Tuesday, October 25, 2011

White Chocolate Cranberry Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Man, that's a mouthful of a name!
The unique thing about these cookies is that they don't use flour!  Thus, gluten free, for those of you who are after that :)  Just make sure your oats don't contain trace amounts of wheat!  Last time I checked, Quaker does.  Bob's Red Mill is safe, though.  They're super tasty, and I loved the white chocolate/cranberry combination, but you could use any mix-ins.  The original recipe used m&ms, chocolate chips, and candy corn.  I can think of so many combinations that would be fantastic with these!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. white cugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c. peanut butter
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 4 1/2 c. quick oats
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • Approx. 2 cups total of add-ins

Beat the eggs and sugars.  Add the salt, vanilla, butter, and PB and whip.  Add the oatmeal and baking soda. Gently stir in add-ins.  Form balls of approx. 1/4c and flatten slightly.  Bake at 350F for 12 minutes.
Do not overbake!  They will seem too soft at first, but they will firm up more as they sit.  Don't bother trying to remove to a wire rack for a few minutes!

For the person asking about dairy and egg free, you could use something other than the chocolate chips (nuts, coconut, etc) and a margarine/veggie spread fat, and for the eggs, here are a few different options:

  • 1 egg = 2 Tbsp. water + 1 Tbsp. oil + 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 egg = 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed simmered in 3 Tbsp. water
  • Ener-G egg replacer (you can buy it at most natural food stores and some grocery stores)
  • 1 egg=1/4 c applesauce
I haven't tested any of those substitutions with this recipe, so I'm not sure if it would change the taste/result, but you could try it!

Sunday, October 23, 2011


I'm in the market for dresses.  Most of mine don't fit anymore, so I think that's a good excuse to shop ;) I have my eye on a few different ones, and Shabby Apple is currently doing a $10 gift card giveaway (if you have a blog, check out their facebook page to participate!) so I figured I would take them up on that by showing you guys a few that I'm interested in ;)

This one, Washington Square Park, has been around for a long time in the history of Shabby Apple, and I have always loved it.  I love the fuller skirt and the cinched waist with the interesting gathers.  The colour also looks fantastic.  

This next dress is called After Class.  I love the neckline and the details, and the colour is fun.  There is also a mustard yellow version though, so I'm torn between the two!

This next dress is called Bookworm.  The bow is adorable, it's wool herringbone, and it's lined.  Kind of awesome. There is also a checked brown version.

Well, those are three of my dress/love interests!  There are like 9 others on my pinterest that I also love, though!  How's a girl supposed to pick just one!?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Oh dear...

I started writing about someone who was being all passive aggressive about something I posted, but then I realized that I was being passive aggressive by writing about it, so I won't.  Is it passive aggressive to even mention it?  WELL I'M TALKIN' TO YOU!
I thought I left high school like 4 years ago.

Uhh.... Anyway.... It's taking longer than we wanted to get everything all organized and moved into our new place.  We've had midterms, illness, and have been generally busy all month.  Today I was planning on getting a ton done, but then we accidentally slept in, went to the temple, and then had lunch.  Then I wanted to get to the store before the football game got out and the roads became unbearable, but the fabric/craft store was insane.  The Saturday a week before Halloween is the worst time to go.  Saturdays are usually bad in general, but the wait to get fabric cut was over an hour and a half.  I wish I took a picture of the huge crowd at the cut counter.  I'm so glad that they do a ticket/number system so that I could at least go look at some other things while I waited.  It prevents riots from breaking out between soccer moms.  People sure get catty at craft stores.  MAKING CENTERPIECES IS SERIOUS BUSINESS.
Anyway (again)... After I finally got home I hustled off to the gym, got home, showered, and now it's night all of the sudden.  Forget actually unpacking!  Maybe if we wait long enough we can just still have a bunch of stuff in boxes for the next time we move.

Deep Dish Skillet Cookie

I think that the secret to a maintaining a healthy diet is just that:  making it something you can maintain.  It doesn't work to go on constant juice cleanses and decide to never eat pie again if your favourite thing is pie.  You'll make these huge changes, stick to it for a bit, and then it all falls apart.  That just makes for a feeling of failure and disappointment.  My philosophy is eat healthy, but allow the occasional treat.  If you know that you still get to have that thing you really enjoy now and then, you aren't tempted to totally crash and burn with your whole healthy eating  plan because you think you'll never get to have it again.
Anyway... On to the main point.  There is a time and place for crazy dessert, and that night was tonight.  I was really wanting to try this recipe that I found on pinterest, so I did :)  It's called a skillet cookie, and oh man, it was a beast of a fabulous thing.
Oh yeah.

That's one big cookie.
So it begins.
In case you were wondering, Graham Canyon ice cream from the BYU creamery is the BEST ice cream flavour in existence.  For reals.  (the best sherbet is lime, and the best frozen yogurt is pistachio. FYI).

No regrets.
Seriously, this thing was the bomb.  You also only need to wash the skillet, spoon, and whatever measuring cups you used.  Seriously, it's way better than individual choc.chip.cookies, in my opinion.  Go check it out!  I'll just link to the original, since I made absolutely no changes besides doing half white chocolate and half milk chips.  I'm tempted to try doing an oatmeal/raisin/coconut version, though!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Cornbread

This little guy is an adaptation from Sugar Cooking.  It has a really subtle pumpkin taste, and is very filling!  I used whole wheat flour, I added wheat bran, and used apple sauce instead of oil.  I also used 3 egg whites instead of 2 whole eggs.  
I had to leave before it was done baking so I got Sam to take it out.  While I was at my meeting, I got a text from him: "Wow, this pumpkin stuff is a keeper".  I got home and tried it with some honey, and it is definitely a keeper!  I would love to try this with a squash-type soup, but unfortunately it was gone before I got the chance! I guess I'll need to make more ;)

Pumpkin Cornbread:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbps wheat bran
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 c applesauce
  • 1/4 c milk
  • 1 Tbsp honey
Preheat oven to 400F and grease an 8x8 baking dish.  In a medium bowl combine the flour, bran, baking powder, salt, spices, sugar, and cornmeal.  In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs and stir in pumpkin, applesauce, milk, and honey. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until just combine.  Pour batter into pan and smooth out as well as you can.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a fork tests clean.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Healthified Corn Chowder

I love soup, but especially cream based soup.  Unfortunately my slight lactose intolerance and general health do  not appreciate frequent indulgences.  The other day I found a recipe for corn chowder, and it saddened my heart to see the LARGE amount of butter, flour, and cream in it.  Then I remembered the leek soup that I made a while ago and how it was quite cream-like while using a cauliflower puree.  Thus, I decided to combine various ideas and come up with my own corn chowder recipe.  Tadaaaa!

Healthified Corn Chowder

  • 3 cups cauliflower
  • 1 can of corn
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 medium potato, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
Place cauliflower and liquid from the corn in a microwave safe dish and cover with saran wrap.  Cook for about 9 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender.  Carefully transfer cauliflower and liquid to a blender.  Add about 1/4 cup of corn.  Puree until smooth.  Transfer puree to a medium saucepan.  Add broth, garlic, salt, pepper, and thyme and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and gradually whisk in 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour. Return to a simmer.  Add remaining ingredients.  Cook for about 15-18 minutes or until vegetables are tender. 

You can garnish with basil or more thyme or serve with garlic toast!

You can use corn starch instead of flour if you're going for GF.  It's just for thickening :)

And here is my crappy picture =D

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Banana Poppyseed Muffins

These muffins are special because there is no egg, no dairy, and you use avocado as the fat.  They’re also tasty!  They’re kind of the bomb!  I’m also pretty proud of myself because I came up with the recipe from scratch ;) 
Banana Poppyseed Muffins
1/4 cup mashed avocado
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup stevia
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
3 tsp wheat bran
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 ripe banana, mashed
2 T poppy seeds
Cream together the avocado, lemon juice, stevia, and honey.  Add flours, wheat bran, baking soda, and salt and stir until just combined.  Stir in banana and poppy seeds.  Bake at 325 until center tests done (about 20 minutes).
Keep in mind that avocados in baking will cause more browning, so the outside might look done while the inside isn’t.  Just test one after 20 minutes and wait longer if you need to!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Breakfast Quinoa

This is another recipe that I found on pinterest. We tried it out tonight, and I was very impressed!  Sam loved it too!  It tastes very creamy, it's quite filling, <350cal (without adding agave, which it really didn't need), and it's very healthy!  The original recipe called for pecans, but I switched it for slivered almonds.  It also had both regular and red quinoa, but we only had regular and that worked great :)  Give it a try! (Picture/original recipe found here)

Breakfast Quinoa
1 cup quinoa
1 cup skim milk (almond, coconut, whatever)
1 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups berries
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 Tbsp coconut
Agave or honey, if desired
Combine quinoa, milk, water, and salt in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover.  Let cook 15 minutes, stirring often.  Remove from heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes.  Stir in cinnamon.  Top with fruit, almonds, coconut, and agave.   
(We actually had it for dessert, it’s that good!)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bountiful Basket!

Bountiful Basket is fan-flippin-tastic.  It's like a co-op order that you place with people in your community for a bunch of local, seasonal fruit and veggies.  All of this was $15!  I ordered this one a few weeks ago. Yesterday we got an order, and it was bananas, plums, apples, pears, grapes, avocados, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumbers-- in even greater quantities than the above things.  You can also order organic, bread, "theme" baskets (Italian, Mexican, etc), pumpkins/gourds, tortillas... Kind of the bomb.  Anyway, if you live in the states, they do it all over the country.  Especially with winter coming it can really save you money on produce: the best tasting produce I've ever had.
I'm going to use the cauliflower to make a base for a healthy chowder or cream soup.  Stay tuned! If it's a success, I'll post the recipe ;)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

What the heck are teenagers watching these days...

I'm taking quite a few Secondary Education classes right now.  One of my teachers suggested that we watch a few shows that our students are interested in just to see what is going on, what they are identifying with, the messages they are receiving, etc.  Well, I've watched several "Secret Life of the American Teenager" episodes, and it basically just makes me want to punch somebody in the face.  Oh. My. Gosh.  There are four seasons and I'm barely in the first, so maybe it changes but as of right now, I just don't get it.  I enjoy some less mature shows, but this is ridiculous.  What writers and producers think that this is appropriate material for a middle schooler?  Who picked these horrible actors?  Why is the scandalous sex addict and the emotional little sister the only ones with with any common sense whatsoever (including adults)?  I must say, I do enjoy the guidance counselor because he is willing to tell the 15 year olds who are trying to get married that they're being idiots, because that's what I feel like saying about to the characters, but it's still not the best way to respond in an authority position over young teens.
I looked up the rating and it got 5/10 stars.  I looked at the rating breakdown, and as I suspected, it's mostly people giving it either 10's (OH EM GEE BEST SHOW EVER!) or 1's (What the crap is going on?).
Summary of how I feel about this show:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Big ol' bag of taters!

So this one time, Sam and I went to Buy-Low and they had a 10lb bag of potatoes for $1!  How could we pass that up?  
  I already made mashed potatoes (just potatoes+skim milk+peas+corn, so not that interesting), and Sam made delish stir-fried style (but that was a little of this, little of that method).  I already posted gnocchi, but be prepared for more potato recipes coming your way!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Yeah, I'm a pro food photographer. Hello there, webcam.

I love gnocchi.  If you've never had it, you're seriously missing out.  It is a dense potato dumping from Italy, and there are a ton of variations of what to put in it.  I haven't had it in ages because it's so darn expensive at the store!  Then I said to myself, "DUH! Make it yourself!".  Little did I know that it is also CRAZY easy.  Seriously.  The plain recipe has 3 ingredients. No kidding.

Basic Gnocchi Recipe:
  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 egeg
Cook the potatoes, either by boiling or microwave.  Mash in a bowl and let cool slightly. Stir in most of the flour and egg. The dough may seem quite dry at this point, but just try squeezing it together with your hands until it makes a firm, dense dough.  Add additional flour if necessary.  Heat a large pot of water to a boil.  While the water heats up, form your gnocchi.  Roll a portion of dough into a snake about 1.5'' thick.  Cut into bite size piece and roll into an oblong shape.  Once water is at a rolling boil, insert gnocchi and stir immediately to prevent sticking. Stir every few minutes, cooking until the gnocchi floats to the top. Cover with your favourite pasta sauce!

These little guys are filling.  I would say that this recipe could feed 3-4 people easily.  

Now, these obviously aren't the healthiest in this form.  But hey, this was my first shot and I was going for something basic.  Next shot, I'm going to try it with wheat flour and chopped spinach. And I really want to try doing it with sweet potatoes... How awesome would that be?  Other variations include adding ricotta, ground meat, fun Italian spices... Good stuff.
You can also use gnocchi in soups (like at Olive Garden), casseroles, etc. 

Moving ^

Sam and I had been in our little 1 bedroom, 0.25 kitchen for over a year. The place was close to campus, very inexpensive, and not a grungy basement, and all around a good starter apartment.  Then one week we lost a blender, measuring cup, all of our glasses except for 2 because there wasn't even enough space to fit out kitchen stuff (let alone do anything in there).  If you know me, I spend a lot of time working on things in the kitchen.  I spent a year with an oven that didn't fit my pans, a range that usually didn't start, a fridge shorter than me, and about enough counter space for a toaster.  We decided that we had lived out our newlywed-starter-place, and decided to upgrade.  Within, oh, a week, we had found a new, fantastic place.  We sold our other contract in a couple of hours (to an engaged couple also looking to start out :)  Thanks to the help of family and friends (thank you guys SO MUCH) we got everything moved and cleaned in one afternoon.  Now we are in our new place, and holy smokes, it is the bomb.  Unfortunately we are still very in the process of organizing everything, but I'll give you guys a tour once it's all settled ;)  I didn't even know that places this nice existed near BYU.  The first time I walked in to check it out I literally gasped.  I had better stop bragging until I can prove it, though, so until then, here's a youtube video (better muted, imo):
(Why won't apartments let us have a dog? This one is cleaner than kids ;)

Monday, October 3, 2011

St. George Marathon recap

Overall, running my first marathon was a great experience.  I made some big mistakes that likely cost me a lot of time, but I learned a ton from this race.  I'm really looking forward to my next marathon and hopefully seeing some improvement :)

We stayed in Cedar City the night before.  Sam, poppa White, and I got up around 3:30am and Sam drove us down to the buses.  We loaded up, and rode up to the middle-of-nowhere starting line.  I was so impressed with the organization and thought that was obviously put into this race. Even with all 7400 runners, things we run very smoothly and they didn't run out of anything, there were plenty of bathrooms, etc.  The only thing I didn't like was how cheerful the announcer was when he told us that it was going to be "unseasonably hot today, with some headwinds!" ;)

Doesn't it look like fun?
After waiting in line for the bathroom, I made it in the nick of time to line up with the 3:45 pace group.  My plan was the stick with them for a while, then drop back to the 4:00 if I needed to.  For the first 7 miles I was ahead of them and just going along pretty steadily.  At Veyo hill- the steepest incline of the race-  I slowed down but kept a steady pace.  A bit after the hill the 3:45 group caught up with me, and I stuck with them for the next 2 miles of incline.  Around mile 12 I had to stop for the bathroom, but could still see them ahead of me on the course when I came out.  I had planned on steadily catching up to them, and was doing well at getting gradually closer for the next mile or so.  Then I realized that at some point I had accidentally stopped my GPS watch. Very bad news.  This made it much more difficult to figure out my average pace, when the next aid station would be, and how I was doing.  I was able to kind of mentally calculate what it should be, but then I accidentally stopped my watch again at mile 16, and again later on.  There was no hope of redemption, and it really made it hard for me to pace myself properly.
I carried on pretty steadily until mile 18, when my quads started cramping from a particularly steep downhill.  At the next aid station I got a volunteer to hook my up with some Icy Hot which helped a lot.  I got a second wind from then until mile 23, which is when things really got difficult.

At this point we had reached the city, and there were a ton of people lined up in the street for the rest of the race.  They even had school bands playing.  For some this probably would have been really helpful and encouraging, but it actually made it harder for me.  I have my music playlist all with a specific BPM, so I run in cadence in order to maintain my pace.  With all of the noise I couldn't hear it anymore, and after running 23+ miles, that was not so good.  My calves started getting charley horses, my quads began to seize up more severely, and even my forearms started to cramp.  Then the 4:00 pacer caught up with me.  I realized that this was not a good thing at this point:  since I had crossed the start line before him, there was no way I was going to get far enough ahead to actually break the 4:00 time.  We were also at mile 25.2 around this point.  After running that far and being in that much pain, "only" needing to run 1 more mile was a horrible feeling.

Finishing strong.
I've mentioned before that I get all philosophical and emotional during runs (especially races) sometimes.  At this point I had to make a decision.  I wasn't going to make my goal time.  I could have said "nuts to this!" and just walked the rest of the way since I wasn't going to get what I had wanted anyway.  Or I could keep pushing with everything I had left and finished strong, regardless of time.  I'm proud to say that I gave it all I could.  With some help (yelling) from the pacer, I made it my new goal to just beat him to the finish line.

Right after finishing.  I don't remember
this picture being taken!
When the balloon arches of the finish line came into sight, I ran my very, very fastest that I could in that moment.  I don't know how fast it really was, but I know that I did all that I could.  As soon as I crossed the finish line and they started herding us into the runners' area, I pretty much wandered aimlessly through the crowd trying to find my family and hoping that I wouldn't collapse somewhere that they would't be able to find me.

My official time was 4:01:46

The good ol' race motto
There is something significant and meaningful to me about "missing the mark" by that small margin.  In my nature it would be extremely easy to feel regret about the mistakes I made that caused me delays.  I could be extremely dissatisfied and write off the entire race over that 1:46.  I made mistakes with food, fluids, pacing, my watch, and so many other things.  But the fact that I am trying (and mostly succeeding) at being satisfied with how I did-- and what I did-- is actually quite outstanding.  But it's less than two minutes.  Over 26.22 miles. That's kind of a big deal that I just did that.  Plus, for being my first marathon, there is definitely a learning curve.  I learned a lot and will be able to take what I learned and use it for my next marathon (in June!).