Home Shopping & Kitchen Experimenting

The Labor Day weekend has been a fun already.  Yesterday and today I spent my extra time doing some shopping for accents for our new home.  I managed to purchase a few pieces that I’m really pleased with.  I bought a massive clock for our living room and also a mirror that I’m not sure where to put just yet.  It will find its place eventually!  Extra time off has also meant more time to play around in the kitchen.  This morning I woke up much earlier than I wanted too but I had some coffee, got ready and got to work creating something I have been wanting to try for a while.  I know I said that I would try to cool it on the pumpkin recipes but I still had a little bit left and I didn’t want to waste it so I decided to use the last little bit too make a pumpkin cream cheese stuffed french toast.  Yes…you heard me correctly, and it was just as amazing as it sounds.  Here’s a picture to tempt your taste buds:

pft

Just look at that yummy, pumpkin goodness.  I will try to not post anything pumpkin related for a while, but I can’t make any promises.  After finishing this up, I did some cleaning and some laundry.  There is nothing better than lying down on a bed with nice clean sheets.  Wouldn’t you agree?  After spending a couple hours finishing up all the cleaning I headed out to do some more home goods shopping.  Couldn’t leave the house without making something cool and refreshing to take with me so I decided to make a lemon cream pie protein shake, topped with a couple of crushed animal crackers.  This was a great decision, because it is brutal hot around here right now.  This beverage kept me cool while I made the drive to the store.

lps

By the time I got home my husband had made it back from working on his combine and was starving.  I made him some turkey, mashed potatoes, corn and gravy.  It was too early for dinner for me since it was only 4:30 PM but I sure don’t mind making a hard working man something to eat when he gets home.  He loved all of the pieces I had bought for our home and we are currently trying to figure out where to put everything.  We plan on having the walls painted soon so nothing will actually be hung up until that is all done.  I hope everyone is having a wonderful and relaxing holiday weekend.  I know we are.  The new movie on tonight is the latest Lord of the Rings movie and I can’t wait too watch it.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Pumpkin Protein Muffins

ppm

 

Yes, I know it’s another pumpkin recipe.  However, when you open a can of pumpkin you don’t want it to go to waste so I have been trying to come up with ways of using the whole can, a little at a time, so I can enjoy different treats.  So pumpkin muffins were a must.  I know it isn’t officially fall yet but I love the taste of pumpkin and so I feel no shame in jumping on the pumpkin band wagon early.  Even Starbucks has decided to release their pumpkin spice latte earlier this year.  Seems everyone just gets in a tizzy thinking about the warm, frothy, pumpkin goodness.  If there was a Starbucks anywhere near me I would be joining in on the madness.  In fact the pumpkin spice latte is probably the only thing from Starbucks I would want, but that’s a story for a whole other day.

Yesterday on my ride home from work I decided to make a pit stop at the Dollar General that is pretty close to home.  I love Dollar General stores.  It seems they always have fun and unique things.  I spotted the Halloween section, which is one of my favorite holidays and I knew that there was going to be some money spent on Halloween decor.  I managed to make it out of the store with just these cute little Halloween cupcake liners.  I plotted and planned the rest of the way home on what I could make with the leftover pumpkin and use my new liners all at the same time.  My initial thought was cupcakes but I wanted to make something that I could take for breakfast and so muffins it was!

I know I said breakfast but after dinner I was too tempted by the smell and so I decided to try them out.  You know, just to make sure they were done and tasted ok “wink wink.”  I topped it with a little whipped cream to make it look festive and dug in.  I must say that I was quite impressed.  I made these a healthier version than most muffin recipes so I wasn’t sure how they would turn out.  Lucky for me, they tasted just as I had intended them too, like little, cakey pumpkin muffins.  If you never mentioned it to anyone, I don’t think they would guess these are a “healthified” muffin.  Plus I was astounded at how easy these are to make.  You literally put everything in a blender to mix it together and it’s done.  I decided to just make a half batch to see how they turned out and now I’m sad I only have six of these beauties instead of twelve.  However, my husband does not like anything pumpkin flavored and I knew I would be the only one eating these, which does not hurt my feelings in the slightest!  If you want to make a full pan of twelve just double the ingredients I’m about to list for you.

Ingredients

1/2 cup Rolled Oats

1/4 cup Coconut Flour

1/4 cup EAS Lean Protein Powder

1/2 tsp Baking Soda

1 tsp Baking Powder

1/4 tsp Cinnamon

1/4 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

1/2 cup Pumpkin Puree

1/4 cup Plain Greek Yogurt

1/4 cup Unsweetened Applesauce

2-3 tbsp Liquid Egg Whites

Pinch of Salt

I know it looks like a long list but most of these things you probably already have on hand.  You can use any kind of protein powder that you like best, this just happens to be my favorite brand.  Once you get everything blended up really well in your blender, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  While the oven is preheating go ahead and prepare your muffin tin with liners and scoop the batter into each little cup.  You will bake these for about 20-25 minutes or until the tops are brown.  They may still feel a little squishy when you take them out but don’t worry, they will harden up some as they cool down.  Before I went to bed I just put them in a tupperware container and fell asleep with dreams of pumpkin muffins for breakfast.

Which is exactly what I did!  I put some Dannon light & fit caramel machhiato Greek yogurt in a bowl and topped it with one of the muffins and some Kashi Go Lean Crunch cereal.  This was honestly one of my favorite breakfasts of all time.  It tasted almost like a mocha/caramel/pumpkin parfait, it was perfect.

pmy

Enjoy the Moment

vetlife

 

Does anyone else find this to be absolutely true?  It reminds me of another quote I once heard, “the grass is always greener on the other side.”  We have all probably come to this crossroad in our lives.  Scratching and scraping toward a goal we always thought we wanted, only to realize that we have almost gotten exactly what we set out to do and that we aren’t necessarily as excited about it as we always thought we would be.  How could that be?  What could make us suddenly realize that the things we once sought with a passion, now, just cause us to say “eh, I made it, that’s nice.”?  Everyone is different, and has different motivations for going after said “goal.”  For me, it has always been the challenge of doing something new.  The idea that I could go from little to no experience, to being a master (or at least capable) of doing this thing.  Therefore, the driving force for me is the challenge.  Once the challenge is completed there is nothing more to push toward.

Honestly, the more I thought about it the sadder it made me.  Let me explain.  If the challenge is the only thing that excites me it means that I never had any love or passion about the goal, I simply had passion for the challenge of it.  Thinking back to all those things which I started a novice and became pretty decent at, I can count on one hand (a couple fingers actually) the ones I truly liked.  Among the chosen few are, running and rock climbing.  All the others seem to get stuck in the realm of gone and forgotten.  Isn’t it strange that we can latch onto something, let it consume our life for a few months or years and then suddenly it’s gone like a feather in the wind?  You can dedicate so much time to something, make a group event out of it, acquire a whole new set of friends, only to have all of that dissipate when you finally lose all interest in it?

However, does that make it a complete waste?  I choose to think not.  I will always have those memories and stories.  Even though I may no longer participate in those activities or see those past friends, that doesn’t mean that I should regret having done them.  Life is a series of events, things come and things go.  I have had some of the best times of my life just doing something for the fun of it, without worrying about what will come next or if it will be there tomorrow.  Maybe it’s my competitive nature to make everything feel like a competition and let it elevate my stress levels.  Who says that it has to be this way?  Sometimes throwing yourself into something new can be the absolute best possible thing you could do for yourself.  You could make memories that stay with you for a lifetime or longer.  Looking back at all of these things have made me really appreciate “the moment” and I’m thankful for every single one I have been blessed with.

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

ppsoats

 

Sometimes on a Friday night you just need a warm bowl of oatmeal.  I love breakfast food, of any kind and at any time of the day.  For some reason it always just makes me feel warm and toasty.  I had some leftover pumpkin puree from making the pancakes the other morning so I decided to try pumpkin pie oatmeal.  While this was cooking I left off the vent fan and let the smell of warm pumpkin fill my kitchen.  It automatically sent me into fall mode.  Which we all know is the season of everything pumpkin.  Starbucks comes out with their famous pumpkin spice latte, moms around the world start making pumpkin pie and apple cider.  It is just a comforting smell, no other way to describe it.  I am a lover for the summer season but I can’t deny that I get somewhat excited about the start of the fall season.  I look forward to it every single year.

On to these amazing oats.  Honestly, I forgot that it was oatmeal when I began eating it.  I even closed my eyes and imagined eating a large, warm piece of pumpkin pie straight out of my moms oven.  That’s exactly what these oats tasted like.  Not everyone is a huge fan of the pumpkin flavor but it’s one that I really love.  This is simple to make and doesn’t take long at all.  So when you are hungry and in a hurry these are a good option.  The ingredients you will need are as follows:

– 1/3 cup Rolled Oats

– 2/3 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

– 1/4 cup Pumpkin Puree

– 3 packets Truvia (or sweetener of choice)

– 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

– 1 tsp Butter Extract

– 1 tsp Maple Flavor

– Optional but highly recommended: slivered almonds, chopped dates

Bring your almond milk to a boil then add oats.  Cook until some of the liquid is absorbed then add pumpkin puree, truvia, pumpkin spice, extract & maple flavor.  Stir it all up and cook to desired consistency.  Once it’s all done just pour it into your bowl and top with “optional” ingredients.  I highly recommend them as it bumps this recipe up to a whole new level.

I took my bowl to the couch and snuggled up under a nice warm blanket.  It’s a great feeling to be home and warm with a nice bowl of goodness.  Fall is quickly approaching and I suspect I will be doing much more of this in the coming months.  Now all I need is a nice toasty fire going in the fireplace.  Who knows, I may even be a rebel and enjoy a hot cup of cocoa afterwards.  In fact, that sounds like a splendid plan.

Pumpkin Spice Protein Pancakes

pp1

 

This morning was an unusual one.  Normally on a Wednesday morning I would be doing my usual: up at 4:30am, coffee, get ready for work, pack lunchbox and leave for work.  Today was a different kind of day.  We had our annual staff day at work.  Basically we go to the park, cookout, do some training and then head home.  So this morning I had plenty of extra time because I didn’t have to be at the park until ten o’clock this morning.  I slept in later than usual but still had plenty of time to kill so I decided to do some kitchen experimenting for breakfast.  I’m so so glad that I decided too because I discovered these amazing pancakes!  They are protein packed and everything on this plate is completely sugar-free “gasp”, yes even the chocolate sauce is sugar-free.  I know that sounds absurd but I promise that it is true.

Cabinet hunting is a fun game when you have no idea what you are going to create, so that is where I started.  I ended up with all of this loveliness on the counter:

pp2

 

I stared at it for a moment and then decided, PANCAKES!!!  I grabbed a small bowl and got to work.  I don’t always measure things out completely but this time I decided too in case I wanted to share the recipe.  Luckily for me, it was a success and now I can share it with all of you.

For this recipe you will need:

– 1/4 c Pumpkin Puree

– 1 large egg

– 1 tbs Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

-1 scoop protein powder

– 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

– Dash of vanilla extract

– 2 Truvia packets

– Dash of baking powder

Just add everything to the bowl and mix.

pp3

After you get everything mixed together, spray a small skillet with non-stick spray and heat to medium.  Pour the batter into hot skillet and cook as you would a normal pancake.  When the top and sides start showing bubbles you know it’s time to flip them.  I made my pancakes quite large so it only made two but if you make them smaller you could make a mini stack.  I had a mini banana left so I sliced it and layered it in between the pancakes.

Now, on to this amazing chocolate frosting/syrup, whatever you want to call it.  This stuff is heaven and you could use it for anything and everything.  I heated it up in the microwave after mixing it up so it would be a warm topping for my pancakes.  This is simple to make and you probably already have the ingredients in your cabinet.

Chocolate Sauce

– 2 tbs Hershey’s Dark Cocoa Powder

– 1 tbs sugar free pancake syrup

– 1 tbs almond milk

Yes…that is it.  That is all it takes to make this deliciousness.  I got the recipe for this wonderful chocolate frosting from StuftMama.  If you have never looked at her website then you really should!  She is amazing and has a ton of healthy recipes and fitness ideas.

So after assembling my pancake stack and topping it with the chocolate, I added a tad more sugar-free syrup and sat down to enjoy my wonderful breakfast.  If you aren’t a huge fan of pumpkin flavored things you could always switch it out with applesauce and apple pie spice.  I’m positive that it would also produce a great outcome.  Staff day went splendidly and it was good to see and talk to some of the people I don’t get to be around very often.  Tomorrow is back to the normal work schedule but this break today was much-needed.  Just in case you wanted to see a picture of the inside of my pancake stack, I took one for you.

pp4

 

I know you all are now drooling on your computer keyboards.  Excuse me a moment while I go get a paper towel to clean mine off as well.

Sweet Potato Nachos

sweetpnacho

 

Two of the best known foods in the history of man, put together into one amazing dish.  Can we just pause a moment and give thanks to God for creating sweet potatoes.  Also, to the amazing creator of peanut butter.  There are, in today’s time, a million different types of nut butters and flavors but peanut butter in itself dates all the way back to the Aztecs, who ground roasted peanuts into a paste.  After a quick Google search of the history of peanut butter, I found that Marcellus Gilmore Edson was actually the first person to put a patent on peanut butter  in 1884.  This day in time, we get the chance to try: almond butter, peanut butter, macadamia nut butter, sunflower seed butter, cookie butter and etc.  Seriously, the list goes on for days and days.  We have evolved into making flavors such as: white chocolate, salted caramel, chocolate, brownie batter, vanilla bean espresso, so on and so on.  It really makes me wonder what the first peanut butter tasted like.  Was it thin? Runny? Super thick?  I guess we will never know the answer to that.  However, we have no shortage of magnificence to tempt our taste buds now.  When I was a kid, I would always get excited about the idea of a thick peanut butter (ex the jelly for me) sandwich.  I couldn’t even imagine now opening up my lunchbox to a white chocolate wonderful Peanut Butter & Co sandwich.  I would have thought my mother had gone mad, like the hatter from Alice in Wonderland.

Now, as an adult, I have come to realize that nut butters are way more versatile than just for making a normal sandwich.  I’m talking about peanut sauce, and things of this nature.  It’s exciting to find out all the different uses for this ingredient.  Last night I decided to test out a fun use of this nectar of the God’s.  I discovered stuffing a baked sweet potato with nut butter was one of the most amazing tastes I have ever tried.  Since then I have been hooked.  We all know that the experience of food all begins with the visual aspect of it, so I decided to try something other than the regular baked stuffed sweet potato.  I started slicing the potato into rounds and realized that they looked like large chips and the idea for nachos came to the forefront of my brain.  Yes, you heard me correctly, but just in case I’ll say it boldly and slowly… SWEET…POTATO…NACHOS!

So, on to the making of this deliciousness.  First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Slice your sweet potato into rounds and set aside.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray it down with non stick spray.  Arrange sweet potatoes on the baking sheet and spray the tops with the cooking spray, then sprinkle on the cinnamon.  Bake for 15 minutes and then flip over the slices, return to oven for another 15 minutes.  Now to ramp things up a little bit I decided to roast some blackberries during the last 15 minutes of cooking, so I just laid them on the baking sheet with the sweet potatoes.  I don’t know if you have ever tried roasting fruit but it is pretty darn good.  It gets warm and gooey, like the inside of a cobbler.  While you are waiting patiently for the last 15 minutes of cooking time to be over, go ahead and grab a jar of whatever type of nut butter you would like to use.  Scoop a couple of tablespoons into a coffee mug and place in the microwave.  As soon as the potatoes and fruit are finished roasting, remove from the oven and arrange them on your plate, nacho style.  Heat the peanut butter in the microwave until it’s melted and runny, then drizzle it on top of your sweet potato/fruit mixture.  Try and contain your excitement as you sit down to eat this masterpiece.  Or you can enjoy this as I did, through tears of pure elation.  I tried to remain some composure and eat these with a fork, but my inner child eventually came out and I just started using my hands (sorry mom).

Mostly all nut butters are fantastic but I decided to use Peanut Butter & Co White Chocolate Wonderful for this recipe.  This is one of my favorites to pair with the natural sweetness of a sweet potato.  I’m not 100% sure but I’m pretty positive that any type you use will be just as amazing.  For all the parents out there with picky eaters, I’m thinking this would be a great way to get the kiddos to try a new vegetable.  As I believe that almost any child would eat anything with peanut butter on it.  Unless they have a peanut allergy of course, and then I think you may want to avoid this at all costs, unless you use a nut free alternative.

So go forth, into your kitchen and fire up that oven.  Pull back your hair, put on the chefs hat and get to baking.

Protein Chocolate Chip Cookie Oatmeal

proteincookieoats

 

Yes I know it’s ANOTHER oatmeal post.  Seriously though, these creations are just too good not to share.  Weekends give me time to experiment and play around in the kitchen, which I love.  I wont lie, I almost re-created the Banana Bread Oatmeal but I knew that I wanted to try something different.  Looking through the cabinets I spotted my Fit15 chocolate chip cookie protein powder and I decided then to make an “all things cookie” oatmeal.  I vigorously started pulling everything out of the cabinets that had to do with cookies and this is what I ended up with:

– 1/3 C Rolled Oats

– 2/3 C Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

– 1 tbs Fit15 Chocolate Chip Cookie Protein Powder

– 1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract

– 1/2 tsp Butter Extract

– 3 Truvia Packets

– Manbake Cookie Butter

– Sheila G’s Chocolate Chip Brownie Brittle

I just made the oats as you normally would.  Boil the milk and then add oats.  Once some of the liquid is absorbed add in the truvia, extracts and protein powder.  Stir it all up and cook to desired consistency.  Once you have added your oatmeal to a bowl top it with cookie butter and brownie brittle.  Then munch away and enjoy your awesome cookie creation.

Since it’s Sunday it’s time to do some food prep for the week and get all the remaining house chores done.  It’s looking a tad rainy here in the Bluegrass State so that means there wont be much doing anything outside today.  It’s a good thing that we got most of the large furniture moved to the new home yesterday.  Speaking of moving, my husband and I try to have the best time possible with this.  So yesterday while he was pulling a trailer load of things up our driveway and I was following we decided to take some goofy selfies for a laugh.

lindsselfie stewselfie

 

Sometimes being a little goofy in life makes everything better!!

Banana Bread Oatmeal

image

This morning I was craving something savory for breakfast.  What is better than a warm bowl of oatmeal?  Don’t get me wrong I love my overnight oats with a serious passion, but sometimes you just want something warm and comforting.  So I went to work in the kitchen searching for ingredients to make the perfect oatmeal.  I had some mini Dole bananas in my fruit bowl and the idea for banana bread oatmeal was born.

This was honestly some of the best oatmeal I have made and I may even put it above my brownie batter birthday oatmeal.  Ingredients for this recipe are simple and you probably already have most of these things on hand:

Banana Bread Oatmeal

– 1/3 cup Rolled Oats

– 2/3 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

– 1/4 tsp Butter Extract

– 1/4 tsp Banana Extract

– 1 tsp Cinnamon

– 3 Truvia Packets

Heat the almond milk til boiling.  Add in rolled oats and reduce heat to medium.  Once the oats have soaked up a little of the liquid add in the extracts, cinnamon and Truvia.  Continue to cook the oats to desired consistency.  All done with that part!

I also decided that I wanted to bump this recipe up a little more.  It hit me to make a peanut butter sauce to go on top.  You don’t have to add this but I promise you wont regret it if you do.

Peanut Butter Sauce

– 1 tbs PB2

– 1 tbs Sugar Free Pancake Syrup

– Drizzle of water to make it thin

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl (I use a ramekin), then set it aside.  Once you have sliced your banana and added it to the top of your oats drizzle on the PB2 sauce and some slivered almonds.

This was like eating a freshly baked piece of banana bread but in oatmeal form!  You should give this a try, or come up with your own fun version of oatmeal.  Maybe pumpkin pie or apple spice.  Actually, I may even have to give those a try soon.  Here is a look at my brownie batter birthday oatmeal:

IMG_3385

Cake and a Lesson

Last night was my sweet nephews second birthday party.  I was tasked with making his cupcake cake for the party.  I don’t know about you, but these things always make me nervous.  Don’t get me wrong here, I love doing it, but you still have worries that accompany the cake/cupcake baking and assembly.  Will it taste good?  Will it look ok?  Will I be able to get this buttercream icing to the right consistency?  If you have ever attempted to make your own decorative icing then you know this struggle all too well.  It honestly doesn’t take a whole lot to mess it up completely.

After being asked to make this cupcake cake I immediately started looking for a good frosting recipe.  I don’t make it often enough to have nailed down a go-to recipe yet.  I figured Google was as good a place to start as any and the first search that popped up was from the Martha Stewart website.  Immediately, I thought “Oh yes, Martha Stewart, that should do it.”  When I pulled up the recipe I noticed that it said to use 1/2 cup of milk, which seemed like a lot to me because normally buttercream frosting’s need very little liquid at all.  I’m talking one to two tablespoons here.  Instead of listening to my “cooking gut” I just went along with the recipe and followed it to the T.  All afternoon I worried about this frosting and it’s ability to hold up while piping.  When I finally got home to start decorating, my worst fears came to life…the frosting was simply too runny.  At this point I was thanking the heavens for Pillsbury canned frosting.   Obviously, this is not ideal, as I would have liked to have presented my own, from scratch, version, but with only one hour left to get to the party I had no time to attempt this over again.  So the moral of this story is too always trust your gut in the kitchen.  Just because a recipe calls for a specific amount of this or that ingredient doesn’t mean that you have to use it all, just tweak it to your liking.

I must say that I was still pretty pleased with the finished product.  It was cute and everyone really seemed to enjoy it.  On another note, I learned that Wilton icing color will stain anything it comes in contact with.  Yes, this includes your fingers.  I still have a slight blue tint to my left thumb.  My nephew sure didn’t mind though, as he had it smeared all over his cute little face.  Nobody else seemed to mind either and spending time with my family and watching my nephew open presents and smile always makes for a good night in my book.

Here is a look at my completed train cupcake cake:

IMG_3466

I believe it’s the small details that make all the difference.

Simple Sunday

One thing I love most about Sunday’s is the “rest” feeling that accompanies it.  Even though most of us are busy doing household things, it still seems like you get this “Ah, it’s Sunday” feeling.  It’s the one day during the week I feel completely at ease.  I am content sitting on my couch, watching some television and inhaling whatever wonderful smell is emanating from my crock pot.  Or in this case, both of my crock pots .  Which today happens to be a pork roast and some broccoli white bean soup.

Sunday’s are also good for long strolls.  If the weather will cooperate that is.

IMG_3351

How beautiful is that view, Eh?  It is a day to reflect on the past week, good and bad.  It gives you the sense that things can change, that the following days can be whatever you decide to make them.  A day that makes you realize just how blessed you are, and gives you the opportunity to be thankful for all of the wonderful things in your life.

It gives my husband and I the time to talk , catch up, hang out and just enjoy each others company.  Which is exactly what we have done.  We woke up early, caught some of the morning news together, went and bought some things for our new home and enjoyed a UK basketball game.  What can be better than that?  This day has also allowed me to reflect on the wonderful family that I have been blessed with.  Yesterday I got the pleasure of spending a few hours with my lovely parents, chatting about anything and everything.  Honestly, it doesn’t matter what the discussion or topic is about; just having them available to talk to is one of the greatest pleasures of my life.  There is my Dad with his infinite wisdom and support, who always makes you feel at ease and you leave the conversation with more knowledge than you had before and a feeling that conquering the world seems a little less impossible than it previously did.   Then there’s my mom, who is always so loving and caring, teaching me that being available for the people in your life and loving with all you have is always welcomed and appreciated.  Showing me that the small gestures are what matters most in life.  In fact one of her small kindness gestures allowed me to enjoy this beautiful bowl for lunch today:

IMG_3402

Just some simple vegetables from a local farmer, but I sure enjoyed them.  While this post may not seem like it has a major point, sometimes it is just really nice to have some positive thoughts and feelings in our lives.  They don’t have to be huge life altering events, just a chat with my dad and a simple gift from my mom can make all the difference in my thought process.  Sometimes it’s the small things in life that make for the biggest fulfillment.