Whopper Cookies

Whopper Cookies

Whopper Cookies

One time I went on vacation with my dad, and he tried to take a box of whoppers through the line at security. It had already been opened, and they wanted to check inside the box. He then had a legit argument with the TSA about how if they wanted to dig inside his candy box, they were going to need to buy him a new one.

Whopper Cookies

Well, I’m sure you’ll be shocked to know, they bought him no new box of candy. I mean, you just don’t argue with the TSA. Listen, I don’t like it any more than you do when they put me in that machine that basically shows them my naked body (does anyone else feel like this is the most awful part of traveling????) butI like to actually be able to get on the plane, so I would rather keep my mouth shut.

Whopper Cookies

Steve likes to make things difficult, and refuse to get him, so they make him get a pat down. I feel like that would be, umm, way worse, but he is stubborn. Anyway, enough about airport security. Cookies are, like, 5 zillion times cooler!

Whopper Cookies

I feel malt is sooooo under rated. I really don’t know why I haven’t put it into every baked good I’ve ever made. The sweet, strong taste pairs perfectly with milk, chocolate, beer, you name it!

Whopper Cookies

These cookies give you a double dose with malted milk powder in the cookie base, and then the dough is stuffed with chocolatey malty Whoppers candy, and of course chocolate chips for an extra dose of chocolate–extra chocolate is always necessary. The Whoppers get a little soft as the cookies bake, but as they cool, they quickly return to their crunchy texture bringing a nice texture to these ultra-soft cookies.

Whopper Cookies

Peanut butter cookies are usually my favorite,. but these babies give my normal peanut butter love a run for it’s money. They stay soft for days too–if you can keep ‘em around that long. ;)

 

Whopper Cookies

yield 3 dozen

  • 2 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup malted milk powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • dash salt
  • 1 cup fat free (or reduced at) cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 5 oz box of Whoppers

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, malt powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixture, beat softened cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in sugars until well combined. Add vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time.
  3. Slowly, stir in dry ingredients until combined, scraping down sides of the bowl when necessary. Gently, fold in chocolate chips and Whoppers.
  4. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375. Line two large baking sheets with Silpat or parchment paper.
  5. Roll chilled dough into 1″ balls and transfer to baking sheet. Bake until edges are golden and cookies are just set, about 10-12 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in a not quite airtight container (if they don’t breathe, they lose their texture, but I wouldn’t leave them next to a vent either) for 5-7 days.

ITBS Recovery Weeks 1-5

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I never intended to write posts recapping my injury recovered, but then again, I never thought I’d be out for 5 weeks going on what feels like forever. These posts will mostly be for me–to see my progress on paper, so that I don’t feel like “OMG the world is over! I’m making ZERO improvements. Woe is meeee.”, but hopefully they will also help someone who might be dealing with the same thing. But remember, I’m not a doctor, so if I say _____ works for me, you should not take that as me giving you medical advice. I mean, I love to give advice and tell people what to do, but I’m not even close to being qualified to do so, unless you count being bossy as a qualification.

The backstory (abbrev version): I developed ITBS (probably) in mid December, and it got like a billion times worse after my durring/after my marathon.

ITBS.jpg

 

What is ITBS? It looks like IBS, but it’s not. I’m not sure which one is less fun, but I’m glad I don’t have both, because that would be confusing. Essentially, my IT band is inflamed, and when I bend/straighten my leg, it rubs up against my knee cap causing a a feeling I would compare to someone stabbing me in the knee, but that’s only a speculation. Here is an article with more info if you’re interested.

 

What’s been happening: I got an xray and an MRI, and everything came back clean. I’ve been taking prescription anti-inflammatories, doing pt, seeing a chiropractor who also does acupuncture and ART (active release therapy), sports massage, yoga, lots of stretching/foam rolling/strengthening.

Progress so far: After the marathon, my pain level was off the charts. Walking, and bending/straightening my leg at all seemed impossible. The limp is now 95% gone, although on bad days, walking is still painful. Things like squats feel fine now,  but lunges don’t. Elliptical and bike still hurt–especially later in the day. If I walk too much, or do too much of anything, after I sit down for a bit, everything kind of tightens up, and bending/straightening becomes really painful again.

This past week:

Monday: Physical therapy. Exercises/stretching/astym/electrical stim.

Tuesday: Dr D. (the chiro/acupuncture/art guy) & yoga. Dr. D did all of those things he does. He also found a really tight spot in my calf that he thinks might be contributing to the problem. He dug fingers and needles into my body, and I grunted. It was cute. Yoga and most strength training are pretty much the only work outs that don’t effect my injury. I’m trying to learn to love yoga. It’s a process. I enjoy the poses, and the part where my muscles get tired and I sweat, but I am not a huge fan of the mental part. Shocking, right? I’m also not a fan of savasanah. All I can do is think of the million other more productive things I could be doing opposed to lying on the floor trying to “relax”. It’s not my style.

Wednesday: Massage. Not the fun relaxing kind. She did some heat/icey thing on my calf where Dr. D had pointed out that things were messed up. I may have yelled out some 4 letter words in the process.

Thursday: PT &  yoga. New harder exercises/stretching/astym at PT. Yoga was yoga.

Friday: Dr. D + 15 min on the elliptical. Dr D did his thing, and I was actually feeling pretty good. I’d had a couple really good days in a row where WALKING DIDN’T HURT. I was so excited. I tested out the elliptical. I had done it as a warm up in PT on Thurs for 10 minutes, and for the first 2 it hadn’t hurt, then it only hurt a little. I was hopeful. This day it hurt the entire time, but in a dull way, not a stabbing way. I was happy.

Saturday: 25 min elliptical + 30 min strength training. My knee didn’t hurt for the first 10 minutes of the elliptical, then was again just a dull pain. I went straight into some strength training, felt great, got super sweaty for the first time in a long time, and was on top of the moon. Then, that afternoon the pain was back, and hurt like it did 2 weeks ago. Total bummer.

Sunday: Rest. I wanted to test out spin class, but my knee still hurt when I woke up, so I took a rest day, and moped about how my progress earlier in the week had only led me to taking 1o steps back.

This week I plan to do less. Dr. D suggested that I may be over treating, and that I keep pushing the irritated area, but never give it time to actually heal. I am also going to try out a more running-specific physical therapist. It’s tough because I’ve been going to the same place for a long time, and had a lot of luck treating my achilles tendons, but I feel like I need a second opinion from someone who actually runs.  I’ll let ya know how it goes!

Caprese Pasta

Caprese Pasta

Caprese Pasta .jpg

 

I find that people have strong opinions on tomatoes. Either you’re ordering them on all your salads and sandwiches, or you absolutely hate them.

Caprese Pasta

 

I used to be a total hater. I always loved salsa, and I liked tomato sauce as long as it wasn’t chunky, and I liked ketchup, although I’ve never been one of those people who goes crazy over ketchup. There are so many awesome condiments out there with so much more flavor! I’ve never understood the people that put ketchup on everything.

Caprese Pasta

 

Like my husband. He puts ketchup on macaroni and cheese. WHAT IS THAT??? I will season the crap out of some meat, and we will sit down to dinner, and he grabs the ketchup bottle. What a jerk.

Caprese Pasta

 

Anyway, I never used to be a tomato fan. My dad would order a caprese salad, and I would just eat the cheese. Not that this was abnormal behavior for me with any dish. All my friends still make fun of me about the way I used to eat. I would order food, eat until I started to get full, then proceed to pick all the cheese out. What can I say? I’ve always loved my cheese. ;)

 

Caprese Pasta

 

Somewhere along my healthy living journey, I turned the page on tomatoes. Now, I eat the whole caprese salad (or pasta), but the best part is still the mozzarella cheese. ;)

Caprese Pasta

 

In this pasta, the cheese gets just warm enough to get a little soft, melty, and gooey. I could have picked it out all night long, and lived on the cheese alone, but it was even better paired with the fresh basil, and juicy tomatoes.

 

Caprese Pasta

 

This pasta takes everything I love about a caprese salad, and translates it to a full, protein packed, delicious dinner. It was so easy–ready in about 20 minutes, and my whole family loved it!

 

Caprese Pasta

yield 8 servings

  • 13 oz box whole grain penne (brown rice, whole wheat, quinoa, whatever you like)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 5 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 chicken breasts, grilled and sliced
  • 8 oz part skim mozzarella, cubes
  • 2 big handfuls baby spinach, stems removed
  • 10 oz cherry tomatoes, halved

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook garlic in 1 tbsp olive oil until fragrant. Add cooked and drained pasta, and toss with remaining oil, vinegar and basil. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add chicken, cheese and spinach, and gently toss until spinach slightly wilts, and cheese softens. Remove from heat and stir in tomatoes. Serve immediately. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Weekend Ramblings

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1. IT’S HERE!! IT’S HERE!! IT’S HEREEEEE!!!!! Academy Awards weekend!! I’m a total movie nerd, and award season is like a 3 month long holiday for me, and this has been such a great year for movies in my opinion. Lincoln is still my favorite film of the year, but Argo was probably second. I loved almost everything I saw this year, and the only film left that I really want to see is Beasts of the Souther Wild. How cute is that little girl???

2. I’m trying out this new thing called Not Eating Chipotle for Dinner Every Night. You see, I easily get out of the habit of the whole meal planning thing, then I get really hungry, insist there is absolutely nothing to eat for dinner in my entire house (if you’ve seen my pantry, you know this is a dirty lie), then convince Steve that we should go to Chipotle. While I love Chipotle, it’s not great on the wallet, and I LIKE cooking. So this week, we planned ahead, and I made 4 new recipes that were all healthy and delicious. This is a double bonus because now I have lots to blog about. As much as I love cookies, all cookies all week long was starting to get a little old…

3. This weekend Ragnar del Sol happened. I moped a little, but I’m mostly just tried to be excited for my girls running. I also avoided social media at all costs because it certainly was not helping my “positive attitude” to read an entire news feed full of people running. Also, on Thursday the fro yo guy told me he was running the Phoenix marathon, and I walked away from him refusing to continue the conversation. I swear, I can be an adult sometimes…!

4.This week, my chai spiced snickerdoodles were featured on THE HUFFINGTON POST??? What??? You guys, I’m still in shock every time I get a comment that someone made my recipe, or an email from someone saying they want to feature me. There is so much amazing work out there, I just feel so honored that people are interested in my creations! This whole blogging journey just keeps getting more amazing! chaispicesnickerdoodle-1

5. Last night we all went out to celebrate Nacho’s Birthday. I started the evening in a totally grumpy mood between my knee being a little jerk, my scones not turning out the way I wanted, and just general grumpiness, but by the end of the night, I was happier than I’ve been in a long time. There’s something to be said about an evening with your husband and best friends. Oh, and beer.

6. I have a super embarrassing confession. I’ve started Tivoing and rewatching the entire series of Gilmore Girls. I don’t know what sparked this interest, and I’m not proud of it, but I can’t stop, won’t stop.

7. Speaking of TV, we’ve started watching Breaking Bad. From the beginning, obviously. It’s actually good, not Gilmore Girls good. I never find out about the good TV shows until it’s too late, and they are super far in, or off the air entirely. Whenever people start talking about current TV shows, I just kinda sit there pretending I’m at all caught up on pop culture. Sorry, I didn’t watch the latest episodes of Girls or Dexter, I was busy watching the Gilmore Girls and Paula Deen. Oh, and can’t forget about the Seinfeld reruns I could watch all day ever day.

8. I’m really excited for Friday night. Nicole and I have devised a genius plan for our Drink & Dish filmings. Instead of starting early in the morning, we’re spending our Friday night recording, because then at the end there are DRINKS and DISHES. Meaning dinner and liquor. Editing is going to be so much more fun.

9. I am currently letting my bananas die so that I can make these. Also, I am pretty obsessed with these brownies.  And I tried to make this on Friday, but I didn’t follow any of the instructions really. It still tasted fantastic.

White Chocolate & Cinnamon Chip Banana Cake

White Chocolate & Cinnamon Chip Banana Cake

I want to tell you about one of my favorite nights ever in life.

White Chocolate & Cinnamon Chip Banana Cake.jpg

I was training for my first half marathon, Steve and I invited Kara, Charlie and Hermano over for dinner to celebrate Long Run Day. It’s a real holiday when you’re training. Trust me.

White Chocolate & Cinnamon Chip Banana Cake.jpg

We went to Whole Foods and each picked out our meat of choice, and I made a sweet potato hash on the side. We ate a delicious dinner paired with lots of dark, sweet beer (my favorite), and then we watched the Muppets Christmas Carol. It was December, and that is pretty much my favorite holiday movie.

White Chocolate & Cinnamon Chip Banana Cake

Around the middle of the movie, we all started to want dessert. I was maybe, kind of, a little…tipsy. I usually at least follow a base recipe for an idea of liquid/flour/leavening agent ratio, but I didn’t measure a single thing. I flew by the seat of my pants, and hoped for the best.

White Chocolate & Cinnamon Chip Banana Cake

Well, Hermano has been obsessed ever since. He calls it his favorite dessert I’ve ever made. Although, like my husband, I feel like he says that a lot. ;) Anyway, he’s been asking me to recreate for the last year, and I kept telling him I didn’t know how.

White Chocolate & Cinnamon Chip Banana Cake

Last weekend, he performed in the southwest regionals concert. He got second chair as a sophomore! He was also asked to play with the choir. I was feeling like a super proud sister, so Steve and I surprised him with a steak from Whole Foods, and I told him I could make him whatever he wanted for dessert. He, again, requested “that one thing….with the banana…” He has a way with words.

White Chocolate & Cinnamon Chip Banana Cake

So again, I decided to wing it. This time I measured, but I just made it up as I went, and hoped for the best. I had no intentions of photographing it, or blogging about it, but after one bite, I knew it was too good not to share. Hermano immediately confirmed that this was the dessert he wanted. I know I changed it up a little, but the idea was similar, and the cream cheese frosting just took it to the next level.

White Chocolate & Cinnamon Chip Banana Cake

Sweet, tender, soft and gooey banana cake filled with white chocolate and cinnamon chips, and topped with rich cream cheese frosting. I don’t know how I ever doubted the success of this dessert! Whenever I make things up as I go, I almost always have a moment where I decide I’ve “ruined it”, or it’s a total flop, but usually it’s just my silly anxieties. Now I know I had absolutely nothing to worry about here!

White Chocolate & Cinnamon Chip Banana Cake

 

White Chocolate & Cinnamon Chip Banana Cake

yield 16 servings

  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • dash salt
  • 2 very ripe large medium bananas
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp butter extract (optional)
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon chips

Cream cheese frosting:

  • 4 oz reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp light whipped butter
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8×8 pan with foil and spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and extracts. Mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in white chocolate and cinnamon chips.
  3. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack.
  4. Meanwhile in a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Slowly, 1/4 cup at a time, beat in powdered sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl when necessary. Beat in vanilla.
  5. Remove completely cooled cake from baking dish and top with cream cheese frosting. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Taco Mac & Cheese {like DIY Hamburger Helper}

Taco Mac & Cheese

Taco Mac & Cheese

Have we ever talked about how I went from a fast food diet to Ari’s Menu? I could hardly boil water. My dad can’t even make spaghetti or boxes of Kraft mac & cheese. I grew up constantly eating out, and spent the first few years of college making grilled cheese sandwiches, heating up ramen noodles, and in the Jack in the Box drive through.

Taco Mac & Cheese

When I moved home from Idaho, I had sparked an interest in cooking. I graduated to Hamburger Helper. It’s funny now, but I loved the stuff. I would swap out my ground turkey, and for me, that was “healthy cooking”. I guess I’ve come a long way in the last few years. :) Just ask my mother in law about the time I tried to make gravy….

Taco Mac & Cheese

When the thought occurred to make taco mac & cheese, I didn’t realize that it was so similar to the Hamburger Helper I started out on, but it is similar–just a whole lot better. Real foods, tons of lean protein, and whole grains. Plus, it’s so simple that there is really no reason to cook from a box ever again!

Taco Mac & Cheese

I made this for Steve and Jason to rave reviews. I’m pretty sure Jason ate 3 bowls. Then I gave Steve’s mom the leftovers when she came over for lunch, and she’s been asking when I’m going to post the recipe ever since. :)

Taco Mac & Cheese

All of the flavors of macaroni and cheese mixed with bold spicy taco seasonings topped with creamy avocado for the perfect final touch. I loved this dinner so much I made it again not even a week later! That is unheard of for me.

Taco Mac & Cheese

My favorite thing about this dish is it really represents everything I feel like this blog stands for–simple comfort food made healthy. That’s the whole reason I started cooking–I didn’t want to give up foods like tacos and mac & cheese. :)

 

Taco Mac & Cheese

yield 6-8 servings

  • 1-2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 bell red, yellow, or orange bell peppers
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey or beef (I used 99% ground turkey breast)
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 oz whole grain macaroni (whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa….whatever works for you)
  • 4 oz reduced fat cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tbsp taco seasoning
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • couple dashes hot sauce
  • 2/3 cup shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese
  • sliced avocado and chopped cilantro for serving

Directions:

  1. In a large pan over medium heat, saute onion, bell peppers, and garlic until tender, about 10 minutes. Add turkey and season with salt and pepper (about a pinch of each). Cook until turkey is browned, then remove from heat.
  2. In a medium pot, cook macaroni according to package instructions.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot, whisk together cream cheese and almond milk over medium-low heat until combined. Whisk in greek yogurt, taco seasoning, lime juice, and hot sauce. Stir in cheddar cheese until melted and combined.
  4. Stir turkey and veggies into sauce, then stir in cooked and drained pasta.
  5. Top with sliced avocado and fresh chopped cilantro.

Take 5 Cookies {HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO LISA!!!!!}

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Take 5 Cookies.jpg

Today is a very special day!! It’s my amazing, wonderful friend Lisa’s birthday! I’ve known Lisa since my sophomore year of college, which doesn’t seem like that long ago, but when I do the math, I realize that it was almost 9 years ago. Yikes. I’m old. But it’s okay because Lisa is older.

Take 5 Cookies

I will never forget when I went away to college (I stayed local at community college before transferring to Idaho), I had a hard time being away from friends and family on my birthday, and Lisa always sent me the BEST care packages! This year, I wanted to make her feel extra special, so I sent her a care package that *hopefully* will arrive today with these cookies, and a flashcard timeline of our friendship. Complete with stick figure humans and dogs.

Take 5 Cookies

I may or may not have cried for about half of the time it took to put this together. I also cry picking out cards for all occasions. What can I say? We all know I’m an emotional human. Anyway, Lisa’s favorite candy bar is a Take 5. I’d never had one when I met her, but she introduced me, and I was instantly hooked. I haven’t had one in years and years (except for a couple pieces in the cookies I saved for “taste testing”), but I remember loving the combination of creamy chocolate, sweet caramel, peanuts, peanut butter and salty pretzels. It is everything amazing in the world of candy all mixed into one bar!

Take 5 Cookies

I knew I wanted a peanut butter cookie base to partner with the Take 5 candy bars, so I went with my favorite peanut butter cookie base, and used White Chocolate Wonderful because Lisa loves it as much as I do. Then, I added white chocolate chips because I knew I wanted a little extra add in.

Take 5 Cookies

The result? They were everything I hoped they would be, and the perfect way to send lots of love to one of my favorite people in my life.

Take 5 Cookies

 

Take 5 Cookies

yield 1 1/2 dozen

  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 oz light cream cheese
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 full size Take 5 candy bars, chopped
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 large cookie sheets with silpat or parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl (I used my stand mixer), beat together cream cheese, peanut butter, and sugars until combined. Beat in egg, then vanilla. Gently, fold in chopped Take 5 bars and white chocolate chips. I ended up just using my hands to get everything combined.
  4. Roll dough into balls just over 1″ and transfer to prepared baking sheet. Bake until edges are golden and cookies are just set, about 12-15 minutes. Do not over bake.
  5. Let stand for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store completely cooled cookies in a tupperware with the lid sitting on top, but not sealed–these will get mushy if they are in a completely airtight container–for up to one week.

 

Cinnamon Raisin Sunflower Seed Butter

Cinnamon Raisin Sunflower Seed Butter #vegan #glutenfree

Cinnamon Raisin Sunflower Seed Butter #vegan #glutenfree.jpg

 

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, there are a few things you’ll know about me.

Cinnamon Raisin Sunflower Seed Butter #vegan #glutenfree.jpg

 

1. I am addicted to nut/seed butters. Peanut, almond, pistachio, macadamia, pecan, sunflower….you name it, I love it. and 2. I am obsessed with all flavors of PB&Co, but my two favorites are white chocolate wonderful and cinnamon raisin swirl.

Cinnamon Raisin Sunflower Seed Butter #vegan #glutenfree

 

It’s funny, sometimes I have ideas floating around in my head for months before I get around to making them, and sometimes I just go to the kitchen to get a glass of water, and before I know it, I’m whipping up some new recipe that I had no plans on making. We were out of most of our nut butters, so I stuck some sunflower seeds in the food processor to make more, and before I knew it, this came out!

Cinnamon Raisin Sunflower Seed Butter #vegan #glutenfree

 

Okay, maybe not before I knew it. I must confess that sunflower seeds took longer to process, and form a nut butter than anything I’ve tried before. BUT with patience (and overheating my food processor), I finally got the result I was looking for! Thick, creamy, slightly sweet, with the bold flavor of cinnamon, and sweet, soft raisins in the mix. It was well worth the wait.

Cinnamon Raisin Sunflower Seed Butter #vegan #glutenfree

 

I’ve learned a little bit of patience since I first started making my own nut butters. I used to quickly get frustrated that it wasn’t coming together quickly enough, and add oil to help it along. Well, I’ve learned that *most* of the time, it really isn’t necessary. Most of the time, if you are patient, it will come together on it’s own, but patience isn’t really my forte, so I recommend spending the time while you wait reading a book, or blogging, or making dinner to keep yourself occupies. ;)

Cinnamon Raisin Sunflower Seed Butter #vegan #glutenfree

 

In the end, it’s 100% worth the wait. Pinky promise.

 

Cinnamon Raisin Sunflower Seed Butter

  • 8oz roasted sunflower seeds (I used salted, if you don’t, add a pinch of salt)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1-2 tbsp brown sugar (depending on how sweet you like it. I used 1 1/2, but I love sugar, and could have easily added more…)
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Directions:

  1. Place sunflower seeds in your food processor. Blend for 3-4 minutes at a time (less if your food processor starts to sound like it needs a break–give it one!), scraping down the sides of the bowl in between. Eventually, sunflower seeds will form a paste-like consistency, then finally a nut butter consistency. This took me about 30 minutes.
  2. When seeds have reached your desired texture, add cinnamon and brown sugar to food processor, and blend to combine. Start with 1 tbsp brown sugar, and add the rest at your discretion.
  3. Remove sunflower seed butter from food processor and fold in raisins. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. I do not refrigerate mine, but you may if you like.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Bites

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Bites #vegan #glutenfree

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Bites #vegan #glutenfree

Today I want to tell you about how embarrassing my busband is.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Bites #vegan #glutenfree

Yesterday he got into an argument with a lady at the store. Apparently, she gave him a dirty look, and he thought this was a good reason to cause a scene and argue with her right in the middle of the grocery store. Clearly, he’s really mature. ;)

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Bites #vegan #glutenfree

Luckily, I wasn’t with him. I only felt embarrassed hearing the story. You see, he is totally the type to just say whatever is on his mind, which is, like, the opposite of me. I am the type that when I say the wrong thing, I still think about it, and analyze it months later.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Bites #vegan #glutenfree

I suppose I should be less embarrassed, and more grateful that I have a husband who never minds running out to the store for whatever crazy ingredients I need at the moment. You see, I am also the type of person who forgets everything. I’m really type A about some things, but not normal things. I make lists, but I don’t follow them. I hate mess, but I’m messy. Sometimes, I don’t even understand myself!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Bites #vegan #glutenfree

You know what else I don’t understand? Dates. How do they make things so sweet, and delicious when you don’t add any sugar??? And WHY HAVE I NOT BEEN DOING THIS FOREVER AND EVER????? The thing is, my sweet tooth has gotten totally out of control, and I’m not running right now to at least balance out all the sugar I want to eat ALL THE TIME, so something needs to give. My friend Heidi is always making all sorts of delicious treats that are only sweetened by dates, then the other day Sally made some that looked amazing too.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Bites #vegan #glutenfree

Then, I went to Whole Foods, and they had samples of something pretty similar, and it literally tasted JUST LIKE COOKIE DOUGH. I looked at the ingredients, took it as a sign, and went right home to my food processor.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Bites #vegan #glutenfree

You guys, THEY TASTE JUST LIKE COOKIE DOUGH!!! Not like the “oh these taste pretty good for healthy food” or in the way a Larabar says it tastes like cookie dough, but really just tastes like a delicious snack; no–these taste like legit cookie dough, and the 8 that came out of my batch lasted about a day. Soft, chewy, cinnamony goodness that is totally good for you. I’m in so much love. I made these Wednesday, and it took me all of 36 hours to share them with you!

 

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Bites

yield 8

  • 3/4 cups chopped pitted dates
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp butter extract
  • 1 tbsp almond butter (or peanut butter, or sunflower butter, or whatever kind you like)
  • 1 tbsp chopped roasted almonds (or any nut of choice)
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp rolled oats (use gluten-free if that’s important to you)
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • finely shredded reduced fat unsweetened coconut for rolling (optional, but recommended)

Directions:

  1. Blend dates and extracts in your food processor until they form a sticky ball, about 4-5 minutes. Add almond butter, and continue to process until combined. Add almonds, salt, cinnamon and oats, and process for 1-2 more minutes, until everything is sticking together.
  2. Remove dough from food processor. Use you hands to fold in raisins.
  3. Roll dough into 1″ balls. If desired, roll in coconut. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

 

After Marathon Thoughts

Way after. Like, almost a month after.

Warning: No chocolate and sprinkles in this post. If you’re here for the food, we’ll be back with that tomorrow. I debated posting this a lot because, well, it’s not my cheeriest post, but it’s what’s on my mind, and what I wanted to share.

There’s been quite a bit on my mind since running my first marathon, but I’ve avoided sharing it because, well, honestly I just didn’t like most of what I was thinking. It included a lot of feeling like I didn’t actually do anything, not feeling proud of myself, and just overall negativity. That, and you know, still having to take elevators and escalators because I can only do the stairs one at a time–you know like stepping up ONLY with my right leg. It takes a really.long.time.

To be honest, I don’t know what the hell my problem is, and if anyone told me they were thinking these same things, I would slap them across the face. However, rather than feel guilty, and beat myself up for the way I feel, I have decided to just be honest, acknowledge it, and hope that my logical brain eventually takes over.

It’s been a tough 3 weeks. I have realized how much the ability to move my body does for my emotional well being. Yes, I’m frustrated that I can’t run. Running has changed me–the way I view food, and the way I view my body. It has given me freedom, and through running I have regained my love for food. Obviously. ;) But beyond that, I miss just being able to move. I’m so grateful I’m not limping 100% of the time anymore, but I still can’t get through my normal daily activities, and that’s not even including exercise. It makes me feel frustrated, and weak, and ashamed.

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks being every kind of dramatic imaginable. I’ve gotten angry at every person in my life to whom I can assign any sort of “blame”, and been just an all around joy to be around, let me tell you. The silver lining is I am not giving up. I am working so freaking hard to get over this dumb injury. It’s only ITBS. I know you’d think from the way I’m talking that my leg was cut off or something, but it’s just some stupid thing that doesn’t even sound like a big deal, but makes me want to cry whenever I bend/straighten my leg. I wish it had a cooler name that made me sound tough. Anyway, I am pretty sure I am spending more time on “healing” than I did actually training for the marathon. It’s like a full time job. A job I wouldn’t mind if it could come with the benefit of, you know, not being in pain.

To add insult to injury (literally), I have a team of 11 ladies that I promised to run through the night with next weekend, which is clearly not happening. I held out hope for the first 3 weeks, but being that I still can’t walk a mile without a lot of pain, I certainly can’t run, well, any miles. I’m not gonna lie, it sucks, and I am really really really sad. I feel like I’ve let my whole team down.

I’m not the type to not do what I’ve set out to, which is why I had such a hard time when NYCM was canceled, and why I then ran a marathon on a bum knee, only to make it worse. However, I just know I physically can’t do it, and even if did think I could get through it, I can’t go through 4 extra months of this because I was stubborn. I care about my body too much, and I need it to get back to doing all the things I ask of it.

The other day Steve asked me “Would you have traded Ragnar for the marathon?” I didn’t even have to think about it. Of course not. And I wouldn’t trade a healthy knee right now for it either. I know I made the right choice for me, and I’m still glad I did it. I hope once I’m up and running (literally) again, I will be able to kick the blues I’ve been feeling, and start to feel some marathoner pride and accomplishment. I know I deserve it, and I know it’s in there somewhere.

pfchangs2013-146

LOOK!!! Once upon a time I could run, and I didn’t spend all my time at PT, or sitting and wallowing. I CAN BE FLOWERS AND SUNSHINE!!!!

I’m not really sure what the purpose of this post is, other than I just needed to get it out. In between cookies, and loads of sugar, I sometimes need a place for honesty and what I’m feeling. So if you stuck around even though there was no dessert today, thanks for “listening” and caring about what I have to say. I really appreciate it. :)

Oh, and if you have words of wisdom for how to feel less lame until I can run again, PLEASE bestow them upon me.

Pretzel M&M Peanut Butter Cookies

Pretzel M&M Peanut Butter Cookies

Pretzel M&M Peanut Butter Cookies

Remember my pretzel m&m obsession? It actually started over the summer. You see, I’d been wanting to try them ever since I heard they were a real thing. But I figured trying, and inevitably falling in love with a new type of candy was probably a horrible decision. Then my friend Kara had some in her freezer (yes, they are delicious frozen), and I caved.

Pretzel M&M Peanut Butter Cookies

She lurred me in by telling me they had less calories than other varieties. That pretzel takes up all of this room, and has less calories than chocolate. Well, okay then…that makes it a healthy candy, right?

Pretzel M&M Peanut Butter Cookies

Ever since, I can’t get them out of my mind. Sweet chocolate, salty pretzel with a candy crunch? What’s not to love?? Well, obviously the only way to make them better is to put them into a cookie. A peanut butter cookie to be exact.

Pretzel M&M Peanut Butter Cookies

The first time I made these was for book club and although I liked them enough to bring them, they weren’t perfect yet. I knew I didn’t want to share them with you guys until I was 100% in love with them, so I tried again, and this time I added chocolate chips, took out a little flour, and didn’t chill the dough. I think the rice krispies soaked up too much liquid when I chilled it the first go around, and they lost their crunch.

Pretzel M&M Peanut Butter Cookies

I am SO glad I gave them a second try! They ended up with the most perfect cookie texture–you know, crunchy on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside. The extra chocolate worked like a charm, and the cereal was crunchy, and added that little bit of extra texture I was craving. They were a huge hit, and Steve even said he had a new favorite cookie! :)

 

Pretzel M&M Peanut Butter Cookies

yield 1 1/2 dozen

  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 oz light cream cheese
  • 1 cup peanut butter (I used White Chocolate Wonderful)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup crispy brown rice cereal (or just regular rice krispies if you have them on hand)
  • 1 cup pretzel m&ms
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 large cookie sheets with silpat or parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl (I used my stand mixer), beat together cream cheese, peanut butter, and sugars until combined. Beat in egg and vanilla followed by flour mixture. Gently, fold in rice cereal, m&ms and chocolate chips. I ended up just using my hands to get everything combined.
  4. Roll dough into balls just over 1″ and transfer to prepared baking sheet. Bake until edges are golden and cookies are just set, about 12-15 minutes. Do not over bake.
  5. Let stand for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store completely cooled cookies in a tupperware with the lid sitting on top, but not sealed–these will get mushy if they are in a completely airtight container–for up to one week.

Cookie Butter Cookie Dough Bars

Cookie Butter Cookie Dough Bars #vegan

Cookie Butter Cookie Dough Bars #vegan

You know those people who go through life only speaking the bare minimum amount of word required to get by in social situations?

Cookie Butter Cookie Dough Bars #vegan

Yeah, that’s not me. I’m that person who, even as an adult, can’t get through situations where you’re supposed to be quiet. Work meetings? Don’t put me next to anyone I find remotely interesting. Library? I get the evil eye from everyone who actually went there for some peace and quiet. I even talk the entire time through massages.

Cookie Butter Cookie Dough Bars #vegan

I think the only time I ever stop talking is during a run when I get reallllly tired, and then it doesn’t matter because I’m usually with the only girl I know who loves to talk more than I do. ;)

Cookie Butter Cookie Dough Bars #vegan

So when I name a recipe, I always want to tell you every single thing about it. The name doesn’t do justice for me unless it accurately describes every detail of the food. In fact, if I were going to name these what I wanted to, they would be called Double Salted Chocolate Covered Cookie Butter Cookie Dough Tops with Graham Cracker Crust. I had to put it in bold so that you could actually see the beginning and end. It’s only slightly excessive.

cookiebutterbars-670Cookie Butter Cookie Dough Bars #vegan

The problem is, it is all of those details that make these bars so fantastic. It took me a few tries to actually figure them out. The first time, I didn’t put two layers of chocolate–I only put chocolate on the top–and the dough didn’t stick to the crust, and they ended up a sticky mess.

Cookie Butter Cookie Dough Bars #vegan

Then I tried to cut them before freezing them–well that resulted in cookie dough oozing out. It wasn’t pretty, but they still tasted great. However, it was when I finally completely froze them before cutting that they finally worked for me. You can see that cutting the frozen chocolate causes the tops to crack, but I didn’t mind it. If you do, you could always cute them when the chocolate is first put on, and is still melty, then freeze.

Cookie Butter Cookie Dough Bars #vegan

For the graham cracker crust, you must use old fashioned graham crackers. Please don’t use the regular store bought one. The crust is probably my favorite part, and it is due to that spicy cinnamon and molasses taste that the old fashioned graham crackers bring. This crumbly crust is topped with a layer of melted chocolate, then sprinkled with sea salt, followed by soft, gooey, eggless cookie butter cookie dough, and topped with more chocolate and an other layer of sea salt. If you don’t love sweet and salty as much as I do (ummm WHY NOT?). you could leave out the salt on the bottom layer, or (gasp) all of the salt, but I wouldn’t do that. With all the sweetness of the graham crackers, chocolate, and cookie butter, the salt puts everything into perfect balance.

Cookie Butter Cookie Dough Bars #vegan

 

Using a spring form pan makes them about a million times easier to get out, but it does make cutting them….interesting. I did most of the outside pieces in triangles, but did the middle in squares and rectangles. Honestly, it doesn’t matter how you slice ‘em–they are a totally out-of-this-world decadent treat that is perfect for any occasion. I made them after Steve’s first century and again for after my marathon.

 

Cookie Butter Cookie Dough Bars

  • 8 oz old fashioned graham crackers
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup apple butter
  • 1 cup cookie butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 12 oz bag dark chocolate chips, melted and divided
  • coarse sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line the bottom of a 9-10″ springform pan with parchment paper. Spray edges and parchment paper well with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. Pule graham crackers in a food processor until you have fine crumbs. With the food processor on, stream in the coconut oil and continue to run until combined, about 1 minute.
  3. Press graham cracker crust into the bottom of your spring form pan making  smooth, even layer. Bake until lightly browned and set, about 15 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool slightly.
  4. Spread half the melted chocolate over cooked crust. Sprinkle with sea salt. Let set in the refrigerator.
  5. Meanwhile, beat together apple butter, cookie butter, sugars and molasses until well combined. Beat in vanilla and almond milk. Slowly beat in flour and continue mixing until fully combined.
  6. Top cooled chocolate with cookie dough. Use a sprayed piece of parchment paper to press cookie dough into a smooth even layer.
  7. Top with remaining melting chocolate. Use a pastry brush or spatula to spread evenly. Sprinkle with more sea salt.
  8. Either slice immediately, then freeze, or freeze completely for about 3 hours, then slice and serve. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month (yes, I was eating these for a WHOLE MONTH!).