Eats

I love smoothies.

In the sense that I love, and could subsist solely on, smoothies that basically taste like Jamba Juice made them for me.

The problem with Jamba Juice, though I love them, is that they typically put a shizload of sugar in theirs and they are not as closely located to me as my kitchen. And thus, thanks to our little $32.00 Ninja Storm (we got ours at Walmart), I have spent the last week having a smoothie every single day and OMG I ONLY WANNA TALK ABOUT SMOOTHIES.

We actually just ordered a reconditioned VitaMix, but seeing as it ships in “1-900 days” (I kid, I think it said 18-25, but same difference), I busted out our Ninja and decided to see how it would handle leafy greens. Answer? LIKE A CHAMP. Such a champ that if I don’t find I use our VitaMix oodles more or with enough improvement in the first 30 days or whatever the happy guarantee is, it’s going back.

Anyhoot – This one is awesome, and I guarantee you that you can not taste the vegetables. I’m serious. And I know you might be making a face like YOU DON’T KNOW MAN, I TASTE ALL THE VEGETABLES, I disagree on this one. And if you’re still convinced, add another 1/4-1/2 cup of frozen berries and I promise, you’ll feel like you’re finally consuming dessert and nothing more! Tip: I blend the leafy greens and the water first on their own for a few seconds, just to ensure they’re pulverized.

Serving Size: Makes (2) 16-20 ounce smoothies

Calories: Roughly 300-320 per smoothie – plus about 20g protein and oodles o’ fiber!

  • 1 cup (about a fistful) fresh loose spinach
  • 1 cup (about a fistful) fresh, torn apart kale
  • 1 cup sliced up fresh pinenapple
  • 1 peeled orange – really, just peel it with a peeler and leave the white stuff on. You can’t taste it and it’s chock full of nutrients!
  • 1 large banana
  • 1-1.5 cup frozen raspberries (use at least one frozen item if possible, to keep it thick and cold)
  • 1/4 cup water – or more, just decide how thin/thick you want it and you can always add more after!
  • Optional Items Included in Nutrient Count: 1 scoop preferred protein powder, 2 tbsp chia seeds (I put these in everything, it’s a sickness, LOL), 1 tbsp ground almonds (I ground raw almonds in our coffee grinder), 1 tsp melted coconut oil

ENJOY!

 

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I was tidying up my PC desktop this weekend and realized I never posted any of the photos from the purple-themed baby shower I co-hosted for one of my most favorite friends – and considering she’ll be turning ONE now in a few short months, better late than never for posting these, eh? 😉

To ensure she felt included, we got gifts and balloons for the soon-to-be big sister!

The centerpiece was a purple mini-cake and matching cupcakes – kudos to my husband for frosting them all!

We tucked fresh made raspberry lemonade + orange juice into mason jars and accompanied them with striped paper straws (which, no, I can’t seem to get enough of).

Because this was a morning shower, we stuck (somewhat) to a breakfast theme. Using white chocolate as the “glue”, I dipped each champagne flute in purple sprinkles and then filled them with graham crackers (that we lovingly bashed to dust), vanilla yogurt, and topped with blackberries.

Another easy “purple” finger food? Teeny blueberry muffins.

More of the spread from another angle.

And the lovelies who helped me host – plus the darling mama-to-be! 🙂 And apparently nobody got the memo to join me in my duck face. AS A JOKE. I swear.

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Well it’s been a day since I have last posted, no? 😉 What’s happened since, oh, January?

I turned thirty. To no one’s surprise, thirty feels an awful lot like the end of twenty-nine, except that I’m pretty darn excited about it. Not so excited that I want to race through growing older and high-five my forties just yet or anything, but in the sense that it feels like that decade where you can at least more convincingly pretend you know what you’re talking about. 😉

We celebrated one year of being Gizmo’s parents. I haven’t really updated on his progress much but he’s doing really well. Drum roll please…. We even eat out of a dog bowl that nobody is holding. Do you know how excited we were to not need to crouch and hold his bowl twice a day? Our knees are overjoyed! 😉 Granted, if anything in the house is amiss (was that chair there yesterday? is a book missing from that shelf?!), we sometimes find he decides it’s just too scary to do it, but I want to say that 99% of the time, the little dude eats all by his onesie.

One of my BFFs Rachel came to visit. We moved to Te-jas nearly five years ago, and outside of a single vacation together to WA in the Summer of 2008, I have not seen her (nor many of my good pals) since then… And there is something to be said about how much it warms your soul to have someone who knows your story, values your worth, understands your heart, and appreciates rainbow sprinkles on the same unhealthy level you do come and visit. Rachel is one of those folks who just falls into that “Good People” category, one of those just inherently GOOD folk, and her company revitalized me. That’s so cheesy – especially when all we did was spend the weekend watching Magic Mike and baking the world’s greatest sprinkle cake – but it’s true.

I had a low-key 30th Birthday party. It was actually why she flew out, and we decided to ham it up by making the little theme be PINK and SPRINKLES. (Did anyone else just hear Steel Magnolias? Her colors are pink and pink. My cuh-lahs are blush and bashful). We topped an all-sprinkle cake with glittery birthday numbers, made rainbow-dipped pink champagne flutes serve graham cracker-Oreo cookie-whipped cream-pudding, filled mason jars with frozen strawberries and raspberry lemonade, set out 1950’s striped paper straws  hung a bunch of giant pink paper lanterns around the house, and even went third-grade style and put up some streamers. Oh yeah, I said that, streamers. And then I got to introduce Rachel, The Good Person, to folks in my neighborhood whom also get grouped into that category. Merging CA Good People with TX Good People made me happy.

I’m working on my plan to make 2013 the Year of Compassion. There is a wonderful quote from Diane Von Furstenburg that says, “I didn’t always know what I wanted to do, but I knew the kind of woman I wanted to be.” At the end of the day, when I’ve put in my 9-5 and ran my errands and walked my dogs and tucked myself in, the thing I will find most solace in is knowing that I’m a compassionate person. That I’m not only extending that compassion to other humans, but other animals and the planet itself — and that’s precisely the example I want to set for my future children. I plan to post more on this later, but we’re making those easily changed steps toward embracing a healthier, happier, more compassionate lifestyle. Right now, we’re slowly swapping out things like harsh household cleaners and beauty products with brands that are more ecologically friendly and don’t test on animals (I don’t want wrinkles… but I don’t need a beagle to be skinned and forced to live with a painful rash in a small cage for his entire life just for that sake). Bit by bit, we’ll get there, and be better for it.

What about you guys? How is your 2013 going so far?

 

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Few things make me happier than a perfectly soft, gooey,  freshly baked chocolate chip cookie. I have no interest in your chewy cookie, your crunchy cookie, or anything other than a cookie that melts in your mouth and breaks apart with ease, even when they’re a few days old. Hence? The Ultimate Soft Milk Chocolate Chip Cookie.

I like to consider myself somewhat of a cookie connoisseur. Mostly because that sounds better than, “Chick who eats an unethical amount of cookies,” and three years ago I began the quest to bake a cookie that would get eaten by someone besides myself in this house. If you’ve ever met my husband – my tall, skinny husband – you would know he is one of those rare unicorns of a person who is full of willpower and lacks a violent sugar tooth, meaning he can buy a candy bar and actually get HOME before he eats it. And to make it worse, he can even put that candy bar in the freezer and FORGET he put it there — unlike myself, who can barely make it out of the store before I’m covered in chocolate, wrapper pieces, and tears of shame. 😉

So when he INHALED the first batch and then asked for MOAR, I knew I had a winner – in fact, he purchased some store-bought chocolate chip cookies last week, and we ended up gifting them to a coworker because he just couldn’t enjoy them on the same level anymore, LOL.

Not only are these an amazing soft chocolate chip cookie, they’re also the perfect versatile cookie base. I change the mix-ins (white or milk chocolate, butterscotch chips, toffee bits, macadamia nuts, you name it), I change the pudding flavors, I even add a half cup of peanut butter for soft PB cookies. These are heavenly, and each holiday season, we literally bake hundreds to send home to everyone we love.

So go, get your OMNOMNOM on! 😉 Recipe below (makes about 3 dozen, depending on cookie size):

Gather up…

  • 2 ¼ cup white flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, softened/room temperature
  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 3.4 oz package instant vanilla pudding mix (that’s the dry box – I use Jell-O because the store brand tasted… different)
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup white chocolate chips
  • ½ cup milk chocolate chips

And then…

  • In small bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda, set aside.
  • In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar.
  • Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended.
  • Stir in the eggs and vanilla.
  • Blend in the flour mixture.
  • Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.
  • Let the dough chill in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours.
  • When ready, preheat the oven to 335 degrees.
  • Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls/small golf ball sizes onto cookie sheets.
  • Bake for 10-11 minutes in the preheated oven.
  • Remove immediately and let sit on cooling racks, not the cookie sheets.

On a side note, I mix everything by hand, and only “just” when it comes to the eggs and vanilla. The cookies also will not look “done” at 10 minutes but I promise they are! Cookies continue to bake even when they’re removed from the oven, so keep that in mind! If you feel your dough is a little too dry, feel free to add 1-2 tbsp heavy cream, and  it’s wise to keep the dough cool and in the fridge when you’re not using it to load up your baking sheet. Why? The warmer the dough, the flatter and less soft the cookie.

TIP: You can also pre-ball these up and freeze them for when you just want a few cookies!

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HAPPY NOVEMBER! Can you believe it, November already? Guess who is hoping her favorite cheesy lite radio station starts playing holiday music like yesterday? THIS GIRL. 😉

What have you been up to? I’ve been sadly neglecting my wee little blog, simply because I’ve been engaging real life for once. I know. Me. Real Life. I didn’t anticipate it, either!

We have been tackling 35890358903 home projects. That’s the exact number. No lies. I can’t wait to post some of them, but first I need to finish them, and then battle The Lazy that takes over once I get home. If only it were as easy to blog from my phone as it is to check Facebook or Pinterest. Then I’d be set.

This week was one of our favorite neighbor/friend’s (there is that word combo again.. I really need a new reference term) birthdays – his birthday is the day before Halloween, so much of the birthday hoopla gets directed instead to the Second Best Holiday Ever (I love you, Halloween). Since this couple is constantly doing wonderful things for us and is hilarious and fabulous and to falls into my “Best People on Earth” category, we decided to do something to celebrate to put more hoopla on his day ‘o birth and less on ghosts and goblins. So we decided to bake a cake.

At 8:30pm. After work. Because I am The Genius with timing, yes?

Meet the Salted Caramel Snickers Chocolate Cake (for Lazy Bakers). How does one make a cake with such a long name? I’ll tell you!

Three Easy Steps:

01. Be lazy. Cook two 9″ round cakes using Betty Crocker’s Triple Fudge SuperMoist cake mix. Once cooled, level them flat with your sweet cake-level-tool or a butter knife.

02. Make frosting by combining: 16 ounces room temperature cream cheese, 2-3 cups powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 cup softened butter, 1 jar caramel sauce topping.

03. Frost bottom cake layer, stick top layer on. Lightly frost the entire cake (a “crumb layer”) and then frost the whole thing in a hurry because it’s nearly 10pm. Add chopped Snickers bars, drizzle on more caramel sauce, sprinkle sea salt, then figure out where you’re going to store the thing in your packed fridge. Take quick photo for Instagram with your shoddy iPhone camera, pretend it’s just like using your DSLR.

TA-DA! 🙂

And because who doesn’t need a little cat-on-kitten action in their lives? My boys:

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