Monday, September 30, 2013

Yummy Monday

Hello, hello, happy Monday!  What better way to start the week than talking about food, right?  I wish I had mouthwatering photos for you, but I forgot to take pictures of the bars until the light would do them no justice and the casserole, while tasty, was just plain ugly.

I made Crazy for Crust’s Funfetti Gooey Bars Friday night. 

Funfetti Gooey Bars by | These are the best gooey bars I've ever had!

(Photo via

They were a last-minute treat that I threw together for the McHusband to take to a fundraiser of sorts for his friend Byron’s daughter, Melaney, who has been fighting valiantly against cancer.  I don’t know if my bars were of any value once they arrived at the sale, but hopefully they were enjoyed by someone other than the McHusband, who snacked on the edges that I cut off so my bars would be pretty.

On Sunday, I made some nanaimo bars, banana bread, and then some actual real food, this quinoa casserole but I subbed lean ground beef for the chicken.  The McHusband and I both really enjoyed the casserole, which is good because we’ll be eating it all week.

And the last thing I made this weekend?  A copy cat Frosty recipe that the McHusband and I enjoyed during the Breaking Bad finale.


I spent time outside the kitchen, too.  I took my two classes at the Y Saturday morning then spent the afternoon in the yard pulling weeds, planting some pansies, and placing some mums. 


That night, the McHusband and I saw Don Jon with Heather then got some froyo afterward.  Sunday was the usual in addition to all the baking: laundry, cleaning, some catching up on my shows (including Hostages and The Blacklist, two shows that lived up to their hype), a spin class, and bathing the dogs.

Hope you guys enjoyed your weekends!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Short and sweet


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Just a day at the (dog) park

There’s a new dog park in nearby and strangely named Fuquay Varina.  It just opened a couple weeks ago so the McHusband, Monte, and I checked it out last Saturday.


Monte met a friend named Julian.  They took turns being top (literally) dog.



The water fountain was a favorite spot.


Hydrated and ready to go!




The fenced-in area for the 30-lbs-and-over dogs was around an acre, maybe an acre and a half.


Monte was very interested in this little guy.



Back for another drink and a minute to compose himself.


Time to play again!



There isn’t a water fountain in the back of the park so when Monte got hot and tired, he laid down in the cool dirt by the bench.


Uh oh, here comes trouble!



Playtimes between cooling off periods in the dirt got shorter and shorter.


The McHusband took the next picture from about as far back as the park goes looking up toward the front.  See why we’re so excited to have this park available to us?


Your husbands can get their exercise, too!



We had to drag Monte away from his dirt indention when it was time to go.  He was D-O-N-E.




Can’t wait to go back!


PS  Happy Birthday to Chase, who turns 5 today.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What-am-I-gonna-watch Wednesday

This show is already on my DVR but I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet.  Last night was boot camp, which meant I didn’t get home until almost 8:00, and I had a cookie cake to bake and frost. Every once in a while something has priority over my shows.  I’m sure you aren’t surprised to know that that “something” is food.

Anyway, I’ve been a big fan of Dylan McDermott’s since he starred on The Practice.  Then he was on Dark Blue and most recently he was on the first season of American Horror Story.  I can’t wait to see who he is, and who he turns out to be, on this show.

Hostages preview

There are only 15 episodes in the freshman season of Hostages, and I hope each one is worth the 40-something minutes it takes me to watch it on the DVR.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fall fun

This video made me laugh and just generally lifted my spirits so I wanted to share it with you guys.  I challenge you to watch this without cracking a smile in the first 5 seconds.

Husky in the leaves

Anyone else want to watch just the dog’s dramatic entrance over and over again?

Monday, September 23, 2013

{Recipe Recap} Pumpkin Cookie Sandwiches

Raise your hand if you love fall.  ::Raising hand::  I really couldn’t say for sure if I prefer fall or spring.  On one hand, spring is so lovely after a cold, dark winter.  I don’t even mind the pollen since the McHusband and I don’t have allergies.  Honestly, it bothers me more to have a yellow car than to have a layer of pollen dust on my flat surfaces in the house.  On the other (raised) hand, fall is such a reprieve from the overbearing heat and humidity of summer in NC.  Plus, fall comes with its own flavors like cinnamon and pumpkin. 

I’ve never been a big fan of pumpkin cookies because I like my cookies chewy rather than cakey, and I’ve never had a non-cakey pumpkin cookie.  So I was thrilled when Sally professed to have solved my dilemma – she got pumpkin into a cookie without making the cookie resemble a muffin top.  I couldn’t wait to try them.  Lucky for me, I had a good reason to whip up a batch.  The McHusband’s cousin celebrated an important birthday last week so I chose to send her some of these cookies.

Unfortunately, I had to send them with a disclaimer: “Hope your birthday’s better than these cookies!”

The texture of the cookies was “off” for me.  True, they weren’t cakey, but they were kinda doughy.  And even though there are plenty of spices in the recipe, once baked, they didn’t shine through so the cookie was bland.  Let’s face it, no one really likes pumpkin by itself, it’s the spices that matter.  But I was out of time as I needed to get these into the mail on Monday and wasn’t able to remake something.  So I also told Christa I owed her some samples from my next great batch of cookies.  I think I’ll go the tried-and-true route for the IOU package.

Anyway, all this rambling is to tell you why I turned cookies into cookie sandwiches.  I’d doubled the recipe because I also had an HOA meeting so I figured two birds, one stone, you know?  I made a cinnamon cream cheese frosting and used it to glue two cookies together and guess what?  The end result wasn’t half bad.


I’m not big on pumpkin and chocolate together so I used a chopped up white chocolate bar in the dough.


I made sure to pile the frosting on thick.  First of all, the cookies needed it.  Second, if some frosting’s good, a lot is better.


These went over well at the HOA meeting, and the McHusband’s coworkers gobbled up the rest without complaint.


Final verdict?  I can’t recommend the cookie recipe.  But I can recommend adding frosting to cookies.


{Cookie recipe adapted from here}

P.S.  Happy Anniversary to Chelle and Jeremy today!  Eight years and counting of wedded bliss.  Right, guys? Smile

Thursday, September 19, 2013

New member

I had an HOA meeting last night.  While I happened to choose a seat at the head of the table, our newest honorary member chose to have a seat ON a head at the table.


Luckily no heads were soiled (or banged against a wall in frustration) during this meeting.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What-I’m-gonna-watch Wednesday

Woo hoo, fall TV is upon us!  So far this week, I’ve had new episodes of Bones, New Girl, and The Mindy Project.  One new show that starts next week is The Crazy Ones with Robin Williams.  Obviously with him you’d be crazy not to have high hopes for the show, I just hope I haven’t built up my expectations too much.

The Crazy Ones preview

Anyone else gonna give Mork a chance to prove his best TV days aren’t behind him?

Monday, September 16, 2013

{Recipe Recaps} Mexican Food and Banana Bread

You know I like to share treats with you on Mondays, a sort of spoonful of sugar to help get us out of weekend mode.  I didn’t make anything overly decadent this weekend, but I figured a food post is always a good subject here in McMania no matter the day of the week.

I got a new Cooking Light last week and immediately picked out no fewer than 10 things I wanted to make.  I made two things on that list this weekend: the banana bread from the cover and the chicken enchiladas.

I also made some cookies and that Banana Pudding Cake with the Nilla Wafer Streusel.  I had plenty of ripe bananas to use up and since no one at our offices got to sample the deliciousness of that cake, I figured I needed to make it again to share.  This time, I made 1.5 times the streusel topping.  Next time, I won’t hold back; I’ll double the topping.

But back to the new recipes.  The banana bread was pretty good.  Not the best I’ve ever made, but for being somewhat healthy, it was tasty.  I took the liberty of adding some cinnamon chips, some of that wonderful Cake Spice, and a teaspoon of vanilla.  The McHusband seemed to enjoy it as much as some of the full-fat, calorie-heavy breads I’ve made before.

The chicken enchiladas were better than the bread, but they also took a lot more time and effort.  The way you cook the chicken with the water and chicken broth and veggies definitely didn’t seem worth it.  I tried some of the shredded chicken and it didn’t taste special.  That being said, you use the liquid from cooking the chicken with some salsa verde and cream to make the sauce so I suppose it might make a difference there.


The McHusband asks me frequently to make him quinoa to have as a side to his heated-up grilled chicken and chicken sausages during the week.  I finally did what he wanted and made a big batch of Spanish-style Quinoa for us to have with our enchiladas and so we can have the leftovers this week.  I added some chicken meatballs to mine so it’s lunch-in-a-bucket.

Hope your week’s off to a good start!

{Chicken Enchiladas}

{Banana Bread adapted from here}

{Quinoa adapted from here}

Friday, September 13, 2013

{Recipe Recap} Turkey & Quinoa Meatloaf

Happy Friday to you guys!  I can hardly wait for this weekend to get here already.  According to the weatherman, the humidity’s going down this afternoon and the temps are soon to follow.  And who am I to doubt the weatherman?  A smart lady, that’s who.  But I’m going to believe him this time because I so want him to be right.

But enough about the weather, let’s talk about food.

Last Sunday, I gave the McHusband a few options for dinner, including stuffed peppers and this meatloaf.  Even though the weather was still quite summery, apparently the McHusband was in the mood for comfort food because he opted for the meatloaf.  I decided to add baked sweet potatoes and steamed cauliflower to the meal to round things out.  Good – no, great – calls on both our parts.


I overbaked the meatloaf a touch so it wasn’t as moist as it should’ve been, but the flavor wasn’t affected.  It was delicious!


I especially enjoyed the glaze – the NON-ketchup – glaze on top.  Who knew water, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce would be so yummy?


The recipe says this makes 5 servings, but I got more than that out of it.  Still, if you did divide it into five “slices,” you wouldn’t need to feel guilty since each hunk would only have about 260 calories.

I want to make this again sooner than later so I can cook it for just the right amount of time.  I told the McHusband that I have a hard time cooking two things at once in the oven.  Guess I really showed him, huh?


When the weather does finally cool down and fall descends upon us, keep this meatloaf on the radar.  It wasn’t the quickest thing to put together since you have to cook the quinoa, onions, and garlic beforehand, but it’s not difficult either.  Just something to keep in mind in case you don’t normally have a lot of time on a weeknight to get dinner on the table.  Just like in our house, this might be a Sunday-night meal. 

Of course, pretty much every meal is a Sunday-night meal.

Hope everyone around here has a reason to spend some time outside this weekend.  Tomorrow, the McHusband and I are going to take Monte to the new dog park that just opened in Fuquay.  Other than that, I’m not sure what’s on our agenda besides the usual: exercise, cleaning, laundry, that one homemade meal, and definitely some baking.

TGIF!  Oh, and be careful today.  It IS Friday the 13th…

{Turkey and Quinoa Meatloaf}

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

More helping

The Friday before my dad came, I wanted to mop the hardwoods, which meant sweeping them first.  I went ahead and moved the chairs out of the dining room and put them between the den and the foyer to keep the dogs out of my way while I worked.

Apparently Monte had some separation anxiety.


He belly-crawled his way under the chair.


And into my dirt pile.


And now he’s happy because he’s with me on my side of the chairs.


“Uh, Mom, I think you missed a spot in the bathroom.”

Thanks, Monte.

Monday, September 9, 2013

A sweet recommendation + the weekend

I saw these new ice cream sandwiches in the Food Lion near my office a few weeks back and finally picked some up this weekend.

Between them being a Skinny Cow product AND being limited edition, there was no way I could resist them.  The McHusband and I split one after our dinner last night and we both wished we’d had our own because it was quite tasty.  The cinnamon wasn’t overpowering, and the oatmeal cookie wafers were just perfect.

Don’t miss out on these – get ‘em while you can!

The McHusband and I spent Friday night in the Crossroads area, having dinner and fro-yo and doing a little shopping.  He was looking for polos and I was looking for maternity clothes, especially pants.  I did end up finding a sweater dress, one pair of black pants, and some tank tops at Old Navy.  It’s a start.

I was up at 7:15 Saturday morning so I could make it to Body Pump at the Y.  I wasn’t sure I was going to stay for the class, Power Hour Extreme, right afterward like I normally do, but I saw that the instructor was one I really liked so I stuck around.  Two hours of exercise, not a bad way to start the day.

That night, the McHusband and I went to dinner at Maggiano’s with Heather, Bruce, Shawn, and Vanessa.  Bruce and Heather drove so we figured we’d return the favor by buying them their drinks and/or dessert.  Check out this Chocolate Zuccotto Cake.  My hand is as close to the cake as I can get without actually touching it.


This thing was divine!  It was served chilled.  The cake was moist and dense, it was as rich as expected without being overly sweet, and the mousse layers were a dessert all by themselves.  And don’t let the picture fool you.  This wasn’t a SLICE of cake, it was a WEDGE of cake.

Yesterday was the usual: chores, laundry, spinning.  I made us a comfort-food dinner of turkey-quinoa meatloaf, baked sweet potatoes, and steamed cauliflower.  The meatloaf was very good and we will definitely be having it again.  I’ll be sharing the recipe soon.

Hope everyone else enjoyed their two-day reprieve from the grind.  The McHusband and I both thought the weekend went by really quickly, I think partly because we were busy and partly because we were coming off the long Labor Day weekend.  I can’t believe we have to wait until the end of November for our next break.

Friday, September 6, 2013

16 Weeks

A quick (or maybe not) update for you guys:

How your baby's growing

Get ready for a growth spurt. In the next few weeks, your baby will double his weight and add inches to his length. Right now, he's about the size of an avocado: 4 1/2 inches long (head to rump) and 3 1/2 ounces. His legs are much more developed, his head is more erect than it has been, and his eyes have moved closer to the front of his head. His ears are close to their final position, too. The patterning of his scalp has begun, though his locks aren't recognizable yet. He's even started growing toenails. And there's a lot happening inside as well. For example, his heart is now pumping about 25 quarts of blood each day, and this amount will continue to increase as your baby continues to develop.

How I’m feeling: Except for that brief interlude at the beginning of last week when I was exhausted, I’ve been feeling pretty normal.

Workouts: I got back on track after Tuesday last week but then sorta fell off the wagon a bit this past weekend. Not because I didn’t have the energy for real exercise, but because I was just feeling lazy. I finally redeemed myself a little on Monday with backyard boot camp and some jogging intervals up the street and back. I think I did that 6 times so I wonder how many neighbors saw me and wondered what had gotten into me.  I also went to boot camp at the Y on Tuesday and ran (okay, jogged) for 53 minutes on the greenway at the Museum of Art on Wednesday.  I did have to walk a few times, which probably added up to 10 minutes at the slower pace all together.

Food cravings/aversions: Still no specific cravings, but I feel like carbs in general are harder to resist than they used to be. Chips, candy, crackers, chocolate, the breadsticks from Olive Garden, cereal…

Sleep: Same as before – I’m very tired by bedtime and have been sleeping really well for the most part. I’ve even been able to make it through the night without a potty break, which is wonderful.

Movement: Nothing yet but I’m anxiously awaiting feeling it for the first time.

Belly button in or out: In, where it’s supposed to be.

Rings on or off: On and in no danger of not fitting so far.

Maternity clothes: Not yet. However, I finally went through the clothes Bri gave me and I’m confident I really won’t have to invest in any casual clothes (Thanks, Bri!), which is good since I’ll need to get a decent work wardrobe built up. But can I just tell you how awesome maternity jeans are? Like I told Bri, if I’d known how comfortable those things were, I might’ve let the McHusband knock me up sooner!

Recent fun or interesting things: I guess this qualifies as interesting. I had a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday and found out that my iron level is good, the baby’s heartbeat is strong, and my uterus is where it’s supposed to be. Yeah, I was real worried about that last thing. This definitely isn’t fun but I suppose it might be interesting to some of you: According to the doctor’s scale, I’ve gained three pounds in the past four weeks, which means three pounds in eight weeks since my weight was the same from week 8 to week 12.  Still, seeing the scale go up was tough to swallow even though I knew it was going to happen eventually. And those three pounds are just the beginning…

New baby items: Nothing yet but I did scope out the car seats, strollers, and diaper bags in Target the other day.

Miss anything?: Wine. Staying up past 11:00 on the weekends and not feeling like I’m going to fall asleep on my feet. My pants fitting the same at the end of the day as at the beginning.

If you’ve made it this far, here’s a picture for your viewing pleasure.  I took it in the bathroom at work yesterday morning.  With some effort, my middle could look flatter and with not as much effort, it could look rounder.  This is me just standing normal – good posture and core engaged.


I’ve taken a few other pics along the way so one day I’ll do a comparison post.  Not sure I’m looking forward to that…

TGIF!  The weather here this weekend is supposed to be gorgeous, and I can’t wait to enjoy it, starting with my lunch today when I’ll sit outside with my book

Thursday, September 5, 2013

{Recipe Recap} Banana Pudding Cake with Nilla Wafer Streusel

I will be making this cake again (and again and again), and I will be looking for any excuse to use this streusel recipe.


The cake recipe happened to pop up in an Allrecipes email, and I knew I had everything necessary to throw the cake together.  I added some cinnamon chips as well as about a teaspoon of Penzey’s Cake Spice.


As is the case with most banana breads, muffins, cakes, bars, etc., this only tasted better and better with each passing day.  And the texture?  Absolutely perfect!  It had a tighter crumb than a regular cake and it was very moist.


Because this was a banana PUDDING cake, I got to thinking that it needed some Nilla Wafers.  Maybe a crust?  Or…a streusel?!  Thank goodness someone had already gone there for me, and I could piggyback off them.


I crushed my wafers by hand so there were some ground crumbs as well as some larger chunks of cookie.  Can I tell you something?  No streusel will be complete for me from now on without cookies in it.


If you have a couple overripe bananas pleading their cases to not be thrown away, then make this cake.  With the fruit in it and cinnamon, it could easily pass for a breakfast dish and just think how happy your coworkers would be if you showed up Monday morning with this.


Before I go, a quick peek behind the scenes at my apprentices.  Morgan does her best to stay in the sun and Monte?  Well, what you DON’T see in the picture is the air vent because he has his butt completely covering it.




{Cake recipe adapted from here}

{Nilla Wafer Streusel}