The holiday festivities are definitely here! Can you believe Christmas is just a week away?! If your schedule looks anything like mine, you have parties to attend, holiday baking to partake in, and gifts to wrap (or get!). While hectic at times, I truly love all the excitement and anticipation leading up to Christmas.
This past weekend, Philip and I broke out our “Hoerr Family Confectionery” candy making tub and spent the weekend making our annual homemade chocolates and candy. The caramel came out on the first try, so I’m calling it a win! I think we’re slowly starting to get this whole thing down!
I love making the candy and the tradition of doing it every year, but I think what I love even more is being able to work side by side with Philip in the kitchen (a rare occurrence!) and boxing up the finished products to gift to our neighbors.
And this year it was even more exciting to box up our chocolates to give away, because we upgraded our logo! Philip’s brother graciously made us a new design that we turned into a stamp. It feels so legit. ;) We’re going places, I can tell.
While this past weekend we were busy in the kitchen, last week we were having fun jumping from one holiday event to the next. I made this salsa for one of the parties (I can always guarantee on it being a big hit no matter who is at the party) and a couple days later whipped up these Fig & Goat Cheese Prosciutto Wraps for another get together we were going to for an appetizer. Fast and fancy is what I like to call these little roll ups.
Welcome to another week, friends! I hope you had a fun weekend and that your week ahead is looking like a good one. Philip and I had an easy weekend with no real plans in the books, so we enjoyed our time together and did planning, instead, for future trips.
We’re blessed to be able to travel near and far, going on a few “big” trips each year. Well, this year we’re going on an even “bigger” trip (for us anyway…it’s all relative, isn’t it?) and we’re planning a 2–week long trip to Italy and Greece later this year. Wheee! After our little planning sesh Saturday afternoon at a coffee shop, I am even more excited. There’s still a lot to think through and plan, especially since neither one of us has been before, but the bare bones of our trip are there. Now the fun part of filling it all in can start next. :)
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!
Philip and I are now entering our third Christmas season together as a married couple and have, as of this weekend, completed our second annual Hoerr Family Confectionary (est. 2013) candy-making extravaganza! We pull out all the stops with labels, candy boxes, and as much candy as we can squeeze into a day. It’s fun to then be able to share that candy throughout the Christmas season with neighbors, family, and friends.
While we may have thrown out more caramel than we actually were able to use and had a couple too many mid-candy-making grocery runs, the rest of the candy was success on the first try. I feel like we are officially stocked until Valentine’s Day. #dietitiansworstnightmare
But you know what was the best part (well, besides taste testing far too much of our final products)?! Fully putting to use our new, updated kitchen! It was our Christmas present to each other this year, and exactly one year after we closed on our first home, we were able to enjoy it to the fullest. Now…what’s on our Year Two list? ;)
I know I hinted at giving you a full glimpse at our kitchen awhile back (sorry, the time has gotten away from me!), but I’m happy to show you the finished result now! (continue reading…)
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!
Raise your hand if you’re ready for this crazy weather to calm.down. Both hands flailing wildly in the air…ahem.
If you live around the Midwest, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, well, for the past 5+ days it’s been a full blown sauna outside…wet, heavy with humidity, and hot. Walking outside, I instantly feel my hair get 10x bigger and it feels like I’m breathing in a lake. Fortunately, I work in a super air-conditioned building and only have to experience this extreme weather for about 20 minutes each day…but still. #firstworldproblems
Before this extreme weather, I was lingering on to any bit of summer left that I could. I was dodging back-to-school talk as much as possible (which is pretty tough considering my work is talking nothing but back-to-school) and holding on to watermelon, grilling, and lazy summer days as much as possible.
But now…now I’m ready for fall. I’m accepting the fact that school is here for most people already and everybody’s thoughts are already geared towards apple and pumpkin picking (okay, I admit, I’ve been thinking about this for awhile, too), and most of all, I’m
accepting the fact hoping that cool weather will be here soon.
One recipe that always makes me think “back-to-school” are Protein-Packed Energy Bites. There are so many variations of this simple creation—all of which are probably delicious—but I’ve been making variations of this one for years.
As I type this, I’m recovering from a longer than expected bike ride with Philip…isn’t that always how it goes with bike rides? You start out great and then you realize you still have to turn around and do that same mileage back. By the end, my bum was sore and I was ready to get a snack (food is never far from my mind).
But before my mind started wandering to everything food, we had a great time exploring more of the bike trails Madison has to offer (I realized there are a lot!). Philip just got a new bike this spring, so it was fun to be able to get out together, since that didn’t really happen much at all last summer. I’m hoping for many more bike rides this spring and summer…although maybe not quite so far. :)
Did everybody have a good Easter weekend?! The real question: is everybody still full from Easter dinner with a candy hangover from the weekend like me? Philip and I made the trip down to Peoria, Illinois, to be with his family for the weekend and I can honestly say I got my fill of candy over the weekend. It actually started last weekend when my parents came to visit us and brought me, among other candy, a 5-pound bag of Starburst Jellybeans (my absolute favorite since high school)…talk about sugar overload! I’ve been doing well to limit myself, though, and haven’t even made it to the jellybeans yet. You know what I say—everything in moderation! It’s not everyday I get pastel colored M&Ms, malted milk ball eggs, and jellybeans galore.
My love for peanut butter is a big one (I hope you’re starting to catch on to this). I really don’t know how it came to be, but for some reason I can’t get enough of it. Growing up, I don’t remember feeling the urge to grab a spoon and dig into a big jar of peanut butter or the need to add it to anything and everything it could remotely go with (Cereal? Check. Yogurt? Added. Smoothies? Of course. Apples, carrots, bananas? Check, check, check. Granola? Yep. Chocolate chips, Oreos, chocolate bar? Yes, please). Sure, I had my fair share of PB & J in my lunch box in my middle school years and I loved the free peanut butter sandwiches at lunch in high school, but that’s pretty much where it ended…until sometime in college when I rediscovered the simple joys of creamy peanut butter.
I know, I know. You’re probably thinking kale was so last year…am I right?
Well, you are right; kale was indeed the fad “super food” in 2013 along with quinoa and pomegranates. I mean, honestly, how many of you had even tried kale before 2 years ago or pronounced quinoa “kwin-o-a” up until last year? (If you still don’t know how to pronounce it, it’s like this: keen-wa.)
I think that’s the awesome thing about these “fad” foods…it gets people trying them! I don’t know who starts these fads, but I thank them. As a dietitian, I love hearing from people the new, healthy foods they’re adding to meals or trying for the first time. Plus, as more fad foods come in year after year, they keep getting put into our growing repertoire of nutritious foods to use in our cooking. The first step is just branching out and trying them. How great is it when you have the confidence to cook with kale, quinoa, or any other new food you used to be scared of?
Even though kale might not be in the spotlight anymore, it doesn’t mean its nutritional benefits end after the year is up. Plus, have you ever had kale sprouts?! I didn’t think so. [Spotlight shifts to the before neglected step-sibling of the cruciferous family]