Friday Five: Celebrating National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day

I just found the most amazing food calendar that tells me dates of the most important holidays – food holidays! And first up is one holiday that I certainly will observe – National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day!!

I wish I had more advance notice, but National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day is Sunday, March 1. So, in early celebration, here are five recipes that I think look AMAZING (disclosure, I’ve made some of them) and the perfect way to celebrate:

1. Peanut Butter Heath Bar Blondies 

[recipe]

 

2. Reese’s Soft Peanut Butter Cookies 

[recipe]

3. Peanut Butter Brookies

[recipe]

4. Soft Peanut Butter Cookies with Peanut Butter Frosting

[recipe]

5. Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Caramel Club Bars

[recipe]

For more peanut butter recipes, here are a few on here. Apparently I have a peanut butter addiction because that’s a lot of peanut butter!

Some questions for you:

  • If you had to choose from one of the treats above – which would you want to eat?
  • Do you like peanut butter? Believe it or not, I’ve met people who don’t!
  • Favorite way to enjoy peanut butter? On ice cream. Or a tortilla with honey and granola. Or with carrots. Or as a peanut butter cup! Yum! 

Brown Butter Butterscotch Oatmeal Coconut Bars

You guys. I just discovered brown butter. I don’t know HOW it took me so long to try it out – but my life is changed. I will never bake again without browning my butter!

Okay so that’s false – but in all seriousness, browning the butter for at least this recipe was amazing. It smelled SO good and I think made these bars so much better than they could have been. You MUST try it – I promise, if you get a good browned butter, you won’t be sorry.

Anyway, I had a hankering for baking with butterscotch and while I love these butterscotch oatmeal cookies, I was seeking something somewhat different. After reviewing a few recipes (and my pantry), I came up with these. They’re chewy, really sweet (warning- not for the non-sweet tooth!), and I think they’re delicious. Be careful – they’re also addicting!

brown butter butterscotch oatmeal coconut bars-icrashedtheweb

Brown Butter Butterscotch Oatmeal Coconut Bars

(adapted from Cook’s Country … because I don’t have cable and am addicted to this show)

Here’s what you need:

For the bars:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups oatmeal (I used 1 cup quick oats and 1 cup old fashioned – the texture is more chewy with the quick oats and more fibrous / gritty / textured with the old fashioned so i like to mix)
  • 1/2 sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cup butterscotch chips divided in half
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup packed  brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 TBS vanilla extract

Butterscotch drizzle:

  •  1/4 cup butterscotch chips
  • 2 tablespoons  brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350. Prepare a 9×13 baking pan by spraying with a nonstick cooking spray or butter.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine  flour, oats, coconut, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Brown your butter! In a small pan at medium heat, melt the butter. Let the butter continue to cook until a rich golden brown color. Stir continuously so as not to burn the butter – burned butter does not equal brown butter! Feel free to use this site as a guide as well for additional direction on how to perfectly brown your butter.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the hot brown butter with half of the 1 1/2 cup chips (3/4 cup). Mix together until melted and smooth. Add in the brown sugar, egg and vanilla.
  5. Slowly add in flour/oat/coconut mixture, just until incorporated.
  6. Add in other half of chips (3/4) and combine. (Note: I like to add in about 1/2 chips and sprinkle rest on top of batter when in pan)
  7. Pour batter into the prepared pan and spread so it is even. Bake about 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. When the bars are almost done, make the butterscotch drizzle: Mix 1/4 cup butterscotch chips, brown sugar and water and melt in a saucepan over medium, stirring so not to burn. Alternatively, you could make in the microwave – again, just be careful to not burn it!
  9. Drizzle over the warm bars. Let the bars cool completely before removing them – this will be tough, but it’s so worth it! Enjoy – share some with your coworkers or family :)

brown butter butterscotch oatmeal coconut bars-icrashedtheweb

 

 

WIAW: Case of the Mondays = Cookie for Breakfast

I decided to switch it up a little bit this week – I’m sharing with you Monday’s eats for this edition of What I Ate Wednesday. I typically share a Tuesday eats but guess what – I remembered to take food pics on Monday!

Full disclosure: Today (Wednesday) I’m going out to eat for dinner and likely having chips and guac, tacos, margs and dessert. Sorry you’re stuck with viewing pictures of zoodles (and some treats) instead of Mexican :)

Monday morning I started my day with a cookie. That’s right – a cookie. I ran before work and was hungry before I even had a chance to make breakfast (B had to pick up his dry-cleaning so I made my OWN breakfast!) so I had a butterscotch oatmeal coconut cookie bar. Delicious! And there’s oatmeal in them so it’s totally a great pre-breakfast treat.

butterscotch oatmeal cookie

butterscotch oatmeal cookie

When I got to work, I had my egg whites and veggies – this time a mix of spaghetti squash and frozen vegetables. Oh, and coffee with cinnamon. I don’t drink coffee daily, but when a colleague puts in Vietnamese cinnamon AND it’s Monday, it’s hard to resist.

breakfst

Lunch was a mix of leftovers from our dinner out with my parents on Friday (salmon and lentils – both my mom’s and my leftovers) and some roasted broccoli and tomatoes I had prepared on Sunday.

Salmon, lentils, roasted broccoli and tomatoes. Yes, my lunches often look like a dinner.

Salmon, lentils, roasted broccoli and tomatoes. Yes, my lunches often look like a dinner.

Snacks during the day included:

Bag of red and yellow peppers

20150223_154411

A few werthers (not pictured) and tons of tea with honey (also not pictured)

A sweet potato with honey

sweet potato

Some Arctic Zero! Yes it’s cold, but I still have a sweet tooth (as evidenced by the cookie for breakfast)

I didn't quite eat the whole pint ..

I didn’t quite eat the whole pint ..

And for dinner – I made some shrimp scampi-type dish with zoodles! I don’t know what is officially in shrimp scampi, but this was sautéed onions, garlic and shrimp over zoodles with some peperoncino flakes and fresh basil.

Shrimp scampi over zoodles!

Shrimp scampi over zoodles!

 

Some questions for you:

  • Does anyone have a spiralizer? What do you recommend making?
  • Cookies for breakfast – anyone else guilty?
  • Arctic Zero fans – what’s your favorite flavor?

*Note: The original WIAW linkup seems to be on hiatus sadly – but I’ll be sharing this here too!

Training Tuesday: Running Confessions

Welp, the week is finally here – it’s time to start my Cleveland Half Marathon Training!

As you may recall, I’m a Cleveland Marathon Ambassador - meaning I’ll be sharing fun news about the race, doing a giveaway AND sharing my training reports.

So, for my first report, I’ll share with you what I’ve been doing to get ready to train – the good and the bad. These are my confessions …

The good:

  • I finally got back into shape after our Asia trip. As I shared, I didn’t run for a few weeks in Dec/Jan and really got out of shape fast. I can tell you that I more than made up for it by running every day since we returned (see: the bad).
  • I bought new shoes! My purple sauconys have about 450+ miles on them, and I’m starting with a new pair for training.
Can't wait to try out these new sneakers!

Can’t wait to try out these new sneakers!

  • I have a training plan! Thanks to B (and Hal Higdon), I have a plan in place for my half-marathon training.
B made me a schedule :)

B made me a schedule :)

 

The bad:

  • I have not been running outside. I’m a baby when it comes to cold and ice; thus, I have run outside maybe 3 times since the New Year. I need to get back out there – treadmill runs just aren’t the same for me!
With weather like this, it's hard to get myself outside.

With weather like this, it’s hard to get myself outside.

  • I haven’t signed up for ANY other races. Typically by this time, I’ve signed up for a few local races or even run some (last year’s Chili Bowl) – but this ear I just can’t seem to get myself motivated! Maybe it’s because B stopped running with me?
  • I may not have given my body enough rest. See #1 above – I ran every day from January 16 through February 16. Some days it was only 1-2 miles, other days it was 7. I decided to try to take last week easy and do the elliptical most days, but I got tired and missed the treadmill and caved and ran 3 times. I did take my first complete rest day on Sunday, only going for a walk with B.
Weekly mileage from the week we got back thru last week

Weekly mileage from the week we got back thru last week before I decided to take a few days off from running … Yeah, that’s high (for me)

So those are my confessions. Some questions for you:

  • What do you do to keep yourself in check? Have you signed up for any races?
  • Clevelanders – or others with this frigid weather – have you been running outside? Please tell me how you do it.
  • What’s your favorite pair of running shoes?
  • How do you stay motivated on the treadmill?

My parents in the CLE! (and that weekend I ate a lot of Italian food)

This past weekend, my parents came to town. It was very up in the air at first – if the weather looked iffy, they wouldn’t make the 8ish hour drive from NY – so I wasn’t expecting them to come. We’ve had a less-than-stellar winter in Cleveland – very cold and snowy – and I expected this weekend to be the same.

It was -5 when I woke up on Friday. Thus the day started with a treadmill run. Again.

It was -5 when I woke up on Friday. Thus the day started with a treadmill run. Again.

Thankfully, even though the weekend did have a dose of cold and snow, my parents were still able to make it! They came in Friday night and left Sunday morning, so we really only had one full day with them … so we packed in as much wintry fun as we could!

Friday night, we had reservations for Cibreo. Sidenote – it’s Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week, so if you’re in Cleveland, be sure to check out the list of participating restaurants and get yourself to one this week!My mom and I both dined off the Cibeo restaurant week menu and it was great – we both had the arugula butternut squash salad, salmon and lentils, and split both desserts (zeppoli and a custard). B and my dad got off the regular menu. Everyone loved their meals – I love Cibreo and their great Italian food.

The salmon from the Cibreo restaurant week menu - my mom and I both got it and had leftovers so I have lunch for this week!

The salmon from the Cibreo restaurant week menu – my mom and I both got it and had leftovers so I have lunch for this week!

Friday was pretty frigid – like single digits plus wind. So after dinner, we relaxed in our apartment, showed off some photos from our Asia trip, and well, that was the extent of our Friday night.

Saturday started off with a 4 mile run and then some Insanity cardio abs. Ouch. I haven’t done any Insanity workouts since B and I did them right before our wedding, and this only 15 minute workout killed me. In a good way, of course.

insanity cardio abs

After that, I met my parents and we walked to the West Side Market! The weather was warmer than Friday, but super snowy. Still, it felt SO good to be outside and walking! It had been so long since I’d been outside for an extended period of time and I was really getting stir crazy.

Selfie during the walk

Selfie during the walk

After walking to the Market and picking up some groceries, we walked over to Hingetown to my favorite tea spot. Yes, this was the third time I’d been to Cleveland Tea Revival in one week and I’m not ashamed. Their ginger tea = amazing. My mom also loves their tea and even ordered some ginger turmeric to be shipped to New York.

Family at the tea shop

Family at the tea shop

By then, we were all pretty hungry so we walked back to Ohio City and got some soup at Souper Market. Yet again, I got the mulligatawny so I’ll spare you another photo of that soup – it looks the same each week and now that I’ve given up meat for Lent it was the easiest soup to select.  AND I have some leftovers for lunch next week!

20150221_134357

After driving back downtown (B had met us at the market and gave us a ride – we had walked enough already), my parents and I checked out the North Coast Harbor Ice Festival. It was cool to see the sculptures – I have no idea HOW people make those!

My mom and I goofing around with the ice sculptures

My mom and I goofing around with the ice sculptures

Anchors away!

Anchors away!

Then it was time to relax a bit – we had been walking a lot and we were all a little tired after going nonstop since the morning. We decided to watch a movie that was on TV, the Edge of Tomorrow with Tom Cruise. Have you seen it? I have NO IDEA what the ending was about. Seriously – if someone has seen it, please tell me what happened!

For dinner we decided to brave the snow and cold yet again and drive to Little Italy for Pizza at Mama Santa’s and dessert at Presti’s. I think my favorite comfort foods are Italian and soup, and I got both in one day. Pretty lucky!

Disclosure: I had mushroom pizza (no meat for Lent). But I ate the slices before I remembered to take a photo.

Disclosure: I had mushroom pizza (no meat for Lent). But I ate the slices before I remembered to take a photo.

Cannoli=happiness. I ate the one on the right - every single bite.

Cannoli=happiness. I ate the one on the right – every single bite.

Sunday I decided to take a rest day. That means no elliptical, no running. This was the first rest day I’ve taken since we got back from Asia (more than a month ago) and with training for the Cleveland half marathon starting this week, I convinced myself somehow that my body needed some time off. Instead of working out in the morning, I joined my parents for breakfast before they hit the road. After saying goodbye (never easy), B and I took a walk, which always seems to help me get my mind off things. We went back to the ice sculptures and spent an hour exploring the area and other parts of downtown. It was a nice feeling to yet again be outside, enjoying the weather even if I had a day off from working out. Oh yeah, and we had some sunshine!IMG_20150221_211231

IMG_20150222_113041

SUNSHINE AND BLUE SKIES!

Sunday dinner was per usual with B’s family and we had even MORE ITALIAN comfort food – this time, lasagna and ice cream sundaes for dessert. Pretty much the cherry on top (yup, pun intended) to a wonderful weekend.

B's mom's lasagna. One had veggies in it and the other had meat.

B’s mom’s lasagna. One had veggies in it and the other had meat.

How was your weekend?

Do you still eat ice cream in the winter?Yes! Year round please.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Soup or Italian food. 

Red Velvet Oreo Chex Mix {My first attempt at Puppy Chow}

A confession – while I love to bake, I’ve never ever made the infamous Puppy Chow. You know, that Chex Mix that is coated in chocolate, peanut butter and some powdered sugar? I’ve been on a mission to make it and the perfect occasion finally happened – baking with Nicole!

I’ve been hearing a lot about the Red Velvet Oreo cookies and when I finally found them at Target (don’t worry, I went into Target to buy a “few things” and left with a cart full – EVERY TIME), I couldn’t wait to buy them. They came in a smaller-than-typical Oreo box, meaning I used the whole box in the recipe and wasn’t left with leftovers .. okay, besides the 2-3 that I had to try first.

not my photo – but this is what they look like!

I am not a big Oreo fan – sorry, I just am not. But I do love cream cheese frosting and when I heard the Red Velvet OREOS weren’t as chocolatey and had a cream cheese type frosting, I knew I had to buy a box. And of course bake with them. Want an excuse to try the Red Velvet OREOs? Here you go!

red velvet oreo puppy chow chex mix for valentine's day

Red Velvet OREO Puppy Chow 

(I added in Valentine’s M&Ms and sent a bag of this to my brother for Valentine’s Day feel free to make it any time of year you can find these OREOs though! – modified from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Here’s what you need:
  • 20 Red Velvet OREOs, finely crushed into crumbs (divided into two halves)
  • 1 c. powdered sugar (divided into half)
  • 10 cups Rice Chex cereal (divided into two halves – 5 c. + 5 c.)
  • 1 1/4 c. white chocolate melting wafers
  • 1 1/4 c. milk chocolate melting wafers
  • Extra OREOs, roughly chopped (I used probably 4-5)
  • 1/2 c. M&Ms – I used the Valentine’s ones

Here’s what you do:

  1. Measure out powdered sugar and crushed Oreos and mix together. Divide mixture in half – you’ll use half for the white Rice Chex and half for the chocolate Rice Chex.
  2. Measure out half the Rice Chex – about 5 cups. Pour into a large bowl or tupperware with a lid.
  3. Melt white chocolate on low, in a microwave. Stir throughout to make sure you don’t burn chocolate. Pour melted white chocolate over Rice Chex and store until cereal is covered.
  4. Pour half powdered sugar/OREO mixture over white chocolate Chex. Put lid on tupperware and shake until cereal is coated with sugar and OREO mixture.
  5. Repeat the above steps with the chocolate Chex. Melt chocolate on low, pour over remaining 5 c. Rice Chex and coat, pour remaining powdered sugar/OREO mixture over chocolate Chex and shake to coat.
  6. Combine cooled white chocolate and chocolate Chex mix. Add in extra chopped OREOs and M&M. Share with a loved one or friend!

 

red velvet oreo puppy chow for valentine's day

Yum! What’s your favorite kind of Chex Mix or Puppy Chow?

 

 

 

WIAW: A Not-So-Fat Tuesday

Guess what – I’m back again for another What I Ate Wednesday post!

I was super excited to share with you a Fat Tuesday post, complete with King Cake, jambalaya, these cupcakes and lots of food. Because – why not? It’s Fat Tuesday? But I have a confession – my Fat Tuesday was really pretty normal.

Per usual, my day started with egg whites and veggies, made by B. I was too lazy to make spinach or Brussels sprouts for breakfast so I had some frozen organic veggies from Whole Foods and tomatoes from the West Side Market to fill me up.

breakfast

Our office celebrated Fat Tuesday with paczkis! Don’t know what a paczki is? Don’t worry, I didn’t either until I moved to Cleveland where apparently they’re a BIG deal. (Note – they’re Polish so also a big deal in Poland. And according to Wikipedia, also in “Philadelphia, the Boston area, the Greater Detroit and Mid Michigan areas, Central Connecticut, Northern and Central New Jersey, Chicago and Northern Illinois, Northwest Indiana and Southeastern Wisconsin”). Some people even call Fat Tuesday Paczki Day!

Paczkis are basically powdered donuts with a filling. And honestly, the only donut I really enjoy is an apple fritter so I passed. But I took a picture anyway – pretty, huh?

paczki

Lunch was a ginormous salad! I had made some roasted chicken over the weekend (I know! B typically roasts it but this week I did it with his help when I did some meal prep) and paired half a breast with roasted Brussels sprouts, butternut squash and cauliflower – but this morning I decided to add some extra salad mix to the container and it was a good decision! For an unintended salad, it was pretty! I didn’t need any dressing because I’m picky about dressings and the roasted veggies had enough oil/flavor for me.

Yup, a HUGE salad that wasn't supposed to be a salad.

Yup, a HUGE salad that wasn’t supposed to be a salad.

Snacks during the day included:

Bag of celery

celery

A red pepper, sliced. Yup, that’s one entire red pepper. #Notashamed

red pepper snack

Chewy ginger candy. Yes, again. And I’ve run out so I don’t know what I’m going to do!

wiaw ginger chews

One of many cups of tea!

One of many cups of tea!

And dinner! I know – you’re like “wait those are the only snacks today? You usually snack so much more! Where are the granola bars? Where are the nuts? And carrots?!” but I had a dentist appointment in the afternoon which prevented me from snacking so much – snack time became dentist time. And good news – no cavities! Anyway, I digress. Dinner.

I was planning on making dinner but after the dentist I had some work to do, so B tried to convince me to pick up McDonald’s graciously made the meal. And it was SO good! We had bought sushi-grade tuna at the West Side Market, along with tons of veggies, so we at them for dinner. Seared ahi tuna, roasted cauliflower, roasted asparagus and 1/3 a sweet potato. Because what day wouldn’t be complete without a sweet potato? (I only had 1/3 of it because I reallllly wanted leftovers for today. It took a lot of restraint. And I didn’t take a picture it because I ate it after my meal)

When B makes me dinner it looks a lot better

When B makes me dinner it looks a lot better

After dinner I enjoyed that 1/3 of sweet potato and tea with lots of honey. Yes, I have an herbal tea problem.

tea and honey after dinner!

tea and honey after dinner!

AND here is an update of my Fitbit for the day! I decided to take it easy this week and not run every day (big deal for me!) because next week starts my Cleveland half marathon training. So today’s workout included a really slow and easy 60 minutes on the elliptical followed by some ab and weights. As usual, you’ll see practically no flights of stairs on my end. I don’t have any stairs in my life!

Screenshot_2015-02-17-21-30-45

 

Some questions for you:

  • Well, how did I do?
  • How was your day? Which of these foods would you eat? Any you wouldn’t enjoy?
  • Did you have a REAL Fat Tuesday? Please let me know and I can live vicariously through your indulgences.