Sunday, November 18, 2012

Almond Coconut Squares

Another treat for Thanksgiving: Almond Coconut Squares. Can't go wrong with coconut, chocolate, and almonds!

Another fairly easy dessert to throw together in less than 30 minutes.
This recipe was adapted from Quick Dish

Almond Coconut Squares

Ingredients

1
1/2 cup oven roasted unsalted almonds (or you could toast your own raw almonds)
6 tbsp corn syrup
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp melted butter
4 cups shredded coconut (I used sweetened but I think I will used unsweetened next time)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups milk chocolate

Directions

Mix together corn syrup, powdered sugar, melted butter, coconut, and vanilla extract. It should be really thick.
Get a small cup of water and dip your fingers into it- then form the coconut minute into small cubes. Place on parchment paper.
Melt chocolate in microwave (15 seconds, stir, 15 seconds, stir, ect, until it's melted.
Dip the bottom of each coconut square into the chocolate and then place chocolate side down back onto the parchment paper.
After all the coconuts have a chocolate bottom, pour/drizzle the rest of the chocolate over all the coconuts. 
Press one almond onto each square.

Cool until chocolate hardens. 

Makes about 30 squares.





Funfetti Cake Batter Dip with Coconut Milk

So this started out as Cake Batter Fudge from Baked From a Box


Ingredients

Box (3 cups) funfetti cake mix
3 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 sticks of butter (cut into small chunks)
1/2 cup coconut milk

Directions

Pour cake mix and sugar into microwave-safe bowl and mix together. Add butter and milk but don't stir them into the dry ingredients.

Microwave for 2 minutes, stir immediately until well combined. 

Spread into greased baking pan and refrigerate for an hour

Funfetti Cake Batter Dip


I followed the directions, but the fudge just didn't set (apparently I should have added more sugar or less milk?) I left it in the fridge for a few hours and then put it in the freezer for a few more to see if that did the trick.. it did not.

I tried to cut and scoop a piece out but it just turned into a not-fudge-looking mess. So I scooped it all out of the baking dish and plopped it into a big bowl and called it Funfetti Cake Batter Dip!



 If I make this again I will add a little more milk... so here's the new recipe...

Ingredients
Box (3 cups) funfetti cake mix
3 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 sticks of butter (cut into small chunks)
3/4 cup coconut milk

Directions

Pour cake mix and sugar into microwave-safe bowl and mix together. Add butter and milk but don't stit them into the dry ingredients.

Microwave for 2 minutes, stir immediately until well combined. 

The coconut milk adds a nice hint of coconut, but it's not overwhelming. If you didn't know this had coconut milk in it I doubt you would even notice. Although if you wanted more of a coconut taste you could add some shredded coconut into it.

I will serve this with something like honey teddy grahams or gingerbread cookies and apple slices. Pretzels might also be good- salty/sweet.

2 Ingredient Pumpkin Spice Cookies

I normally don't like using box mixes to make cakes or cookies, but for some reason two of the desserts I decided to make for Thanksgiving used a box cake mix... oops!


I saw these (on pinterest, of course) and couldn't pass them up. Easy, Fast, and Delicious!

Pumpkin Spice Cookies


All you need is a Spice Cake Mix and a can of Pumpkin.


Dump them both into your mixer or large mixing bowl.


Mix until well combined.


Then scoop them out and plop them onto a greased baking sheet.
Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees. 


When they are done they will be slightly firm to the touch. 

They aren't the prettiest cookies (although if you did more than "plop" them onto the baking sheet they may look prettier than mine), but they do taste good- very light and fluffy.

Be careful not to over-bake them. I made 2 batches, the first was perfect and the second I cooked for a couple minutes too long- which made them not as fluffy as the first.




For Thanksgiving, I think I will frost these with Cream Cheese Frosting

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

First Official CrossFit Workout

I'm in looooove! CrossFit is my new all time favorite thing! It's challenging, but rewarding. And so motivating being surrounded by other people who are pushing themselves to the max.

Yesterday's WOD (Workout Of the Day) was a little different than normal... Since yesterday was Veteran's Day everyone got to choose their own "Hero Workout". There are a ton of workouts named after fallen hero's. Some have really challenging moves and some are more on the simple side, but all of them are hard because you are pushing yourself as fast and hard as you can.

Michael

Since yesterday was our first day the coaches suggested we so the "Michael" workout. 

Here's what it looked like:
800m run (half mile)
50 back extensions
50 sit ups
repeat 3X for time. 

Karl and I signed up for going 2X a week. Not only was today special because it was a Hero Workout day, but it was also a free day. So we still get to go 2 more times this week! 


After CrossFit, I came home and ate a huge plate of Ginger Broccoli and Beef... recipe to come!


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Core Workouts

I canceled my gym membership! Now that I am joining a CrossFit box I have no reason to keep my regular gym membership. I'm not exactly sure when it will be officially canceled, probably the end of the month. So maybe I will take a few more spin or pilates classes before it's up. Since I won't have access to a treadmill after the membership is canceled I'll have to tough it out for my runs in the winter time!

Core

Last Tuesday morning my workout looked like this:


I made up the cardio part and the plank workout I got off another website.

I got through the top half just fine, but when I started the second part I realized that it was a little too hard for me- apparently I thought my core was stronger than it actually is! So I changed it up a bit and put in a few extra rests here and there. 
Here's what it looked like:



Here is another one of my favorite core workouts. I like this one because the moves are way different from the normal sit up or crunch. You still get a great ab workout, but you are also working the rest of your core.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

CrossFit

I love CrossFit!

We finally found our CrossFit Box! (Box is CrossFit lingo for 'gym') Karl and I have been checking out all the boxes in and around Chicago for a few months to find out which one was perfect for us... the  perfect location, perfect price, perfect atmosphere, perfect community feeling...
Well we finally found it and we are starting Monday!

CrossFit Workout

While we were shopping around for a CrossFit membership, we took lots (and I mean LOTS) of intro classes at all the different boxes. Most had the exact same "getting to know CrossFit" workout. A short and sweet, high intensity workout that gave you a little taste of what exactly it was all about. 
Here's what it was:


You do these 5 moves as fast as possible with good form... Doesn't seem very hard? Give it a try... you will be sweating at the end! And if you aren't sweating then you aren't going as fast as you should be!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Full Body Workouts

Workouts For the Gym

If I don't have a plan before I go to the gym I end up wondering around wasting time. Before I go I always write down what I am going to do. Some days its core, legs, arms, or full body.
Here are some of the full body workouts I've done recently. 





Keep posted for some core workouts!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Butternut Squash Butterscotch Bars

Running Again 

I'm slowly working my way back into longer runs since I hurt my I.T. band. Now my knees only seem to hurt when I run 2+ miles with my dog, Cooper... sorry Coop, only short runs for you from now on!


This afternoon I ran 5 miles in just under 50 minutes- it felt so nice to be back out there for a longer run- I've been in a 3 mile slump for the past few weeks. 

Butternut Squash Butterscotch Bars

Now on to the good stuff! I think this one is a keeper.
Soon there will be lots of leftover squash dishes- this would be a perfect way to use them up. You could even use sweet potato instead.
Recipe adapted from CarrotsnCake



Ingredients

1 c butternut squash- mashed
1 c white flour (you could use whole wheat, I just didn't have any left in my house)
2 c almond meal
3 eggs- beaten
1/3 c agave
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
3 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
smidgen of salt
2 c butterscotch chips

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350 F.
Combine all ingredients except butterscotch chips in large mixing bowl- mix well. (If you are using whole wheat, you will have to use a little less than a cup so it won't be too dry)
Stir in butterscotch chips.
Pour and spread evenly into 9x13 greased baking pan.
Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean- top should begin to brown.
Allow to cool before cutting.
Enjoy!
Makes 24 bars.

And of course Coop was waiting patiently for anything that might drop on the floor.



Baked Falafel


I decided to make falafel for dinner tonight, but I didn't want to fry them. I found a recipe for baked falafel- I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but it was actually surprising good.
I just ate them on the side with some chicken, but they would be really good stuffed inside a pita with some veggies and hummus. 

 
I used the recipe from pickyeaterblog.com

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Geocache Running

Hiding

Karl really wanted to hide a cache before we started our hunt. We live right next to a park, and there were no caches that were hidden in it, so we decided that would be a great place to put ours. After someone finds the cache they can write their name and the date inside on the piece of paper and then put it back where it was. They also log it onto the geocaching website, so we will know when someone finds it.

Seeking

After we hid it we ran about a mile East- toward Lake Michigan. The first cache was somewhere on the beach, the name of it was Fit to be Tied- so we figured it had something to do with rope. After a lot of searching and thinking and searching and thinking and rereading the clues, we finally found it! This one was about the size of your thumb and was hidden between two ropes.


The next one took us a little over a mile North, and it was hidden right next to a main road. We figured out that it was hidden in a street sign, so we went around to all the street signs and searched for it. We found this one a lot quicker than the first one. It was super tiny though. The size of a fingernail. It was magnetic, so it was sticking between the post and the sign.

And of course Cooper came running with us to guard us from the evil squirrels of Chicago!


When we got home, my Garmin watch said we had gone about 3 miles. We ran the whole thing at a pretty quick pace, much faster than my average pace. Since we were stopping every mile or so it was easier to kick the speed up a notch. 

Race Bib Display

I love races. 

I love the fact that so many people get together to do something they have worked so hard to do.
I could never throw away a race bib and I wanted some special place I could put them. I wanted to be able to see them everyday and to remember what I have accomplished. 
For my birthday this year my boyfriend, Karl, gave me just that! And to make the present that much better- he made it himself! He used cherry wood and then used a dremel to carve Victory in it. There are two hooks for the top holes in the bibs and then two hooks down at the bottom to hang medals.

Seeing this everyday makes me want to sign up for more and more races. It also keeps me energized for those early morning runs... which are now in the dark and in the chilly chilly cold air- thanks to it being fall!
But weekends are nice because I can go for runs in the middle of the day! 

Geocache Running

Have you heard of geocaching? It's essentially a treasure hunt that anyone can do. People of all ages all around the world are hiding these things called caches and then they post online hints about where you can find them. If you look into your neighborhood or city, there are probably a few hidden there. 

Geocaching is Karl's new favorite thing. So this afternoon we are going to go geocache running! He has a few caches picked out a few miles away that we are going to run to and look for. 

Hopefully we can find them- some of them can be pretty tricky!

Flour-less Banana Egg Pancakes (GF and Paleo)

My all time favorite breakfast recipe!



I was introduced to Banana Egg Pancakes from Tina over at Carrots N Cake a few months ago. She was making them with only one egg and one banana- so simple, so delicious, and so easy. 
After a few weeks of making them, I decided to start adding other things to it- pureed sweet potato, pumpkin, spinach... 
I love adding spinach to anything that you are pureeing. It's pretty much flavorless, so you don't really notice a taste change, it just changes the color of your food a little. But you get all the added benefits of eating spinach without even noticing you are eating it!


Flour-less Banana Egg Pancakes

Ingredients

1 banana (on the small side is best)
1 egg
2 tbs pumpkin puree (or sweet potato)
1/4 ts pumpkin spice
1/4 c spinach
olive oil or coconut butter

Directions

Put all ingredients into magic bullet (I use my magic bullet because it's the easiest way for me to puree up the spinach. If you don't have a way to puree the spinach then just leave it out of the pancakes and mix the rest by hand).
Grease your skillet, today I used coconut butter, but olive oil works great too. These pancakes can really stick to the pan so make sure it's greased really well.
Over low heat, pour the pancake mixture onto skillet. You can make one big pancake or a few smaller ones.
Cook until golden brown- about 10 minutes on each side. Don't try to rush the process by turning up the heat, these pancakes need to slowly cook all the way through.


I like to top mine with almond butter and berries. I have huge bags of strawberries and blueberries in my freezer from Costco, so I think I know what I'll be topping mine with for the next few weeks!