Thursday, January 31, 2013

Peanut Butter Granola Balls

These were originally called "No Bake Energy Bites." I like the "no bake" portion of the title but don't like the "energy bites" part. It makes them sound healthy. Lets not kid ourselves. I don't think they're unhealthy per-se, but involve chocolate chips so I'm not gonna go so far as to make some crazy claims about them being good for your heart. Bottom line is they're super delicious and convenient and easy to make.

They're a bit messy to make too. I think kids would have tons of fun to make these. I don't have access to any elementary school kids to test that theory though. If you have kids and they like making them, let me know.


PB Granola Balls
from this site

  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I prefer mini)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut
To Make:

1) Microwave peanut butter and honey for a few seconds until they're melty enough to mix in.

2) Stir together flaxseed, oatmeal, chocolate chips, coconut. Pour in honey and peanut butter and mix until combined. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

3) When chilled, take about 2 tablespoons and form a ball in your hands. Keep in a covered container in the refrigerate and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Observation Tuesday: Volume 38

Happy Tuesday!

I wish this could be my life plan.
Found at a bookstore in Pouslbo, WA.

I found the humor Ted Talks video on my netflix account and am really obsessed with this one by Ze Frank (link here). He is both hilarious, brilliant and touching. Watch it if you have a free 18 minutes.

Also from Netlifx, I watched TLCs short-lived show "Best foods in America." There were 5 episodes and it was narrated by the husband from Roseanne, which I hated. Anyway, they featured this place called Gourdoughs in Austin, TX. They serve GIANT doughnuts with crazy toppings. Their PB&J is on my life list.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Recipe Fails

Sometimes my recipes just don't turn out. Here are my latest fails. 

Eggnog Pound Cake adapted from All Recipes. It starts out all well and good. Lots of potential. Pound cake and eggnog what could go wrong?

The timer goes off and this comes out

A giant caved in cake. BOOOOOO

Second fail, this recipe for hot chocolate. My issue with this situation was that I could NOT get it smooth. It was just bits of not melted chocolate and sort of gritty when you drank it. SAD.

I think I'll let my sister make me homemade hot chocolate from now on because hers is delicious.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

To my Husband

On this, your 25th birthday, I would like to officially wish you (on the internet) the Happiest of Days!
I'm glad I've been with you the past 5 and a half years to grow with you, learn from you and experience life together.
I love that you are adventurous, hard working, and follow Jesus; that you'll go to art museums with me, hike mountains, eat my ice cream and pick huckleberries.
 I'll do my best to make this coming year one that is memorable! You deserve the best and I'm so glad I get to celebrate many more birthdays with you.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Book Reviews: Food, Dogs and Little Bee

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
by Michael Pollan

Pollan sums up his book in the first chapter when he says, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." The first part of the book he uses a lot of research to identify his beliefs about what food means. He identifies that a lot of food research is not reliable due to multiple factors, discrepancies in diet, the government's investments and research methods themselves. However he ends up using some of these studies to support his own ideas. So I didn't totally agree with a lot of the first section. The end of the book he gives a break down of this thesis and real world techniques. I think his general idea is excellent and something I continue to strive to do; eating less processed foods, more fruits and vegetables and healthier quantities. 

The Art of Racing in the Rain
by Garth Stein

This is my first book club book that we're discussing at the end of the month (which I'm really excited about). Anyways, this is Stein's novel about Enzo, a dog, and his family. Stein writes from a Enzo's perspective on his life, his family's journey and how he wishes he were human. It's an interesting point of view as Enzo tells about Denny, his wife and daughter as they struggle through illness and custody battles and life. Denny gets dealt blow after blow to his life, which I just found depressing. I also started out thinking it was really cheesy but about two-thirds of the way through the book I found myself really invested, probably because Enzo is so lovable  Thankfully it has a happy ending and despite myself I liked it.

Little Bee 
by Christ Cleave

Cleave, also the author of Gold, writes the story of Little Bee, a refuge from Nigeria whose life intertwines with Sarah, a magazine editor in London. Sarah's husband as recently committed suicide and when Little Bee shows up on her door  she doesn't quite know what to think. They have history together from a vacation Sarah and her husband took in Nigeria but it's been years since they first met. As they go through the weeks following her husband's death more and more comes out about their history and the reason Little Bee is in the UK. I do think Cleave is a good author but I didn't like this book nearly as much as I liked Gold. I think it's partially because the characters didn't seem as real to me and this story is really sad. I'm glad I read it but I'd give it 3/5 stars overall.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Banana Bread Pancakes

I am a huge advocate of weekday pancakes. They make you slow down a little bit. In those span of days where you're working, running errands, meeting people for coffee, stopping to make pancakes for yourself may be just what you need. 
There's something about getting up in the morning at a decent time, not too early but not late enough that you feel lazy. Whisking together some flour and milk, nothing too loud first thing in the morning. Mashing a banana can even be therapeutic first thing. Oh, and definitely make these while still wearing your pjs.
One of the bes things about these banana bread pancakes is you don't even need syrup as a topping. They've got just enough sweetness on their own. Or you can add it if you're into it. Maybe even some peanut butter would be delicious. Go with your gut when you make these.

Banana Bread Pancakes
adapted from How Sweet It Is
makes 4 medium pancakes

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/8 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 tbsp butter, melt
To Make:

1) Whisk together flour, powder, salt, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add in milk and vanilla extract and stir just until combined. Finally, stir in banana and lastly the butter.

2) Preheat pan and spray with non stick cookie spray. When warm enough, measure batter out but 1/3 cup and pour onto pan. Flip when bubbles burst on top of pancakes and cook for another couple minutes.

3) Serve with butter and maple syrup or your favorite pancake topping. Enjoy

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Observation Tuesday: Volume 37

Confession: I only wear my seatbelt in the car so I'm not the person in the news that was ejected from their car because they're not wearing their seatbelt. Not because it's the law, not because it's safer, but because I don't want people to think I'm an idiot if I die.

Some favorite links from the web this week:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Snapshot Sunday: January 20

My parents and nephew are currently visiting from Montana. It's so fun spending time with them in our turf. 
Seth and I found dollar tacos at a place close by for the win.

Snow on a walk. There wasn't snow anywhere else so I'm thinking someone brought it with :)

A foggy walk to work

GUM WALL! My mom found a swedish flag. There was also a marriage proposal.

At Chinese food. 
Love going with my dad because he can order us the good stuff in Mandarin.

At Pike Place!

Feeding the wildfowl illegally at Greenlake. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Vegetarian Italian Garbanzo Bean Soup

Sometimes I just want to cut to the chase, this is a good soup recipe. I may be slightly obsessed with soup this winter. Something about cold, rainy days makes a big bowl of deliciousness that much more amazing.

This one is italian, savory and so filling. It's vegetarian but you get some protein with the garbanzo beans. And if you like a little more kick feel free to add more red pepper flakes. 

Italian Garbanzo Bean Soup
makes 4-6 servings
from Bella Sun Sun-dried tomato can
  • 1 cup small pasta shells
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 11.5 oz can tomato juice
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
  • 2 can garbanzo beans (16 oz)
  • 6 oz baby spinach
  • 2-4 cups water 
  • salt and pepper
To Make:

1) Cook pasta according to directions and set aside. 

2) In pot for soup, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes and sugar and saute for a few minutes.

3) Next stir in tomato juice, balsamic vinegar, water, sun dried tomatoes and garbanzo beans. Bring these to a boil. Once at a rolling boil, reduce heat and simmer for 7-10 minutes. Now, optional step, you can puree half of the mixture to thicken it or leave this consistency depending on your preference.

4) When you're ready, add the pasta and spinach to the pot. Keep it there until heated through. Season with salt and pepper and serve. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Happy Birthday, Trisha!

If you don't know my sister, you should.

She's awesome. She makes a mean, delicious coffee drink, is always a wonderful host, a great mom and always lets me beat her when we fake wrestle (actually I'm just bigger). Today is her birthday and she should be celebrated!

Trish, when you read this, Happy Birthday! Wish I was with you to make you breakfast in bed of pumpkin pie and take you out to coffee. Thanks for being an amazing sister. Love you!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Observation Tuesday: Volume 36

After a hiatus, OT is back. I know you've missed my random links/thoughts/stream of consciousness in ob tue form.

I wouldn't call myself a huge Jennifer Lawrence fan, but after seeing the 25 Best Jennifer Lawrence Quotes of 2012, I totally am. She sounds hilarious in a non-idiotic way.

Love this list of 10 Things To Make You Happier At Home. I'm currently working on the one-line a day gratitude journal and keeping sentimental items around my home.

As I mentioned Sunday, I went to a trapeze class last week. I'd like to publicly announce that I am still sore. Who knew my shoulders and back were so weak?

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Snapshot Sunday: January 13

My week was full of fun activities, that involved some work (not quite as fun), skiing, trapeze and good coffee.

Monday: after an avalanche blocked the route home from skiing 
we decided to take the long way around and drove through Leavenworth, WA. 
It's so gorgeous!

Monday: Christmas bear in Leavenworth.

Thursday: best latte I've had in awhile at ETG coffee in Fremont.

Thursday: Love morning light.

Oh, spelling errors on public signs....makes me laugh

 Saturday: Frost on a cold morning makes this look like algae.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Applesauce Jumbles

My in laws visited a few weeks ago and brought along a tin of cookies made by our Mimi. Tucked into the lid of that tin was the recipe card, from 1980 typed on a typewriter with hand written notes. What a treasure. 
The more I cook and read about food and eat the more I realize what a treasure recipes can be. Looking back my favorite gifts in recent years have been recipes from those close to me. My mom gave me a box with our family favorites written by her and my dad. My Nana (husband's grandma) gave me a journal with her tried and true recipes that she hand wrote for our wedding. And last year my Aunt collected my grandma's gems and put them into a mini cookbook for the family. And now this treasure from Mimi. What a collection!
These recipes may involve Velvetta and buffet spreads with deli ham and punch made with too much sugar but oh how they are loved. I fully intend to cook my way through them all as I live my life. Making the food makes me feel not so far away from them even though they may be gone or live hundreds of miles away.
These applesauce jumbles may not be from your grandma, but they're from mine and I think you should make them. What's not to love about a brown butter glaze on top of some deliciously soft cookies.
Applesauce Jumbles
makes about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients for cookies:
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp soda
  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped assorted nuts
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of chocolate chips (based on how many you generally like)
  • 1/3 cup browned butter
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2-4 tbsp water
To Make:

1) Heat oven to 375*. Mix dry ingredients, flour, salt, soda, and spices, set aside. In mixer cream together softened butter (if not soft, but in microwave for about 30 sec on defrost setting) and brown sugar until smooth. Add vanilla, applesauce and eggs and stir. Slowly add in dry ingredients. Finally, fold in nuts and chocolate chips.

2) Drop by rounded tablespoons onto cookie sheet. I use a melon baller so they're relatively even. Bake for 10 minutes. They don't get that brown on top but they should be done. Let cool before glazing.

3) To make the glaze add sugar to brown butter and mix well. Add in vanilla. Finally, add water, 1 tbsp at a time until glaze is desired consistency. 

5) When cookies are cooled, glaze cookies using your favorite method. I prefer the glaze in a sandwich bag with the corner clipped off. Let the glaze set and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Broccoli Salad

Sometimes you need broccoli in your life. A healthy crunch between your teeth to make you feel like it's okay that you didn't do your cruches or go to yoga that day. 

Maybe you sat inside because it was raining all day and drank cocoa and watched documentaries. It's alright because you're eating broccoli! 
This is a particularly wonderful form of broccoli too. It's got a delicious dressing and can be served at room temp or cold. It's fancy enough to serve for Christmas (like I did) or laid back enough to pack in your lunch all week.
How amazing does that dressing look? Go ahead, taste it.
And its not just broccoli, we're adding in some red onions and apples too. The sweet, tangy combination makes this a winner.
A huge thanks to Kristen for sharing this with me originally. I think I got a taste when she brought home leftovers of this when we lived together and I was hooked.
Broccoli Salad
from Kristen via "Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without"

For the salad
  • 1 large bunch broccoli
  • 1 tart apple, like granny smith
  • 1 small red onion
for the dressing
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pepper
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
To make:

1) Bring large pot of water to boil. Cut broccoli into large bite-sized pieces. Slice the red onion (like picture above). Put red onion into bottom of colander in the sink. Slice apple into half-inch pieces and set aside. 

2) Once water is boiling dump in broccoli and simmer for 1-3 minutes, until color brightens and slightly cooked. Then pour broccoli and hot water over colander to slightly cook the onions and drain the broccoli. Leave there. 

3) To make the dressing I just put all the ingredients, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt and peper, honey and olive oil, into a jar and shake vigorously. 

4) Put broccoli and onion into serving bowl. Add apples and combine. Drizzle dressing over the salad and use spoon to mix in until it's all covered. If you're making it ahead of time refrigerate until you're ready to eat it or serve at room temp. Enjoy!