Thursday, February 28, 2013

Let's finish off this month of health recipes with some Muesli - Cinnamon Raisin Muesli

Have you ever found encouragement from someone you don't even know?  Or in a book that was written, before you ever even thought you might be writing...well what could be called frequently.  In the past couple of weeks both have happened.  I ran across a new blog written by another 20-something female across the pond.  She makes me want to grab life by the horns and be fun.  I mean she seems to be way more out going than me and lives what seems a I will be fun no matter what life, but I get her.  (The Dalston Years

Then as I was diving into my new book "A Slice of Life" courtesy of the library book sale, when I found writing inspiration from a non-food writer.  The short story/article was about a writer who found solace in writing from a diner.  The noises and life were real life "white noise" and the "characters" of the diner overtime became characters in his writing.  He went on to say that there is an "unmistakable connection between cooking and writing - writing, like cooking, is a bringing together of elemental substances for transmutation over a hot flame." - Jay Parini

My questions to you then are, where do you find inspiration to live a fuller life?  To really enjoy everyday.  Is it on the quotes page on Pinterest? Through a blog that you can completely relate too? And, where do you find inspiration for your work?  Whether it is the work you do for fun in your spare time or even the work that pays the bills?   I guess no matter where it comes from, use it and enjoy everyday!

P.S. I can't wait to read the chapter In Memory's Kitchen

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Seriously addictive Sweet Potato Cranberry Pecan Cookies

So, I have been thinking a lot lately about the future...mainly because I am full steam ahead planning for it now that I am engaged.  With my fiancĂ© coming back from Scotland in little over a month we have started planning...planning the wedding, finding a new apartment, planning the next year, the next 5 years, 10 years, etc.  I think this kind of just comes with being in your 20's.  20-somethings, me included, are trying to truly define ourselves for the future.  What are our dreams and aspirations?  What do we want to do in 5 years or even 10 years and how is what we are doing right now, this very second going to get us there.  Admission I still love some CW TV, only a few shows, but admittedly I still watch 90210...and last nights' episode was all about this.  About trying to figure out what you want to do in life and not just sitting around and waiting for life to happen.  I mean I can totally get behind this.  

I don't write this to scare anyone off...I mean come on this is a baking blog.  I write, or well type this more as a way to encourage you to find that thing that you love.  Whether it is biking, cooking, crafting, taking pictures, whatever it is we kind of all need something in our lives that makes us just a little happy...even if only for an hour or so.  For me it is baking.  It is that thing that gets me out of bed early on a Saturday, when I could be sleeping in, so that I can catch the morning light that comes into my kitchen.  

(From Old Town Alexandria to Capitol Hill last Sunday was time for a long run.)

Running and clearing my head even when I am dreading the first mile out of 20 is another one the things I enjoy...not that I plan on making a future of it.  So, (and this is my favorite question to ask someone coming out of college in a job interview.) what is your dream job? It's that question adults ask little kids...what do you want to be when you grow up?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Eat Cake for Breakfast...Guilt-free Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Okay, okay I know I have done carrot cake here before, whether it was Magnolia Bakery's recipe for Carrot Cake or Gluten-free Carrot Cake...or well cupcakespancakescookies, even gluten-free cookie sandwiches.  I think I might have a problem....then again carrot cake is my favorite!  (I think I might just have to figure out a baked carrot cake donut.)  There is just something about making it too, because I knew exactly what the steps were going to be once I got home after work, and knew it wouldn't be a taxing cake to whisk together on a week night.  There weren't going to be any surprises.  Plus, this one has two twists.  One, it is reduced fat, as in there is no butter in this cake and really not all that much oil!  Two, I topped it off with maple cream cheese frosting.  This cake literally was breakfast for a few people in my office yesterday morning. I mean why not eat cake for breakfast?   Kate Spade totally agrees with me on this...

large image view

But seriously other than the frosting, there isn't much difference between this cake and eating coffee cake for breakfast or even a muffin.  Or...maybe I am just trying to talk myself into it really being okay to eat cake for breakfast.  

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Cinnamon Raisin Flatbread = breakfast for dinner.

Hey's it going?  This week you are playing Monday's role after a wonderful long weekend.  

Okay, okay lets be real, it's only another Tuesday, but the weekend really was great. Sometimes it is just so nice to head South, to get away, visit a friend, eat great food and of course have girl talk.  Plus, well run a half marathon in the process.  Although I don't know why it always insists on being cold in Birmingham when I come and visit in the winter months.  

Saturday was spent driving around and exploring...see awesome view above. We ate some delicious Greek food and then Meghan cooked up a delicious carb-packed dinner in preparation for the 13.1 miles we would be running the next morning.

Race morning it was a not so lovely 27 degrees, but somehow felt warmer than last year. Maybe I am just more used to running in crazy cold weather this year.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies...2 ways

I have a secret...I kind of secretly like Valentine's Day.  I think it all stems from the fun of handing out valentines as a kid and well all of the chocolate as well as cinnamon hearts that were involved.  (I was never really a big fan of actually eating the conversation hearts though...) These days, I get fruit in the mail from my mom and hold out hope that my valentine will think up something special.  With my Valentine's day card in the mail to Scotland a couple of weeks ago, I thought I might spread a little Valentine's day cheer around the office.  So, with the boxes I had left over from the Grey Market last year, and these super cute tags my roommate gave me for Christmas I was set.  Plus, I owed Caroline and James a big thank you!  The rest of the cookies went to the office and were gone by early afternoon.  

To keep with my theme for February, I modified the recipe just a bit and used Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread in place of the butter.  These cookies came out crisp around the edges while staying soft and chewy in the middle.  Plus, cherries and chocolate have always been a match made in heaven.  Oh, did I mention you can totally make these gluten-free?  I actually split my wet ingredients before adding in the flour and made regular and gluten-free cookies. These cookies are a delicious twist on a classic, and definitely worth a try!  Enjoy!

All wrapped up and ready to be delivered.  Caroline and I discovered, like me, she enjoys the base of chocolate chip cookies without the chocolate chips, so she received the cookies 3 ways.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Spinach Mushroom Lasagna...did I mention it's healthier?

Sometimes it's the small personal accomplishments that keep us going...

...Like finally not burning caramel...

...Hitting the 20 mile long run mark even if it means aching knees later in the day...

...Using a real camera (not my iPhone) to take pictures and act like an actual food blogger...

Friday, February 8, 2013

Reduced-fat Cinnamon Apple Bundt Cake

Let's be real here folks, my everyday life can be fairly boring and routine.  There is work Monday through Friday that occasionally rolls into the weekends...well definitely during meeting season.  Sometimes there is yoga in the mornings followed by runs in the evenings, as well as nights of baking.  My weekends are filled with cleaning up, more running and well errands.  I think it is time to start shaking things up...I mean just a little...let's not get too crazy here.  And by shaking things, up I mean looking for a new house, moving in with the boy who will finally be back from Scotland, and ultimately trying my hand at not planning my every waking hour.  I mean I am 26, and have definitely at times in my life have been told I act like a 40 year old, so its time for a bit more fun.  

This is my everyday work life...two screens are totally necessary.

I think I need more weekend trips that help break up my monotonous weeks...I am so excited to be heading to Birmingham next weekend!  I think I need to branch out from my baking and throw caution to the wind by trying out some new recipes for dinner.  Do you have any suggestions? (P.S. I am totally terrible about cooking dinner for myself.)   I need more brunch dates and dinner parties.   I need a little and a lot of change all at the same time, because as someone once said "The only thing in life that is constant is change," and that's not always such a bad thing.  I can feel it coming and I am nervous and excited all at the same time.  For the mean time though to take my mind off of everything for just a hot second...or well hour it was time to bake a cake.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Cherry Pecan Walnut Granola

This month I am going for heart healthy food in support Go Red for Women.  So, every recipe this month will be lightened up and healthier than normal.  (Plus my sweet tooth has been out of control recently and I might as well lighten up the sweets if I am going to be eating them like crazy.)  What's on the calendar for the month?  Spinach mushroom lasagna, triple chocolate chip cookies, and apple cinnamon bundt cake to name a few.  

To start the month off, I woke up this morning and felt like whipping up some simple, easy and delicious granola.  I have been meaning to make some more granola for a while now, and finally went to Costco to buy oatmeal so that I could.  Plus, after a great weekend back in North Carolina hanging out with my family and not cooking or baking, I was ready to get back into the swing of things.  This granola is butter and oil free; sweetened with a little honey and brown sugar, and jam packed with cherries, pecan, walnuts and flax seeds.  It is super easy to make, and simply delicious.