Confessions; Life, Lately (Mostly Food).

Happy Saturday Friends!

Any exciting weekend plans? Farmer Ben and I are having some friends over for an evening of good food and games. I’m really looking forward to it!

Other than that, my back-to-school game is in full swing! Not gonna lie, I’ll be happy once my orientation class is over so I don’t have to log in every day. I probably still will… but I won’t be obligated to. That makes all the difference!

In other news, have you guys heard of EBATES? It’s stupidly easy. You sign up, download their button, and when you are on a site that gives cash back, it turns red. Once activated, you get money back! If you don’t want to download the button, you can go to the EBATES’ site and find what you’re looking for that way. I’ve gotten money back on a book for school, protein powder and a baby shower gift.

(Full Disclosure, if you sign up via the link above and make a purchase, I get $5. Thank you in advance!). 

I signed up about a month ago and I’ve already gotten $8.05 back from online purchases. My sister, on the other hand, got $26 back (I think she does more online shopping than I do). It doesn’t seem like it’s that much, but those few dollars here and there add up! You’ll either receive a check in the mail or you can have it go to your PayPal account.

Confession time… (Mostly Food)

  • Farmer Ben and I had pizza for dinner three times this week (Unless you count Sunday as last week, then it’s technically only 2 times). One of said pizzas was a “nacho pizza.” Yes, it was ridiculously good and I think I gained approximately 5 pounds.

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  • I am officially over summer squash and zucchini…we’ve been eating it SO MUCH and people keep giving us more! I’ve gotten creative, making a zucchini “lasagna,” and just eating it raw, dipped in hummus or dressing…and a few other ways… but there are only so many things you can do to squash. Sometime next week, we’ll have zucchini fritters and the elusive zucchini pizza crust (because clearly, we never get sick of pizza). Gulp…wish us luck!
  • I made these cupcakes with a few modifications, to use more zucchini up (and then my mom gave us 3 more). They were good but only required a cup… I may need to quadruple the recipe and freeze them!  Any suggestions for what else we should make?
  • I am really into snack plates (Always with radishes and cucumbers)… I think it’s becoming a problem…this was a recent work meeting.

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  • Farmer Ben and I have a problem with making everything boozey. The cupcakes I talked about earlier? I put Kahlua in them… And Farmer Ben? He made this…

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I can’t even.

  • I’ve been alternating between three pairs of running capris. I have other bottoms to wear, but they just aren’t as comfortable! I’ve been doing a lot of laundry the last few weeks.
  • Speaking of running… I’ve been eyeing different GPS Watches/Heart Rate Monitors… I’ve even gone as far as putting some in my online shopping cart… but I can’t convince myself to spend the money on them. Any suggestions on brand? I’m bouncing back and forth between Garmin and TomTom. Are they worth all the hype?
  • And sports bras. It’s time to cough up some cash for some new sports bras. Why is having boobs so darn expensive?!
  • Looking back over my last month of posts, I realize that I haven’t blogged about so many things…look for some major photo/catching up posts in the next week or two!

That’s all for today, Friends! Any confessions on your end? Let me know in the comments! 

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Current Obsessions and Farmer Ben

Hi Friends!

Hope you’re having a great December! I wanted to stop in with some randomness today….

I have a lot of obsessions. Does that mean I have an addictive personality? Probably.

Here are some (mostly food related) things I’m too into right now.

1. Homemade Vanilla. I took a cue from Joy the Baker and starting making my own (the first batch was bourbon vanilla). A while back, we had picked up a bottle of fancy-schmancy bourbon vanilla at Homegoods or TJ Maxx…last night, I happened to glance at the price tag-$12 and the normal price was $17 for an 8 oz bottle! Gah! I just started a batch of Jameson Vanilla… the whole bottle of Jameson is somewhere around $25 and vanilla beans are around $1 a piece. Plus, if you get cute little bottles, these would make perfect presents for the foodie in your life (Note: there is a 6 week infusion period, so if you start a batch now, it would be perfect for Valentine’s Day!)

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Freshly bottled

2. Maple Syrup. Yes, I live in Upstate NY, so I’ve always appreciated (real) maple syrup…but lately, I have really taken the plunge. I’ve been using it as a replacement for regular sugars in recipes (like these carrot muffins) and adding it in my coffee smoothies or hot tea.

3.  Ninja Blender… Farmer Ben and I got a Ninja Blender as a Christmas/house-warming present (did I mention that we moved in November?) and I cannot tell you how much I love it. We’ve had it just over a week and I have used it almost every day. I’ve made two kinds of nut butter, pumpkin smoothies, carrot muffins… the possibilities are endless!

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Finished coconut peanut butter

4.  Healthy Skoop products. Remember when I did that review for their B-Strong protein powder? Well, I liked to so much that I decided to become a skoop retailer. Did you know that for every serving of Skoop sold, a serving of fruit and veggies is donated to a school lunch program? Pretty awesome, right? You can check out my shop here. AND, if you use the code cheers25 you can get 25% off your entire order from now until January 4.

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5.  Homemade deodorant…I sweat a lot… And a lot of natural deodorants don’t really work. But, I’m determined to find one that does. I used this recipe (is that the right word when applied to deodorant making?) I’ve only been using it for a couple of days, so I will keep you posted on the pit situation. To date, no crazy rashes or burning, and Farmer Ben doesn’t mind sitting next to me, so that’s a good sign!

Speaking of Farmer Ben, he turns 32 today! Happy birthday Darlin’, I love you!

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Ragnar ADK 2014

Your turn: What are you obsessed with (eating) lately?! 


Oatmeal (Bourbon) Scotch-Scotch-Scotchies

Oh hey… we’re doing another recipe post… That’s okay, right?

As I mentioned yesterday, Farmer Ben and I did some baking on Sunday!

I realize that I am going to lose almost all of my “healthy baking” street cred by admitting this… but one of the best cookies I make is the oatmeal scotchie… You know, with those artificial-everything-butterscotch chips? Yeah, those… I only make these cookies a few times a year, but when I do, they are a huge hit. I’ve tried to track down a better butterscotch chip, but have you seen the price on some of the alternatives?! Woof! No thank you. Any suggestions on a better brand that isn’t $100/lb?

Anyway, because I’m already using something unhealthy, I’ve made a few tweaks to the classic recipe.

1.       Whole wheat flour

2.       Less sugar/all brown-sugar.  2a. Coconut sugar-it’s got a lower glycemic index than regular sugar and trace minerals (just make sure no one has an allergy if you bring these to a party).

3.       Flax seed meal. It adds a layer of nutty-ness.

4.       Bourbon… not healthy, but doesn’t bourbon make everything better?

Again, these are pretty tasty. And, because the recipe yields around 4 dozen cookies (depending on size), they are great for a crowd (I usually keep a secret stash at home for Farmer Ben). No, these are not the prettiest cookies… but once people taste them, it’s tough to stay away.

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Farmer Ben struck again....

Oatmeal (Bourbon) Scotch-Scotch-Scotchies  

Adapted from the Nestle Butterscotch Chip Bag.

What You’ll Need:

·         1 cup Whole Wheat Flour

·         1/4 cup all-purpose flour

·         2 Tbsp. flax seed meal

·         A pinch of salt

·         ½ tsp. cinnamon

·         1 Tbsp. cocoa powder

·         1 tsp. baking soda

·         2 sticks butter, softened

·         1 scant cup coconut sugar

·         2 large eggs

·         1 tsp. Vanilla

·         ¼ cup bourbon

·         3 cups oats

·         1 package (11 oz) Butterscotch Chips

What to do:

·         Preheat oven to 375 degrees. *

·         Combine first 7 ingredients in a medium sized bowl and set aside.

·         In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar (I use a pastry blender, but can also be done with a mixer).

·         Stir in eggs, vanilla and bourbon (I switch to a rubber spatula at this point).

·         Slowly stir in your flour mixture.

·         Mix in oats and butterscotch chips.

·         For a super bourbon taste, cover mixing bowl and place in fridge for a few hours (*if doing this, wait to preheat your oven).

·         Spoon dough onto un-greased cookie sheets and bake for approximately 9 minutes, 11 minutes if you like a crisper cookie.

Enjoy!

What’s your favorite Christmas Cookie?


Carrot Pear Muffins

Hi Friends! Happy Monday!

I don’t know about you, but all of the sweets hanging around the office are really starting to catch up with me. That being said, Farmer Ben and I had a day off together yesterday and decided to do… a lot of baking.  Typical

After making some boozey cookies, I wanted to make something quasi-healthy. We had some yogurt and a pear in the fridge that we had forgotten about, so I perused the internet to find a recipe that I wouldn’t feel guilty while baking eating.

I ended up using this recipe… kind of (I am really bad at following directions). I am also super lazy and put all of the ingredients into one bowl. Yes, ONE bowl.  

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Note: These are NOT sweet muffins. They have some sweetness, but I would classify them as more of a breakfast on the run OR a snack, especially if you add a dollop of nut butter.

 If you’d like them sweet, I would up the amount of maple syrup to 1/2 or 3/4 of a cup.

The siggi’s website has a lot of really great recipes, if you’re looking for something different, check them out!

Carrot-Pear Muffins with Skyr

What you’ll need:

About 2 Cups grated carrots (I threw mine in the ninja)

1/3 cup maple syrup (the REAL stuff, please!)

1/3 cup olive oil

1 splash vanilla extract

2 eggs

½ cup plain yogurt (I love siggis plain skyr)

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour

1/3 cup All-Purpose Flour

2 Tbs Flax seed meal

2 Tbs Hemp Seeds

1 tsp. cinnamon

¾ tsp. ground ginger

1 pinch sea salt

1 pear, chopped (an apple would also work well)

What to do:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners or grease really well.

In a large bowl, mix all of your wet ingredients (including carrots, excluding pear).  Fold in your dry ingredients until well combined.  

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One bowl mixing

Mix in chopped pear (Note: the batter is going to be pretty thick, don’t worry).

Pour into prepared muffin tin.

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Bake for about 20-25 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean).
Let cool and enjoy!

What are you baking these days?

Disclaimer: I am a siggi’s Culture Club Ambassador, but all opinions, per usual, are my own.

Interested in being a siggi’s ambassador? Send me an email for some info.


Creamy Dreamy Dip

Hi Friends!

Happy Tuesday! I figured I’d stop in and share my latest obsession: Creamy Cheesy Dip/Spread (made in about 5 minutes with a blender). Seriously… I think I’ve made this dip about 5 times in the last month (3 times for social gatherings and 2 times just because I couldn’t stop thinking about it). I make it a little differently each time, but this way seems to be my favorite.

And if you have these ingredients… how can you go wrong, really?!

Three of my favorite things....

Three of my favorite things….

This is super easy to make and can be made with so many different flavor combinations… serve it with some sliced baguette, a good dip chip or some veggies… I’m also loving it as a spread on sandwiches.

Sorry for the lack of photos… but I didn’t think that blended cheese would photograph well.

Noelle’s Creamy Dreamy (cheesy) Dip:

*adapted from a cream cheese box–I can’t find it on the Organic Valley website or I would link it for you.*

  • 1 package cream cheese, softened.
  • 1 (8 oz) brick cheddar cheese (I am a big fan of Cabot Extra Sharp)
  • 8 oz. Plain Greek Yogurt/Sour Cream
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 tsp. onion powder or chives.
  • 2-3 tsp. smoky paprika
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • a few good cranks of black pepper
  • Juice of half a lemon (optional)

Grate your cheddar cheese.

Add all ingredients into food processor/blender–EXCEPT your cream cheese and lemon juice. Pulse until everything is chopped/well combined.

Add in remaining ingredients and pulse for a few more minutes until everything is incorporated.

Scrape into a bowl and cover. Refrigerate for an hour or so before serving–this allows the flavors to really come together.

Want to add in some veggies? Throw in some broccoli, spinach or kale.

This dip is real good. Please try it!

 

 


Scenes from a Long Weekend-Part II: Garden Eats

In my last post, Dad, Eileen, Gary and I were in Saranac Lake getting our local food on… I managed to pick up a few goodies….

My new addiction...

My new addiction…

 

I have a weakness for goat cheese....

I have a weakness for goat cheese….

After bringing Farmer Ben a surprise coffee, I took Gary and my Dad for a long walk on a bike path by the lake. It was hot…and sticky.

I then rushed home to clean-up and make some more delicious eats….

Here is what I whipped up….

Avocado-Tomato Bruschetta

Bruschetta... under a mountain of parmesan

Bruschetta… under a mountain of parmesan

What you’ll need:

  • 1 baguette…preferably local
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling on bread
  • 2 large tomatoes (or 3-4 small-medium)
  • 15 fresh basil leaves (approximately)
  • 1 tbsp. or a splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 avocado

What to do:

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Mince garlic.
  • Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat, add garlic. Stir…cook garlic until it softens-do NOT let burn. This won’t take long. Pour garlic and oil into a metal mixing bowl and set aside.
  • Chop/dice tomatoes (this will be depend on how big you want your chunks to be–side note: chunks is not an appetizing word.) Add to mixing bowl with garlic and oil. 
  • Also, if you don’t want soupy bruschetta, drain some of the juices before adding to bowl.
  • Chop basil. (tip: stack some leaves on top of each other, roll them length-wise and slice into thin strips) Add to mixing bowl.
  • Add in remaining balsamic, salt and pepper and stir. Set aside
  • Slice baguette on the diagonal into 1/4 -1/2 inch slices. Place on baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil.
  • Place in oven and let brown. Meanwhile, dice up your avocado and add to the bruschetta mixture–do NOT do this until ready to serve.
  • Remove toasted baguette from oven and top with bruschetta mixture.

If you’re feeling extra naughty, grate some parmesan over the top.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Garden Delight Pasta

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(Or…trying to use up all the veggies on your counter/in the fridge pasta)

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 lb whole wheat pasta (I used angel hair)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion (or 1/2 a giant onion like I used…), diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 medium eggplant, chopped
  • 6 large kale leaves, sliced (I just ripped it up)
  • 2 large Swiss Chard Leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped (about 1-2 tbsp.)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 large tomato, chopped (or, if you have leftover bruschetta mix, that will work too!)
  • 3 oz. goat cheese (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What to do:

  • Heat water for pasta and cook according to package
  •                  While your water is boiling….
  • Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.
  • Add in onion, until it starts to soften.
  • Add in zucchini and eggplant, stirring occasionally, be careful not to let veggies stick/burn. Reduce heat to medium low. (This should take about 10-15 minutes, depending on your veggies/size of pan)
  • Add in Swiss chard and kale, cover and let wilt. Stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in cooked and drained pasta (it should be hot) and mix in remaining ingredients.

Remove from heat and Serve hot. Makes 4-6 servings.

Favorite seasonal meal? How do you use up all of your leftover veggies? Goat cheese in pasta, yes or no?

Stay Tuned for Scenes…Part 3!


Squash Mystery Solved

Folks,

Mystery solved. We’ve got pumpkins… These are the first of many…although none of them really look alike. We also have what we think is a scallop squash and an albino pumpkin. Cross-breeding in action?

Sigh, I think we’re going to be making a lot of cookies and pie…

Three not-so-little-pumpkins

Three not-so-little-pumpkins

Happy Thursday!

What are you growing? Any mystery plants in your garden? Have any good pumpkin recipes to share?