Cinnamon Toast Graham Cracker Cookies

I have a lot of ideas. Sometimes they turn out okay, sometimes they turn out terrible, and sometimes I want to bring cookies to absolutely everyone I know so that they can enjoy the deliciousness. Sometimes I even surprise myself with how delicious something can be, while still being moderately healthy. I mean, these aren’t a great source of nutrients. They are dessert. However, with only 1/4 cup of light butter and 1/2 cup of sugar in the entire batch + being whole grain, I’d say they’re not too shabby on the health scale.

What's that you say? Each of those big gooey cookies only has 75 calories? Oh okay, then I feel less bad about the 3 I demolished today ;)

My very favorite thing about the way these came out is the texture. Slightly crunchy on the outside, while gooey and doughy on the inside with the crunch of graham cracker throughout and an extra crunch of cinnamon cereal on top. Happy birth week to me!!!! Yes, I like to celebrate my birth for months weeks at a time. What can I say? I love my life, and I feel like it’s something to celebrate. To celebrate you wonderful people who are in my life, the goal is to do lots of baking this week. My way of saying you all make my life feel worth celebrating!

Cinnamon Toast Graham Cracker Cookies

yield about 2 dozen cookies

inspired by this recipe

  • 1/4 cup light whipped butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup fat free cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup honey apple butter (I was out of apple sauce and I ended up LOVING this substitution!)
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup Splenda
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup cinnamon whole wheat graham cracker crumbs
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon
  • dash salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • approx 48 pieces organic whole grain copy cat of Cinnamon Toast Crunch (my fav is Cascade Farm Cinnamon Crunch)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Beat butter, cream cheese and apple butter together in a large bowl.
  3. Add brown sugar and Splenda, and beat until fluffy.
  4. Beat in vanilla, egg substitute, cinnamon, and baking soda.
  5. Add flour and graham cracker crumbs and beat until just combined.
  6. Use a cookie scoop (or your hands) to drop dough onto a large baking sheet in about tablespoon amounts. This dough is not super sticky, so you could also just spray a wide tablespoon and use that.
  7. Flatten slightly and press 2 pieces of cinnamon cereal on top of each cookie.
  8. Bake 8-10 minutes until just set, then remove and let stand 5-10 minutes to finish baking themselves.
  9. Transfer to wire rack and cool completely.

Disneyland Road Trip Day 1

I remember going through all of our wedding gifts the day after the ceremony (the only thing that could ease my sadness about my house suddenly being so empty!) and seeing a stuffed Minnie and Mickey bride and groom. I turned to Steve and I was like “What kind of present is this?!” like a spoiled brat, then we looked into the box and realized that several of my CGST friends had all chipped in and gotten us DISNEY PASSES!!!! I felt like a big jerk for about 3 seconds, then forgot because I was so excited! Well, almost a year later they were getting ready to expire because I am the world’s worst person at scheduling vacations and taking time off work, so Steve and I quickly found a weekend where we could squeeze in a trip before my Spring schedule got into full force.

Saturday afternoon Steve picked me up from rehearsal so that we could immediately be on our way to California. It’s about a 6-7 hour drive from here depending on traffic (which is always bad once you get anywhere near LA), and we I have no patience so we wanted to get there as quickly as possible. Most of you have never been on a road trip with me. You are the lucky ones. As we all know, I have the maturity and attention span of a 1st grader with ADHD, so the entire 6 hours consisted of me singing along to almost every song and asking if we were there yet about 100 times. I’m not really sure why Steve married me.

Finally, we arrived at our hotel and we were both super hungry. I asked the front desk lady where she would recommend for a good local restaurant. She gave me a Disney tourist brochure with everything at downtown Disney. I was like “Oh no, we have a car so we can drive somewhere. Where can we get some local food.” She flipped over the brochure and said “Oh there’s better places on this side” to which I responded “Del Taco?” Seriously. That was the first restaurant I saw on this “better side”. Her best suggestion was Red Robin, so we got on yelp instead and ended up at a German restaurant called The Jagerhouse. We’d never really eaten German food and I liked it because their photo on yelp was a picture of beer.

I started to order a glass of their dark draft, but when Steve said he was going to get one too, I suggested a pitcher. I thought it would be equivalent to about 3 glasses. I was pretty surprised to see our waiter turn the corner carrying this

Apprently, a pitcher is a crap ton of beer for two people. Who knew, huh?

Look at that, we each have a glass and there is still so much left! It's like it's refilling itself--how awesome would that be!

"There is a problem, I have too much beer."

"I know! I will drink some!" For this photo, Steve insisted that we did all sorts of embarrassing manuvering and posing in the middle of the restaurant while everyone stared and thought we were nuts. I guess that's what it means to be a food blogger.

And then, all of the sudden, this happened

"How on Earth did that happen? Good news! Crisis averted--I no longer have too much beer." Okay, don't judge. We shared, and it was vacation! ;)

Obviously I hated the beer. The food unfortunately wasn’t as awesome in my opinion. Not bad, just okay–nothing I would go back for, but maybe that’s because I ordered a boring old salad.

This is my salad that I could have made at home and probably better. I was really excited that it came with garlic bread, but the garlic bread did not end up being super exciting.

Steve’s food is much more interesting, but actually I feel like it looks pretty gross…

I feel like it's possible that German food may just not be my thing.

To be honest, by the time the food came, I didn’t really care much anyway. I was just enjoying being away with my favorite person :) I really enjoyed myself, then enjoyed myself more by more belting at the top of my lungs all the way back to the hotel, and continued to enjoy my evening all the way up the stairs to our room. Clearly.

"Stairs are fun! I like vacation!"

Honestly, I just don't know why I decided that should happen. Stretching obnoxiously in the stairway is actually really cool. Anyone whose anyone stretches on the hotel stairs.

Stay tuned for day 2…! And no, I did not wake up with a hangover :)

 

Bethany’s House & Vintage 95

Guess what, guess what., guess what!! My very best friend Bethany is buying a house! What? You’re not jumping out of your seat with excitement like me? Okay, well that’s probably because you don’t know Bethany. If you could imagine the person you know that is ridiculously patient, kind to everyone, always knows the right thing to say, listens to everything you say like it’s their job, and deserves the very best things always…that’s Bethany!

The whole process has been moving super fast for her. She started looking, fell in house love, made an offer, got it accepted and all of the sudden our group met up to take a look last night! I can’t even tell you how amazing this is for her. Bethany works so hard for everything in her life and buying this house on her own is such a big accomplishment! Look how pretty it is!

Cute, cute, cute and NOT cookie cutter! YAY!

There are a list things I’m jealous of

1. The fireplace

I hope that super cute chest comes with the house!

We don’t have a fireplace :( Fireplace and pool were on our list of It Would Be Really Awesome If…., but not 100% necessary. We got the pool.

2. Big grassy back yard

Winston and Clementime would LOVE this!!!!

I love that our backyard came with a pool, and I thought I would love the low maintenance of desert landscape, but with the puppies, I really wish I had a space to go out and run around with them. It’s okay, I’m sure aunt Bethany will let the puppies come visit and play ;)

3. Huge master bathroom. Our master bathroom sucks. I can’t wait to remodel it!

After seeing the house, Steve, Bethany, Jason, Nacho and I headed down to Vintage 95 for dinner.

We weren’t quite sure where to eat dinner in the area, so Steve got on yelp to find us a restaurant. Funny story…when I was looking for a day job, I applied to work here before it was even finished being built. They never called me. I have zero restaurant experience, and I hope that continues for the rest of my life. Anyway, I remember telling Steve that I wanted to try it once it opened, but completely forgot until he reminded me it was the place. Now that it’s finished, it is sooo cute!

Two fireplaces in one night. Steve, can we make a fireplace to make my lie complete? And by we, I mean you ;)

I had absolutely no idea what to order. Everything on the menu looked delicious. I asked the waitress what she would get between like 6 different things (I’m a really annoying orderer) and she definitely did not steer me wrong! I ended up with Thanksgiving. And by Thanksgiving, I mean a sandwich with turkey, cranberry sauce and brie with sweet potato fries.

I am so thankful for carbs and the fact that running gives me a little more sanity about eating massive amount of them like this.

And I also ordered this baby

When there is a sweet dark beer on draught, I can hardly ever turn it down!

I tasted everyone else’s food just to make sure it was okay for them, and everything was fantastic! Also, the prices were super reasonable. I would definitely go back…again, and again, and again!

In addition to the restaurant being fantastic, it was really awesome company. It’s been a while since the 5 of us were all together, and I loved getting the chance to celebrate this milestone that Bethany has worked so hard for. Bethy–you’ve come a long way since our days in Desert Mirage! ;)
Vintage 95 on Urbanspoon

Clementine’s First Birthday

Can you believe it??? Our little Clementine turned 1 yesterday! It seems like just yesterday that Amelia announced on facebook that her family would be giving away mini dachshunds. We got her when she was just 8 weeks old and could hardly walk around the house, and now she is practically a grown up. That little wiener brings so much joy to our home and I honestly don’t know how we ever got along without her. Winston is so much happier too! He was really jealous when she first arrived, but now he LOVES having a playmate and an other puppy to snuggle with.

Is it silly to feel happy that your kids get along so well when your kids have fur? Whatever, it totally warms my heart!

Clemmie’s day started out with a birthday treat.

"Mom!!!! You said treat, you said treat!!! Where is it?!?!" Also, I think in a contest for longest tail, Clementine would win. Look at that thing!

"Yum"

Or two…

"I shake."

And a nice walk.

"Brother!!! Wait for me! It's not fair, I have really short legs."

"If I ruled the walks, they would be fast and no one would tell me not to bark at the big dogs. I can take them, just you wait and see!"

To really get the most out of her special day, Clementine did what she loves most: lots of digging, barking at strangers, playing with her brother, searching for food crumbs, and taking every single one of her toys outside to play with.

Happy birthday to my favorite girl puppy! The most annoying, stubborn and difficult to train dog possibly on Earth, but also one of the sweetest, most fun and loving dogs I have ever met. I love you Clemmie Boo!!!

Running is Like Dancing

Well, running is kind of like pirouettes (turns), I feel. I remember watching the amazing, beautiful dancers who could do 6 pirouettes and make it looks like nothing while I tried over and over to land a triple. I also remember how the guys could start and all of the sudden be able to do so many tricks and turns, but with that super fast growth, they lacked the control that others had learned over the years. I remember one saying “Today I discovered I can do a triple pirouette, but I can’t do a single.” I didn’t really get it. How is that possible?!?! I’ll trade you! I want to turn lots of pretty turns!!! I never did end up being much of a turner, but I did, over time, discover the balance of power necessary to complete one turn vs 2 or on a great day 3.

Today, as I was running, I kept feeling the desire to go faster, push harder, give more power. I only really wanted to be able to run the two middle miles at a 9:10 average pace, and I wanted that to feel comfortable. I ended up with 9:01 and 8:43 and it was not comfortable. I mean, 8:43 is really awesome for me, but that was not the goal. I was thinking about it during my cool down and realized that learning how much power my body needs to keep a certain pace is a learning experience. I am still so new at all of this and I don’t know what 9:10 feels like, or how much effort that requires, or how to keep the same amount of effort consistently.

I actually found the whole realization really exciting because I’m a huge nerd I learned something new about myself as a runner. I made a discovery that went beyond I can run XX miles! In case you didn’t notice, I am all about self discovery, learning about myself and figuring out how to make myself all around a better person, so any time I can make self discovery is exciting to me.

While we’re on the topics of discoveries (Kelly Q would be so proud if she read this post!), I made an even bigger one this morning. Sometimes, life is hard. Okay, I promise that’s not the discovery. But seriously, sometimes things happen in life that actually are the “big things”, and they are things we have no control over, and often seem unfair and never ending. So often in life, it is important to look at the big picture, but sometimes the big picture can be overwhelming. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is look at what you can do right now. Tackle one small individual goal that can make things even a little bit better. Then try to tackle an other.

There are some things going on in life at the moment that are out of my control. I know that in the end everything will be okay, but the moment you get bad news, it can seem completely helpless, as if there is nothing you can do, but I realized that, although there is nothing I can do that will fix the problem, there is  a lot I can do that can change this moment, and that is not only comforting, but makes me feel powerful and not quite so helpless.

Is there a point to this whole story? Well, this afternoon I talked this all through with one of my best friends, and she said some of the nicest things ever, and made me cry in the middle of Starbucks (thanks Lisa!),  but I figured that maybe if this small discovery meant something to me, and helped me feel a little better, it could help someone else too, and that is really the reason I do this whole blog thing in the first place. Because I hope it will help someone else.

And lastly, because this post needs a picture and because I need to help you people discovery something else that is AMAZING, please take my advice, head to the nearest Starbucks and order the Casi Cielo. It is the most delicious brewed coffee you will ever taste in your life and they don’t usually keep it around very long. Seriously. You will thank me later!

Check out that foam!! That is not a latte, and not even technically a misto (a misto is 1/3-1/2 milk). Tall casi cielo with 2 pumps sf caramel, 1 pump toffee nut and topped with steamed soy in a mug. Heaven.

PS: I have been considering adding a “How to Order at Starbucks” page to the blog. Thoughts?

What is one thing you discovered recently? Big, small, or silly–it all counts!