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First Summer Festival of the Year

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Last night officially felt like summer.  After spending the day running, going to the farmer’s market, and then laying by the pool.  Brian and I joined two other couples for a dinner on the grill.

It was full of veggies and completely delicious.  We skewered brussel sprouts to cook on the grill after Erin (one of our friends) marinated them in a mixture of garlic, olive oil mustard, and some other spices that made a delicious combination.  I am going to have to get the recipe from her!

Our sides included fresh, tossed salad, brussel sprouts, green beans, and fruit salad.  Yum!

We ended the night by hanging out around the bon fire.  I can’t believe that summer is already here, but I am so glad that it is.

Breakfast Today

Brian and I ended up leaving a little early last night from the bon fire because I had a headache.  Unfortunately, it was a pretty bad one and it stayed all the way until the morning.

Whenever I get headaches like that, my body seems to crave carbohydrates…the starchy kind, so I started this morning with a bowl of egg white oats with some peaches and strawberries mixed in.  It was tasty and made me feel better.  Thankfully my headache went away.

I then spent the morning baking batches and batches of cookies for Brian to take on his camping trip.  I made Oatmeal Raisin, Chocolate Chippers, Chocolate Cookies with Peanut Butter Chips, Peanut Butter Cookies, and Morning Glory Muffins (recipe for these to come soon!)

We were then surprised when Brian’s aunt and Grandma stopped by to visit for a minute this morning and dropped off a little housewarming gift…almonds and little baggies so that we can pre-portion!  What a yummy snack!

After baking away the first half of the day and helping Brian make a playlist for his van full of high schoolers, it was time for a midday date!

Tomorrow is Brian and my 3 year anniversary, and since he is leaving tomorrow and I work all day I wanted to spend the day with him doing something special.  We packed up our bikes and headed downtown so that we could ride to the Talbot Street Art Fair.

It was perfect because they had a great bike parking area where they ticketed our bikes and gave us a matching wrist band so that nobody’s bikes got lost or stolen.  They had a great system!

Brian and I had never been to the art fair before and were extremely impressed by all of the little trinkets and beautiful pieces of art work.  There were a ton of people around and the weather was beautiful…a little hot, but we aren’t complaining 😉

While growing up, my family would always take advantage of the summer festivals in my hometown, and I still love these types of festivities.  I love the atmosphere, being around of a lot of people, and the different dynamic that each event brings to the city.  This was the first official summer festival of the year that Brian and I have attended, and I hope we have a chance to go to a few more!

After browsing around for a while, we were pretty hungry.  We decided to rest our feet and enjoy some gyros.  I got mine with just veggies and feta and Brian enjoyed a chicken gyro.  I had never had a gyro before, and it was really tasty!  I loved that the insides were super cold against the warm pita, especially since Brian and I were very hot!

After stopping at all of the booths in the art fair, Brian and I headed across the street to a cute little cupcake shop, 111 Cakery. After speaking with the owners husband and trying a delicious sample of their chocolate chip cookies, Brian and I caved and split a strawberry shortcake cupcake.  The cake itself tasted like a regular strawberry cupcake, but the best part was the little surprise of real strawberry filling inside.  Very tasty!

All in all, it was a great way to spend the afternoon.  I love day time dates!

We then came home, and while I prepared my meals for the week Brian’s dad made a delicious dinner of tossed salad, grilled veggies and scallops.

Just one summery thing after another!  I love the warm months and can’t wait to take advantage of all they have to offer.

I hope you all had an amazing weekend.  Now, it’s time to relax and watch a little Food Network Star, I love Sunday night traditions…almost as much as I love summer 😉


I Took a Little Break

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So, have I been crossing things off of my to-do list?  YES.  Has anything gone according to my hourly schedule?  NO.  But at least I am getting some things done.  At about noon, I started to go cross-eyed so I decided to take a break from the computer…not literally cross-eyed, but sometimes I feel like being in front of the computer all the time makes my head spin.

During my break I did a little bit of this:

I took it easy today, because I have my long run scheduled for tomorrow.

I also spent some time in the kitchen making a batch of these:

and a batch of these:

I couldn’t decide which ones to make, so I made both!

Questions of the Afternoon:

  • What was your workout today?
My workout today was a nice jog outside and teaching yoga tonight 🙂
  • When you want to have a productive day, do you make an hour by hour schedule or do you just make a list of things to get done?
I find that I am more productive when I have an hour by hour schedule…otherwise the list just keeps growing!

Calling All Easter Recipes!

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I need some Easter inspiration…but first we will talk about Breakfast.

Breakfast this morning was a bowl of overnight oats:

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup Chobani 0% Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 scoop Sunwarrior Vanilla Protein Powder
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • a dash of cinnamon and about 3/4 cup water

This morning I then added, chopped pear, and 2 tsp of peanut butter.  The cinnamon and chocolate really complimented each other well making for a delicious breakfast 🙂

Easter Recipes

For Easter, most years, I make some sort of fancy dessert.  I really enjoy the creative process of picking out the perfect recipe and design, getting all the ingredients, making a tasty baked good, and then decorating it like a work of art (at least it’s art to me!).


In the past I have made chick cupcakes:



I have made the classic bunny cake:



And I have made the traditional carrot cake:


All three were delicious, but this year, I am fresh out of ideas!  My mom and I are planning on preparing a brunch for everyone at my apartment, but I don’t know what I want to make.

I know that I want to make another special baked good this year, something that takes a little bit of skill, and uses some of my creative juice that I have flowing.   Also, my mom and I are looking for menu ideas.  I would have to say though, that my tastes differ a bit from the rest of my family’s when it comes to “healthifying” certain recipes.  They tend to enjoy things a bit more decadent than I do, but we have to meet somewhere in the middle.  I want to have a brunch menu to impress, but I don’t want it to make everyone feel completely weighed down afterward.


So here is the part where I ask for some help!


Does anyone have any delicious, secretly healthy, or beautiful and impressive baked goodies that I could make for my family on Easter??


I love getting creative in the kitchen, healthifying my own recipes, and seeing how they turn out, but I would love to hear what you all have tried 🙂



Housewarming Gifts

When Brian and I headed to welcome our friends into their new apartment last night, I knew that we couldn’t show up empty handed.  Of course I wanted to bake them a housewarming gift!  Cookies it was…and they sure were a hit 😉

White Chocolate Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies (original recipe from How Sweet Eats)


  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 8 Tbsp melted margarine, cooled
  • 6 Tbsp peanut butter (I used natural crunchy) melted and cooled
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Combine the margarine and peanut butter in a small bowl.  Microwave in 30 second intervals until a melted and creamy mixture.
In a separate bowl combine flour, oats, soda, and salt.  In a mixer bowl combine the cooled peanut butter mixture with the sugars.  Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla.  Once combined, gradually add in the flour mixture.  Fold in the white chocolate chips.
Place dough in golf ball sized balls on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool and enjoy!!!
Little did I know, Caitlin had a housewarming gift for me too! She brought the Vera Bradley catalog with her!
I can’t wait to take it home to show my family!

Black Bean Soup and Cornbread

Boy do I have two recipes for you!

Today, the weather in Indiana was cloudy, cold, and slightly drizzly…the perfect fall weather for soup.  Cornbread is one of my favorite things to enjoy with soup, and I had a healthier recipe I wanted to try but I just needed a main dish component to go with it.  I found a black bean soup recipe on and decided to give it a whirl.

Let me tell you, this soup was so delicious!! Brian gobbled his up along with two of the cornbread muffins which were soft, doughy, slightly sweet and totally yummy.

Black Bean Soup (adapted from


  • 1 15 oz can black beans rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Put all ingredients into the blender and blend until desired consistency.  Not too smooth, leave it a little bit chunky for texture.  Place in a large pot and bring to a boil to heat.  Garnish with jalepenos and green onions to taste.
Makes 4 servings:  Calories–149.4g  Total Fat–.7g  Total Carbohydrates–28.3g  Protein–8.5g  Fiber–8.8
Super Moist Corn Muffins (adapted from
  • 1 cup canned cream-style corn
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup egg beaters
  • 1/2 cup 0% Fage Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp Splenda (granulated)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine all wet ingredients in a small bowl (cream-style corn, egg beaters, greek yogurt).  In a larger bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, splenda, baking powder and salt.  Combine the dry mix and the wet mix.  Pour into 12 greased muffin tins.  Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.
Makes 12 servings:  Calories–84.9g  Total Fat–.5g  Total Carbohydrate–17.4g  Fiber–1.2g  Protein–3.3g
Both of these recipes are simple and delicious!  Enjoy 🙂

Baking Fail No. 5364:

Ok, so you in my evening post last night that I was going to make my first cheesecake using my mom’s amazing recipe.  Well, instead of making one large cheesecake I thought it would be a great idea to make smaller cupcake size cheesecakes.  I knew that I would need to adjust the time, but for some reason just decided to cut the times in half without doing any research…what a bad decision.

The result was burned cheese cakes that stuck to the cupcake liners and had the graham cracker crusts separating from the cheesecake part…not good!

The cheesecakes should not be yellow like that…trust me.


Because of this failed attempt, I called my mom frantically to make a plan of action:

  1. Research mini cheesecake recipes focusing on time and oven temperature.
  2. Decide not to use cupcake liners.
  3. Purchase  more cheesecake ingredients.
  4. Don’t freak out!
After work, I headed immediately to the store to purchase the new ingredients and got to work in the kitchen.  The mini cheesecakes are actually chilling in the refrigerator right now, so I am still not 100% sure if they have turned out.  The last thing I have to do is probably going to be the hardest…get them out of the pan!  I know that this recipe works as a large cheesecake because my mom has made it several times…it is her signature cheesecake dish!
Marble Cheesecake
Ingredients or graham cracker crust:
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
Preparation for graham cracker crust:
The best way to make graham cracker crumbs is to smash them with a rolling pin.
Combine crumbs, sugar, and melted butter.  Press mixture onto bottom and half inch up the side of a 9 inch spring form pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
Ingredients for cheesecake:
  • Graham cracker crust
  • 3 packages of 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp four
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
Preparation for cheesecake:
Prepare crust and set aside.
Combine chream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar, sour cream and 2 tsp vanilla in large mixer bowl.  Beat on medium speed until smooth.  Add flour, 1 Tbsp at a time, blending well.  Add eggs; beat well.  Combine cocoa and 1/4 cup of sugar in a smaller bowl.  Add oil, the rest of the vanilla, and 1 1/2 cups of the cream cheese mixture, mix until well blended.
Spoon plain and chocolate mixtures alternately into crust, end with dollops of chocolate on top.  Gently swirl with knife for marble effect.
Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.  Without opening the oven door decrease the temperature to 250 degrees and bake 30 minutes.  Turn off oven and let the cheesecake remain another 30 minutes without opening the door.  Remove from the oven.  Loosen cake from sides of pan, cool and chill before serving.
I’ll let you know how the second batch turns out…I have to go get them ready for our little party now…wish me luck!!!
What have you baked and failed at?? 

Braided Bread

I did it yesterday!  I made a yeast-rising bread without the bread maker, and although it was not perfect it still turned out delicious!

Braided Cinnamon Bread (Original recipe from Dana Made It)


  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 yeast packet (2 1/2 tsp)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp butter or margarine
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • an additional 1 3/4 – 2 cups flour
Cinnamon Filling
  • 1 Tbsp melted margarine or butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
In a small glass or bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and sugar.  Allow to rise for 10 minutes.
In mixer bowl with regular paddle add hot water, salt, sugar, and margarine.  After the yeast has risen add the yeast, 2 1/2 cups flour, and egg to the mixture still using the regular paddle arm.
Continue to add the additional flour until the bread dough reaches a play-dough like consistency.  Take the paddle arm off of the mixture and switch to the bread hook.  Put on speed 2 and and let the machine knead the dough for 7 minutes, or you can hand knead the dough for 5-6 minutes.
Spray a large bowl with cooking spray and place the dough ball into the bowl and cover with cloth.  Place in a warm area for around 2 hours to allow the dough to rise.
Punch down the dough and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.
Here’s where it got tricky for me…
“For the Cinnamon Loaf, divide the dough into 3rds (just like you did above) and roll each rope out kinda long and flat (and not too wide) with a rolling pin. Spread each flat rope with Cinnamon filling (recipe below) then pinch the whole thing together so it makes a long rope, with all the cinnamon sugar hidden inside. Try to keep all the cinnamon sugar inside so it doesn’t spill out while cooking. Some of it still will, but do your best. Lastly, braid the 3 ropes together. Place it on the same baking sheet with your other loaf.” source
Cover the cookie sheet with a cloth and allow to rise for about an hour.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for around 14-18 minutes or until golden brown.  Allow the bread to sit for 5 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!!
In other news…I got a package today.  I don’t know about you, but I absolutely LOVE getting mail!
It was the shoes that I ordered for Chelsea’s wedding in a couple of weeks.  Now, I have told you how much I love free things, and how I live on a budget…so saving money is really exciting when it happens! Let me just tell you about the deal I got on these shoes.
First, I saw them in Indianapolis, but they were way to small and on final sale so the store was no longer getting anymore in.  I then called the 1-800 number to locate another pair in my size….spotted in New Jersey.  They found the shoes, but they had a “spot” on them.  They told me that the shipping was free (not sure why) which made me happy.  Because the shoes were on final sale they went from $59.01 to $19.99.  Then, because of the “spot” they took of 10% making the shoes delivered to my door for $17.99!!!
At the bottom of the receipt it says “You saved $61.01.”  I am OK with that!!  Not only were they a great deal, but they look cute too 🙂

Too Full

I was so excited for dinner tonight.  I made myself a light main meal of steamed broccoli slaw, edamame, brussel sprouts, and cannellini beans topped with pasta sauce and sriracha.  I was excited for the dessert that I had made myself, until I got super full during my main course 😦

First, I made raw cookie dough balls by combining cashews, dates, vanilla extract, and chocolate chips in the food processor then rolling the mixture into little balls.  I then made a banana smoothie and put some of the balls into the mix so it was more or less a healthified cookie dough milk-shake.

I had a couple of bites, it tasted great, but I just couldn’t do it for some reason…so it’s waiting for me in the freezer.


Brian then got home from studying early and we went on a bike ride!  The weather was seriously perfect today, not to hot, but slightly warm, some leaves fallen off trees, and sunny.


We then appropriately rode right to the 9/11 Memorial that was completely unveiled today.  Those are two pieces retrieved from ground zero.  Very touching.

After coming home, I finished up a bread recipe that I was testing out, and I think it turned out better than I expected!  I had to use yeast to make this bread, and not use the bread maker.  I don’t have a lot of experience with yeast breads, so it didn’t look 100% like the picture because it didn’t rise enough, but it still tasted pretty good!  I’ll share the recipe tomorrow 😉


Off to bed to get ready for the work week!

Double Fudge Oreo Crunch Cookies

Today at work, we were instructed to all bring in one of our favorite treats.  I decided to make Double Fudge Oreo Crunch Cookies, not because I love them but because I love making them for other people because they love them.  Brian seriously raves about these cookies whenever I make them.

This past school year, one of my good friends had many food allergies (all nuts, cinnamon…enough said!).  So when I made desserts and baked goods (which was quite frequent), I had to be careful about what the ingredients were.  I assure you that there are no nuts or cinnamon in these cookies, and she loved them!

Double Fudge Oreo Crunch Cookies (originally from How Sweet Eats)


  • 1 cup margarine or butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup crushed oreos
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cream together the margarine, sugar, eggs and vanilla.  Then, add in the flour, cocoa, soda, and salt until thoroughly combined.
Crush the oreos.  My method of choice:  rolling pin over a large plastic bag

Then fold in the oreos and the chocolate chips.

Scoop onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and cook for 10-12 minutes.  Makes about 30 cookies.

I would say the worst part about making cookies is cleaning the cookie sheet.  Luckily, my mom made me a handy little scrubber out of tool from an old halloween costume.  She crocheted it!  Now, that’s what I call recycling.  The little scrubber works amazingly, and it won’t scratch non-stick pans.

Enjoy the rest of your Saturday!

Yoga and Black Beans…in Brownies?

Yoga Post of the Day:  Head-to-Knee Forward Bend


This pose looks familiar and somewhat simple, but for a person with tight hamstrings (like myself) it can be a bit uncomfortable and challenging.  




For this pose, I had to do the modified easier variation which is using the band around my foot.  If you are more flexible, then the final step would actually be to reach farther and hold onto your wrist and try to make your back as flat as possible.

I had just finished up my 3 mile run, so this stretch was a perfect way to lengthen my hammies.

Benefits of this pose:  Opens the chest and lungs, stretches the calf, hamstring and lower back muscles, helps relieve menstrual and menopausal discomfort, improves digestion, increases circulation to the liver, kidneys and colon, alleviates fatigue and headache, strengthens the lower back.

10 Things All Women Need

Because I don’t go into work until this evening, I had the opportunity to watch the Today Show.  On the segment with Kathy Lee and Hoda they talked about 10 things every woman needs.  The list included

  1. Great serving pieces
  2. A beautiful throw
  3. Personalized stationary
  4. A signature scent
  5. Personalized facial and beauty routine
  6. An everyday tote
  7. Cashmere sweater
  8. Inexpensive Fall Jacket
  9. Beautiful piece of lingerie
  10. Party dress
I really loved their list because I felt like everything on it was attainable, even for a recent college grad on a budget like me!  I think that my favorite items on the list are, great serving pieces because I love making food for others and having them over to share it, a beautiful throw because I am always cold and always have blankets laying around, personalized stationary because I love the hand written letter and stationary can be so personal, and an inexpensive fall jacket because I love jackets (since I am always cold) and they are so cute!
What are your favorites on the list?
For lunch today, I used some of the leftover canned salmon from yesterday’s salad.  I mixed:
I then had my favorite side…fresh veggies.
I also baked an experimental treat, and I would have to say (with Brian’s agreement) that the experiment was a success.
Blackbean Brownies (Adapted from
  • 1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp of applesauce
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp instant coffee
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 35o and grease an 8×8 inch baking pan.  Place all ingredients in food processor except for the chocolate chips.
 Pulse until completely combined.  Pour the batter into the pan and top with chocolate chips.
Bake for 30 minutes.
**Allow to cool completely before cutting (don’t be too anxious like me) they will be crumbly, and the bottom of several brownies may stick to the pan in pieces…oops 😉
Brian totally forgot that there were black beans even in these brownies when he tried them, so trust me…they are good 🙂