chili, and mac and cheese (and that was just during the first quarter).




Rumor has it…when the Bear’s are losing, calories don’t count.




I sure hope so!




As the game continued into the forth quarter looking ever more bleak, everyone made their way to the dessert table to sweeten up the afternoon.  So sad to think just 6 weeks ago, the Bears were looking SO good!




At least all of our desserts were SO good!




I was also in charge of bringing an appetizer.  After much thought, I decided to on some simple and healthy hummus.  I made one batch of Garlic Hummus, and planned to serve them with the Trader Joe’s Falafel Chips and some cut up veggies.  Except, that I forgot the chips.  Bummer!



Mint Chocolate Dessert Ball

Recipe adapted from Taste and Tell 

Idea given by my friend


8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature

2 cups triple chocolate cake mix, dry

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1 cup Andes Crème de Menthe Baking Chips

Assorted cookies and crackers



In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add in the cake mix, the brown sugar and the powdered sugar. Beat until smooth and combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Turn the mixture out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap up into a ball and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Put the mint baking chips on a plate. Remove the cheese ball from the refrigerator and unwrap. Roll in the mint chips. Place on a serving plate and surround with cookies, animal, or graham crackers.


*Note: You can make the cheese ball a day ahead and then roll in mint chips and refrigerate before serving.