Monday Weigh-In: Week 89

It was a bad week. I know exactly what I did (aka splurge like crazy), and the scale showed it. I’m OK with it.

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Week 88: 236.8
Week 89: 238.4

Weight Lost: +1.6 lbs.
Total Weight Lost: 60.1 lbs.

Honestly, I’m not upset about it. I know exactly what I did, and I’m gonna do better this coming week. I plan on getting back into running this week, since my half training starts in a little over a month. (crazy…OMG…I’m training for a half)

How was everyone else’s week?

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars with Vanilla Frosting

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Life has been a little bit hectic lately. Between dealing with the whole lightning incident, work getting super busy and just trying to catch up on house work, I just needed to stop for a second and bake something. My husband and I have just been trying to find normal things to do to get our minds off everything. Baking and knitting are things that have been happening a lot for me. For a couple hours a day, I can just forget everything and have immediate results, whether it be a quick cowl or these bars.

This recipe was so quick to throw together. Cookie dough usually is quick, and the longest part is scooping cookies out and baking in batches. Well, with these bars, you just spread the whole thing in a jelly roll pan. Simple enough, right? This tastes just like a cookie cake, and the icing puts it over the top. I used a whipped vanilla buttercream that I blogged about before, and then went crazy on the sprinkles. (By the way, am I the only person who buys bulk sprinkles?) They were perfect–simple, classic and tasty.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars with Vanilla Frosting
Source: Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 batch whipped vanilla frosting
  • rainbow sprinkles

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, making sure that your oven rack is in the center. Line a 12×17 inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together and set aside. Then, in the bowl of an electric mixer (using the paddle attachment), beat the butter and granulated/brown sugars on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula, and add the eggs and vanilla. Mix everything until well-combined. Add in the flour mixture, and beat everything on low speed until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  3. Dollop the dough on the baking sheet, and spread in an even layer with a spatula. If the dough gets sticky, have a bowl of hot water handy to dip/clean off the spatula.
  4. Bake the bars for about 20-30 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through the baking, until the edges are brown and the top of the bars are golden. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire cooling rack, and allow it to cool completely in the baking sheet.
  5. Make the whipped vanilla frosting, and once the bars are fully cooled, liberally frost the bars. Add sprinkles on top of the frosting and serve.

 

Bananas Foster a la Mode Cups & A Giveaway!

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A couple of months ago, my husband and I went to a restaurant in New Orleans. When it came time for dessert, we decided to split something, but the problem with splitting with my husband is the dessert cannot contain any chocolate, caramel or peanut butter (he hates it all). I know…poor guy doesn’t know what he’s missing! Luckily, this particular restaurant had a bananas foster torte, so I knew we were set. It was absolutely delicious, indulgent and rich. In fact, I’m SO glad we split it, because there was no way I could eat the whole thing. Ever since then, bananas foster has been fresh on my mind. I had to make a fun recipe with this classic New Orleans favorite.

I’m thrilled to be working with Calphalon again to review their brand new Elite Nonstick cookware, which is sold exclusively at Williams-Sonoma. It’s currently for sale on their website, and will be in stores on September 27th. I’m sure you guys know that I love using nonstick cookware, but one of the biggest issues I’ve faced is being limited to wooden or silicone utensils. This line is safe for metal utensils (fork out your whisks!). Yep…I’m serious! This cookware also comes with a textured sear surface, which is awesome because you can get the sear that you usually get from stainless steel, but with the convenience (hello, easy clean-up) of a nonstick pan. This line of cookware is also dishwasher safe.

Calphalon sent me this 3 piece set to review, and asked me to create a modern twist on a classic recipe, using one of the pans. With that in mind, I grabbed the 10″ pan, some bananas and got to work! The end result is homemade bananas foster ice cream, topped with warm bananas foster, contained in a cinnamon sugar wonton cup. I hope you like bananas for this one, y’all, because there is plenty of sweet banana flavor in this recipe!

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For the ice cream, I omitted the rum, because even though the alcohol cooks off, I didn’t want to chance the ice cream not setting up properly. I suggest making the ice cream one day before you plan on serving these desserts, so the ice cream can be a scoop-able consistency.

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Monday Weigh-In: Week 88

This week was my first week on the Weight Watchers program. It’s the first time that I fully stepped away from MyFitnessPal since I’ve been on this journey, and it was a little weird. I wanted to trust fully in the Weight Watchers program without my calorie counting crutch, and I was so happy to see some results!

Monday Weigh in

Week 87: 239.4
Week 88: 236.8

Weight Lost: 2.6 lbs.
Total Weight Lost: 61.7 lbs.

The points program wasn’t too hard to follow, and I appreciate that they have extra weekly points that encourages my Saturday splurge day. I really like doing 6 days on program, 1 day off. The great thing about my splurge days is that I’ve tracked the past two Saturdays, and my splurges don’t even come close to using all of the extra weekly points. I will say that I didn’t work out this week, but I’m hoping to get back into running this week!

How did everyone do this week? Any victories to share?

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Ice Cream

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Is it crazy that I haven’t made any homemade ice cream this summer? I mean it’s hot enough for it, so I have no idea why I didn’t fork out the machine until September. I will say that I did have a slight addiction to skinny cow sandwiches the past couple of months, and homemade ice cream isn’t very calorie friendly, but usually calorie splurges never stop me (especially lately).

I HAD to make this ice cream, though. I recently received a copy of Jessica Segarra’s (also known as The Novice Chef) new cookbook: Cereal Sweets & Treats. Jessica is a good blogging friend of mine, and I was so excited when she wanted to send me a copy of her new book. It’s full of so many fun recipes…recipes you’d never think you could use cereal with. Cap’n Crunch milkshakes, Lucky Charms macarons, Pumpkin Cheerios bars, Fruit Loops cupcakes, and Corn Pops ice cream, just to name a few. Seriously….doesn’t that all sound so fun?!

The idea of cereal ice cream just pulled me in, and I will mention that while the original recipe is for Corn Pop ice cream, in Jessica’s notes, she mentions trying this with your favorite cereal. One of my favorites is cinnamon toast crunch, and I had a feeling this would make for a great ice cream. One of the best things about this ice cream is that this isn’t a custard based ice cream. Yup…no eggs needed, so making this recipe really wasn’t that difficult. The method Jessica uses doesn’t make the ice cream overpoweringly sweet, because the cereal soaks in the milk/heavy cream and then you strain it out. Also, no worries about soggy cereal, since you strain it out…it’s more of an infusion of flavor from the cereal. I have to say, after having a bowl (or two haha!), I think this ice cream would be perfect on top of a slice of warm apple or pumpkin pie. It has a really good cinnamon flavor to it that would make fall treats that much more amazing. :-)

If you want to check out more recipes (I think those pumpkin cheerios bars are calling my name next!), Jessica’s book is available on Amazon for under $15!

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Ice Cream
Source: barely adapted from Cereal Sweets & Treats

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups cinnamon toast crunch cereal
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix the milk, heavy cream and cinnamon toast crunch cereal together. Allow the mixture to soak for 30 minutes in the fridge, stirring occasionally. Strain the cereal out of the mixture and discard the cereal.
  2. Place the milk mixture in a large saucepan, and whisk in the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, and continue to boil the mixture for 2 minutes. Remove the mixture from heat, and stir in the vanilla extract. Allow the mixture to fully cool in the refrigerator, until the mixture is cold to the touch.
  3. Once the mixture has cooled, pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The ice cream will be a soft serve consistency at this point, but if you’d like the ice cream to be more scoop-able, allow it to harden in an airtight container in the freezer for at least 3 hours.

 

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book for a fair and honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Monday Weigh-In: Week 87

I haven’t done one of these in a while. I’ve written some posts about finding my motivation again, and since the stress/bad news keeps piling on, calorie counting stopped being a priority. I barely would log on MyFitnessPal, and just didn’t have that drive anymore. I can’t tell you the last time I ran or went to the gym to lift weights. Big step backwards.

I decided that I needed to really get back in control of things, and maybe some in-person motivation might help. After seeing a commercial that Weight Watchers is offering a free month right now, I thought that maybe I should go back to it. I gave it a chance a while back, and I couldn’t really find my stride with it for some reason. I’d always just go straight back to MyFitnessPal.

However, I feel like I can handle this. It’s worked for so many people before….maybe it could work for me? Now, I know that I’ve said that I can lose the weight simply eating less and moving more. No plan needed…you don’t have to pay anyone a dime to do this! However, after doing this for almost two years, I’m in a funk. I know calorie counting would work, but I’m sort of bored with it. I need something new. I’m giving this a couple of months, and if I don’t see a change, I’ll go right back to the tried and true calorie counting. :-)

So, the weigh-in. It was ugly, and I knew it would be. Heck, my jeans have been super tight for the past few weeks, and I have no fat jeans to fall back on since I donated them all (with the exception of my size 26 before jeans).

Weigh in

I’m up a good bit. However, I’m still halfway to my goal. I just have 65 lbs. to go until I’m in the healthy weight range with Weight Watchers….60 more is my personal goal, but I’ve never seen myself at that weight, so I could have more to lose after that. I’m feeling good…it’s quite a change from calories, and the points values have changed since I last did this. However, I feel like I can handle this. I can do this.

First goal…5%. And hey, maybe this time I’ll FINALLY get that 10% key chain. Let’s do this!

Chewy Oatmeal Fudge Bars

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I’m starting to really get tired of the summer. I know there are some people still clinging on to summer for dear life, but living in heat indexes of over 100 degrees for almost 3 months now? I’m just over it. OVER IT.

I feel like this summer has been full of bad news too. My latest round of it was breaking a tooth. Yeah, I know. I was just eating a cookie (a chewy one, at that), I felt a crack and there it was. A big chunk of tooth. I went to the dentist the other day, and she took one look in my mouth and told me I’m definitely grinding my teeth again. The question of new stresses popped up, and I had to laugh. The poor dental office became my therapist as I vented about the house, the tragedies in our family, the fact that I was sick and now, this broken tooth. I’m trying to look at the bright side of things…at least I wasn’t in any pain after my tooth broke? I still can’t believe that I broke a tooth…ugh. Ridiculous.

Lately, with all of this bad news, I’m all about comfort foods. I stink at calorie counting right now…I just can’t find my stride. I’m a pro at eating chocolate when more stress enters our lives. I’ve gained 15 lbs. since April. ::sigh:: Yep. 15 lbs. :(

Part of that is probably because I’ve been baking a good bit since we realized that the lightning didn’t fry our range oven (phew!). I forgot how comforting baking is…too bad I have no willpower against the end products lately. I’m gonna have to start taping saran wrap over the goodies to avoid eating 2-3 of everything I bake.

These bars were something I’ve been meaning to make for a while now. I wanted something rich/indulgent, and the fudge filling on these bars were just that. In fact, I joked with myself that this would make a KILLER hot fudge sauce….I almost grabbed ice cream out of the freezer before I assembled the bars, but I resisted.

Chewy Oatmeal Fudge Bars
Source: Erin’s Food Files, originally on Baking Blonde

Ingredients:

For the bars:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups quick oats

For the filling:

  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 15 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and the 1 tsp. of salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the 1 cup of butter and the brown sugar for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one egg at a time and mix until combined. Add the 2 tsp. of the vanilla extract and mix until combined.
  4. Add in the flour mixture to the wet mixture slowly and mix until just combined. Using a spoon or spatula, stir in the quick oats to the batter as well.
  5. Spread 2/3 of the crust into the bottom of the prepared pan, and save the last 1/3 for a topping.
  6. To make the filling, place the chocolate chips, condensed milk, 2 tbsp. butter and the 1 tsp. salt in a medium sauce pot. Heat the mixture over medium-low heat, and stir until the mixture is smooth. Once the mixture is melted and smooth, remove the mixture from heat and stir in the 2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract.
  7. Pour the filling onto the oatmeal bar crust, keeping the filling about 1/4 inch away from the sides of the pan to prevent sticking while baking. Evenly add the rest of the oatmeal batter in dollops on top of the filling. Then, bake the bars for 30-35 minutes, until the oat topping is light brown and the fudge layer is set, being mindful not to over bake these bars. Allow the bars to fully cool before cutting and serving.

A bunch of randoms

It feels good to get back into blogging again. While things have been going a bit crazy around the house, we still try to find some normal moments to feel a little more at home.

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1. I’ve been knitting like crazy lately. It’s not cold yet, but all I want to do is knit. It’s so comforting and fun to be starting on holiday gifts this early. Here’s two (tiny) hats that I threw together in the past week. I used the duplicate stitch to add in their names right after to make them a little more personal. :-) Also, how fun is it to knit baby things in pastel college colors? I love it.

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2. Like I mentioned in my post yesterday, we’re well prepared for the fall. We have candles like crazy in the house…hope it’s enough to last us the whole season. :-)

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3. It was National Dog Day this week. I told Millie to SMILE PRETTY for a National Dog Day picture, and this is the face I got. She was definitely in a leave me alone mood.

4. Big Bang Theory Fans…I give you the best BuzzFeed of the week! I can’t stop laughing at these…I love that show! So glad my husband introduced me to it.

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5. Dear Target, why are you selling this? In Louisiana….10 minutes away from LSU. There’s a reason this is on massive clearance..it’ll only sell as a gag gift.

 

Pumpkin Spice M&M Dulce De Leche Blondies

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I can’t even begin to express how happy I am that August is almost gone. It has been a month full of bad news for us, so a fresh new month is definitely welcome. September marks the start of pumpkin things, cinnamon scents, fun decor, football and milder weather. I’m also hoping that September helps us close the whole lightning hit our house chapter in our lives. We’ve been spending our afternoons/evenings trying to get our house back in order (you’d be surprised how much clutter you accumulate when you just don’t care anymore) to make our house feel like a home again. I totally bought 4 fall scented candles, even though fall isn’t here yet. I promised myself I that wouldn’t light them until September 1st, but you better believe first thing that morning (well, OK…after church), the summer candles are being put away and our Bath and Body Works Leaves candle will be burning. :-)

I also told myself that I won’t touch the cans of pumpkin in our pantry until September 1st. I’m surprised that I haven’t broken that little promise, because trust me, I’ve been SO tempted to bake up some pumpkin bread. That’s totally happening Sunday morning, as well. Now, I did sort of stretch things a bit making these blondies a couple of nights ago. We went to Target over the weekend to start replacing the food that we lost in the fridge. By the way, I can’t tell you guys how amazing everyone was to us the night that fire happened. I’m SO SO thankful for our neighbors, especially, for loaning us their outside plug to keep the contents of the deep freezer from spoiling until we could get an electrician to replace all of the fried wires. Anyway, we were at Target, and I was walking past the check-out lines and saw an end-cap full of fall M&Ms. My weakness is actually the pumpkin spice kisses, but then I saw pumpkin spice M&Ms. OMG.

I just had to make something with them. After a bit of thought, I decided to add them to blondies. I found a base recipe on Smitten Kitchen’s site, and I added in some pumpkin spice to give it that fall flavor (without using pumpkin haha!). After mixing the batter, I spread half of it on the pan, added a whole can of dulce de leche on top of that, and then added the rest of the batter on top. Ooey gooey amazingness, basically. These bars are so rich, but that just gave me an excuse to top them with vanilla ice cream. :-) They were also super easy to throw together….one bowl to make the blondies and the dulce de leche is in a can. It’s sort of dangerous….in a you better wrap them up and bring them to coworkers the next day before you eat the whole pan, dangerous.

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Pumpkin Spice M&M Dulce De Leche Blondies
Source: adapted from Smitten Kitchen, originally from How to Cook Everything

Ingredients:

  • 16 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • a pinch of ground cloves
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 9.9 oz. bag of pumpkin spice M&Ms
  • 1 small can dulce de leche

Directions:

  1. Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter and brown sugar together, until smooth. Beat in the eggs, vanilla, spices and salt. Switch to using a wooden spoon or spatula, and stir in the flour, until just combined. Gently stir in the M&Ms, until they’re evenly distributed throughout the batter.
  3. Pour half of the batter into the prepared 9×13 pan, and spread it with a spoon/spatula to cover the surface. Scoop the dulce de leche into the pan, and spread that over the batter. Then, scoop the rest of the batter in small spoonfuls over the dulce de leche and gently spread it on top. It’s OK if a little bit mixes together, but you mainly want the top of the bars to be blondie batter.
  4. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the bars are set in the middle, being mindful not to over-bake the blondies. Allow the blondies to fully cool on a cooling rack before cutting/serving.

Turned Sideways

I find myself constantly saying “what’s that word that means this?” I’m having trouble focusing. Thinking of things that JUST happened. Wondering where I put my phone that I totally just had in my hand. “It’s just a lot going on at once,” I’m telling people around me. Or “my brain is mush…sorry”. I feel like my brain is turned sideways, trying to process everything that happened.

Short version:

Two weeks ago today, lightning hit our house.

Long version:

Two weeks ago, I was having an internal debate. Should I do my usual after work grocery errands today? Or, my husband brought up going to Sam’s together to do some afternoon bulk shopping since the weekend was over, and the crowds would be gone. I thought about the gym after work… The usual thoughts running through my head. It was all normal.

My husband and I decided since it was raining to just go home, and deal with the errands later. Afternoon summer showers are fairly usual around here, so it would clear up in a couple of hours. Then, it happened.

A loud boom. A white light flashing through the fireplace. Power went out.

Um…..first thought…what in the WORLD?

I stayed inside while Joey went outside, and saw our neighbors…. “Did you HEAR that?” “Did your house shake too?” “What happened?” Everyone was thinking the same thing…then we realized everyone had their lights on but us. We were the only ones without power. We got hit by lightning.

Then, my husband smelled smoke when he went back in the house.

Oh God.

We need to find this fire…we don’t see it outside. We don’t see it inside.

The attic.

In a huge crazy mess of frenzy (which I have trouble recalling exact events), long story short. There was a fire in the attic. A fire that could have gotten much much worse, since it was melting our gas line. We still have our house, no one was hurt and the fire was gone.

After things calmed down a bit, we were told by the fire department that we’re very lucky. Lucky, because the fire was melting away our gas line and it didn’t expose enough to become a “flame thrower” in our house. Lucky, because we just got home 20 minutes before the hit (we’d likely have no house or ::gulp:: Millie if we weren’t home to react immediately). Lucky, because my husband could have been badly hurt trying to extinguish this if the gas line was anymore burnt.

We’re lucky.

It’s been two weeks of random people in our house, insurance stuff, and just trying to make our house the same again. I’m sure it will be just fine, but for now, I’m out of it. On top of the lightning, we had a tragedy in our family this week.

When it rains, it pours.

I find myself completely turned sideways, unable to get a grasp on things. My emotions are out of control, and I’m struggling to see the positive in anything right now. It’s hard, and I know you’re supposed to come out of these things stronger, but I really just want to fast forward a year and just know everything will get better.

I’m sure this blog post makes no sense, but I felt like I just needed to write. It has been such a trying past couple of weeks, so that’s why this blog has been pretty quiet. Hopefully, things return to normal soon, but for now, we’re just taking things one day at a time.

One valuable thing I learned from all of this is if a fire happens in your house, don’t constantly question things…GET OUT. Get everyone out of that house as quickly as possible. No matter how small a fire may appear when you find it, you have no idea how quickly things could escalate.