My life lately

I know it’s ominous to post a post like my last one and then not post for weeks, but everything is going well. Just really really busy. So what have I been doing for the last several weeks? Lots of things. So many things. This may come as a surprise but having two kids makes your life pretty busy. And that can make finding balance a little difficult. But I’m working on it and here’s a pictorial of what my balance has been lately

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Going on walks with Marci. Everyday I try to get out the house for an hour or so of walking. We’ve been having great weather lately (except for yesterday when it rained literally all day) and it’s been super enjoyable.

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Nature. This is a meadow we pass on our daily walks. It’s just dandelions and purple clover, but I love it.

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Noticing the small things like this curly grass. I think this is actually the top of some wild onions. Regardless of what it is, I think it’s really pretty.

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Playing with cousins. I’m pretty sure he gave her her first drink of soda that day, but it’s okay–she had so much fun. Probably because she was on a caffeine high…

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Spending time with the family. Stella loves holding Marci. Luckily, Marci’s too heavy and too long for Stella to pick up on her own or Stella would be trying to carry her everywhere.

And that pretty much sums up what I’ve been doing lately. I mean, there have been a few other things (yoga, Pilates, a bit of work, some organization projects), but mainly that’s it. Pretty boring and awesome all at the same time.

Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love baking in the fall. Especially cookies. Especially cookies that taste like fall. That’s why when I saw a recipe for Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies on pinterest, I knew I had to try it.

 

I made these on Saturday night and I have to say they taste absolutely delicious. I followed the recipe from skinnytaste.com exactly, so just pop over there and give it a try. Oops. Just kidding. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly. I don’t own a silicone baking liner thingy, so I used parchment paper instead. But other than that, I completely followed it.

Now that I have made the recipe as written once, I think I’ll make it again soon and make some alterations. I’m not sure what alterations yet; maybe more pumpkin and less butter? See, the cookies came out a bit too chewy for my taste. I mean, that didn’t stop me from eating a TON of them, but I prefer my cookies as bit less… cake-y.

 

Any suggestions?

Peanut Butter Nutella Cookies (aka THE BEST COOKIES OF ALL TIME!)

Yes. This post title DID need to be in all caps. Why? Because I’m getting ready to give you guys the recipe for the. best. cookies. ever. Seriously.

What makes these cookies so amahzing? Everything. They’re peanut buttery without being too buttery or too dry and the Nutella… well, it’s Nutella, so there’s really nothing else to say.

Before I get to the recipe, let me just say that I wish I had pictures to properly illustrate this post. I had plans to take some. But then I ate all the cookies. So… here we are. Picture-less.

Without further ado, here’s the recipe:

Peanut Butter Nutella Cookies

1. Preheat oven to 350

2. Mix together 1C Peanut Butter and 1C refined sugar*

3. Add 1 egg and 1 tsp baking soda to the PB and sugar mixture and mix well

4. Spoon the mixture onto a cookie sheet (I covered mine with parchment paper)

5. Bake for 10 mins or until they reach the level of done-ness you like.

6. Cool for 15 mins or until you can’t wait any longer

7. Top with copious amounts of Nutella and enjoy!

*I reduced the amount to 3/4 C on the second batch (yes I also ate that one before pictures) and it was fine.

Now, I”m sure you’re looking at this and thinking that I must have left some ingredients out. Like the flour. And the oil. Nope. I didn’t. There really are only four ingredients in the cookie recipe and it is FANTASTIC. The Nutella wasn’t in the original recipe, but I had some and wanted a Reese’s Cup the first time I made these. So I took a leap of faith (not really. Nutella is fabulous on everything.) and smeared some on the cookies. It was love at first bite.

I’m sure you’re skeptical; when I pinned this recipe I was too. But now I’ve made it three times (yes, I ate the third batch before I took pictures too. Geez. You guys are judge-y.) and I’m basically addicted.

So, the next time you need a fast sweet (but not too sweet) snack, give this a try. But don’t say I didn’t warn you about the addiction factor.

The Missing Bread Mystery

I was planning to write a post today about the most amazing bread I’ve ever baked. Really. The best bread I’ve even eaten since I visited France. I followed the recipe in my new bread baking cookbook and spent ALL DAY yesterday babying this bread and finally popped it in the oven around 8:30 pm. Even the Hubby loved it which is saying something considering he doesn’t like things.

Last night we ate it fresh from the oven with butter and honey and this morning I had some toasted with jam. Before I left for a long long day of driving, I popped it in the oven so the bear dogs wouldn’t eat it while Hubby was showering. When I got home this evening, I planned to grab a slice as a snack on my way to get my hair did.

BUT.

When I opened the oven, it was gone. GONE. I looked everywhere; the cabinets, the microwave, even the fridge. It was nowhere. I sadly went to my hair appointment sans bread snack and texted Hubby to see where he hid the delicious wonderfulness that was the bread. A few texts later, we figured out that he had no idea where it was because he hadn’t touched it since last night and it should still be in the oven. When I got home, I checked the oven again. You know. In case, it magically reappeared. (Full disclosure. I looked everywhere again).

AND.

It was still nowhere. Just so you know how this ends… the bread is STILL missing. I have four theories as to who or what is responsible for its disappearance.

1. Someone broke into our house and stole only the bread.

2. Hubby ate all the bread and is too ashamed to tell me he ate almost two loaves of bread this morning.

3. There’s someone secretly living in my house who only comes out when I’m gone and ate all the bread today (This actually happened in Japan a couple of years ago and I have a secret fear that it will happen/is happening to me).

4. The bear dogs learned how to open the oven, ate the bread from the oven, and closed the oven door again.

Here’s the only evidence:

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That’s the pizza stone from my oven that the bread was on. As you can see it’s covered with crumbs and what appear to be claw marks.

With this evidence, I’m leaning toward 4. But I’m still creep-ed out about 3. Especially with the claw marks.

What do you think?

Cooking with Nutella

I heart Nutella. Not as much as R. who would lick the jar if she could fit her tongue in it but settles for scraping the jar clean. That being said, I hear Nutella but don’t buy it very often. I usually don’t see it at the grocery (I don’t think this means its not there, I think I just don’t see), so I don’t buy it normally. But not long ago, I happened across Nutella on sale!

So, last weekend, I started looking for recipes that use Nutella. Let me tell you, there are a lot. A lot, a lot. After browsing approximately 13 million recipes, I decided to limit the search to nutella plus my favorite food, banana. 12,057 recipes later, I found this one: Banana. Nutella. Bread. Each word of the recipe is a thing I love.  I had to make it.

I made it yesterday. It took almost a week for me to make it because I love bananas so much I kept eating them before they were ripe enough. But I with some self-control, I had two very ripe bananas yesterday and made it.  It was everything I hoped. Amazing.

 

Look at that Nutella swirl… yum!

I made the recipe almost exactly as it was at this link, but I’ll reproduce it here so you don’t have to make the jump.

1 cup mashed very ripe banana (about 3 small)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup low fat sour cream (I used plain non-fat yogurt)
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt

1/2 cup Nutella (I think more would have been better)

  • Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; beat at medium speed of an electric mixer until well blended. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; Add flour mixture to banana mixture, stirring just until moistened.
  • Spoon 1/2 batter into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 3-inch loaf pan coated with baking spray with flour. Add 1/4 cup Nutella in dollops. Swirl a bit then top again with remaining batter. Add another 1/4 cup Nutella in dollops on top. Swirl again.
  • Bake at 350º for 1 hour and 5 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan, and cool completely on a wire rack. Bake mini loaves for 35 minutes or muffins for 18 minutes.

The only thing that could make this better would be more Nutella. Which I will use next time I decide to make this.

P.S. I might not have to wait that long next time around. When I went back to the site, I found this: Pumpkin Nutella Swirl Bread.

 

Zucchini and Chocolate?

It’s delicious. Trust me.

I made these yesterday

There’s zucchini chocolate chip muffins. I got the recipe from the Smitten Kitten. When you click through the link (and you should because they are delicious and you need to make them ASAP), you should know this: I used fat-free plain yogurt instead of oil or butter. I think it’s what makes them so amazing 🙂 
Enjoy!

Strawberry Shortcake

I love strawberries more than you can possibly understand. They are, without a doubt, my favorite food. Ever. I buy them year round, but nothing, and I mean nothing, beats a fresh picked locally grown strawberry. Ideally, these fresh picked berries would come from my own strawberry patch, but since I don’t have room for a strawberry patch, they come from my CSA or the farmers market. The ones for this particular recipe came from the CSA. 





This was the first batch of strawberries we got this summer and I decided to celebrate that by making my own version of strawberry shortcake. Please be advised, this is not an actual strawberry shortcake. I just call it that. What this actually is is angel-food cake, whipped cream, and strawberries. The best part of this is that it’s all homemade! 





That’s right, I made the angel-food cake. And, it was the best angel-food cake I’ve ever had. I imagined this would be really hard to make. It wasn’t, it was super easy.My only tips before the recipe are (1) get an angel food cake pan (2) this is not a time for the stand mixer and (3) get egg beater egg whites.


 Here’s the recipe (it’s from bettycrocker.com):

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cups egg whites (12)
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Move oven rack to lowest position. Heat oven to 375ºF.

Mix powdered sugar and flour; set aside. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until foamy. Beat in granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, on high speed, adding vanilla, almond extract and salt with the last addition of sugar. Continue beating until stiff and glossy meringue forms. Do not underbeat.

Sprinkle sugar-flour mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, over meringue, folding in just until sugar-flour mixture disappears. Push batter into ungreased angel food cake pan (tube pan), 10×4 inches. Cut gently through batter with metal spatula.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until cracks feel dry and top springs back when touched lightly. Immediately turn pan upside down onto heatproof funnel or bottle. Let hang about 2 hours or until cake is completely cool. Loosen side of cake with knife or long, metal spatula; remove from pan.



I also made the whipped cream. It was my first time ever doing it. I may never eat cool whip again. It was truly amazing. Here’s the recipe (again from bettycrocker.com):

1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons granulated or powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
In chilled medium bowl, beat sweetened whipped cream ingredients on high speed until soft peaks form. 

For the berries, I didn’t make a syrup or anything. I just hulled and sliced them, then I put some sugar (maybe about half a cup-ish) on them. I covered them and let them hang out while the angel food cake was baking. End result was sweet slightly syrupy fresh strawberries. 

Amazing!