Pumpkin Chip Snickerdoodles

I love baking with pumpkin. Surprise right? But something happened this year. Perhaps our fall foliage vacation? Perhaps life got busy? Who knows – but this is (gasp) my first pumpkin recipe this fall. Shocking, I know – usually by this time of year I’ve made some pumpkin blondies, pumpkin granola, pumpkin biscotti and/or some sort of pumpkin scone. Oh well. Guess I have some catching up to do!

Even if this is the only pumpkin cookie recipe I make this year – I’d still declare it a good year. These pumpkin cookies are soft (as a pumpkin cookie should be), have the perfect amount of spice (in the batter and also thanks to the cinnamon-sugar coating – they are snickerdoodles after all!) and the pumpkin spice chips are OH so good. I made a batch and they somehow quickly disappeared … guess I know what to do with the remaining can of pumpkin I have!

Pumpkin Chip Snickerdoodles

Pumpkin Chip Snickerdoodles

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 TBS ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup pumpkin spice chips (I found these beauties at Target)
  • For rolling: Approximately 1/2 cup cinnamon-sugar mixture (I keep this on hand but if you don’t have it, mix 1/2 cup sugar with 1 TBS cinnamon)

Here’s what you do:

  1. Melt the butter in the microwave. In a medium bowl, whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar together until no brown sugar lumps remain. Whisk in the vanilla and pumpkin until smooth. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg. Set aside.
  3. Combine melted butter with granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and pumpkin puree. Mix well so that batter is smooth and no lumps from the sugar remain. Slowly pour wet ingredients into the dry flour mixture and mix together by hand with a spatula.
  4. Fold in pumpkin spice morsels.
  5. Cover the dough and chill for at least 20-30 minutes, or overnight. Believe it or not, I made my dough at night and chilled the dough while I slept.
  6. After dough is chilled, preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line a cookie baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Roll the dough into balls, about 1-2 Tablespoons in size. The dough will be sticky! Roll the dough balls into cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place on baking sheet.
  8. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes. The cookies will look underdone when you take them out of the oven – this is okay! You don’t want a dry pumpkin cookie.
  9. Let cookies cool for at least 15 or so minutes. They taste even better a day  (or two) after baking!  Mine made about 36 cookies.

Pumpkin Chip Snickerdoodles

Things To Do When Visiting Portland, Maine

One of our stops on our fall foliage tour was Portland, Maine. Growing up on the East Coast, I’d been to Maine a few times before, but never to Portland. B’s sister had lived in Portland a few years ago and we had heard good things about the city and its food and beer scene. And, we’d heard it was beautiful this time of year, so we decided to make a stop there – three days – on our recent vacation.

What a great city! It was true – it was beautiful this time of year (trees were changing, water and skies were blue (most of the time), the people were all very nice, the food (lobster, lobster and more lobster) was good and everything was very walkable (something I care about when visiting new cities).

Ever planning a trip to Portland? Here are some of the things that we did:

Check out the local craft beer scene.

Portland has quite a few craft breweries – and distilleries – that we couldn’t visit them all. Which is probably a good thing. But we did visit Bunker Brewery, Rising Tide Brewery, Maine Craft Distillery and Shipyard – all of which were great. Shipyard has a virtual brew tour where you watch a video of how they got started and how the beer is made – and then they give you samples of like 7 of their beers, for free! Who wouldn’t like that?

maine craft distilling

Local distillery

Walk around the Old Port part of Portland and be a tourist.

All the tourists, including the cruise ship passengers (there were a ton of them one day!), spend time in the Old Port. The streets have cobblestones and there are many shops and restaurants along the water. It’s where B and I walked to (and ran) most days and found ourselves eating dinner. We didn’t buy any souvenirs while we were there, but if we had it would have probably been there.

old town

old town! yes, that’s a bag of candy in my hand.

Take the ferry to Peak’s Island.

Peak’s Island is an island off the coast of Portland and still technically considered part of the city. It’s home to part of the city’s population, an old fort, a few restaurants and other places. We took the ferry over and back one day and had a snack at a bakery on the island before heading back. I wish there had been more to do on the island, but it was nice to walk around, and get a new view of the city from across the water.

Ferry Selfie!

Ferry Selfie!

View of Portland from the ferry ... check out the big cruise ship!

View of Portland from the ferry … check out the big cruise ship!

Here we are!

Here we are!

Check out the non-touristy shops and spots – from big bookstores to art shops hole-in-the-wall bars.

Portland also has a few large bookshops (something my brother would love!), art galleries and other places that locals and tourists enjoy. We decided to stop by the Snug, a bar that was definitely mostly for locals one of our nights and it was fun to talk to people who lived in Portland and were surprised we had stumbled upon their spot. They had great recommendations (including the lobster nachos … see below) and were happy to hear about our visit. We also happened to be in town during their First Friday Art Walk, where galleries open their doors and have wine and snacks and shows open to the public. People line the streets, selling their artwork, crafts and other handmade stuff, and people walk up and down for a few hours.

Hike up Munjoy Hill and visit the Eastern Promenade. Enjoy watching the boats along the Atlantic.

We stayed in Munjoy Hill and I’m not going to lie, my hips were hurting from all the hill walking and running after a few days. Or maybe they were still sore from our Atlantic Half Marathon? Let’s just go with that one. Anyway, the Eastern Promenade is on the eastern end of the city and has a great park and green area that sits right above the water with some great views of the ocean. Definitely recommend stopping by there, taking a few photos, or even bringing a good book. If it had been summer or warmer weather, I definitely would have brought a few beach chairs and a book. And the sunsets along the waterfront were beautiful!

portland waterfront

Eat as much lobster as you can.

I LOVE lobster. A lot. And I feel like I didn’t get enough of it. But we definitely tried and tried eating it a few different interesting ways –

Steamed lobster dinner.

mutilating the lobster

mutilating the lobster

Lobster roll.

lobster roll

Lobster nachos. SO SO SO good.

lobstah nachos

Lobster guacamole AND lobster ceviche.

SO MUCH LOBSTER.

SO MUCH LOBSTER.

Try a donut from Holy Donut and coffee from a local coffeeshop (Coffee By Design may be my preference … and they sometimes have donuts from Holy Donut too!).

B loves donuts, so we always try out a recommended donut shop on our trips. Holy donut makes their donuts with POTATOES so I was very intrigued and new we had to test them out. Their donuts were interesting – they were good but definitely tasted a little different than the traditional donut.

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Take a tour, visit a museum, or visit their other many attractions.

B and I usually try to visit a museum or do something culure-y like that when visiting a city for a decent period of time. In Milwaukee last year, we visited their art museum. In Portland, we opted not to visit any of their many art or other museums- instead, we visited the homestead of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. We visited their exhibit (really interesting!) and took a tour o fthe home, which I thought was really interesting. I love visiting old homes that are preserved to look like they did way back when, and this home was no different. The old bedrooms, kitchen, etc. were really cool to see, and visiting the exhibit before seeing the house was a great way to get an understanding of what life in early Portland was like. Not a bad way to spend a few hours!

In front of the old home!

In front of the old home!

Some questions for you:

  • Have you been to Portland before? What would you add to this list?
  • What are some ways you have tried lobster?
  • Do you have a favorite craft beer?

Weekends Are Made for Fun

This really was the perfect fall weekend in Cleveland. 1 part fun (wedding!) + 1 part productive (baking! and working) + 1 part running and walking (and ellipticalling) = pretty much an ideal weekend. Oh yeah, and gorgeous blue skies, 60 degree temps and beautiful fall foliage didn’t hurt!

Friday night I had to work somewhat later than usual so  B and I decide to have an early night in and got takeout sushi and watched a movie. I can’t remember the last time we had sushi and staying in meant I ended up getting more sleep than I’ve gotten in weeks. Winning!

Saturday morning B and I met up with Mary for a run. We typically run throughout the different neighborhoods of downtown, Ohio City, Tremont and Uptown, but this weekend we opted for something new – the gorgeous Towpath! I’ll admit, nature runs typically bore me, but for some reason this Saturday I was feeling GREAT. B and I even sped up the last half mile of our 10 mile route and managed to make that mile our fastest (and only sub 9-minute mile)!

Our loop

Our loop

post 10-mile run

post 10-mile run

Saturday afternoon, B and I picked up our CSA (only a few more weeks!) and then hit up Soupermarket for a lunch that hit the spot. Clambake soup (corn, clams, sweet potato, chicken, chicken broth), a hunk of bread an a salad. OMG i want more of that.

Perfect post-run lunch

Perfect post-run lunch

Saturday night it was time to get dressed up and head to the east side for Cari and Bryan’s wedding! Cari is my froworker (just went to her bach party last weekend) and she looked GORGEOUS. B and I had a great time dancing, loving the fall decor, enjoying the food and of course the autumn-inspired drinks (including pumpkin beer!).

enjoying the wedding (and beautiful day!) with my other coworker Grace

enjoying the wedding (and beautiful day!) with my other coworker Grace

Beautiful bride at her first dance

Beautiful bride at her first dance

B and I

B and I

Sunday started off early with an easy workout (2 miles and 30 minutes on the elliptical) and a little baking. I will definitely be posting this recipe soon because these pumpkin snickerdoodle cookies are amazing.

PUMPKIN SNICKEDOODLES with PUMPKIN SPICE CHIPS

PUMPKIN SNICKEDOODLES with PUMPKIN SPICE CHIPS

And then since the weather was just so gorgeous, B suggested we go for a walk. Yup – another day out in nature!

Those leaves ...

Those leaves …

Walking along the river

Walking along the river

We finished off Sunday with an amazing fall meal at B’s parents house, complete with homemade pumpkin and apple cider ice creams. SO GOOD … but no photo. Sorry!

Some questions for you:

  • How was your weekend?
  • Do you like to dance at weddings? Yes! I’m an awful dancer but I do like to have a good time and have gotten over my moves (or lack thereof). B’s a great dancer though so I tend to believe people are watching him, not me :)
  • What’s your favorite fall drink (alcoholic or not)?  i love a good pumpkin beer. Shipyard is currently my favorite. But I also like warm spiced wine.Or is that winter?
  • Favorite pumpkin recipe?

Running and Wine-ing

How is it TUESDAY already Where did the weekend go? Guess that’s what happens after an awesome weekend! Here are a few scenes from an awesome weekend of running (a 10K race plus 5K before), and wine-ing. Yes,I may have made up that word …

Friday night included my favorite pre-long run meal – a kalebouli and hummus wrap from Flaming Ice Cube.

you've seen this picture before... my favorite- kalebouli! (in the background is the artichoke appetizer we got!)

you’ve seen this picture before… my favorite- kalebouli! (in the background is the artichoke appetizer we got!)

Saturday started EARLY at least for me. The 6 a.m. alarm was NOT welcome, but we had plans to fit in a 3-4 mile run before our 10K race we had signed up for. We only ended up getting in a 5k beforehand, but that put the day at 9.3ish miles. Not too bad! Oh, and I think that 10K is my least favorite racing distance. Too quick to enjoy/pace yourself (like a 10 miler or half) and too long to go all out (like a 5k).

Being silly with B an Mary after our run.

Being silly with B an Mary after our run.

Post-race photo opp! So cold.

Post-race photo opp! So cold.

Saturday afternoon came and it was time to head out for my froworker Cari’s bachelorette party! Of course, we all know what happens at bachelorette parties STAYS at bachelorette parties, but here are a few highlights to share :)

some wine samples. classy with a diet coke, plastic cups and goldfish :)

some wine samples. classy with a diet coke (i was tired after waking up early and our run!), plastic cups and goldfish :)

Me and the gorgeous bride-to-be! Can't believe she's getting married in a week!!

Me and the gorgeous bride-to-be! Can’t believe she’s getting married in a week!!

What bachelorette party would be complete without Ryan Gosling?

What bachelorette party would be complete without Ryan Gosling?

We got to see how the wine was made!

We got to see how the wine was made!

 

I stole this photo ... but it's during our private wine tour!

I stole this photo … but it’s during our private wine tour!

Sunday morning we woke up with a beauttttiful view. I mean how awesome is this view from where we stayed?

view from window at the lodge geneva

Anyway, Sunday was a LAZY day. After getting back from the wine weekend, I pretty much spent the day prepping for a presentation I had on Monday, doing laundry, getting in an easy workout (the elliptical is my best friend the day after a long run) and then of course dinner with B’s family. The weekend went by WAY too fast!

Some questions for you:

  • What’s your favorite race distance? Least favorite? 10K  is definitely my least favorite as of now. Maybe I can work on liking it – by preparing for my next one! Any tips for how?
  • What’s your favorite way to spend a lazy day? I need at least part of my day to be productive – so even if it’s just doing laundry or baking, I need to get something done (to justify all the couch-sitting going on)!

 

Peanut Butter Heath Bar Blondies

I must be on a peanut butter and chocolate baking kick lately. Or maybe I always have been? Anyway, if you’re a fan of peanut butter cookies, cookie bars, and chocolate, these bars are for you. That’s right – no fancy introduction needed for these bad boys. Just make them for the peanut butter cookie lover in your life and I promise he or she won’t be disappointed!

peanut butter heath bar blondies - icrashedtheweb

Peanut Butter Heath Bar Blondies (from my Magnolia cookbook)

Here’s what you need:

For the cookie bars: 

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 2 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temp. (I used Egg Beaters because that’s what I had on hand and they came out fine!)
  • 2 Tbs vanilla
  • 3 cups self-rising flour

For the topping:

  • 1 1/2 cup peanut butter chips
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup  coarsely Heath bar bites (they sell them with the chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped unsalted peanuts

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 and grease a 12 x 18 jelly roll pan.
  2. Beat butter and peanut butter until fluffy.  Add in the sugar & mix until smooth.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat thoroughly.
  4. Gradually add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and mixing well after each admission. Mix until well incorporated.
  5. Spread batter evenly in pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until edges start to brown.  Cool to room temp.
  6. Make the topping: In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the peanut butter chips and the cream until smooth.  Pour the mixture over cooled blondies.  Sprinkle with heath bar and peanuts.

Variations: I also made some with semi-sweetened chocolate chips melted (instead of peanut butter, as well as chopped up peanut butter cup (instead of Heath bar bites)

peanut butter heath bar blondies - i crashed the web

Some questions for you:

  • Are there any nut butters you don’t like? Which have you tried? I’ve never tried cashew butter! But I do like peanut butter, sunflower butter (or sunbutter) and almond butter. And cookie butter – does that count as a nut?
  • What other topping would you put on these bars besides peanut butter or chocolate? I’m wondering how white chocolate would taste. I know I would like them (I like white chocolate Reese’s!) but not sure how others may enjoy them.
  • What’s a new cookie bar recipe you’ve tried recently? I need some new ones to try!

 

A Northeastern Fall Foliage Tour

B and I recently were able to take some time off – a week! – and decided to go on a roadtrip to some eastern states in what we were dubbing our “fall foliage tour.” Yes, that’s how I know I’m getting older – we are planning fall foliage tours. What am I, almost 30? (rhetorical question – don’t answer that)

It was a great way to spend a week off- it was relaxing (even though we were active), we got a chance to do some of my favorite fall activities (hiking and apple picking) and even got to spend a day seeing my parents and a day seeing a friend from college. Just what I needed in some time off! Some highlights from the trip:

We started with a quick stop to see my parents and go apple picking (full blog post here).

apple picking at indian ladder

Then headed to the town of Schroon, New York to see our friend Mitch and run the beautiful, hilly Adirondack Half Marathon along Schroon Lake (full blog post here).

adirondack half marathon

After the race

On our way to our next stop, we hit up Ticonderoga, New York. We visited the small downtown area and then visited Fort Ticonderoga.

walking around Ticonderoga

B and some old cannons

B and some old cannons

Great views from Fort Ticonderoga!

Great views from Fort Ticonderoga!

Then we headed to the beautiful state of Vermont! It was B’s first time there and we spent a few days in Northern Vermont, staying in Burlington, checking out their pretty waterfront, trying the local food, walking around their fun downtown area, taking quick trips to neighboring small towns and touring Ben & Jerry’s!

Hello from the town of Stowe, Ohio!

Hello from the town of Stowe, Vermont!

Being goofy at Ben & Jerry's

Being goofy at Ben & Jerry’s

The flavor graveyard. RIP cookie dough frozen yogurt :(

The flavor graveyard. RIP cookie dough frozen yogurt :(

sunset along the waterfront in Burlington

sunset along the waterfront in Burlington

On our way to our next state, we made a pit stop in New Hampshire for a hike through the White Mountains. We spent a few hours hiking around Mt. Eisenhower. Unfortunately the weather was drizzly and foggy that day so we didn’t get in any amazing views that we’d heard about. But we did get in some activity – something I’d been craving, since it had been a few days since our half marathon.

pre-hike

pre-hike

Then we headed to Portland, Maine. Full blog post coming about this trip, but we had a great time walking everywhere, trying the local food and craft beer (Shipyard Pumpkin FTW!) and I even got in a few runs while I was there.

maine craft distilling

Our last quick stop was Boston. We walked around our alma mater, Boston College, stopped by the place we got engaged, and hit up the North End for dinner. A perfect end to a great vacation!

Back at BC!

Back at BC!

Some questions for you:

  1. Are the fall colors changing where you are? What’s your favorite way to see fall foliage? On a run? A hike through the mountains? A Sunday drive? Apple picking? Other?
  2. Do you like pumpkin beer? What’s your favorite? I’ve heard of some beer snobs who can’t stand it! I liked trying the Shipyard, but Pumking may still be my favorite.
  3. What’s your favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavor? I loved Vanilla Heath Bar fudge (they don’t make it anymore now that they’re GMO free … RIP Heath bars!) but also love their new core flavors (any with vanilla as a base) and love anything with Caramel. Oh, and Cherry Garcia. Do I have to choose just one?

Back in the CLE

Just in time for fall, B and I are back in Cleveland for a weekend. We’d been gone the past few weeks traveling (don’t worry, more vacation recap posts are coming soon) but we were back this past weekend and had a great time. Here’s how the weekend went -

Friday night B managed to get suite seats to the Eric Church concert. I honestly hadn’t heard of many Eric Church songs before but made sure to listen all day Friday and then by the time of the show had a great time. A few Facebook friends even requested some songs that I listen to to get in the mood for the show – so if you’re not familiar with him, here are some recommendations: Springsteen, Drink in my Hand, Country Music Jesus, Give me Back my Hometown, The Outsiders, Over When it’s Over, Smoke a little Smoke, Love Your Love the Most.

Anyway, the show was GREAT. Eric Church put on a great show – he rocked the house. And the Q was the most crowded I have ever seen – it had people in every seat, from the floor to the highest levels – and the show was great.

Hanging out in the suite before Eric Church came on

Hanging out in the suite before Eric Church came on

FULL house!

FULL house!

We invited Dave and Anson to come with us - thanks to Anson for the photo!

We invited Dave and Anson to come with us – thanks to Anson for the photo!

Saturday morning B and I went for a great fall run. I honestly hadn’t expected us to have such a good run after staying out so late on Friday, but both B and I were feeling pretty good the entire time. And it was a beautiful fall day! We have less than one month now until the Savannah Half Marathon.

We ran all the way from downtown to Case.

We ran all the way from downtown to Case.

Saturday night B and I got all dressed up for his job’s annual black tie event.

All dressed up!

All dressed up! And my fro-worker Cari did my hair and makeup – wish I had a better shot you could see.

The place was all decked out in CLE-themed swag

The place was all decked out for the CLE-themed evening

A photo of a photo! They always take professional photos at the event for us to bring home.

A photo of a photo! They always take professional photos at the event for us to bring home.

Sunday was a laaaaazy day. An easy workout, a little work, watching some football, some weekly meal prep and catching up on a few episodes of Damages. B and I have now finished the third season – have you seen the show? Wow. That’s all I can say.

Some questions for you:

  • How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun?
  • Any long runs or races this weekend? Congrats to all my friends who completed the towpath marathon and half!
  • Are you an Eric Church fan? What’s your favorite song?
  • What was the last concert you went to?