Eddie’s Birthday

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Last night, Steve and I went out to PF Changs with our favorite Starbucks friends to celebrate out friend Eddie’s birthday. There were only 8 of us there, but it ended up being the perfect sized group and the three people I didn’t know very well I liked a lot. Steve made Eddie pose for photo testing because he’s super photogenic

Charlie and Mona wanted to pose too!

Mona’s face is priceless. I love that girl!

When I opened the menu I started to stress out a little bit and proceeded to act like a total freak by looking up all the nutritional info on my phone. Yes, I’m crazy and I admit this. I’m working on it. The more I looked at the info and realized that every dish contained 2-5 servings, I started to freak out calmly figure out how to make a smart decision on how to proceed. I ended up ordering what I wanted and asking them to pack half of it in a to go box, so now I have a delicious lunch to look forward to today also. There is always a solution when it comes to making smart food choices, it is just so easy to get overwhelmed and either not enjoy yourself at all, or make a less than fabulous choice.

Dinner was good, but not amazing. I used to love PF Changs, but honestly I am just kind of over chains for the most part. If I’m going to go out to eat, I want it to be somewhere unique where I can try something different, and if it is Asian food, I really just want it to be sushi. I have no interest in the rest other than what I could more healthily and tastily make myself at home (stir fry, pad Thai, etc).

But the company was great. Steve became besties with Luke, a new-ish (at least to me) barista as they laughed about nerdy boy internet things that I don’t understand. Kara and I planned the next two weeks of our training (which hopefully will include a SLUMBER PARTY!!!!!)

And we all had a great time. Oh yeah, and there was some chopstick funniness in there as well…

This is Tori. I didn’t really know her before last night, but she is funny and fabulous!

Aaaannnd my Chocolate Peanut Butter Rice Krispy Treats were a hit! TAAAAADDDDAAA!!!!

When we got outside, Steve wanted us to pose with the horse statue. Of course it took so much convincing for my to climb things and pose ridiculously in public. I normally have so much more class. ;)

I’m glad I’m not the only ridiculous one!

Then of course the night wouldn’t be complete without a moomoo

Still not 100% sure how or why this happened…

Such a fun night! Happy birthday Eddie!!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Rice Krispy Treats

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Tonight is an other Starbucks birthday! In about an hour, Steve and I will be heading out to PF Chang’s to celebrate our friend Eddie’s birthday. In case you missed Kara’s and Bekki’s birthday posts, I am the resident birthday treat maker and Steve is the resident photographer amongst this group :) Eddie asked for peanut butter chocolate rice krispy treats, and although I was less than excited (these are so easy!), I’m a good listener :) And it ended up being nice because they were fast and I ended up really liking them. Plus they are one of the least unhealthy desserts anyway, so I didn’t have to make too many adjustments.

While I started “baking”, Steve played with his fancy new camera lens and insisted on taking pictures of me. He caught me with only one chin–that’s all it takes to make me happy in a picture :)

Maybe next time, he should let me shut the fridge first ;) Anyway, onto the recipe!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Rice Krispy Treats

yield 25 servings

  • 10 oz marshmallows (I used organic vanilla ones from Whole Foods. They’re made with Kosher gelatin so my dad can approve! :) )
  • 2 tbs Peanut Butter & Co White Chocolate Wonderful (or any pb you like really), divided 1 1/2 tbs & 1/2 tbs
  • 1 tsp vanilla nut butter flavoring
  • 6 cups chocolate brown rice cereal such as Koala Crisp
  • 1 tbs fat free half and half
  • 1/4-1/3 cup grain sweetened chocolate chips

Directions:

1) Place marshmallows, vanilla nut butter and 1 1/2 tbs peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for approx 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute, until marshmallow and peanut butter melt together when mixed.

2) Mix in cereal 1 cup at a time.

3) Transfer into wax papered & sprayed 13×9 pan.

4) Use a sprayed  piece of wax paper to push down and evenly distribute.

5) Evenly disperse chocolate chips, pressing them in upside down.

6) Melt remaining 1/2 tbs peanut butter in the microwave.

7) Stir in 1 tbs fat free half and half and a drop of vanilla nut butter.

8 ) Spread in a thin layer on top of bars.

9) Let cool for 1 hour, cut and enjoy!

 

Notice how AMAZING Steve’s photography is getting? Look at that!

I may or may not have already sampled them…

They are delicious :)

Whisked Away

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Wayyyyy back in June, I promised Jason what I thought would be a pretty amazing 30th birthday present–a private (ish–6-8 people) cooking class from Whisked Away. Whisked Away was started by a chef named Maggie and she has all these cool cooking classes right out of her home! So you get to cook in a real normal home kitchen–I mean it was a little fancy, but not like things you couldn’t have in your own home. It took a lot of time and energy to coordinate scheduling with 6 different people with different schedules as well as Maggie’s busy class schedule, but we finally (3.5 months later) got it together!

It actually could not have worked out more perfectly. Race in the morning, cooking class in the evening! Rehearsal in between–wah. When we walked in, there were chairs and recipe packets all set up for us. Luckily, we only sat for the first 10ish minutes–I am a doer, not a watcher and I was getting antsy! As soon as we started cooking, the class began to exceed all of my expectations. First of all, can we talk about how they let you bring wine?!

Also, they had the dinner table all set up for us. So nice!

The class we chose was titled “Elegant Dinner Party”, a 5 course meal including tomato dip, zucchini gratin, polenta souffle, stuffed tenderloin, and bread pudding. I was a little disappointed when I realized that we didn’t get to make each all of it–we each chose a course to work on. But I quickly realized how ridiculous it would have been to have 6 versions of everything! Our group included Steve, Jason, Bethany, Steve’s friend Josh and his girlfriend Ashley. I told Jason he got to choose first since it was his birthday present and of course he chose the meat, and Bethy asked to work on it with him. I quickly grabbed dessert. I know. You’re shocked, aren’t you? Steve wanted the appetizer (tomato dip) so that he could be done more quickly and photograph. Ashley chose the zucchini and Josh chose the polenta.

I was the star student and finished first, so I got to assist with the tomato dip and the polenta. I made sure to rub it in everyone’s face and Jason tried to accuse me of taking the easiest dish! I just really love dessert, okay?!

I must confess that as soon as we looked at the ingredients for all the dishes, my eye immediately went to words like heavy cream and butter. And the measurements next to them 2 cups, 12 tablespoons. I had a little bit of a mini freak out in my mind, and I wanted to say “Oh, would you mind if i went and bought some fat free half and half instead?” I don’t remember the last time I bought HEAVY CREAM. 6 months ago, I wouldn’t have eaten any of it. Not a bite. And I would have cried on the way home. Instead, I breathed, gave myself a pep talk, and let myself relax a little with a couple glasses of wine. I kept my portions small so that I wouldn’t feel guilty, and just let myself enjoy my evening. It was hard at first, but then it wasn’t. And I realized how far I’ve come in finding balance. This Sunday, I made 2 accomplishments: running a race, and eating heavy cream. What a weird sentence. I fully believe they were both equally important to my health, because healthy living begins with the mind :)

As we continued on in the cooking, I started talking more to our teacher Kaylyn and Andrea. Turns out they are both runners with an interest in healthy living and Kaylyn has her own work out clothing business! We talking about healthy living blogs, running, training, cooking, and life in general. I was so happy to talk to people who have run races and have similar interests! Their company was definitely an added bonus and a highlight of the evening! I can’t wait to order some of Kaylyn’s amazing positive affirmation clothing–I will need some uplifting work out gear for this half marathon training!

Look at all those people in one kitchen! Those of you who have ever been around while I’m cooking must know I had to take a deep breath not to freak out about everyone being in there at once! Haha. Well the rule is “If you’re in the kitchen, you have to be functional.” Everyone was :)

Doesn’t Josh look fancy in his apron? Somehow he ended up with the frilliest one with a boob outline and everything. Hot.


Pre-baked polenta souffle


Steve went to take pictures from the outside to be artsy. Obviously, I was having a blast.

Good job, Bethy and Jasy!

Bring on the meat!!!

My FAV!!! The zucchini gratin. Zucchini + goat cheese + heavy cream. How can you go wrong?

Polenta!!

Once we all finally sat down to dinner

My masterpiece!! Bread pudding with a bourbon butter sauce. Holy deliciousness.

TAAAAADDDDAAAAA!!!!!

It was seriously one of the best nights of my life and I can’t wait until the time when I can return and try again with a new menu. Until then, stay tuned for some skinnified versions!

Skinnified Kahlua Mocha Cupcakes

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What would a birthday be without cake? In my group of friends, I am the designated birthday cake baker. I love it. One of my favorite things to do for someone I love is bake something special for them. It feels like I get to give them a piece of myself. Yes, I’m sentimental. In the past, I have made a lot of cakes that I wouldn’t touch myself. It pretty much took all the fun out of it and made me hate life a little. It’s one thing to make someone their favorite cake that happens to be a flavor you don’t like and choose not to eat it, but it is an other to be in such a strict mentality that the entire night is an internal battle. Right now, my feelings are, if I don’t feel okay eating it, I’m not making it. I’m not sure how this will go over with the best friend birthdays that begin next month, but for now, it is only healthy(ish) cupcakes coming from this kitchen!

Luckily, Kara likes my healthy baking so I didn’t feel like I was cheating her by sticking to my guidelines. I really hope some day a piece of real birthday cake won’t cause me a ton of anxiety, but until that day, I just know I need to do what’s best for me :)

Sunday afternoon after a fantastic Zumba and coffee date with my friend Christina (we’ve been friends since preschool–pretty amazing, right?), I came home and got to baking! I began by spreading my things all the way across all of our counter space in what Steve refers to as “Hurricane Ariana” Messy cooks are good cooks! Plus, what fun is baking if you don’t get a little messy? Also, I bought some new tools special for the occasion!

This tool is supposed to cut out a hole in the cupcake, to fill with frosting or other deliciousness. It didn’t work as prettily as I would have liked, so I didn’t use it long. Maybe if I made a separate filling and wasn’t just using the frosting it would have been worth it, but it just seemed like unnecessary extra frosting for me. I also bought this decorating set that I tried to fill the minis with and it hardly worked at all, but it did make the tops of the cupcakes a little prettier.

These, like the Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes are based off a recipe from Annie’s Eats. Apparently, this Annie is a genius, and I should add her to my blog reader! Thanks Annie for all the great inspiration!

My Swaps:

  • Double the espresso powder (+YUM)
  • 3 egg whites for 2 whole eggs (-fat, -cholesterol, -calories)
  • Reduced fat buttermilk for buttermilk (-fat, -calories)
  • Applesauce for vegetable oil (- fat, -saturated fat, -calories)
  • Whole wheat pastry flour for all purpose (+fiber, +protein)
  • 1/2 Splenda, 1/2 brown sugar for sugar (-sugar, -calories) **Note: I wouldn’t have swapped the brown sugar for regular, but we were out of regular so I improvised :)**
  • + coconut extract (+YUM)
  • Frosting I had to start from scratch–I bet it was delicious, but this home girl can’t hang with that much butter!

Skinnified Kahlua Mocha Cupcakes

yield 24 servings (I made 12 regular, 24 minis)

  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp. instant espresso powder (I used 3 packets of via)
  • 1½ whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar or brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup Splenda
  • 1½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ tsp. baking powder
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 3 egg whites
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • ¾ cup reduced fat buttermilk
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • Kahlua for brushing

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350.

2) In an electric mixer, combine flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, Splenda, and sugar.

3) Add all other ingredients except Kahlua and mix well for 2-3 minutes, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed.

4) Fill lined baking tins 2/3 full. **Note: The batter is a little runny and messy. It worked best when I transferred it to a freezer bag with a small hole cut at the bottom**

5) Bake for 18-22 minutes (about 3-5 min less for minis) until tops spring back when lightly pressed.

6) Use a fork to poke small holes in each cupcake.

7)  Brush with Kahlua while still warm, repeat.

8) Transfer to cool on wire rack.

9) Once cooled, frost and enjoy!

 

Kahlua Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

yield 24 servings

  • 16 oz fat free cream cheese, softened
  • 8 oz reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Kahlua
  • 1-2 tsp coconut extract

Directions:

1) With a hand mixer, beat all ingredients together, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

2) Chill for approx 1 hour.

3) Frost and enjoy!

Attempting to fill…


Celebrating My Spin Buddy!

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Today is my wonderful, amazing friend Kara’s birthday! You may recognize her from yoga, spin, or bodyworks. Last night, a group of us went to Gordon Biersch to celebrate.

Ok, so would you like to know just how addicted to Starbucks I really am? I promise, it’s related. I met Kara because she is a barista at one of my Starbucks (yes, I have 2 that I go to–one by the gym, and one by the house. Don’t judge me). In addition, every single other person I knew at this table (other than Stevie of course), I know from Starbucks as well. When they start inviting you to their birthday dinners, you may have a problem. OR you just might be so cool that everyone you encounter wants to be your friend. Let’s go with that one!

We had a super fun night. I was actually a little nervous because other than Kara and her roommate Charlie, I had never really interacted with anyone there outside of Starbucks or the gym, and sometimes, believe it or not, I get pretty shy and nervous around new people, but everyone welcomed into their group and was super nice and I had a great time. Of course someone as amazing as Kara would come with great company!

 

Bekki hates pictures, but she’s so pretty!

Of course, I made dessert!

Which Kara and I fed to each other


It was a great night and I was happy to be able to celebrate with everyone! And of course while we were leaving, Steve had to stop and take more pictures :)

His pictures are getting so good! Visit his blog and send him some love! :)