Chocolate-Dipped Gingersnaps


Well, that nice weather we had a week ago was nice while it lasted but as soon as it left, the cold weather brought me a nasty cold of my own. I have a Kleenex box on my right and a pile of used Kleenex’s on my left. This weekend has been spent either working or just trying to survive and get better before another work week rolls around all too quickly. We can’t win them all, right?

But you know what I do have that has been making this bout of sickness a little bit better? My husband, yes, who has graciously been stocking me up with more Kleenex’s and helping out however he can (bless him), but also these amazing Chocolate-Dipped Gingersnaps!


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Spiral Cinnamon Apple Bread with Caramel Glaze


Ever wonder what a dietitian does on her day off? Personally, speaking for myself only here, she spends almost the entire day in the kitchen balancing between making healthy apple carrot cinnamon muffins (which are just as much delicious as they are healthy) and this over-the-top dessert bread: Spiral Cinnamon Apple Bread with Caramel Glaze. I mean, how can you not look at that beaut and not want some of it?

This weekend Philip and I had a completely free weekend. No work. No being on-call. No home projects to complete. And we intentionally didn’t plan any activities. It was so perfect in every way. Just imagine: Windows open, candle burning, music playing, and me dancing about the kitchen, swiftly moving from one thing to the next as our kitchen begins to smell as good as the candle burning.


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Apple Carrot Cinnamon Muffins


Welcome to another work week, friends! I hope you had a lovely weekend! Even with the chillier temps, Philip and I had a fun weekend away in Illinois. We drove down on Friday to spend time with his parents. It was so nice to have no agenda and to just be able to connect and enjoy each other’s company. And yes, I absolutely love my in-laws. In fact, I’m pretty sure this trip was instigated by yours truly. :)

Since I lived in Peoria for a year during my dietetic internship, there’s always a good chance I’ll be able to connect with a friend or two. This time, I felt like I hit jackpot; I spent the morning chatting away with a friend at a coffee shop and in the afternoon headed over to another friend’s house to meet up with another couple of friends while their kiddos played together. Lots of reconnecting and catching up was happening on this trip! I absolutely loved it. Laughter and time with friends is so good for the soul, isn’t it? And I’m a horrible blogger because no pictures were taken during the entire trip. *sigh*

For lack of a better transition, let’s just jump right in and talk about today’s recipe that I’m this excited for! Apple Carrot Cinnamon Muffins — while it sounds slightly too “healthy” to be good, these are, perhaps surprisingly, delicious and flavorful. When I made them a couple weeks ago, they were just as perfect as a dessert after dinner as they were for an afternoon snack or breakfast-on-the-go. So versatile!


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The Best Chewy Gingersnaps Yet

The Best Chewy Gingersnaps Yet

The holiday season is officially in full force! Can you believe that Christmas is now less than 3 weeks away?! Somehow it’s already the second week of December and I can sense the flurry of activity going on in the stores as the holiday quickly approaches. Flour and sugar are left empty on the grocery store shelves and everybody is pulling out their yearly, favorite cookie recipes. What are your favorite holiday cookies and desserts? 


For me, I grew up on soft sugar cookies with icing dripping down the sides. Nothing pretty or perfect about them, but somehow they seemed to melt in my mouth with every bite. My mouth is watering just thinking about them.

You know what else makes my mouth water, though? These chewy gingersnap cookies…The Best Chewy Gingersnaps Yet, for that matter. :) I feel like all things ginger and gingerbread are the forgotten flavor around the holidays. Sure, peppermint normally gets all the attention, but I have a soft spot for the warmth and richness of gingersnaps. Every time I make up a batch of gingersnaps, it has me thinking of my aunt who doesn’t leave the flavor of ginger just to the holidays — she makes gingersnaps all year round. Can you see already why I love her so much?! When I lived close to my aunt and uncle during college, it was a safe bet there’d be a container of freshly made gingersnaps on her counter when I came for a visit.


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Cherry-Apple Strudel with Cider Glaze

Cherry-Apple Strudel with Cider Glaze

Welcome to another work week, friends! After a restful two days off from work, I’m feeling pretty good about today! It may also have helped that I had this Cherry-Apple Strudel with Cider Glaze to wake up to this morning. Mmm…So. good. I’ll get to it in a second (because there is seriously so much to rave about with this wonderful, little breakfast treat), but first let me fill you in on my weekend adventures…


The weather has been too nice around here lately not to take advantage of it — mostly because I know what’s coming and I’m not looking forward to it. So, Philip and I made last minute plans to visit Devil’s Lake State Park outside of Baraboo, Wisconsin. It’s a popular place for camping, hiking, picnics, and more. Several people had the same idea as we did, because it was a happening place!


Even though the leaves hadn’t completely changed colors yet, it was still beautiful to see all the foliage and to witness the start of the changing seasons. Gosh, I love fall.


After a busy few weeks for the both of us with work, it was so nice to spend the entire day hiking, taking pictures, enjoying a packed lunch by the lake, and just enjoying being with each other. All in all, it was a great day. I’m so glad I finally was able to see this place I hear about all the time! I’m already looking forward to when I can go back.


Sunday was a much more low-key day, but a very delicious day because it involved making this bakery-worthy strudel. I originally planned on sharing a different recipe with you today, but one bite of this cherry-apple strudel with the cider glaze and I knew I couldn’t wait to share it with you. I was practically giddy with how well it turned out. Last night Philip even asked if he could have another piece. While I was flattered he wanted more, I was slightly concerned he felt the need to ask me permission. Problems of a dietitian’s husband, I guess…


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Orange Tapioca Jell-O Salad

Orange Tapioca Jell-O Salad

Happy Monday, everyone! After a fun trip to Illinois to see family this past weekend, it’s back to the normal workweek grind in Madison for me today.

But this past weekend was anything but a normal weekend. And it was definitely anything but boring. My sister-in-law’s three kids were turning 5, 3 and 1 (over the course of 3 months) and this weekend she threw a big circus-themed joint birthday party for all of them — bounce house and all. Let’s just say, my sister-in-law knows how to throw a party! She single-handedly made our wedding look 10x better than if it had been solely up to me. I think it’s safe to say her motto is “Go big or go home.”


Although the rain put a damper on things, it was still a glowing success and gave Philip and I a chance to connect with family and for me to see his old stomping grounds again — including some of his favorite restaurants he grew up going to as a kid. Every time we go back home, it’s safe to say we’ll either be having “Gondolas” (a ham and salami sub sandwich) from Avanti’s Restaurant or pizza from Monical’s, a family-favorite pizza place in town. I love seeing how food can bring so much joy to people and bring back fond memories; especially for Philip since he gets so excited when he knows a childhood favorite is coming, like the grilled steak dinner I made for him last weekend.


Another childhood favorite of his that happens to also be a favorite in my family as well is a Midwest classic: Orange Tapioca Jell-O Salad. Only in the Midwest can something containing Jell-O and Cool Whip be considered a “salad.” By no means am I promoting this as a healthy alternative to a green-tossed salad, but in light of recognizing the joy food can bring and the memories certain foods can hold, this is one that I keep in my back pocket for nostalgic purposes (oh, and okay, because it tastes so gosh darn good).

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Soft Sweetened Condensed Milk Cookies with Vanilla Glaze

Soft Sweetened Condensed Milk Cookies with Vanilla Glaze

Hello again, everyone! You may have noticed that I’ve been MIA over the past week, but boy, has it been busy around these parts! I’m proud to say that during that time, we’ve now become official owners of a grill and a lawnmower. Does that not make us homeowners or what?


We had my parents and aunt & uncle visiting us for the first time in our new home last weekend and we were able to break in the new grill with them. We received some helpful grilling tips from my dad and uncle and savored every bite of our perfectly grilled salmon and steaks for dinner. Nothing beats the smell of grilled food…except maybe freshly cut grass if you’re my husband. He said he had to pause a few times while mowing this weekend to inhale breathe in the smell. It’s the small things in life, right?


You know what else is just as simple and refreshing? Having the windows and patio door open with a slight breeze blowing in, hearing birds chirping away while you whip up a batch of Soft Sweetened Condensed Milk Cookies with Vanilla Glaze on your day off. It’s the simple things, I tell ya!


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Copycat LaraBar Chocolate Brownie Granola Bar

Copycat LaraBar Chocolate Brownie

The question is, are these a dessert or a healthy snack? Don’t you love it when you have that problem?

Do I eat this as a morning snack at…umm..9:00 a.m. (I eat my breakfast early, okay?) when I know it’s impossible for me to make it another three hours until lunch? Or do I count this as an after-dinner dessert, because, let’s face it, anything with chocolate in the name could and should be considered a dessert.


Well, I’ve got some great news, because no decision making is needed for this one — it works as both healthy snack and healthy scrumptious dessert! Yippee!

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Howdy, everyone! I hope your weekend was a good one and that your Monday is off to a good start.

Philip and I packed our bags this weekend and left behind our paint brushes, cleaning supplies, and rags at home for a relaxing weekend with my family in Iowa this weekend (yes, we’re still working on finishing up projects and deep cleaning our house from when we bought it last December. *Sigh* Will it ever get done?). It was a much needed break and it was so nice to not only be with family that we hadn’t seen in awhile, but also to be “forced” not to do any touch ups on our house all weekend. Yep, when we’re at home, I’ve come to realize that it’s inevitable that we’re going to be doing something on our house.


So, this weekend, instead of scrubbing floors or painting walls, I stamped and colored (bringing back my creative side of yester years), read books and sang songs, decorated sugar cookies just like I did with my mom when I was little, and was a patient in the “doctor’s office” getting my check-up…over and over and over again. Thankfully, my three-year old niece is a gentle doctor and my shots never hurt.

Saturday Collage

And let’s not forget this little, cute dude! What a hunk, right?! He was all smiles (and drool) almost the entire time we were there.


My mom pulled out all of our favorites on the trip, too (she never lets us down) with her famous cinnamon rolls, her homemade banana bread, and a few other classic favorites. One of those being Scotcheroos — the most signature, Midwest dessert there is. I mean, just the name alone, sounds like something the Midwest would create.


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Lemon Cupcakes with Blackberry Frosting + Decorating for an Adventure-Themed Shower

Lemon Cupcakes with Blackberry Frosting

Is it too early to say that we’ve made a turning point (for good) in the weather…finally?! It was so refreshing to not have to wear at least 3 layers of clothing when going outside (or inside, if we’re going to be honest), to not have my shoulders hunched all the time to keep warm, and to be able to walk outside and actually enjoy it!

The sun was shining all weekend, the birds were chirping, and it was the perfect weekend to host a bridal shower! Which is exactly what I did. A dear friend of mine is getting married this spring and it was such a joy to be able to bless her with a shower.


Back in the day, I loved crafting and scrapbooking, and I always got way too excited about school projects. Somehow, that hobby slowly slipped away (I blame college) and when I finally emerged from all the homework and studying, I started up a new hobby — cooking and baking (I also blame credit my schooling of dietetics on that switch). Long story short, it was so much fun to be able to combine both of those hobbies together for this shower!


My friend’s wedding theme is “adventure”, so I matched the theme and set out to make the decorations with anything involving maps, stamps, and planes with the help of another close friend. I think it was a success!


The decorations were fun to make, but I still felt “in my element” in the kitchen, whipping up one of the desserts for the shower — Lemon Cupcakes with Blackberry Frosting. The perfect flavor combination for a warm, almost-spring day.


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