Free Arm Workout. Also, Cookies.

Raise your hand if you were the kid at sleepovers who was the first to wake up.

(raises hand)

Raise your hand if you used to bring a book to read since you knew your friends would be sleeping for 5 hours longer than you.

(raises hand) 

Raise your hand if you were that kid growing up who would be wide awake at 6am at sleepovers.

(raises hand) 

Raise your hand if you just sang a few lines of Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake” after reading the above statement.

(raises hand) 

Raise your hand one more time.

(raises hand) 

Repeat above steps 5x on each side for a light arm workout.

When you are done working your arms, make these cookies. I initially chose to make them because I (rightfully) concluded that if the words “super” and “yummy” were in the title of the recipe, they would in fact be super yummy cookies. Guess what? These are super yummy.

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Super Yummy Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies 
Source: Anne Burrell via Food Network 
Printable Recipe Printable Recipe 

2C AP flour
1C rolled oats
1tsp baking powder
1/2tsp ground cinnamon
1/2tsp kosher salt
1C brown sugar
1/2C sugar
1C butter, room temperature
2 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
12oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1C walnuts, chopped (optional)
large flake sea salt

Preheat oven to 350.
Combine flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine sugars and butter. Beat until fluffy.
Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add in vanilla.
Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture.
Stir in chocolate chunks and walnuts.
Using cookie scoop or large spoon, divide into portions of about 2T. Roll/shape into a ball and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment.
Bake at 350 for 12 minutes, until edges lightly browned.
Remove from oven and sprinkle immediately with a few flakes of sea salt.
Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack.
Enjoy!

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Baby Drama

It started as a nice thought. My coworker just had a baby (hooray for little newborn babies!), and I decided that sending a small congratulatory gift would be the appropriate response. After what felt like a few hours of wandering through aisles and aisles of items aimed to outfit, nurture, and entertain infants, I found my overwhelmed and exhausted self leaving the baby store with a cute (and very tiny) outfit.

I opted out of the free box at the checkout knowing that I had a few shoeboxes sitting in a closet at home saved for this exact situation. I pulled down three or four box options when I arrived back at my apartment, and selected the most appropriately sized one. I carefully wrapped the box in a brown paper bag, addressed it, covered it in an obnoxious amount of packing tape, and picked it up so that I could carry it out to my car to bring to the post office.

The box felt really, really light… like conspicuously light.  I had only wrapped a pair of teensy pants and an incredibly small fleece sweatshirt, but this was way too light.

You’re guess is accurate. I did accidentally wrap, address, tape, and nearly mail an empty box. My gift was in the other shoebox I had pulled down from my closet shelf… sitting right next to the box that I had so carefully prepped for mailing.

I wish the story ended there. But, it doesn’t.

Luckily, I realized my mistake and wrapped the appropriate box. I took it to the post office only to realize that it was in fact Veteran’s Day.  The post office was very closed.  In the spirt of persistence, I drove to a different post office (one with an automated parcel mailing service), bought my postage stamp, and found that the drop box wouldn’t open. It seemingly had been jammed by someone else’s package. I yanked the handle a few times, and then looked at the security camera pointing at me. I decided that kicking, punching, or violently shaking a mailbox was likely frowned upon so I decided to give up and go home with my package in hand.

In conclusion, my coworker just had a baby and she probably will never get this really nice gift I bought.

The end.

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Portabello Pot Roast Stew 
Source: Gimme Some Oven
Printable Source

1.5 lbs yukon gold potatoes (or red potatoes), cut into bite-sized pieces
1lb baby portobello mushrooms, cut into bite sized pieces
2 carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
2C frozen pearl onions
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3C vegetable stock
1/2C dry red wine
3T tomato paste
2T Worcestershire
2T cornstarch
salt, pepper
parsley (garnish)

In a crockpot, add potatoes, mushrooms, carrots, onions, garlic, thyme, wine, tomato past, Worcestershire sauce, and 2.5C of stock. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
Cook on low for 6 hours (or high for 3-4 hours) until potatoes are tender.
Once the stew is almost done, combine 1/2C stock and cornstarch until combined.
Add to the crockpot, cooking for 3 minutes (or until the liquid thickens).
Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.
Enjoy!

Happy Owl-ween

A girl.

A Halloween party invite.

A need for a costume.

A DIY attitude.

A plan.

A google search.

A desire to save money.

A trip to the craft store.

A sale on felt.

A sewing machine.

A few hundred pins.

A few hundred minutes.

and finally…

An owl.

At some point, I will realize that buying a costume is easier (and perhaps more cost effective if you factor in the time spent crafting) than DIY-ing.

Until then, Happy Owl-ween.

In other news, I’m in love with this recipe. It was easy, delicious, spicy and orange (i.e. seasonally color appropriate). It’s very easy to throw together, and was delicious topped with a spoonful of sour cream (or Greek yogurt) and a few leaves of fresh cilantro.

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Southwestern Butternut Squash Soup 
Source: The Kitchn 
Printable Recipe

1 butternut squash (~ 3lbs), cut into bite-sized pieces
1T olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepped, seeded and diced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2tsp cumin
1 1/2tsp salt
1tsp coriander
1tsp dried oregano
1tsp smoked paprika
1/2tsp cinnamon
1/4tsp cayenne pepper
4C vegetable broth
juice from 1 orange and 1 lime
toppings: sour cream (or plain greek yogurt), pepitas, chopped cilantro

In a large pot, heat the oil. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
Add bell peppers and jalapeños. Saute until soft, about 3-4 minutes.
Add garlic, spices, and salt. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir constantly to avoid burning the garlic.
Add the squash and vegetable broth.
Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce to medium.
Cover and simmer until squash is fork-tender, about 25 minutes.
Puree mixture. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Stir in orange juice and lime juice.
Serve with toppings of choice.
Enjoy!

 

 

 

Icelandic Horses

 

Once upon a time, I spent a week in Iceland.

I’m sure you’ve seen a picture or two of Iceland – they’re all over the internet. Stunning waterfalls, incredible fjords, majestic mountains, black beaches, and breathtaking views of the arctic ocean are impressively abundant. It’s the type of scenery that mostly leaves you speechless. I ran out of creative exclamatory remarks approximately four minutes after landing in Reykajvik, and quickly resorted to simply shouting ‘oh wow!’  and ‘I can’t believe this is real!’ at the sight of every new landscape.

Also, the horses. Let’s talk about the horses.

Iceland (192 of 238)

I’ll preface this by first confessing I’m not really a ‘horse person.’  I have nothing against horses, but I didn’t grow up riding horses or owning horses. My ‘My Little Pony’ collection was really small as a child, and I never owned (or wanted to own) a pair of riding boots. Honestly, I’ve only been horseback riding once which resulted in me spending a lot of time with a poorly trained horse named Tootsie who wanted to spend the majority of her time snacking on weeds in the woods and little time listening to me. Let’s just say it wasn’t the best experience.

Iceland changed me. There are horses all over Iceland… and I mean ALL OVER Iceland. We spent quite a few hours of our trip standing in open fields petting the small, friendly, and stunning Icelandic horses.

I’ve never been a ‘horse person’ nor have I been a blogger who likes to tie together the blog post and the recipe I post.

Harissa. Iceland. Quinoa. Horses. Broccoli. Horses.

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Harissa-Roasted Broccoli, Tofu and Quinoa Bowl 
Source: Bon Appetit 
Printable Recipe

1/2lb firm tofu, drained and pressed
3 cloves garlic, minced
2T harissa paste
7T olive oil, divided
1/4C apple cider vinegar, divided
kosher salt
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
1 1/2C quinoa, rinsed
1/2 red onion, cut into 1/2″ slices
sliced avocado

Preheat oven to 425.
Cut tofu into 1″ pieces
In a bowl, whisk garlic, harissa, 1/4C + 2T olive oil, and 3T vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
Toss broccoli, onion, and tofu into the harissa mixture.
Transfer broccoli, onion, and tofu onto a baking sheet.
Roast at 425, tossing occasionally for 30-40 minutes until browned and cooked through.
While broccoli, onion, and tofu are roasting, cook quinoa in a pot of boiling water for 10-12 minutes. Drain once cooked. Toss in 1T vinegar, 1T oil, and salt/pepper.
Divide quinoa into bowls. Top with broccoli mixture. Garnish with avocado.
Enjoy!

 

Not Cheese

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Nacho cheese recipes should probably contain cheese in the same way that applesauce should probably contain apples.

Allow me to mention the time I made cheese-less nacho sauce.

This feels a bit like a confession to me. I feel guilty. I am guilty. I totally did make cheese-less nacho cheese. Furthermore, I liked it.

This cheet-oh-color orange, spicy, salty, smooth dip holds up to a pile of chips just like your favorite combination of cheddar-y, monterey-jack, (+/- velveeta), more traditional nacho sauce.

Are you going to confuse a cheese lover with this recipe? No. Absolutely not. They will know that they are not eating cheese.

Are you going to get a cheese lover to like this recipe? Yes. Absolutely yes. They will like this recipe.

Vegan Nacho Dip
Source: Vegan for Everybody Cookbook 
Printable Recipe

12oz russet potatoes (washed, peeled, and cut into 1″ pieces)
1 carrot (peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces)
3T vegetable oil
1 1/2T nutritional yeast
1 1/2tsp white vinegar
1tsp salt
1/3C finely disced onion
1/3C finely diced poblano chile
1 clove garlic, mined
1/2-1tsp minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
1/4tsp cumin
1/8tsp mustard powder

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add potato and carrots. Cook until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain.
Combine potato, carrot, 1/3C water, 2T oil, nutritional yeast, vinegar, and salt in a blender. Process until smooth.
In a saute’ pan, heat 1T oil over medium heat. Cook onion and poblano until softened. Add in garlic, chipotle, cumin, and mustard. Cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant.
Add the spiced onion and poblano mixture to the potato mixture. Pulse a few times until combined.
Taste and add more seasoning if needing.
Serve immediately with chips.
Enjoy!

You Made Me Make Cauliflower Tacos: Swift Thoughts

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I can’t help but quote Taylor today. The new song she dropped has been on my mind (and radio) for the past week.

I’ll be honest. I patiently waited for the song to be released … and immediately listened to it 15 times in a row late at night last Thursday.

I’m confused. Like, realllllly confused.

Taylor, what did I make you do? And why exactly did I make you do what I made you do?

I’m deeply saddened to hear that the ‘old Taylor is dead.’ I understand the need for reinvention, but must we kill off the old Taylor? I really liked the old Taylor!

I’ve since read all the internet opinions, recaps, and synopsissis (purposely misspelled for drama). I’ve heard that the song is about Kanye, Kim, Kamye, and Kimye. I’ve heard that there is a touch in there for ex-boyfriend Calvin, and a spiteful few lines directed towards the paparazzi. I’ve heard she disses Katy Perry a time or two among the lyrics. I’ve seen the music video which I completely loathe as someone who is admittedly terrified of snakes.

 

Dear Taylor, 

I’m sorry that I (or Kanye, Kim, Katy, Calvin, etc) made you do what I’m (we’re) now looking at you do. I don’t really want you to be the actress starring in my bad dreams. I’m disappointed that you can’t come to the phone because you’re dead. As a fan, I’m relieved that you got smarter in the nick of time, but I’m thinking you should put down the list of names with the red underlining at this point. In the end, I don’t think I’m cool enough to walk around town singing this song. Can someone prance around their kitchen singing ‘look what you made me do’ while making cauliflower tacos with mango slaw and cilantro sauce? Because in all honesty, that’s what it looks like you made me do. 

Love,
Andrea

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Baja-Style Cauliflower Tacos 
Source: Vegan for Everybody Cookbook
Printable Recipe

3C coleslaw mix
1/2mango, chopped into 1/4″ pieces (~ 3/4C)
1T fresh cilantro, chopped
2T lime juice
1T jalapeno, minced
salt, pepper
1C unsweetened shredded coconut
1C panko breadcrumbs
1C canned coconut milk
1tsp garlic powder
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp chili powder
1/4tsp cayenne (alt: 1/2tsp sriracha)
1lb (small head) cauliflower, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
corn tortillas
cilantro sauce (1C dairy-free sour cream, 1T lime juice, 1/4″ fresh chopped cilantro and water to thin)

Heat oven to 450.
In a bowl, combine coleslaw, mango, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeno and a generous pinch of salt. Stir, cover, and refrigerate.
Spritz baking sheet with non-stick spray.
In a dish, combine coconut, panko, and a dash of salt.
In a different dish, whisk coconut milk, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, and cayenne. Toss cauliflower into the milk mixture.
Transfer cauliflower (1 piece at a time) from the milk mixture and into the panko mixture. Toss to coat and place each piece on baking sheet.
Bake cauliflower at 450 for 25 minutes, flipping once or twice to ensure even browning.
Serve on tortillas topping with slaw and a drizzle of cilantro sauce.
Enjoy!

That Time We Went to Colorado

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Let’s all go on a trip together, just the 4 of us. We can find cheap tickets to Denver and spend a few days hiking in the mountains.

Let’s laugh at how little each of us packed for the trip. Let’s avoid the extra fees that airlines charge for checked bags and carry-ons by jamming everything into a small backpack.

Let’s not do much planning in advance. Let’s allow a combination of spontaneity and last minute google searches guide us on our vacation.

Let’s lease a very small car that isn’t equipped for driving in the Rockies. Let’s all be very quiet when we end up on a deserted gravel road that almost certainly isn’t intended for a 2 wheel vehicle like the one we rented. Let’s pull off on the side of the road every so often to give our brakes a break.

Let’s fill up on gelato after a long day of exploring.

Let’s rent an RV that is parked in someone’s backyard … in the woods… in the middle of nowhere… with no cell service. Let’s joke about how likely we are to get murdered – this is most certainly a setup.  Let’s not tell Mom.

Let’s hike on strenuous trails, full of tight switchbacks, steep drops, and the most amazing views.

Let’s pretend that we definitely see the mountain goats that all the other hikers spotted.  Yes, let’s tell everyone that we definitely see the ‘4 small white dots’ that they are pointing at.

Let’s ascend 13000 ft above sea level, which is a lot of height for a group of midwesterners who live at 700ft elevation. Let’s ignore the lightheadedness, dizziness, and headaches that are likely the first signs of altitude sickness because the scenery is entirely worth it.

Let’s talk about our favorite family memories. Let’s discuss politics and solve world problems. Let’s swap recommendations for books, podcasts, and music. Let’s complain about our struggles with jobs, school, and life.

Let’s get in a fight or two… or three… or four. It’s tradition.

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And when we all part ways at the airport, let’s look at the pictures over and over and over. Let’s reminisce about the million memories we just created, and laugh about the zillion funny things that happened to us while traveling together.

Let’s be thankful for the opportunity to experience this trip…

and most importantly, let’s be thankful to have each other.

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Honey Peanut-Butter Cookies
Source: Taste of Home
Printable Recipe 

3C flour
1C sugar
1 1/2tsp baking soda
1tsp baking powder
1/2tsp salt
1/4C vegetable shortening
4T unsalted butter, room temp
1C peanut butter
1C honey
2 eggs
extra sugar

Preheat the oven to 350.
Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, bakin powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
Cream shortening, butter, peanut butter, and honey in a different bowl. Add in eggs and continue beating mixture.
Add dry ingredients to the mixture. Mix until just incorporated.
Roll dough into 1 1/2″ balls. Roll in sugar.
Place onto baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes.
Transfer to cooling rack to finish cooling.
Store in airtight container.
Enjoy!