Portion Control

It’s something I think 95% of us have issues with from time to time.

And I salute the other 5% of you.

Because if something is that good, rarely do I ever want to stop.

You can never have too much of a good thing… right?Yeah you can.

Like on Saturday. Miller Lite is a good thing.

12 hours of bar hopping where it’s the sponsor of the pub crawl?

Not a good thing.

It’s safe to assume it was part of the reason I spent most of my Sunday being lazy and not moving from my couch.However, I did move a few times.

Not only to start up the crock pot, but also to grab one or two of these cookies from the mind of Cookies and Cups (Yes, I am introducing yet another baking blog and you’re going to like it).

Several trips to crab cookies, actually.

This chubby hubby cookie bar recipe has been on the top of my “to make” list since… I dunno… forever. So when it came time for the latest of the Blogger Sweet Swaps, I was already prepared.

Too prepared. I made a double batch. Just in case. Ya know?

But to answer the question in your head- yes, I always have a massive jar of pretzels around. $4. Target. BAM.

This was unneccessary. A recipe and a half would have been fine. Or even just a normal-sized recipe. I could have easily just had one or two and sent the rest on.

Nope. I said “let’s double this shiz”.Little did I realize this would require me to unwrap a bag and a half of Reese’s mini peanut butter cups. Next time I’ll think to get the regular-sized ones. Less work…

Oh crap. I just remembered I still have that other half of a bag in the pantry. Um…

Anyway…

Sure, my work friends were happy. As was my roommate.  Hopefully my Sweet Swap partner, Jessica, is, too.  The sweet/salty combo is fantastic. Adding pretzels or some sort of “crunch” should now be a standard for any baking venture I have. And the caramel- oh my geez.

It’s like a puddle of caramel, people. A big and amazing puddle.

If you’re scared of knives like I am, you can also bribe your roommate to cut the squares for you. Or at least still be in the same room in case you lose a limb in the process.These cookie bars are now in the top 5 favorites of things I’ve ever baked. It’s a bold statement, but is very true. Mostly because I’m a sucker for anything cookie-based. I’m a girl of simple taste when it comes to sweets. Boys take note.But my poor stomach. It couldn’t keep up with my sweet tooth. As much as it wanted to. Because these are hefty cookies, my friends (cut them small- trust me). And after the 10th or 12th one?

Ow.

Portion control.

I need a better grasp on what this concept is.

I also need to realize there is no real reason to ever double a recipe of anything.

Lesson of the day…

Happy Between Day!

Mon and I are a funny bunch.

Sometimes we are wild and crazy.But often times we are not. We can even be quite boring- to the outside world.

Last night was one of those times.Like mentioned yesterday, our birthdays are weirdly two days apart. So we decided to “meet in the middle” and celebrate our “Between Day” together.

Mon wanted to call it our “Butt Crack Day”, but I feel “Between Day” is more appropriate for when Hallmark recognizes the holiday.

What did we do?Are ya ready?

Work out. Get carry out. Eat. Go home.

A throwback to when we were neighbors, if you will.Not gonna lie- I was geeking out a little about how excited I was to use the gym at my old apartment complex again. Cross training really hasn’t happened since the move and I’m too cheap to get a gym membership. Clearly the stairmill has been missed like crazy!

However, it did not miss me. And after 15 minutes, I was WORKED. Still got another 22 minutes on the elliptical before I was ready to collapse on the floor. It’s been a month and a half since I’ve used either one. Sigh. There may have to be more “visits” with Mon more often… ;)

Anyway, it’s a well known fact in our circle that Mon doesn’t cook- Sunday she even admitted to having no food whatsoever in her house. Last night when I opened her refrigerator door, after she had been shopping, I was greeted by deli meat and yogurt. Since I no longer live in the complex, there’s little I can do other than order carryout. So we got Thai.It’s been way too long since I’ve had woon sen. Spicy chicken woon sen, to be exact. The words “ulcer inducing” were used when placing our order.

I like it spicy. Just like my men. ;)

But because we were feeling the need for celebration, and not to mention a little nostalgic, I had to bake a little sumthin’ sumthin’ for the occasion…Mon is a cheesecake fiend. And one of her favorite candy bars is Twix. So when I found a recipe that combined the two? SOLD.It was like fate that this recipe was posted by Gingerbread Bagels only weeks ago.

I am personally not one to seek out cheesecake. Rarely, if never, is it craved. If it’s offered/served, I’ll have a few bites and be satisfied.

But these aren’t your ordinary cheesecakes. The oreo crust and bits of twix make these much more enticing to me. Fact of the matter is I don’t feel a dessert is a dessert without chocolate. Truth.

The sweet tooth rejoiced! As did the stomach. Today is no longer our “Between Day”, but is Mon’s birthday instead. So with that, I would like to say Happy Birthday to my friend. And although we can’t cut through the trees between apartments to go home anymore, I still love that we hang out as much as we possibly can!

(Source)

It’s also strange how I have a million friends born at the end of July. Because it’s also my good friend Krista’s birthday today! And also blogger b-day wishes need to go out to Phampants!

Guess people had to stay warm in the winter somehow…

Gross.

What’s a Fluffernutter?

When I was little, I was NOT a very healthy eater.

Not that I’m the epitome of healthy eating now. But I still like to think I’m pretty good about keeping myself balanced and in check for the most part (you may question this statement by the end of the post).

But not when I was little. To be specific, it’s the school lunch that killed it for me.

My teachers had to have been concerned when all I’d eat was bread every day and the cinnamon rolls they’d serve once every few weeks. Every once in a while I’d eat the peanut butter they’d set out on occasion for the bread.

Snack time was no better. Pretty sure if there were a lactose intolerant kid in my class, even they would have gotten more stars for finishing their milk than me.

Even as a young tyke, I was a defiant little booger.

Point of my story is that I hated school lunches. I grew out of it a little, but was so frustrated that I wasn’t allowed to bring lunch from home. In my school, not many people did. But I wanted to. Maybe for the food. Maybe for the cool lunch box (I heart Lisa Frank). Whatever reason, I wanted to bring my own lunch.

So you can see how I’d also feel a little jipped about missing out on the classics. Snack packs with the fake cheese. Pudding cups. Juice boxes (even though I hated juice, it irked me).

And the fluffernutter sandwich.

Bread + Peanut Butter + Marshmallow Fluff.

I actually didn’t know this combination existed until much later in life. And, quite frankly, am not sure if children should be allowed to eat such massive quantities of sugar and call it their lunch for the day.

But that’s a debate for another day.

Either way, it exists and it sounds like a lovely thing. So when browsing recipes for the BBQ I went to on Monday, this was one of the options I sent to Mon (she was the final vote).

I think she ended up picking the fluffernutter cake bars because of the name. Pretty sure she won’t deny it if you asked.

The recipe for the fluffernutter cake bars came from Picky Palate’s website. She’s pretty much a genius in taking desserts one step further to make them over-the-top delicious. My kind of gal. :)

Anyway, what’s nice about this recipe is the ingredient list is short and as often as I bake, most things are kept on hand.What? You don’t keep marshmallow fluff on hand?

What is wrong with you?

*And yes, I do love my natural peanut butter from Trader Joe’s, but when it comes to baking, I buy the processed stuff with sugar in it. I think it tastes better in most baking. And I’ll stand by that statement.

One thing I will suggest- do not bake these early in the morning after a night out. You’ll swipe way more “batter” than normal. Oops.This leads to sugar coma by 9:30 in the morning if you’re not careful. Again- oops.Man I really need to polish my tea pot. That’s just shameful.This is the point where I always get nervous. And also why I’m much better at/more comfortable with cookies. Is it done? Is it good? Will the grocery store be open for me to buy a cookie cake if they’re awful?Turns out I was quite safe. My favorite part was the yellow cake mix crust- kind of like the ooey gooey butter cake I made earlier in the year.

The marshmallow/peanut butter “cream” party was very rich- but not overly sweet. Good for if you decide to mass consume. ;)

In all honesty, I think the ooey gooey butter cake edges these out in the dessert bar category, but these are a good alternative. Promise!

Now I don’t feel so left out from getting the cool school lunches anymore…

How was the school lunch program in your part of the world?

I eventually expanded my tastes to include the big slices of square pizza and burritos that were quite suspect. Um- yum?

Girl’s Night In: A Step-by-Step Guide

Sounds like we’re all down for a 5k in Hawaii! Now if only I could get the extra paid time off and possibly a free round trip?  Hmmm…

After a few days of cursing the stairs and wearing flip flops to work, I’m feeling much better. Enough so to play around on the elliptical a few days this week. Nothing crazy- baby steps…

Again, I cannot stress enough the importance of fitting some hill running into training.  Geeeez…

Or at least taking a friend up on their offer to give you an ice massage. That could have helped, too. Shoulda, woulda, coulda.

Because I’ve been out of town and busy over the last couple of weeks, it had been quite some time since I’ve been able to catch up with some of my favorite suburban girls. Enter last night:As much as I’m going to horribly miss my mirrored wall when I move, it sure will be nice to not deal with the lighting issues. Or the weirdness of watching yourself eat everyday…

Anyway, it had been forever since Danielle had been able to grace Mon, Annie, and I with her presence, so we had made plans earlier this month for a solid girl’s night. The dress code was sweats. No exceptions.

We ordered Thai food from AltThai- a cute spot in the Arlington Heights downtown area. Sure- I’m more of a person to eat AT the restaurant and also enjoy the atmosphere. But after spending an extra 50 minutes in traffic in the pouring rain? You couldn’t have pried the wine glass out of my hand and dragged me out of the apartment if you had tried. Word.Pad Woon Sen. It’s my newest obsession.

Well- Thai in general is my newest obsession. The glass noodles in this stuff? I could see myself easily going on a weekend bender with them. That good.

Mon would also like to let all the locals know, your first order online is 10% off. Yes- my recessionista ways have rubbed off on her. I couldn’t be prouder. *tear

Oh and I’m giving a shout out to Kelly right now- we chatted yesterday and she decided to virtually join in on the girl’s night in with us by having a nice adult beverage and Thai food up in DC!

After dinner, what girl’s night in isn’t complete without fun and games?

Some of you have probably seen the show Extreme Couponing, but have you ever seen it in practice?Danielle has her stuff together and we were all curious as to how she makes it work. She was happy to share.

We also did crafts- Amy style.You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to make Oreo-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies. No idea. This was the perfect night because I also recruited some help when it came to “stuffing” the cookies:I would highly recommend these ladies. They work for wine.Sometimes we’re not as mature as we should be.

I’m looking at you, Mon.

If you’re like me, most of the time the “projected yield” of the amount of cookies is way lower than what you actually end up with. I like big cookies. A cookie the size of a quarter just annoys me. So imagine how excited I was when these turn out so big that you can’t even get a reasonable amount of them on the pan:Seriously. I made a recipe and a half. Totally unneccessary. I realized this when I could barely stir all the dough together.

Which reminds me- I added an extra egg (after making an extra 1/2 of the recipe) to make it more manageable. The dough was way too floury, and I wanted to make sure the cookies turned out soft.

And I also took a hint from the lovely Andrea- ever since she recommended refrigerating dough for an hour for the best results, I’ve been a faithful follower of the rule. It hasn’t disappointed me yet!Heaven. The original recipe calls for double-stuffed oreos, but I found the regular oreos worked just fine. I mean… we’re already being a little excessive, don’t ya think? ;)I’m not one to pretend that 1/2 a cookie satisfies me. Or even usually just one.

But one of these will leave you spinning. Truth.

And that, my friends, is how you do girl’s night.

The end.

Dinner Ruined

How did St. Patty’s treat you?? Hopefully you had a great time. And aren’t feelin’ too bad about starting work right now…Like I mentioned yesterday, I had no real plans for the holiday and decided to instead make a big production in the kitchen for dinner. It’s safe to say I accidentally ruined my appetite for dinner.

After ice cream cake for the boss’s birthday, I found a gift from a coworker on my desk:Sugar cookie is larger than it appears.

Seriously. Look at your hand. Study it a little if you have to.

This sugar cookie was bigger than your hand. And quite delicious. I slowly ate the entire thing throughout the day. Except for his feet.

I don’t like feet…

So yes, I did celebrate the holiday. Just with sugar. Not green beer.

It was a fair trade.

And I think everyone felt the same about the Red Riding Hood movie- very excited to Netflix/Red Box it. I think that’s a good strategy.

My win for today? Getting to wear jeans to work.

It’s no surprise that the little things in life really make me excited.

It’s because our office is sort of celebrating the beginning of March Madness. Although I’ll be observing it as a day of mourning because Mizzou already got themselves booted from the tournament.

Are we surprised? Not really. Not our year… sigh…

Enjoy your Friday, everyone. I’ll probably be doing some sugar detox and taking it easy tonight. Ice cream cake, massive sugar cookies, and some leftover M&M’s left me staring wide-eyed at my ceiling last night until the wee hours. Plus there’s a 10-mile run in the plans for tomorrow and I still need to wrap my head around that one. Double digits haven’t been hit since my first half marathon in August! Yikes…

Satisfied Cravings

I’m a strange chick.

There’s no getting around that.

I like to think my quirkiness is endearing. And adorable.Don’t try and tell me otherwise.

There are other things that make me relatively normal. Or at least things that allow me to pretend I am. 

Like my strong love of all things chocolate. Come on- I AM a girl afterall!Except for during a few days of the month (holla’ at your girl if you know what I’m talking about). I do something sort of strange.

I don’t crave chocolate. Like at all.

It’s alarming. And always catches me off guard. Those *couple of days* happened to span over my Vegas trip (major suck) and I even looked at Mon at one point as we were having lunch and said, “what is going on? why have I not craved chocolate more considering a bakery/gelato is around EVERY corner?”

Some consider this lucky. I considered it unfortunate that gelato was only purchased once. Lame.

Of course, once I’m back to “normalcy” and those couple of days are over, the chocolate cravings come ROARING back.

You’d think I’d be satisfied with the brownie cupcakes from Friday night. Rich. Decadent.

Not so much. I needed more.Plus, peeps at work were getting restless without the usual inflow of cookies. And I was tired of getting badgered. 

Geez guys… I guess if you REALLY want me to bake for the office…

Another chocolate-heavy dessert was necessary. Since brownies were already explored, on Sunday I decided to revisit my favorite type of sweet- cookies.

White chocolate and M&M’s, chocolate cookies to be specific…

They were a spin on The Picky Palate’s White Chocolate, Chocolate Cookies. (I still had more of those peanut butter M&M’s to use obviously.)

Since people are sometimes finicky about peanut butter (yeah, I don’t get it either), I did half with the candy and half without.Don’t ever say I’m not accommodating…

The cookies were super soft right out of the oven. I was almost afraid of them all crumbling- when the recipe says to let them sit on the pan for a few minutes, for heaven’s sake, let them sit.

There was only one casualty to the crumble after transporting them to work (whew!). I loved the white chocolate chips, but the peanut butter M&M’s really did knock ‘em out of the park.After these, my cravings were finally met. And my coworkers have quieted down with the nagging.

At least for now.

Just in case you were concerned, the rest of my Tuesday was acceptable.

- I did not scratch my eye out after being VERY concerned with yesterday morning’s self-mutilation attempts. A nail file solved that problem. Real quick.

- Solid cross training happened (even if I was STILL a little sore from Sunday’s Shred session).

-An old man stopped me in the parking garage to compliment me on my “hot boots” that I wear so well.  “Oh… um, thanks…” I say.  “No really, you look very good in them.”  Ummmm… Good thing I can pick up the pace pretty easily in my hot boots.

- My vacuum cleaner may be broken. Too lazy to investigate last night, but there was a hot smell coming from it after I was done. I’m going to assume it needs to be cleaned again. I shed a lot and it’s normal for me to have to cut hair that’s wrapped around the wheel thingie (is there an official name? do you know what I’m talking about???).

We’re halfway through the week, kids. We can do it!

Friday Night Cupcakes

It seems I have been on somewhat of a baking hiatus.

Let’s blame the Vegas vacation, half marathon training, and overall crazy busy schedule as of late.

No worries- Friday night I recognized the severity of this problem and took efforts to fix it.A sweet friend of mine, Danielle, had no idea a surprise birthday party was being thrown in her honor over the weekend. I already had plans before the invite came through and couldn’t make it. So I did the next best thing and sent some love through cupcakes.

I had no idea what to make, but did know I wanted to use the peanut butter M&M’s I had picked up on a whim from Target’s Valentine’s Day clearance. Finally, I settled on brownies. My only issue was finding a recipe to use. There were SO MANY good ones to choose from. But because I was lacking unsweetened chocolate, it took time before I found this one that didn’t require any.

Can you believe I have every other kind of chocolate except for unsweetened? Unheard of!

Because I used milk chocolate, white chocolate, and M&M’s, the brownies were loaded with sweet. So the icing needed to counterbalance it just a little.

See how much thought I put into such things? Baking is taken seriously around these parts…

Who else would I go to but Paula Deen to help a girl out? Butter was being used and she is the queen of such things.  Aaaahhhh her cream cheese frosting… I lightened it up a little by subbing in some milk for a little of the butter. This is usually how I do it because I prefer the butter cream to be a little less heavy. 

And it’s much easier to mix this way.  Just a dab on top did the trick. ;)

We tested two of them just to be sure.The cupcakes go lovely with a dry white wine.

Not that I would know or anything…

Danielle informed me that she even had one for breakfast yesterday after the party.

I approved. One thing great about birthday weekends- anything goes. 

All the sugar from my baking adventures is probably what helped to propel me through yesterday’s workout. Not sure if anyone noticed but myself, but the strength training was horribly lacking. The Shred was popped into the dvd player with a little apprehension. It had been at least 3 weeks. It wasn’t going to be pleasant.

The workout itself wasn’t awful. But as I sit here and type this today, my thighs are burning.

Sorry Jillian… I’ll never ignore you for this long again.

I also did a little elliptical work to get the blood pumping and spent some time as the “cell phone talker” as I walked on the treadmill.  Multi-tasking!

*If it happens when no one else is in the workout room, it doesn’t count as rude. That’s my rule.  ;)

Question of the day… how did everyone sleep last night? Well? Or did Daylight Savings get the best of ya?

I definitely did not go to bed until about 30 to 40 minute later than usual. Not much you can do when you’re just not that tired!

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