Red White & Blue Cookies

It’s almost the 4th of July!!!

One of my very favorite things in the world is fireworks. I missed them for years when I was working at camp, and I will never forget the summer I stayed in Idaho, going to see fireworks was a huge deal for me! You know me…I like bright, pretty colors. They make me happy. I’m 5 years old on the inside, so it doesn’t take a whole lot to impress me.

Last year, I stayed in Phoenix for the summer, and we had a big BBQ around the 4th, and that’s when I got the idea for these cookies. In fact, I posted them waaaayyy back when I first started blogging, but the pictures were pretty bad, and I loved them so sooooo much, that I had to make them again!

In fact, a year ago, they were Steve’s very favorite dessert I’d ever made. Now, I think there may be a new favorite, but these cookies are still pretty high up on the list. We took them to the bike shop, and I left with a fundraising order! Sweet!

I realllllly love these cookies. I love the combination of flavors and the soft, gooey texture, but I especially love the way the blueberries burst when you take a bit. It’s like the most amazingly fresh blueberry muffin, but a cookie.

Also, they’re pretty. That pretty much never happens with my food. In fact, the other day Steve told me that my brownies were photogenic, and it was, like, the best compliment ever. Usually my food looks like a kindergartner put it together. Which is almost true. Maturity wise.

And now I want to eat a dozen. And not share. Good thing we don’t have a cookie sheet up here yet…


Red White & Blue Cookies

yield approx 3 dozen

  • 1 cup brandy (to soak the berries in, then saving 2 tsp for later)
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 2/3 cup small blueberries
  • 1/2 cup honey apple butter
  • 1/2 cup non fat plain greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbs liquid egg whites (or other egg substitute, or 3 egg whites)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • dash salt
  • 2 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup all natural white chocolate chips
  1. Put the blueberries in a wide and shallow bowl, pour in a bit of brandy. Enough so they’re surrounded by it, but not drowning. Cover and place in the fridge for at least one hour. Afterwards, place a colander over a bowl and pour the berries and brandy through, putting the cranberries and the brandy they soaked in aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, beat apple butter, yogurt, and sugars until combined. Add liquid egg whites, and 2 tsp berry soaked brandy. Beat well, scraping sides of the bowl as necessary.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt, then slowly add to wet mixture, beating until just incorporated. Fold in the brandy soaked blueberries, dried cranberries, and white chocolate chips. Let chill for 15 minutes in the fridge.
  4. Spray baking sheet with non stick spray or parchment paper. Use a small-medium sized cookie scoop to transfer dough onto the baking sheet. Bake at 375°F for 8-10 minutes until just set, and the edged are slightly golden. Let cool for a minute, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

My Trip To Ashland

What an amazing vacation! I don’t remember the last time I went away, and felt so relaxed–it was perfect, and exactly what I needed before I begin my summer work. Ashland was absolutely gorgeous.

Mandie showed me around the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

LOOK!!! Mandie’s name is on the sign!!! She’s basically famous.

I drank this awesome delicious blackberry beer. Aaaaaahhhmazing,

We went to a beautiful winery at the Applegate.

The second day, we met up with our friend Brittany who is also working up there, and took an other walk through Lithia Park. I can’t get over how amazing it is. If I lived here, I would be at the park every single day.

And I finally got to try the famous clover coffee from Starbucks.

The truth? It tasted the same as regular iced coffee to me. Maybe I need a more refined coffee palet ;)

The trip was absolutely perfect in every way, and seriously has me wanting to move to the Northwest! Now I’m busy busy up in Portland, but I have 2 exciting announcements!!

YESTERDAY I RAN!!!!! It only hurt a tiny bit, and for the last mile and a half, I didn’t stop to walk at all! I’m on my way back to training, and I had a serious runners high going!

My Vanilla Bean Cookie Butter Cup Cupcakes are featured on the RecipeNewZ facebook page! RecipeNewZ is a newer food photography site that’s really great, so you should go check them out and show them some love, since they have been so great to me.

 

 

 

Jason’s 31st Birthday

So Jason is officially 31, which, if my memory serves me correctly, means we’ve been friends for about 11 years. It’s been quite a decade, and I have had the pleasure of watching one of my favorite people on earth grow up, and become this truly incredible version of himself. I love that about life long friendships–seeing how people change, and grow, and who they become along the way. I can’t wait to see how we all morph over the next decade!

Anyway, I wanted to make sure to celebrate Jason’s birthday before I left for the summer, so Saturday night we headed to O.H.S.O. Brewery. I read about this place on Marisa’s blog, and it looked like the perfect place for the occasion. Great looking menu, and enormous list of beers on tap, including some of my personal favorites.

“It’s my birthday!” Jason is going to be so happy I posted this picture.

Next to Jason is his friend Charles. Charles *hates* having his picture taken. He tried to hide from the camera several times, but he was right next to the birthday boy, so he’s in more shots than he knows ;)

Hermano is creepily trying to get into that shot in the background, hah.

Look Hermano, you get your OWN picture! ;)

While we waited for our food, we had some drinks. I had a half and half pint of coffee porter and sonoran white chocolate ale. Ummm, delicious. I’m a great beer mixer. I couldn’t wait for Jason to open his presents, so he started right after we ordered.

We got him the awesome Minnie Mouse bag. Hi Charles! ;)

Okay, so last week Jason was at my house, and his birthday present had come in the mail already, and Steve and I didn’t realize it was sitting out on the counter, so Jason picks it up and asks “Whose is this?” Crap. I totally froze, and blew the surprise, so he wasn’t exactly shocked when he opened it.

A GARMIN!!! What’s funny is Tom got him a one year gym membership. We didn’t consult until after we bought our respective gifts. I suggested to Bethany to make the whole thing really offensive and buy him a session of liposuction. Hah. But seriously, Jason has been doing awesome with his running, and I think he will get a ton of use out of this baby, especially since the day of his birthday celebration I pretty much forced him to sign up for a half marathon. Yes, I am a great friend. If you would like a super obnoxious friend that forces you to work out against your will, I am now accepting applications.

We also got him something he will probably enjoy even more…

It’s a People of Walmart book. Jason hates Walmart, and he always talks about how trashy it is, so I knew he’d get a kick out of this book. Next, he opened Bethany’s present.

Clearly, it was a hit.

Great work, Bethy. Not only did you buy the best gift, and fit the gift theme, you also fit the wrapping theme. The hot pink is perfect.

SHAKE WEIGHT!!!!!

Pump those biceps. It’s also the female shake weight. Gotta start somewhere.

We also had a pretty hilarious talk about shake weight injuries. Apparently, that thing can be dangerous! Shake with caution. Steve and I registered for one of those when we got married, but I am very sad to report that no one got us one.

Shortly after presents, our food arrived, and everything was so so soooo delicious. I didn’t take pictures of any of it because I was too busy inhaling my veggie burger. Yummmmm. Then we had birthday brownies for dessert.

Recipe coming soon. These were ridiculous.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JASY!!!!
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Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

My mom loves chocolate. She used to tell me that a dessert without chocolate was a total waste.

Most of my life, I was more of a vanilla person. I liked chocolate in things, but I never liked chocolate based desserts–I always thought they were too overwhelming. In fact, at one point in my life, I swore off chocolate thinking it would help with my weight loss. It didn’t. Turns out when you replace your mocha with a caramel macchiato, and make your chocolate chip cookies with butterscotch chips, it actually makes no difference at all. Funny how that works.

When I did the awful carb diets and swore off sweets for entirely too long (if you can imagine me eating no dessert–it’s a scary thought), my tastes entirely changed. Suddenly, the richer, deeper, and more intense the flavor was, the more I loved it! Dark chocolate became more appealing than my once favorite white, and I started craving brownies instead of snickerdoodle cookies.

These days, it depends on my mood, and if you offered me a chocolate and a vanilla cupcake, I would probably want a vanilla one with chocolate frosting. Or a chocolate one with vanilla frosting. But my mother–she will choose all chocolate. Well, to be honest, it probably doesn’t matter what kind of cupcake it is, because all she really wants is the frosting ;)

Frosting is an other thing I used to not like. But I think that’s because I was eating store bought frosting, and that’s gross. In fact, I find most buttercream kind of disgusting. So sickeningly sweet that it makes your mouth feel funny. I look at the amount of sugar in most frosting recipes, and usually end up taking almost a cup of it away! Now don’t get me wrong, this frosting has plenty of sugar, but it isn’t overwhelming. You can taste the cream cheese, and the chocolate, and not just get a mouthful of sugar. Cream cheese and whipped cream frostings are something I can get behind. You can keep your buttercream and fondant.

These were my mom’s birthday cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes made with coffee to enhance the chocolate flavor, filled with white chocolate, and topped with my very favorite chocolate cream cheese frosting. Rich chocolatey flavor, without feeling heavy. That is my kind of cupcake. Especially delicious with a glass of almond milk. Mmmmm.

 

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes
yield 1 dozen

Cupcakes inspired by Brown Eyed Baker

  • 1 1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup dutch process cocoa powder (or Hershey’s special dark)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • dash salt
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • 1/2 cup all natural white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 batch Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners, and spray lightly with nonstick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together applesauce, sugar, and egg substitute until well combined. In a measuring cup, combine the milk, coffee, and vanilla. Slowly add the flour mixture, alternating with the coffee mixture, ending with the flour mixture. Fold in white chocolate chips.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the 12 liners. Baking for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  5. Cool cupcakes completely on wire racks. Meanwhile, prepare frosting. When cupcakes are completely cooled, frost and enjoy.

 

Work It Out 6/11-6/17

Pedal, pedal, pedal. As I’ve mentioned probably 700 times, I still can’t run. I’m also a little leery of lifting, or doing pretty much anything that involved core muscles at all. Biking, however, feels great, so I just stuck with what I knew was working this week to try to get back to my normal level of fitness. Here’s how I worked it out last week.

Monday: Off. I tried to jump immediately back into my life last Sunday, and I ended the night feeling sick, exhausted, and even emotionally spent, so I listened to my body, and took a step back.

Tuesday: 10.73 mile bike ride, 14 mph pace. YES!!!! This was the first time since surgery that I actually was able to push a little bit, and felt like I got closer to a real workout. It felt AMAZING, and I knew things were on the up swing.

Wednesday: 20 mile bike ride, 14.7 mph pace. Steve wanted to do 20 miles in less than 90 minutes. We finished in 1:22. Felt awesome, happy, and even got a little bit of biking high. Sweeeeet!

Thursday: Off. Smart, or lazy? You decide. I planned to go to spin, but I didn’t. At the time I thought it was laziness, but looking back, I really think it was for the best.

Friday: 28 mile bike ride, easy pace (12.4 mph). Nicole and I revisited our Friday cross train and breakfast/coffee tradition. We chatted the whole time, and I am so glad we were able to go, because now I have to go almost 2 months without my BBFF, and I’m so sad! I miss you already, Niole, and I LOVED our ride on Friday!

Saturday: Off. I had to bake birthday brownies. Also, I thought I would be climbing up a bunch of stairs at the water park all day. That plan was squashed when I felt pain on the kiddie slide. That’s ok. I would have loved to get a short workout in that morning, but sometimes there just isn’t time, and it’s not worth beating yourself up over.

Sunday: SPIN!!! I would love to say that class was perfect, and I enjoyed every minute, and it felt just like normal, but that’s not the case. Everything in the sitting position was great, but all the bounciness and jolting of the standing position hurt, and I found myself so frustrated that I couldn’t do everything we were instructed. I understand that I did the best I can, and that is all I can ask of my body, but I just have trouble with that being enough for me. I wanted to leave about 15 minutes in, but I made myself get out of my head, and enjoy the work out, and eventually, I did! We even did a 1 mile “race”, and I came in second! The first “race” was in the standing position, and that’s when I got so upset at the beginning (competitive much?), so when the sitting one came, I kicked my ass into gear, and was just a split second behind the guy that finished first (he also “won” the first time, but admitted to cheating, so I’m just going to pretend he cheated the second time too, and that I am the winner ;) ).

 

Other people’s work out news:

  • Stacey officially starts marathon training today too! Show her some love!
  • My best friend Jason just registered for his first half marathon!! He will be running AFC with me in August! I’m ridiculously proud of him!!

How did you work it out last week? Any exciting fitness goals happening in your life at the moment?? Tell me exciting things!!