Peanut Butter Cup S’mores Bars

I have a confession … I’ve never really LOVED s’mores.

I know – that’s like saying I hate summer … but hear me out. I have never been a chocoholic, OR a big fan of marshmallows. So s’mores? I’ll take ’em or leave ’em.

But these bars. OMG. THESE BARS. There is no way that you’re not going to like these. Even B, another non-s’mores fan (yes, there are two of us and we found one another!), loves these bars. SO with the unofficial start of summer here, I decided to bring these bars to a Memorial Day BBQ and they did NOT disappoint. We got tons of compliments (yay!) and we will definitely be making these again. Enjoy!


Here’s what you need:

The Graham Cracker Crust:

  • 15 graham crackers, blended finely into graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 stick  butter, melted
  • 1/3 c. sugar

The Cookie Layer:

  • 1 ½ c all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 c firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1 ½  cups (same as 1 1/2 sticks or 12 tbs) butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • A 4.4 oz Hershey candy bar (the giant bar), broken up into chunks
  • 6 large Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, chopped up into chunks
  • ½ c mini chocolate chips
  • 2 ½ cups mini marshmallows (1 ½ c to sprinkle on top, 1 c to add in batter)

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Crush the graham crackers in a food processor.  Combine with sugar and melted butter and press into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan.
  3. Bake the crust for 15 minutes.
  4. While the crust is baking, in a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. In a large bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar and butter.  Add in the eggs and vanilla.  Add the flour mixture and gently stir in half of the Hershey candy bar chunks, half of the Reese’s chunks, the mini chocolate chips and 1 c. mini marshmallows.
  6. Carefully add the batter to the top of the graham cracker crust. I found it easiest to add big chunks in the corner of the pan and then carefully push the batter down with my hands so it is even. Be gentle – you don’t want to pull the crust apart. Don’t worry about making it perfectly even – it will spread as it’s baking.
  7. Press remaining candy (Reese’s and Hershey bar) on top of the bars. Sprinkle remaining marshmallows on top of the bars.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes or until marshmallows have started to brown/darken.  Allow to cool completely before cutting into them. I put mine in the fridge overnight before chopping them.
  9. Enjoy!

reeses smores cookie bars - i crashed the web

Peanut Butter Cup S'mores Bars

Some questions for you:

  • Do you like s’mores?
  • Do you have a go-to dessert that you bring to a potluck? What is it?
  • Peanut butter cups – yay or nay?

Freekeh freekeh!! Cajun Shrimp Freekeh

Are you a meal planner? This is a dish that I threw together not having much planned ahead of time. Which isn’t always like me. I like to plan my meals in advance. I like knowing what I’m eating for dinner the morning of – or heck, even the night before. But sometimes we can’t always plan.  And that was one of those nights. Luckily, we had a few ingredients on hand, and some frozen shrimp, that when put together made for a pretty good dish.

B even suggested we make this again – so it’s a winner in my book!


Cajun Shrimp Freekeh

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 c. dry freekeh (I used Freekeh Foods original)
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or diced
  • 2 red peppers
  • 1 10-oz can diced tomatoes with green chilis
  • 12 oz frozen shrimp, or four servings
  • 2 TBS Cajun or Creole seasoning (I like this “Creole” mix from Emeril)

Here’s what you do:

  1. Prepare freekeh according to package directions (my freekeh said to add to 2 1/2 c water, boil, then simmer). About halfway through cooking add 1 TBS cajun seasoning to freekeh. Stir, and continue to cook freekeh nearly to completion – I cooked mine for about 17 minutes (package said to cook for 20).
  2. While freekeh is cooking, heat 1-2 TBS olive oil on a pan over medium low heat. Add chopped onion and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add in garlic and red pepper and cook for 3-4 more minutes.
  3. At this point, freekeh should be nearly done cooking. Add nearly-done (definitely soft, it may have 2-3 more minutes) freekeh, can of diced tomatoes and 1 TBS cajun seasoning to the onion/garlic/pepper mixture. Cook for 3 more minutes on medium heat, stirring to make sure all flavors are combined.
  4. Add defrosted shrimp to pan and cook for 4-6 minutes until shrimp is warm and flavors are all absorbed. When shrimp is ready your dish is too.
  5. Enjoy!

Makes: 4 main courses

CAJUN SHRIMP FREEKEH - i crashed the web

Anyway, I’ve really been enjoying cooking with my freekeh that Freekeh Foods sent me. I started small/easy, with the freekeh chickpea and goat cheese salad, and have been eating it as a side dish, as a main dish, and more. I think I need to try it as a dessert – freekeh pudding or cookies anyone? Maybe that’s next.

  • Have you tried freekeh yet?
  • Do you like Cajun food?
  • Do you count fish as meat? I wanted to post this on a Monday as a Meatless Monday .. but would it even count as a Meatless Monday?

Thankful Thursday: For Family

My brother graduated this week from college. My brother, whom I remember being born (we’re 7 years apart) is graduating from college. How does that make me feel?

It makes me feel so grateful, lucky and so thankful to have such an incredible family. So for this Thankful Thursday (perhaps my first one?) I want to thank my family. Warning – a short sappy post follows.

Greg and me at his high school graduation

Greg and me at his high school graduation

So thank you to my brother — I’m so proud of him – for all he’s achieved in college and beyond … and so excited for him – to start this next chapter of his life, because we all know that life out of college is not easy, but the challenges it presents us really makes us who we are. Despite being nearly a decade younger than I am, there are so many ways in which I look up to him and am inspired by all that he does.

7 years apart - Greg at my college graduation

7 years apart – Greg at my college graduation

And of course my parents – for always supporting me and my brother, despite how difficult our decisions have been for them. It is thanks to them that my brother and I are who we are today. I could write a post all about how thankful I am for them – and I know I’ve done it somewhat before – so this post will end with that.

This year - my brother's graduation

This year – my brother’s graduation. We all look the same, right?

Hope you’re all having as much of a great week as I am and are feeling thankful today as well.

Some questions for you:

  • What are you thankful for?
  • Any graduations coming up or just happen? Congrats!
  • What day of the week was your graduation on? Mine was on a Monday – Greg’s was on a Tuesday and Wednesday!
  • Where is your alma mater? Do you stay involved? Boston College – Go Eagles! Not as much as I’d like to -B and I are both part of the local alumni association but we haven’t done much with the group in some time.


Oatmeal Heath Bar Cookies

I think Heath Bar should also be called the Forgotten Candy. I LOVE love LOVE Heath Bar. It’s one of my favorite candies. Growing up, Heath Bar Crunch Ben & Jerrys was my favorite ice cream and was almost always in my family’s freezer (yes, I know I’m lucky). But it’s also a candy I forget about when I think of candy. If I’m craving something sweet and want to buy candy, too often I’ll choose something like a peanut butter cup, peanut M&Ms or Reese’s Pieces – and leave Heath Bar forgotten. So, this is an ode to my favorite, forgotten candy bar- Oatmeal Heath Bar Cookies. These are based one of my favorite recipes – Special K cookies – but have a few different ingredients.

Oatmeal Heath Bar toffee Cookies - i crashed the web

Oatmeal Heath Bar Cookies

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 c (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 2 c all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 c. uncooked old fashioned oats
  • 2 c Special K cereal
  • 1 c. Heath Bar, chopped into pieces (OR buy a bag of Heath Bar that’s pre-diced/crumbled and ready for baking)
  • 1/2 c. mini chocolate chips

Here’s what you do:

  1. Combine flour, baking soda and baking powder and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix Special K, oats, Heath Bar and chocolate chips. Set aside.
  3. Beat butter and sugars until fluffy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each egg is added.
  5. Stir in flour mixture slowly, mixing well.
  6. Stir in oat mixture and mix with wooden spoon until well blended.
  7. Make tablespoon sized scoops on greased baking sheets.
  8. Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes.

Got a chocolate lover in your life? These aren’t THAT chocolatey so you may want to add more chips. OR chop up a HERSHEY’S bar and add to batter as well! That’s what  did for the one in the pic above.

Oatmeal Heath Bar Cookies omg - i crashed the web



Weekend Update – Cleveland Marathon Weekend

I’m still feeling the endorphins from a great half marathon weekend and my second sub-2 hour half marathon for this year. That’s right – even though I didn’t plan on running too fast and just wanted to take it easy, Sunday morning ended with me running another 1:58 half marathon race during the Cleveland marathon. (Mostly because of B’s sister, Mary, but I’ll get to that later)

I knew I wanted to take it easy this weekend – I was just getting over a cold and a few late nights, and I realllly wanted to feel good and rested for my Sunday morning race. That’s code for “I was really boring this weekend.”

Friday night B and I went to the movies for the first time in forever. After an amazing (as usual) dinner at Superior Pho, we hit up the movie theater with all the teeny boppers in Cleveland to see Neighbors. Don’t worry, the teeny boppers were seeing Godzilla or something else. The movie was actually pretty good – I didn’t have high expectations but I had a few pretty good laughs out of it. The previews don’t do it justice – it was more than just a stupid movie I promise!

Summer rolls = happiness

Summer rolls = happiness

my favorite salad at Superior Pho

my favorite salad at Superior Pho

Saturday was another lazy day. We walked to brunch at pHuel cafe (yes, again…I know this is two weeks in a row) where I had their granola (yes, again) and B had their pancakes (again … but with banana this time).

Another Saturday, another pHuel Cafe breakfast

Another Saturday, another pHuel Cafe breakfast

Ginger Tea from Cleveland Tea Revival

Ginger Tea from Cleveland Tea Revival

After brunch we headed to the West Side Market to pick up some snacks (Apple Fritters FTW!), but not too many groceries for the week since I’ll be traveling. After the Market it was time for my favorite ginger tea and then laziness time. That’s right, aka Melissa watches several episodes of Damages while waiting for her dinner. We had dinner plans with Mary and a few of her friends at my favorite pre-race dinner place, The Flaming Ice Cube. I swear – they have the perfect pre-long-run dinner and I live by their kalebouli wraps before a race.

Flaming Ice Cube Kalebouli Hummus Wrap

Flaming Ice Cube Kalebouli Hummus Wrap

We came home after dinner to a surprise – my Go Vox Box from Influenster arrived! It was such a perfect pre-race surprise – I can’t wait to try out the orthotics (for walking, I’m not messing with my existing running orthotics) and the protein powder and shaker. B and I have protein we use already, but I’m always up for trying out new ones! And BLUEBERRY almonds? Anyway, I digress.

Check out all these goodies from Influenster!

Check out all these goodies from Influenster!

Sunday morning was race day! I was not looking forward to my 5 a.m. alarm – but Mary and I met up before the race so we could start together. Mary was running the full and I was just planning on running the first 10 easy with her before the half marathoners split up from the full marathoners. Mary had other plans – to aim for a sub-4 hour marathon, a PR of about 20 minutes from her last marathon time (Mary is a beast and this is her third race). And she asked if I’d run the first 10 with her – how could I say no?

Mary and I at the starting corral

Mary and I at the starting corral

So out the door went my “easy, enjoying the sights” half marathon plans .. and instead, I ran with Mary for the first 10, trying to keep up with the 3:55 pacers. We did it, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I breathed (or huffed at this point) a sigh of relief when the marathoners broke up for their final 16 as I finished my final 3ish.  Mile 11-12 was all up hill and in the sun, and I was dying. I felt like I was going at a snail’s pace and don’t know how but I managed to somewhat spring the final mile to the finish. The end result:

A surprise - under 2 hrs!

A surprise – under 2 hrs!

post race photo op with the medal

post race photo op with the medal

Post race, we met up with some of the members of the “Ladies who run in the morning” club (yes, I just came up with that name) for brunch. I know – two weekends in a row, four brunches. Who am I?

Ladies who Run in the Morning together

Ladies who Run in the Morning together

Some questions for you:

  • Drinks at brunch – yes or no? If yes, what’s your drink of choice? Mimosas? Bellinis? Beer?
  • Morning runner or evening workerouter (that’s a word)?
  • What was the last movie you saw?
  • Clevelanders – how did you do this weekend? Did you like the new course? Congrats to all you who participated and thank you to ALL who came out to cheer. It really does make quite a difference in how we feel.
  • Runners – what’s your evening-before-a-race meal of choice?


Friday Five: Running Update

TGIF! Another week has come and gone and I am SO ready for the weekend. Aren’t you?

In honor of this weekend’s big event – the Cleveland marathon – and the fact that I haven’t posted a running update in a while, here are some running-related randomness for this Friday Five.

Annual Mileage Total: Approx. 512 miles

I know, I know, I’m at waay less mileage than I was at this time last year. But I’m okay with it for a few reason. One, when B and I went  to Costa Rica last month, I only ran twice – we kept active with walks, hikes, swims, etc. So that’s two full weeks of at least 20 fewer miles to add to my log.  Two, I feel like I’ve been running smarter. When my shin started seriously hurting a few weeks ago (yes, again), I took a few days off. I’ve been trying to take at least one day off from running a week (sometimes 2! like this week) to make sure my body recovers from pounding the pavement. I will acknowledge that it may not seem like a big deal to say “Oh, I’m running only 5 days a week,” but I can assure you (just ask B) that for me, it is. And I know a few other runners out there are nodding their heads reading this and get it.

2014 runs

2014 Races Completed: 4 thus far (plus 1 this weekend!)

I can’t believe it’s May already and we’re right in the middle of running season and our total races completed is 4. B and I started the year with the Chili Bowl 5K in February (we used the 3.1 race as the end to an 11 mile training run). Then in March (exactly one month later), we completed the Chicago Get Lucky Half Marathon. In April, B and I did two races in one weekend – the Hermes 10 miler and a 5K for autism awareness in Columbus. At the 5K, I somehow took home first overall female … guess I should do small community races more often!

post autism awareness 5k

post autism awareness 5k

action shot for the 10 miler

action shot for the 10 miler

2014 Goals: A Work In Progress

This year some of my running goals have included to get to a sub-2 hour half marathon, as well as run 3 half marathons in the year. I’m getting there! I’ve done 1 half marathon (and have 1 this weekend) and met my sub-2 hour goal at the Chicago Get Lucky Half Marathon this year. Hmm, maybe it’s time to set another goal. Sub-25 min 5k? Do I see some interval/speed training in my future (blech)?

My not-quite-accurate finish time. My "chip start" didn't work so take this tiem and subtrack at least a minute to account for how long it took me to get to the starting line (B's chip stated at 1:51 and we ran together)

My not-quite-accurate finish time. My “chip start” didn’t work so take this time and subtract at least a minute to account for how long it took me to get to the starting line (B’s chip stated at 1:51 and we ran together)

Getting More Social in my Running

I’ve definitely been being a more social runner, something that I really like. Flash back to a year ago, doing a long run and asking B to come with me and he admitting he wished I had more “runner friends.” Because about a year ago, I had only really run with B and Mary. Later in the year I started doing some runs with my coworker Cari … and this year I’ve been running somewhat regularly (at least a few times a month) with Nicole and Erica. Running with people used to intimidate me. What if I ran too slow? I get really sweaty .. what if they were grossed out? Yes, I thought about this things. But for some reason, I just stopped caring. I run with people who run my pace and if I’m sweaty, coughing, etc. well, does it really matter?

Best example – got over myself and did the Running of the Bridges with a group of at least 50 other runners last week. It was warm, sunny, and yes, I was super sweaty – but it was fun!


see! I sweat ..

see! I sweat ..

What’s Next?

The Cleveland Half Marathon Race is this weekend! I’m pretty ready and excited to be taking it easy, running it for fun and not competitively, and just enjoy the sights of this city, the new route, the cheering crowds (hopefully) and the cool weather that just came in today. After that – where should I plan half marathon #3?

Good luck to all those running this weekend!  Some questions for you:

  • What’s the next race you have planned? Are you training for something?
  • What are your running goals?
  • Are there any half marathons coming up you like? Which should be my next one?
  • Are you a solo runner/biker/worker-outer or do you prefer in a group?



Hashtag Bashtag (A.K.A. an awesome weekend)

WOW, what an amazing, fun, busy weekend! It was definitely one of those weekends where I kind of feel like I need a weekend just to relax from my weekend … if you know what I mean?

The past few years I’ve gone to NY for Mother’s Day to spend the weekend with my mom and grandma. My grandmother passed away earlier this year, and my parents visited last weekend, so I decided to spend Mother’s Day weekend in Cleveland with B’s family. While I missed seeing my family, it really was an amazing weekend to be in town. The weather was great for walking to the West Side Market, doing a long pre-work run with Nicole, dancing the night away at the St. Martin De Porres Birthday Bash, walking to Ohio City for brunch AND having an outdoor Mother’s Day Feast.

Okay, that’s already too many words and I have too many photos/things to share. So here’s a glance at our awesome weekend in photos … and a few more words.

"5:24 a.m." Blech.

“5:24 a.m.” Blech.

The weekend started early – well Friday started super early – with a 12ish mile run before work with Nicole. We had planned on doing about 10 to get ready for the Cleveland half marathon we’re doing THIS WEEKEND but somewhere along the route we made a wrong turn and thus the extra mileage. It was super humid out, nearly 70 degrees and both Nicole and I were getting over a cold. Anyway, that meant we could barely breathe, barely talk (okay, who am I kidding, of course we talked the whole time but it wasn’t as much as we used to) and felt awful. Nothing like a  bad long run the week before your race!

Oliver and Sofia enjoying some sugar before bed

Oliver and Sofia enjoying some sugar before bed

Friday night, our niece and nephew were having a sleepover at my brother-in-law’s house. Which meant of course we had to go over and hang out with them for a little bit. Before going back and sleeping in my own bed instead of sleeping on the floor (which was a good call).

My awesome breakfast at Phuel.

My awesome breakfast at Phuel.

Saturday was pretty relaxing. B and I decided to get brunch at the new restaurant that opened across the street from us, Phuel Cafe. GREAT decision. I’m not a big “out-to-brunch” fan but I may have to change my mind so we can go back there often. B had some great pancakes and I had their homemade granola/fruit/yogurt parfait with some lemongrass tea. SO GOOD.

B about to enjoy his dark chocolate pancakes

B about to enjoy his dark chocolate pancakes

After that we decided the weather was warm enough, but not too warm, to walk to the West Side Market and get some groceries. Since I hadn’t planned on going for a run, this was a great decision – days I don’t run I get restless for some reason if we don’t do any sort of activity.

Some guys were painting a sign along our walk so I snapped a photo.

Some guys were painting a sign along our walk so I snapped a photo.

Saturday night was the St. Martin De Porres Birthday Bash! It was a benefit for my sister-in-law’s school and a really fun event. We bid on some items at the silent auction, enjoyed the gorgeous scene at the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Atrium and even got in some dancing. It was fun to get dressed up and go out with B’s family 🙂

B's family - all dressed up!

B’s family – all dressed up!


We took the bus to the event ... and of course I snapped a photo with the chandelier while we were waiting

We took the bus to the event … and of course I snapped a photo with the chandelier while we were waiting

Sunday morning we woke up to another gorgeous day – meaning it was another perfect excuse to walk to Ohio City and get brunch. After stopping at my favorite tea shop and B’s favorite coffee shop, we headed to Town Hall to enjoy their patio and some food. I ❤ patio weather!

Seen from our walk - a great view of downtown

Seen from our walk – a great view of downtown

That night we went over to B’s parents house for Sunday dinner-  but this time all the kids had prepared some food in honor of Mother’s Day. The theme was “paleo small plates” so we brought over some pork with a cabbage slaw. The entire set up was so colorful and we ended up eating outside, which was perfect.

Paleo small plates and our outdoor Mother's Day dinner

Paleo small plates and our outdoor Mother’s Day dinner


Bacon wrapped squash = amazing.

Bacon-wrapped squash = amazing.


Some questions for you:

What do you do the week before  a race? Do you eat/drink/do anything differently? My goal this week is to actually get sleep. Meaning not work until midnight and not wake up at 5:30 to run 😉 We’ll see if it happens – but since I’m typing it I’M GOING TO DO IT. (wishful thinking)

Any paleo-friendly foods you recommend? It sounds like we may have a few more paleo-themed gatherings coming up and finding small plates that were still substantial was somewhat difficult!

Have you ever had bacon-wrapped squash? IT WAS AMAZING. What’s your favorite thing to wrap in bacon?

Are you a bruncher? What’s your favorite brunch order? I’m not a brunch-goer typically, mainly because I don’t really enjoy going out for breakfast. I tend to enjoy lunch/dinner foods more – savory over sweet.