Friday, May 31, 2013

Tea + peanut butter + cereal (but not together)

A few food things on this Friday…

I drink two or three cups of green tea in the office every morning.  I didn’t necessarily think all varieties were all created equal, but I did at least think there was a minimum standard that most of them had to maintain.  Turns out, that’s not the case.  I think I’m drinking Tetley right, but when it runs out, I’m going to pick up the Lipton green tea bags.

Have you guys seen the new Jif Whips? 

I couldn’t resist – they’re new, after all, and I have a problem leaving new versions of tried and true favorites behind – and I’m glad I couldn’t.  They are very good; the peanut butter flavor tastes like peanut butter, just a fluffy version of it.  And with 40 fewer calories per serving, you can have the same amount for less, or you can have a smidge bigger serving for the same number of calories.  You win either way.

Finally, I’d been enjoying Special K’s Protein Plus cereal and when I ran out and tried to get more, I couldn’t find it anywhere.  Not at Walmart, Harris Teeter, Food Lion…  I finally found three boxes on Target’s shelves this past weekend so I bought all of them in addition to two boxes of another protein-rich cereals.  I haven’t opened that cereal yet so no review right now, but I’ll be sure to hopefully recommend it to you when I do finally try it.

Anyone have some recommendations for something I need to be on the lookout for on the grocery store shelves?

This week actually went by fairly quickly considering it was a short week.  I don’t know why, but those tend to drag on more slowly than regular ol’ five-day weeks.  Probably because I have such high hopes that the next weekend’ll be here before I know it.

Okay, back to the last few minutes of Hannibal and then the McHusband and I are hoping to get into bed at a decent hour, which for us means lights out by 11:00.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

{Recipe Recap} Peanut Butter Cookies with Bacon?!

Vanessa’s birthday was last week and a group of us went out to dinner then to Rum Runner’s, the dueling piano bar, on Saturday to celebrate.

You know I can’t let a birthday go by without baking up a little something.  I know Vanessa likes peanut butter cookies and everyone knows she LOVES bacon so I decided to put the two of them together.


BTW, exactly how much does Vanessa like bacon?  I gave her a card with bacon on it and baked bacon into cookies, and Bruce and Heather gave her a big ol’ bag of cooked bacon.  The best part is that Heather and I didn’t coordinate at all, it just worked out to be a baconstravaganza of a birthday.


Back to the cookies.  I took a recipe I’d made before and doubled it then added bacon, which I’d baked earlier in the day, to half the dough and left the other half plain.


I’ve decided that all cookies need a dash of salt on them so I sprinkled both sea salt and sugar on top.


I was hoping the bacon would prove to be the savory addition that I didn’t know peanut butter cookies needed, but I have to say that wasn’t the case.  While the bacon didn’t take away from the deliciousness of these cookies, I didn’t feel like it really added anything either.


These cookies baked up just how I like them: soft and chewy, dense and not cakey.


I didn’t criss-cross these with a fork as is the norm with peanut butter cookies. 


I’m glad I didn’t; these cookies are perfect in my eyes.  They are thick and I love all the cracks.


So what’s the verdict?  Add the bacon or leave it out, just make these peanut butter cookies.


{Recipe here}

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Blacklist

Here’s another show for you.  The McHusband and I were big Boston Legal fans, mainly because of James Spader in his role as Alan Shore.  I know he was more recently on The Office for a season, but since that was never one of “my” shows, I didn’t start watching it just because James Spader was on there.  Guess I’m not a true fan…

Anyway, I’m pretty excited that he’s going to be back on TV in a new show, The Blacklist, this fall.

What do you think, does it look interesting?  Any other James Spader fans?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The long weekend

Hope you all enjoyed the long holiday weekend.  Back to the real world today.

The McHusband and I grilled some shrimp and veggie skewers for dinner on Friday.


They were even better than I expected and so easy to throw together.  I had all the ingredients for the marinade already, and still do, so we will definitely be eating these again.


I went for a five-mile run on Saturday then got home to do some baking, the results of which I’ll be sharing later this week.  But here’s a quick preview.


That night, we went downtown for dinner, dueling, and dancing.

Guess I should explain the dueling part, huh?  We went to Rum Runner’s, the dueling piano bar.  Vanessa’s neighbors were with us, and Laura’s birthday was yesterday so we were celebrating times two.


We got the pianists to call the birthday girls up on stage for the restaurant’s signature song and dance routine.


A few other snapshots from our table.

Heather and me.




Shawn and the McHusband.


All of us girls.


We girls ended up in the back of the bar, a separate room where they played dance music.  So we had the best of both worlds – entertained by the pianos but we got to put our dancin’ shoes on, too.

The rest of the weekend was pretty low key.  We stuck close to home on Sunday since it wasn’t quite warm enough to take Heather and Bruce up on their offer to spend the afternoon on the boat.  That night, we hung out with our friends and old neighbors, Ryan and Sandra, at their house.  Actually, we hung out in front of their house.  It was cool, but still a nice night to be outside if you were dressed for the weather.  Hard to believe I was wearing jeans, two shirts, and a fleece jacket in NC at the end of May.

Monday I did my best to hold the couch down and I’m happy to say it didn’t get away.  The McHusband kept himself busy outside with things like mowing, organizing the shed, and moving the wood pile, which was proving to be too much temptation for Monte.  Speaking of him, he and Morgan were worn out by all the sunshine and fresh air they got this weekend.


Monte weighed in at 42 pounds yesterday.  He’s four months old this week.  Morgan is nine years old this month.


There you have it, our weekend in a nutshell.  It was busy enough, but I was happy to have plenty of downtime as well.

Hope the rest of you spent your extra time this weekend how you wanted!

Friday, May 24, 2013

TGIF before a long weekend!

I sure have been looking forward to the bonus weekend day that comes with Memorial Day.  The McHusband and I don’t have many big plans, just some of our own honey-do’s, dinner and hanging out downtown on Saturday for Vanessa’s birthday, which is today (Happy Birthday, Vanessa!), and a fair amount of R and R wherever we can squeeze it in.

Actually I do have some baking to do.  I’m going to try a new sweet-and-savory combo so keep your fingers crossed that it’s successful.  I’ll be back next week to tell you how it turned out.

This weekend would be the perfect time to try these Strawberry Riesling Slushies, don’t you think?  Anyone want to come over and help me drink them?

Look at the weather for the long weekend.  Pretty fantastic, huh?


I’m going to take advantage of the low humidity and comfortable temperature on Saturday to go for a nice long run.  The best part is that I don’t have to get up early to get it in before the heat settles over us.  Win-win!

Guess what tomorrow is?  Maxie’s second birthday.  Happy Birthday, Maxie!


Hope you all have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Back (in the future)

I’ve been reading up on some of the new shows planned for the fall.  I’m excited for this one that brings Michael J. Fox back to TV and doesn’t tiptoe around his Parkinson’s.

Anyone else interested in this show?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

More from Pennsylvania

Remember how we went to Pennsylvania last month?  We did more than teach pre-K kids to play pool in a bar.


We also celebrated a birthday…or four.  If you can’t read the cake, it says Happy Birthday Abby Shannon Stephanie.  Abby is my cousin’s daughter, and I think you know who the other two are. Winking smile


Everyone sang “Happy Birthday.”  Here’s my dad explaining how it’s all of our birthdays.



And in the next two, we’d just finished and we’re laughing because my dad went from “Happy Birthday dear Abby and Shannon” straight to the next line of “Happy Birthday to you.”  Except it came out “Ha-hanie” in an attempted save once he realized he’d forgotten one of the birthday girls.  You know, just his oldest daughter, no biggie.DSC_5192


Then the McHusband cut the cake.  It was an ICE CREAM CAKE, yum!


Owen was too busy playing with the big boys (sons of my cousin; does that make them second cousins or first cousins once removed?) to have any cake.  Good, more for me.


A couple other people pics real quick.

Bri and Maxie.


And the McHusband and me.


My dad with his four brothers and one son-in-law in the mix.  From left to right: my dad, Uncle Ralph, Uncle John, Nate, Uncle Burn, and Uncle Rick.


I love how all the guys on the couch are sitting the same way.


The ladies hanging out at the kitchen table.


The next day we finally celebrated the REAL birthday girl, my grandma, with a birthday party.  More on that soon!

Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

{Recipe Recap} Strawberry Pie Sour Cream Bars

Did you know that today is Strawberries and Cream Day?  No?  Jeez, how could that possibly not make your radar?  Well, here’s a list of American Food Holidays for future reference so you aren’t caught unaware again.  You’re welcome.

I made the original recipe last week for my HOA meeting.  The McHusband and some of my coworkers thought they were pretty terrific.


I had the rest of the can of pie filling in my fridge so I made them again on Saturday, but I used all of the crust on the bottom and added a cinnamon streusel on top.


I loved how easy these were to throw together.  I always like when recipes call for melted rather than softened butter, and I only used one mixing bowl: I made the crust, pressed it into my pan, then used that same mixing bowl to make the filling.

I also used a teaspoon of almond extract instead of vanilla in the crust.  SUCH a good idea.  If you do want to make these, go with the almond instead of the vanilla – it adds so much to the bars.


You could use pretty much any pie filling you want in these bars.  I want to try them with apple.  And peach.  And cherry.


The McHusband keeps saying they’d be good heated up with ice cream on them.  I agree, but I’d rather forgo the ice cream and have a good-sized portion of these for breakfast.


Don’t wait until National Strawberries and Cream Day next year to make these.  Other than the pie filling, you probably have everything you need to make them.


Are you having company for the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend?  Make these bars for your guests for breakfast on Saturday, then top the leftovers (if there are any) with ice cream that night.


{Recipe adapted from here}

Monday, May 20, 2013

{Recipe Recap} Salted Chocolate Fudge Cookies

We definitely need some chocolate today.


Chocolate stuffed with chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt.


I made these as a second treat for Shawn’s birthday.  That’s not exactly true.  I mean, it is, but what I really mean is I used Shawn’s birthday as an excuse to make some cookies that I really wanted to try.  And it just so happens that Shawn’s a big fan of a strong not-overly-sweet chocolate flavor, which is what I expected from these cookies, so it was the perfect opportunity to bake up a treat that I had been eyeing.


I read through the recipe several times to see if I’d overlooked where it said to add the egg, but it turns out there’s no egg in these.  Excellent (eggs-cellent?) for eating uncooked cookie dough people with egg allergies.


These cookies were a perfect texture.  Slightly crisp on the outside and they gave way to a chewy interior, and then there were the melty semisweet bits for an extra boost of chocolaty goodness.  And don’t even get me started on the sprinkling of sea salt – that MADE these cookies.


Like I told you in the Snickers Brownies post, I took Shawn’s birthday treats to our dinner at Chili’s.  I shared a couple with our waiter as well as a waitress who asked for one after having a bite of the first cookie I gave our waiter.  Pretty bold of her, huh?  That should tell you just how good they were.


One note: I used Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder, which provided the base of the not-so-sweet chocolate flavor.  If you use regular unsweetened cocoa powder, they’ll probably be a little less bold.

Hope your weeks are off to a great start!

{Recipe here}