Delicious and Dirty (Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies)

This week I felt the ill effects of over-indulgence.

Last week, Ben and I pigged out. I’m talking cheeseburgers, french fries, beer, potatoes, kielbasa,  barbecue, cheese and wine-lots of it.

Monday morning I woke up feeling a hangover of sorts from all of the ridiculous things I had consumed in the days before. I exhibited all of the following symptoms: bloating, pimples, big hair, dry mouth, big sunglasses and headaches. I felt like I was 15 again. Not pretty.

There was one thing I was craving: salad. Lots of glorious greens. I didn’t need it fancy, I just wanted vinegar and lettuce. Something to get my digestive system back on track.

It’s now Friday and I’ve eaten salad every day this week. It feels good. Wednesday was my favorite:  it was a salad of beet greens, red leaf and butter lettuce, scallions, parsley, beets and local goat cheese, topped with a mustard vinaigrette. My hubs is totally boss.

But after all that green stuff,  I needed something naughty. And I had an excuse; it was my turn to bring snack for my small group.

So I made cookies. Delicious dirty cookies.  I found some all natural dark chocolate peanut butter the other night and was dying to try it out. I’m so glad I did.

These cookies are just right. They are chewy, light and full of air-They are gluten-free. They are full of big flavors without imposing on your belly in giant cookie form. Do it to it. You’ll be the biggest hit of the party.

You’re jaw is going to hit the floor when you see the list of ingredients. Easy peasy.

I’ll have to make these again to update with photos-I was in a hurry and didn’t think about snapping a quick picture… my apologies!

(Chocolate) Peanut Butter Cookies

barely adapted from Joy the Baker

What you’ll need:

  • 1-1/4  cup Peanut Butter  (I used 1/2 cup creamy all- natural, 3/4 cup Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter)-if you are using regular peanut butter-use 1 cup, add some cocoa powder or some semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted with a splash of vanilla.
  • 1 not-quite-cup brown sugar-the darker the better!
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 scant teaspoon smoked salt (you can find this at any specialty food store or co-op-Amazing find.) OR, use some regular sea salt.
  • Bittersweet chocolate chips-a few handfuls

What to do:

Preheat oven to 350. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine peanut butter and sugar (if you’re using the cocoa/baking chocolate, add this in now as well). You can use your KitchenAid or mixer, but  I just used a pastry blender.

Add baking soda and egg. Mix until well blended.

If you’re using chocolate chips and smoked salt, throw those in the bowl and mix until incorporated into the dough.

Roll into walnut sized balls (they don’t have to be perfect, perfect is boring!)  and transfer to baking sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned and cookies feel firm.  Makes about 30 cookies.


Something to Smile About…

Last week was rough. There’s really no other way to describe it. 

Without getting into too much detail, I had way too many things going on…and I missed an important appointment because I didn’t double-check my dates (BUT, I was able to reschedule!).

Luckily, I have a wonderful husband who helps me out in any way he can. Last week it was doing laundry, getting up with me at 5:30 in the morning and driving 40 minutes–each way– to pick someone up before I went to work, making  breakfast and lunch, and listening to me have a mini-meltdown midweek. No big deal.

Somehow, we made it through the week and Saturday morning, we were out of bed bright and early to drive down to the social event I’ve been mentioning for the last month or so.

This weekend, Ben and I attended a wedding. The wedding of my friend Laura… or my ex would-have-been-sister-in-law. She’s a pretty amazing lady and we are still close. Driving down Saturday morning my feelings were swinging between “This is going to be totally fine. It’s not a big deal.” and “What the heck was I thinking?! I am so nervous that I am going to drive off the road!”

The reality of the event was somewhere in between. I’ll share more in my next post…but for now, I need to share some positivity!

So, here is a short list of things that made my weekend (and life in general) pretty amazing:

1. My hubs. This man makes my life a lot more interesting. Each and every day. Not to mention,  he’s pretty handsome.

2. Wearing a dress that I haven’t worn in a long time and finding out that it still looks pretty good. It’s an awesome feeling, and nice to know that hard work does pay off.  

We clean up pretty well, don’t we?

3. Local Produce. I love going to farm stands, co-ops and farmers’ markets and knowing that I am supporting my local economy… not to mention, it just tastes better. This weekend, my sister, Ben and I visited Turks, a small farm and flower market in Horseheads, NY.

Shades of Summer…

I love summer veggies!

4. My amazing family. And our abillity to make stupid faces. Meghan is going to kill me.

5. Fresh Ingredients. Simple Food. Delicious-ness. Here are some shots of our Sunday lunch. Thrown together in about thirty minutes after a quick trip to Turks and Wegmans for supplies.

Brie and Baguette are a must-have!

A closer look… Quick Pickles, Caprese Salad and A Veggie Plate

6. Potato Salad. Especially when it’s not drenched in Mayo…Recipe for this particular salad is coming soon!

I love all the color in this bowl!

   7. Late summer nights. Particularly when paired with a glass of wine in hand, hummus at my fingertips and ridiculous conversation. Bonus points for a bonfire.

What are some things that make you ridiculously happy? 

As I said, stay tuned. More to come!

Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut!

Wow! What a gorgeous day! It was 48 degrees when I got up to run this morning. 48 degrees! The sun was shining and there was a light breeze. Perfect running weather. Unfortunately, I only had time for a short run, but every little bit helps! That’s what I keep telling myself.

So in short, I am feeling pretty charged and pumped to take on the rest of the day!

Another awesome thing about this week; Chocolate Hazelnut Spread! Holy cow is it good. And soooooooooo easy to make! Seriously, if you can work a blender, you’ve got it in the bag. This would be a great spread for a fancy party or a brunch with your family and friends-the hit of the party. OR you can hide it in your fridge and eat it by the spoonful… whichever you prefer.

I used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Per usual, Deb did not disappoint. I’ll let you visit her post because she explains it so well.

A couple of notes:

I ended up using just under a cup of powdered sugar and 2 tbsp. of oil instead of 3. I also added a splash of vanilla… this is just personal preference on sweetness and texture. Tweak to your taste. It would still be amazing with more sugar and oil.

The SK recipe called for peanuts and peanut oil…I happened to have hazelnuts and walnut oil on hand, so that’s what I used. Still delish. You could probably also use Tahini if you don’t have some sort of nut oil.

It may seem that you are running your food processor forever… don’t worry, the nuts will liquefy. It takes patience and scraping down the sides of the processor. Just when I was about to give up, I had liquid! So just…keep blending. Also, don’t make this past 9 pm…unless you want to tick off your neighbors.

The finished product!

Spread lasts in a sealed container in the fridge for about a week. Makes about 1 3/4 cups. Serve on toast, with fruit, in oatmeal..or by the spoonful. The options are endless.

According to my ingredients, a serving (1 tbsp.) has the following: 92 calories, 7 g of fat, 0 mg Cholesterol, 65.6 mg potassium,  6.2 g Carbohydrates, 4.7 g sugar and 2 g of protein.


Fridge Emptying Goulash!

I have been having a lot of fun lately. Whether it be ice skating, updating my food journal, planning a workout, perusing food blogs, watching old 3rd Rock episodes with Ben, cooking/destroying my kitchen, watching Ben cook and not destroy the kitchen or working too much,  I’m having a good time. In short, 2012 has been good so far. No complaints on my end.

As you know, I go through food phases. For some reason, the last few weeks have been missing meat. It wasn’t intentional and I’m not complaining, it just worked out that we ate a lot of veggies/beans. As much as I love my veggies,  I am ready for some beefy deliciousness.

This weekend I finally had some red meat; Ben made this crazy good (and super easy!) goulash. Basically, it was a mish-mash of what we had in our fridge. It was also a one-pan meal. The best kind.

Here is what he did, I apologize for not having exact measurements …or photos, as I was just watching Ben work his magic.

Fridge Emptying Goulash

To start, Ben chopped up a couple of carrots, a tomato and 2 cloves of garlic (normally, we would add onion, too… but for some crazy reason, we were out) and threw them in the trusty iron skillet with some olive oil over medium-low to medium heat.

After a few minutes, he added a pound of (local, grass-fed) ground beef. He browned it, stirring occasionally.

Once the meat was browned, he added in some leftover tomato sauce,  maybe a cup or so?  After stirring, he put in one small can of Muir Glen (Organic) tomato paste.

For seasoning, he kept it simple; cracked pepper, onion powder (due to the lack of chopped onion), marjoram, some chili sauce (a few tbsp.) and some smokey paprika. This can be adjusted according to your own tastes.

He let everything simmer for a few minutes and added about half a can of V8-as much as I love V8 juice, I was unsure about this. Thank God I trust Ben’s judgment. 

After the V8, he gave one more stir and let it cook a little longer-covered, until the carrots were tender.

We served it over pasta with a dollop of sour cream and a few slices of Cabot pepper jack.  So good.


Hummus is probably one of my favorite snacks. For a brief period, when I lived by myself and didn’t feel like cooking all three meals, I ate hummus and crackers for lunch or dinner all the time. It’s something light and involves no fuss. Or dishes. I like that.

I am a big fan of hummus with crackers (I love the Kashi TLC’s) or in a veggie wrap/pita…or even just a scoop of it on a salad. It also works well as a spread on sandwiches.

I discovered that it is way cheaper to make than to buy…and you can do pretty much whatever you want with it-it’s almost impossible to screw it up.

You can even make sweet potato hummus (shout-out to Becca for introducing me to this awesome idea!)

I am a huge fan of garlic, lemon and a little spice in my hummus.

Anyway, here is how I make it, I’m not the best at measuring things out, so these are just guidelines-do what suits your tastes!

Noelle’s Hummus: 

  • 1 (16 oz.) can of chickpeas (you can also use the dry beans and soak them…I used the canned to save time)
  • a bunch of parsley-about a tbsp.
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. Tahini
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. Spanish Smoked Paprika-keep in mind, a little goes a long way.
  • a few dashes crushed red pepper
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste.

Open your can of chickpeas and drain.

Chop garlic and parsley.

Place all ingredients in food processor. Blend until smooth.

*Note:  I was lazy and didn’t want the extra dishes, so I used my walnut chopper and a fork to mash everything together in a large bowl, it was a bit lumpy, but I liked the added texture*

Serve with your favorite crackers, veggies or pita…or by the spoonful to your mouth.

Perfect Lunch.

If you’re having company over, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and arrange with veggies/pita on a platter-they’ll love you forever!

Hummus should last for about a week, covered and refrigerated.

Have a great day everyone!