• Mixed Berry Crumb Bars

    Sunday night, and I’m still in recovery mood from this weekend’s food coma. My Uncle Jimmy was on the Cape for his annual dinner where he wows us with his latest culinary skills, and has us all testing the physical … Continue reading

  • Browned Butter Salted Rice Krispie Treats

    I’ve been holding out on you. Taunting you with pictures of this on instagram but not actually getting it up on the blog for almost a month. I’ve probably made it about six or seven times in the past month … Continue reading

  • Brown Butter Cinnamon Rolls

    Sunday morning, brown butter and cinnamon buns. Now that is a combo I could get onboard with every weekend. Not to mention this weekend was filled with sunshine + good friends + good food. Another winning combo to kickoff summer. … Continue reading

  • Cape Cod Cranberry Orange Muffins

    I had every intention of writing this blog post much earlier in the day. But Mother Nature graced us with some sunshine and warm weather today. And then crazy eddie was in full pyro-mode next door tonight, so I got … Continue reading

  • Browned Butter Vanilla Bean Blondies

    That’s it. I’ve had it. I’m moving to Florida. Anyone who says they live in New England because they “love the seasons” is absolutely bananas. You can say you love summer and fall, but no one in their right mind … Continue reading

  • Brown Butter Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

    You know that part in Amazing Graze where it says “I once was lost, but now am am found, was blind, but now I see” – that is how I feel today. About brown butter. I have tasted brown butter … Continue reading

Cinnamon Spice Rice Krispie Treats

So last week, I really set the bar high with the peanut butter apple crumb bars. I had coworkers swooning and stuffing their faces with multiple bars. So I originally had plans to try to top that this week, but the pressure got to me, and I couldn’t think of a recipe that would top that without having a good chunk of time to dedicate to baking. I saw these CInnamon Spice Rice Krispie S’mores on Food52 and was going to make those, until I realized I didn’t have the right size pan to make them thin enough to turn into s’mores. And I didn’t get home until 7:30 tonight, and last night I landed at 11pm from Texas. So as you can see the excuses are just piling up. But fear not, I did still bake tonight, and my coworkers will be happily sugared up tomorrow morning. I decided to make an easier version of the cinnamon spice rice krispie treats, and then I also threw together some pumpkin chocolate chip bread as a back-up in case my coworkers didn’t love the treats. (but I mean, how could they not, right??)

Why do I care so much about making sure my coworkers are happy tomorrow? Well, they have been spoiled with weekly cookie deliveries for over the past two and a half years since I started The Salted Cookie. And tomorrow, will be the last weekly cookie delivery because it’s my last day at work. Yep, the end of an era. After over three and a half years at SapientNitro as a business analyst, project manager, business consultant, hand model, etc, etc., tomorrow is my last day before I move on to bigger and better things. I’m not going to get all sappy in this post. Maybe another day I’ll write a post about how I think quitting your job is very comparable to a breakup, and people should treat it that way because it is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. I’m bummed to leave Sapient but really excited to start my new job in a few weeks. And excited for the week and a half in between to chill out and see friends and definitely do some baking. So tomorrow is my last day at work. And I’d like my coworkers to feel happily sugared up, which I think they will with these treats.

I love rice krispie treats. They are quick and simple to pull together, and always a crowd pleaser. The cinnamon spice and browned butter combo in these is perfect for the fall, and the semi sweet chocolate ups the ante on making these a little more decadent. Maybe another time I’ll try the roasted marshmallow version of these to make them s’mores, but if you’re looking for a quick fall recipe I definitely recommend these.

Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 6 cups puffed rice cereal
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil

Step 1: Generously grease a 13×9 glass baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.

Step 2: In a pot over medium heat, brown the butter, making sure to constantly whisk so it does not burn. Lower the heat to medium, and add in the mini marshmallows, cinnamon, and nutmeg, stirring with a heat-proof spatula until the mixture is melted.

Step 3: Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the rice krispie cereal two cups at a time, folding in slowly until it is evenly coated. IMG_1893

Step 4: Evenly spread out the marshmallowy mixture in the glass baking dish and put into the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove from the freezer and cut into even squares. Return to the freezer while you melt the chocolate.IMG_1896

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Step 5: In a microwave safe bowl (because it is physically impossible for me to not burn chocolate over the stove) melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil, stopping every 30 seconds to stir. If you don’t have coconut oil, you can add a little vegetable oil at the end to thin out the chocolate. Once the chocolate it melted, dip one end of each rice krispie treats about a quarter way into the chocolate and set aside on parchment to set. Refrigerate for at least an hour before eating. IMG_1897

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The one thing I fear with not working at my current job is not having a large group of taste testers to provide their feedback on a weekly basis. Good thing I have some trusty neighbors. I brought one of these along with the chocolate chip pumpkin bread upstairs to Francesca for some taste testing tonight, so she might have to take over some responsibilities going forward. I’m sure crazy Eddie will help too. Maybe even mama the cat, since he was standing outside my bedroom window at 6am on Friday morning having a conversation with Mama the cat. Hopefully my new coworkers like cookies, and if they don’t I’ll just start shipping them out every Monday to anyone I know. Or eat them all myself, and start applying for the next episode of “my 800-pound life.” 

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So it’s late, and I’m tired and still have a few things to finish up before the final day tomorrow, so I’m going to do more of a photo recap of the past few days than lots of witty commentary. One of my favorite friends from college – Denise – lives down in Houston so about a month and a half ago, we made plans for a visit down to the Lonestar state. Denise and I became friends freshman year at Boston College on a retreat, and then became close when we were part of a notorious copy editor trio with our friend Kasia on the campus newspaper The Heights. Back in 2008 when I was traveling a lot for work, I visited Denise in Houston and arranged for Kasia to surprise Denise at the airport – and we drank cheap Andre champagne like the good ol’ days. This year I half expected Kasia to surprise us at the airport, but she was just with us in spirit this time, as Denise and I ate our way through Houston and our mini roadtrip to Austin.

This was the view arriving into Houston on Friday morning. I don’t think anyone on my plane minded me screaming CLEAR EYES, FULL HEART, CAN’T LOSE  and TEXAS FOREVER for the 15 minutes we were close to landing, as I tried to find Tim Riggins from above.

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You know Denise is a true friend, when the first thing she brings me right to in Houston is this delicious chocolate chip cookie at Tiny Boxwoods. I need to replicate this, because oh man. Just perfection.IMG_7561

My friend Jackie from work who moved to Houston last year just had a beautiful baby girl – Miss Nora – two months ago. So I was so excited to be able to spend Friday afternoon in the park with Jackie, Nora and Mr. Rocky – who loves puddles more than anyone I’ve ever met. IMG_7564Saturday morning Denise and I got up early, fueled up with Dunkin Donuts (which now they have in Texas, yeehaw) and then after a DELICIOUS BBQ lunch at Salt Lick, we ventured to Mount Bonnell to get some sweet views of Austin from high up.

This BBQ. Finger Lickin Good.
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On top of Mount Bonnell.IMG_7576

Not a bad view at all. Now I know why Tim Riggins wanted to just buy a big plot of land and live here forever and make hot little Panthers babies. 
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After an afternoon relaxing in the hotel watching some classic movies like Save the Last Dance and Double Jeopardy, we ventured down to South Congress street to get the real downtown Austin experience.IMG_7583

And while you might think that would involve TexMex … we Northern girls really like our NYC style pizza, so we went to Home Slice to grab a few slices of this delish pizza pie. Denise already perfected the instagram hand model holding food pose. IMG_7585After some live music, margaritas, and Amy’s ice cream, we were happily full and headed back to the hotel. Only to get up early the next morning to finish our food tour of Austin with a DELISH brunch at Kerby Lane right on the University of Texas campus – obviously to celebrate the Longhorn’s win. But mostly to have deep morning conversations over Steve Guttenburg and his acting career. Because that’s the kind of deep thoughts we discuss with our Boston College educations. IMG_7596And then we road tripped back to Houston so I could fly back to Boston, and we listened to lots of good music and had lots of laughs, and I just loved every bit of the entire weekend. It’s just so nice to have such good friends even though we live miles and miles apart.

Speaking of good friends, I’m going to spend my 12 days of funemployment packing in some time with friends, including a trip to NYC this Friday/Saturday to hang with my friend Jackie and then spend Saturday with my favorite brother and sister-in-law.

So now it’s really late, and I am signed up for a 6am spin class, so I need to wrap this up. Tomorrow is a big day. Saying goodbye to a lot of good peeps and ending the era of being “the cookie lady” at SapientNitro. The good thing at least, is I’ll be half a block away in the Hancock Tower at my new job, so maybe I’ll coordinate some kind of black market for Monday morning cookie dropoffs. Actually, that’s not a bad idea.

And now I’ll go back to playing Les Miserables “One day more” on repeat – because for some reason, that’s just how we roll in my family. Quoting Jean Val Jean like the badass he is. 2-4-6-0-1.

 

Peanut Butter Apple Crumble Bars

TGICD. Honestly, sometimes I think I am so caught up in my regular work routine that I think if I had a weekday off I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. Usually when we have these floating holidays at work like President’s Day and MLK Day and Columbus Day, I like to go into work on those days because there are usually a lot less meetings so you actually have time to get things done. But I decided to celebrate Nina, Pinta and the Santa Maria today by observing Columbus Day on it’s actual day. And you know what, being off the regular weekday schedule is fantastic. First, I woke up at 7:30am (that’s called sleeping in as a grown-up). I actually took the time to eat a well-balanced home-cooked breakfast FROM the kitchen table (not the normal curling iron in one hand, smoothie in another). Went to Crossfit at 11am, ran errands, got my nails did, caught up on Homeland, AND found a good use for the giant bowl of apples that was staring me down from the counter.It’s 7pm and I still haven’t put real pants on at all today. Honestly, if some sugar daddy feels so inclined to wife me up tomorrow and let me be a stay-at-home whatever, sign me up.

So, given that I had some actual time to relax today, I decided it was time for some good ol’ fashion baking experiments. Since it’s apple season, I’ve been stocking up on gala apples which are my favorite kind, but then I keep forgetting that I bring them to work for a snack and now I have this giant bowl of uneaten apples. As a kid, apples and peanut butter was my favorite snack. Not in a healthy way, mind you. But with a side of brown sugar for dipping. Oh yes. It’s delicious. I had this awesome babysitter growing up, Tina. Tina lived across the street, taught me how to color inside the lines (important life skill) and make birds nests out of grass clippings (a less important life skill, but still, valuable) and used to make apples, peanut butter and brown sugar as our snack. (This is my I love sugar so much face circa 1988). 542578_10100427432124407_499313792_n I also had this best friend in the neighborhood, Ashley, who I hung out with a lot and also had been babysat by Tina. So Ashley and I obviously became bffers because of our love for riding bikes and dipping fruit into sugar. Once in third grade her mom tried to convince me to wear her brothers boots when it was snowing and I was obviously too cool for that and I went outside in my sneakers, slipped and broke my arm. One thing I will always remember aside from knowing never to defy Ashley’s mom’s recommendation ever again, is that she was a great baker. Not in a “let me whip you up a meringue” kind of way. But she always had these simple recipes that were huge crowd pleasers – like the white trash, which is one of my favorite go-to party recipes. Anyway, I digress down memory lane. The point of time traveling back to Connecticut in the 90s is to just drop some knowledge that if you add a tablespoon (or maybe more, if no one is looking) next to your peanut butter, then dip the apple in the peanut butter, and brown sugar, and take a bite – it will blow ya friggin mind. Guaranteed. Unfortunately, kids these days are probably eating organic raw kale hummus with carrots, so they won’t be allowed this life pleasure. But the nice part of being a grown ass lady, is I can still eat this as a snack like it ain’t no thang.

So I got to thinking. How do I bake this into something that is just as delicious as my favorite childhood snack. There are plenty of apple with brown sugar and oat recipes, but the peanut butter is the key. So I just decided to wing it. And holy bananas, this is even better than the real thing. I made a peanut butter oat crumble, which half was used for the crust, then I chopped up some apples and let them get all happy in some brown sugar and cinnamon, and then topped it with the rest of that PB crumble goodness. It makes me want to put on some rollerblades and get Caitlin, Christina and Ashley (my old neighborhood posse) back together for snack time.

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Ingredients:

Crumble

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Apple Filling

  • 8 apples, sliced and evenly chopped
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a small saucepan melt the butter over a low heat. Once butter is melted, whisk in the peanut butter until it is melted, and set aside to cool.

Step 2: In a large bowl, mix together the sugars, flour, oats, baking soda and salt with a large wooden spoon. Slowly mix in the melted peanut butter and stir until the flour is all dissolved and ingredients are mixed well. Line a 13×9 glass baking dish with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray. Spread half of the crumble evenly in the bottom of the dish and put in the oven for 10 minutes while you are making the filling.IMG_1872

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Step 3: Chop the apples into about 1/2 inch cubes. In a separate bowl, coat the apples with sugar, flour, cornstarch, cinnamon and lemon juice. Fold with a spatula until the flour is all dissolved and the apples are evenly coated. IMG_1871

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Step 4: Spread the apple mixture evenly over the partially cooked crust.

Step 5: Take the remaining crumble and evenly sprinkle it over the apple layer. Bake at 375 degrees for about 40-45 minutes, or until the crust is golden. Halfway through baking, I rotate the dish in the oven to make sure everything is evenly hit with the heat. When these are done, let them cool for a few hours at room temperature, OR just dig in hot. I mean really, why not right? They smell UNREAL. I put mine in the fridge to chill for a few hours after they came out of the oven so that I could slice them tonight.IMG_1881

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Honestly. I know that I just watched Fed Up and I’m supposed to think sugar is the devil, but you HAVE to make these this fall. The apple, peanut butter and brown sugar combination is just so so so delicious and perfect. And its like angels singing, and Shaquille O’Neill in a genie costume and the Fresh Prince rapping in West Philadelphia and all of the beautiful combinations in life. That is the best way I can describe this dessert. So just trust me on this. I have come a long way since the third-grader who chose fashion over function and broke my arm (and a year later faked not being able to see because I wanted glasses that the doctors knew I was lying.) I’m not lying. Make these.

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Okay, so let’s see what’s new from this past week. Wednesday was my 7-year consulting anniversary, which is an accomplishment to have survived this many years of leveraging synergestic buzzwords and not boiling the ocean (also, 7 years in consulting is like 49 years of working in a regular industry job.) My brother sent me the new Thug Kitchen cookbook which I was really excited to get in the mail on Friday. My only disappointment when reading it, is that I didn’t think to start this blog myself and write the ghettoest and most hilarious recipes ever. Given my upbringing in southern Connecticut – aka “da hood” – straight thuggin comes naturally to me. photo 1

My bestie from home Katie came up Friday night and we did some shopping around the city on the rainy Saturday. And in true best-friend fashion, we pretended during the day that we’d be interested/have energy to go out at night, and ordered takeout at 8pm and rented a Zac Efron movie. (because really, without saying words outloud, we had agreed upon this plan well in advance.) photo 2

Sunday morning I got up early and did what all normal 29-year olds do on Sunday — I went to the casino. Because you know who loves the casino? Grandpa. And I love to continue to secure my favorite grandchild spot by surprising him every now and then, so I sat next to him at a slot machine and started talking in my most obnoxious “bahhston” accent until he realized it was me. And then we had a nice lunch together at the Italian restaurant and I show him all the pics on my iphone of what I’m doing with my life, and it’s cool that even though he lives in Connecticut, he is still very up-to-date with all my life happenings up in Boston. photo 3

And I really never thought I’d be one of “those people” who got all addicted to Crossfit … and I’m not there yet, but I will say, don’t knock it till you try it. I’m still the slowest in most of the classes I take, but I’m definitely getting a good butt-kicking workout, I’ve met some fun new friends, and I’m being physically and mentally challenged on a regular basis, which is a good thing. Though today I was pretty sure I was gonna vom that beautiful handmade breakfast all over myself mid-burpee, but I powered through. photo 4

Heading to Texas this weekend to be reunited with one of my favorite college friends Denise! I used my extreme couponing skillz and got myself a free flight to meet Denise in Houston and then we are road tripping to Austin for the weekend. Expect lots of BBQ and other eating for the insta action on Instagram this weekend, y’all! In the words of Tim Riggins, Texas Forever.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars

Last night I watched the documentary “Fed Up” which basically talks for an hour and a half about how sugar is the devil and the food conglomerates are the cause of the obesity crisis in America and how sugar kills and we’re all going to die from sugar because we eat like 10x as much a day as we should. It resonated with me. And I was all like yeah, screw food companies, I’m going to spend $100 on all organic shit at the grocery store today because sugar is the devil. Until I saw this recipe on one of my favorite blogs Sally’s Baking Addiction, and I was like forgive me sugar for I have sinned, you are not the devil. It’s TV. TV is feeding me lies about you. I love you. They said natural sugar was okay, so I’m just going to pour it all over these FRESH organic apples and then we’ll call it a day. But really, can you blame me? I mean take one look at the photos in this recipe, and even if you make nothing else this fall, make this salted caramel sauce. Because once that is in your veins, you’re a goner. Cocaine for sweet tooth. I also watched Fed Up while eating takeout chicken teriyaki and frozen yogurt, so yolo.

I was afraid if I went pumpkin for a third week in a row some of you pumpkin haters would get annoyed with me, and since they were selling apples by the bag full this morning I decided I’d take the good ol’ apple a day approach with baking today. Last year I made some Salted Caramel Apple Crumb bars which were duh-licious and since I don’t like to repeat recipes, I found a similar yet different one while browsing the world wide interweb this morning. This recipe is nice because it makes a smaller portion in an 8×8 dish so you arent sitting there peeling 44 apples until your hands are pruney and bleeding. Sally’s recipe calls for 2 large apples, but I used 4 small/medium size Gala apples and got them all nice and sliced up with my mandolin. It looks like a lot of ingredients below, but many of them are repeated in each step, this just nicely breaks out how much you need at each step in the process.

Shortbread Crust

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

Apple Filling

  • 2 large apples (or 4 small apples), peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Streusel

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed

Salted Caramel Sauce

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line an 8×8 glass baking dish with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray.

Step 2: To make the crust, mix together the melted butter, granulated sugar, vanilla extract an salt together in a bowl. Add the flour and stir until everything is combined. Press the mixture evenly into the baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes at 300 degrees while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Step 3: To make the apple pie filling, combine the apple slices, flour, granulated sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a large bowl until all of the apples are evenly coated. I used my mandolin to get even-sliced apples, but you can just use a regular knife if you’re more precise than I am. Set this aside.

Step 4: To make the streusel topping, whisk the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and flour together in a medium bowl. Cut in the chilled butter with either a pastry blender or two knives until it is coarsely blended. I am a big fan of the pasty blender for situations like this.IMG_1846

Step 5: Remove the crust from the oven, and turn the temperature up to 350 degrees. Evenly layer the apples on top of the war crust, making sure to press them down to fit tightly. Sprinkle the apple layer with the streusel and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until the topping is golden brown. IMG_1848

IMG_1849Step 6: Remove from the oven and let the bars cool to room temperature (at least 20 minutes) and then put them in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours in order to cut the bars. IMG_1852

Step 7: To make the salted caramel sauce, heat the granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, constantly stirring with a rubber spatula. Sugar clumps will start to form and eventually melt into a thick brown, amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn at this step. Once the sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter in, being careful not to get burned because the caramel will bubble rapidly when you start adding the butter in.

Step 8: At this point, switch to a whisk, and very slowly drizzle in the heavy cream while whisking constantly. Let the caramel mixture boil for 1 minute, then remove from the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Allow it to cool before using (or taste testing). You can store this caramel in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Step 9: And for the grand finale, once you cut yourself a nice apple pie bar, drizzle it with some of this salted caramel sauce and dig in. IMG_1853

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These apple pie bars can be enjoyed hot or chilled, or straight from the oven with a fork in my opinion. The salted caramel sauce is seriously the nectar of the gods. I was dipping an apple in it and later just straight up with a spoon. Judge me if you will, but try it for yourself and then tell me if you wouldn’t stick an IV drip with this sweet sweet sugar right into your veins. And because my coworkers are messier than 2-year-olds, I nicely packaged these in muffin tins for easy single-serve grab-and-go style apple pie bars for Monday morning. IMG_1860

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I’m in a little bit of a sugar coma right now. And it’s almost 10pm on Sunday. Where does the weekend go? So let’s try to quickly get through some highlights from the past week. I’m still surviving crossfit. I made a crossfit friend, which is nice and makes it easier to have someone to near puke with me while doing infinity burpees. Thursday night after crossfit where I lifted heavy things and wanted to eat my arm, I was walking through Back Bay heading to my car when I walked past this girl who was sitting on the curb not looking super great. The lady in front of me kept looking back, and finally I turned around to go check on her because something just didn’t seem right. Well the abridged version of the story, is when I got close I could smell that she took Thirsty Thursday a bit too aggressively and was too drunk to stand up (at 8pm). I finally was able to get her to stand up and lean on me, while I flagged down a non-sketchy older looking man who helped me flag down a cab for her. And then I got all Southie with the cab driver who didn’t want to take her – but she gave him her address, and we had her pre-pay the flat rate to go outside the city so that she could get home safely. It felt like one of those episodes of Dateline’s “What would you do?” And when the other guy and I were walking through the train station heading home, he asked if I thought we did the right thing. He thought we did. Who knows. And while I suspect she woke up with a pretty brutal hangover and hefty cab bill Friday morning, thankfully she was lucky that some creep didn’t find her before we did. So that’s my good deed of the week.

My favorite time of year has started up again. TENNIS season. Where I get to take out my weekly work frustrations out on soccer moms across eastern Mass. I had my first doubles match of the season yesterday, which ended in a cat fight and a tie – but a few of those “once in a lifetime” points that made the drama of the match totally worth it. I’m talking, having some biatch hit a drop shot cross court while you’re behind the baseline because she knows her grandma knees wouldn’t be able to sprint to it. But that’s the benefit of being a “young gun.” If I see you hit a sassy shot like that, I will sprint like there’s no tomorrow and return that shot for the win. God, I love competition. And then at the end of the match, I offer up my homemade pumpkin cinnamon sugar donuts that has the competition saying “is there anything she can’t do?” Nope. There is not. I’ll overhead smash a ball to your face and then crush the competition on the snack table. (which some may say is NOT a competition …)

Anyways, I may have taken the match yesterday a little too aggressively, and there was no chance I was moving last night between tennis and the pouring rain. I made a really solid purchase last week that I’ve been eyeing for a while – the ice cream maker attachment for my kitchenaid mixer. So I put some coconut greek yogurt, fresh raspberries, devil sugar in the mixer and folded in some chopped dark chocolate chunks and oh baby baby, hit me one more time. SO good. I bought some fresh mint this morning to try out a mint chocolate fro-yo recipe later this week. And of course I guiltily ate my homemade fro-yo watching Fed Up last night. Because I’m a grown ass lady and I do what I want. Like going to bed at 9:30 on a Saturday. But that meant I was up and at ‘em early today. Hit up the grocery store early, went for a power walk with my friend Heather because the weather was friggin gorgeous, and made this maple butternut squash soup in the slow cooker. photo 3

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Speaking of sugar rush, Colleen and I went to Stephi’s in Southie for dinner Friday night. And just look at this hot chocolate cake that was just perfection.photo 1

And then I went to the Assembly Row movie theater which is my new favorite because there is ASSIGNED SEATING and huge comfy chairs, which means you don’t have to get there half an hour early to get a decent seat. My anxiety appreciates that. I met Colleen and Allie at the movies to see Gone Girl. First, the book is AMAZING. I read it last year on vacation and was so hooked I read it in less than two days. Second, the movie has two scenes that are bloody. Like BLOOODDY MURDER kind of bloody. Thankfully I anticipated this and covered my ears and closed my eyes until Colleen let me know I could look again. I did not want to start blacking out like the time I watched Twilight in the movie theater and Bella is giving birth to a vampire baby who is ripping her insides apart so Edward eats her stomach open and it’s like the most unnecessarily bloody scene and I spent the rest of that movie with my head between my knees and half my clothes stripped off in the theater.

So that’s it. Next week is a long weekend, so expect some good baking recipes because I’ll have no excuse not to try out a few things with the long weekend. Happy almost Monday. Make good choices.

 

Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Donuts

I know, it’s Tuesday not Sunday. But let’s get one thing straight here before you guilt trip me on being late with this post. My coworkers got their sugar-fix on-time Monday morning with these fresh Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Donuts, EVEN though I landed at Logan airport at 9:15 pm Sunday night. Luckily, I have a post-vacation complex where I really need to unpack everything and do a load of laundry before I can go to bed, no matter how late I get in. So I used that time to whip up these super easy and OH MAHH GAWDD delicious pumpkin donuts. It’s like you took the month of October and just shoved it right into this delicious friggin donut that had my coworkers on Monday giving me a standing ovation. And the crowd goes wild <insert cheering sounds>. So maybe not that dramatic of a reaction, but these were a huge hit.

So if you don’t follow my super exciting life (of going on vacation with my parents) on instagram, let me drop some knowledge on you right now about how you can go to Disney World at any age and have an amazing time, if you’re with the right people. We’ve been taking family vacations to Disney World since I was two years old. And since today I am exactly 29 and a half years old (but who’se counting?) that’s a lot of Disney vacations under my belt. So for my parent’s 34th wedding anniversary which was on Sunday, my brother, sister, sister-in-law and parents all flew down from NYC and Boston and spent a really fun four-days in the happiest place on earth. If you haven’t been to Disney lately, it’s gone digital and it’s amazing. I’ll tell you more about this later in the post. But needless to say, I came back Sunday in a pretty good mood so thought I’d share some of that magic with my coworkers Monday morning.

King Arthur Flour is one of my favorite sources for unique baking ingredients. Specifically, their Vietnamese Cinnamon is life changing. I’m thinking a trip up to their store in Vermont is probably in my future soon. So I was on the plane Sunday night as we were taxiing to the gate, and looked up pumpkin recipes on the King Arthur site and came across this recipe for Pumpkin Doughnuts. I actually am not a big donut person. But I do like the baked donut trays I got this summer, because the whole concept of a fluffy baked donut that doesn’t involve a fried mess is definitely something I’m all about right now. So I made these hot donuts. And then took the hot donuts and shook them up in a bag of cinnamon sugar, and then I took these hot cinnamony sugar pumpkin donuts and I brought them to work and I blew people’s minds. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon plus a heaping 1/4 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and ground ginger)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon Cinnamon combined in a zip-loc bag

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. You can make these either in a bowl with a wooden spoon or using your mixer. I used stirring this as my workout of the day.

Step 2: Mix the vegetable oil, eggs, sugar, and pumpkin puree together until mixed well. Sift together the pumpkin pie spice, salt, baking powder and flour, and mix together using a wooden spoon or beat on a low speed in your mixer until well incorporated.

Step 3: Lightly grease the donut trays with non-stick spray. I have a regular-size tray and a mini-donut tray. Fill the tray up about 3/4 of the way, a little more for the mini donuts. Because I predicted making a giant mess, I ended up filling an icing bag with the batter and using that to evenly distribute in the donut trays without getting it all over the place. Winning. IMG_1821

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Step 4: Bake at 350 degrees for about 12-14 minutes. The mini donuts took closer to 12 minutes, and the regular-size donuts took closer to 14/15. When you press the donut with your hand, if it is firm and not sticky, then it’s done. Leave the donuts in the tray for about 2 minutes to set before removing them and putting them on the cooling rack. IMG_1825

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Step 5: Mix 1 cup of granulated sugar with 1 tablespoon (or a little more) of cinnamon in a zip-loc bag. When the donuts are still hot (important) toss them in the sugar and slam it to the left, shake it to the right, spice up your life. No? Anybody? Alright. Then let them sit on the cooling rack. IMG_1827

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Like if a pumpkin went to heaven and became a pumpkin angel and you could eat it, that’s what these hot donuts taste like. They were really good the next morning chilled, but I’m telling you – it would be perfectly acceptable and understandable to binge eat and entire dozen out of these fresh out of the oven.

Oh and you know what these go perfectly with? My new Emily McDowell hilarious “It’s too early for you to say things” mug. I bought 3 of her mugs the other day, and gave both my mom and friend Allie the “everything will be okay” mug which I also love. IMG_1842

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So yes. My coworkers were happy on Monday morning to say the least. So now it’s 10pm. I’m tired and I really just want to watch Scandal (YESSSSSSSSS)  and I can’t move post-crossfit tonight, so I will give you all the updates you need on my awesome Disney vacation in pictures with little hilarious captions that will make you feel like you were there for a super fun Shaw Family Vacation.

So first, I’ve been going to Disney World since 1987 when my dad won a trip from his job – United Technologies. Since then, we’ve been totally hooked as a Disney family. We always went at least once a year for our big trip. And if there’s one thing I’ve inherited from my dad, it’s the planning gene. Skip always makes a color-coded Excel itinerary of our Disney trip – with morning, breakfast, lunch, afternoon, evening, dinner, all planned out (180 days in advance), park hours, and any other special considerations like extended hours or firework shows. Only in the 90s, I rocked my printed out itinerary in my sweet ninja turtles fanny pack. But now everything is digital and you have apps on your phone and a magic wristband which is just awesome. Honestly, just go to Disney and check it out for yourself. So here’s some vacation highlights:

SO these crazy kids have been married for 34 years. Hooray! So to celebrate, we super loving children let them take us on vacation again. (I know, we’re too nice).

photo 4We hit up the Magic Kingdom (my favorite park) right when we landed Thursday afternoon and had time to go back on Sunday morning. Normally I’m not a big Splash Mountain fan, but when you hit that Florida heat and humidity, getting soaking wet sounds really refreshing. This is a post big-drop selfie with my brother (left) and sister (right). Happy kids reunited in Disney!

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Now, the Tower of Terror was a different story. Without going into too much detail (because I don’t want to relive it) I had to work on Saturday morning to launch a new release of the website I help manage for my client. Which meant being on the phone at 5:45 am which should have only been for 90 minutes, but it turned into a 4 hour phone call that then turned into txts, and emails, and phone calls lasting until 3:30 pm. So needless to say my reaction to Tower of Terror was a combination of being slightly terrified of the ride, and also as an excuse to scream out some work frustration. My siblings are big fans of planning what we’re going to do in the ride photos. Sometimes we point to people, or thumbs up, or do other wacky things (we’re super mature, still) but Danny, me, Kristen and Skip are all in the front row – with our true personalities showing nicely. photo 2

And a nice picture of the three Shaw sisters, Kristen, me and our lovely sister-in-law Ann Taylor. (Roll Tide)

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We also stayed in a super awesome hotel – the Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary. We had this three-bedroom, four bathroom bi-level hotel room which was great because we all had our own space. BUT the best part was the VIEW of these Magic Kingdom fireworks. This picture is my favorite, even though it only took me about 80 photos to get one good one. I like the look of fireworks. but since age 3 I have required someone to cover my ears when fireworks are going off. but at almost 30, I have to cover my own ears which makes taking a picture at the same time kind of challenging.photo 3And finally, my favorite full-family photo from our day at EPCOT. Such an awesome, magical trip.DSC_0033So that’s it. I think I’m too hashtag tired to watch Scandal tonight, but at least I got this post done so I can fully focus on getting my Olivia Pope on tomorrow night. Oh, and good news (if you’re still reading) I got poked 92 times last week for allergy tests which came back as “you’re allergic to water” which I said was bananas, but it turns out my skin is too sensitive for allergy testing (you think they would test you for that with one prick first), SO I’m not fully converted to full-time gluten-free baking, although I am still going to be testing new GF recipes for my gluten-free mama. So there ya go. Prepare yourself for all things apple, because October is here and that my friends means apple everything.

Happy October! And happy half birthday to me (thank you, thank you). Hopefully in 6 months I’ll be able to accept 30 like a mature grown up. Not likely, but wishful thinking.

Chunkin Punkins

I know what you’re thinking. Chunkin Punkins? Have you gone completely bananas? You never give cutesy names to your cookies. I know, I know. Trust me I know. I think I was going a little bit cray cray today (okay, maybe the past few weeks) and when I was baking today I had the canned pumpkin out next to a bag of chocolate chunks, and I made a “chunkin punkin” joke (to myself) and obviously cracked myself up, and no one was around to tell me I am bananas, so it stuck. Also it sounded better than “Non-Gluten-Free Browned Butter Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies.” Plus I’m a grown ass lady and I can do what I want. Actually, I just saw that on a greeting card.

So I’ve been looking for baking inspiration over the past week. But I’m so deep into this work project, that I’m surprised I manage to get up every day and put pants on. Luckily, I have some fab coworkers who are always there to give me baking inspiration … or try to jedi-mind-trick me into making something they want. Friday afternoon, my coworker Alex told me “I think it’s time to put the cookie back in Cookie Monday.” He makes a good point. I’ve been lazily bringing muffins, crumb cake, and bars on Mondays, but what’s cookie Monday without cookies? And for any of you who are new to this blog, Cookie Monday is when I bring cookies every single Monday morning (yes, every. single. Monday.) to my lovely coworkers so that they eat everything and I don’t end up starring in the episode of “My 800-lb life” where they have to cut me out of my bathroom and load me up on a tractor trailer. I have a highly coveted “cookie distribution list” which is basically just an email I send out alerting the VIPs that the cookies are on my desk with a recipe, but it is blind carbon copied (bcc’d) so that no one knows who is on the list. Some important frequently asked questions I must answer before we move on:

1. Q: How do I get on the cookie list?

A: One does not simply just “get” on the cookie list. If you’re staffed on one of my projects, you’re automatically on the list (for the duration of the project). Or if you are on my good side. Or if you hired me. Or the head of HR. Automatically on the list.

2. Q: Do you really take people off the cookie list?

A. Abso-freakin-lutely. Get on my bad side? See ya never Monday cookie email. Yell at me on a conference call? Buh-bye sugary Monday pick-me-up. Try to talk to me before 8am without free coffee in hand? Try that at your own risk.

So anyways, I think I’ve at least proven over the past few paragraphs that I have gone pretty bananas – but at least it’s entertaining. So back to the Chunkin Punkins. I know I’ve been getting all hipster gluten-free on you lately, so I went back to full-gluten bleached all-purpose flour for these cookies. With Browned Butter. Pulling out all the stops for a real cookie Monday. I browsed the interweb this morning looking at a whole bunch of different pumpkin cookies, but decided just to wing it and make my own recipe up. I’ve been missing the smell of browned butter in my kitchen lately so I needed to work that in as well. So I got out some oats, pumpkin, chocolate chunks and browned butter, closed my eyes and mixed it all up, put it in the oven, and 13 minutes later these bad boys were born.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks

Step 1: Brown the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Set aside to cool.

Step 2: In a mixer, combine the butter and sugars. Add in the egg, vanilla extract, canned pumpkin and mix well.

Step 3: In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and oats. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet batter and mix on a low  to medium speed until incorporated. IMG_1801

Step 4: Add in the chocolate chunks and mix just until evenly-distributed. Chill the dough for about 30 minutes. This is an important step for browned butter or melted butter recipes. It will help the cookies maintain a better cookie shape. (I just made that up). Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.IMG_1803

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Step 5: On a sil-pat or parchment-lined baking sheet, use a medium cookie scoop to place even-size balls of dough on the cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for about 11-13 minutes. Let the cookies set on the baking sheet for a few minutes when you take them out of the oven before transferring them to a cooling rack.IMG_1807

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Probably inappropriate, but a benefit of living alone is I could react like Chunk from The Goonies after trying these. You know, lifting my shirt up and slapping my gut. Again, I ask you — why will no one date me? But for real, these cookies turned out pretty legit. And since summer’s over, my pumpkin game is on. They are not crisp like my regular browned butter cookies, but a little softer and chewy which is a nice consistency with the crunchy oats and chocolate chunks. High five to myself.

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Okay, so now that I’ve got you all laughing and in a good mood, I’m going to break some less than pleasant news to some of you all-purpose flour lovers. I think this might be the last gluten-filled recipe you see from me for a while. Well, until I can figure out exactly what is going on with my stomach. But after being gluten (and booze) free for almost a month, eating some of that stuff this weekend – including one of these delicious cookies :( – resulted in some wicked headaches and less than stellar stomach feelings. So while the allergy doctor figures this shiznizzle out, I’m going to try my baking skillz at some gluten-free experimenting. But I think as I proved with last week’s pumpkin gluten-free cranberry muffins, I can make this shit taste good. Real good. So good you will take your flour-baby from home economics and drop that gluten-filled sack right in the trash.

Every time I call my Grandpa (meaning, every day) he always says the same thing on repeat: “So what else is new? What else is new?” So I’m trying to think … what is new this week. More work travel. I’ve regained my ability to pack like an absolute b-o-s-s in my carry-on. I’ve become addicted to Starbucks black iced-tea. I did not eat alone in my rental car this week, so that was good. I actually drove into Chicago Tuesday night (because I work out in the burbs) to meet one of my college friends for dinner, which was a nice reunion. And I am trying to find new interesting plane window instagram shots. This one, not the best quality because JetBlue had that light blinking at the end of the wing that was messing up my lighting (geeze, pilots. Can’t a girl get a good instagram up in the air?) But I was happy to say “see ya nevah” to this view of Chicago last Thursday. photo 1My next trip in an airplane is only a few days away though. But at least Thursday morning I’m flying to …. wait for it … wait for it … DISNEY WORLD. YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH. And that’s all I have to say about that.

After crazy work weeks, the only thing I want to do on the weekends is NOT be on a schedule. So I caught up on my trashy TV Friday night (The Mindy Project and Teen Mom 2, of course) and after spinning Saturday morning went to my favorite spa in Newton for a much needed facial to fix my skin from flying. And then the most perfect afternoon ended up being spent eating Georgetown Cupcakes on a park bench in Boston Common with my friend Ania, talking life and watching people get all of their wedding photos done. We also got 2 free red-velet Cupcakes for some new tv show giveaway or something. (All that registered were the words “free cupcake.”) If I can recreate the Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Fudge Cupcake that I had yesterday, I think my gluten-free mama will officially declare me favorite child forever. (not that we all don’t already know I am.)photo 3

And in the home improvement department, I took my extreme couponing skills to HomeGoods yesterday and scored this perfect mirror for my vanity for $20. Yeah buddy. And then in my very handy DIY moment, I converted the framed shell art into a necklace holder since my mom so nicely detangled all of my necklaces one morning a few weekends ago. The lamp is from target, and so is the ottoman and I just love it all. photo 4

photo 5And with that, it’s time for me to continue combatting my Sunday scaries (which are no bueno today) with a Sex and the City marathon. But I will leave you with this hilarious sign I found on Instagram this week, that made me literally laugh out loud (LLOL) walking down the street yesterday. Ah hipster jokes, they never get old. photo 2

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

I feel like I need one of those cheerleading horns where you scream things into them to get people really excited. I need one to tell all my gluten-free friends that I made these muffins and they taste amazing. Like so good, you actually want to lick the batter from the bowl and when you bite into one and the cranberry and pumpkin flavors are quite literally bursting with every bite, you don’t even miss the gluten. I mean it. It tastes like a normal muffin, but maybe even better.

Trust me, I am well aware that a lot of gluten-free substitutes taste like absolute poo. Sometimes when my mom orders something at a restaurant and it looks too good to be gluten-free she has me do a taste test before she eats it, and based on the fact my face looks like someone just farted in front it, that’s the universal sign for “you’re clear, this is gluten-free.” I have been doing a lot of reading up lately on different gluten-free recipes and I’m on a mission to find ways to make all of my favorite baked goods gluten-free BUT still taste really good. Also, hopefully without costing me $80 to make a batch of cookies. That second part I’m still working on. Gluten-free flour comes in tiny boxes and is expensive. And I finally caved and paid $12 for a bag of Xanthan gum yesterday because so many of the muffins/bread/cookie recipes that are GF call for about a half teaspoon of it. Luckily, you only need about 1/2 a teaspoon of Xanthan gum for every 1 cup of gluten-free flour in your recipe, so that bag will hopefully last me for a while.

Anyway, after eating gluten-free for the past few weeks, I decided to do some more GF experimenting in the kitchen this afternoon. And if you’re in Boston today, we went to sleep with summer weather and woke up in fall. It is one of those perfect fall weather days today like you see in the movies. So I donned my best hipster outfit and headed to the SOWA market with my friend Amanda for some outdoor market and food truck activities. Pictures from that are at the end of this post. But seeing all the fresh fruit and autumn veggies had me in the mood for something pumpkin. This weekend was also the Cranberry Harvest Festival down in Harwich which I didn’t go to, but used to love going every year as a kid. So I figured I’d try to make a pumpkin muffin with some cranberries and see what happened. Well it happened. And dayyyum. They are delicious. And honestly, not too hard (or crazy costly) to make.

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups gluten-free flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon xantan gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup cranberries, fresh or thawed

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 24 muffin tins with paper liners and spray them with non-stick spray. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, molasses, vanilla extract and pumpkin puree until combined, and set aside.IMG_1781

Step 2: In your mixer, beat the flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt and pumpkin pie spice lightly until mixed well. Add in the softened butter and mix on medium to low speed until it is crumbly.

Step 3: Add in the wet pumpkin mixture about a half cup at a time. Normally, I’m all about dumping it all in, but I do think with this baking it’s a better approach to add in a little wet mixture and beat on a low speed and continue to incorporate it that way. Once it is all incorporated beat on a medium to high speed for at least a minute. IMG_1782

Step 4: Fold in the cranberries until evenly incorporated. Using a large cookie-scoop, place even-size scoops of muffin batter into the greased muffin tins. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. (My bottom tray took an extra 3 minutes). You can also fill the tins pretty full because unlike regular muffins which seem to rise a lot and spill over, these don’t rise up that much.

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Let these cool in the tins for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack. I think these would be great topped with a nice light cream cheese glaze. I attempted a cinnamon sugar melted butter topping on two of them until I decided they actually tasted just great plain. Adding the topping would make it messy to bring to work tomorrow, so just leaving them as is. I’m not pulling your leg when I tell you these taste just as good as my regular gluten-filled pumpkin muffins. We’ll let my coworkers be the final judges tomorrow, since brutal honesty is their specialty.

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So I’m getting used to this view again. photo 2It’s not that bad, considering my first consulting job I got on a plane twice a week every single week. Right now my travel is more spread out, but in a 5 week period I have 4 roundtrip flights for work and vacation, so lots of time up in the air. Last week I had a debacle with JetBlue and my flight on September 11th, which I was already anxious about flying that day. They meant to cancel the Wednesday night 6:30pm flight when it was so delayed, but someone fat fingered it in the back-end and cancelled my Thursday night 6:30 flight. So I was up working at 10:30 at night and got an email that said “Your flight has been moved up 495 minutes.” Uh, jigga whaaa? So after a long convo with the travel agency on the phone, I let my clients know I had to be on a 10:15am flight out because they couldn’t get me on another flight Thursday. And then I woke up at 5am to check my email and another email “Your flight has been moved back 495 minutes.” So I spent an hour on the phone at 5am with the travel agency and then Jetblue. Just a mess. But I made it home in one piece, but needless to say I was in much need of my own bed and some serious relaxation this weekend.

Speaking of my bed, I was super excited to have the rest of my Pottery Barn furniture arrive on Saturday afternoon. After repainting the room last weekend, it was looking a bit empty but look how perfect the new furniture fits into the room. photo 3I’m in the market for a nice mirror to go over the vanity but haven’t found anything (reasonably priced) that I like yet. And I am really trying to work on this whole patience thing that apparently comes more naturally for other people. But this afternoon I did snag two really nice photos for the wall next to my bed from Fiber and Water at the SOWA market. I got these two prints framed for $65 and hung them up this afternoon, and they are just perfect. photo 5I also finally tried the BonMe food truck for lunch, which sometimes sits outside of my office at work. They have gluten-free options, so I tried this rice noodle bowl with chicken, which was spicy and delicious. It took some serious will-power to not stop at the Cookie Monster truck. Walking around the open market, there were lots of people selling their own baked goods. I’m thinking The Salted Cookie needs a tent there next year. Right?? photo 4Last night Colleen came over and it was cruddy weather so we decided to stay in and make dinner and watch the movie Ted (so funny). I learned everything I know about risotto making from my Uncle Jimmy, and decided to put a spin on my normal porcini mushroom risotto. So instead of mushrooms I boiled some buternut squash and fried up some bacon, and made butternut squash and bacon risotto and topped it with some fried sage leaves. Oh yes. So good.

Oh. And I joined Crossfit this weekend. I know, I see your raised eyebrow of judgement but don’t worry. I’m not a full-blown paleo weight lifting koolaid drinking crossfit junkie (….yet). But the trainers I met during my on-ramp program were so nice and I’m always looking for new ways to switch up my workouts, so yolo. Don’t worry though, I’m not giving up my processed sugar and jumping in the paleo train. Sugar fuels me. Well, sugar, Diet Coke and sarcasm.

So that’s it. I’m trying to fight off the Sunday scaries with a TV marathon this afternoon. I’m headed back to Chicago bright and early Tuesday morning for another round of website testing. Make sure you follow @thesaltedcookie on instagram, so you can keep a pulse on my daily exciting adventures — like spending my per diem on FroYo and eating chips + salsa at the airport Chili’s for dinner. If you only follow this blog, you wouldn’t even know what I had for dinner on Tuesday! (I had this for dinner on Tuesday, which actually was delicious). But get on instagram and follow my daily adventures with hashtags.photo 1

Happy Sunday.

 

Flourless Peanut Butter Oatmeal M&M Cookies

Sunday night, and I am pooped. Mama Shaw was in town this weekend and we had a jam-packed weekend of house projects. Of course, all of these and more are documented at the end of this post. So after I dropped Mom off at the train back to ghetto Connecticut tonight, I came home and needed to figure out what I was baking this week. I needed something simple. After painting for 4 hours in 90 degree 100% humidity yesterday and using power tools before 8am today, simple was the only thing I could handle. And in honor of my favorite mama, gluten-free of course. I like going out to eat with my mom because I feel like I am her gluten-free body guard. I make sure the hostess gives us a gluten-free menu or explains where we can find the GF options. And if a waiter doesn’t seem to get it, I get a little sassy to make sure they know I will lay a smack down if they eff up her order. (like the time I walked out of a restaurant this summer when the waitress messed things up.) She’s not trying to be trendy jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon. She’s one of the original celiacs diagnosed 10 years ago before there were aisles of gluten free food, and when one waitress in Florida brought us a “glue-free menu” that she checked herself and didn’t have any glue on it. (we left that restaurant).

Anyways, Boston is a very gluten-free friendly city, so it’s great when Mom comes to visit because we can eat at a lot of restaurants and have many options. We have a Foodie’s market in Southie which has tons of gluten-free options for grocery shopping. The Cheesecake Factory is by far the best in terms of having more options than you can imagine. But we also had great dinners at Joe’s American Bar + Grill on Newbury Street and Rosa Mexicano in the Seaport. Our waiter at Joe’s tonight (who I think I scared a bit) told us his “bestie” was gluten free so he knew the drill. I’ve been trying to figure out some stomach issues of my own lately, and tried a gluten elimination diet last week which left me feeling a lot better than usual, so I’m going to try to stay with the gluten-free eating for a bit until I can go back to my doctor – which of course means tonight’s cookies were going to need to be gluten-free and delicious. Two words which used to not go hand-in-hand, but I’m on a mission to start making more gluten-free treats that aren’t crazy hard but still taste good.

I found these Flourless Peanut Butter Oatmeal cookies on one of my favorite blogs Sally’s Baking Addiction and decided to add my own twist with mini M&Ms. I’ve also been on this make-my-own-peanut butter kick for the past few weeks which came in handy for this recipe. Taking a jar of honey roasted peanuts and letting them get all nice in the food processor is so easy and SO delicious. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it. It will save you the trip to Whole Foods for their fresh PB. I made the peanut butter earlier this afternoon and left it in the fridge to chill, since it does get a bit warm. I picked up these mini M&Ms in Target this afternoon so substituted them instead of chocolate chips. These are so easy you don’t need a mixer if you don’t feel like lugging it out. I’ll definitely be making different variations of these soon.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 6 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup mini M&Ms
  • 2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, beat the egg first. Then add in the peanut butter and light brown sugar and mix well. I used homemade honey roasted peanut butter, but store bought works well too. If using natural peanut butter just make sure to stir it really well before adding it, or it will be too oily.

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Step 2: In a separate bowl mix the oats, cinnamon and baking soda, and then add to the wet mixture. Use some elbow grease to really mix well. (I used up all my elbow grease this weekend so used my mixer. yolo.)

Step 3: Add in the mini M&Ms and mix just until they are incorporated. Chill the dough for about 30 minutes. This step is important to help the dough stick together.

IMG_1766Step 4: Using a medium-size cookie scoop, place even-size balls of dough on a parchment or sil-pat-lined baking sheet. You will need to roll these in your hand first to make sure they stick together. If they are too oily you can pat them lightly with a paper towel. Bake at 350 degrees for about 9 minutes. They will seem a little undercooked but let them sit on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

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You know what? Not too bad. They aren’t quite as sugary as normal oatmeal cookies I make, but the peanut butter and chocolate combo is still sweet and these definitely taste like a treat. And not a piece of moldy styrofoam like some gluten-free cookies do. So I’m going to need to get myself on Pinterest and start figuring out different gluten-free cookie bases, the same way I have memorized a good regular oatmeal base, peanut butter base, and chocolate chip cookie base. One I nail a few good gluten-free cookie bases I’ll start dominating the baking scene with my salted cookie spin. Like Superman for Celiacs. To infinity and beyond! Or Buzz Gluten-Free Lightyear. Oh man, I am tired.

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So let’s get right to the good stuff. Last week Mom and I planned out our schedule for this weekend (OCD project planning much?) So we got up bright and early Saturday morning and got to work. I used my extreme couponing skills last weekend to order the rest of my bedroom set from Pottery Barn, which arrives next weekend. So I needed to sell my current bedroom set and paint the bedroom this weekend, so that it will be all ready for the new furniture to fit in. I’ve had my bedroom set since I was like 8 years old. It’s why I am a firm believer in buying really good quality furniture instead of cheap stuff that will fall apart in a few years. When I was moving out of my last apartment I sold a 25-year old rocking chair for $100 that I told the guy was 5 years old, since it was in such good shape. My current bedroom set was literally 21 years old, and because my parents were smart and got glass toppers for all of the pieces, they were all in almost perfect condition still. So some lucky Craigslisters bought my furniture, and then we decided to open the windows and paint the room in the 90 degree heat and 100% humidity. Holy sweat. My WOD was about 100 trips up and down the ladder, and painting all the trim up near the ceiling. (I started crossfit last week, btu that’s a story for another post). I also painted 6 color swatches on the wall last week, and we were undecided between 3 and said we would decide before we went to Home Depot. But it wasn’t until we were pulling into the Home Depot parking lot that we realized we never picked a color. Luckily, I had some of the paint SKUs written down on a post-it in my purse and we finally went with the color Zen by Behr, and it is PERFECT. Check out these before and afters.

BEFORE:

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We also put our collective extreme couponing skills to good use during a Labor Day sale last week and got all brand-new blinds from JCPenney. We went with nice wooden blinds for the guest room and family room to block out any view of Crazy Eddie. And then in my bedroom in the front of the house, these blackout shades that also pull down to let tons of light in during the day. I was using a power drill before 8am today. WHO AM I? And only broke off one drill bit into the top of a window frame.

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I painted the ghetto alley door that separates my house and Crazy Eddie’s and then mom painted the kickboards on our front porch. IMG_7230

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We scored some good deals at Home Goods and Target today, so I just need to find a mirror for my bedroom over the new vanity and then I’ll be all set. I’m going to take my time to find some good wall art for my bedroom. The wall color is just so calming and zen (fitting) that I want to not do my usual crazy hang up as much stuff as possible, and take my time with it.

Aside from house projects, the highlight of last week was getting this book in the mail from one of my favorite blogs How Sweet Eats. I love her sense of humor and all of the recipes look, well, seriously delish! This is the ultimate goal  for one day. Salted Cookie cookbook anyone?
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So that’s it. I’m glad I’m overly exhausted today because then I don’t even have enough energy to deal with the Sunday Scaries. The next 3 weeks at work are going to be shitcraycray bananas to put it nicely. I also have 6 flights in the next 3 weeks. Heading out to lovely Northbrook, Illinois the next two weeks back to back for the crazy part of a project – testing testing and more testing. And then we launch the next big release for the website I currently manage. Oh, and of course the launch date is when I am on vacation in Disney World with my family. Ah, the joys of Corporate America. Luckily I’ve been preparing for this since I was just a wee young’n in my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fanny pack walking around the Magic Kingdom, while Skip was taking conference calls from a pay-phone outside of Splash Mountain. (my favorite consulting story to tell). So now I’ll be in a hotel room in Disney, 20 years later, drinking the consulting koolaid, launching a website at 1am on vacation. Some things never change.

And you thought I was kidding about that fanny pack didn’t you?photo (1)

 

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