A Sunshine Problem

We are having a serious problem in Chicago (and from what I hear other parts of the country are as well).  It’s a 70 degree November! 

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Although this doesn’t sound like a serious problem, or even a problem at all, I can assure you that it is.  You see, it is really quite challenging to get anything done when it is absolutely gorgeous outside.  Case and point, I had a 3 day weekend and spent very little time at home at all.  It wasn’t until Sunday afternoon that I finally slowed down enough to grocery shop, finish laundry, and ‘adult’ for a bit.

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Friday, I was supposed to go to a continuing ed course but after a busy and exhausting week, I decided I needed a mental health day.  I didn’t set an alarm and took my time enjoying a morning latte and breakfast while doing some yoga planning.  It was such a beautiful day, I knew I wanted to run.  I figured it’d be fun to head down to Wrigleyville to catch some of the Cubs action and say ‘Hi’ to my mom. 

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I ran the two miles down to Wrigley with the crowds of blue shirts growing as I got closer.  I explored a bit and then finally found my mom and our friend.  We had a great spot to watch the trolleys go by and then moved into another fabulous location to see the players head off on top of their buses.

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I ran back home and showered before spending the afternoon with some out of town friends and then hosted an impromptu dinner at our house Friday night.  Saturday, I was up and on my bike teaching a private yoga lesson and then getting in a strength session at the gym.  With all the beautiful weather (plus our move), my gym time has been limited and I’m beginning to miss my muscles.

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The BOY and I decided to walk a few blocks over to Lincoln Square for lunch and the butcher.  We were debating which place to stop for outdoor seating and a beer.  We changed our mind on the butcher and walked a mile and a half down Lincoln where we did find lunch, a delicious new beer, and college football.

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It was a spectacular day and we Ubered  home with our meat to go hang out on the back porch.

I had a much needed quiet Saturday night in catching up on sleep.  Sunday was another stunning day.  I took a yoga class across the street and then the BOY and I met my brother and SIL for Dim Sum in Chinatown. 

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Everyone was shocked to hear that this was my first time in Chicago’s Chinatown (other than running through during the marathon) and so we took a quick walk along the square before driving back home.  The BOY had work to do and I strolled down to the grocery store for food for the week.  Although I knew I had a few important things to do once I got home, it was tempting to just walk to the lakefront and spend the afternoon in the sunshine.  Hence…the sunshine problem!

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I must admit this problem is a great problem to have as I know that any week now we could be hit with a snow storm.  So until then I will enjoy the extra vitamin D and know that there will be plenty of winter weekends to finally clean my closets and ‘adult’ a bit more : )

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So Much Sunday to Share!

Hey ya’ll! How ya been?

Coming to you from the comfort of my couch after a gorgeous (and windy) bike ride, followed by an indulgently warm shower.

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I know it’s been awhile…we had a super busy week!  I started off a little slow recovering from our weekend away.  But still sporting my party nails : )

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But by Thursday, I was up early for a run and Friday, I made it to a 6am yoga class.

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We made it through the week and celebrated Friday night with wine!  Saturday morning, I was at the gym alone since the BOY had a bachelor party.  My trainer worked me HARD using heavy weights and lots of reps.  I ran a few errands after the gym and then headed back home.

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Although I would have much rather been playing with my friends, I had a long list of things that needed to get done on Saturday. I spent the day doing laundry, decluttering our house, finishing some computer based learning, and making progress on my anatomy power points.  At 4pm, the BOY returned home and we took an hour long nap before heading back out.  He was off to finish up the bachelor party (of his sister’s fiancé) and I was going to hang out with my sister in law while the guys were out being guys.

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We ended up at a bar watching a Boy Band cover band which was pretty hilarious and brought back a lot of college memories!  Then went back to her house to have some more wine and cuddle with the kitties!  They are seriously so much fun!

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The BOY returned back around 2am and back home we went where we immediately crashed!  We didn’t sleep as late as we wanted this morning and I woke up with a sore throat, fearing that I had caught the BOY’s cold from last week.  Since we were up, we did our weekly grocery store run.  As you saw on Instagram, there are many benefits of Sunday morning shopping including TONS of cheese samples.

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I sipped a green smoothie as we shopped hoping to take in some immunity boosting nutrients.  After the store, we came home and made bacon and eggs for brekkie.  Since I wasn’t feeling well, we didn’t make any plans for the day. I took a Musinex and finished up my last computer learning module.  I know that I haven’t been sharing recipes recently, but it’s not because we haven’t been cooking and baking.  We’ve just been sticking with some basics and old favorites.  I made brownies and knew that they needed some home made ice cream to go with them.  Typically, the BOY makes the ice cream so I don’t get many pictures.

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But this time, I did the work, including chopping up all the birthday cake Oreos.

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Which, FYI are amazing!!!  I stirred them into the ice cream which was soft and smooth and tasted like a fresh made blizzard.

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It took a lot of restraint not to dive head first into the bowl of ice cream, so I settled with a few bites before hiding it in the freezer.  During this time, Cooper was no where to be found.  Weird right?! Considering he is usually ALL over the ice cream maker!  I searched everywhere high and low but couldn’t lure him out of hiding.  We had to run out, so we left and I was thinking that he was probably napping after our late night out.  I grabbed some Whole Foods deliciousness for lunch and the BOY came home and heard a noise in the garage.  Turns out…Cooper was stuck with his paw caught under a bucket in our garage all morning.  The BOY said that he ran upstairs immediately to the litter box and that his paw seemed just fine.  I was relieved to hear it, but we still can’t figure out how and when he made his way into the garage?!

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After lunch, the BOY  (and Cooper) took a nap…it had been an emotional day for him…and I decided to break a sweat outside with a bike ride.

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It was way windier than I realized and sadly our path was flooded so I did more of a back and forth ride than my typical loop.  It felt wonderful to be out in the sunshine, even though it was not nearly as warm as I thought it would be.

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You’ll note my amazing new sunglasses.  They say ‘I heart Boy Bands’ on the side and were a freebie from last night’s concert.  We are spending Sunday night in BBQing for dinner and watching a movie (while I continue to pack and work on slides).  I definitely need an early bed time if I want to turn this cold around!  So much to share this Sunday!!!

 

What are you sharing this Sunday?

 

Meal Planning 5/15/16

Monday: Crockpot Chili

Tuesday: Hotdogs and Chicken Burgers

Wednesday: Steak + Salmon

Thursday: Pasta Night

Energy Bites for Energy

Saturday morning, the BOY and I started our day with a workout.  I was feeling back in my groove, but he faded a bit.  The most likely cause…nutrition!

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Although the BOY has made a lot of changes to his diet, he still isn’t a good breakfast eater and needs some more protein.  After our workout, my trainer gave us some dinner and snack ideas, including these awesome Energy Balls from Wildtree.  I happened to have all the ingredients in our house except walnuts, which we picked up at Target.  Also at Target…

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Tell me…have you tried them yet?  I resisted the urge to buy them and came home to make a green protein shake and begin mixing up our snack balls.

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I was a little nervous that the ‘dough’ was dry (most likely because I used natural almond butter), so I added a bit more honey.  I also added in chia seeds because I had about 2 tbsp in a bag that I needed to kill.

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Saturday was a sunny and gorgeous day!  Perfect to crack open the windows and enjoy some energy balls and a latte : )

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And then stash the rest in the fridge where the BOY and I have been snacking on them all week.

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I spent the afternoon teaching the most wonderful group of swimmers at a yoga workshop!  It was so nice to open the door and spend 90 minutes doing yoga in the fresh air again!

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What is your favorite snack or energy food?

Energy Bites

Adapted form Wildtree

Ingredients

3/4 cup walnuts

1/2 cup flaxseed, ground

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

4 tablespoons shredded coconut

1/2 cup almond butter

2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats

1 tablespoon Coconut Oil

1/3 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup mini dark chocolate morsels

1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

In a food processor, grind walnuts to medium/fine grind. Add flaxseed (and chia if you want) and process for 30 seconds. Add cinnamon, coconut, almond butter, oats, coconut oil, honey, and vanilla extract. Process for 20 seconds. Place mixture into a covered storage container and refrigerate for 30 minutes. When ready to roll, remove refrigerated mix and add mini dark chocolate morsels and salt; mix gently to incorporate all ingredients. Hand roll into 1-inch balls and store in air tight container.

Sips, Saturday, Sherlock

Before Saturday began, I celebrated FriYAY!

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It was an especially exciting day since it marked the start of my 2 plus weeks of vacation!  Sadly, the BOY had to work late, so I celebrated Friday night date night with Cooper.

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We caught up on my DVR and set the table for our Saturday lunch guests.

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Then curled up to cuddle and read.  I am trying to get my book finished before the trip and already have some new books and mags packed and ready to go.

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I slept fantastically and was sad to hear my alarm go off early this morning.  The BOY and I had one last training session before vaca.  I’m bummed that I didn’t get any pics of us in our matching boxing gloves, but here’s a recycled one.  I did this a bunch today so it seemed legit.

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The BOY and I came back home to pick up a bit and a little before 10am, my mom came by to drop off Cooper’s Hanukkah gift and pick me up for our nail appointment.

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Then my mom and some friends came back to our house for lunch.  We made two kinds of chili, a huge salad, and had fruit and dark chocolate for dessert followed by lattes from my Nespresso maker covered in whipped cream…Mmm!.  After lunch, I had to run out for a few errands.  On my way home, I swung by to pick up take out Coopers Hawk and a bottle of wine for dinner. 

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While we ate dinner, Cooper enjoyed/stalked his new toy.

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So the BOY called me at work this week to tell me that there is one episode of Sherlock available online.  The next season doesn’t come out until 2017, so we were super excited to spend Saturday night sipping through Sherlock.  I’m not planning to stay up too late tonight because I have a busy day of packing up my tropical clothes while it’s 1 degree outside tomorrow.  What can I say…

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LOL!

 

What are you up to this Saturday night?

Do you watch Sherlock?  Any good book suggestions?

Multitasking Monday

One week into the new year…can you believe it?  Where does the week go?  Seems like just yesterday, I was hosting a fry party and now I’m running around my house making food for the week, searching for my lost marriage licenses, and listening to some new podcasts.  I am multitasking like crazy, trying to make the most of this Monday after a fun and busy weekend!

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Saturday morning, the BOY and I were back at the gym after the last two holiday weekends, training together with free weights and dumbbells.  We left with some serious sore arms and made our weekly trip to the Target before running a few other errands.  I refueled with a ginormo latte!

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We spent the afternoon cleaning our garage to fit in a car and then napping before getting dressed up for sushi date night.

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Sunday morning was another early wake up.  I drove into the city to meet my mom and some friends for a yoga class. 

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I forgot my phone so here is a recycled picture from the same studio.  Ironically, it was take exactly 1 year ago and the day looked quite similar : )

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After yoga, I met some of my old coworkers for a fun brunch, catching up over coffee and omelets.  Then, I was back home to scoop up the BOY for dinner with his parents.  On the way, we stopped by my parents house quickly to say goodbye to my dad who leaves for Florida today and have a quick pre dinner glass of wine with my mom’s new wine glasses.  When I woke up this morning, it occurred to me that I did not get close to what I wanted to get done this weekend…hence the busy day today. 

Cooper’s view on Mondays…ha ha!

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It was tough for all of us to get up and moving today!  And then it took me extra time to get myself pulled together and out the door.  My first stop was the gym for an intense training session.  My biceps were still sore from Saturday and the resisted burpees were brutal, but it was a GREAT workout.  Afterwards,  I hung around for a yoga class.

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I don’t typically double up on workouts, but I have been wanting to take the Monday morning teacher’s class for awhile.  With a busy week ahead, today was the perfect day to get there.  The class was tough, not just because I was tired, but absolutely incredible and inspiring.  I left the yoga studio feeling invigorated for the week ahead and at peace with the week behind.  I ran a few more errands, including the grocery store where I stocked up on fresh produce and meat for this week’s meal plan.

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I made lunch and then began the serious multitasking with laundry, meal planning, and initial packing piles.  And continued to look for our marriage licenses which now appear to be totally gone.  Ugh!  In the kitchen, I put tomorrow’s dinner in the crockpot and began pealing carrots.

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For lunch this week, I decided to try Candice Kumai’s cleansing soup.  I love starting the year with a warm and hearty clean soup!

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The soup was fairly easy to make until the end.  My food processor isn’t big enough to hold everything, so I did it in batches.  However, they turned out inconsistent, so I ended up taking my immersion blender to the entire bowl in the end.

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Which made a HUGE mess, but worked like a charm.

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I spent the rest of the afternoon working away on a variety of things including making a batch of Fig and Date Energy Balls and trying on my bathing suits before going back to the kitchen to make dinner.

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Since my crockpot was in use, I washed my Dutch Oven for it’s next job.  For the second week in a row, Cooper kept me company while he begged for his dinner.

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I accomplished a whole bunch of stuff today, so as always on Monday nights, I happily collapsed onto my couch for a bit of down time before bed.  After packing up tomorrow’s lunch, of course.

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Do you multitask?  I do it ALL the time…even right now : )

Meal Planning 1/11/15

Monday: Turkey Meatballs (recipe to come)

Tuesday: Slow Cooker Island Pulled Chicken

Wednesday: Feta and Spinach Chicken Burgers and Broccoli

Thursday: Pork and Veggies

 

Cleansing Carrot Ginger Soup

From Candice Kumai

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1  yellow onion, finely diced

2  pounds organic carrots (2 bags) scrubbed, peeled, rough chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 bay leaf, dried

2-3 tablespoons ginger, freshly grated

6-8 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock (*depending on desired consistency)

1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg

1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt, to taste

Directions

In a large stockpot, over medium heat, add the olive oil and sauté the onions just until soft and fragrant, approximately 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add carrots, garlic, bay leaf, ginger and sauté for an- other 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add in the stock and turn the heat up to medium (a mild simmer). Cook carrots and onion until soft, approximately 20 additional minutes. Remove the bay leaf, discard.

Carefully add the soup to a food processor or blender (an immersion/handheld blender works, as well). Pulse until well combined and a pureed soup forms. Season nutmeg and sea salt. Ladle into soup bowls and serve hot. If desired add a bit of extra ginger, or orange zest to top off soup.

*For a thick soup opt for 6 cups of stock; for a thinner soup go for 8 cups.

Chipotle Apple Turkey Chili + Pumpkin Cornbread

Wow, I’ve been blogging up a storm recently.  Are you sick of me yet?

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We had the most gorgeous 70 degree fall day here!  It felt wonderful to be getting back into my no work Monday routine.  First stop was the gym for a session with my trainer. 

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Afterwards, I dropped off a car load of household stuff at GoodWill (from our weekend of cleaning) and then went to the grocery store.  I made a quick stop at home for a shower and to unload my groceries.  Then I was out and about for a few more errands and returns.  I ended up at Whole Foods for tasty salad bar lunch.

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When I got home, I opened all the windows to let in the clean, fresh air, threw in some laundry, and dove into this week’s recipes.  We brought a whole bunch of stuff back from Door County including a huge bag of apples.

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For this reason, my interest was peaked when I found a chili recipe that uses apples.  I got all the ingredients at the store and had some fresh cider in the fridge (also from the farm).

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This is a stove top recipe and really quite easy.  The flavors are odd but seem to blend together beautifully!

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Once my chili was simmering, I was ready to make M&M Cookie Bars.  I was super sad to discover that I did not read the recipe carefully enough to realize that I needed more oats and two different types of oats.  But, I moved on quickly with my softened butter to corn muffins.

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Only to discover that I bought too small of a package : (  I was having so much fun in the kitchen, between the sun light, clean cabinets, and new wedding gifts that I still wanted to make something.  So I cut the recipe in half and turned it into a bread.  I left the original recipe for muffins as written below.  Just know that you can half it if you buy the tinny 55 cent Jiffy package on accident.

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I have never made a pumpkin cornbread before, but I loved the idea and the smell.

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And again as odd as the combinations sound, both worked together to create a delicious meal…for tomorrow night.  But I had to try it for a pre dinner snack tonight.

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The BOY came home to grill, one last time it seems, as the grill ran out of juice.  He was able to make dinner in the oven.  We’re planning to have the chili tomorrow since we both work later and the rest of the week, I planned out on our newish chalkboard.  I’m hoping to have the M&M Cookie Bars made (and shared) sooner rather than later!

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Meal Planning 11/02/15

Monday: Steak and Tilapia

Tuesday: Chipotle Apple Turkey Chili + Pumpkin Cornbread

Wednesday: Indian-Spiced Chicken Burgers

Thursday: BBQ Pork tenderloin and Veggies

Friday: TBD!

 

What are you cooking this week?

What’s the oddest ingredient you ever added to your chili?

 

 

Chipotle Apple Turkey Chili

From Pass the Sushi*

*Recipe is mostly the same…I just rewrote it a bit to make it easier to follow!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 small can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbs ground coriander
  • 1 tbs ground cumin
  • 1 tbs smoked paprika
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 green apples, (1 peeled and diced; 1 sliced) NOTE: I used a red apple
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup cider
  • Shredded super sharp white cheddar cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds and/or honey corn bread, for serving

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the turkey and cook until brown,  breaking it into chunks while cooking.

Meanwhile, using a food processor, puree the chipotles and 2 tbs of the adobo sauce.

Once turkey is browned, drain liquid.  Then stir 2 tbs of the chipotle puree into the ground turkey; season with salt and pepper. Reserve the remaining puree to adjust the heat at the end of cooking.  Stir in the coriander, cumin, paprika,  onion, and garlic.

Peel and dice one apple into 1/2″ chunks, add it to the chili. Slice the remaining apple and toss with the lemon juice; Set aside.

Add the cinnamon and bay leaves to the chili, cover and cook, stirring and lowering the heat, for 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, then the stock and cider; bring to a boil.  Then lower to a simmer for at least 20 minutes and up to an hour.

Top the chili with the cheese, reserved apple and the toasted pumpkin seeds if desired.

 

Pumpkin Spice Corn Muffins

From Together as Family

Ingredients

  • 1 package (15 oz) Cornbread Baking Mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup canned pure pumpkin
  • 2/3 cup milk, 2% or higher is best (I used coconut almond milk)
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 large egg

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray. (can also use 8×8 pan for cornbread and bake 15-20 minutes)
  2. In a large bowl combine the cornbread baking mix, cinnamon, nutmeg and whisk together.
  3. Add in canned pumpkin, milk, softened butter, and the egg. Whisk together gently just until combined.
  4. Using a large ice cream scoop or spoon, scoop batter and divide evenly into the muffin cups. They will about 2/3-3/4 full.
  5. Bake for 14-16 minutes.

Keep Calm and Wedding On

What is one to do two weeks before 15 months of planning finally comes together?

Or should I say…How do you spend your second to last weekend before your wedding?

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Truth be told, I am close to losing my mind!  I am way less organized than typical me and I spend a lot more time getting my nails done.  It’s quite odd : )  My weekend started Friday night meeting my mom for a manicure.  Still trying to finalize my color…

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Then we went home for a late dinner and an early-ish bed time.  Saturday morning started bright and early with a workout.  More kick boxing which should be on every bride’s list of things to do and of course a bunch of pre wedding push ups and sled pulls.

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Then I was off to teach my kids yoga class.  We had a special guest, my friend who just took the Rainbow Kids Yoga class in Chicago and her adorable daughter, who joined us for yoga showing the kids that every body and every age can yoga!

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From there, I was back home to meet my mom for lunch at our favorite local sandwich place, followed by some wedding related shopping.  We lured my sister in law out to the suburbs with the promise of wine and of course a morning espresso from our new machine. I should mention that the BOY, my brother, and a crew of guys were down in Louisville sampling the bourbon and BBQ for the BOY’s bachelor party this weekend.

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The night began with a cheese plate and pink bubbles (aka rose) and proceeded as expected.  We abandoned dinner and sat out back for hours eating cheese and snacks, sharing stories of the past, and making many plans for the future.  Eventually, I put everyone to work prepping flip flops for the dance floor bins.

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As always, we stayed up WAY too late and drank WAY too much wine.  So everyone was more than pleased to start their Sunday with a frothy espresso!

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After breakfast, we attacked Home Goods with enthusiasm filling our cart with fall décor and household goodies.  We had a few other shopping stops before settling onto a bench in the afternoon with well deserved full bowls of fro yo.  By afternoon, everyone parted ways and I got myself to work around the house while listening to the Bears game.  I took a huge zucchini from a coworker’s garden last week and promised to return with bread.  Sadly, he wasn’t looking so good.  Since I was still in the mood to bake, I switched over to pumpkin bread.  I mean, it is officially fall!

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This bread baked up perfectly, turning out moist and delicious!  It was a nice end to my busy weekend cleaning up the house with the windows open and the smells of fall flowing throughout.

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Monday was just as busy as the rest of the weekend. I packed in a workout, my last dress fitting, a meeting with the hotel, a phone conference with my florist, a trip to the grocery store, amongst everything else and was done just after the BOY returned from his weekend away.  With just 11 days to go, life has been a bit chaotic, so I’ve been keeping calm with tons of yoga…as noted by all my post yoga selfies…

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And surrounding myself with the support of my friends and family!

Just trying to Keep Calm and Wedding On : )

 

Pumpkin Bread

From Simply Recipes

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 1/2 cups (200g) flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 cup (240 ml) pumpkin purée
  • 4 ounces (1 stick, 112 g) butter, melted (can sub 1/2 cup light olive oil)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons molasses
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Directions

1 Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.

2 In a separate bowl mix together the pumpkin purée, the melted butter, beaten eggs, 1/4 cup of water, and molasses. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined and there is no more dry flour in the batter. Do not overmix! If adding chopped pecans or walnuts, stir them in.

3 Butter the insides of an 8 x 4 x 3 -inch loaf pan. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and smooth the top. Put in the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until a tester poked in the center of the loaf comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Then run a blunt dinner knife around the edges of the pumpkin bread to gently separate it from the pan. Invert it to loosen it from the pan and put the loaf on a rack to cool completely.