Archive for March, 2012

Another week…another weekly running recap!

Sunday: Rest
Monday: 30 minute run
Tuesday: 30 minute run
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 30 minute run
Saturday: 1 hour run

I was supposed to have run a half-marathon this weekend. I decided it was best for me not to participate.


I have been dealing with a really bad case of “not good enough”. I have allowed myself to get caught up in comparing myself to other runners, and I have found myself lacking. In turn, that has taken the joy out of running. This has been going on for a while and just this week I realized it. But in realizing it, I can make changes! It’s time to get back to finding the joy- regardless of what my pace is!

I will not be doing a monthly challenge for April. I’m taking the month as it comes!

Have a great weekend!

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Nick and I really like peanut butter chocolate swirl ice cream. However, it’s rare to find us eating Just ice cream. We add things. Lots of things! Normally it starts with a brownie base, heated for 11 seconds in the microwave. Then it is topped with ice cream. Then we cut up peanut butter cups (though right now, we are using Reese peanut butter eggs because Nick says “more peanut butter, less chocolate”), and then I normally top mine with chocolate syrup. Well the other day Nick said it was too bad we didn’t have any peanut butter sauce.

Ask and you shall receive :)

The next night, we had peanut butter sauce for our ice cream!

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sauce
Makes: 1 1/2 cups
Prep time:  10 minutes

1/2 cup half and half
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
2 tablespoons butter
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup to 1 cup creamy peanut butter

Note: I say the sugar is optional, because it will depend on how sweet the peanut butter is. I use a generic peanut butter (that is sweet) and we decided we liked the sauce without the additional sugar.

In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the half and half, corn syrup, sugar (if needed), butter, and salt. Cook over medium heat until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add in the vanilla and 3/4 cup peanut butter. Whisk until the mixture is smooth (it starts out looking grainy- just keep whisking), about 5 minutes. If you want a thicker sauce or a stronger peanut butter flavor, add in the additional 1/4 cup peanut butter. Let cool (or not!), then pour over ice cream! Store leftovers in the fridge and microwave to reheat.

Made with love, not calories!

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Have you ever heard of Dutch Crunch? I hadn’t until earlier this month.

Dutch Crunch is simply a bread or roll that has a mottled crust (you can read more about it here and here), and it is this months Daring Baker’s challenge!

Sara and Erica of Baking JDs were our March 2012 Daring Baker hostesses! Sara & Erica challenged us to make Dutch Crunch bread, a delicious sandwich bread with a unique, crunchy topping. Sara and Erica also challenged us to create a one of a kind sandwich with our bread!

This was a fun challenge! The process is simple and the visual effect is stunning (well to me it is!). The 2nd part of the challenge (to make a sandwich using our creation!) was a little harder for me. I’m not a big sandwich eater. So the sandwich that you see will not win any prizes or awards due to my brilliant creativity!!! (but it was tasty!)

Turkey, salami, and cheese sandwich!

Dutch Crunch Rolls
Recipe provided by Baking JDs
Makes 6 rolls
Total prep time: 2 hours and 50 minutes (30 minutes active time, 2 hours and 20 minutes resting)    Bake time: 25-30 minutes

Soft White Rolls:
1 packet active dry yeast
1/4 cup luke-warm* water (105-110 degrees).
1 cup luke-warm* milk (105-110 degrees)
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Up to 4 cups all-purpose flour

*If you don’t have a thermometer, that’s ok. Just test it with your finger. The water, or milk, should just be warm (not hot) to the touch.

Dutch Crunch:
1 packet active dry yeast
1/2 cup luke-warm* water (105-110 degrees) (*see note above)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup rice flour  (white or brown; NOT sweet or glutinous rice flour)

Make the soft white roll dough:
In a stand mixer combine the yeast, water, milk, and sugar. Stir to combine, then let it sit for 5 minutes so that the yeast can work.

After 5 minutes, add in the vegetable oil and salt (you don’t need to stir this). With the dough hook attached to your mixer, add in 2 cups of flour and mix well. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides, then turn the mixer back on low speed. Add in the remaining flour (1/4 cup at a time) to the dough, just until the dough pulls away from the sides (you will use between 1 1/2 to 2 cups of flour for this).

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed the dough for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Spray, or lightly grease a medium-sized bowl. Place the dough into the bowl, flipping the dough once, in order to coat both sides. Cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place for about an hour (or until the dough doubles in size).

After an hour, remove the dough from the bowl and cut into 6 equal pieces (I just eye-balled it, so mine were not equal!). Shape each piece into a ball and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet (leaving space between each ball). Lightly cover with plastic wrap and set aside (they will rise a little during this short 2nd rest). Move on to making the Dutch Crunch topping.

Making the Dutch Crunch:
In a small mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients. Mix well with a whisk until smooth. The consistency should be like stiff royal icing, or glue (shouldn’t be runny, shouldn’t be really thick). You can add more water or rice flour to get the consistency you want (if needed). Set aside for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 380 degrees.

After 15 minutes, the Dutch Crunch mixture should have risen a little! Unwrap the rolls and spread on the Dutch Crunch topping. Note: I put on a disposable glove and just used my hand to spread on the topping. You can use a spoon if you like (the mixture doesn’t go on well with a pastry brush). Spread the mixture over the tops evenly and make sure to use all the topping mixture (if the topping is too thin, you won’t get the crackling look). Place the cookie sheet into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and the rolls are baked (when you tap on the bottom of a roll, it sounds hollow). Note: I checked my rolls at 22 minutes. I knew they were almost done, but didn’t have a lot of color to the tops, so I put them on a higher rack inside the oven for 3 to 4 minutes.

Once the rolls are done, remove them from the oven and let cool completely. Enjoy!

Dutch Crunch topping

If you look closely, you can see the topping has been added on top of the roll (before baking).

Made with love, not calories!

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I haven’t had corn muffins in ages! There used to be restaurants in my area that offered corn muffins as a choice of bread with your meal. But I can’t remember the last time I was someplace that did that. That’s a shame, because I think corn muffins are yummy! However, I don’t care for the ones that actually have corn in them (I know, I’m weird like that).

I was reading through the Baking Illustrated Cookbook the other day and came across their recipe for Corn Muffins. I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet, and as I read through the list of ingredients, my brain was like “flour? check, corn meal? check”, etc. all the way through the list. That only means one thing…I must make these NOW!!!

Um, so I did! Mixed up the ingredients, popped them in the oven and got out everything else I wanted to have for breakfast. I crisped up some bacon and with 5 minutes left on the timer, I scrambled up some eggs and warmed up water for hot chocolate. The timer went off, the toothpick test was clean (meaning the muffins were done!), so I quickly cut one open and slathered it with butter. Let me tell you, that was a good breakfast!

Sadly, Nick doesn’t care for the texture of cornmeal, so I had to eat them all myself. Oh, the horror!  :)

Corn Muffins
Makes 6 (the original recipe makes 12, I cut it in half)
Prep time: 10 minutes     Bake time: 15-18 minutes

1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon sour cream
1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare your muffin tin by using muffin liners or by spraying your muffin pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg for about 20 seconds. Whisk in the sugar, then add in the melted butter- whisking to incorporate it well. Add in the sour cream and milk, whisking to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. With a silicon spatula or spoon, fold the mixtures together until just evenly incorporated.

Divide the dough evenly between the 6 muffin cups (I did not smooth the tops of mine. If you do, do it lightly). Bake in a preheated oven for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the tops are lightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, you can remove the muffins from the muffin pan. Enjoy!

Dry ingredients

Ready for the oven


Made with love, not calories!

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Another week…another weekly running recap!

Sunday: Rest
Monday: 1 hour run, 100 crunches, 25 (x2) push-ups, 80 squats
Tuesday: 30 minute HIIT, 30 minute walk
Wednesday: 1 hour walk, 90 squats
Thursday: 45 minute run, 100 crunches, 25 (x2) push-ups
Friday: 30 minute run, + 100 squats
Saturday: 9 mile run

I’m sore from all those squats! I’m trying not to whimper as I walk around…or sit down…or stand up! :)

Have a good weekend!

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Blood oranges are in season! Of course, not in my neck of the woods, but they are in season in Texas and California (per wiki).

I have never had a blood orange before. Can’t say that I have ever even noticed them at the grocery store. But I’m not a big orange lover, so even if I had noticed them, I wouldn’t have bought them.

Well, all that has changed since I started this blog! Now, I notice things…even when it isn’t chocolate :) And I buy things, even if I don’t know if I am going to like it!

Big sigh of relief…I like blood oranges! (I know, you were really concerned- weren’t you?!!!)

So after buying a bag of oranges (go big or go home?), I knew I needed to bake with them. I wanted to do something that would really bring out the color and sweetness, so I made a blood orange curd. It’s very easy to do and you can use it as a pie or tart filling, spoon it over slices of angel food cake, or top cookies with it (which is what I’m doing today!).

I decided a simple coconut thumbprint would work nicely with the blood orange curd. The cookies are not very sweet, so the filling keeps the whole cookie from tasting a little dull. The coconut on the outside of the cookie toasts up while baking and adds a nice bit of texture. If you don’t like coconut, you can easily roll the cookies in chopped toasted pecans.

The curd needs to be made ahead of time so that it can set up before you can use it with the cookies, so make sure you read the directions all the way through and plan accordingly!

Blood Orange Curd
Makes 1 cup
Prep time: 2 hrs + 40 minutes (40 minutes active, 2 hrs. resting)

2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup blood orange juice (I needed 5 oranges)
juice of 1 lemon
zest of 2 blood oranges
pinch salt
4 tablespoons butter, softened

In a medium-sized saucepan, whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, and sugar. Whisk in the blood orange juice, lemon juice, zest, and salt. Place this over medium heat and continue whisking until the mixture starts to thicken (about 10 minutes). At that point, change to a wooden spoon and continue stirring until the mixture reaches 170 degrees, or you run your finger down the center of the back of the spoon and the line stays clean. Remove from the heat and add in the butter, stirring until it is melted and well incorporated. Strain through a wire mesh sieve (this will catch any small pieces of egg or lumps)  into a bowl or container. Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Coconut Thumbprints with Blood Orange Curd

Adapted from Joy of Baking
Makes 20 cookies
Prep time: 10 minutes    Bake time: 12-13 minutes

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour, sifted
1 cup flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, lightly whisk the egg white then set aside. Place the coconut in another bowl and set aside.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add in the egg yolk, vanilla bean paste, and salt. Stir in the flour until it is well combined.

Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop out the dough, roll it into a ball and place it into the egg whites. Roll it around to coat, then place the dough ball into the coconut, lightly pressing to get the coconut to adhere. Place the ball onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Flatten slightly. Using your thumb or the back of a 1/2 teaspoon (dipped in sugar), make an indentation in the center of the cookie. Fill that with 1/2 teaspoon of the blood orange curd.

Bake for 12-13 minutes or until the cookies are set and the coconut is toasted. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, move the cookies onto cooling racks and let cool completely. Note: the filling stays warm longer than the cookies, so be careful if you eat them before they are completely cooled! Enjoy!

Blood orange curd, with plastic wrap on the surface, going into the fridge to chill.

Made with love, not calories!

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Just so that you know, I am still infatuated with Biscoff cookies and Biscoff Spread!

I came across Oreo Truffles the other day and knew I needed to make them with Biscoff cookies. So that’s what I did! Crushed Biscoff cookies, cream cheese, and Biscoff spread-all mixed together and dipped in white chocolate. Easy and delicious! Now, if you don’t have the Biscoff spread, just increase the amount of cream cheese until you have a soft enough mixture that you can roll.

Biscoff Truffles
Makes 24 truffles
Prep time: 45 minutes    Resting time: Up to 30 minutes

1 8.8 oz. package of Biscoff cookies
2 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Biscoff spread*
1/2 lb. white melting chocolate

In a food processor, pulse the unwrapped cookies until they resemble crumbs. Set aside 2 tablespoons worth of the crumbs. To the rest of the cookies, add in the cream cheese and the Biscoff spread. Pulse till the mixture is combined and starts to bind together. *Note: I used creamy Biscoff spread- if you use crunchy, you may need to use more as it has a thicker consistency.

With a small ice cream scoop, scoop out the mixture and work it in your hands a couple times, then roll it into a ball. Place the ball onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Continue until all the cookie mixture has been rolled. Set aside (note: if they feel soft after rolling them, put the cookie sheet into the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes. After that time has elapsed, go ahead and melt your chocolate).

In a medium-sized, microwave safe bowl, melt the white chocolate for 30 second intervals until melted (adding vegetable or coconut oil if needed). With a fork or circular dipping tool, dip the truffle centers into the white chocolate. Cover completely and gently tap off the excess chocolate. Place the truffle back on the wax paper and sprinkle on the Biscoff cookie crumbs that you set aside earlier. After all the truffles have been dipped, refrigerate for 10-15 minutes or until the chocolate has set. Remove from the refrigerator and enjoy!

Made with love, not calories!

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I used to be a Girl Scout!

 (2nd row, 2nd on the right…taken while in Brownies)

I started as a Pixie (now known as Daisy) scout in 1st grade, and continued all the way thru to Senior scout. That meant quite a few years selling Girl Scout cookies, earning badges, and going camping! I remember being taught how to build a fire…we used Raisinettes for the stones (for the fire pit), and Cheetos for the wood. Learning to tie knots, we used licorice strings. We were taught these things during our meetings, then we were able to put them to use when we went camping!

You all know of my love for dessert. Well, just because I was camping, didn’t mean there wouldn’t be dessert! My favorite was a banana boat! Stuffed with chocolate chips and marshmallows, and warmed by the fire, this was a gooey sweet dessert!

The other day I was challenged to use banana in a recipe. I could have posted the link to my Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, but before that thought could finish its way thru my brain, Banana Boats popped into my head! Remembering my love for them, I wondered, could I make a more finger friendly banana boat? I decided to make them into tarts. A flaky pastry dough filled with all the goodness from a banana boat! No fire required!!

Banana Boat Tarts
Makes 4 dozen
Prep time: 2 hours (1 hour active, 1 hour inactive)     Bake time: 30 minutes

Pastry dough:
1 cup butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt

7 oz. marshmallow creme (fluff)
1 cup mini chocolate chips
3 ripe bananas

In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and cream cheese. Scrape down the sides and add in the salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add in the flour. Once the flour is incorporated, stop the mixer. Turn out the dough onto some plastic wrap and form into a ball. Wrap completely and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

After 1 hour, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Unwrap and cut into 4 even sections. Cut each section in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each section into a log. Cut each log into 6 equal pieces. Roll each of the pieces into a ball and place into a mini tart pan (a mini muffin pan works also). Using a mini tart shaper, dipped in flour, shape the tarts. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Gather the rest of the ingredients for the tarts: 1. peel the bananas and cut them into 1/2 inch slices. 2. Spoon the marshmallow creme into a pastry bag or zip-lock sandwich bag, cut off the tip (1/4 inch) of the bag .  3. Pour 1 cup of mini chocolate chips into a small bowl and get out a 1/4 measuring teaspoon.

To assemble the tarts: 1. Pipe a 1/2 teaspoons worth of marshmallow creme into the bottom of the pastry shells (you don’t have to be exact!). 2. Top the marshmallow creme with 1/4 teaspoon of mini chocolate chips. 3. Top the chocolate chips with a slice of banana. 4. Top the banana with another 1/4 teaspoon of mini chocolate chips. 5. Top the chocolate chips with 1/2 teaspoon of marshmallow creme.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the pastry shells are a light golden brown. At this point, you can remove the tarts from the oven, or if you want a little brown to the marshmallow creme, increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees, for about 2 minutes- just make sure you watch so the tops don’t burn! Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove from the pans and transfer to a cooling rack- let cool completely. Enjoy!

Notes: These are best made, and eaten, the same day. Bananas that have been heated tend to give off liquid, which will make your marshmallow creme soft. If you want to make these ahead of time, my suggestion is to bake them without the last addition of marshmallow creme. Then right before you want to serve them (say the next day), top with the marshmallow creme and set your oven to 375 degrees to lightly toast the marshmallow creme.

Pastry dough

Question(s) of the day: Were you ever in Scouts? If so, what was your favorite part?

Made with love, not calories!

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Another week…another weekly running recap!!

Sunday: Rest
Monday: 1 hour run, 100 crunches, 25 (x2) push-ups, 50 squats
Tuesday: 30 minute HIIT, 30 minute walk
Wednesday: 1 hour walk, 60 squats
Thursday: 45 minute run, 100 crunches, 25 (x2) push-ups
Friday: 30 minute incline walk, + 70 squats
Saturday: 11 mile run

If anyone else is joining me in this months squat challenge, how are you doing? They are getting hard for me to do! I know that’s good, but man, I’m feeling the burn!!

Have a great weekend! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!!

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I am a sucker for cookies. Just look at the recipes on this blog…the majority are cookies!

I picked up a couple packages of Cool Mint Oreo’s the other day, knowing that St. Patrick’s Day is fast approaching. I don’t like corned beef and I don’t drink green beer, but chocolate and mint? Hand it over! So I dipped the Oreo’s in dark chocolate and decorated them with some shamrock sprinkles. Quick, easy, and delicious. The best part? You can make these whenever, and using whatever Oreo’s you like! (Yup, like you really needed me to point out the obvious.)

Chocolate Covered Cool Mint Oreo’s
Makes: Approx. 32 cookies
Prep time: 30 minutes     Resting time: 10 minutes

1 package Cool Mint Oreo’s
1 pound dark melting chocolate
Shamrock sprinkles (I used this one)

Line a cookie sheet with wax paper- set aside.

In a medium-sized, microwave safe bowl, melt the dark chocolate in 30 second intervals, stirring after each one until the chocolate is smooth. Dip the cookies completely in the chocolate (I use a fork for this), tapping off any excess chocolate. Place the cookie on the prepared cookie sheet and sprinkle the top with sprinkles. Repeat until all the cookies have been dipped, then place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or until the chocolate has set. Enjoy!

Made with love, not calories!

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