Friday Friday Friday

What up?? ūüôā

Happy Friday to all and happy vacation to anyone who has time off from work.¬† Thankfully I fall in to that group.¬† My company was closed today (woo hoo), plus we’re closed next Monday and next Friday and the following Monday.¬† I took off Tuesday-Thursday of next week for a mini family vaca.¬† Cheers to not going back to work until 2012!

Since the days have been a bit more hectic than expected, I’ve decided to extend the giveaway until after New Years.¬† Therefore I’ll take any comments up until January 1st and midnight.¬† So feel free to enter if you haven’t yet.¬† Just comment.¬† Easy peasy.

Last night I did some more baking, this time making zucchini bread, which I’ve¬†never made before.¬† I did take some photos and will post them later.¬† I found a recipe online that got rave reviews and then I tweaked it a bit.¬† I have to say, it’s AWESOME!

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

Ingredients
 3 cups all-purpose flour (I used 2 cups all-purpose and 1 cup whole wheat)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eggs (I used 3/4 cup egg beaters)
1 cup vegetable oil (I used a little under 1 cup)
2 cups white sugar (I used a little under 2 cups)
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips)

Directions
Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch loaf pans.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl.  Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well.  Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined.  Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes.  Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.
I have seriously been a baking FOOL.¬† Today I also made the saltine chocolate squares and as usual they came out great!¬† Tonight I’m thinking I’ll make another batch of the zucchini bread to bring to the game tomorrow.
On that note, it’s holiday time and I’ll be away next week so I’m not sure how frequently I will be able to blog.¬† So if not before, I will definitely be back in January.¬† I hope you all have wonderful holidays and new year’s that bring nothing but joy.¬† Thanks for reading and letting me get to know you from afar.

Pie in the sky…and don’t forget the giveaway

First…don’t forget my GIVEAWAY (details in yesterdays post).¬† You should really enter, it’s easy and the¬†prize is cool. ¬†ūüôā

In keeping with the whole baking theme, as mentioned, I made two apple crumb pies on Tuesday night.¬† It was super easy, so don’t be intimidated by apple pie, there’s no reason.

First…

Notice how short (and easy) the directions are.

My mother bought this for me AGES ago because she knew I liked to bake and she thought it was cute.¬† I used it as a regular dish for appetizers when I had guests over but never used it for it’s intended purpose.¬† It moved from apartment to apartment with me.¬† Then last year DJ said, let’s make an apple pie and I had my ah ha moment.¬† I busted out this dish and was shocked to see how easy the recipe was.¬† Granted, it doesn’t include a homemade crust, but that’s OK.¬† As an avid baker, sometimes a homemade crust just isn’t necessary.¬† Trust me when I tell you this.

Instead of putting dough over the top I made it an apple crumb pie so I loaded crumbs on top of the filling.

The apples, coated in sugary goodness.

Since I was making 2 pies I¬†used the recipe in the dish x’s 1.5.¬† I¬†find that 1 apple¬†seems to¬†yeild about 1 cup, so instead of using 6 apples, I used 9.¬† I also used some brown sugar instead of all white.¬† Loaded the apples in to the frozen crusts (thanks Mrs. Smiths), put the crumb mixture on top, and in to the oven they went.¬† I wrapped¬†the crust in foil so it wouldn’t burn and voila…

I used a different crumb mixture in the past¬†plus dark brown sugar, so they looked a bit different than I remembered.¬† I actually think they look a bit like apple crisp in a pie shell, but I guess that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

My only complaint is that since these were given as gifts I didn’t get to try them.¬† For all I know they could have tasted like crap.¬† I’m doubtful that that’s the case, but you never know.

So here’s the recipe (in case you couldn’t read it off the dish):

Apple Pie

3/4 cup sugar  (I used about 1/2 cup white sugar and 1/4 cup brown sugar)
2 tbs flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg (I used cinnamon)
6 cups of apples, peeled and sliced
1 1.5 tbs butter (I didn’t use this)
Use your favorite pie crust (either a recipe or a pre-made, I won’t judge).

Preheat oven to 425.
In a bowl mix together the sugar, flour, and cinnamon.  Put the apples in a large bowl and then pour the dry mixture over them. Stir so they are well coated.  Pour mixture in to crust.  Dot with butter.  If using a top crust, cover, seal and flute.
Bake 40-50 minutes until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble up through the crust.

If using a crumb mixture, you can do a search, or this is what I used (although since I couldn’t taste it, I have no clue if it’s any good)…
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
3-4 tbs butter
Combine dry ingredients.¬† Cut butter in and mix until crumbly.¬† I usually use my hands just because it’s easier.

So that’s my apple pie recipe.¬† Like I said, I always use the pie recipe but will play around with the crumb mixture.¬† Do you have any suggestions?

Happy holidays! Let’s do a giveaway! – EXTENDED till 1/1 – Enter!

Greetings!

I “think” that maybe I have enough readers to do a worthwhile giveaway, so here goes nothing.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ve surely seen that I’m doing a fundraiser with Bondi Bands to raise money for breast cancer research via the most amazing event, Spin Odyssey.

Therefore I have a TON of Bondi Bands and since they’re a great product (and so darn cute), I figured I’d offer one up as a giveaway.¬† Wow, I can hear you guys cheering all the way in CT.

Since holiday time gets a bit hectic, I’m going to offer this up through midnight EST¬†on Thursday (12/22).¬† That way we can hopefully touch base on Friday and I can try to get the band out to you ASAP.¬† Sorry, but it will definitely be received¬†after Christmas.¬† But since I’m not Santa, that should be OK.

Here are photos of my latest collection… (be warned, there are a lot of them)

Now that you’ve digested that….to enter…

Comment, that’s it.¬† If you want, you can tell me which one you’d like, although you can change your mind between now and then.¬† Tell me what you’d use it for, or tell me whatever you want. ūüôā

As my final push for them…I’m also selling them for $8 (same as the Bondi Band website) or 3 for $20 if anyone is interested.

Good luck and I’ll post the winner on Friday.¬† Spread the word!!

Recipes

It seems that every blog is sharing holiday recipes so while I’d rather not be like everyone else, I’m going to go with the flow anyway.

This has been a really uneventful holiday season for me.¬† I have had exactly zero parties to attend.¬† Since I’m a corporate orphan there was no holiday party to attend and it seems like friends weren’t doing much this year either.¬† I also have no children in my family so I don’t have to worry much about gifts (definitely not a bad thing).

I do finally have a couple of festive activities coming up…the Jets/Giants game on Christmas eve which is followed by Christmas Eve dinner at a friend’s house.¬† I can’t show up empty handed, but what to make?¬† I always gravitate towards desserts so I’m going to stick with that.

But first tonight I’m making a couple of apple crumb pies for the BF.¬† Recipe and photos to follow later or tomorrow.¬† In the meantime…

A few thoughts for Saturday…

Saltine Chocolate Toffee Bars (tasty and more importantly, EASY)

4 oz saltines
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a jelly roll pan (aka a baking sheet) and then arrange the saltines in one layer. (I used cooking spray.) In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the brown sugar, stirring constantly.  Bring to a boil for 3 minutes.  The mixture will be bubbly and aerated. Pour sugar/butter mixture over the crackers and spread to cover all crackers.  Put pan in to oven and bake for 5-7 minutes, until toffee mixture is bubbling. Remove from oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the toffee.  Let sit about 5 minutes to allow the chips to melt.  Using a knife, spread the chocolate over the toffee. Let cool, then put in freezer or fridge to complete cooling and hardening. Cut in to squares.

Rugelach (a bit more time consuming but seriously AMAZING)

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2-pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar plus 9 tablespoons
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup apricot preserves, pureed in a food processor
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk, for egg wash

Cream the cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the salt, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and mix until just combined. Dump the dough out onto a well-floured board and roll it into a ball. Cut the ball in quarters, wrap each piece in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make the filling, combine 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, the raisins, and walnuts.

On a well-floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle. Spread the dough with 2 tablespoons apricot preserves and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the filling. Press the filling lightly into the dough. Cut the circle into 12 equal wedges‚ÄĒcutting the whole circle in quarters, then each quarter into thirds. Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge. Place the cookies, points tucked under, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush each cookie with the egg wash. Combine 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle on the cookies. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.

Weekend recap

Good morning!!

So let’s see.¬† I never found my motivation on Friday so the part of my post that went missing was never resurrected.

What I had written about was how I taught on Thursday night and the class only had 9 people.¬† It was sad.¬† Given that the class was consistently hitting 20+, 9 was a shock to the system.¬† Class was fine but I left the gym just not feeling it.¬† As a result, I actually did something selfish and decided to sub out the same class this Thursday.¬† I figured that this Thursday was going to be even emptier, plus I’m off on Friday and would love to have Thursday night to do what I want, so I subbed¬†it.¬† Ordinarily that wouldn’t be a big deal, but I’m going to be away on the 29th so that class is also subbed.¬† I figure I’ll just start clean at this particular gym in January.¬† That’s not horrible, is it?

Saturday I taught and it was great, so that made up for the crappy class on Thursday.¬† Plus one of the members and her husband got me a present!¬† I’ve never received a gift for teaching so it was a very pleasant surprise.¬† I emailed her this morning to say thank you and her response was even sweeter… (just had to share)…
Just a little something to THANK YOU for always being there on Saturday with new music, new rides and lots of energy to keep us all motivated.  It’s rare to find someone like you with so much dedication and teaching talent!

Seriously made my day!¬† Talent?¬† Really?¬† ūüôā

Unfortunately I have to sub out next weeks class since I’ll be at the Jets/Giants game.¬† Woohoo! (although the weather forecast isn’t looking too hot)

Saturday night we bundled up and headed in to the city to hang out at Bryant Park.  We spent most of our time at the Southwest Porch which is an outdoor bar with heaters and a fire pit.  We got some prime spots around the fire pit and had a great time drinking hot spiked cider, eating popcorn, and chatting with the tourists who were visiting NY for the holiday season.  I will try to post some photos later.

Yesterday was a lazy day, although I did manage to clean the bathroom, which was not fun.  Then I made matzoh ball soup for dinner (I think DJ is addicted), watched the finale of the Next Iron Chef and called it a night.

Now it’s Monday and a short week!¬† I hope you all had lovely weekends too!

What a difference a day makes

Yesterday started with me pouring my coffee in to a cup that had soap residue all over the inside.  That stunk.

This morning started with me seeing that I won a giveaway on Tara’s awesome blog A Daily Dose of Fit.¬† I won an awesome XO spatula that says “be a good cookie”.¬† So excited, especially since I’ve been slacking on the baking lately.

Amazing what a difference a day can make.  I hope this bodes well for the rest of the day!

In keeping with the loosely adhered to Friday Food Finds theme, here’s my latest obsession.

The stats:
120 calories
3.5g fat (of that 1.5 is saturated, not ideal, but oh well)
95mg sodium
24g carbs
5g fiber
11g sugar
3g protein

I think that’s not too bad for a convenience snack.¬† If you’re a WW person, it’s 3 points on the new plan.

Side note РI wrote a whole post and then half of it went missing.  That said, motivation lost, will try to post again later.  Enjoy the food find in the meantime.

I realized that in class last night my ride had two mashups.¬† I used Funky Goes to Hollywood and Funky Smoke (and just now realized that they both have “funky” in their title.¬† Who knew?)

So apparently I’m a big fan of the mashup.¬† I love a good one but despise a bad one.¬† If I can find enough songs I like, I’m thinking complete mashup ride in the future.¬† Any recommendations?

Subbing last night was great.  It was a packed class (31 people, 2 empty bikes), although I know that has nothing to do with me since I was a sub, but still, I enjoy a full class.  Leaving the house I was a bit nervous since my stomach was still hurting.  Surprisingly it was fine throughout the class which was amazing.

I woke up this morning with stomach pain yet again.  Seriously, that enchilada soup has killed me.  Such a bummer since it tasted sooo good.

Total side note..
I just took a look at past posts and it seems that any pictures I’ve subsequently deleted from my computer are no longer showing up on my blog.¬† WordPress folks, do you¬† know anything about this?¬† Do I have to keep them all in order for them to show up?

And speaking of pictures, as I mentioned, DJ and I got a holiday tree a few weeks ago and have slowly been adding more stuff to it.¬† At the request of a friend I snapped a few photos.¬† I had no clue it was so hard to photograph a tree and capture it in all¬†it’s festive glory.¬† But here’s something..


If you look closely you can see a¬†chocolate lollipop with a menorah on it hanging as¬†an ornament.¬† I tell you, finding a Hanukkah ornament is near impossible!¬† And just for some more smiles, most¬†of those boxes are empty, ha!¬† DJ felt we needed gifts to make it look better, I didn’t necessarily agree but it wasn’t worth the argument.

Carbosaurus rex

That’s me today, a carbo-saurus rex.¬† Carbs carbs carbs.¬† Yum!

Yesterday food was the enemy.  For lunch I had some chicken enchilada soup and a wrap.  The soup tasted great and I really enjoyed every bite.  Then about an hour later the pain hit.  Gas pains.  And not just any gas pains but gas pains that made me wonder if the soup had slivers of glass in it.  It was BAD.  I drank some water and played around with how I was sitting and by 5p I had gotten it to be manageable.

A few hours later I ate dinner without incident but again, shortly after, Mr. Gas showed up.¬† Granted, nowhere near like before, but still annoying and uncomfortable.¬† I pushed through it and around 10p headed upstairs for bed.¬† That’s when Mrs. Heartburn decided to visit.¬† I popped some tums and sat up in bed but the Mrs. did not want to leave.¬† Thankfully I had some Walmart brand zantac or something and then took one of those which finally did the trick.

I woke up today feeling better but still being visited by Mr. Gas’s young son, baby Gas.¬† We’re not talking gas as in stay away from me, it’s all internal and it just hurts.¬† I’ve popped a few pills and am keeping my food bland, which to me translates to carbs.¬† Not ideal but the odds of stomach issues are a bit less when I eat like this.

Yesterday DJ picked up Corn English Muffins.¬† Can you say yum?¬† After having half of a homemade knish I just had one of those bad boys.¬† FIngers crossed that the stomach sends those visitors packing, especially since I’m subbing tonight and a stomach-ache and spin DO NOT GO.

Any advice??

Drinking and napping

 Source

I love to sleep.¬† Love it.¬† Although as I’ve gotten older my ability to sleep for extended periods of time has diminished.¬† One on hand it’s nice to be up by 7:30a on the weekends, but on the other hand it used to be so nice to just sleep until…whenever.

Another thing I can’t really do is nap, unless I’m utterly exhausted.¬† When I do manage to nap I usually wake up more tired than refreshed.

I mention this because I’ve now read two articles in fitness magazines (I think WOmen’s Health and Fitness) that again reinstate that a nap should be no longer than 20 minutes.¬† However both suggest having a cup of coffee pre-nap as supposedly the caffeine takes about 20 minutes to kick in, thus assuring your nap is the right length.

I would have NEVER thought to do this, but now having read it in not one but two well-respected publications I’m wondering if it has some truth.¬† While on one hand it seems counterintuitive but at the same time it kind of makes sense.¬† Although for me, i’d probably wake up after 20 minutes just because i’d have to pee.¬† TMI?

Have you ever done this?

How quickly it happens

Greetings!  Happy 12th of December (still crazy to me).

This past weekend was great.¬† It was months in planning and it’s weird that now it’s over.¬† Granted it wasn’t anything of crazy significance, but it’s always strange when something that’s been on the calendar forever passes.

One of my college friends had a baby in August and another friend is pregnant and due in February so I took a trip down to Philly (where they live).¬† I’ve found that at this age, making plans for an out of state visit also involves planning months in advance, so this date was put on the calendar ages ago.

It was great, the girls and our sig others went for dinner and then out for drinks.  It was almost just like the old days, except for the whole pregnant thing.  But it was great to see the girls and have a fun weekend away.

While I get sorted out for the week, here are a few random snapshots from the past few days.  Pardon the horrible quality as they were taken with my phone.

This is my contractors house...so pretty!
This is my fabulous artwork at dinner on Friday night. yes, they have paper tablecloths and crayons, so what?
Saturday night and my new haircut!

 

One more thing…for my spin instructor/group ex instructor friends, do you have a mic that you love?¬† While mine is fine, it’s not great and it’s also not really a true aerobics mic.¬† While the last thing I need to do right now is spend money, I am toying with the idea of getting a new mic, so any¬†suggestions are appreciated.¬† Thanks!