Weekend Highlights

It’s almost Christmas and I can’t wait! Just one more weekend! I better hurry and finish getting my last few gifts this week. I only have one picture from this weekend. Sorry, I know I need to be better but I can tell you what I did.

Saturday, I went to a cookie exchange party for one of my friends from work. I wasn’t able to stay the whole time but she does it annually and you get to walk away with a yummy variety of cookies. I ran some errands on the way home and then I attempted to watch Home Alone with Adam but I fell asleep pretty quickly. I realized I am behind on watching Christmas movies this year and I brought my stack out to try and watch them between now and Christmas. I’ll have to try again with Home Alone.

When I woke up, Adam took me to dinner and then we had to run to Lowe’s and check out our possible next house project. I’ll keep you updated on what we decide.

First thing Sunday morning, we went grocery shopping because I wanted to buy everything we could need until after Christmas to hopefully avoid the business. I already realized I forgot the supplies for the treat Adam gets every Christmas morning he works so I’ll be going back. As soon as I got home, I started making banana bread.

Last year, I wanted to do banana bread for my neighbor gifts but had a hard time getting the bread to cook all the way through and not be dry. Well, I finally have a recipe that I am successful at. Here is the recipe! It’s from A Bountiful Kitchen and it’s so easy. My bread always takes quite a bit longer than she says to cook and I’ve learned that the toothpick method of checking to see if it’s cooked does not work for me. I put a thermometer in the bread and cook it until it’s about 190 degrees. Halfway through cooking, I put tin foil on top as well so the top doesn’t get too crispy.

Here is my finished product!

I actually still need to make a couple more loaves but I ran out of ripe bananas so I should be able to finish this week. Adam is going to deliver these to our neighbors tomorrow while I’m at work. I bought the cellophane from Home Goods about a month ago and the ribbon I stocked up on months ago at Michael’s when it was on clearance. Of course, I ran out of it. Always buy more than you think you need!

After I was done baking, Adam and I went and saw the new Grinch. Have you seen it? What did you think? I was torn because I thought it was cute but I love the Jim Carrey Grinch and his personality.

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What did you do this weekend??

Xoxo, Steph

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Snacks I Always Have Stashed

I don’t know about you guys but I’m big on snacking. I always keep snacks in my drawers at work and, of course, in the pantry at home. Because I tend to be more snacky, I need to make sure that it’s not always junk food… otherwise, I would be in big trouble. I’m sharing my faves with you today!

Sparkling ICE Drinks

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My friend Ally got me hooked on these when she was getting me to eat healthier. I don’t drink soda and I typically prefer water over everything but whenever I’m craving a different flavor, I choose these. They are so delicious and come in a variety of flavors. I love them with some ice and it usually accompanies meals very well. The sparkling water gives you the carbonation you’re probably missing from your soda but you don’t have to feel guilty about these. The Classic Lemonade flavor is my favorite but I’ve recently gotten into Strawberry Watermelon and Peach Nectarine. I drink water at work but I’ll keep a couple of these in my drawers in case I’m craving something else.

Quaker Popped Rice Crisps

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I am obsessed with these. I prefer these over chips any day but you definitely have to like the taste of rice cakes. These ones are dusted with cheddar cheese so it’s a win for me but they have other flavors. I can’t claim they’re overly healthy but they’re definitely better than potato chips. I’m big on snacking on crunchy foods so this helps.

Rold Gold Pretzels

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Pretzels are a must. A bag of these will last me a while because I can get full on just a few. These are perfect for those days you’re feeling snacky but don’t want to down 8 bags of chips. Another great version of their pretzels are their Cheddar Tiny Twists. MMM.

Pop Secret 94% Fat-Free Butter

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A lot of people wonder why I won’t just go for the movie theater butter but tbh, the extra butter on microwave popcorn (and sadly, the butter on movie theater popcorn) makes me sick due to an unfortunate experience I had as a child. Anyway, my stomach is too sensitive to those oils so this is the next best thing! I feel like this popcorn still has enough of the butter flavor to keep me happy and content. Popcorn is a big go-to for me when I need a quick sad that I don’t want to feel bad about. I always keep boxes of this at home and at work (and even at Cody’s).

Wonderful Pistachios

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Nuts are a great thing to snack on too because they will make you feel full in a healthier way. Pistachios have the added benefit of giving you something to do (e.g., cracking open the shell) while you munch on them so it keeps my hands busy. I like to snack on these if I’m watching TV or if I’m a little anxious to give myself something to focus on.

Yoplait Go-Gurt

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Yes, I’m 25 and yes, I’m still eating Go-Gurt ūüôā I love these because if I’m in a hurry (AKA I woke up late for work yet again), I grab one of these and eat it on the way to work. Maybe I will switch to the adult versions of Go-Gurts in the future but where’s the fun in that?

Fruit

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I love fruit so much. I could always snack on it. My favorites are raspberries, strawberries, green grapes, green apples, clementines or Cuties, watermelon, and mangoes. Of course, the last two require some preparation but it’s all wonderfully delicious and gives you that sugar kick you need without processed sugar.

Lay’s Cheddar and Sour Cream Chips

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These are obviously not healthy but I’ve been a little addicted to these lately! They are just so crispy and crunchy with the cheddar and sour cream flavor. I think about them all the time but I think that’s just a personal problem I have.

I tend to crave salty over sweet (s/o to me being the Salt of Salt + Sugar) so I’m sure you can tell that from the types of snacks I eat. I will say, it’s always nice to keep a little candy in my drawers too when that sugar craving kicks in but for the most part, you can win me over with any of the things I mentioned.

What do you like to snack on?
xoxo

Chocolate Raspberry Cake

My sister’s birthday was this week and I offered to make her a birthday treat of her choice. She said she wanted a chocolate cake with raspberry filling.

I went to¬†Cake by Courtney’s website¬†to see if there was one of her cakes I could try. She didn’t have that exact cake so I used her high altitude chocolate cake¬†recipe.¬†I’ve used this one before but this was my best attempt yet at it. For the raspberry filling, I found another recipe that had a berry compote and followed that using raspberries. For the frosting, I used her chocolate buttercream frosting from her yellow cake with chocolate buttercream¬†recipe.

I am still definitely working on my frosting skills to get that smooth buttercream finish but it is not as easy as it looks. Courtney suggests using these plastic discs on top of the cake to get that nice edge and I think I need to buy those to see if it helps.

I was pretty pleased with the insides because my other cakes have been pretty crumbly when I cut into them and this one held up really well and it tasted good! You can find all of Courtney’s other delicious cake recipes¬†here.

Hobbies

I think I’ve talked a little bit before about how Adam is always telling me to get hobbies that don’t involve watching Netflix and I hate to admit it but he’s right. Adam is all about hobbies. He loves projects and always needs something to do. His most recent thing he’s picked up is picking locks. I’m not sure where that came from but he’s been learning and practicing on clear locks you can buy on Amazon to see how the lock works. One day maybe it will come in handy when we lock ourselves out of something.

My recent hobby has been baking and frosting cakes. I feel like I can’t be making cakes all the time. I want an occasion to make it for. Definitely still working on that one.

I¬†really have been enjoying any type of baking. I keep bringing pumpkin treats to work and I’m not even sorry about it.

One of my old hobbies from a few years ago that I would love to pick up again one day is sewing. There’s something kind of calming about cutting and sewing squares. One year for Christmas, I made Adam a quilt to keep at work for his bed. I made it firefighter themed for him. Even though I just said sewing can be calming, it can also put me at a 10 and be really frustrating. My mom had to fix a few spots where it was getting uneven and not square anymore. But she showed me how to avoid that and manipulate the fabric with pins when you sew it and now I can do a lot better but it’s all about learning. I started another quilt and it’s close to being done but I don’t own my own machine and no longer live with my mom to borrow hers. One day, I will get one and finish the quilt.

My newest hobby I want to try is sugar cookies with royal icing. I really enjoy eating these cookies but I kept seeing videos on Instagram of people icing the cookies and it is so intriguing. One of the ladies I started following suggested¬†this¬†cookbook. I just got it last night and I can tell it’s already so great! It is full of tips and very detailed instructions. Perfect for someone like me who knows nothing about doing this.

Later this week, I’m going to try and buy a few of the tools it suggested and try a batch of cookies this weekend. My sister-in-law is having a baby in the spring and I would love to be able to have some cookies for her shower. So I better start practicing and I’ll give an update of how it’s going, whether it’s good or bad.

I think having a couple hobbies and things that you’re interested in doing are great for your mental health. It gets me off the couch and not sitting with my thoughts. Adam and I have a relationship where we like to spend time together but not every second together. So it’s good for us to each have our own thing we can go off and do. I think it’s still good to have hobbies you can do together as well. We’ve talked about trying skiing this winter but that’s a more expensive hobby so we’ll see. He says he needs a new winter hobby…;)

What are some of your hobbies? Anything I need to try?

Xoxo, Steph

Pumpkin Gingersnap Cake

My mom’s birthday is this week and there were a couple of my siblings’ birthdays last week so, on Sunday, we celebrated those birthdays and I offered to make a cake. It was a good excuse for me to try another¬†Cake by Courtney¬†cake.

I picked out this¬†pumpkin gingersnap cake¬†recipe to try because it sounded fun and festive. Please don’t judge me too hard on this cake. I struggled as you can tell. It did taste very good so I will take that over it looking bad and tasting bad.

I’m not quite sure what happened to my frosting because it was kind of thick and hard to work with. I didn’t seem to have enough of it either and usually, I have extras with Courtney’s recipes so I’m sure it’s something I did wrong. As you can tell, the cake went kind of lopsided and turned more rounded at the top.

The cake had a cinnamon chip ganache which I had never done before. It wasn’t hard to make and the recipe says to let it cool and I thought I did. Well, it REALLY needed to cool. It seemed to just keep running down. It even ran down in my fridge when I put the cake in there. But now I know for the next time when I use a ganache.

It may not be the prettiest cake but it tasted good and my family enjoyed it! I could eat the cream cheese buttercream frosting all day. Maybe that’s why I seemed short on it. Whoops!

Fall Food

It’s October and I am officially in pumpkin and fall food mode. I thought I would share with you some of what I’ve tried lately that I’ve really liked.

Earlier this week, I made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies from a recipe I found on Pinterest. I think they turned out really good! I was worried I wouldn’t get the right texture of the cookie but it came out great and was an easy recipe.

I enjoy baking and Adam and I can’t eat all of these treats ourselves so my team at work is lucky and reaps the benefits when I’m in a baking mood. You can find the recipe for these pumpkin chocolate chip cookies¬†here.

Last week, I made this¬†Taco Tortellini Soup¬†that is in Shay Shull’s cookbook¬†Simmers. It was a really easy crockpot meal and was really filling for a soup. I just switched out the black beans for pinto because Adam doesn’t like black beans. That was one I will be making again real soon. It heated up really well as a leftover too. Sorry, no picture because I honestly didn’t think about it until later but it is worth trying!

Last weekend, I went to Trader Joe’s. There isn’t one super close to me and I usually just like going for their seasonal food because it’s usually pretty good.

I picked up these pumpkin spice cookies and they are delicious! It’s a subtle hint of pumpkin which I liked. Adam likes this pumpkin pancake mix so I’ve bought it the last couple of years in the fall. Can you tell I like pumpkin? Weirdly enough, I HATE the smell of canned pumpkin. It just grosses me out.

When I go to Trader Joe’s in the fall and winter, I always pick up some of their apple cider. They’ve had different versions over the years but they’re all good. I don’t drink coffee and I’m not much of a fan of hot chocolate but I like hot drinks so this does the trick when I’m really cold.

The other thing I bought at Trader Joe’s is this cinnamon raisin bread. They carry it year-round and if you don’t like raisins they have a cinnamon swirl bread you can get. It’s thickly sliced and is going to taste so good as french toast this weekend!

The last thing I’ve been loving lately is these¬†Mini Pumpkin Cream Pies¬†from Andrea with¬†Momfessionals. She is one of my favorite blogs to read. I’ve had these on my list to try for a while and I have a team meeting today at work so I took that as a good time to try them.

They were pretty easy to make but just a little more time-consuming. You have to pipe the frosting and cookie dough out and I had never done that but it was a good learning experience. Andrea said she gets about 40 pies by the end I think. I think I made mine too big so I didn’t get that many but now I know for next time. I will be saving this recipe!

This is a little bit of what I’ve tried and loved lately. When I have more I will share them in another post. Do you have any pumpkin or fall recipes I need to try? Clearly, I’m embracing all the pumpkin!

Xoxo, Steph

 

 

 

Avenues Proper & Hatch Family Chocolates

Steph and I can get pretty busy sometimes but one thing we always try to make time for is BREAKFAST. Okay, I’ll be honest, sometimes it’s brunch (it’s hard to wake up early on a Saturday). We had been hearing a lot about this place in Salt Lake called Avenues Proper, right next to LDS Hospital, so we thought we’d check it out.

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Photo courtesy of Salt Lake Magazine

The weather was so gorgeous on Saturday! We had to take advantage of a cool, breezy day instead of the intense heat we’ve been having.

Steph and I ordered pretty much the same thing but it was delicious!!

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This is the Proper Breakfast: 2 eggs any style, baked beans, bacon & house-smoked ham, breakfast potatoes and toast. The top is Steph’s, she got her egg over medium. The bottom is mine with scrambled eggs. Neither of us got the beans because we weren’t feeling it but it was sooooo good! The bacon had a sweet, brown sugar-like glaze over it that made it taste amazing.

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My sister came with us and she ordered the Proper French Toast: the bread is house challah and it had pickled pears, orange zest, creme fraiche, and thyme-infused maple syrup. It was delicious! When I go back, I’m definitely getting this.

They’re part of the Proper group in Salt Lake: Proper Brewing Company & Proper Burger. If you’re ever in the area, stop by one of these places and try it out! Check out their menu here.

Right next door to Avenues Proper is Hatch Family Chocolates. If you’re not familiar with this place, it happened to be featured on TLC’s¬†Little Chocolatiers¬†in 2009. They make their own chocolates and their own ice cream so we had to stop by after brunch and get a sweet treat.

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My sister got mint chip (left), I got cookies & cream (middle), and Steph got strawberry! Their ice cream is so creamy and just the right amount of sweet. You definitely need to try it out!

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We had a blast! What are your favorite breakfast/brunch places?

Avenues Proper and Hatch Family Chocolates
376 8th Ave
Salt Lake City, UT 84103

xoxo

Citrus Pear

A few weeks ago, my sister Jen and sister-in-law Jessica got to try out some meal prepping with¬†Citrus Pear. We weren’t sure quite what to expect but it was pretty awesome.

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Citrus Pear has meal preparation nights all over Utah and I believe some in Idaho too. When we got to the grocery store, they had meal prep stations all set up and all we had to do was bring in a cooler.

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On their¬†website,¬†you have the option of how many meals you want to make. It even prices out how much money it will cost for each serving and it’s a pretty great price! You can choose to do a smaller family meal prep for 3-4 people or regular family size for 6-8 people. We each chose to do 20 smaller family meals that had 10 different meals.

It’s really nice because they change their menu every month and each meal is created by registered dietitians so they’re pretty healthy. They provide all the nutrition facts and will even make dietary accommodations if needed. I should probably mention how you cook all of these meals! They are all made to be cooked in either a crock pot or instapot and they provide the instructions for them and even will tell you additional spices you can add or what you could eat with it.

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It only took about 2 hours to prepare all 20 meals. One of the best things was that we didn’t have to touch any meat! I don’t know about you but I don’t love touching raw meat. They had even chopped all of the onions for us. We basically just had to dump all the ingredients in the Ziploc bag. There were a few things we had to chop like carrots or potatoes but nothing bad at all.

Also, look how cool that Ziploc bag holder is! I found it here on Amazon. It made everything so easy to just throw in.

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We all agreed that if we liked the meals we would definitely be back. Luckily, we’ve liked the meals we’ve tried! So far, I’ve only tried the “Breakfast for Dinner” and it was delicious. It was basically breakfast burritos so we threw it in the crock pot frozen and then just grabbed some tortillas. My sisters have enjoyed the meals they’ve tried too.

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I thought the whole thing was an awesome idea. I loved not having to do the grocery shopping for it and just being able to show up with my cooler. It was all so easy. Check out Citrus Pear on Instagram or on their website to see where a class is near you!

Cake by Courtney

My husband, Adam, is always telling me I need to get more hobbies besides watching Netflix and taking naps. He is a man of many hobbies and always has some sort of project going on. When I came across Cake by Courtney on Instagram, I thought her cakes looked fun. I followed her for a while before I started looking for an excuse to try a cake. My opportunity came up when my sister said she was going to have a little party for my nephew so I asked her if I could try making a cake. The party got a little bigger so I was able to try out two cakes!

My sister said she wanted a chocolate cake and so I did a trial run just to make sure I could make something worth eating. It turned out OK but I thought it was a little bit dry so I think I overcooked it. When I made it for real a few weeks later, I think it turned out better.

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Chocolate cake with a chocolate buttercream frosting.

You can see that my frosting skills still have a long way to go but it looks alright and I’m happy with that as long as the cake tastes good. I ended up buying some tools to help make the process a little easier like pre-cut parchment paper, the spinning cake stand and the frosting scraper. I would still like to buy the plastic discs you can put on top of the cake while you frost. Courtney talks all about it on her¬†website. Her recipes are actually really easy to follow especially for someone like me who is at the very beginner stage. She gives lots of tips and tricks. This cake is the¬†high altitude friendly chocolate cake¬†with the¬†chocolate buttercream frosting.

For my niece’s cake, my brother kind of gave me the free reign to pick what I wanted. I knew as soon as Courtney posted about her¬†Golden Grahams Cake¬†that I wanted to try that one. I read the recipe and it looked like one I could try. I tried to bake the cake a few days before the party and this is how it turned out.

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it was an epic fail! The edges that did get cooked tasted really good though.

I thought it was cooked and it looked cooked but when I went to take it off the rack from cooling, it had literally dripped batter out of the cake. Not cooked at all! I was really glad I had started the process early.

Luckily when I tried it again the night before the party, things went a lot better. I made sure to cook them longer and it went pretty great. I did the cake the night before and then assembled and frosted the cake in the morning.

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For some reason, I had a harder time with the buttercream on this cake than I did with the chocolate. I just couldn’t seem to get it very smooth but I know that I just need to practice more.

Overall, I was really happy with the cakes because they tasted great. You would never think of making a cake based on cereal but it was so good! I got a lot of compliments on it too. They may not be perfectly frosted but I had a lot of fun doing it and I think that’s what counts. Now I’m just looking for another reason to try a new cake! Courtney has so many fun looking cakes on her¬†website so you need to check it out and let me know if you try any!

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

I found this super simple trick for chicken one day when I was googling what temperature to bake chicken in the oven. My husband really likes to throw a couple chicken breasts in the oven with some seasoning on them to try and keep them somewhat healthy.

The way I made this chicken made it so moist and it would just fall apart. I took it as quite the compliment when my husband said it was some of the best chicken he’s had (his mom is a pretty amazing cook).

First, I preheated my oven to 400 degrees. Then I took two thawed chicken breast and I cut off all the fat. I put them on an ungreased cookie sheet.

I put on this seasoning that we really enjoy. It’s found just at your local grocery store but you can put whatever you want on it. Make sure to season both sides.

Now the trick to making it so moist is to wrap the chicken once in parchment paper. You don’t have to pin it or anything, just tuck it under.

I bake mine for 30-45 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165 degrees. I just got a new oven so I’m trying to figure out the time again.

This is it right after I pulled it out of the oven. It is so delicious and not dry at all. Let me know if you try this out! Have a fun and safe weekend!