Easter is Coming!

I know it was JUST St. Patrick’s Day, but next week is Easter! While Easter is absolutely THE most important holiday in the Christian faith, I’m not going to get too into that today. You’re welcome. Instead, I’m going to highlight a few of my favorite springtime crafts and treats from Easters Past.

And so, without further ado…

I like to call this one, “Ode to that one time that Carli and I weren’t married yet and she didn’t have three baby girls yet and we spent a whole weekend crafting and baking and making marshmallows…”

I also don’t have a ton of Easter decor around my house – maybe when we are a little more settled down for the long haul I can buy some of this and this – but I make due! Last year I made this wreath, and bought some cheap but sparkly Easter eggs to brighten things up.

In lieu of an Easter basket for my hubby (he doesn’t eat a lot of candy, anyway), I filled each egg with a reason I love him. Call it a grown up version, I guess!

OKAY let’s talk about food… Breakfast is my favorite, and I’ve shared some of my favorite brunch items before. But my favorite FAVORITE FAVORITE treat, in general, are scones. I don’t know why, I just love them. I love their texture. I love how well they dip into coffee. I just love those little suckers. And here are my favorites, made for Easter a few years back with my roomie: Maple Scones. Happy Easter, Jesus is Risen, INDEED.

Then let’s talk about Easter 2011. This was my first holiday with the family that would later become known as my IN-LAWS. They are amazing, and of course, I really REALLY wanted to impress. How does one impress one’s future possible in-laws? One makes this cake, that’s how!!

And then finally, for Easter 2013, at which point my now-hubster and I were engaged, so now I like really REALLY want to make sure everyone likes me, I made salted caramel brownie parfaits. I think if they weren’t sure yet that I should be marrying their son/nephew/brother/uncle, they were sure then…

Can I get an AMEN? I know that Dennis the Obese Mini-Dachshund told us all that food is NOT love, and I understand that’s very true when it comes to loving your pet-child, but I’m here to tell you that when it comes to winning over future in-laws, FOOD IS LOVE.

Weekend in Review

This was one of those weekends that managed to strike JUST the right balance of fun, productivity, and relaxation. They are rare, but OH how I love them.

Pre-weekend, I presented at a small conference on Friday here in Columbus. Lots of schools from across the state were represented, and we ended the day in a “networking” happy hour. A great start to the weekend, if you ask me.

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Friday night included a nice dinner out to celebrate the end of a crazy week, followed by TV and early bed time. Yep, I’m a dork but IT WAS AWESOME.

I got up early Saturday, knocked out a 3.5 mile run (a big deal for me), as I’m training to do a 10K in early May. The hubs and I went to breakfast, I finally used a groupon to Krema and got a ton of nut butters, and a few other miscellaneous errands. Then I did a bunch of random reorganizing and throwing away of old crafty things and home decorations. Downsize, downsize, downsize.

There might have been a nap, and then some basketball watching with friends. A healthy dinner at home, red crinkle cookies, and an Ohio State loss in basketball, but NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP in wrestling. Holla!

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Sunday brought CBS Sunday Morning, coffee, church, lunch, groceries…and since it’s basically spring, I freshened up our living room a little with some new green/grey/blue/yellow potpourri and candles. You like? What did you do this weekend?

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My Favorite Every Day Smoothie

I’ve posted about a few of my favorite protein shakes, but I really do have one go-to that’s my favorite. My base is ALWAYS frozen banana (either a half or whole one), almond milk, and protein powder. Beyond that, the options are endless. But here is my FAVORITE daily one…

And it happens to be green-ish! Just one day after St. Patrick’s. SORRY FOR THE BAD PHOTO. I was trying to get out the door!

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Ingredients:

1/2 banana

1/4 cup blueberries

1 cup spinach

2 slices of pineapple

1 serving protein powder

1 cup plain, unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)

Directions:

1. Prep first four items in advance by slicing, bagging, and freezing. I make several baggies at once.

2. Combine frozen ingredients with your favorite vanilla or chocolate protein powder plus almond milk.

All of the Green Things

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

We had a little shindig over the weekend to celebrate both an early St. Patrick’s Day and the fact that my hubster, and most of his grad school pals, completed their comprehensive exams last week. A HUGE ACCOMPLISHMENT. Now they just have ot pass all their classes, and they will be good to go!

And in the spirit of St. P’s, I attempted to make as many green-colored foods and drinks as I could. And so I give you, a few of my favorite simple foods with a green twist…

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Green Champagne

A quick tip on green champagne…We put our food color right into the bottle, BUT here’s the thing. I have Americolor food coloring, which is really made to color icings and cakes and cookies and things. It’s more of a paste than a liquid. I recommend using the good ol’ cheap grocery store stuff. The Americolor dropped into the bottle in a few clumps, and with the first pour, looked like the photo above. But by the end of the night, it was completely dark emerald green – the clump of food color had slowly dissolved with all the bubbles!! It was kind of a fun experiment, but seriously. Use the cheap, watery stuff…

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Crinkle Cake Cookies

These cookies are SO GOOD. And I love them because you can make so many varieties.

Ingredients:

1 box cake mix (I used french vanilla)
2 eggs
6 tablespoons of butter, melted
1/2 cup powdered sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together cake mix, eggs, and butter. Add food coloring (if you want! Or you can use colored cake. Or anything you want…endless options!). Form into balls and roll in powdered sugar mixture. Coat them good!! Place on baking sheet and cook for 8 minutes. YUM. Add extracts for yummy flavors, too.

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Skinny Taste Spinach and Artichoke Dip

What did we do before skinny taste? I seriously LOVE this spinach and artichoke dip. Made it exactly to recipe, and it is AMAZING. Check out the recipe!!

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Turkey and Zucchini Roll Ups

Couldn’t be easier. Use an apple peeler to make some ribbons of zucchini. Wrap a slice of zucchini, a slice of turkey, a dab of mustard, and a pinch of broccoli slaw all up together, and secure with a toothpick. Healthy! Easy! Green!!

Baked Brie has ALWAYS been my go to party recipe. I made it here and here and used brie another way here. But I haven’t switched it up much over the years. I was in the mood for a good baked brie, and thought long and hard about how to make it St. Patrick’s themed. And then I realized: Green Pepper Jelly! Delicious and green. Also, green apples and pears served for dipping (and wheat thins, but they aren’t pretty or green). I even added a little shamrock on top. OH HEY.

Baked Brie with a shamrock :)

Baked Brie with a shamrock :)

Baked Brie with Green Pepper Jelly

Baked Brie with Green Pepper Jelly

Tidy Mom’s Copycat Tagalong Bars

OH.

EM.

GE.

These are delicious. I should not make things like this and then keep them in my house. All the people: please come eat these!

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So this recipe is from the amazing Tidy Mom, and I made it exactly according to her recipe (found here), so I won’t go into details. I did omit the sea salt on the top, but I think it would have been delicious. I also only took this one photo to put on instagram, whereas Tidy Mom did a gorgeous display…

DOESN’T MATTER because they are amazing. And actually, pretty darn easy. Do not be intimidated by the different steps. Easy peasy! Enjoy!!

Graze

My friend Katy has been testing out Plated and Stitch Fix and all these cool little companies. So when I got an invite to get my first box free with Graze, I was intrigued. First of all, each box is only like, $6 anyway, so I can see myself actually paying for this now and then. Second of all, you can choose how often you want boxes and even mark preferences for what you want in them. Last… #snacks. Who doesn’t love ALL OF THE DELICIOUS SNACKS?!

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I confess, I dove into my snacks before even bothering to take a photo…OOPS! But you get the picture. Healthy little treats delivered to your door. Happy Tuesday to me, indeed!

Want to try your first box free? Here’s my referral code – JNHRRN9HP. Don’t forget, you can cancel anytime. You can get yourself one free box and then quit. Or you can just skip boxes until you feel like getting one. All in all, it makes my heart and tummy very very happy!!

If you order it, let me know what you think…I’ve already loved the 1/2 box that I’ve eaten!

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DO IT! You know your taste buds want to…

 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chili

It’s savory, I promise.

IMG_6928 My friend Jacob makes this chili regularly, and I loved it, so finally made him send me the recipe. Turns out, it is an adaptation of this Circleville Pumpkin Chili. AND IT’S AMAZING AND SO SO SAVORY. Do not let the pumpkin and the chocolate fool you…

So here we go with my adaptation of Jacob’s adaptation of the Circleville Pumpkin Chili recipe…This makes enough for really large crowd, so cut it in half if it’s just for you…

Pumpkin Chocolate Chili

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves chopped garlic
1 chopped onion
2 lbs ground turkey (any meat, of course)
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp cumin
3 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp ground paprika
1 can pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon dark cocoa powder, unsweetened
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
2 15-oz can tri-blend of beans, drained (so this is pinto, black, and kidney. but two cans of any beans will do. And of course, leave these out if you are paleo.)

Directions

1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat, then cook onion and garlic until translucent. Add meat and all spices, cooking and crumbling until meat is completely browned.

2. Add in pumpkin, cocoa powder, and tomatoes. Stir and reduce to simmer. Allow to simmer at least 20 minutes, but up to 90 will deliver the best flavor. Stir occasionally.

3. Stir in beans. Allow to simmer for 15 more minutes. Adjust seasoning, and serve.

To make in crockpot, I cooked the chili the night before without any of the simmering. I left it in the fridge overnight, and then turned it on high for an hour, and then low for the rest of the morning in the crock pot. It was ready for a potluck lunch. You could probably leave it on low or even keep warm all day if you wanted it hot when you got home from work.

This chili was a big hit at my office. Either that, or they were just being really nice. Regardless, I really loved it. It’s rich, hearty, and not as tomato-y as your normal chili. Definitely a fun way to switch it up!