Birthday and baptism

I started my weekend with an early morning flight to Dallas, where I was meeting my brother after some meetings to head to his house and celebrate a very adorable one year old’s birthday and baptism. Get ready for come cuteness overload in this post. While in Dallas I had a few hours to kill.

My first stop was The Sixth Floor Museum about JFK and his assassination. I toured the 6th floor of the old Texas School Book Depository where the shots were supposedly fired from. A very interesting and worthwhile tour. After that, I walked around Dealey Plaza and the West End district of Dallas that has JFK’s cenotaph.

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After taking in so much history, I was hungry for some good southern bbq!

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After arriving to my brother’s house, there was a meeting of the minds in the kitchen about how to best bake Hannah’s 1 year birthday cake. She is obviously in the middle telling her grandma’s what she wants and how to get it done.

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While the ladies were busy in the kitchen, the men talked sports.

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Saturday was a big day! Hannah turned one year old and got baptized. Here she is in her pretty baptism outfit.

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After the serious business, it was play and party time. Most of the afternoon was spent outside playing on her swing and at her water table.

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Then of course, birthday cake and presents!

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After all that excitement, the adults had to relax with some watermelon mojitos.

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Hannah napped after unloading the dishwasher. Such a hard worker.

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While Hannah napped, the adults did some work in the garden and observed a little nature happening.

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Then it was play time again! Lots of new toys to explore. We finished off the afternoon with some time at the pool.

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Chocolate chip peanut butter cookies

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! These are amazing. Taste exactly like cookie dough. Serve them at a party and NO ONE will know they are healthy. Brian sure didn’t know…and I sure didn’t tell him.

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I had seen this recipe months ago, filed it to make later and forgot about it until yesterday when I saw someone mention it on a social media site. I had made bread before with chickpeas, so I wasn’t concerned that it was too weird of an ingredient swap. I had all the stuff at home and decided to make it last night. I mean, we were to get hit by derecho. Who wouldn’t need a batch of protein and fiber filled cookies to get them through the storm? So glad I did. It might be my new favorite healthy treat. I might even leave out the chocolate chips next time or half the amount and use mini chips.  Recipe adapted from Texanerin Baking.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup of canned chickpeas
  • 1/2 heaping cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup raw honey or pure maple syrup(I used 1/2 of each)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.

If you don’t have natural peanut butter on hand, dump a few cups of dry roasted peanuts in your food processor and process(scraping down the sides as necessary) until it forms into peanut butter. You may think that it will never get past the crumbled/powdery stage, but have patience, it will. Scoop out peanut butter and put in container. How return a heaping 1/2 cup to the food processor.

Thoroughly rinse a can of chickpeas. Lay out a paper towel or dish towel and pour the well-rinsed chickpeas on the towel. Take another towel and blot the chickpeas to dry them a bit. Scoop up 1 1/4 cup of chickpeas and toss into food processor with pb.

To get my 1/4 cup of sweetener, I used 1/2 raw honey and 1/2 pure maple syrup. My syrup is pretty runny and thin. My honey is very thick. I was concerned about the consistency of both varying the recipe too much so I used half and half to even out the consistency. Put in food processor. Add in vanilla and baking powder.

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Process until very smooth. Scrape down sides as necessary. The dough will be extremely sticky at this point.

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Stir in chocolate chips.

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Now, this is the point where I have to strongly disagree with the original post. The author said that the dough did not taste good and these cookies would not be good without the chocolate chips. I thought the dough was amazing. So good, I almost didn’t bake it, but just refrigerate it in ball form. I thought there was almost too much chocolate in them and would consider making them without or cutting back the amount. My two cents. Now continuing on with the recipe:

Use slightly wet hands and roll into balls about the size of golf balls. Place on baking sheet. These cookies do not spread, so if you want them to be more in a disc form, flatten out those balls. Continue making balls of dough, re-wetting hands when necessary until dough used up.

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Bake for 10-12 minutes. They won’t look much more done than when you put them in the oven, but if you flip one over, the bottom will be slightly browned.

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Wait for a few minutes and eat warm. So good.

Grilled cinnamon and sugar banana

The weather was perfect for grilling last night, so that is what I did. I feel like it’s always a feast when I grill. A healthy feast, because I love to grill up a lot of vegetables…and sometimes some fruit.

Last night’s nights grilling included burgers, fruit and vegetables(and maybe a glass of wine for me):

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Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Peel your banana. On a plate, combine cinnamon and sugar. Roll banana in cinnamon and sugar. or pick up the cinnamon and sugar lightly press it into banana until banana has a light covering of mixture.

Put banana on grill over medium heat for a few minutes on each side until sugar caramelizes and banana softens.

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(Sorry about the bad picture. It’s the not overly appetizing thing on the left of my plate, but don’t let the picture fool you. It’s amazing.)

Cut in half and share. Or don’t. Eat the whole thing. It’s a low calorie and fairly nutritious dessert.

I think you could easily substitute a drizzle of honey or maple syrup instead of the sugar then just sprinkle a little cinnamon on it with similar results.

 

Fun and fantastic

This past weekend was awesome. The weather was great and Brian and I ended up doing some spontaneous things and really taking advantage of the city. Something I need to do more often. That’s why I live here, right?

Brian took me out to dinner on Friday night because our fridge was bare! We hadn’t really gone grocery shopping in 2 weeks and we had been squeaking by on pantry staples and freezer meals all week. The upside to this was that, our fridge was bare. How is that an upside? It was the perfect opportunity to pull everything out and wipe down the shelves. A task that was long over due! Look at its glowing beauty afterwards:

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After my speed cleaning fridge session, I headed out the door to walk to meet Brian for dinner. The weather was perfect for eating dinner outside and this place had a patio(no coincidence). We started off our meal with the bone marrow appetizer which came with a great arugula salad and pickled cherry. It was the perfect flavor combination.

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I had a delicious and dark beer made with 3 different types of coffee beans:

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And was only able to eat half of my Legend’s of the Daal wrap(very tasty):

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The place is mostly known for their burgers. Brian got Elvis’ Last Supper with house made peanut butter and bacon. Surprisingly delicious.

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On the way home, we decided to walk through Ribfest, which was happening right down the block. There was this sign:

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To which, Brian reacted like this to the thought of a deep fried Snickers:

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We continued walking, until we saw this sign:

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To which the possibility of deep-fried Oreos was too much for Brian to resist. We headed over to the ticket line and within 10 minutes had a tub of fried Oreos. To which, the man next to us in line got a deep-fried Snickers and insisted I take his picture.

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Because deep-frying candy and cookies isn’t enough, they top them off with chocolate sauce and powdered sugar:

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I tried one of the Oreos. It was actually pretty tasty. Like a funnel cake married and Oreo and made tiny funnel cake Oreo babies. Brian was in heaven.

A Friday night of indulgence meant a healthy breakfast and exercise Saturday morning.

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Followed by a trip to the garden. A very exciting trip where I would learn that all of my radishes had matured and were ready to be picked. I also got a few handfuls of kale and spinach and a lone strawberry. I think I’ve gotten more produce from my community garden plot in one month this year than I did all last summer!

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After lots of errand running we grabbed lunch and then hit up Margie’s for a scoop of ice cream. They were switching out containers on Brian’s chocolate peanut butter and he got a mega scoop. That got all over his beard and mustache, but loos at those abundant ribbons of peanut butter. I had some serious ice cream envy and Brian happily shared with me.

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Saturday we ate mostly vegetable for dinner. I grilled a ton of them for us to devour and a little chicken. I also made a delicious salad with the kale and spinach from the garden with a vinaigrette, hemp and sunflower seeds and blueberries.

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Sunday was to be filled with rain, but we were surprised by a sunny day instead.

I had a breakfast taco to start the day. The eggs ended up overwhelming the tortilla, but it was delicious!

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I slow cooked brisket in a marinade all day to make some delicious barbacoa for our tostadas for dinner.

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While that was cooking and making the house smell wonderful, I got to work on a big batch of pumpkin and chocolate chip waffles to use as breakfasts in the upcoming days:

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Made a tasty batch of tarragon chicken salad(can’t wait to share the recipe) that was the perfect meal of protein to sustain us on our 12 mile bike ride by the lake.

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I don’t think we could have packed much more into our weekend. It was a great one! Hope everyone had as much fun as I did.

My two cents: Monday

Good Monday morning! I can’t wait to get to my weekend post. So much goodness this past weekend. Until I have time to do that, I thought I’d share two things with you.

I am in love with this hand soap. The scent makes me so happy. It smells just like a tomato plant.

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And for my second and unrelated tidbit: I am re-posting what some words of wisdom by Bill Phillips. This really strikes a chord with me. From work lunches to social outings, I always feel like my healthy eating and exercise often gets derailed by not wanting to be selfish or offend anyone. It’s not doing me any good and makes me have regret and resentment later. I think this states why I need to say “no” more often and exercise a little more self-responsibility.

So, here it is:

SELFISH VS. SELF-RESPONSIBILITY

Oftentimes people mistakenly believe that by accepting responsibility to take care of their own health and happiness, they’re somehow being selfish. And no mature, conscious person wants to be “selfish.” This is yet another obstacle we need to overcome in order to reclaim sovereignty in our own lives. The fact is, we are being self-responsible when we prioritize, each day, doing what we need to in order to recover and renew our physical, mental and emotional well-being. That means we must choose to make time for exercise, eating healthy meals, rest, recovery and sleep.

We also must choose to create at least some quiet time for self-reflection and to clear and calm the mind. We must also choose to make time for doing things which we enjoy and that bring us happiness. These can be very simple things, for example: taking an evening walk at sunset; listening to your favorite music; getting out to enjoy your favorite hobby on a weekend. Although this all sounds simple, if we perceive them as being selfish, we’ll resist and put them off.

If you are a caretaker by nature, as I am, it is important to remember that we can’t give what we don’t have–and when we are low on energy and strength, it’s time to make renewing and re-energizing our selves a top priority! Make YOUR health a priority and I promise, you will find you have more to give others who need your help.

4 ingredient peanut butter cookies

These are nothing to write home about but would do the trick if you needed a quick sweet fix and are somewhat healthier for you than a regular cookie. I personally think a few adjustments could be made that would make them spectacular. I might play around with the recipe this weekend.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of almond butter(or nut butter of choice)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F.

Place all ingredients in bowl.

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Mix well. I think this is where the hiccup in the recipe occurred. I used natural almond butter instead of peanut butter. Store bought peanut butter has a much different (more solid) texture than natural almond butter. Making these cookies was also an effort to use up this Costco sized container of almond butter that I bought that I didn’t particularly care for. It was too oily and runny from the start.

Next, roll the dough into golf ball sized balls and place on baking mat. Make those iconic hash marks in the top of your cookie with a fork. I love the way those look.

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I could tell at this point that my dough was much too oily(thanks crappy almond butter). I had a fear that these were going to spread terribly and I would end up with one giant sheet cookie. I considered adding coconut, oats or flax at this point to firm them up a bit, but decided to just bake them and see what happened.

Bake for about 12 minutes.

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Mine did spread, but most were identifiable as cookies and tasted pretty good. I really liked the chewy texture.

Honey roasted peanut butter

Ohhh my goodness. Pure goodness.

It’s no secret that Brian loves sweet. We had been buying jars of natural peanut butter for him to keep at work, so I wouldn’t have to pack a little bit for him with an apple. Well, some of the “natural” versions aren’t so natural and having to stir your own pb at work can be a little obnoxious. So, I decided that I was going to make a batch to send with him. When I got to the nut aisle, the honey roasted peanuts caught my eye. A sweeter version of peanut butter for Brian?

My head started spinning with thoughts like: Blending those up would be too intense. Too sweet. Or would it? Could I do part roasted peanuts and part honey roasted?

Yes! Yes, that would work.

So I bought jars of roasted peanuts and honey roasted peanuts, excited to experiment.

I started out with 2/3 honey roasted and 1/3 roasted figuring that I could always add more unsweetened nuts to the mix to damper down the sweet if needed.

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Oh, but I did not need to. The saltiness of the roasted peanuts perfectly complimented the sweet of the honey roasted.  This right here is magic. Perfection. Pure goodness.

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So smooth and creamy.

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I couldn’t stop dipping my fingers in for tastes. I was happy for it to head to work with Brian, because I could have eaten the entire container of it in no time.

Best shish kabob marinade

Summer had officially arrived, then another cold front with lots of rain moved in, just as I was really getting into grilling. With hopes of good weather, I decided that shish kabobs were in order!

This marinade is delicious. I think I might start using it for most of my vegetables on the grill and it adds great flavor to meat.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 vegetable oil(or oil of choice)
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup mustard
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • Meat(optional)
  • vegetables for grilling

Mix everything but meat and vegetables in a bowl/container. Not the prettiest picture, but you can see what the marinade looks like:

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Place meat, if using, in a container for marinating. Place vegetables in a separate container for marinating. I always marinate the meat and vegetables separately.

Pour half of the marinade over the meat(I used a thin cut sirloin). Half over the vegetables. For vegetables, I used portabella mushroom, onions, bell pepper, canned potatoes, tomato and zucchini. Mix/toss to coat well.

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Let marinate for 4-24 hours. Stir/toss every few hours to make sure everything is soaking in the good flavors.  I like mine marinated closer to the 24 hour mark.

Shish kabob preparation station:

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You can see that I added some pineapple into the mix. I would have marinated it with the vegetables, but didn’t pick it up from the store until right before I made the kebobs. If using bamboo skewers, make sure you soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before putting the meat and vegetables on them. Next, put the meat and veggies on skewers. Leave a little space between things to allow air to flow while cooking.

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Unfortunately, it was raining, so I had to broil these in the oven instead of grilling. I was sad to have to do this, but they turned out almost as well. When grilling I usually do 5-7 minutes on once side, then flip to the other side for 5-7 minutes. When broiling I did about 10 minutes on one side, pulled them out of the oven and 10 on the other side. They don’t get the pretty grill marks, but the marinade is super flavorful. Here are the kabobs being pulled out to be turned.

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Be careful not to burn yourself.

And the finished product:

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YUM! And as always, make a few extra to pack for lunches later in the week:

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Fests, food, fun and crafts

This was one jam-packed weekend full of pure goodness.

After work on Friday, I headed straight to Maifest(my favorite summer fest) where Brian and I were able to meet up with several friends from different circles. It was one big fun time filled with German food and beer.

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I spent some time at the garden on Saturday. We are continuing to get strawberries and kale. Everything else is growing nicely with all the recent rain. This picture makes it look like my garden is full of weeds, but those are just onions growing in the spaces between the other plants. I really tried to maximize my space this year.

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I made a big pitcher of iced tea to sip on all of Saturday afternoon and evening. Brian and worked hard on finishing up some details for the wedding and getting the Save the Dates ready to send out.

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Our hard work was rewarded with some teriyaki chicken with pineapple and cilantro rice(so good!) and a batch of flourless almond butter cookies. They looked a little wonky when I took them out of the oven, but they still tasted pretty good.

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Sunday was another fun-filled day. My friend, Katie had a trunk show at her condo showing off some of her crafting talents. She makes adorable hand-made cards and invitations at a great price. Check out some of her great designs:

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Are you dying to get your hands on some of these? Thowing a party and need top-notch invites? Check out more designs on her Pinterest page: Katie*did Cards. Or email her at katiedidcards@hotmail.com

Afterwards a few of us fun-loving girls headed over to Falafill to get our fill(so delicious):

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With a full belly and good night’s sleep, the Save the Dates went out in the mail this morning! Yay!

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