learning to eat, cook, and live healthier one day at a time.

Category Archives: Holiday

Happy Halloween!

It’s funny how a year ago when I was still in college, all I thought about on Halloween was partying. Now, I’m jealous I don’t have my own house where I can hand candy out to trick-or-treaters. Growing up gets stranger every day.

This has been quite the week, even though it’s only have way done for me. On Monday night I whipped up several batches of two different types of cookies: Monster Cookies & Chocolate Reese’s Halloween Cookies!

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I adapted the chocolate cookies from a recipe on Love From The Oven, and the monster cookies from Greens & Chocolate. As always, I tweaked both recipes to make them my own.

I added candy corn flavored m&ms to the monster cookies, and used reese’s pieces instead of sixlets in the chocolate cookies.

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Nothing better than a night of holiday baking! This was probably the most relaxing part of my week so far.

Yesterday, I traveled to Aberdeen, SD for several stories. It’s about a three hour drive north of Sioux Falls. I never mind long drives, and am very used to the seven hour drive from Chicago to Minneapolis, so three hours is a cake walk. That was not the case yesterday.

About an hour into my drive, the temperature dropped from 40 to 32. I was suddenly surrounded by a thick wall of fog and snow, with icy roads ahead of me.

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What should have been a three hour drive turned into a four hour drive. And what should have been about a nine hour worked day turned into 12 hours.

I wasn’t sure if I should be more excited for Halloween or Christmas up in Aberdeen! Either way, the weather definitely had me in the holiday spirit.

Tomorrow night is Halloween for me. One of my co-workers is hosting a Halloween party. Stay tuned for what I’m hoping will be a killer costume. I’m hoping the next 48 hours fly by. I’m heading home to Minneapolis very late Saturday night!

 

 

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Happy hump day! I for one am extremely excited for the weekend to come. DePaul only has 4 basketball games left this season, two of which are this weekend. This means I am going to be soaking up all the Blue Demon pride before it’s gone! It’s bittersweet knowing that I will never get the chance to dance on that court again. Ah, the memories.

Anyway! I want to give a little recap of my Valentine’s dinner. Mike and I celebrated Valentine’s Day on the 15th, since I had late night practice on the actual Valentine’s Day. We decided to hit up our go-to special occasion spot…DITKA’S! As usual, we started things off with the famous pot roast nachos.

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I actually convinced Mike that the half order would  be enough for us, even though we normally go all out with the whole order, and end up wanting to throw in the towel before we even get our main courses. It was a wise move on my part! I tried something different than my usual pork chop and went with the blackened mahi-mahi, served with a pesto sauce, wild rice medley and sweet potato hay. YUM!

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It was a nice change from the heaviness of the pork chop. But, I have to say the chop is still my favorite! In stead of ordering dessert, we went with leftover Valentine’s treats. Good call. Overall, it was a perfect Valentine’s dinner!

Half Marathon Plans

It’s official! I will be running in the 2013 North Shore Half Marathon this June! It will be my first half marathon and I am PUMPED! My favorite running and fitness buddy Tessa will also be running it with me. I’m a little nervous since this will be her second half marathon. We ran the Hot Chocolate 15k together back in November and were pretty evenly matched, so I’m hoping it’s the same this time! Although I have over 4 months before the race date, I’m already starting to map out my training plan. I can tell the toughest part is going to be finding a training plan that fits easily into my school and work schedule. Once I find a plan that fits, I’m sure I’ll be sharing it on here. Stay tuned!


Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope everyone, whether you’re in a relationship or not, is doing something fun to celebrate the holiday. My day is most likely going to be pretty normal, since Mike and I are not celebrating until tomorrow night. I am excited to have an excuse to indulge in Valentine’s treats today, though! I baked Mike a special Valentine’s cake last night that I plan on sharing on here in the next couple days.

My friend Brooke has been visiting from New York since last Friday, so the week as been full of fun. My roommate Gabby, Brooke and I headed out for Sushi on her first night, which was a blast. The next morning I attempted a first-time recipe of baked oatmeal. I have to say, it was successful enough to share! I originally had wanted to attempt crock pot oatmeal, but I read too many horror stories of other people’s attempts and decided against it.

Simple Baked Oatmeal

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Yields 3-4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cups plain, non-fat greek yogurt
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/4 cup sugar free maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl
  • Pour into a greased, medium sized baking dish (8×5)
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, covered with foil
  • Remove foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes
  • Top with anything else you see fit! Fresh fruit, granola, milk, protein powder, etc.

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I chose to top my oatmeal with vanilla protein powder and mixed berries. Yummy! I will definitely be making this little dish again in the near future. Very, very filling.

I knew I wanted to have a special homemade dinner while Brooke was here, but wasn’t sure what to make since she is gluten intolerant. She suggested tacos, which I was on board with of course. We also had the great idea to pair them with homemade margaritas and have ourselves a Margarita Monday!

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Gabby was kind enough to squeeze actual oranges and limes to make these bad boys. Instead of using table sugar, we chose to be slightly healthy and use agave nectar. What a treat! The chicken tacos we made were delicious as well.

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Gabby and Brooke sippin’ and eatin’!

It has truly been an awesome blast from the past having Brooke visit us, as we haven’t gotten to see her like this since our freshman year of college. She’s here through Saturday so let the fun continue!


Another double post! I actually started writing this post last night, but fell asleep in the process with my computer on my chest. I always get nervous when that happens since there is about a 3-foot drop from my bed to the floor. The two recipes I’m sharing tonight are not necessarily your traditional, festive Christmas cookies.

Apple Cake & Honey Walnut Cookies

Apple Cake & Honey Walnut Cookies

Apple Cake & Honey Walnut Cookies

If you’ve ever had apple cake before, you know it’s more like bread than cake. Either way, it’s delicious. The woman I babysit for gave me her recipe which is called “light apple cake.” We can pretend that makes it healthy. Whatever makes you feel better, right?

Apple Cake

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbls orange juice
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, cored, unpeeled, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • powdered sugar for dusting

Directions:

  • Butter and flour 10-inch tube pan, bundt pan, or any similar sized pan (I experimented with mine)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • With an electric mixer, beat vegetable oil and sugar until combined. Add eggs, flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, cinnamon and vanilla, and orange juice. Mix well.
  • Stir in apples and raisins, gently. Be careful not to break up the apple slices.
  • Pour into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool in pan for 30 minutes before removing to cooling rack.
  • Dust with powdered sugar.

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I love apple cake! It’s so warm and festive. This recipe is spot on.

Honey Walnut Cookies

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar.
  • In a small bowl, combine oil, honey and vanilla. Add oil mixture to flour mixture and stir until combined.
  • Fold in chopped walnuts. Since the dough is eggless, it will have a slightly different texture than most cookie dough.
  • Roll into 12, 1-inch balls, place onto prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake 10 minutes, remove from oven and pat down slightly with hand while cookies are hot. Let cool for 2-3 minutes before removing to cooling rack.

Yield: 1 dozen

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Enjoy!


Good evening! When I had the relatively unoriginal idea of posting 12 christmas cookie recipes on this blog, I overlooked the fact that baking and blogging both take time. Time that I rarely have. What I’m trying to say is I’m sorry I have been seriously slacking on the cookie front. However, I am pleased to bring you two delicious recipes tonight!

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies & German Chocolate Cookies!

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I copied the recipe for the Double Chocolate Chip Cookies out of a Christmas Cookie magazine I found lying around my house while I was home over Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, I cannot recall which particular magazine it was.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup baking cocoa
  • 2 tbls milk
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 cup (6 oz) semisweet chocolate chunks or chips (double if not using nuts)

Directions:

  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar and vanilla. Beat in egg, cocoa and milk.
  • Combine flour and baking powder, fold into creamed mixture.
  • Fold in walnuts and chocolate chips
  • Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls, place 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with silpats or parchment paper.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks.

Yield: 3 dozen

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These cookies were a hit! They almost tasted like hot cocoa. I highly recommend using chocolate chunks over chips. The extra crunch they give is much more pleasing, if you ask me!

German Chocolate Cookies:

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Luckily, I CAN direct you to the source of this recipe! While searching for new holiday baking ideas, I came across these dangerous little devils¬†. I am a huge fan of just about anything german chocolate. Cake, cookies, bars, ice cream (do they make that?)…Can’t go wrong with german chocolate anything!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbls light corn syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate finely chopped, or 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

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Directions:

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread pecans and coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven for 7-10 minutes, or until fragrant.
  • Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.
  • Cream brown sugar and butter until fluffy. Add egg, corn syrup, vanilla and almond extract.
  • Gradually beat in flour mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold in pecans, coconut, and chocolate.
  • Drop tablespoonfuls of dough on baking sheets lined with silpats of parchment paper a few inches apart. Pat them down slightly using a knife.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack.

Yield: About 30 cookies

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Again, I absolutely loved these cookies. And so did everyone else judging by the fact that they were gone from the cookie jar in a couple days.

Happy Baking!


I’m pleased to present what is quite possibly not only one of my favorite holiday recipes, but one of my favorite all-time dessert recipes.

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I made these little guys last Christmas and was instantly obsessed. Blondies are one of my favorite treats, so the addition of peanuts, caramel and pretzels definitely doesn’t hurt! The original recipe can be found here. I follow the recipe exactly, therefore I will not go step by step in this post. However, I do advise cutting back on the amount of peanuts used. The recipe calls for 4 cups, but you really don’t need more than 2-3 cups. The added weight from the nuts and caramel really presses down on the bars themselves, making them thinner than they would be normally.

I used tinfoil since I am fresh out of parchment paper! Worked like a charm.

Pre-Peanut/Pretzel/Caramel Topping. Nice and dense!

After the addition of the topping!

After the addition of the topping!

These puppies are so dangerous. Despite their density, I seriously think I could eat 10 of these in one sitting. SO GOOD! And, since they’re not particularly “holiday-themed” you can make them year round!

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Did you know there are only 12 days left before Christmas? This means I only have 12 days to post NINE cookie recipes! I’m going to be one busy bee. I’d also love to get a chance to share my current workout plan. I’m taking it easy this week due to the fact that I’ve been feeling pretty under the weather, but this program has been kicking my butt!

Mike and I have plans to see The Hobbit tonight at midnight! More like I have plans to drag Mike to see The Hobbit with me tonight. I’m a pretty big Lord of the Rings nerd and have been itching with anticipation all week for the prequel. Since Mike has been so nice to agree to join me, I’ve promised him a quick bite to eat before and maaaybe a popcorn for the movie? Decisions, decisions!


Greetings!

On this evening I am glad to present a holiday classic: Sugar Cookies!

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I followed a new recipe this year for my sugar cookies that can be found here. My recipe was slightly less precise due to the fact that I do not have a stand mixer, and have to settle for my handy dandy hand mixer. I also did not measure the thickness of my cookies in such a precise manner. Nevertheless, these cookies came out perfect!

Ingredients:

Yield: About 3 dozen cookies

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  • Mix flour and baking powder in medium bowl.
  • Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy (hand mixers will work just fine!)
  • Add egg and vanilla to butter mixture. Mix for another minute.
  • Slowly add flour mixture.
  • Mix until well combined.
  • Take dough out of bowl and knead a few times on a flat surface, covered with parchment paper.
  • Put dough in a large plastic ziplock bag and refrigerate for at least two hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350 just before it is time to remove the dough from the refrigerator.
  • Roll out about half the dough on a lightly floured flat surface. Cover dough with a piece of parchment paper to prevent it from sticking to the rolling pin. (This was a new tip I just learned this year!)
  • Roll the dough until it is about 1/3 of an inch thick.
  • Using your favorite cookie cutters, cut the dough and place cookies on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper of a Silpat.
  • Bake cookies 8-10 minutes (I did 9) or until they just begin to turn golden.
  • Remove cookies from oven and let cool for about a minute before moving to a cooling rack.

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Once the cookies are completely cooled, whip up your favorite powder sugar frosting and get decorating! The frosting recipe I used this year is excellent. I found it on Annie’s Eats. I love nice and simple recipes, nothing fancy for this girl!

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After frosting the cookies, I topped them off with some simple sprinkles. Mike actually helped me out on this step which made it go by much faster.

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Look at that bad boy! I have to say these are some of the best sugar cookies I’ve had in the past couple Christmases. Thank you so much to the bloggers who helped me out with the recipes! I will definitely be recreating these later this month and may even use the same recipe for another holiday. Valentine’s cookies, perhaps?

Happy baking!



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