Category Archives: Desserts

They Grow Like Weeds

What a great weekend!  Full of friends, family, food, relaxing…. and weeding!

weeds 4

Admittedly, this overgrowth of weeds is a little embarrassing.  There were some spots where the weeds climbed about 3 feet high!

weeds 5

AND to make matters worse, they were the prickly kind!  But in our defense, the majority of these things popped up in a matter of about 2 weeks and we finally took care of them so I’m not feeling too bad anymore.  😉

Here’s a few before and after shots to get a visual of how wild these weeds were:

before and after weeds 1a

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before and after weeds 2a

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before and after weeds 3a

Crazy, right?  I now have a full appreciation for the expression, “Kids grow like weeds!”  I mean, one second they’re tiny (or non-existent) and then before you know it, they’re 3 feet tall!

mac kong

Mac kept himself occupied with his kong for part of the afternoon.

mac kong lick

Unfortunately, he had to stay on a leash so we didn’t have another MIA episode like last time.  But hopefully very soon, we’ll have a brand new fence put up so he can roam free in the backyard!

Despite many hours of back-aching work, we still need to get our hands on the weeds on the side of our house.  Dave and I were both really sore, so we finally called it a day once the main back patio area was finished.

Once the weeds are good as gone, project #2: mulch!  Exciting stuff, I know.  The perks (?) of owning a home…

Recipes

In other news, Dave and I grilled an amazing dinner this weekend.

grill

Zucchini, sweet & regular potatoes, and Mexican Flank Steak.  This meal was absolutely delicious and the marinade for the flank steak is TO DIE FOR.  (Recipe coming soon! 🙂 )

kitchenaid cookie dough

I also baked a rather large batch of cookies, which lasted all of about 24 hours or less.  I mean, they were just THAT good and no one could stop eating them until they were completely gone.  (Yet another recipe coming your way!)

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Hope you had a fantastic long weekend!  I’m looking forward to a short week ahead of us!

Double Dipped Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bites

Try to say that 10 times fast!  😉

I decided to get a little creative in the kitchen recently and I was in the mood for something sweet!

pb choco banana bites double dipped3

Based on my crazy obsession with all things chocolate and peanut butter and the fact bananas just make that combo even better, my mind naturally turned towards these ingredients.  And behold…

pb choco banana bite layers

Deliciousness!  Similar to a chocolate covered banana, but bite-sized and easy to pop in your mouth for a quick treat! 🙂

dd pb choco banana bite

Double Dipped Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bites

Ingredients:

1 banana (chilled in refrigerator, if possible)

4 tbls chocolate peanut butter

1 tbls + 1 tsp coconut oil

1-2 tbls peanut butter, divided

Directions:

1.  Slice banana into thin slices.

sliced banana

2.  Place half the banana slices on a piece of parchment (or wax) paper.  Dab each slices with a small amount of peanut butter and top with remaining slices.  Put in freezer for about an hour or until mostly frozen.

pb choc banana bites 2b

3.  While the slices are freezing, combine chocolate peanut butter and coconut oil into a bowl and microwave just until melted, stirring occasionally.  Once bananas are frozen, insert a toothpick into each bite and dip in the chocolate mixture.

pb choco banana bites dip

4.  Place each bite back onto the parchment paper (or mini cupcake liners) and return to freezer until chocolate coating has hardened completely.

pb choco banana bites single dip

5.  Double dip the bites again in the chocolate mixture and remove toothpicks.  Return to freezer again until hardened.

pb choco banana bites double dipped2

6.  Enjoy!

pb choco banana bite layers

Happy Birthday Dad!

Happy Birthday Dad

Happy birthday to the best dad there is! 🙂

dad

Unfortunately, the pictures of my Dad are very few and far between because he is our family photographer and always behind the camera.  But he does an amazing job, that’s for sure!

peter lauren bob

How about that for Throwback Thursday!? 😉

Birthday Cake Popcorn

We had a mini birthday celebration for my Dad’s and Nikki’s birthdays on Sunday and all enjoyed a little cookies and cream cake and some birthday cake popcorn.  I loved Cassie’s cookies and cream popcorn she made for girls night so I spun off the idea and tailored towards birthday cake flavors.

birthday cake popcorn 4b

Birthday Cake Popcorn

Ingredients:

1 5 oz bag of popped popcorn (I used Boom Chicka Pop brand with sea salt)

1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips

1-2 tbsp coconut oil (or canola oil)

1/3 cup yellow cake mix

1/2 – 3/4 cup sprinkles

Directions:

1.  Line 2 baking sheets with wax or parchment paper and spread out popcorn into a single layer.

2.  Melt white chocolate and coconut oil together in microwave for a few minutes, stirring every 20-30 seconds until melted.

3.  Stir in yellow cake mix.

4.  Drizzle half of the chocolate mixture and half sprinkles over popcorn.  Stir popcorn around using a spatula to get evenly coated.

5.  Drizzle remaining chocolate mixture and sprinkles.  Let cool and harden completely.

6.  Devour!

birthday cake popcorn mac

Chocolate {Protein} Cake with Creamy Peanut Butter “Frosting”

Boy, was I in baddddd shape yesterday!  Hence the lack of my normal Monday post…

It’s amazing what the lack of sleep will do to you.  Although we didn’t have any really late nights this past weekend, I was so super tired on Monday.  I generally function the best when I’ve consistently had 8+ hours of sleep each night, but lately that just hasn’t been happening.  Not only have I been in bed for less than 8 hours each night over the last week, but I keep waking up every 2 hours or so.  Problem is I can’t pinpoint why I’m not sleeping through the night.  Hopefully, it’s short lived because this girl needs her sleep!

No amount of coffee, 5 hour energies, sugar, etc. could shake off my exhaustion so I was in bed extra early last night and skipped a morning workout to catch some extra ZZZ’s.  And I’m happy to report, I’m feeling much better this morning. 🙂

Sunday

On Sunday, we had my family over to grill out since my brother, Peter, and sister-in-law, Nikki, are in town.

It turned out to be such a beautiful day!  Only in Chicago does it snow one day and then 24 hours later be 70 degrees and sunny.  I’ll never understand it.

With everyone’s help, we made a huge dinner!  On the grill: steaks, chicken, zucchini, asparagus, and garlic bread.  Plus a tomato-mozzarella-avocado salad and some roasted new potatoes.  Unfortunately, I failed to take any pictures.  I guess I was too busy enjoying the company! 😉

Chocolate {Protein} Cake with Creamy Peanut Butter “Frosting”

chocolate peanut butter protein cake6

I’ve been dying to share this chocolate protein cake since last week.  I followed this recipe but changed up a few of the ingredients and added some “frosting”.

chocolate peanut butter protein cake5

The best part about this tasty little treat is it’s healthy!

chocolate peanut butter protein cake11

And you could totally eat it for breakfast.  MMMM!

chocolate peanut butter protein cake4

Plus, it has peanut butter.  And chocolate.  A winning combination in my book!

chocolate peanut butter protein cake12

Chocolate Protein Cake with Creamy Peanut Butter “Frosting”

Adapted from this recipe.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

protein cake ingredients

Chocolate Protein Cake

2 scoops chocolate protein powder (I used Sunwarrior brand)

2 tbsp coconut flour

1 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 cup almond milk (I used unsweetened vanilla flavor)

2 eggs

Dash of salt

Handful of mini chocolate chips (optional)

Oil or cooking spray (I used a little melted coconut oil)

Creamy Peanut Butter Frosting

3 tbsp creamy peanut butter

1-2 tbsp greek yogurt (I used plain but vanilla would be good too!)

Directions:

1.  Mix all protein cake ingredients (except chocolate chips) until well-combined with no lumps.  If possible, use a small blender or hand-held beater to ensure a smooth consistency.

chocolate protein cake2

2.  Pour into two small oiled/greased ramekins or microwaveable bowls.  Sprinkle with chocolate chips, if using.

chocolate protein cake1

3.  Microwave for 3 1/2 minutes or until the middle is set.

chocolate protein cake4

4.  Remove from ramekin and cool on a cooling rack.  Meanwhile, mix together peanut butter and yogurt to make the frosting.  Once completely cooled, spread an even layer over the top and serve.

chocolate peanut butter protein cake8

Football Rice Krispies Treats & Strong Core Workout

I first found the idea for these Football Rice Krispies Treats on Pinterest. Of course, they had me at hello ‘peanut butter and chocolate’ so I made them for last year’s Super Bowl. Since they’re so cute and easy, I went ahead and made them again for our Super Bowl party this past weekend.

football rice krispies

I followed the recipe exactly from the Rice Krispies website so I take no credit, but here it is in my own words for quick reference.

football rice krispies treatsFootball Rice Krispies Treats

Ingredients:

3 tbls butter

1 10 oz package of mini marshmallows

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

6 cups of Kellogg’s Cocoa Krispies

White canned decorating icing

Directions:

RK Stepss

1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat.

2. Add marshmallows and continue stirring until completely melted.

3. Turn off heat and stir in peanut butter until smooth.

4. Add Cocoa Krispies and stir until evenly coated with marshmallow mixture.

5. Let cool for just a few minutes so you don’t burn your fingers. Then grab small handfuls and mold into football shapes.

football shapes

*Don’t worry about making them perfect. The laces hide some of the imperfections.

6. Draw laces on one side of each football with white icing.

icing

I must have picked a bad can of icing this year because it was acting up the whole time, sometimes coming out super fast, other times barely crawling out. As a result my laces were all over the place and a little squirrely looking. But I did my best!

Strong Core Workout

I came up with this ab/core workout sometime last week and have done it a few times now. All you need is one dumbbell.

STRONG CORE WORKOUT

Here are some links to explain some of the exercises.

Russian Twist

Slow Crunches – just regular style crunches but hold at the top for a second or two.

Wood Chopper

Standing Oblique Lifts

Plank with Knee Drives

I used a 12 pound dumbbell and the entire workout took less than 10 minutes for 2 rounds. I finished up feeling nice and strong!

-Lauren

Weekend Recap

Lots of good stuff this weekend!  I’m sad it’s over but I’m already looking forward to the Chicago Auto Show Charity Event on Friday so gotta get through this week first.

He Did It Again…

Dave had Friday night off work, so we took full advantage and tried out a new-to-us restaurant downtown St. Charles called Wild Monk Gastropub.  The pub offers a wide selection of beers on tap and gourmet ‘bar food’.  Pulled pork sandwich for me and cheeseburger for him – both were very tasty!

As we were finishing up, Dave got a text message from the GPS tracker system on Mac’s new collar.  It is a little device that attaches to his collar and lets us know when he goes in or out of our property line.  The text informed us the device had somehow been DE-attached from Mac so being the slightly paranoid puppy parents we are right now after the most recent incident, we decided to head home to check things out.

And sure enough, our little Houdini managed to escape… yet again.  Luckily not from home, but again from his giant cage in the garage.

cage escape again

How he manages to squeeze his 90 lb. body through a hole this big with virtually no scratch marks is beyond us.

metal ties

We even upgraded to much stronger and more durable metal ties so he couldn’t chew through them like he did the plastic ones.  Seriously, we have no idea how he got out so quickly.  I mean, we were only gone for an hour!  If only we were flies on the wall…

Saturday

I finally tried Crossfit for the first time on Saturday morning and loved it!  They require beginners to go through their “On Ramp Program” where they teach the fundamentals of Crossfit and proper form to ensure safety.  The program is 4 weeks long and requires attendance 3 times per week.  Once you’ve graduated from the program, you can begin going to any of the regular classes.  Can’t wait to get started!

After Crossfit and a few errands, I spent the majority of the day cooking up a few things, including my Crock Pot French Toast Oatmeal.  More recipes coming this week!

On Saturday evening, Dave and I met a few of his friends out at The Office to watch the Blackhawks game.  We snacked on buffalo wings and the “Office Loaded Nachos”.

shredded pork nachos

Aside from being ridiculously huge and most definitely not the healthiest option, these nachos were amazing!  BBQ pulled pork, lots of cheese, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.  Between me and three full grown men, we still didn’t finish them off and sadly left about half the plate.

Sunday

During the day, Dave and I worked around the house and ran to a few stores to buy some decorations to spice up the interior of these house a bit.

Around 4:30 pm, we headed over to Dave’s cousin, Kevin’s house to watch the Super Bowl.  They had a party with about 50 people and an excellent spread of food.

superbowl food 2 superbowl food

Homemade chili, mac n cheese, hot dogs, spinach dip, ham, chicken nuggets, jalapeno poppers, italian subs, sundried tomato and artichoke grilled cheese, veggies & dip, chips and salsa, taco dip, etc.  The list goes on and on.  These pictures were only about half of the food.

And then came the sweets.

superbowl rice krispy treats 3

These little rice krispy treat footballs were my contribution to the party.

football rice krispies

I used the recipe from the Rice Krispies web site.  Super easy!

We had lots of fun hanging out and catching up with everyone.  Great way to wrap up the weekend! 🙂

-Lauren

Fruit on the Bottom

Happy MLK Day!

Thankfully I had the day off from work today, so I was able to sleep in a little longer.  I began my half marathon training today and squeezed in a 3 mile run before meeting up with Ashley on her lunch break at Panera.

panera_thai_chicken_salad

Ashley had a You-Pick-Two with French Onion Soup (looked INCREDIBLE) and a side Thai Chopped Chicken Salad.  I ordered the same salad, only the full version.  I seriously just love this thing so much and everytime I order it, I vow to recreate it at home.  Maybe soon?

Fruit on the Bottom

After lunch, I ran to Costco to pick up a few items and on my way past the produce, the blackberries were calling my name.  They looked way too delicious to pass up so they hopped in my cart.

On the way home, things shifted around in my trunk.  The blackberries fell to the bottom and half the container got smushed!  😦 So what to do?  I couldn’t bear to throw them away and thus, I used them in a mixed berry sauce.

fruit on the bottom

‘Fruit-on-the-bottom’ yogurts often contain a LOT of sugar so I try not to buy them and instead add fruit to plain yogurt for some sweetness.  But here I used strawberries, blackberries and frozen blueberries in a homemade version of fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt.  I put the mixed berry sauce in first and topped with plain Greek yogurt before stirring it all up!

fruit on the bottom yogurt

Mixed Berry Sauce

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

3 cups of mixed berries, fresh or frozen

1/2 tbls turbinado or brown sugar (add more if you like it sweeter)

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 tbls cornstarch

1 tbls cold water

Directions:

Combine the first 4 ingredients into a saucepan heated on medium heat for about 8 minutes until the berries start to release some liquid.  Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl until smooth.  Once the berries have broken down a bit, add the cornstarch mixture and continue to stir until the sauce thickens up, about 12-15 minutes.

mixed berry sauce

This sauce contains less than 1 added gram of sugar per serving!  You can also add the sauce to a bowl of oatmeal, serve over pancakes/waffles/french toast, pour over ice cream, etc.

 

-Lauren