Tag Archives: Baking

Fall colors and falling

I felt a little cursed this weekend. All around me, people were falling and nothing seemed to be going my way.

I won’t get into too much detail, but my dad took a really bad spill while we were out hiking yesterday. He’s in a lot of pain, but will be ok with lots of rest and ice over the next couple of days/weeks. I witnessed it and that was no fun, especially because I couldn’t do anything to stop him from falling.

Despite what happened, we had a gorgeous day to experience the fall colors at Lapham Peak.

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After I left my parents’s house, I went to the mall to use a coupon that offered $50 off a purchase of $100 or more. The store that offered it was a mess. It felt like Black Friday or Christmas Eve in there. I couldn’t find a thing I liked or that worked with all of the coupon restrictions.

I headed upstairs in the store to check out their coats and an older woman who was about 7 steps below me fell on the escalator and hit her head. It was my first time seeing someone fall on an escalator like that. I work in a place where kids always fool around on escalators and they are not the place to be doing so.

She was fine in the end and I was shaken up because I had already witnessed a bad fall. It was not fun to witness two older people hurting themselves in one day.

Onto happier things, like comfort food!

I made pancakes this morning and topped them with fresh raspberries and the raspberry enlightenment from Penzey’s, which was a great combination! Craig didn’t have the fresh raspberries and wasn’t as impressed with the raspberry sauce.

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Craig and I went to Target (my happy place) this afternoon and I found these, so into the cart they went. They are really good and super sweet, so I couldn’t eat too many without feeling sugared out. I compensated by buying spinach and eating a big salad for dinner and packing one for lunch tomorrow.

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My work is having a bake sale fundraiser for a co-worker who got hurt in a bad accident a couple of months ago. So, I put on my apron today and baked Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Muffins.

Yes, our kitchen floor is totally 60’s and not my fav and I have a hole in my slipper. I wear these LL Bean slippers out until they are completely unwearable.

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Here I am baking–thanks to my sweet hubby for taking photos.

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mixing up the muffin batter

I just realized it’s my first time making anything for a bake sale! I am glad the muffins turned out really well and I hope there are a lot of pumpkin fans among my co-workers.

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I got to the gym twice this weekend. I managed to work hard enough yesterday that I feel some muscle fatigue today. I attribute it to the squats I did with weights and on the bosu with just my body weight. My knee has been aching lately, so I am trying to be careful and yet build up the muscles around it to make sure I don’t injure it.

I ended the weekend by shopping online. My black boots are falling apart on the bottom (seems to be a theme with my shoes lately) and so I bought these beauties in black. I have been looking everywhere for new tall black boots, but they have to be flat, comfortable and look sort of European to me (this is how I define it instead of “cowboy boots”/American), etc. I just hope I love these when I get them in the mail and that they fit great. I have better luck with shopping online lately, so I took the risk and figure I can always return them.

Time to get ready for bed! I can’t believe the weekend is over already. I hope next weekend is a bit more calm (and this week is too).

Feeling Productive

I spontaneously took today off of work. I didn’t have any meetings on my schedule and I got what I needed to get done yesterday. Plus, once I saw that we’d be getting some snow today, I told my boss that I was most likely going to take off. I banked the MLK holiday and would much rather have a Friday off than a Monday!

So, I made my list of what I wanted to get done and also thought about it on my bus ride home.

Here are some scenes from my bus ride.

Milwaukee Art Museum sort of blocked by the street lights.

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Pretty church and Allen Bradley. My dad worked at Allen Bradley for 35 years and I’ve been wanting to get a shot like this for a while. The sun was shining perfectly on it last night.

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It’s nearly 11:30 and I’ve felt pretty productive on my day off so far.

I woke up, ate this for breakfast. Fage yogurt, wild blueberry preserves, chia seeds and coffee. Then I meditated and got to the gym.

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I had a really good workout at Y today. I spent 42 minutes on the elliptical (blame HGTV for a longer workout on the machine than I initially anticipated). I lifted weights, etc. You know, the usual.

I made a protein smoothie when I got home. It included pumpkin ice cream (my husband will be happy about this because I needed to finish it up months ago), whey protein powder, almond milk, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, ginger and chia seeds.

I opened a new container of almond milk and marked it with the opening date because I tend to need a reminder to use it up.

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I have some reading to get through today. Magazines that I started and never finished and a book that falls in the same category. Blame the kindle for taking me away from this reading material for a while.

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The other exciting thing I did this morning was download the free version of Angry Birds and play it. Yes, I was an Angry Birds virgin before today. I hope I don’t become addicted.

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I also downloaded the iTunes U app and some “classes” on nutrition, German language, history, etc. Very excited to learn some new things through this awesome app.

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I have so much more I want to get done today: laundry (currently doing), dishes, baking, organizing, calling a laboratory to get an appointment for the celiac sprue test I need, blogging and more! I am sure I will have to put off some of these tasks and try to accomplish them over the weekend.

Have a wonderful Friday everyone!

Moist and delicious banana bread

As always, where did this weekend go? Too bad we didn’t get to do too much outside due to the dreary weather we’ve been having in Milwaukee.

Did my usual Sunday morning thing–meditated, ate breakfast and watched CBS Sunday Morning.

Breakfast was an egg on a TJ’s sandwich thin with jack cheese, jalapenos, and Frank’s Red Hot sauce. Yum! I love eggs with jalapenos. 🙂

egg sandwich with jack cheese, jalapenos, frank's red hot, coffee

I really want to get back to doing Body Pump on Sunday mornings, but with my nose now being so stuffy, I figured it wasn’t the best thing for me today.

Instead, I showered and decided to run my errands. I went to Target and Pick N’ Save. I needed some produce, so I picked up a bunch of it at Pick N’ Save. I also got lunch meat, skim milk, Sun Chips, blue corn chips, and yogurt at Target. Oh and gummy bears and Milka chocolate somehow made it into my cart!

I wasn’t feeling the whole shopping thing today even though the stores seemed empty to me.

I ate this when I got home. Just can’t seem to get sick of the Vegetable Masala burgers this week. 🙂

vegetable masala burger Trader Joe's, red grapes

Then it was time to bake! I had three dark bananas and had been waiting to make banana bread with them.

Please excuse the big hole I created by testing the middle with a knife!

banana bread

Even though I knew I was going to make banana bread, I didn’t have a recipe picked out yet. Luckily, myrecipes.com tweeted a bunch of banana bread recipes this morning and I bookmarked the tweet. I used the Classic Banana Bread recipe from Cooking Light.

The only alterations I made to the recipe below were that I used whole wheat flour and not all-purpose, I added three heaping scoops of ground flax seeds, and I used Chobani plain greek yogurt instead of regular plain yogurt.

Ingredients

* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup sugar
* 1/4 cup butter, softened
* 2 large eggs
* 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
* 1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* Cooking spray

Preparation

* Preheat oven to 350°.
* Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.
* Place sugar and butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana, yogurt, and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist. Spoon batter into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

banana bread

It turned out really moist and delicious! I definitely recommend this recipe.

After watching a movie in the afternoon, I finally got my butt to the gym. I wasn’t feeling it because of my stuffy nose, but I went anyway. Glad I did because once I am there, I am always fine. I did 25 minutes on the elliptical, a full circuit of weights, squats on the bosu, and crunches on the Swiss ball.

It was late when I got home and I didn’t have much of an appetite, but I put together a nice salad that contained spinach, chickpeas, feta cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, & artichokes. I topped it with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

salad

Dessert was gummy bears and a slice of banana bread.

And now I am watching one of my favorite movies because I am a big bird lover, Winged Migration. I usually turn on the TV while I blog and I still had PBS on, which just so happened to start that movie at the exact time I turned the TV on.

Better read some blogs, catch up on the Sunday newspaper and then get to bed early. Another week awaits!

With another work week upon most of us, it’s good to remember this quote from Onward by Howard Schultz (of Starbucks).

quote from Onward by Howard Schultz, kindle

Coupon queen, Nutella Cookies and King Corn

Happy Saturday evening! Trying to post quickly before we watch this movie tonight.

king corn

Had a nice weekend day here. Woke up to the sound of meows begging for food and then meditated and ate greek yogurt with chia seeds, wild blueberry preserves and fresh raspberries for breakfast.

coffee; greek yogurt with raspberries, chia seeds, wild blueberry preserves

Did three loads of laundry before leaving the house to meet my friend Danielle at the mall.

I went to the mall with lots of coupons and deals in my purse. 🙂 That makes me happy and Danielle was not surprised I came with lots of coupons, as she knows I am the coupon queen like my mom is!

First up was a free $10 Francesca’s gift card just for turning in an e-mail I got from Mayfair Mall’s The Club at Mayfair. Score! Didn’t find anything at Francesca’s yet, but will eventually because they have lots of cute stuff.

I used my mom’s $10 Victoria’s Secret birthday card (she didn’t want it and is a nice mom so she let me have it) to get some lacie underwear.

Then it was time for lunch at Panera. I was very selective with what I chose because Panera helped me out by posting calories on the menu and that helped me decide on healthier choices. I did the “You Pick 2” and got a greek salad with a ham and swiss sandwich. The bread was so fantastic on the sandwich. I loved the caraway seeds in it. The salad also tasted so refreshing and this meal was what my body was craving. I didn’t eat the apple, but saved it for later. The Panera workers came around with free samples and I snagged a pretty big piece of a pumpkin muffin and a crossaint thing filled with soft cheese. Both were delicious!

Panera you pick 2 greek salad, ham and swiss sandwich, apple

After filling up our bellies, we ventured back to shopping. Unfortunately, Danielle is pregnant (well fortunately) and can’t really shop for much because of her ever changing body. She happily escorted me into Banana Republic, Ann Taylor Loft, Gap and then the Aveda store to score this free item. They were out of a free item on a coupon I had and were nice enough to give me a pretty big sized Foot Relief. God only knows my feet need this after the long winter.

Aveda Foot Relief

We enjoyed coffee at Starbucks to perk us up. I had an iced coffee and it was exactly what I needed.

I also picked up a cute and very me dish towel at Crate and Barrell. I knew I would probably use it as a placemat for the blog more than as a dish towel. I’ll show it later in my post.

A good day at the mall because I only spent about $2.00 and I got a couple nice little items.

Once home, I was in the mood to bake, so I whipped up a batch of Nutella Cookies using this recipe.

Nutella Cookies from Food.com

* 1 1/4 cups flour
* 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup butter (softened)
* 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
* 1/2 cup granulated sugar
* 1/2 to taste approx. 26 oz nutella (one large jar)
* 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
* 1 large eggs
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Prep Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 1 hr

1. In one bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter and the two sugars until all is integrated and fluffy.
3. Mix in the Nutella, followed by the chopped hazelnuts. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla.
4. Add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl in three increments, integrating each one before adding the next.
5. Chill dough while oven preheats to 350°F Scoop the dough into balls and bake for about 10 minutes.

nutella cookies baking

They turned out kind of flat and big. I think someone else said the same thing in their review. They still tasted yummy. I only changed the recipe slightly by using less Nutella (didn’t have enough on hand and wanted to make it a little less fattening) and some whole wheat flour mixed in with the white flour. The cookies are very buttery and my husband loved them due to this fact.

nutella cookies

Dinner was beer battered tofu (yes, there are still leftovers), grape tomatoes and carrots. Pictured on the new Crate and Barrell dish towel, which looks kind of bad due to our ugly yellowish kitchen lighting.

beer battered tofu, tartar sauce, carrots, tomatoes

I am starting to feel better now, but I have noticed that as a result of feeling sick all week, I really did slack off in the fitness department (including today, unless you count walking at the mall as some exercise). I need to get back on track next week and create a plan for my workouts each day including classes, cardio machines and weights. I’ll try to post my plan tomorrow and may do this every week to see if I can stick to the plan and hold myself accountable. I have seen bloggers like Fit Chick in the City do this and I like the idea. Do you write out your workout schedule for the week?

Time to log off and watch King Corn. Have you seen it before and if so, what did you think?

Afternoon at the museum

I am behind on posts because I didn’t have time to blog last night–so here is my Thursday recap and then I’ll move onto today’s.

Breakfast was a big bowl of vanilla Dannon yogurt and chobani plain non-fat with a combo of the rest of the Bonne Maman preserves and some Hero (German) preserves. I really do prefer Bonne Maman.

yogurt, preserves, coffee

I tried So Delicious Hazelnut coconut milk creamer for the first time and it was really good!

So Delicious Coconut Milk creamer

Lunch was the rest of my Qdoba vegetarian burrito from dinner last night, a Strawberry Chobani yogurt and a big chocolate chip cookie that I baked on Wednesday night. They turned out really good!

cookie, chobani, burrito

Baking photo from Wednesday night. I really love to bake and need to do it more often.

baking, kitchen aid

After lunch, I went to the art museum to see the Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit.

Milwaukee Art Museum ticket

I am cheap and I wanted some exercise, so I parked by Veteran’s park and walked to the museum. It was nice and foggy out along the pond.

Milwaukee

I enjoyed seeing the drawings and architectural models in the exhibit. I would love to live in one of his houses! Definitely inspired wanting to take a trip out to Tallesin this summer.

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I looked around in the gift shop and liked these pouches.

MAM store items

I think food bloggers would like the one that says “I Eat Art For Breakfast.”

I Eat Art For Breakfast

I went to the permanent collection and ran into some old co-workers, so it was fun to catch up with them for a bit.

Love this Theibaud picture and any by him.

Thiebaud pies MAM

Then I ran home and got to the gym because I knew I wouldn’t have the opportunity to go after dinner. I ran/walked 2.20 miles on the treadmill and lifted weights at a few stations. I pushed myself to run fast on the treadmill and I was sure sweaty by the end of my workout! I think I need to running shoes soon though because the cushion in mine seem to be non-existent now.

Dinner was pizza at my in-laws as we were celebrating my father-in-law’s birthday last night. I had two pieces of pizza, a few breadsticks and a small piece of yummy cheesecake with strawberries on top.

Here is my father-in-law opening his presents. My silly husband wrapped up some candy in a Victoria’s Secret bag just to tease his dad.

A busy day and we didn’t get home until almost 9 last night. Now onto Friday’s post.

Pumpkin Spice-Chocolate Chip Muffins

I forgot to post the recipe for the Pumpkin Spice-Chocolate Chip Muffins from The Spice Kitchen.

From The Spice Kitchen: Everyday Cooking with Organic Spices

Pumpkin Spice-Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I used wheat)
1 teaspoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease 18 standard-size muffin cups or line them with 18 paper cups. Sift the flour, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, allspice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large mixing bowl. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk 1 1/4 cups of the sugar together with the pumpkin, oil, eggs and vanilla. Stir the chocolate chips into the pumpkin mixture. Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture and mix until the batter just comes together. Stir the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and the remaining 1 teaspoon of cinnamon together in a small bowl.

Spoon 1/3 cup of the batter into each of the prepare muffin cups. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over the top of each muffin. Bake the muffins until a toothpick inserted in the center of one or two muffins comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the muffins from the oven and allow them to cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the pan. If not serving the muffins hot, place the muffins on a rack to cool.

Makes 18 muffins.

Enjoy!