Off To See The Ravens!

Good Morning to You! & HAPPY FRIDAY! Open-mouthed smile

I really enjoyed doing my post last Friday about things I was looking forward to for the weekend, so I thought I would do it again this Friday. This weekend is definitely going to be much more exciting than last weekend because we are going to Jacksonville for Monday Night Football!!! As I’m SURE you know, we have tickets (sideline!! Smile ) to the Ravens v. Jaguars game, but we have a bunch of stuff before that to look forward to as well.

1. Seeing my parents!
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Love them! & I mean, I AM their favorite daughter. Winking smile Yes, they do read my blog..and I’m positive that they would agree with me. Smile

2. Tailgating!!
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(yes, I do have hair..I promise, even though you can’t see it)

We have plans to hang out with other Ravens fans (there is actually a whole group of us going up from Orlando for the game!) & eat lots of good food…and maybe have a few drinks. Winking smile I mean it IS one of the best parts of going to a game!!

3. Taking a few days off of work.
Since the game is on Monday night, I’m taking Monday & Tuesday off from work- it will be a nice mini vacation!

4. Getting together with some of my friends from high school!
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Red heart Miss those girls!! (So funny seeing myself with blonde hair now that I’m back brunette.)

5. Eating lots of frozen yogurt!
My Dad always has plenty stocked up. Smile

6. Hopefully going for a run with my Dad.
I don’t know how my stomach is going to hold up, but I’m crossing my fingers (&toes) that it does. If not, we can always go for a walk. Thankfully he understands the whole Crohn’s thing…since he has it too. (he’s just in ‘remission’ & does not have issues with it- thank goodness!)

7. Beautiful weather! Sun
It has been PERFECT in Florida these past couple of days- & it’s supposed to stay that way for a while (high’s in the mid 70’s) LOVE it! It’s so funny when you see people in Florida- the second it gets in the 70’s we break out our boots & coats.
I wish I had these boots…
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I’m sure Craig wouldn’t mind  would kill me if I spent $500 on a pair of boots. I’m trying to find a really cute pair that are similar to these, but not quite as expensive…ok maybe only 1/5 of the price of these. Smile I stalk MJR sales daily in hopes of finding the perfect boots…I guess I’ll keep searching!

8. Maybe convincing my Mom that we should go shopping Winking smile
We always have fun shopping together, I always make her try on outfits that she never normally wears. We had a lot of fun shopping for her outfit for our wedding.

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Isn’t she cute?? I love this picture of her, it always makes me smile.

9. Not having to do any laundry or cleaning
Since we won’t be home, I don’t have to worry about it! Thumbs up The only thing is that it will Definitely be waiting for me when I get back…that’s what I’ll spend my Tuesday doing.

..and last but not least…

10. Football, football, and MORE football!! Open-mouthed smile
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GOOOOOOOO RAVENS!!!

If you don’t hear from me until we get back from Jacksonville, you know why. Smile I will have lots of pictures to share with you though when we do get back!

Hope you all have a FANTASTIC Friday & an awesome weekend!!

Tell me what you’re looking forward to this weekend!!

Strawberry & Lime

Good Morning!!

Thank you all SO much for your kind words on yesterday’s post. It definitely made me smile! Smile I just need to stay focused and remind myself WHY I’m taking this test when I begin to doubt myself. It will be worth it at the end.

So randomly this weekend I happened to mention to Craig that I was craving Skittles. I have NO idea why..and I really never eat candy. (Sorry Janae, I hope we can still be friends Winking smile ) I just don’t love it like I love frozen yogurt, so I just stick to frozen yogurt. And like I’ve said before, I inherited the ‘ice cream gene’ from my Dad, so I can’t help myself! So when I ran out to the grocery store, these just happened to land in my cart.
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Oops! Winking smile I love how it says it’s the ‘share size,’ when it fact I think it means to say the ‘Holly size.’ Sorry Craig, I’m not about to share my Skittles! (good thing he doesn’t like them too much, otherwise I might feel a tiny bit greedy Winking smile )

Once I opened the package I found myself picking out certain flavors. I’m one of the odd people that LOVES grape. It’s my favorite flavor. I would always love when everyone would pick out all of their grape flavors & then give them to me. The best part was that I didn’t even have to trade anything for them…because no one wanted them! Ha!

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I loved grape EVERYTHING. My favorite daily occurrence of grape was in my Flintstone’s chewable vitamins. Remember those?
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I would always pick out all of the grape ones first, and leave the orange ones for last. I actually HATED the orange ones…and tried to throw them out before my parents noticed…but they caught on & made me eat the orange ones too. I lived such a hard life a kid, huh?! Winking smile

Anyways, as I was eating my Skittles I also remembered how I would only eat certain combinations of Skittles together. Like the lime & lemon, or the lemon & orange. It was either specific combinations or I just ate each flavor by itself. I remember when I was in elementary school & I was eating Skittles with one of my friends. I noticed she was eating a certain combination of flavors that had never considered before. Strawberry & Lime. I thought it was SO odd, but when I tried it I realized why she liked it so much, it was good! So now every time I eat Skittles I always eat the strawberry & lime flavors together.
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This made me think of other strange combinations that I like to eat. Of course we all know of the traditional combinations….

Peanut Butter & Jelly …the most well-known combination of all time
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(oh, and pb & j’s MUST have grape jelly…any other jelly just will not work Smile )

Peanut Butter & Chocolate …possibly the BEST combination ever invented
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Chips & Dip …the best football snack ever
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Ice Cream & Sprinkles … we all love it & it just makes you smile Smile
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(& how does that look right about now?! Ice cream for breakfast…? Sure why not?! Winking smile )

Then I started to thinking about the odd combinations that I eat that aren’t ‘typical.’

*Pretzels & Yogurt – love the salty sweet/ combination

*A sandwich with chips IN the sandwich, I can’t eat a sandwich without chips- I love the crunch in it. Craig just thinks I’m a weirdo & gives me strange looks.

*Apples & chicken Winking smile

*Cinnamon & popcorn

*Saltines & Jelly (I have a HUGE love for Saltines..it’s bad. I could eat a whole sleeve of Saltines & not think twice about it…so I try not to buy them too much.)

*Ice cream & cereal (YUM)

I guess they aren’t all SO odd. I am definitely all about trying new things, and sometimes have the strangest ideas for combinations of flavors. Sometimes it works…sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s worth the try. Smile

Do you have any strange combinations that you like?
Do you find any ‘traditional’ combinations gross?

I always love trying new things, so I might just have to try some of your odd combinations!Smile with tongue out

Hope you all have a fabulous Friday Eve!

Time to Sacrifice

Good Morning!

How is your week so far? Hopefully not too bad. I have been SUPER slammed at work, but I will never complain about that! It makes my day fly by, and being busy in the industry that I work in is a VERY good thing…you will never complain! (I work in finance, just in case you are wondering Smile )

I don’t know if you guys remember, but a week or so ago I was telling you that I was excited about some changes that were going on in my life. As I said before, these are GOOD changes! They are all regarding my job..and I’m pretty excited about them! I’ve taken on more responsibility (hence the crazy week so far), I’m continuing to learn a TON about the industry (& I’m learning more and more every day), and I am finally revisiting this book:
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Which would be the book from hell, I mean it’s my study book for the Series 65 exam. I actually started studying for my Series 65 last year around this time. I ended up taking the test twice & did not pass it either time. Sad smile But it was because I did not give it my all. It is one of (if not the hardest) tests to pass in the state of Florida. I believe the pass rate is only around 33%. Eek! :/ Part of my problem last year was that I had too much going on to try to give this test enough study time. Craig & I had just gotten engaged (I wouldn’t change that for the world!! Smile ) and I was more focused on planning our wedding..which is what I think anyone would do it my circumstance.

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I kind of put the Series 65 on the back burner, even though I KNEW how hard it is to pass. I kind of just thought I would ‘get it.’ What a WRONG thought on my behalf. This test is NO joke & it’s not stuff that you just ‘get.’ It takes time & dedication…& LOTS of it.

Now I am READY. I am ready to CONQUER this thing. My books are open, my head is being filled with new knowledge & I am prepared to study my little heart out.
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My weekends, nights after work, and lunch breaks will be spent with this book. It’s something that I need to do..and it’s time that I am willing to sacrifice in order to pass this thing! I don’t want to say ‘sacrifice,’ because it’s time that I want to dedicate to it; it’s not something I HAVE to do, but WANT to do.

The only little break that I’m giving myself is when we go to Jacksonville this weekend- I’m still going to bring all of my books- I just will be taking Monday off from studying since we will be tailgating for the game all day & then AT the game at night. But other than Monday, I will definitely be taking some time to hit the books this weekend.
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I’m actually going to be going to a 2 day class for it in mid November- the instructor is there to go over EVERYTHING in this MONSTER book in two days. Which means that he or she is NOT there to really teach you, but to clarify what you have been learning & to answer any last minute questions.
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(This picture doesn’t do it justice, this book really is HUGE.)

So I need to have reviewed & re-reviewed this entire book before attending that class. It’s no small feat, and getting through just ONE chapter is hard enough. I’ve made up my mind though, I’m DOING it. I’m not going to go into my exam with questions & things I don’t understand like I did last time. I’m not sure when I will take the actual exam (it’s 130 questions & you get 3 hours to complete it- you MUST get 94 questions correct in order to pass it) but it will be shortly after I take the class- maybe right before or right after Thanksgiving. I’m honestly not sure if I should take it before we leave for Baltimore for Thanksgiving, or take it right after we return. I guess I will just see how comfortable I feel after the 2 day class in Mid November.

Sorry for a lot of rambling, but I just wanted to explain why I might not be posting daily. I know I don’t need to apologize & I know you guys understand (we all have our own lives to live Smile ) but I always feel like I should give you an explanation. I love my readers, and I don’t want you to think that I’ve just gone M.I.A. I’m still here, I’ve just got my head buried in my books. I only wish they were cook books. Winking smile

Love you guys, so just please stick with me! I promise I will still have some  great recipes & workouts for you..which reminds me, I need to share some new workouts with you. I have kind of let my ‘workouts’ page go, so I’m just going to start fresh. I honestly just forget to type my workouts in. I have been working out everyday though (I take 1 day off a week), I just forget about updating it on the blog. Oops! Thinking smile

Hope you have a wonderful day! Happy Mid Week Open-mouthed smile

Questions:
1. What is one of the hardest tests that you have ever taken?
2. What is your favorite way to study?
(hey, I can always use new tips Winking smile )

Apple Chip Chicken

Good Morning Open-mouthed smile 

Well guys, I know this might come as a shock to you. (insert sarcasm Winking smile )But I have another recipe for you today that uses apple butter. Maybe you didn’t believe me when I told you that I really do LOVE apple butter. Red heart This recipe is kind of a unique recipe though, it’s nothing that I have ever seen before..and I’ve seen a lot of recipes! I guess that’s why when I saw it, I was intrigued & knew I HAD to make it. My recipe that is below, is based on a recipe that I happened to stumble upon when I was on Publix’s apron recipes. The original recipe calls for dried apples, (which I was ironically looking for AT Publix, but they did not have any in stock- I asked) but since I could not find them, I decided to use apple chips instead.
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I used Seneca apple chips, and I forgot HOW good these things are! As soon as I opened the bag the smell was SO inviting that I just couldn’t resist having a few. Smile
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I love that they have a BIG apple taste when you first bite into them, and they use fresh apples to make them. There are also no funky ingredients to read through, it’s really just apples & a bit of oil to get that crisp. I actually bought more (after I made this chicken) to add to my oatmeal. I normally don’t like much added to my oatmeal (like I said yesterday- typically just brown sugar) but these are REALLY good in oatmeal. Yum!

Besides the fact that these chips are good on their own, they are even BETTER on chicken! ..and then you add in apple butter..oh man, I am S-O-L-D!

Apple Chip Chicken

Ingredients:
-1 & 1/4 cups apple chips (usually found in the produce section, by the apples)
-1 & 1/4 cups corn flakes
-1 tbsp. flour
-1 tsp. seasoned salt
-1/2 tsp. black pepper
-1/3 cup apple butter plus more for dipping, if desired
-1 lb. chicken tenders

Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Add apple chips to food processor, and process until they are finely chopped.
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3. Add in corn flakes, flour, seasoned salt & pepper to the processor & continue to process until it is all finely chopped.- it should almost look like breadcrumbs. Place the mixture on plate, or large bowl.
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4. Pour your apple butter into a large bowl, and dip each chicken tender in the apple butter. Once covered in apple butter, dip each tender in the apple chip crumbs. Place the coated tenders on a greased baking sheet & bake for about 12- 15 minutes (flipping half way through) or until the tenders are no longer pink in the middle.
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I served the chicken tenders with additional apple butter, but you really don’t need it…unless you are an apple butter FREAK like me Winking smile
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This was such an interesting combination of flavors. Honestly I would of NEVER thought to put apples & chicken together. It is definitely a WINNING (<—ha! I sound like Charlie Sheen) combination!

As I was making this meal, I told Craig that ‘this may become one of my very FAVORITE recipes EVER.’ He was like ‘whoa H! That is a bold statement.’ Yep, I did realize that…and it was NOT an overstatement. This recipe is by FAR one of VERY favorite recipes. You can just feed me this at LEAST once a week, and I will be a VERY happy girl! Open-mouthed smile  It’s definitely a recipe that I will save for the fall, it’s not really something that screams summer. Something that might scream summer is watermelon, although I don’t think watermelon chicken would be a favorite recipe of mine…let alone a favorite of anyone’s. Winking smile

This meal is also husband approved! At first I wasn’t too sure what Craig would think of these tenders, but the second that he sat down at the table for dinner, he commented on HOW good they smelled. He was like ‘these smell sweet! I’m not used to that smell for dinner.’ I just kind of gave him a little smile & told him just to try them. I think he was pretty delighted after he took his first bite. I may or may not want to admit that between the two of us we were able to eat an entire pound of chicken. Embarrassed smile That’s just HOW good they were. I was really bummed that we didn’t have any leftovers, which is a statement I NEVER make. (I’m a leftover hater..as much as I hate to admit that..it’s true) I’m already looking forward to making these again…and just looking at the picture above is making my mouth water.

If you remember one thing today…it’s that you HAVE to make these..immediately! Smile I promise you will be in for a real treat!

I’m off to get this day started! But first I’m definitely going to need a big mug of coffee, with a  bit of brown sugar maple creamer. I’m still addicted to this stuff- it’s oh so good! Open-mouthed smile Have a GREAT day!!

Questions for you:
1. What is the most random combination of food that you like to eat?
2. What is your favorite dried fruit?
I really like dried banana chips. Which makes me think…maybe I should think of a recipe using those! Smile

Baked Apple Butter Oatmeal

Good Morning Smile

Welcome to a new week! Can you believe that October is more than half way over?? I can’t. I feel like this month as FLOWN by, actually the whole last half of this year has flown by. Right now is the PERFECT time to live in Florida- well the next month or so, it’s cooling down, mind you cooling down is the low 80’s for us. It’s also getting darker earlier, which I love because it just really feels so ‘fall-ish.’ (don’t mind the made up words Winking smile )

I know that I have been talking about coming up with a recipe for Red Velvet donuts for a little while…and I do promise that it’s coming. I’m just trying to perfect it. I just need to figure out how much cocoa powder to use. …the other part of the problem is that I forgot to pick up red food coloring the last time I was at the grocery store. So I had purple velvet donuts instead of red. Smile  (because you know I always have a ton of purple stuff on hand Winking smile )

But I do have a new recipe for you…sorry it’s not red velvet donuts (they WILL be coming), but it IS really good, that I can guarantee!

Believe it or not, there is actually something that I love more than pumpkin this time of year. It’s something that I can get all year round, but I prefer to eat it during fall & winter…only because it seems more appropriate this time of year.

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Apple butter!!! Yep, I said it, I like this stuff MORE than pumpkin! I don’t know what it is about it. It must be the sweet combination of apples & sugar perfected and bottled in a jar waiting patiently for me to but it every single year. I know my Grammie used to really like apple butter..and I almost want to say that the first time I ever had it was when I was visiting her one year in New Hampshire. I really can’t remember, but it does remind me of her. There must be some reason that it brings memories of her to my mind whenever I have it.

When I got up on Sunday I was trying to think of what I wanted to make for breakfast. Typically I make Craig something involving eggs, bacon, and some kind of bread. He really like bagel sandwiches, which I have made many  Sundays, but I wanted to make something different. Something new. As I was lying in bed, just waking up, it hit me. What I wanted to make for breakfast HAD to include apple butter. No if’s, and’s or but’s…it was a must.

Baked Apple Butter Oatmeal

Serves 2

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Ingredients:

-1 medium to large apple (I used a Gala apple, but any would work)
-1/3 cup apple butter, plus additional for topping
-1 cup old fashioned oats
-1 tsp. cinnamon
-3/4 cup almond milk (or any kind of milk)
-2 egg whites, lightly beaten

Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cut up apple into small pieces & place in a large mixing bowl. Add in apple butter & mix together with apple pieces.
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3. Add in oats & cinnamon. Mix well.
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4. Pour the milk & egg whites into oat mixture and combine.
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5. Grease two mini loaf pans & pour half of the mixture into each of the loaf pans. Add about a teaspoon of apple butter to the top of each loaf.
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6. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the middle is no longer soupy. (is ‘soupy’ technical?! Winking smile )
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Now please keep in mind, this baked oatmeal isn’t super sweet…I actually prefer my oatmeal that way. I’m not a huge fan of overly sweet oatmeal…and I know this might shock you all, but I really don’t like peanut butter in my oatmeal. The more ‘oatmeal-ish’ the better. The other thing that I like about this recipe is that the oats still kind of had a little crunch (like oats should) when I went to eat it. Not an uncooked crunch, but just a hearty oat crunch. Does that even make any sense?! Sorry my descriptions are a bit off this morning. It IS Monday…that should say enough in itself Open-mouthed smile

If you did want it sweeter, then you could add some kind of sweetener (sugar, stevia, or honey) to the oats before you bake them.

Instead of eating the oats out of the pan, I took the loaf out & mashed it onto a plate. Then I topped the oats with some more apple butter…because well, like I said I just can’t get enough of the stuff! Smile

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(looks kind of like ground turkey, right?! Ha! Smile)

This was such a FILLING & tasty breakfast! It kept me full for about 5 hours!!  I’m a pretty big snacker, so 5 hours without any food is the sign of a VERY filling breakfast! I’m actually considering baking a few of these & storing them in the fridge for my work week breakfasts. That way I won’t have to think of what to have for breakfast, and I can just grab it & go. Pretty convenient Smile

Looks like it time for me to get this work week started! I just kicked my own butt at the gym, & now the shower is calling my name. Hope you have a great Monday! (well, as good as a Monday can be Winking smile )

Questions for ya:
1. What is your favorite thing to mix into oatmeal?
Honestly, like I said, I like it really simple…so I typically just add a bit of brown sugar.
2. Anything exciting that you are looking forward to this week? I definitely do- Craig & I are heading up to Jacksonville on Saturday to see my parents & to go to the Monday Night football game- RAVENS v. Jags!! We are both REALLY excited about it!!

Looking Forward To The Weekend

TGIF Open-mouthed smile

Woohoo for Friday! I’m looking forward to this weekend because it is supposed to be perfect weather in Florida this weekend. October is usually some of the best weather in Florida, but this month has been more like summer with our high in the 90’s. This weekend is only supposed to get into the low 80’s- NICE!! Smile

Other things I’m looking forward to this weekend:

1. Catching up on blogs. I am SO far behind & my Google reader is out of control.
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I’m so sorry if you have noticed that I have not been commenting lately. I have just been really busy at work, which is a REALLY good thing so I’m not complaining, but I just wanted to let you all know! I still love reading, & I will definitely be back to my normal commenting soon. Smile

2. Maybe drinking some more of this….
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Raspberry Merlot. Yum. Perfect Friday night treat!

3. Watch some movies that we have heard some great things about.
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Can you believe we still haven’t seen this yet?! I have heard it’s hilarious! I can’t wait to watch it. I actually might get it for us tonight if it’s available at Redbox.

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And of course Horrible Bosses…because I love Jennifer Aniston!

4. Coming up with a recipe for a Red Velvet donut.
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Something like that. OMG…how good does that look?!

5. Watching football.
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Rooting for the Ravens, of course Winking smile

6. Getting in a good workout.
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I always like going to the gym on the weekend even more because it’s usually pretty empty in the morning..and I don’t have to worry about time like I do during the week. I can stay as long as I want.

7. Last but not least, spending time with my best friend.
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He looks extra special with cake all over his face. Winking smile

Have a great weekend! I hope to be back soon with that new donut recipe.

Question: What are YOU looking forward to this weekend??

Childhood Habits

Goooooood Morning!! Happy Friday Eve to you. Smile

First things first-

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my Father In Law!! 😀

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I’m so glad that I’m not alone in all of the pumpkin loving lately. I know it might be getting a bit much, but I just can’t help myself. Good news for those of you sick of seeing pumpkin..today I am NOT sharing anything pumpkin with you, so maybe you’ll stick around. Winking smile

Anyways, the other night Craig & I happened to have a pretty interesting conversation about how we were raised. We have talked about it many times before, we just like to compare different things. For the most part Craig & I were raised really similar. We were taught to work for what you want, and that things are not just given to you. The good part about being raised similar is that we plan to raise our own children that way. We won’t have to worry about what the other person will think about certain parenting habits, since we pretty much agree.

This whole conversation came up when we were eating cereal. Random, right? Well Craig really wanted to open a new box of cereal, but he had one already open. I was like why don’t you just open the new one & finish the other one up later? He told me that he doesn’t do that because he wasn’t allowed to do that growing up. He had to finish the opened box of cereal before opening a new one. I kind of laughed because it reminded me of MY parents. I am the QUEEN of opening things that are already open. Typically I have at least 3 boxes of cereal open (hey, I like combining them Smile ). Growing up I would ALWAYS get in trouble for opening new things that we already had open- like a new ketchup when there was an opened bottle in the back of the fridge. (I was just too lazy to move stuff around & really look before I opened a new one…oops. )

It got me thinking of things that I STILL do now that I did growing up & things that I have changed.

Still do:
* Eat some kind of treat after dinner…typically frozen yogurt. (I got the ice cream gene for my Dad. Smile with tongue out)
* Eat a lot of things out of cups & mugs. (for instance- cereal in a mug instead of a bowl) I don’t know by, but I just prefer it.
* Fold socks like my Mom. She folds them in half, rather than rolling them into a ball. Funny story- when Craig & I moved in together & I started doing his laundry, he commented on how he liked how I folded socks. After that he doesn’t like them any other way & requests that I fold them that particular way.

What I’ve changed:
* I am a crazy person about keeping the kitchen clean. Growing up I was notorious for leaving crumbs behind. My Dad always told me that he could always tell where I had been just by following a crumb trail. Smile
* We eat dinner a lot later than I did growing up. Craig & I typically eat dinner between 7pm & 7:30pm. Growing up I always had it around 6pm.
* I used to only be allowed to have milk with dinner, but now I just have water.

The two of us thought it was kind of fun to think of the things that we still do now, as a result of our childhood.

One thing that Craig mentioned that he really enjoyed growing up was having ‘Taco Tuesday.’ So I have tried to keep that tradition the same..but I like to switch it up from just regular tacos, but it’s typically always some kind of Mexican dish.

Well the other day when I was catching up on blogs, I happened to see Kristen’s a recipe for Taco Lasagna. My Tuesday night meal was planned! Smile I changed a few things to the recipe, as noted below, but for the most part it was very similar to hers!

Taco Lasagna
(Recipe Inspiration from Here)

Ingredients:
-About 8 small corn tortillas
-Ground turkey (or beef or chicken- your choice)
-Taco Seasoning (for packet)
-1 cup water
-1 can (14 oz.) refried beans
-1 jar (16 oz.) salsa
-1 1/2 cups reduced fat cheddar cheese
-3 tbsp. taco sauce (you can use more, kind of up to you)

Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Heat a skillet over medium high heat & add ground turkey once heated. After the turkey is cooked (no longer pink) add the taco seasoning & 1 cup of water to the skillet. Let simmer on low for about 5 minutes.
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3. Break all of the corn tortillas in half & place about 5 halves in the bottom of a greased 8×8 baking dish.
018<—I used 5 so that the entire bottom was covered, if I had just used 4 the middle would have had a spot missing tortilla.

4. Add 1/3 of the can of refried beans to the top of the corn tortillas. You will have to kind of hold the tortillas down & just kind of mash the beans around. They don’t spread very easily.
019<—Now, doesn’t that look disgusting?! Winking smile

5. Add 1/3 of the cooked turkey to the top of the beans.
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6. Add 1/3 of the salsa to the top of the turkey.
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7. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese on top of the salsa.
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8. Finally add 1 tbsp. (or more, if you like taco sauce like I do Smile ) to the top of the cheese.
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9. Repeat the layers, starting with the tortillas, two more times. Once you are finished with your layers, bake for about 30 minutes.
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It might not look so good, but it sure tastes good!! (I’m sure you can tell it doesn’t photograph well…but I assure you it really does taste good. Smile )
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Kristen served hers with sour cream, I’m just not a fan of it, but I know a lot of people like it. So I would suggest serving it with that (or plain greek yogurt) & also I think guacamole would be a great topping. (I just didn’t have any avocados)

This definitely was a taco night success!! Thumbs up I plan to keep this recipe in my taco night rotation.

Well guys, I’m off to get ready for another work day! The week is almost over, hang in there!

Questions for ya:
1. What is something that you still do as a result of your childhood??
2. What is something that you do now do the opposite from your childhood?
3. Favorite Mexican dish?

Pumpkin Gingerbread with Dark Chocolate Chips

Good Morning!! Welcome to the MIDDLE of the week- you’re half way there! You can DO it! Open-mouthed smile

Remember when I was telling you about all of that pumpkin stuff the other day? Well, I hope you aren’t sick of it. You’re not?? Oh good, because I have another pumpkin recipe to share with you.

First a little background on this recipe. When I was growing up, every Saturday my parents would drop me off at practice (cross country or track) & then head to Bob Evan’s for breakfast. They would enjoy a nice big breakfast of pancakes, eggs and coffee while their daughter was poor daughter was out there pounding out some miles & then a crazy workout. Just kidding Smile I LOVED Saturday morning practices, and was grateful that my parents were willing to get up with me at the crack of dawn to drop my butt off. Practice usually lasted a few hours & when I was done I was DEAD. I usually didn’t want to do anything besides sit on the couch, (unless my Mom mentioned she wanted to go shopping, then I suddenly got a burst of energy Winking smile ) watch tv & eat slices of pumpkin bread. This wasn’t just any pumpkin bread, this was pumpkin bread from Bob Evans.
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My Mom would ALWAYS get me a loaf of this bread when they went to Bob Evan’s. I swear half of the reason that I busted my butt so much at practice was because I knew as soon as I jumped in the car to go home, she would have this loaf just waiting for me. She also knew that this loaf would last me about 1.5 days..and that’s pushing it. Sometimes I would eat the ENTIRE loaf in one day…that’s what running miles & miles will do to you. Let me also remind you that while I was in high school I was also battling anorexia..which was not a good point in my life. (Lesson learned. Lesson learned.) So to tell you that I ate an ENTIRE loaf WHILE I was dealing with an eating disorder is pretty crazy, right?! But it’s true. This bread was probably part of my recovery. I didn’t even care one bit how many calories or grams of fat were in this bread, I just LOVED it that much.

Well, as years have gone on & I haven’t lived at home for over 6 years, I no longer get my beloved pumpkin bread from Bob Evan’s. Sad smile Although my parents have surprised me on occasion when they had this waiting for me. I remember one time I went up & they actually had a loaf in the freezer for me. They really never go out to breakfast any more, but they happened to randomly go one morning & they remembered how much I loved this stuff so they picked me up a loaf. Smile

Since the closest Bob Evan’s from our house is about 40 minutes away, I have been on a mission to re-create this bread…only a bit ‘healthified.’ I have made many loaves of pumpkin bread before, but nothing has really compared to Bob Evan’s, UNTIL recently. Yep, I think I may have finally hit the jackpot of ALL pumpkin bread recipes! The BEST part about it is that it is low in fat & calories- I didn’t use any oil or butter. I did add some dark chocolate chips in the batter, but that was just because Craig likes any bread with chocolate in it & because I just found these chocolate morsels at the store:
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Craig &I were eating these by the handful while the bread was baking…they are addicting. Don’t say I didn’t warn you Winking smile
Dad: You HAVE to get these. You will love them! As soon as I tried one, I immediately thought of you. They are the perfect dark chocolate, that you like- none of that ‘fake’ dark chocolate flavor.

Although the bread is JUST as good without the chocolate chips.

Pumpkin Gingerbread with Dark Chocolate Chips
(based on my Pumpkin Gingerbread recipe)
12 servings

Ingredients:
-1 cup sugar
-1/2 cup nonfat vanilla Greek Yogurt (I used Chobani)
-2 egg whites
-1 cup canned pumpkin
-1 tsp. ginger
-1/2 tsp. allspice
-1 tsp. cinnamon
-1/2 tsp. ground cloves
-1/2 cup white flour
-1 cup whole wheat flour
-1 tsp. baking soda
-3/4 tsp. salt
-1/4 tsp. baking powder
-1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (you could also use milk chocolate chips)

Preparation:
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large mixing bowl combine sugar, greek yogurt, egg whites, pumpkin, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, & ground cloves.
3. Add both flours, baking soda, salt & baking powder to the pumpkin mixture. Mix until well combined, and the batter is free of any lumps.
4. Pour batter into a greased 9×5 inch bread pan.
5. Bake for about 50 minutes- 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted in middle of bread comes out clean.

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Nutrition Facts WITHOUT chocolate chips:
Calories:  140
Fat: .3 grams
Carbs: 31.8g
Fiber: 1.2g
Sugar: 18.4
Protein: 3.2

Nutrition Facts WITH Chocolate chips:
Calories: 163
Fat: 1.6 g
Carbs: 35.1 g
Fiber: 1.2
Sugar: 21.1
Protein: 3.6

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I just made this bread on Sunday & we are done with it. DONE. D-O-N-E. Seriously. Normally I freeze half of a loaf bread when I bake it, but it wasn’t necessary with this bread. I can’t wait to make another loaf actually, maybe this time I will leave the chocolate chips out. That way I will have it ALL to myself. No, I’m just kidding…I guess I will let Craig have some. A bite. Winking smile

And if you’re REALLY feeling like you need a special treat, you could always top it with some pumpkin ice cream.
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You work hard at the gym, so you deserve it! Smile Or maybe you just had a bad day…nothing like a little (or a LOT) of pumpkin to cheer you right up!

Well, looks like I need to get my butt in gear- time to get this show on the road. Hope you enjoy this Wednesday…& you KNOW I’m looking forward to those awesome Wednesday shows tonight! Anyone else loving the show ‘Suburgatory??’ I think it’s HILARIOUS..not quite as funny as Modern Family, but pretty close.

Questions:
1. Ever have a meal at a restaurant that you just can’t wait to re-create perfectly?
2. Do you ever go out for breakfast?
We never do, unless we are on vacation/ on a road trip.

Biscuits in a Crock Pot

Good Morning!!

Guess what?? Mike & Steph are having a BOY!!!!!! 😀

I CANNOT wait to meet my nephew in late March! This totally MADE my day yesterday, I swear I couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face. I know the two of them are BEYOND excited. 😀

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This past weekend in Florida was pretty soggy. It rained ALL weekend…day & night…ALL day. I saw a ray of sunshine in the afternoon on Sunday & I thought I might have been hallucinating since I had not seen sun in so long. It was a good thing that we had a DVR full of shows & movies to watch…and a DVD that I just surprised Craig with-
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The League, season 2 on DVD. Have you guys ever seen this show?? We LOVE it. It’s all about fantasy football & I swear that Craig should be on it. It is hilarious! We have watched all of the seasons when they originally aired on TV, but Craig kept commenting on how he really wanted to get the series on DVD too. When I ran to Target on Saturday I happened to spot it..the only bummer was that they didn’t have season 1…only season 2, since it just came out. I’m going to have to be on the lookout for season 1.

After sitting around on the couch all day (we both had a rest day Smile ), I figured that I would eventually need to peel myself up & figure out dinner. THANKFULLY I had already thought of what to make for dinner & it was currently sitting on the counter in the crockpot.
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Nothing like a rest day + sitting on the couch watching tv all day + dinner already made to really make you feel like a SLUG! But I have to admit, it’s a great feeling none the less. Smile So along with our ‘at home Food & Wine festival’ (which really ended up being just one glass of wine each because we were so tired from the lack of sleep from the night before- ha!) we also had an awesome crock pot meal!
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While we had our glass of wine, we also watched 127 hours. (told you we had a lot of stuff saved on our DVR Winking smile ) Side Note: The wine was SO good. It had a hint of raspberry flavor, and reminded me of a perfect wine for just sitting out on the beach, or by the pool. It’s a ideal summer wine- very light & refreshing.

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I wasn’t really sure what I was going to think of this movie. I had NO idea how I could be entertained in watching something about a guy stranded in a canyon for days. Boy was I surprised at HOW good this movie really was! Really suspenseful & AWESOME camera work. I really have NO idea how the guy that this movie is based on did what he did…especially the part with his arm. I don’t want to spoil anything if you haven’t seen it, because you really should!

The whole time we were watching this movie the two of us could not stop commenting on HOW good the kitchen smelled! The crock pot was cooking away & we couldn’t wait to dive in. The best part of a crock pot meal is that you just set it & forget it! All that I had to do was chop some veggies & mix everything together.

Crock Pot Chicken & Dumplings

Ingredients:
-1 medium onion, chopped
-3 ribs celery, chopped
-3 carrots, sliced
-2 large chicken breasts (I used frozen chicken breasts)
-1 tbsp. minced garlic
-1 tsp. pepper
-1 tsp. seasoned salt
-1/2 tsp. chili powder
-2 (10.5 oz.) cans hearty healthy (low fat) condensed cream of chicken soup
-1/2 can (of the chicken soup can) water
-1 can peas
-1 (12oz.) can biscuits
-Parmesan cheese, for topping

Preparation:

1. Combine the everything in a crock pot EXCEPT the peas, biscuits & parmesan cheese.

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2. Turn the crockpot on to high & cook for about 3 hours, then drain your can of peas & add it to the mixture. Stir to combine.
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3. Let cook for another 3 hours (you might only need to cook for 2 more hours, if you use fresh chicken breasts instead of frozen) or until the chicken shreds easily. If you are ready to eat it within an hour or so, then go ahead & add the biscuits on top of the soup mixture. If you are NOT planning to eat it yet, then turn it on low & keep it on low until you are ready to add the biscuits. Once you add the biscuits, be sure to turn it back to HIGH, otherwise it will take FOREVER for the biscuits to cook.
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4. Sprinkle the biscuits with parmesan cheese & let cook for about another hour or until the biscuits rise. (I KNOW you might not think you can cook the biscuits in a crock pot, but you CAN & it will cook them Smile )
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5. Serve & enjoy!
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Delicious!! Perfect for a rainy night- good comfort food  Smile

The only reason that I made this dinner was because my friend at work happened to be talking about it. She gave me the recipe she used & I just added a few things to it, but it’s mostly her recipe. It just sounded so good & I couldn’t get it out of my head. So the whole reason that I ran to get groceries when it was POURING out on Saturday (& was literally DRENCED when I got home) was to get biscuits for this recipes…that’s how BAD I wanted this meal. Let me tell you, the grocery trip was WORTH it…for sure Smile

The best part about this whole meal is that there were PLENTY of leftovers- gotta love that! Makes packing my lunch easy for this week. Normally I do NOT eat leftovers- I hate them (I know it’s so bad)- but for this meal I will make an exception. You definitely need to try this!

Well, now that I am officially drooling over these pictures, I suppose I should get myself something for breakfast & then head on in to work. I hope that you have a wonderful day!

Questions:
1. Do you have a favorite crock pot recipe?
2. Favorite kind of biscuits?
These are mine:
IMG_2066they are SO good!! & no artificial ingredients. YUM.

Just Can’t Get Enough

Good Monday Morning! Smile

Are you ready for a new week?? Today is a VERY special day in our family- Mike & Steph are going to find out if they are having a boy or a girl in a few hours!!! Open-mouthed smile I cannot wait to get the call to find out.
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We are both STOKED! ( I actually just got goosebumps writing this. Smile ) It’s also pretty special too because it is their 3rd wedding anniversary!! How cool is it that they get to find out what they are having AND that it’s their anniversary?! It is going to be a pretty AWESOME day…I just KNOW it.

So, you guys know that it’s NOT a mystery that pumpkin is HUGE in the ‘blog world,’ especially right now. I’m totally on the ‘pumpkin’ train, & I’m not going to try to hide it. Everything from pumpkin lattes to pumpkin ice cream I just can’t get enough! The only thing that I don’t like pumpkin in is my oatmeal. That kind of makes me gag. I have no idea why, but it does. But please keep in mind that I’m also the girl that only likes her oatmeal cold. Yes, in fact I will make a big bowl of oatmeal for breakfast & then stick it in the fridge to cool for at least an hour. Thank goodness everyone at my office already know what a weirdo I am..so they don’t even bother asking when they see my bowl of oatmeal in the fridge. Winking smile

I have also been enjoying all of the pumpkin seasonal items that I have seen in the grocery store recently.
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Pumpkin, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin spice cinnamon swirl bread, and pumpkin pie spice creamer.

First, let me tell you about my pumpkin overload. My aunt gave me like 12 cans of pumpkin last year- TWELVE. She knew that I really like it, and she wouldn’t use it. (she had a dog that ate pumpkin mixed in her food, but she passed away Sad smile ) I swear it was like Christmas morning when she handed me over BAGS of pumpkin. I was having a hard time finding in stores, so it was perfect timing! This year I am still going through my cans of pumpkin from last year.
IMG_2035<—that’s not even all of it! Told you I wasn’t lying about all of this pumpkin Winking smile

I just feel weird eating pumpkin any other time than the fall, so that’s how I wind up with more than my far share of pumpkin.

I’m sure you have also seen this Pumpkin Spice swirl bread around the ‘blog world’ as well.
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I actually saw it in my grocery store a few weeks ago, but was hesitant to buy it. I happened to see it on Alyssa’s blog a few days later & asked her what she thought. She pretty much told me ‘buy it NOW, it’s THAT good.’ So I did as she suggested & picked up a loaf. She was right, it IS that good..& so worth the $4 I spent on it. I love cinnamon bread & usually only eat it as a treat every now & then. I had this on Saturday morning- toasted with just butter- and it was a perfect way to start the weekend.

Next pumpkin product that I’m addicted to right now is Pumpkin Pie Spice coffee creamer.
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My favorite way to use this flavor is in pumpkin spice coffee. Pumpkin + pumpkin = perfect!
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Ok, so speaking of coffee creamers…look at our my collection of flavors.
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Eek! Now that is kind of embarrassing…especially when I don’t drink coffee that much anymore. (due to the Crohn’s) You see that one in the middle?? This one:
IMG_2021Brown Sugar Maple Latte. Umm, yes, that’s all I have to say about that one. SO GOOD. If you use coffee creamer, buy this immediately & then you can thank me later. Winking smile I guess I just buy so many flavors because they are so cheap & the new flavors always catch my eye. Good thing the last forever..thank you preservatives! Smile with tongue out

Last but certainly not least is pumpkin ice cream.
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Best part about it? These stats:
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Only 90 calories & 1.5 grams of fat!!! Hard to beat & definitely worth it Smile (The regular only has 110 calories which is really good too, but I didn’t see that one). This ice cream is one of my favorite flavors. I had it for the first time last year & I almost made myself sick one night because I ate so much of it. Oops! But as soon as September rolled around this year I was hunting for it in my local grocery stores. As soon as I saw it I snagged a carton of it…I almost bought two, but our freezer is too full. (with the top of our wedding cake) My favorite way to eat this ice cream is with graham cracker crumbled in it because it reminds me of eating pumpkin pie. (which is my favorite pie…in the whole world <—yes, I’m dramatic Winking smile )

Now that I have bombarded you with pumpkin EVERYTHING, I guess I should wrap this post up.

Time to get this workday started! Hope you have a great day & I highly suggest eating something pumpkin today! Winking smile

Questions for you:
1. What is your favorite seasonal pumpkin product?
2. Any pumpkin products that I’m missing?? Do share, I’m sure I will go out & buy whatever it is you suggest!Open-mouthed smile
3. What is your favorite coffee creamer flavor??