Archive | June, 2012

Thin Mint Protein Smoothie

29 Jun

Ok, so you know my feelings about mint and chocolate. I’m for their union. All the time. Even in healthy recipes.

This lovely concoction is brought to you today by a wonderful blog I found recently – Rabbit Food For My Bunny Teeth. I posted about it in my Top Five post…in the 2) category. This blog is full of inspiration to eat and just ‘be’ a healthy person. One of my favorites to read everyday.

And yes, I know I just posted a not-so-healthy cookie recipe (though it did include bff’s mint and chocolate), but I actually embrace eating food that’s good for me. You may not believe me. That’s ok. Sometimes I don’t believe me either. Then I eat a cookie.

Back to the smoothie…

This is a great way to jump-start your morning. I didn’t have any coffee today (a rarity) and I was still awake and energized throughout the day. It also is surprisingly sweet (it does taste similar to a Thin Mint!) and extremely filling. All around a win-win.

I didn’t change any part of Catherine’s recipe, so the ingredients list is fully hers. I simply wanted to share it here for you all to also enjoy.

Ingredients:

Smoothie:

  • 1 cup almond milk (never thought I’d be the person buying this…yesterday I was that person)
  • 1 cup frozen spinach (you can also use 2 cups of fresh spinach according to Catherine’s recipe)
  • 1/4 rolled oats
  • 1/8 tsp peppermint extract
  • 2 scoops chocolate protein powder (I used Biggest Loser’s brand, but I think this can be substituted with whatever brand you prefer)

Garnish:

  • 1 Tbsp walnuts
  • 1 Tbsp dark chocolate chips

How to Make:

You can whip this up in about 3 minutes, depending on how close together you store all of the ingredients in your kitchen. I took 5.7 minutes as I had to search for my walnuts in the hall closet. Don’t ask me why I put them there.

First grab your blender and as Catherine recommends for those blenders that are a big challenged (like mine), blend up the milk and frozen spinach first.

Then I dumped in the protein powder…

…and the oats…

and the peppermint extract (the one item that doesn’t really photograph well). Then push the button that says ‘blend’. I let mine go until everything looked fairly smooth, about 23 seconds. Not 22.

Measure out your two ‘garnish’ items and delicately place them on top. They will eventually sink so if you feel the need to photograph your food (who does that?) ensure you have your camera ready to snap a photo of your beautiful beverage.

Dig in with a spoon or sip – either way I think you’ll be surprised how delicious this is and how full you are when you’re finished. At least I was!

Thanks RFFMBT for a great recipe! Now go check out Catherine’s blog for more delicious, healthy recipes!

To print off the recipe for easy reference in the future, click here

Thin Mint Protein Smoothie_Recipe Card

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

24 Jun

Mint and chocolate may be the best combination possible. Truly. Well, in my opinion at least.

I found this recipe a few years while flipping through a magazine. There was an advertisement for Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix with this little gem included. I ripped it out and made them immediately. And swooned.

Ok, that’s a bit dramatic, but they are pretty dang great. Betty Crocker knows their stuff. (FYI – I do not know/work for/represent Betty Crocker, I just appreciate this recipe and wanted to share it with you all.)

The best part – because you’re using a sugar cookie mix, these are ALWAYS chewy. No crunchy hard cookie nonsense. If you are into that sort of thing, this recipe isn’t for you. But…if you enjoy a wonderfully, chewy cookie…YOU, my friend, are in luck.

Also another bonus, there is a very simple ingredient list.

Ingredients (Makes approximately 36 cookies):

  • 1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) sugar cookie mix (I use Betty Crocker brand, but if you have a different preferred brand I’m sure it’d work just as great.)
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon mint extract (I’ve been told by even those who love mint, error on the side of the 1/4 tsp as these can get a little too minty otherwise.)
  • 6 to 8 drops green food color (I used about 6, which gets them a nice, pale green. If you want a heartier green, be a bit more aggressive with your drop quantities.)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup creme de menthe baking chips (I’ve used Andes mints roughly chopped before and they’re delicious. This time I used mint chocolate chips, which are a bit more subtle. Also tasty.)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks (I used semisweet chocolate chips, but as long as there is a chocolate shape of some sort in there, I think you’re ok.)

How to Make: 

Preheat your oven to 350. Then, throw everything except the two types of chocolate chips into a bowl and mix thoroughly.

The green food coloring is the perfect indicator of when you’re done with the ‘thoroughly mixing’ piece.

Very helpful.

Then gently fold in the two types of chips until it looks very consistently ‘chippy’. You know what I mean.

Like this.

You may want to take time at this moment to taste the batter. You know, just in case. And yes, I know there’s raw egg in there. Be a daredevil. (But don’t get sick or I’ll feel terrible.)

I always spray my cookie sheets with Pam, although this recipe recommends using an ungreased cookie sheet. If you’re into that – go for it. Then, using the method you like best, place these guys on a 9×13 cookie sheet. (I think using your hands is always the best method but that’s me.)

I put these in a 3×4 pattern which worked perfectly.

Pop ’em in the oven for 8-10 minutes (These always seem to be done at about that 8 minute mark, so watch carefully!)

Cool them for a bit…



…pour a glass of milk…find hungry people…ENJOY!


Bacon-Gruyère Meatloaf

18 Jun

Oh baby. Meatloaf. One of God’s gift to man, if you ask me. I mean, a loaf…of meat. If meatloaf is wrong…I don’t want to be right.

You catch my drift. I LOVE meatloaf.

Now, my mama makes killer meatloaf, and I don’t know if this recipe is quite up to the standards that is her magnificent recipe. However, it comes pretty darn close.

What makes this so good?

Bacon.

Delicious, fantastic, bacon goodness.

Yes.

So, I found this recipe in a new cookbook – it’s a compilation of the many recipes my favorite magazine puts out each month: Real Simple. This cookbook features appetizers, main dishes, sides and desserts for every season.

Never mind that this recipe is technically “Fall”.

I wanted meatloaf. AND I had all the ingredients. That happens 2% of the time I decide to make something, so I took that as a sign that I must…make…meatloaf.

Also, this is an incredibly easy recipe, hence the magazine’s title “Real Simple”. Their recipes are always delicious and require very little skill in the kitchen. And no fear if you don’t have access to this fabulous cookbook (though I do highly recommend) you can see the recipe on their website here.

Geniuses they are.

Ok, enough with the rambling, let’s make some meatloaf!

The original recipe has a suggested side of roasted carrots and onions, which I passed on. I had plenty of veggies to make a side salad with, so I went that route. But if you’d prefer the carrot/onion side concoction, check out the original recipe. Looks quite tasty!

Ingredients (I made a 2/3 variation of this as I only had access to 1 lb of meat. But here is the full-fledged version, which serves 4)

  • 1 1/2  pounds ground beef chuck (I used ground turkey instead, but I would imagine ground beef chuck would make this even more delicious)
  • 1/4  cup  bread crumbs
  • 1/4  cup  ketchup (You may also want some extra to have around to dip your meatloaf in, if you’re into that sort of thing.)
  • 1 small red onion, coarsely chopped (Or if you’re extra skilled, the recipe calls for ‘coarsely grated’. I preferred the chopping method)
  • 2  slices bacon, chopped (<— Best part!)
  • 2  cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1  large egg
  • 3/4  cup  grated Gruyère or Cheddar (I had cheddar on hand, so that’s what I used. My imagination tells me Gruyère would be just as, if not more, tasty)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper

How to Make:

This recipe is so easy, you may not even believe it.

First things first…preheat that oven to 400 degrees. Also, heat up a skillet to cook your bacon.

Fry up your bacon first. While it’s sizzling you can start mixing your other ingredients.

In a medium-ish sized bowl, mix up all of your ingredients EXCEPT 1/4 cup of your shredded cheese. Also toss in 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.

Once your bacon is all finished up and you’ve let it cool so you don’t burn your fingertips off, crumble it up and add it to your meatloaf mixture. Don’t try to crumble it before it’s cooled down. Who does that? (Oops.)

While cooking your bacon, you may or may not decide to fry up 3 slices…and consume 1 of those while you’re waiting for your bacon (and fingertips) to cool. I mean, bacon is good. Why not enjoy an extra slice?

Once your bacon is thoroughly mixed in with the rest of your ingredients…

…spoon your meatloaf into a sprayed pan. The recipe recommends a 8″ x 4″ pan. Then, sprinkle that remaining 1/4 cup of cheese on top. Admire how pretty it looks. Sigh.

You must now patiently wait for your loaf of meat to cook. 40-45 minutes to be exact.

You could also use this time to consume that lovely 3rd piece of bacon.

Just trying to help.

As your kitchen starts to smell like glorious bacony-cheesy-meat, perhaps whip up whatever side you are planning on enjoying. For me it was a lighter side salad to balance the rich meatloaf, but roasted veggies (such as the carrots/onions in the original recipe) would be great if this is being made in the Fall or Winter. That’d make for one cozy meal. As it was 90 plus degrees when I made this…didn’t want the ‘cozy, cold weather’ feel for dinner. But that’s just me.

My younger brother likes soup when it’s 90 degrees. Some people just like warm, cozy food at all times of the year. Weird, but that’s life I guess.

Ok, back to meatloaf. Pull that baby out once it’s done. Let it stand for about 10 minutes and try to not cut into it and take a bite. I solemnly swear I did NOT cheat and take a bite. I was very tempted though.

Before you slice this up, pat the top with a paper towel to get the grease off. I had a few little pools on top (as seen in the glow of the picture above), nothing ridiculous. You can also ‘pour’ it off, but I just envisioned my meatloaf landing upside down in the sink. That would happen to me.

Slice this up, serve with your choice of side and enjoy!

Ahhhh….meatloaf.

Top Five – Some Saturday Inspiration

16 Jun

It’s been a heck of a long time since I posted anything that wasn’t about food or crafting. You may not care about items not in those two categories and if so, I would encourage you to stop reading now.

Just trying to help.

I thought it would be fun to share some of the OTHER things I do with my life besides obssess over shopping for, cooking and consuming food…and the odd craft here and there.

I know, you thought all I did was cook and eat.

Sorry, not accurate friends.

Thus, thought I’d bring back some Top 5 action, sharing things I’m currently spending lots of time doing and perhaps one of them will spark some motivation or interest in one of you.

1) Triathlon Training. “Um, what?! Haha. You?” YES! Most of my good friends when I told them I was training for a triathlon gave me that little schpeel. Can’t hardly blame them, I’m not a neurotic workout fiend or really into fitness. Don’t get me wrong, I love working out. But until now, it wasn’t a huge part of my life. At all. Since high school two-a-day swim practices. Now, I spend 5-6 days a week training – 1 short and 1 long session devoted to each of the three activities of the tri – swimming, biking and running. I grew up around this crazy event, watching my mama compete in and then direct her own. Thus, I knew what I was getting into when a group of my coworkers and I all got persuaded to do the HyVee triathlon down in Des Moines, IA over Labor Day weekend. I’m 5 weeks into the training for it and I’m REALLY loving it. Who knew I’d end up being one of those weirdos that craves a workout everyday? If there’s some fitness event or goal out there for you, I highly encourage you to give it a go. The only thing holding you back is you. Do it.

2) Blog-Reading. This may be less of a surprise than the share above, but this is one of my favorite ways to stimulate creativity and get a little motivation. I’ve found some fantastic blogs out there – each dedicated to a slightly different cause. I’ve found ones devoted to fitness, ones devoted to cake decorating, ones devoted to fashion and ones devoted to nothing. You can find just about everything out there. My favorites are the ones where bloggers are exceptionally candid. Love that. I TRY to write that way for you all as that’s how I tend to talk in person. So when I read another blog where they too write like I’d imagine them speaking, I like it that much more. Here are a few current favorites of mine that I REALLy encourage you to take a peek at:

  • Spoon Fork Bacon (Delicious food and even better photography. Impossible to not drool reading this blog.)
  • How Sweet It Is (This blog is absolutely hilarious. She has fantastic recipes but is also hysterical with the way she documents her life for her readers.)
  • Rabbit Food for my Bunny Teeth (This is a new find for me, but I love her dedication to healthy eating and her DIY section is great. I’ve already made a few items from her blog…still need to blog about those for you all. Oops.)
  • From My Grey Desk (This blog is written by the sister of The Small Things Blog, one I’ve talked about on here before. Lauren has so many great posts, but my favorites are her posts/pictures of decorating. The girl’s got style.)

There’s no excuse to not be inspired by SOMETHING everyday. In my opinion. Whatever it is that inspires you, do that more. Do it often. 

3) Spotify.  Yes, I’m behind the curve with this one. I know, I know. But what an ingenious idea?!? For those unfamiliar, Spotify is a mix between your personal music library and Facebook. You download this application to your computer and you can then create playlists and listen to music, including ANY song you can think of. It’s like having access to a radio where you can pick every song. It’s a great way to discover new music. This application also shows you what your friends are listening to and different playlists they’ve created. It makes the process of listening to music a social one and one where you are constantly seeing and listening to new music. I am a country music lover (currently can’t get enough of Gloriana and Luke Bryan), so those friends of mine who have exceptional country music playlists are the ones that I usually look for. If you love to discover new music, I really recommend checking this out. Music sets my mood, more than anything else I do in a day. If there’s a simple and free way to find more music, why the heck not check it out?! 

4) Instagram. So long story short, I recently had an epic wedding weekend which resulted in a lost purse and no voice. Totally worth it, but unfortunately the purse contained my phone along with other necessary life items (my driver’s license, debit card, watch and new lipstick). After the initial freakout that I’d lost ALL of that, I set about replacing all items ASAP. First up was the phone. Thankfully an upgrade was due on our family’s account and my mama let me have it (she gets to use my upgrade in August) and an iPhone it was! I’m completely in love with it – pictures are better, it works faster, it’s actually intuitive to use and there are much better applications. One would be Instagram. I started to use this on my old phone – a Droid – but the app and the pictures look SO much better on the iPhone. It’s fun to follow people on Instagram too (it’s similar to Twitter in that regard). I follow a variety of friends and bloggers. Oh and Shawn Johnson. 🙂 This is a FREE app, so you have no excuse to not add it to your phone. It’s a different way to interact with people, solely over pictures. There are also lots of great ways to edit pictures for those of us lacking photography skill. All in all, it’s like getting a new, better, free camera.

5) H20 – Hmm…H20 is not an activity. Yes, yes I know. BUT everyday I struggle with trying to drink as much water as possible. I’m finally mastering how to do this and thought I’d share a few things that make drinking the recommended 6-8 glasses a day more possible for you too. 

  • Get a great waterbottle and don’t lose it. The latter is the hard part, but I believe in you. Cart this baby with you everywhere.
  • Find new ways to flavor your water. I LOVE Crystal Light, so I usually use that. The Raspberry Ice flavor is theeee best. Other great options that work well – throwing in lemon or lime wedges, using cucumber or using Mio (Blueberry Lemonade is a pretty fantastic flavor).
  • Cut out the pop. Make that anything that’s going to fill you up with liquid but not help to hydrate you. For me, I can’t function without coffee. So, I drink coffee in the morning and then switch to water for the rest of the day. Compromise.

You may have found this whole post useless (sad, I sure hope not) but perhaps you got an idea or were motivated to try something new. Even if it’s just drinking more water.

I’ll be back with more posts this weekend, ones not dedicated to my rambling ideas and more focused on food.

Happy Saturday!

A Little Crayon Art

10 Jun


You may have thought crayons were left behind in your 3rd grade desk, but NO…there are still so many wonderful things you can do with these little guys. The basis behind this project is the simple fact that crayons melt. In the process of melting, these make a wonderful art creation that rivals how colors bleed and blend in a watercolor.

This is a very popular pin on pinterest that most who are even infrequent visitors to the site, have stumbled upon and maybe even too, been inspired by.

The original pin on pinterest that inspired me:

From Whatever…

Before I made my own version of this a few months ago, I decided I’d take a slightly different approach. As much as I love the Crayola brand, I preferred to have the wrapper off of the crayons I was using. I also wanted to use only a select few colors on each canvas I made: greens/yellows….blues/purples etc.

I tackled this craft for the first time with a good friend of mine, Katie. She was as intrigued as I was if it would work, so we bought ourselves quite a few of the 64 boxes of Crayola crayons and set to work.

My first attempt turned out pretty cool, far better than I anticipated. The only negative, didn’t realize until after the fact I had created art out of Packer colors. Oops. The deep love I have for Minnesota sports did make me feel a little bad about that. Trust me, this was unintentional!

Because the first canvas turned out so great, I wanted to give it another go and track the craft progress with some photos to share with you all. This is fun no matter what your age, so if you have little kids around that need a good, easy and not-too-messy craft project, this is perfect. This is also an ideal craft if you just want your mind to drift and think about nothing other than how beautiful certain colors are as they merge and trickle down the canvas. Very soothing.

How to Make:

First step, buy yourself some crayons and a canvas (any size will work, but I like the bigger, square ones myself). Depending on how you want your final canvas to look, you may need to buy a few boxes of crayons. To get all the blues/purples that I needed, I bought 3 boxes of 64 Crayola crayons.

Next step is to peel off the paper on all of the crayons. I truly believe this project works better without the wrapping, and it’ll look a lot nicer up on your wall that way too. Give yourself a good chunk of time to unwrap crayons; it does take you a bit longer than you may anticipate. One and a half Disney movies should get you through it. Or 3-4 Brothers & Sisters episodes. (The latter is my current obsession. This is my 3rd time through the series and it still is as great as the 1st time I watched it. If you haven’t watched it before, check it out. All 5 seasons are on Netflix!)

Next, heat up your hot glue gun. Also, figure out how you’d like your colors laid out on the canvas. I wanted a random assortment of blues and purples, so you’ll see I started gluing them on the canvas without much rhyme or reason. But, this could also look great with all one color merging into another (i.e. all blues…fading into all purples). Up to you!

You’ll want these glued along one side of your canvas. Try to keep them as close to one together as you can. Just a few dabs of hot glue will keep each crayon in place.

Keep going until all of your crayons are securely glued. Don’t get discouraged by the weird color of the crayons right now. It’s hard to tell what the actual colors will look like together at this point (cerulean and blue violet may appear to look the same color at this stage, but we know they do NOT when the crayon is used on paper). Have no fear.

I use my bathtub for this next part, because all the mess is then easily contained. I lined the bathtub bottom with leftover grocery bags to catch any of the waxy drips.

You’ll want to aim your canvas with the crayons dripping down. Hold the canvas from the back or the top and tip the canvas to get the type of drips you want.

I use my hairdryer on the hottest setting as well as the lowest setting. This helps keep the crayons from splattering too much.

This is after only about 10 seconds of heat:

I use the method of moving heat over all of the crayons first before focusing heat in on certain sections. This is what it looked like after this first pass over.

Then, after a good chunk of time of melting all of these crayons out, this is what it turned into.


At first, I felt that I wanted all of the white spots gone. But as I’ve left it sitting perched on my tub all week, every time I walk by or in the bathroom I took a second to think if it looked ‘done’ or not. I kind of like the imperfection, so I think I’m taking this as ‘done’. 🙂

You can go for as long as you’d like until the canvas looks like your idea of ‘finished’.

For easy cleanup, just toss your grocery bag ‘dropcloths’ into the trash. Any other stray drips that ended up hitting the tub can be picked off once the wax cools (I just filled the tub with cold water and then picked them off) and then scrub over any colored waxy stains with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser for a few seconds. You won’t have a single stain on the tub that way.

This looks great anywhere you need a pop of color. I have both the green/yellow canvas and the blue/purple canvas up on either side of the mirror in my bedroom. It’s perfect.

I’ve seen other versions of this (also on pinterest) that could be fun to try as well:

From Light&Spoon

From an Etsy shop: JKCreate

From Dilly-Dali Art

May have to make a ‘V’ for the next version of this (perhaps oranges/reds/pinks?) for our living room. (Both my roommate and I have ‘V’ last names). We’ll see if I can make that happen.

I hope this inspires you to dig up your old crayon collection and get a little artsy. 🙂

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