Monday, December 26, 2011

The last 48 hours...

Hi everyone!  Anyone else feel like they just got spun out of a hurricane??  Albeit, a wonderful one filled with tinsel, holly, family & good eatsJ hehehehehehehe....
However, what was the one thing our holiday was lacking in???  Photos! hahahhahaa....I didn't even realize how few I took until it was all over.  So I only have a quick recap of our Christmas for youJ

We started our day with a breakfast as equally decadent as the day itself:  Cinnamon roll monkey bread.  Yes, as in ooey gooey monkey bread made WITH CINNAMON ROLL DOUGH!!! 

I think after toying with the idea of a few recipes this year, that monkey bread may be our traditional breakfast from here on out.  It's SOOOO easy to make ahead of time, bake in the morning and I LOVEEEEE a 'shared' breakfast on Christmas morningJ 

And, of course, we finished up our day with our traditional dinner...homemade raviolis, meatball, fresh 'wreath' holiday bread and salad with olive oil & olives.  Wonderful, as alwaysJ 

It was a wonderful couple days filled with family, good eats, sweet moments and LOTTTSSSS of anticipation for the futureJ 
I'll have a few more interesting things to show you this week, but for NOW...we're all still in lounge mode! hahahahaha...hope you guys are resting up too!  Have a great nightJ

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Santa Claus comes leave him this:)

Morning everyone and Merry Christmas EveCan you even believe it??  I feel like I blinked and it was LAST Christmas Eve (even if those awful summer months drag endlesslyJ)  Even I, who had quite a bit of 'extra time' this year, still managed to see this month skyrocket by and found myself going "Christmas crazy" at the last secondSeesh!  Hope you guys are 'surviving' OKJ

Well, one thing my month hasn't been lacking in is CHRISTMAS BREAKFASTS!  Between my gingerbread, eggnog almond & cookie butter oats, I've been pretty well stocked in sugar & spice this season.  But dear friends, I have yet another creation for you and this one may be my most favorite yet: 

So this was the first Christmas is YEARRRRRRRRRRRS that I allowed myself to have eggnog in the house.  (I usually whip up Hungry Girl's version, which is pretty tasty I might add!!)  I LOVEEEEEE it, but Scott's not a fan (aka-the whole container is MINE!) and those *SCARY* stats always made me turn my 'not worth it' back on the festive treat.  This year thoughI caved. (and GOD, is it GOOD!  So very, very good)
Soooo....this left me with finding a way to NOT just stick a staw in the carton & finish it off in one session.  And as with all of my decadent ingredients this year, I decided oatmeal was my 'flavor savour!'

And to help balance it out a bit, I enlisted a little help from my favorite "LESS" milk substitute:  Unsweetened vanilla almond milk!

I mean, really, these stats couldn't be on the FURTHER end of the spectrum from one another!!!

Soooo...back to the oats.  What I first did was add to my pan a serving of COOKED oats.  (1/4 cup of steel cut oats cooked in 1 cup of water)....

Next into the pan...the angel & the devil
  • 1/2 cup of almond milk
  • 1/2 cup of eggnog. 
This is still BEYOND decadent...buttttttt at least the 1/2 cup of almond milk only adds 20 calories to the mix and saves you from adding a full cup (aka-360 calories!) to the oats!
I will admit, I even tried making this with 3/4 cups almond milk & 1/4 cup eggnog and it just wasn't the same.  The 1/2 a cup of each REALLY made the flavor BURST!  But you can try it out for yourself and see what you like!

Bring the milk & oats to a boil, before turning down to simmer for 20 minutes...

Stirring occasionally to make a pudding-like consistency...

About 3 minutes before the oats were done, I tossed in:
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar

...and a small handful of craisins...just cause they're so darn prettyJ

So I thought the REGULAR oatmeal pudding was good, but this one TAKES. THE. OATS CAKE!  It was suppppppppppppper creamy and you could taste the eggnog throughout the entire bowl.  Christmas bliss...let me tell ya!  (And let's not forget the "extra volume" from the longer cooking time!)
Hey, why not leaving some of this out for Santa Claus tonight??  I'm sure he's had his fill of milk & cookies...hehehehehheeJ

Well, I'm off to prep our "Christmas morning breakfast" (think CINNAMON!) & WORKOUT (did I mention the 'eggnog stats??') before heading to my in-laws for dinner and then trying to keep myself awake during midnight mass. Hahahahhahaa...hope you guys ENJOY all that the holidays have in store for you!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

My week...phewww!

Hey everyone...long time, no chat!  This week has been a WHIRLWIND of:

...cookie baking...(Although NO MARATHON sessions for me this year!  I made Scott's favorite Espresso Crinkles & my beloved "Peanut Sitting Pretties" and called it a year this year!)

...finishing off "secret Christmas projects" which took up nearly every. single. moment. of my waking hours...while SOMEONE wasn't around/sleeping!J...

...and squeezing in yoga every. last. chance. I could (even sneaking in ANOTHER "Christmas Yoga class" thanks to a friend!!)

And with one last burst of energy today, I can say all of our presents are wrapped...

...surfaces are spotless... 

...and the entire house is about to go into full blown Christmas relaxation mode!  And not a moment too soon, I might add!!! J  I'm beat! 

In the midst of all of this "week before Christmas business," there was also some cooking.  And while one of my dinners was a nice bowl of Strawberry Yogurt Cheerios, I WILL show you our most decadent AND most healthy dinners of the week.

First up:  The decadent... 
No kids, that's not your Grandmother's Spaghetti with this dinner was inspired after watching an episode of "Best Thing I Ever Made."  And as soon as I saw this recipe for Bucatini with Bacon Sauce, I knew I had to make it ASAP!

Especially since I had picked up some huge bacon slices on our trip to Lancaster

The sauce starts out how any fantastic dish does:  by crisping up a few (ahem *6*) slices of bacon... 

...along with a diced onion... 

And I figured if I was going to make this dish, I was going to make it RIGHT. (ummm...hence my OVER bacon usage!!)  I even went out to find the "appropriate" canned tomatoes that were suggestedJ 

When the sauce had simmered for over an hour, I cooked up my HEARTY bucatini (can you argue with pasta that 'catches' sauce on the INSIDE??!!) 

And topped it off with that hearty, beauuuitful sauce... 

Served up with some baked meatballs and I fear I may have created a monster with this dinner, as Scott proclaimed that it's gonna hard to have any sort of regular (aka: non-bacon) gravy from now on!  The bacon just gave the entire sauce a smokey, meaty & fabulous flavor.  Not surprising...this dish was too dieeee for! 
But DEFINITELY on the "CAPITAL D: DECADENT" side!  Certainly a "treat" dinnerJ

Annnnddd to balance out all of that bacon goodness, our dinner tonight was on the OTHER end of the spectrum.  Necessary, no?? J

First up were an attempt at Spanikopita burgersButtttt....thanks to a few supplements from my fridge, they sorta turned into a Greek/Mediterranean hybridJ
  • 3/4 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 box frozen chopped spinach, thawed & drained
  • 1/4 cup Tabbouli
  • 1 tablespoon Greek seasoning
  • 1/2 diced red onion
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
I mixed all of that together, formed them into patties, cooked em on the griddle till cooked through and topped em off with a little more diced red onion and...  

Soooooo good, especially with the Tzatziki.  And much like I might always add bacon to my tomato sauce from now on, I also might always add spinach to my burgers.  It keeps them super moist, creates bigger burgers...and obviously: healthy bonus! 

And we figured a night of 'skipped french fries' in lieu of roasted garlic broccoli might be a better idea for the nightJ hehehhehehe....

Well hope you enjoyed my week long recap!  I'm off to go join Scott on the couch and watch more of the Ghost Adventures marathon.  Yes...that's how we party the day before Christmas EveJ hahahhaaha...have a good night, everyone!  I just may have one. more Christmas oatmeal recipe for you in the AM...stay tunedJ

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ye Ole Amish...

So when I planned this weekend with '2 separate groups of folks' months ago, I failed to notice the nice little running theme:  2 road trips to Pennsylvania in two days!  Oppppsss...hahahahhahahahaha  So after a Mom's Road Trip on Friday, Saturday morning saw Scott & I packed up in the car and headed off to Lancaster, PA...

And much like our trip to Bethlehem, the first stop after our drive was FOOOODDDD.  I was STARVING by the time we got to Lancaster and couldn't get in HERE fast enoughJ 

Oh man, and I have to say this was one of the ONLY times I've played my "eating for 2" card.  Not to mention this place was a pregnant chicks HEAVEN!  We seriously would have eaten here from July to October if it was close by (which, fortunately for my scale, it was NOTJ), but this was pretty much everything I craved for 5 & 1/2 months straightJ 
On my plate?  CARB HEAVEN!  Scalloped potatoes, mashed potatoes with gravy, stuffing, biscuits with gravy and HOMEMADE BUTTERED NOODLES which I ADORED!  Balance?  NO.  To die for?  YES!  Never fear, as this was our only meal of the dayJ hahahaha

OK, I lied.  Even though I was just about BURSTING at the seams, we couldn't pass up the DESSERT. BAR.  Helloooo??  Who could??? 
Scott had tried his beloved Shoo-Fly pie and I got a couple sneaky bites of his red velvet cake slice, while I went with a few bites of OATMEAL pie and a few spoonfuls of COCONUT BUTTERSCOTCH PUDDING & a "pretzel jello" pudding.  Yeeshhhh...we almost had to roll out of there, but everything was just heavenlyJ

Next, it was on to a little shopping at the "Bird in Hand (NO CHAIN!) Bake Shop" where we picked up some treats... 

...and fed some baby goatsJ 

Then we made a swing through the Lancaster Central Market (pretty similar to Reading Terminal)...

And finally, to the little shopping village of "Kitchen Kettle"...

Scott & I had visited here a few years ago and even took an Amish buggy ride around Lancaster.  (very peaceful, as you could imagineJ)

Oooooo...the weather was much more 'seasonally appropriate' that day!J

But this time we just stuck to peeking in all of the little shops & picking up some unique gift items for family & friends...

Soon after, we headed home with some presents (shhhhhh!) and a small gaggle of sweets & treats... 

...and an ornament that pretty much sums up my season this yearJ 

Well, we did make ONE more stop on our way homeJ  Tucked into the PARKING LOT of the Lancaster Visitors Center is a littleeeeee truck called:
Any guess to what they had??J

Sunday morning breakfast is SERVED! 
We split a cinnamon roll and a sticky bun and to say these were over-the-top sinful & decadent is an understatement!  I especially loved that the dough was SUPER fresh and sooo light...not thick, heavy & yeasty like some 'buns.  Totally awesome!

And sticky buns for breakfast called for an IMMEDIATE walk in the park with Penny.  Only problem?  Neither of us failed to realize how COLD & BLUSTERY it was outside!!!  Oh man...walking AGAINST the wind and in the shade was ROUGH when you were. not. prepared!  So after that little venture, I decided that the rest of the day would be spent making some Christmas cookies & trying my hand at homemade chicken and dumpling soup...

I followed Kristin's recipe to the letter by making my own stock...

...and my own dumplings... 

Warm, slightly creamy from the floured dumplings and soooo cozy!  This was the PERFECT cold weather day dinner.  (Next time, though, I think I'll go back to making 'biscuit/drop dumplings' though.  These were good, but I like to sink my teeth into the doughy goodness, ya know?J
And one last thing for this post?  My Weekly Workout schedule BACK on it's 'original' dayJ hahahahaha...

Tuesday:  1 hour Yoga for the Warrior

Wednesday:  30 minutes dance + 2 rounds of weights + 100 kettlebell 'clean & press'

Thursday:  45 minutes DCC Body Slimming yoga + round of weights

Sunday:  45 minute walk

Gotta work off those carbs & sticky buns somehow, right??

Alright, so that about wraps up my Road Trips to Relaxing weekendJ  I hope you guys had a great one!  LESS THAN ONE WEEK TILL CHRISTMAS!  Hope you guys are enjoying & staying safe (I remember the highways this week of the year were crazy town!!!!!)

Have a good Monday!
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