Can’t Get Enough

Hello!

I’m back from my long holiday weekend in Missouri and things already feel like they’re back to normal.

Rain. Coffee. Work. Computer. Tuesday. Yep- the weekend is definitely over. Meh.

The drive back to Chicago went alright. Although I’m now convinced there’s a rain cloud that just travels with my car. Just can’t get enough of that rain. Woot woot!

We won’t complain anymore, though. I made good time and was still able to make my Whole Foods date with Mon! After a long weekend of good eats, a little bit of roughage was necessary. And appreciated by not only my tastebuds, but also my digestive system. Yep.

But then we counteracted our healthy dinner date with a trip to Target.This was planned months ago- like all the way back when we stumbled upon Valentine’s Day clearance after the holiday had passed.

No- I’m not chowing down on chocolate. As much as I’d like to. Just stocking up for future baking and such. There isn’t usually a chocolate stash in the house, but as long as the bag of candy isn’t open, there’s usually not a problem.

I cannot promise the same discipline once the bag is open. I can only warn you to watch your fingers.

I also cannot promise that I will stop talking about candy any time soon.  Sorry. :)

After the dinner and shopping, we finished catching up on each other’s weekends with a trip to the gym. A half hour of treadmill walking made me feel sooooo much better after being stuck in a car all day. The leggies appreciated it.

Now if only someone could help me out with the tightness in my back from sitting for a total of 16 hours in a car over the weekend…

And speaking of sugar… sounds like you really enjoyed the pics of my mom’s Coconut Cream Crunch and Almond Joy Cake. We may have to give them their proper time to shine on the blog sooner than later. Noted.  :)

Also, thanks for letting me know I’m not the only weirdo who doesn’t like ham.

Seriously- for all this time I thought it was just me.

Alright Tuesday… let’s DO THIS.

Acting Out

Spring is almost here. The weather is nice (I consider mid-50’s nice). It’s a little greener outside. The air even seems fresher, don’t ya think?

It’s wonderful.

Although it makes people restless. More restless than normal.

I felt the need to act out. Rebel against routine. I didn’t even want to wait for “Thirsty Thursday”.

So when Mon casually suggested we mix it up and go see Red Riding Hood after our workouts last night, I had a list of available movie times sent back to her within minutes.

Sure, I’m replacing the idea of fresh spring air with semi-stale buttery popcorn smell. But that’s not the point.

The point is we’re doing something different. Watch out now!

Obviously, we still had to workout first (some things will never change). I did another 5-mile run. 8:39 pace. 5 miles in the middle of the week is still a very new concept for me. Getting used to it, but I still start feeling pretty “done with this shiznit” at mile 4ish. Luckily, another girl I see regularly who had just started her run said she was in the long haul for a 5-miler, too. So there was someone next to me the entire time. It helped.

Afterwards, I jumped in and out of the shower in a flash so I’d still be able to come up with some sort of dinner before we left for the show. Then I just decided to break out the big purse and take my dinner to the show… A peanut butter wrap. This is what happens when there isn’t time to cook for myself. And when I don’t have 2 slices of bread laying around. *Shrugs*

What else would you expect? I was at a movie! It was either that or swedish fish…

If you think I’m toting broccoli into a theater, you’re sadly mistaken.

But back to the movie…

(Source)

I’m usually not one for movies like this. I know the same director did Twilight and I’m not really into that whole series (a lot of that may have to do with my dislike of Kristen Stewart- but that’s a discussion for another day). But it seemed a little suspenseful without all the gore. Which I like. So I went.

It was decent. The critics were pretty harsh, and I understand why after reading their reviews, but there wasn’t ever a moment of true boredom. The story was told decently well, however even I think they could have gone a little “darker” with it. Considering I’m the one saying this, you can imagine it’s not nearly as scary as they make it out to be…

But whatev. I was entertained. And that is what matters in my egocentric world.

Before I’m off to go chug coffee, I’ll just say good luck to everyone who will be cheering on their teams during March Madness. Mizzou made it in, so you can assume that, even with slim chances, I’ll be cheering them on. Gotta represent. Holla’.

Also, enjoy St. Patty’s Day! Are you doing anything to celebrate? While the masses will be enjoying green beer and cabbage today, I’ll be scarfing ice cream cake. It’s my boss’s birthday. He doesn’t eat cake, but has a crazy obsession with ice cream.

I see no problems with this.

Getting Nutty

Happy weekend!

I actually slept until 8:30 today.  For those of you who read regularly, this is unheard of!  But appreciated nonetheless.

I’m so glad we just had our last full week of work for the year. In my office, most people will be out for a good part of next week.  Not only will it be a short week, but a laid back one. Merry Christmas to me!  :)

Yesterday I skipped my morning workout, but still got cardio in after work.  2 miles on the tread and 25 minutes on the elliptical.  I rushed through it because I had an appointment at Mon’s.  We were cleaning makeup brushes (weird, yes, but she just got this new cleaner that’s *amazing* and I’m notorious for, um, hardly ever washing them). 

Another wild Friday night in my part of the world, yes?

If it makes up for being lame, we watched Donnie Darko. If I start freaking out around Easter, or whenever a rabbit crosses my path, you’ll know why.

Cleaning makeup brushes and Donnie Darko.  Two things that have never been combined in the same sentence.

Let’s talk about something else.  Like nuts.Look what I got with the gift certificate I won from Retta? I received a gift certificate from Oh Nuts! to order whatever I wanted. So I got a pound of almonds, a pound of walnuts, and some malted milk balls that were opened at work almost as quickly as the box was and didn’t survive by the time pictures were taken.  Oops.

Soooo excited!  Thanks, Retta!  :)

Speaking of nuts, I’ve got one more post from last week’s baking extravaganza.

I know.  Still going… can you believe how much stuff we made???We’re all aware of Bakerella and her cake balls.

I didn’t follow any real recipe on that one, but gotta give her props for the idea.  Start with cake.  Then destroy it.Add icing into the bowl/pot and combine.  Keep adding icing until it is easily workable to roll into balls.  Then chill.  I don’t have pics of this because I forgot.  But you can make the balls as big or as small as you’d like. 

As Mon and I were rolling balls, we enjoyed making Schwetty Balls references.Come on.  Someone had to do it.

After your balls have chilled (he he he), it’s time for dipping them.Now you may understand why I’m grinning like an idiot with a tear or two in my eyes.  Balls jokes are fun.

We had a few things to cover our balls with after dipping it in chocolate or vanilla almond bark.Leftover toasted coconut (told you I had a plan!), sprinkles, and toffee.  I liked the taste of the toffee the most- but just a heads up, you make a mess when you try to get it to stick to your balls…

Let them chill again and then enjoy…Too big to put in your mouth all at once.

Ahem. 

This is also the general idea I went with to get rid of all the extra peppermint Oreos from the peppermint bark I made.Most people use chocolate ganache or cream cheese when they make Oreo Truffles.  I just went with leftover icing from the cake balls I made.

This may have been because I wasn’t sure how the cream cheese and peppermint would taste together.  Or because I was too cheap to buy cream cheese solely for the truffles.  You decide.

Same concept.  Roll the balls.  Chill.  Dip.  Enjoy.If you have leftover melted almond bark (which I did), you can also dip things other than your balls.We’re all about being resourceful up in here.

And THAT, my friends, is the end of my baking adventure.

My apron isn’t retired, but it’s not moving for a while.

Time to get up and moving.  I’ve got a few things to take care of before heading to the city to hang out with Miss Megan tonight.  Later!

How To Become Addicted to Peppermint

Just when I was trying to convince you I don’t JUST bake around here…The third thing Mon and I tackled over last Saturday’s Baking Extravaganza was peppermint bark. 

Now… I’ve done the standard chocolate and crushed peppermint before. And it’s good.  But that’s not what this was.  THIS blows my standard candy out of the water.

Basically, they’re slabs of junk food goodness.  That’s the only way I can think of to explain it. And yes, it’s a slab.  No “cute” or “sexy” way to put it. 

I found the idea by stumbling across this post by Gingerbread Bagels, but did some substituting here and there.  And didn’t really follow the measurements.  Because sometimes I just feel like winging it.

My version had a peppermint theme going on, but I’m positive there would be a way to make an amazing Andes mint remake of it (if you’re so inclined to do so).

I melted the semi-sweet and milk chocolate together.  No problem.If you like peppermint bark REALLY minty (hence the name, right?), I would suggest adding peppermint extract to the chocolate after you melt it. Just a thought.

My issue came when it was time to melt the almond bark.  The original recipe calls for buying separate red and green candy disks to melt.  Did I do this?  No… my thoughts were that I’d just buy the white almond bark and dye it.  Cheaper and just as easy, right?

Um.  No.

Once that dye hit the almond bark, it became this really weird, almost paste-like, concoction. Trying to heat it more did absolutely nothing.  I had to throw it out. Can someone explain this to me?  Chemistry was not my strongest subject.

On to Plan B.

The bark itself just wouldn’t be as “festive”.  I think we were close to hour 3 or 4 at that point and a break to run to Michael’s was not happening.  Plus, we were drinking and it was sleeting outside. And a pizza was on it’s way.  Priorities, people!But after plenty of swirling with a knife, it still looked oh so pretty.On to the toppings…When was the last time I bought Oreos?  I don’t remember.  I’m not one to buy packaged cookies (because I prefer to bake instead).  But in case you’re wondering, the peppermint Oreos?  Deadly…

That goes for pretzel M&M’s and peppermint Hershey kisses, too. I’m wasn’t overly sad there’s still about half of each bag leftover. They’ve been coming in handy this week.  :)

Like I said, I’m sure you could buy as much christmas-y candy you’d like and really load up on this thing.  But I kept it simple…This is where the large knife came in…After it cooled in the refrigerator, I was trying to figure out how to best break it up without smashing all the stuff on top. 

Clearly Mon took care of it.

This was her favorite out of all the things I made.  And she even replicated it on her own a couple days ago.

Since Mon doesn’t spend time in the kitchen, you know it’s easy.Well.  Not THAT easy.  Melting things can be hard…

I say that kind of seriously.  I’ve burned my share of chocolate. And other food.  And skin.  Now that I think of it, I have no idea why I’m allowed extreme heat or open flame.

Speaking of that half bag of M&M’s… I’d be lying if I didn’t say they were a good chunk of my dinner last night after a 20-minute walk on the treadmill because I wasn’t feeling very energetic.

What?  Sometimes Hump Days are just rough. 

I still got a round of resistance bands in yesterday morning and The Shred this morning.

We’ll call it even.

Eye Candy

Good Morning!

This will probably be short because I’ve been busy “reading up” on Ryan Reynolds and his election to Sexiest Man Alive by People Magazine.

About time, People. Where was this nomination after Van Wilder?  I would have already given it to him back then…

Sigh. 

Speaking of candy (he he he), one of the guys I work with brought in leftover Halloween candy his kids hadn’t gotten through yet.  Two plastic bags of it.  What?

First off, thank you. 

Secondly, where do you live so that I may trick or treat there next year???

It’s easy to assume that I spent the morning slowly transitioning the candy from the break room to my desk.The chocolate now resides next to green tea and packet of cream of wheat in my snack drawer.  That negates some of the calories, yes?

It’s funny that if this happened at home, I would be in serious trouble.  Or at least my stomach would be, because I have a habit of sneaking it until it’s gone.  Yes, I sneak it even though I live by myself.  The sugar content makes me revert to child-like behavior.  But when at work, I kind of forget it’s there.  There’s no real logic to that.  You’d think that I’d mindlessly snack more because of boredom. It’s a freak accident for sure. 

Hopefully my supply will last.  But between Jaime being preggers and my love of chocolate?

Let’s be honest- it doesn’t stand a chance.

Oh and I officially signed up for my last race (that’s what I say now) of the year:I’ve decided to make it my last race of the season for a few reasons:

1. I need to save money for holiday spending.

2. I need to save money in general. 

3. Since I’m clearly not the biggest fan of running in the freezing cold, it seems logical to not pay to run in it.

“But Amy- why would you do a turkey trot that’s not on Thanksgiving?”

Well, my dear reader, let me tell you.

I go out on Thanksgiving Eve.  No matter where I spend Thanksgiving, it seems to happen.  A tradition, if you will.  Just like watching the Thanksgiving Day parade in the comfort of my own home with a cup of coffee and makeup from the night before.

Who am I to break tradition?

Any good random traditions you have for Thanksgiving that others may find interesting?

While you figure out your favorite tradition, I’m going to go back to my Ryan Reynolds research…

Happy Thursday!

I’m Gonna Hit My Head

Did you get through Tuesday ok?

I seemed to have a hard time with it.  I was still recovering from an exhausting weekend- yes, the weekend hangover.  Also, I had a fantastic little migraine that set in half way through my day.  I’m starting to get nervous about the frequency of these things.  I used to get maybe a few a year.  But that number has slowly increased.  It’s not extremely often, but if you’ve gotten them, you know that even one or two is more than necessary.  I’m going to watch to see when the next one happens.  If comes relatively sooner than later, I’m getting it checked out and maybe some blood work done.

But on to happier things…

I walked into the workout room and someone else had snagged the “good” treadmill before I could get to it (only leaving the noisy one as an option).  Mon was there and just finishing up and offered to let me just use hers.  Usually I don’t like putting people out like this (I mean come on- it can be noisy in a one-bedroom apartment!), but she said she had to run some errands and I’d have the place to myself (well, with her two cats- but you know what I mean).  So I said ok.

She has her treadmill set up in the dining room area and showed me the ropes.

“I also keep the fan on so it’s not hardly hot at all while I run!”  She’s so accommodating.  And she turned it on.

I stepped on the treadmill.  And looked up.  Um…

“Mon… I’m either going to break a lightbulb as I take a big stride or I fear I’m in danger of getting clipped by the fan.”

I could just see myself getting knocked out and flying off the back of it.  In slow, slightly animated Kill Bill style. 

By pointing this out, I think I made her feel really short.  And myself feel abnormally tall.  We don’t have vaulted ceilings in our complex, folks… sad but true…  So whereas she can run freely and flail her arms about while doing so if she pleases, I have to be a little more cautious for when I use it.  Good to remember.  We moved it so when I stepped up, I was no longer in danger of getting beheaded by the low light fixture.

Either way, eventually I got my miles in.  A breezy 5 miles at an average of about 8:30.  It was nice to have a better look at a television while I ran.  And no weight slammers.  And also to watch her cats pull a Tom Cruise move from Risky Business and come barreling through the kitchen to slide on her kitchen rugs.  It was hilarious.  I am not sure if I’ll ever be a pet person, but I do love other people’s pets!  They crack me up…

Before I did my gym time, I may have gotten some fresh veggies to stock the refrigerator.  And to stock my tummy.  :)

I got pretty excited about all the good eats, so I decided to use a little of almost everything.  Because that’s how I roll…Half of an orange pepper, mushrooms and asparagus.  So colorful…   I also added an egg for good measure (gotta keep up those protein levels!).  So I ended up with a stir fry/scramble/veggie wrap thing…So much veggie excitement, it couldn’t contain itself.  For real.

Overall, the wrap was decent.  But if I were to do it again (which, let’s face it, I will), I would chill out on the pepper.  I enjoy it much more as an accent to the meal- not as part of the main show.  Lesson learned.

What’s your favorite veggie for wraps?  I think mine would be mushrooms… with asparagus as a close second.

The one thing that did top off my Tuesday (and put a smile on my face) is the candy that Monica finally was able to get a hold of from a coworker:Japanese candy!  Sometimes people in her office have to make trips over to Asia.  When they do, Mon makes sure they pick up a treat for her.  And this time she shared!  I was so curious as to what was inside the condom-shaped wrapper… but I waited until after I had gotten home, showered, cooked, and was ready for dessert.  Patience at it’s finest.

It was a light sandwich cookie with a thin layer of amazing white chocolate in the middle.  I didn’t even wait to take a bite.  And yes, it was THAT good.  Perfect.

*Oh and I was asked to give specifics about the bowl of steel cut oats I featured yesterday- I definitely measure them out (about 1/3 cup oats and a little less than 2/3 cup milk).  After they spend the night soaking in the refrigerator, I put them in for 4:00 to 4:30 minutes at 70% power (as to not overflow).  I think I may play with the time a little bit- I think they’d get a little less chewy if I did another minute or so.  I like the texture as-is, but am just curious more than anything… :)

Anyhoo, happy Wednesday!  This week (as awful as yesterday was) is flying by!

And now- attempting to not eat everything but the kitchen sink…

I’m glad you kids enjoyed the foodie porn from this morning’s cookie post.  But there are a few points raised (as there are with every baking post for me- and I’m sure for you, too).  How do you not go to town on the finished dessert and scarf half of it down right then and there when it comes out of the oven?

Um…

I’m not sure.  Because like I mentioned earlier, I heart me some cookie dough.  I was that kid who’d sneak into the refrigerator for spoonfuls of cookie dough when no one was around.  Multiple times.  Hey mom- that’s why you always came up short on the cookies (I’m sure you already knew that- but just in case).

Either way, I have very little control when it comes to desserts.  Very very little.  I am not perfect by any means- but here are a few things I do personally to not go overboard with the sweets.  You can take them with a grain of salt if you’d like (or a grain of sugar?  he he he).  Because we’re all different.  We all do things our own way. And I’m by no means a professional on the matter (that’s my disclaimer).  But here’s my way:

- Don’t keep them in the house.  Bags of chips last for weeks or even months in my pantry.  I’m not a salty craving kind of girl.  A package of cookies will go untouched for maybe a day.  Maybe.  Assuming that I don’t attack it as soon as I get home from shopping.  It’s not like I really need it- but it’s there, so why the  hell not?  As long as they’re not there, I think twice about it.  And have to actually hop in my car and drive to a store to buy it.  I won’t lie- have totally done it for a Snickers bar before. But at least I know I really really wanted it.

- Don’t eat the crap stuff.  Chips Ahoy. Yes, they’re good.  But are they really as good as a homemade chocolate chip cookie?  I much prefer the homemade stuff that I made with all real ingredients. The grocery store cookie aisle is often full of yummy processing junk and artificial flavors and chemicals you don’t need.  This only makes a less healthy choice that much worse.  I’ll pull out a quote from Michael Pollan here- don’t eat what your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.  I promise it tastes better!

- Think of it as a treat.  Mindless snacking happens.  I do it- especially when it’s a slow day at work.  But if you actually sit back for a moment and enjoy it for what it is- slowly- you’ll end up feeling more satisfied.  And not reach for more.  You know how they say to eat everything formally at a table and on a plate?  I don’t do that all the time. Mostly because I feel really goofy doing it.  But I have- and it helps. Even if I’m feeling like a nerd while doing so.  Mostly because if you put it on a plate, you actually see how much you’re eating.  Not just eating out of the cookie jar without looking down until you can’t seem to grab anything because you’ve already eaten it all and hit the bottom (this is another been there done that moment for me).

- Don’t substitute.  Now, here’s where a lot of us may differ.  I know a lot of people enjoy the healthified versions of their favorite desserts.  And that is GREAT.  I repeat- that’s just awesome.  No sarcasm. I may even be sort of jealous.  Reduced sugar?  That’s nice.  But it tastes like cardboard.  I’m looking at you, Snackwell.  I just enjoy the real thing better.  So I just eat it – but make sure to keep balance with only one cookie/slice or watch what I eat the rest of the day a little more carefully.  Nothing wrong with a splurge every once in awhile. 

- Make an event of it.  I don’t bake on an extremely regular basis (for myself).  So I make sure that I really have a craving for whatever I’m making and make sure that I’m really craving the idea of baking (not just the end result).  That way, the whole process is fun.  (Insert smirk and comment of how I’m like a mini Martha right here.  I totally deserve it.)  I seriously enjoy baking- and I’m pretty sure the cookie tastes better to me because part of it comes from sweet victory…  ;)

-Along with the above about baking, give some away!  I can honestly tell you, the 15th cookie I eat in a batch of cookies I made does not taste nearly as good as the 1st or 2nd.  Don’t ruin it for yourself!  For the batch of cookies I made- some are set back for when my friends get here, some went to my friends, and quite a few went to work.  I’d rather other people enjoy them than me get through ALL of them by myself.  (And they get out of the house quickly!)

- Narrow it down.  So you want something sweet.  What kind of sweet?  Vanilla sweet?  Milk chocolate sweet?  Fruity sweet? A sort of candy?  A cookie?  Ice cream?  Figure it out first.  Because I’ve done the “stand in the pantry and taste test everything to find you don’t want any of it and move on to the refrigerator to continue the quest until this stupid craving is under control”.  That’s no good.  And for me, it always ends in a tummy ache.  But I’m still hungry.  So just take a minute.  And sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes if you think about it long enough, you realize maybe you don’t want any of it.  And you’re good without.  Who knows? (This rarely happens for me, but I thought I’d throw it out there for good measure.)

-Never eat it just to get rid of it.  When discussing the topic once, a friend made a good point, “it’s just as much of a waste eating it when you’re full or not wanting it as it is to throw it away.”  Both are a waste once you think about it.  Well said, girl.  I had never thought of it that way before.

There you have it.  That’s what I do.  And I will stress- I’m no expert, nor am I perfect.  Because clearly to practice these things- I’ve had to learn from a few “oops- holy crap did I just do that?” moments.  We’ve all had them- there are sooo many articles/books/studies/etc about the overall issue of overeating desserts or in general because of it.  But that doesn’t mean what works for one person will work for another.  So take what you will from this.  I won’t be offended.

What works for you?  Or better yet- what doesn’t work for you?  Like I said- I can’t do the substitutions to make something healthier.  I feel like I’m cheating myself…

*This post was actually going to be part of my daily posting, but it sort of took on a life of it’s own.  Thanks for getting through it!  :)  Have a wonderful night!

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