26
Apr
11

Blondies by a blondie

I am very forgetful.  About the only thing I can be relied on to always remember are the names of people and actors.  I can spout off useless pop culture trivia.

But I forget to turn lights off when I leave rooms (a terrible thing to admit this close to Earth Day). I forget to bring important documents when they are necessary.  I forget to return phone calls, emails or texts.  For this reason, I was blessed with the nickname “Blondie” by my dad.  Well, he named me that for my forgetfulness as well as my penchant for asking silly questions on occasion.

I may forget to turn those darned lights off (which used to cost me $.25 when I was growing up) but I won’t soon forget the taste of these delicious, gooey Blondies.  I might be forced to remind myself again soon, since my first batch has barely lasted 24 hours.

Chocolate Nut Blondies

Makes 25 (perfect bite) bars

1/3 C butter
1 C light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 C all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 C dark chocolate chips (or any type of chocolate)
1/4 C chopped walnuts (or other nuts)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9×13 baking pan.  In a small saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar together until smooth.
Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Stir in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla.
In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and baking powder.  Add in sugar mixture and  stir until well incorporated.
 
Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top.
Sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts over top.
Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars (they will still be gooey!).

Love at first bite, I promise! 

So is this “blondie” thing good or bad?  I dunno, you tell me..

18
Apr
11

Weekend Perfection

Despite having to devote a few hours to work on Saturday, I had an absolutely wonderful weekend.  Unfortunately, our state and many others got pounded with some nasty weather and my heart goes out to those who were negatively affected by the weather. 

I am glad, though, that some of that nasty pollen got washed away.  My sinuses can breathe (no pun intended) a sigh of relief!

After work on Saturday, I got a kick-butt workout in at the gym and spent the evening with one of my favorite furry friends.

I’m sure you remember this cute guy as Atlas.  I get to hang out with him until Wednesday!

After an awesome kettlebell session on Sunday morning, Steve & I had a date day.  The plan?  Breakfast at another favorite, Pop’s Diner.  Steve had a yummy omelet with fruit and I had strawberry pancakes and hard-boiled egg whites.  So filling!

We ventured out to find a new kitchen toy and linens after breakfast.  I always enjoy a good Bed, Bath & Beyond trip and could quite literally spend hours in that store, with 90% of that time being spent in the kitchen aisles!  I’m sure Steve appreciated my get in/get out attitude today, but I know he isn’t a big fan of shopping.   So, we found a lighter weight cover for our bed, then it was crock pot hunting time.  I found my gem!

It’s just big enough for the 2 of us with a couple meals of leftovers and it’s programmable and will automatically switch to Warm when times up.  I got lots of recommendations for this Crock Pot model and can’t wait to try this one out!  Our old one was too big and I burned a couple too many chicken breasts because I couldn’t fill it enough.  This one should be just the ticket, so look out for more slow cooker meals in the future!

Got any good suggestions for breaking mine in? Did you do anything fun this weekend?

13
Apr
11

Chunky Apple Muffins

I’ve been baking alot recently.  Boredom is really bad for my coworkers & parents because, heaven knows, those treats will not stay in this house.  I definitely don’t need the temptation with California calling in a few months! 

Useful tip:  Keep the weights and kettlebells in view.  Keep the baked goods out of sight!

Did you think I was kidding?  I’ve loved having these on hand to do a quick 20-40 minute Exercise TV workout to start my day.  I’ve been trying to find the motivation to also work out in the evenings, but I really hate dealing with the after-work crowds (and accompanying body heat) at the gym.  Guess I’ve really got to get back into my 4:30am routine..

Back to the good stuff..

Chunky Apple Muffins

(adapted from King Arthur Flour

1 C whole wheat flour
1 C all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 C butter, softened
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C light brown sugar, divided
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 C buttermilk
1 large or 2 small apples, peeled and chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a 12-cup muffin tin with greased papers.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

In a separate bowl, cream butter for 1 minute. Add sugars and mix well.

Add in egg and mix well.

VERY slowly add buttermilk and mix just to combine.

Stir in flour until batter is moistened. Don't overmix.

Fold in apples.

Divide batter into baking cups and sprinkle with remaining brown sugar.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until you get a clean toothpick.  Cool on a rack and enjoy!

 

These, according to the taste buds of myself and my mom, are the best apple muffins I have ever eaten!  I absolutely loved the texture of the apples after baking. 

Mom’s taste buds got 95% of them and my weights only lost about 5% of my attention for the morning.  A girl’s gotta take a break on occasion!

06
Apr
11

Sweet & Soured

I made a beautiful cake last weekend – the first complicated, from-scratch recipe for a cake since my angel food cake almost a year ago.  Mom’s birthday is once again approaching and lemon cake is on the wish list.  Without any history to pull from, I went a-googling!  I came up with a recipe at Taste of Home and went to work.  The cake turned out beautifully (after much coaxing from the tube pan and the resulting dent), but the icing was such a disaster that I refused to display the iced result.

So now, it’s on to find a better icing recipe.  Can’t have a scratch made cake without scratch made icing.  That would be  a crime!  But for now, my version of Lemon Chiffon Cake..

Lemon Chiffon Cake

7 eggs, separated

1 1/2 C all purpose flour

1/2 C whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/2 C sugar

3 tsps baking powder

1 tsp salt

3/4 C water

1/2 C canola oil

grated zest of 1 lemon

2 tsps vanilla

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Separate eggs and allow egg whites to stand in a large bowl for 30 minutes.  In another large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. 

Whisk together egg yolks, water, oil, grated lemon zest and vanilla.  Add to dry ingredients and mix until well blended. 

Add cream of tartar to eggs and bit until soft peaks form.

Fold egg white mixture into batter.  Pour batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan and run a knife through the batter. 

Bake on lowest oven rack until golden brown, about an hour.  Remove from oven when golden brown and immediately invert to cool completely.

 

Run a knife around the edges of the pan before removing from pan (good luck with this..)

Once it’s out, trust me.. it tastes great.  I just can’t live with an ugly cake.  Attempt #2 will be happening soon!

31
Mar
11

Fat Free (nearly) Protein PB Granola

Looky, looky!

Delicious chunks of oats, puffed kamut, almonds, raisins with an awesome peanut buttery taste.. and almost NO FAT.  I’m a proud girl.  I have read probably 100 recipes for fat free homemade granola and got a general idea of how to concoct this stuff.  Then, I decided to wing it. 

What I ended up with was most amazing on my Greek yogurt this morning and it’s got extra protein too.  Who needs to buy packaged granola?!  Not this chica! This was so easy – took me 5 minutes to throw together and only about 10 to bake.

(Almost) Fat Free Protein Peanut Butter Granola

    1 1/2 C rolled oats
    1 C puffed kamut (or other puffed grain)
    1/3 C sliced almonds
    1/2 C vanilla protein powder
    2 Tbsp peanut flour (or PB2)
    2 Tbsp flax meal
    1/4 C unsweetened applesauce
    3 Tbsp agave nectar (or honey)
    1 Tbsp vanilla
    1/4 C raisins
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.
    In medium bowl, mix oats, puffed grain, almonds, protein powder and peanut flour well. Stir in vanilla and agave.
    In a separate, small bowl, add 3 Tbsps water to flax and stir. Let sit for several minutes to thicken. Once thickened, add applesauce, agave and vanilla. Pour this mixture over oat mixture and stir until clumps form.
    Spread on prepared baking sheet and bake, stirring every 3-4 minutes for about 10 minutes total or until just beginning to crisp.
    Allow to cool and stir in raisins. Store in an air tight (tupperware) container.

 

Nutritional Info for 18 servings (1/4 C or 20g)
  • Calories: 72.0
  • Total Fat: 1.8 g  (.2g saturated)
  • Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
  • Sodium: 18.7 mg
  • Total Carbs: 11.0 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 1.4 g
  • Protein: 3.7 g

I’m a big fan of the nutritional info too.. considering most store-bought granolas are much higher in fat and sodium.  A few tablespoons of it on my yogurt definitely powered me through a tough chest/tri/cardio workout this morning.. enjoy!

14
Mar
11

Wins, Wishes and Wellbeing

I’m winning more than Charlie Sheen at this point, even with some minor losses along the way.

Win = Hello, sunny Florida!

Loss = Not knowing who to root for at a baseball game

 

Win = Seeing your all-time favorite player from a few yards away 

Loss = Said player hits a double-play ball on his first at-bat, but that’s ok.. he’s still healing!

Ultimate win = Winning the game, no matter who lost.  I’ve got to have a team in both leagues, after all (thanks to my family and their fan stances).

Loss = Thinking I’ve spotted Johnny Depp and being disappointed by a strikingly similar wax figure.

Win = Finding fun new treasures that lessen my disappointment.

Loss = Not being Cinderella.  Hence, not being able to live in her digs.

Win = Cinderella still came down to say hi during a magical parade

 

Loss = Long walks on bum legs (thanks to over-exercising while on vacation)

Win = Having family around to make the walks feel (almost) painless

Ultimate win = Sharing an amazing experience with this gang – and a more furry gang..

and a leathery gang…

and a feathery gang…

The gang’s all here.. well there.  We had such a wonderful time – between seeing the Braves & Yankees, visiting parks and relaxing by the pool, it’s always sad when good things come to an end.  Fortunately, we will all be together again soon and we did make some great memories last week!

I am one incredibly blessed girl!

PS – If you LOVE Trader Joe’s like I do, go over to Friends for Weight Loss and enter their giveaway!

07
Mar
11

75% and apple chips

We’re nearly to Orlando – in Savannah, GA as a matter of fact.  As often as I visit Georgia, I have never been here and intend to eventually come back just to see the historic area and to mosey down River Street, eating a yummy praline from River Street Sweets

Ever had one of these?  My aunt occasionally brings them when they visit during the holidays and they make me so happy to be Southern!  If you need a chocolate fix, they can handle that too!  Their bear claws are simply amazing and more than enough richness to satisfy a sweet tooth!

Salivating yet?  Sadly, with only one night stay here, there’s no way I’ll get to their store this time around.  Trust me, I’m ok with that since we’ll be sitting in Orlando later this afternoon under sunny skies, unlike these that we saw nearly the whole way here:Don’t let those birds or the peek of sun fool you.  Those skies spelled doom for drivers and we had an onslaught of vision-hindering rain for at least an hour.  We did sidetrip to B.F.E., NC to see my parent’s new property.  They invested in it a few years back, right before the real estate market took a nosedive. 

It’s seen progress in the 3 years since, and by “progress” I mean 3 developed properties on a total of 100 lots. 

Great views.  Few neighbors. No amenities.. yet.

In any case, meandering sidetrips and speed-decreasing weather mean that car snacks are a necessity.  Luckily enough, I managed to whip up a convenient, healthy snack for the road (and I got to break out the food dehydrator again).  I really don’t use that machine enough!  I give you… dried apple chips!

Apple Chips

2 large sweet-tart apples (or any will do)

Food dehydrator

6 hours

Slice thinly and arrange on the tiers of your dehydrator.

Take a peek 4 hours into drying.

Bag ‘em up 2 hours after that (less or more depending on your own machine) and throw ‘em in the fridge.  Easy peasy! Just try keeping your travel buddies hands off of them.  Not so easy peasy!

Two large apples yielded a good sized bag and completely filled all tiers of my dehydrator.  I’d like to eventually buy a couple more levels and dry more at a time.  I also intend to do more experimenting with veggies.  I really have no reason for not using this thing more often!  The apple chips are amazing and very easy to throw into my gym bag for a post-workout treat!

We’re getting ready to see what’s in store for us at the continental breakfast.  I never have high hopes for such things, but we’ll see..

Until tomorrow… and Orlando!




Hi Ya’ll!

Hiya! I'm Heidi, a 28-year-old "retired" student living in Virginia. I am a newlywed and currently on the hunt for a full-time job that will use either my Biology or Secondary Education degree. In the meantime, I work in retail and at an event venue part-time. When I'm not working, I love to kill hours at the gym, scrapbook, and act as a domesticated diva to keep my hubby happy!


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