Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

April 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

Sometimes you need to make dessert. You know? You’re craving some home-cooked goodness, or a little bit of sugar is what you need to get your mind off a rough day (or night) at work. I recommend you makes the chocolate chip cookie bars. It’s simple as that. Just a few lovely, basic ingredients and you are off and running. Sort of like you’re making basic chocolate chip cookies but in bar form.
After creaming the butter and sugars, you get this golden brown goodness. This is one of those moments where I feel like licking the beater should be better than it actually is. Just hold out until we add the flour.

See, that’s the good stuff. Feel free to eat a spoonful, or two. You deserve it! After folding in the walnuts (which are optional) and the chips is also a good place to do some taste testing.

Now we have it spread in a well-greased pan. And we bake. Waiting is hard. After 28 minutes, I took mine out a few minutes too early because I wanted them a little gooey. They’re delicious slightly warm. I also froze half of them and have been eating them that way and MAN are they good. Hope you enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Makes 12 bars
Ingredients:
  • 2 sticks butter (1/2 lb), slightly softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 12 oz chocolate chips (semi-sweet or dark)
To Make:
1) Preheat oven to 350. Grease a baking pan (I used 9×13 but 8×12 would also work)
2) Using an electric mixer, or hand mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar and granulate sugar, until smooth. About 2-3 minutes. Then add vanilla and eggs, one at a time.
3) In separate bowl, whisk together flour, soda, and salt. Add slowly to wet ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go. Finally, fold in walnut or chocolate chips. Pour into the pan and spread evenly.
4) Bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan and cut into bars. Enjoy!
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Applesauce Oat Muffins

April 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

Man, I hate the last day of vacation. You’re all relaxed and having fun and then BAM out of nowhere you’re mind starts thinking of things you have to do when you get home. The laundry, the grocery shopping, the work. such a buzz kill.

Then you have to do the whole airport thing. Which, in itself isn’t so terrible, but when you’re headed home from vacation people seem extra grumpy and you end up getting frisked because the TSA thinks you’re hiding explosives in your hair. WHICH YOU’RE NOT.

And then your mild sunburn starts to itch, which makes you feel guilty for not wearing sunscreen, because you know you’re more likely to get skin cancer now. Am I being a total Debbie Downer or what?

But, you know what will make it okay? These muffins. The stirring helps you relax and they’re full of oats, applesauce and whole wheat flour so you don’t feel super guilty for eating sugary stuff. After all, while you were on vacation you drank soda, root beer floats and giant donuts. But like I said, these donuts are healthy, comforting and will make you less sad about being back from vacation. You can eat them while you fold your laundry.

A few tips for making these: if you use muffin liners they get kind of moist, so I recommend just spraying the pan and skipping the liners. Second, instead of sifting your flour just whisk briskly a few times before stirring in other ingredients. Also, when you put the topping on it, kind of press the oats into the muffins or else they fall off while you eat them onto your floor, then you have to sweep.
Applesauce Oat Muffins
(adapted from Fearless Homemaker)
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups regular oats
  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 egg
for the topping
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
To make
1) Preheat oven to 400* F. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.
2) In a medium bowl mix flour, baking powder and soda. Whisk to mix. Add in oats, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and stir.  In a separate, smaller bowl, mix applesauce, canola oil and egg. Pour into dry ingredients and stir with wooden spoon just until combined.
3) Spoon batter into muffin cups, about 3/4 full.
4) To make topping, stir oats, brown sugar and cinnamon together. When butter is slightly cooled, pour in and mix. Sprinkle oats on top of batter and press in slightly with fingers.
5) Bake for 16-18 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes then on rack until completely cool. Enjoy!

Spinach Smoothie

April 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

Ikea has a bunch of awesome stuff for summer right now. I bought some bright yellow napkins, pineapple glasses and flamingo cocktail napkins and this stripped towel you see above. It got me super excited for this summer. This smoothie is perfect for summer, and also for all the time. It gets you a servies of veggies and two of fruit. What is better than that?

In an effort to eat healthier (some good tips from this article) I’ve been trying to add veggies to my breakfast. This smoothie is typically the way I do that. To make it? One banana, cut into pieces. Roughly half a cup of blueberries.

Some kefir, or yogurt. About 3/4 cup depending on how thin you like your smoothie.

Finally a heaping cup of spinach. That’s the good (read: healthy) stuff! BLEND that situation up. Delicious. It’s fantastic.

Spinach Smoothie
Ingredients
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 1 heaping cup spinach
  • ~3/4 cup kefir or plain/vanilla yogurt

To Make

1) Put ingredients in a blender. Mix until smooth. Enjoy!

Almond Butter Granola

April 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

I’m a little upset with the general public. No one told me almond butter was so GOOD! I decided to branch out the other day at good ‘ol Trader Joes and buy some and I’m a little hooked. So far I’ve enjoyed it by itself, on an apple and in this granola form.

This almond butter granola is what sold me. Its a fantastic combination of chewy, sweet and delicious. And since you know i’m obsessed with granola (see this, this and this) it should come as no surprise that I love this. You know what other health food thing I’m into? Chia seeds. They’re full of omega 3s and fiber apparently. I’ve been into putting them into smoothies lately. In fact, I made one with my nephew and told him they were bugs and he was really into them.

Go ahead and make a double batch of it to start because one isn’t enough. It’s even a good base and you could add lots of extra delicious things I’m sure. Banana chips if you’re into that (I’m not), cocoa nibs, peanuts, whatever you want! (from Shape)

Ingredients
  • 4 tbsp almond butter
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 cups oatmeal
To Make
1) Preheat oven to 325* and spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray.
2) Put almond butter and honey in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds to soften. Mix well, then add in cinnamon and vanilla extract. Once those are well combined stir in chia seeds and oatmeal.
3) Spread on cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, stirring once or twice, until golden brown. Let cool on cookie sheet and store in airtight container. Enjoy!

Easter Dinner

April 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

I realize that Easter was a few days ago. However, I was not as on top of this post as I should have been. On Sunday, my trusty sous chef (my husband) and I prepared an easter feast for a group. It was really fun. Here is what I made:
Strawberry and Spinach Salad with 
candied walnuts from my Mom (sort of like this one)
 Scalloped Potatoes from T.Flo
Raspberry and Peach Crisp (adapted from my old recipe)

The most helpful thing when prepping dinner was that I had to be super organized. I made the cookies and hard boiled the eggs the day before. Also, I cooked dinner at someone else’s house so I had to bring all the ingredients and measured out things the night before. My husband said Easter was a good holiday to start with because it’s not up to par with Thanksgiving or Christmas, so I feel a little bit more ready to tackle something else. 

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