Saturday, January 30, 2016

Something Saturdays (1/30/16)

Last weekend's work wasn't too bad--I was working in my hometown so I ran into a girl from high school, my old preschool teacher, and one of Michael's coworkers. My Uncle Brian and cousin Brianna, David (Michael's best friend), and Michael all stopped in to see me as well. Kohl's was actually having 70% off on suits so Michael ended up shopping (he hasn't purchased a suit since he was 16) and he got SUCH a nice dark grey suit that would originally have been $280 and he got for $84! Yay! He looks so nice in it :) Saturday, after work and suit shopping, we had dinner with Michael's mom. After dinner I got a WONDERFUL surprise-my brother called me from basic training! He needed help getting some information for his security clearance so it was sort of rushed with me trying to find info but he was able to tell me that he's doing well and we were able to say we loved and missed each other :) Also he cleared up the address situation for his letters-he's getting everything but the letters that we're sending to the updated address are getting to him more quickly.

Otherwise this week has been fairly low-key. I rewatched all the Rugrats movies, lol. They hold up! Totally made me cry though (esp. Rugrats in Paris....I forgot about the whole "Chuckie doesn't have a mommy" storyline.) I miss Rugrats, that was a legit show.

This weekend, starting yesterday, I'm working at the International Motorcycle Show in Cleveland. Today is my long day but hopefully it'll all go well!

If you're a book lover like me...then this list will be way too real (esp. #4!)

Omigosh...please let this happen. (Princess Diaries 2 and/or Chris Pine fans...this is for you!)

Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell dancing in Africa to...Africa...is everything.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thick Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

Thick Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate
One of the few things that I mostly keep standard on the whole "eating things seasonally" (I'm not not talking about vegetables--I'm talking like ice cream is for summer kind of thing) is that I usually only drink hot chocolate in the winter. But I'm also super picky about it--like...when I tell people that I only drink water and they make the weirded out face and then I inform them that I do occasionally drink orange juice or really good hot chocolate. It's true. I need it thick. I need it rich. None of that watery/milky cocoa powder gunk for me. RICH AND THICK! The ultimate epitome of this is Max Brenner's Italian Thick Hot Chocolate, but now that I no longer live in NYC I do not have easy access to that nectar of the gods (although I'm intending to try a copycat recipe soon) so I have to try out other versions myself!
Thick Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate
One easy way to make any hot chocolate richer is to add in peanut butter. Instant yum. Which is why this is now def. one of my favorite homemade hot chocolates-rich, creamy, fairly thick, and peanut butteryyyyy! I really need to have heavy cream in my fridge at all times-can you imagine how tasty a peanut butter whipped cream would be on top of this??! I can--and it's DARN TASTY!
Thick Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate
Mind you, I also fully loved my idea to put some toasted marshmallows and chopped peanuts on top. Although I will admit the peanuts might have made it a bit too chewy...hmmm...not sure. Regardless, I enjoyed it. Still not quite as thick as I'd like, but def. better than almost any version I've tried at home thus far. And Michael said it tasted like a melted candy bar, which is pretty much my meter for if I'm going to like it or not. And if you're a smart cookie like me, then you'll love it too!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Chocolate S'mores Cookies {Insomnia Copycat}-Guest Post at JavaCupcake

Chocolate S'mores Cookies {Insomnia Copycat}
I know, I'm posting on a Tuesday, it's chaos!! I'm posting today because I am actually guest posting over at JavaCupcake today and this is NOT one you're going to want to miss!

Have you ever heard of Insomnia Cookies? They're located in college towns and they deliver warm and delicious cookies pretty much all night. I do not live within delivery range of one, however I do live near a town that has one and I've been lucky enough to sample some of their delectable treats and I have a favorite...a favorite that I crave so much that I needed to recreate it at home!
Chocolate S'mores Cookies {Insomnia Copycat}
And that is where this recipe comes in! My brother and I both favor Insomnia's S'mores Cookies and I am proud to say that these are almost an exact replica! They're a large, chewy, and super chocolatey cookie filled and topped with melty chocolate chunks, gooey mini marshmallows (which also toast while they bake, adding to the s'mores-iness), and crisp pieces of graham cracker. *sigh* They're delightful.
Chocolate S'mores Cookies {Insomnia Copycat}
They're so good that I HAD to share-I froze some to bring to Josh when I see him at his airforce basic training graduation (I also intend to make another batch to ship to him when he's out of basic) and I gave one to our maintenance guy, and one to Michael's work friend Jessica (she may or may not have texted me saying how amazing these looked....meaning I obviously had to be nice and give her one!) And I'm sharing them with all of you PLUS the wonderful peoples over at JavaCupcake--

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Something Saturdays (1/23/16)

This week flew by for me! Did it do the same for you guys?? Michael had Monday off from work, which was nice since this week he started back at school. This is semester is going to be TOUGH. So...on top of his normal 40+ hour work-week he also has his normal 3 classes (3 hours apiece, for a total of 9 hours) he ALSO has practicum, which means he'll be working at the counseling center for another 8 hours a week. So...it's going to be hard, and I'm going to miss him :(. Luckily he doesn't start practicum until next week so we got a little bit of time together. 

Last weekend Michael called his "farewell tour"--we spent the earlier part of Saturday hanging out with my aunt and cousin, and then spent some time with Michael's mom that evening. Sunday we got to have dinner with and hang out with Michael's dad and stepmom. It was super nice!

I mostly worked on stuff and relaxed. I also got my 1st letter from my brother in basic training! I was so excited, because there's been some drama over the address for him so our mail has been taking forever to get to him--so for awhile he hadn't gotten any letters from me and that made me so sad :(

This weekend I'm working--I'm promoting Gaiam at a local Kohl's. It should hopefully be fairly simple. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cookies
The ageless struggle: do I bake these cookies or just eat all this delicious dough?

It's plagued us for eons. 

SO-when I saw my girl Baker Bettie's post with Chocolate Chip Cookie DOUGH Cookies...I mean...I HAD TO TRY THEM! Obviously. Who are we talking about here? MEEEE.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cookies
As it turns out...this is more of a method than a recipe (although the recipe below uses Baker Bettie's fave chocolate chip cookies and is pretty darned awesome)--it's essentially just baking the cookies at a higher heat for a shorter time so that they're delightfully underbaked inside. Turns out...I've done this (partially by accident) many times in my past so I was actually pretty familiar with it. No complaints, though! I am never going to turn down a warm, ultra-gooey cookie (plus, they're pretty gooey even when not warm)! Now...is it what I thought? No--for the best-of-both-worlds between cookie/cookie dough I'm sticking with my cookie dough balls. BUUUT...again...I got to eat some tasty tasty cookies because I made these. And I'm never complaining about that. And if you haven't tried this method already...you should def. give it a shot--at least once! Put it on your bucket list or whatev.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Quick & Easy Homemade French Bread

Quick & Easy Homemade French Bread
I think this is my new favorite quick and easy bread recipe! I was honestly shocked by how simple it was to throw together and then you just have to wait about an hour for it to rise and about half an hour for it to bake and then...TA DA! French bread!
Quick & Easy Homemade French Bread
I think my current favorite use for this recipe is for garlic bread--that's what I made it for initially when we had Michael's friend over for dinner. You can make it the day of or like a day ahead of time and it helps you make seriously delicious an brag-worthy garlic bread (seriously...look at people's faces when you tell them you made the whole thing from scratch, even the bread. They will be impressed!) Slightly crusty on the outside, nice and chewy on the inside. Gotta love a delicious and easy recipe for homemade bread, am I right??!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Something Saturdays (1/16/16)

This week was fairly uneventful--I sort of ended up getting sucked into a book vortex (AKA I CAN'T STOP READING!) so...yeah that limited my time somewhat. But on Monday David, Michael's best friend, came over for a bit and on Wed/Thurs there was some driving back and forth between Youngstown to get Michael's car fixed by his cousin. Yesterday evening we went over to David's and got to spend time with his daughters (the twins, 6, and Isabelle, 2) since they were in town. It's always so fun and I miss them tons. Today my aunt and cousin are coming up to have lunch and see our place and then later Michael's mom is coming up to hang out and see our Christmas decorations before we take them down lol. Tomorrow we are going to church and then spending some time with Michael's dad and stepmom.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Best Healthier Dessert Recipes

It's January which means...many of us have New Year's resolutions, right? And most of us probably have vowed to be healthier in some way. SOOO...in an effort to help out-I thought I would share some of the best/my favorite healthier dessert recipes from the blog! Because...life isn't living without dessert, and with these recipes there's NO REASON to give it up!

I've shared a couple other healthy recipe roundups, check them out here:

Best Healthier Dessert Recipes
(top to bottom, left to right):
(all of these recipes are soy-free)

3 Ingredient Almond Butter Cookies
These cookies are literally just made with almond butter, a little bit of sugar (you can unrefined sugar-such as raw or muscovado sugar), and an egg. So they're gluten-free, dairy-free, low fat, and can be refined-sugar free.

Gooey Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Bars
Peanut butter, applesauce, and egg-whites keep these delicious gooey bars low-fat. Oats make them chewy and wholesome. They're also gluten-free and dairy free--although I will warn there's still a decent amount of sugar in these.

Flourless Almond Butter Chocolate Brownies
These are def. my fave healthy brownie recipe! They're chewy and super chocolatey and insanely decadent even though they're gluten-free, low-fat (once again the fat in these comes from healthy almond butter!) and they're only sweetened with honey and just a tiny bit of brown sugar.

Healthy Flourless Nut Butter Cookies
Here's the breakdown--these cookies are sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and have a crazy short ingredient list. And they're soft. And delicious. And taste like your favorite nut butter. And there's a wonderful bite of dark chocolate (which I guess you could opt out if you want to be really healthy but...antioxidants?) and that lovely contrast from the salt. And...they might be paleo? I'm not terribly informed on the paleo diet but regardless...these are keepers.

{Healthier} Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl "Cupcakes"
These cupcakes are made with whole wheat flour, Greek yogurt, egg whites, TWO bananas, and  swirl of peanut butter. They also have unsweetened cocoa powder and dark chocolate chips which are perfectly fine. And...and I mean...there's also a little bit of all purpose flour, sugar, and some peanut butter chips. But not much of them! So-they're def. still a low-fat, fairly guilty-free treat.

Pumpkin Pie with Whole Wheat Crust and Cinnamon Caramel Whipped Cream
Skip the whipped cream for an extra healthy version of this pumpkin pie that is made with real pumpkin puree and has a whole wheat pie crust.

Healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
This is one of my oldest healthy cookie recipes. Small changes make these cookies better for you: whole wheat flour, a smaller amount of butter (with some coconut oil or applesauce to help make them low-fat) and a smaller amount of sugar!

Caramelized Pecan Banana "Ice Cream" with Chocolate Hazelnut Swirl
Admittedly, this recipe is MUCH healthier without the caramelized pecans and the chocolate hazelnut swirl. Considering this banana "ice cream" is literally made with pureed frozen bananas that create an ice-cream like texture. The banana "ice cream" itself is fat-free, gluten-free, vegan/dairy-free.

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Pecan Truffles
This is one of my favorite candy recipes-these pecans taste indulgent but are actually healthy! Peanut butter, unsweetened cocoa powder, coconut oil, and honey are all that are needed to create this not-so-sinful, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, low-fat treat!

Healthier No Bake Cookies
No-bake cookies are a comfort food for me, so I love that this recipe tastes delish while being low-fat, gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free.

Chocolate Chantilly
Silky, sophisticated, irresistible chocolate chantilly (AKA chocolate mousse) that is made with only dark chocolate water, and a bit of sugar. So...yeah--low-fat, gluten-free, and vegan/dairy-free (depending on the chocolate you use).

Healthy Oatmeal Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Another tasty cookie that is gluten-free (yay oats!), has just a little bit of brown sugar (seriously...2 tbsp.-it's nothin!), and dairy-free, with peanut butter and egg-whites keep it tasty and low-fat!

Healthy Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookies 
This has been one of the biggest healthy dessert game-changers for me. It literally tastes like a chewy and perfect chocolate chip cookie even though there's a healthy secret ingredient: CHICKPEAS! They're low in sugar, gluten-free, low-fat, and dairy-free/vegan and they blog my friggin mind.

Chocolate Chewies
These cookies aren't meant to be healthy but, since they're meringues, they're naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, and low-fat (they do have a good amount of sugar in them, though).

Peanut Butter Oat Balls
These are a super tasty treat/snack that are also filling (thanks to oats and flaxseed meal) and, of course, they're gluten-free, dairy-free, low-fat, and even sugar-free (aside from chocolate chips).

Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles
Finally, these truffles could not be easier, more yummalicious, or simpler in terms of ingredients: they're just made with peanut butter, pretzels, and chocolate! Making them low-fat, low in sugar, and just all around awesome!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Phyllo Potato Pastries

Phyllo Potato Pastries
Truth be told everyone...I've been having a hard time getting back into the swing of things in the kitchen and with the blog post-holidays. Does anybody else feel somewhat adrift? ...No? Just me?

Ok that's cool. I'll do better y'all, pinky promise!
Phyllo Potato Pastries
Now...this is a pretty classic Kayle recipe--there's potatoes...and there's carbs. But it's fun and different and kinda classy (I think) because flaky and delicious phyllo dough is wrapped around shredded and seasoned potatoes and onions and it's all baked to tasty perfection.
Phyllo Potato Pastries
I think these are great especially as an entertaining food--because the recipe makes a lot, and there's something about phyllo dough that just screams "I'M FOR GUESTS!" to me *shrug*. Unfortunately we were not having any company when I made these so it was up to Michael and I to eat them all. And if any eaters were ever up to the task...it was us. 

They're quite delicious and I'm definitely keeping them in mind next time I need something to bring to a party!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Something Saturdays (1/9/16)

Last weekend Michael and I saw The Good Dinosaur (which I describe a bit in the movies/tv section) and then later got dessert at this restaurant we like that's downtown, Beau's on the River. Sunday we went to church (for the 1st time in way too long) and then had dinner with my cousin and her girlfriend. It was a really nice weekend :) Then the week was fairly uneventful, Michael mostly worked and I mostly cleaned. I did have to go to the dentist for some fillings (blech) and then afterward I went to my mom's to go through some of the stuff from my old room---choosing what to throw away, give away, store for later, take now, or put in the "there's a good amount of sentimental value but I'm not sure what I'd do with this" pile. It was fun to see all the stuff, but hard to sort through it.

Yesterday we had Michael's friend AJ & his wife Sarah over for dinner-I made pot roast, garlic bread, roasted broccoli, and lava cakes for dessert. Everything was a hit! :) Tonight we're having Michael's brother, Christopher, and his girlfriend, Katie, over and we're super excited for that too! And tomorrowww my family is getting together for games and food so there's that too. Busy, but fun! :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Pies and Plots, The Cooking Actress, Wishes and Dishes, & The Spiffy Cookie New Year's Cookbook Giveaway! (CLOSED)


I have a little New Year's treat for you all today! Laura, of Pies and Plots, decided she had a bunch of amazing cookbooks that she wanted to giveaway to a lucky someone and she included myself, Ashley of Wishes and Dishes, and Erin of The Spiffy Cookie, in the fun! So use the widget below to enter <3 :


Monday, January 4, 2016

My Favorite 15 Recipes of 2015

My Favorite 15 Recipes of 2015

Every year I do a roundup of the top recipes of the year:
Top 11 of 2011 
Top Recipes of 2012 
Top 13 Recipes of 2013 
Top 14 Recipes of 2014

This year I'm doing another one, but a little bit different. This year is a roundup of MY favorite recipes from 2015! In no particular order...

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Something Saturdays (1/2/16)

So last weekend was fun-Saturday was a blast with Michael's dad's side (and we scored 2 free tickets to Cedar Point via the white elephant gift exchange!) and Sunday was fun with my mom's family. Buuut it was also really emotional because that night my brother went up to Cleveland and the next day my mom, my grandma, my aunt, and some of my cousins and I went up to see him get sworn into the airforce and say goodbye as he left for basic training. I've been crying a lot and just really missing my brother so...it's been a tough week. Michael's been great through it all, though.

New Year's we stayed super low-key, just hanging out at home and eating :P Today we're going to see a movie and then tomorrow night we're going to get together with a couple friends for dinner but, other than that, mostly we're just relaxing!

How did you guys spend new year's?

Friday, January 1, 2016

Best of 2015 on Instagram

Happy New Year!!

Before I look forward to this new year, I thought I'd look back at some stuff that happened last year...

I spent a ton of time with friends and family. I had the best bachelorette party ever. I had the best wedding ever AND the best honeymoon ever. My best friend moved to St. Louis. My brother joined the airforce. There have been some highs and lows but...I think this has been the best year of my life.






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