Inhale the Future

It was well worth it to take the month of March off from goals.  My plate was full and my brain needed a bit of a break.  But now…I am looking ahead and excited to work towards improving my physical and emotional self!

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April Goals

Begin tri training (including swimming)

Play tennis

Cook healthy and delicious meals

Spring Clean

Create powerful and fun kids yoga classes

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What are your April goals?

 

The only way I can describe this past weekend is NON-STOP!

Saturday morning was the first day of spring yoga. I had 3 classes back to back.  It was so much fun to be back doing yoga with the kids!  We had some past participants and a few new kids.  Overall, it is an extraordinary group, which makes my job easy and exciting.

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After yoga, I grabbed the BOY and I lunch at Jimmy John’s and had about 40 minutes to eat and change before going to the gym for a 3 hour self defense for runners seminar.  I run, mostly by myself, so I thought it would be important to have a few techniques up my sleeve.   I did learn some efficient ways to defend myself, but I also learned that I need to practice these skills.  When the seminar ended, I raced out the door to go home for a shower.  The BOY and I had #datenight plans with one of my friends and her husband.  The 4 of us downed some fantastic sushi and had a wonderful evening of laughter and catching up.

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We had one more stop after dinner to swing by and wish Happy Birthday to the BOY’s sisters boyfriend before coming home and playing Mario Brothers on the Wii.  The BOY was hungry (I have no idea how after all that sushi) and ordered pizza, which Cooper stalked like a pro.  Who doesn’t love that Papa John’s garlic butter sauce?  It reminds me of college!

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Sunday morning I slept in and started the day with a long cuddle with an adorable kitty.  After that, it was off to brunch in the city, then downtown to check out bridesmaid dresses at BHLDN, and then post shopping tea with my mom, SIL, and a friend followed by a quick stop at Whole Foods on the way home.  This morning, I met my trainer for a serious training session and then some friends for lunch and shopping.  I picked up the CUTEST leggings at Lulu (on sale, of course)!  After shopping, I stopped by the BRAND NEW Trader Joe’s in town.  I am so excited to finally have one!

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Since I didn’t end up making everything as planned last week, I moved a few recipes to this week, including the Baked Teriyaki Chicken from The Recipe Critic.

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Served with roasted veggies.

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And followed by a new Whole Foods chocolate find.

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Like I said…it’s been non stop!

But all good things and I know that more good things lie ahead!  Did I mention we get to register this month?!

Hooray…it’s spring!

 

Meal Planning 3/30/15

Monday: Baked Teriyaki Chicken (See Recipe)

Tuesday: Pork and Veggies

Wednesday: Pasta/Zoodle Night (since it didn’t happen the last time we planned)

Thursday: TBD

Friday: Passover Night 1

It’s Good to be Cooper & Weekday Reflections

It was a good morning to be Cooper!

After meowing at the door relentlessly, the BOY woke up to feed him his breakfast.  After scarfing it down, he returned to the door where he continued to meow on and off for about an hour until I finally woke up, opened the door, and returned to bed where Cooper situated himself in the direct path of my arm for a good 15 minutes of love.  When the BOY joined us, Cooper entertained by chirping out answers to our questions.  And then it was on to breakfast number two (for Cooper) who nibbled on a few salami scraps while the eggs cooked. 

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He then positioned himself in the perfect place to charge the plate to retrieve the egg + salami mixture he’d been eyeing.  After that, there was a little time to hunt his mousey toy before curling up for the first of I’m sure numerous naps.  And all of this before 10am : )

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Reflections of the Workweek…

It was easy to get myself back into the swing of the workweek.  The kindness of my coworkers and patients was remarkable and left me with a strong appreciation for the people I interact with each day.

Getting back into the groove of exercise, that is an entirely different story.  Partly because of my cold and also because of the –20 degree weather, I didn’t push it this week. And by push it, I mean, do anything!

Somewhere in the middle is studying. I am going through the motions but my heart is just not in it.  The bad news…I am just a few weeks away from my test date. Ugh!

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I spent this afternoon studying at Starbucks.  3 Bux beverages later, I swung by Trader Joe’s (where I bumped into one of my best friends and her family).  When I got home, the BOY decided he wasn’t feeling great (I think he’s coming down with my cold) and so I made a Trader Joe’s Saturday night dinner : )

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Cooper was excited to see the cheese and I think that he even snuck a few bites.

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Like I mentioned…it was good to be Cooper today!

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I Never Thought I’d add Pumpkin To…

Do you ever wake up to this?

 

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Like jump out of bed with that awful feeling that you shouldn’t be sleeping…see the sun streaming in through the windows which confirms that you should indeed be awake and at work and you just know that it’s going to be a long day!

 

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Apparently we lost power at some point which turned off our clock (even though my alarm was still set for 6am) causing me to sleep in unexpectedly.  I raced downstairs to call my first patient feeling awful that I wouldn’t make my first appointment of the morning.  Waking up after 7:00am when your work day starts at 7:30 and you live 30 miles from work means that first appointment is not going to happen.  Needless to say, I didn’t get in this morning’s timed plank as I was too busy getting myself out the door.  I showered quickly, grabbed a bite, and ran to my car.  Only to realize that my car needed a few minutes to defrost.  I headed back indoors to enjoy a few more sips of tea and let the BOY try to tempt me into staying home.  I got to the office with plenty of time for kiddo number 2 and the day progressed as usual except I ended up staying late to make up for arriving late this morning.

 

After work, I swung by Trader Joe’s to pick up a few things.  Meal planning this week has gone really well, but I needed an avocado for leftover turkey tacos and some red meat for tacos for the BOY. 

 

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Almost $100 later, I had way more than a few things.

 

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Including one of my favorite seasonal teas!

 

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What can I say…That store is just dangerous!  Especially because I know the season stuff won’t last long.  I stocked up up precut sweet potatoes and squash with THIS RECIPE in mind.  Plus a pie crust for my Thanksgiving Day assignment.

 

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And…a Pumpkin Pie!

 

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Random…I know!  But apparently the BOY read an article today naming the Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pie the best store bought pie available, so he insisted that I pick one up during my next TJ’s visit.  Lucky for him, that was tonight!

 

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He heated up his pie for dessert and covered it with Reddi Whip.  I couldn’t resist a few bites myself, and man, that is a good pie!  It is super fresh and flavorful!  Which brings us to pumpkin and back to the title (and point) of this post.  It’s a bit of stretch but because it’s Friday, let’s just go with it…So what is the one thing that I would never think to add pumpkin to???

 

HUMMUS!

 

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But I’ve seen too many recipes combining chickpeas with my favorite fall squash to not give it a try!  The recipe calls for cayenne powder which I don’t have (but need to get) so I subbed in this Emeril’s Bayou Blast.

 

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Spicy pumpkin mixed into a hummus is a total fall appetizer winner!

 

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And with this recipe…the spicier the better!

 

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So add tons of spice and then dive straight in to this dip!

 

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It’s pretty surprising that I made it through this day, but I am happy to be snuggled into my comfy couch under a blanket and catching up on TV shows (I am becoming a huge fan of Elementary and Scandal is…well…scandalous!) with a glass of wine sharing this versatile recipe with you.  What else can I say, but…

Happy Friday!

 

Spicy Pumpkin Hummus

From Beanie Bumbles

 

Ingredients

1 15 oz can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans

1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbsp tahini

1-2 tsp cumin (the more the better!)

1/2 tsp cayenne (I used Bayou seasoning instead…the more the better!)

3/4 tsp salt

 

Directions

Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth.  This may take a few minutes.  Adjust seasoning to taste.      Make it spicy!  Refrigerate to let the flavors blend.  Eat with pita chips, crackers, veggies, or smothered onto a sandwich!

 

 

How Random was your Friday?

What unexpected recipes to you add Pumpkin to?

Lessons Learned and Lentil Soup

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Based on this picture, I am sure that you are thinking that this is a recipe from my new cookbook, but actually it is not.  I had the opportunity to have a slumber party with my best friend and her two adorable kids (ages 14 months and 6 weeks) Sunday night.  We had the best time playing with her cuties and catching up over Law&Order SVU.  Times sure have changed since our college days and life is so busy now, so it was such a pleasure to have some quality time together.  Plus, her kids are REALLY cute!

 

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Although I am not a parent, I do spend TONS of time around kids.  They amaze me each and every day with how bright and resilient they are.  I swear I learn at least one new thing a week, and here are a few of the life lessons I picked up from the kiddos this weekend…

 

1) Keep moving

 

2) If you fall, there is nothing else to do but get back up and keep moving

 

3) Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full

 

4) Nap often

 

5) When you hear music, stop what you are doing and dance

 

6) No doesn’t always mean No

 

7) Always say ‘Thank You’

 

8) It’s a good idea to ask for help

 

9) There is always time for a good cuddle

 

10) Surround yourself with the people that make you laugh

 

 

I also took home with me a recipe for a filling new soup that I was so eager to make that I stopped by Trader Joe’s to pick up the ingredients on my way home.  This was passed down through the Ya Ya’s and surprisingly, I think I am the last to get it.  Unless you don’t have it yet Mom…but no worries, I have a cup to bring home to you tonight!

 

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This recipe is super easy since it just takes a few ingredients from your local TJ’s.

 

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The BOY was a huge fan of the lentil soup!

 

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Which is pretty surprising considering how healthy this soup is.

 

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Man, those Ya Ya’s know their recipes!

I am a huge fan of this lentil soup and how healthy and tasty it is.  I think you will be too!  I thought that this was the easiest dinner ever, but this soup is pretty simple.  Perfect for a weekday lunch!

 

 

What was the last thing you learned from a kid?

 

 

Trader Joe’s Lentil Soup

Recipe from the Ya Ya’s

 

Ingredients

Garlic cloves

1 container of Mirepoix

1 package steamed lentils

1 32 oz vegetable broth

1 bullion cube (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions

Spray soup pan with cooking spray.  Add garlic cloves and Mirepoix mix.  Stir often for ~7 minutes until soft and fragrant.

Add in packaged lentils, vegetable broth, bullion cube if using and any seasonings.

Bring to a boil.  The let simmer for about 1 hour until flavorful.

Store in fridge or freezer.

 

 

Note: I didn’t have a bullion so I made the soup without it, and I didn’t miss it.  I think this is a great basic soup, but feel free to add in butternut squash, kale, curry, etc.

Winner Winner Trader Joe’s Dinner

I really never win anything, so imagine my surprise (and delight) when I found out that I won a copy of this I HEART Trader Joe’s Vegetarian Cookbook from Averie Cooks.

 

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Thank you Averie!!!

 

It was so exciting to receive this book in the mail today, and I immediately began flipping through.  What impressed me about the cookbook is the unique and realistic recipes.  Some use premade ingredients, but many of them do not.  There is even one that is just like my homemade PURE bar recipe.  Ironically, I was already planning on making a Trader Joe’s dinner.

 

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If you haven’t tried these fully cooked turkey meatballs, then I highly recommend them.  They can be found in the freezer section.  I chose to heat them up on the stove.  Then served them over spaghetti squash with olive oil and veggies.

 

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It was a filling dinner and the BOY didn’t even question if the meatballs were red meat or turkey.  Success!  For dessert, I snacked on one of these German-Chocolate Fudge Bites with a cup of TJ’s tea.

 

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I can’t wait to dive into my new cookbook (and go shopping at Trader Joe’s)!

 

 

 

Any new Trader Joe’s finds?

I can’t wait for the mint tea to hit shelves this winter!

Here are a few more of my TJ faves!

Ahhhhh

Thank you everyone for the sweet birthday wishes and comments this weekend!  It is always fun to share the celebration (and of course the recipes) with ya’ll!

 

I have been waiting all summer for this 4 day weekend as I transition from Fridays off back to Mondays off, and it worked out so well to have it be the weekend of my birthday.  It gives me an entire day to relax, recoup, and recharge after a crazy busy summer and an exciting weekend.  Although the BOY and I mostly laid low yesterday, it was nice to catch up on some sleep last night!

 

I woke up this morning with (insert sigh of relief here)…

Ahhhhh, an entire day to myself!  First up, Chai tea in my new tea press!

 

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It turned out incredible!  I’m so excited to have this fancy new toy (I bought it on sale at Sur La Table yesterday) for hot and premade iced tea.  It complimented my breakfast which consisted of a spinach egg with toast and Door County jam.

 

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First up on today’s list…

 

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Laundry

 

And…

 

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Dishes

 

Then, I was off for my morning bike ride.  One can never have too many pairs of socks with colorful bikes on them!

 

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Since my toe is feeling so much better, I tried to get into my spin shoes, but it was just too painful, so I was back on my hybrid again today.  In a few weeks, my mom and I are doing a (modified) Century Ride.  The game plan is ride ~60 miles, and I have not been getting in any long (more than 25 mile) rides.  So today, I headed out for a long ride!

 

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I wasn’t exactly sure how far I would ride, but I hit the trail first…then headed up north.  I hit some serious construction early on, and had to fend for myself along the busy roads.  But I made my way to the quiet streets lined with barns, farm animals, and huge homes.  It was beautiful!  I even saw this funny sign that says Farm Machinery Crossing.  Have you ever seen such a thing?

 

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Despite the construction, I found my way back home.  I was feeling great until I hit mile 30 and  got a wicked side cramp, which never happens to me while I’m biking.  I finished the last 5 miles, but had to slow down a bit.  When I got home, my legs were sore, but it felt great to get in a long and scenic ride this morning.

 

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After a super quick shower, I was ready for a late lunch.  We have tons of Fiesta leftovers that I was able to turn into a fresh colorful salad, with a veggie burger for some added protein.

 

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I think this might be my new favorite plate!!!

 

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And this might be the best salad that I’ve ever made!  It was so tasty that it didn’t need any dressing!

 

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The only thing that could top it…an amazing dessert involving THESE (but we’ll get to that!).

 

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First, I should show you a few of my accomplishments besides laundry, dishes, and getting a new phone from AT&T.

 

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Before

 

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After

 

Ok, now on to the yummy part of the post…

While I was nibbling on these dark chocolate covered raisins from Trader Joe’s last week, I came to the conclusion that they would taste unbelievable in banana bread.  I HAD to test my theory.  I even picked up some overripe bananas at the store for just this reason.

 

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If you’ve been reading LWYD for a while, then you have probably seen a fair share of banana bread recipes.  I have a bunch of them in my recipe binder and have found even more online.  For today’s bread, I went with Mom’s Banana Bread from Cooking Light.  Can you believe that I’ve had this recipe in my binder since 1996?!

I followed the banana bread recipe exactly.

 

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But only stirred the flour mixture briefly…

 

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Before dumping in the majority of the dark chocolate covered raisins.

 

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I folded in the raisins until everything was just combined and then poured the dough into 4 prepared mini loaf pans.

 

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I was worried that the raisins would sink to the bottom, but when I pulled the bread out of the oven 40 minutes later, it looked PERFECT!

 

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I let the bread cool slightly and then immediately sliced off a piece to try…

 

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The banana flavor in the bread was incredible, and the bread was full of warm, gooey dark chocolaty covered sweet raisins, that made my mouth very happy!

 

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As strange as it may sound, banana bread and dark chocolate covered raisins make the perfect couple!

 

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You should give it a try!!!  I recommend making the mini loafs to share with your friends!

Then sit back and say…Ahhhhh!

 

Here is my long list of favorite Banana Bread Recipes:

Classic Banana Bread

Clean Banana Bread

Flour’s Famous Banana Bread

One Bowl Banana Bread Walnut Bread

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Rum Coconut Banana Bread

Strawberry Banana Bread

 

 

On another note, I spent some time this weekend updating my Being Me (had to change my age and all), Eating Well, and Staying Active pages.  Next on my list is the Recipe Page.

 

And because Monday can never have enough randomness, I have to share the exciting news…

Mariano’s in Schaumburg (less than 2 miles from my house) opens tomorrow!  The BOY and I are already planning a trip there tomorrow night!

 

I hope you had a great Monday!  What did you do???

 

 

Dark Chocolate Covered Raisin Banana Bread

From Mom’s Banana Bread in Cooking Light

November 1996

 

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Ingredients

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup light butter, softened

1 2/3 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)

1/4 cup skim milk

1/4 cup low-fat sour cream

2 large egg whites

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 container of Trader Joe’s dark chocolate covered raisins

Cooking spray

 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine sugar and butter in a bowl; beat at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended. Add banana, milk, sour cream, and egg whites; beat well, and set aside.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt; stir well. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture, beating until just blended.  Fold in chocolate covered raisins

Spoon batter into 4 (5 x 2 1/2-inch) miniature loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Let cool completely on wire racks.

Note: To make one 9-inch loaf, spoon batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray; bake at 350º for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Yield: 1 loaf, 20 servings (serving size: 1 slice).

Just When You Thought Puppy Chow Couldn’t Get Any Better…

 

The original is good…

 

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The added cake mix is creative and tasty…

 

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This white chocolate peanut butter version came into my life around Christmas last year thanks to Averie, and I would not be exaggerating if I told you that it changed my life.  The BOY is also a HUGE fan!

 

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And just when you thought this was as good as it got, I introduce you to the NEWEST puppy chow addition!

After making a batch of white chocolate puppy chow to bring up to Wisconsin last weekend, I happened to come across this recipe for Nutella Puppy Chow.  Say What???  I was inspired!  I just happened to have some Cocoa Almond Spread that I had picked up at Trader Joe’s a few days before and knew that this could make puppy chow history!

 

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Just an FYI, this tastes just like Nutella (if not better) but with zero claims to be healthy : )  To go with it, I raided my pantry which is still loaded up with chocolate chips from last month’s Treat Day and picked out half semi sweet and half white chocolate for the recipe.

 

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This mixture is super thick so it takes some time to spread around.  Just be patient because you will want every square completely covered in thick chocolate goodness!

 

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Once every bite of cereal is covered, pour in your powdered sugar and stir well but gently!

 

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And, the first taste test reveals…

 

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Pure Puppy Chow Perfection!!!

Yes, I definitely sampled the most coated piece I could find…don’t judge me…you know you’d do the same thing!

 

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I packed up the puppy chow up to go and hid in the freezer until it was time to leave for Wisconsin.

 

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This snack is so incredible that it disappeared in 24 hours after our arrival.  I swear to you people were eating it for breakfast!

 

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It does have cereal in it, so I guess that counts!

 

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I was so excited that I made another batch for this weekend’s guests and although it is currently ‘hiding’ in the freezer, I did have a few super coated bites after hot yoga today.

 

 

Note: 1 box of Chex can make one batch of each of the recipes below!

If you just can’t get enough puppy chow (it does seem to be on others’ minds as well), I suggest checking out Shelly’s Puppy Chow Krispy Treats!

 

Cocoa Almond Puppy Chow

 

5 cups of Chex (or other similar cereal)

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

5 tbsp butter

3/4 cup TJ’s Cocoa Almond Spread

1 tsp vanilla

3 cups powdered sugar

 

Directions:

-Measure and pour cereal into a large bowl.

-Place chips, butter, and spread into a microwavable bowl.  Microwave in 30 second intervals until melted and well combined, stirring often to avoid over heating.  This took me ~90-120 seconds.

– Once melted, stir in vanilla until smooth and combined.  Immediately pour chocolate mixture over the cereal gently stirring with a spatula to coat well.  This will take some time.

-Pour in powdered sugar by the cup, stirring well after each addition until all the cereal is completely coated.

-Store in airtight container or bag in the freezer.

 

 

And just in case you’re looking to keep all your favorite puppy chow recipes in one place, here is Averie’s White Chocolate Peanut Butter Puppy Chow recipe.

***I swear this recipe will change your life and make you really popular with your friends!!!

 

White Chocolate Puppy Chow

From Averie Cooks

For gluten free and vegan options, see HERE


1 c white chocolate chips

2/3 c peanut butter

1/3 c butter (or margarine/Earth Balance)

1 tsp vanilla extract

6 cups+ Chex or Crispix cereal – rice, corn, or combo (I used Crispix that was half corn/half rice. In the past I have made Puppy Chow from Rice Chex but it crumbled more easily when stirring. The corn in the cereal makes the pieces heartier and less crumbly)

3 to 4 cups+ powdered/confectioner’s sugar (I used just over 4 c but I wanted each piece very well coated)

 

Directions:

In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the white chocolate chips, peanut butter, butter, and melt in 20-30 second increments, removing from the microwave and stirring vigorously after each interval. White chocolate burns easily so take care not to overheat it and vigorous stirring will encourage complete melting sooner than you think.

After mixture is completely melted and smooth, add the vanilla extract and stir to incorporate.

Then add the cereal and fold it in gently. (You may want to add a total of 7 cups of cereal if there is any pooling of liquid at the bottom of the bowl. All liquid should be fairly well absorbed and coated onto the cereal but you don’t want it too dry. Plenty of “juiciness” is desired because the powdered sugar will stick better)

Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and keep tossing mixture until the powdered sugar coats all pieces, thereby drying them out, or until the sugar layer is as thick as desired.

Yields: About 7 cups of mix. Store in airtight container or Ziplock bag (I have mine in the freezer in a big Tupperware container and it’s just fine to remove and eat immediately. It’s so hot here that all chocolate needs to be kept in the fridge or freezer.)