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Monday, February 27, 2012

Butterscotch blondies

Get excited!  

That phrase always brings back memories from college, standing in Kappa's chapter room trying to get everyone amped up for some social or philanthropy or campus event.  Even seven (jeeeebus) years later, I still find myself over-using the term, and also wishing there was still a weekly Spirit Jar to read on Monday nights.
Anyway, in an attempt to catch up on the backlog and get more in the habit of posting all of the recipes I try, I'm doing a recipe-a-day in the month of March.  Spring into Cooking, if you will.  March Madness in my kitchen.  Whatever you want to call it.

Consider this one a warm up - a super easy, WW-friendly bar recipe.
 Butterscotch Blondies
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 C butter, softened
2 large egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 C flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C butterscotch morsels

Preheat oven to 350F.  Beat sugars and butter with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 4 minutes).  Add egg whites and vanilla; beat well.  Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups and level with a knife.  Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; stir well with a whisk.  Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat at low speed until just incorporated.  Stir in butterscotch chips.  Spread batter evenly in an 8-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 350F for 25-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely and cut into 16 bars.  Adapted from Weight Watchers Magazine
Sixteen servings seem small, but these bars are actually really rich in spite of being light.  I will definitely be adding chocolate chips next time!  Enjoy!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Five for Friday, vol 36

1.  You say really funny things when you're half asleep on cold medicine.

2.  You have a super cute butt.

3.  One minute you are oohing and aahing over our friends' cute new baby and the next minute you claim you have no idea how babies work.
4. You are calmer than I am when watching close Mizzou basketball games.

5. I don't know when you learned how to install exterior lighting, but the new lights in the backyard are awesome and bright and extremely helpful for a terrier who is terrified of the nighttime.

I love you.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Macaroon-stuffed Chocolate Cupcakes

I have the day off today.  I surely do love Presidents.  It's been a really nice, lazy weekend.  We usually have so much going on that when we have no plans, we tend to be more like hermits.  Weekends like this, especially long ones, usually mean that Kenny does little project around the house and that I bake something while I catch up on the DVR.  This weekend was no exception.  These cupcakes are nice and light, which is nice for a weekday-turned-weekend treat.


Macaroon-Stuffed Chocolate Cupcakes
1 cup nonfat ricotta cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg white
1/3 cup coconut flakes
1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 egg whites - lightly beaten
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
Chocolate Ganache (below)
Colored sprinkles (optional)

For filling: In a medium bowl, beat together ricotta, sugar, and egg white until smooth.  Stir in coconut, set aside.For cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350F.  Lightly coat 18 muffin tins with cooking spray, set aside.  In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, and baking soda.  In a small bowl, combine egg whites, buttermilk, applesauce, and vanilla.  Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and stir until smooth.  Spoon half the batter into prepared muffin cups, then spoon 1 tablespoon coconut filling in the center of each.  Spoon the remaining batter evenly on top of filling.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, and then remove to cool on a wire rack.

Chocolate Ganache
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Pour over chocolate in a bowl. Let stand 5 minutes. Slowly whisk until smooth. Let cool completely, stirring often with a rubber spatula. (adapted from Martha Stewart).  

When completely cool, dip the tops of each cupcake in the ganache.  Repeat as needed for desired thickness of coating.  Add sprinkles, if desired.

With my husband, sprinkles are always desired.

What do you do on a day off?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Graduate.

Pennycakes had her last puppy class today. Thanks to Petsmart, our little one is a certified trained dog. She sits. She lays down. She can do three straight puppy push-ups. She comes when called at least 40% of the time. And since she was the only dog in the class with perfect attendance, that means she's the valedictorian.

Smartest dog on the planet. Bitch looks good in a hat.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Five for Friday, vol 35

1. Happiness is a husband who loves clean sheets.

2. You text me weather reports because you know I always forget to check it myself.

3. You make hot chocolate on snowy days ... from scratch!

4. The first album you picked up at the record store on our V-Day date was the exact one I debated buying you for Christmas when I got you the record player.

5. You turn into an adorably disoriented and nonsensical pumpkin after 10:30 PM.

Houseguest.

We are dog-sitting this weekend. Penny thinks its fantastic. A new friend, wheeeeee! Tucker, well... let's just note who has refused to join the rest of the girls on the bed. He's currently pouting under the dresser. Men.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Bites

The next best thing to wings on a Saturday afternoon.  There is something so smug and rewarding about finding an alternative to a crave-worthy junk food that actually satisfies the craving.  These little bites were super easy to make, since I had everything on hand already.  While I know they are not really the same as a buffalo wing (and sometimes you just gotta get the real thing), they actually tasted better than a lot of the boneless options I've tried. 

Buffalo Chicken Bites
(serves 2)
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4-1/2 C buffalo sauce (recommend Syberg's)
1 package Shake n Bake or 1/2 C seasoned breadcrumbs
1 packet Hidden Valley ranch dry mix

Preheat oven to 350. Pour buffalo sauce into a shallow bowl and combine breadcrumbs and ranch mix in another.  Spray a metal cooling rack with Pam and place on top of a cookie sheet.Dip chicken into sauce, coating well, and then roll in breadcrumbs until completely coated. Evenly space chicken bites on the rack.  Spray lightly with Pam.  Bake until crisp and brown, 18-20 minutes.  Brush with additional sauce to taste.  Enjoy!
I baked some crinkle fries along with the chicken, which slowed down the cooking time a little since my oven was full.  The chicken seems to cook quickly, but it's getting the coating to crisp that takes a few extra minutes, but it's well worth it.  Kenny loved these and they were a really easy and much healthier alternative to a take-out order of traditional wings.  I'm pleased to report that our Mizzou Tigers won the basketball game against Baylor, putting them at #3 in the nation with talks of a top seed come tourney time.  These are obviously good luck and I am sure they will taste extra delicious in March.

Let's Fall in Love: And one for the road.

As my (long-winded and overly-drawn out) wedding recaps finally come to a close, I would like to thank all of you for sticking it out til the end.  I loved every moment of being a bride.  It was an experience I had idealized in my head since I was a very little girl, and while neither perfect nor always ideal, the process of planning a wedding and marrying my husband exceeded all of my expectations.  Being a bride was amazing, but being a wife is so much more than I ever could have known. 

With this final wedding post, I will leave you with a lesson in physics.

If you put a girl in an organza-covered dress and place her at the top of a metal slide, and you put a full-grown man directly behind her ...


And then you apply gravity ...


It works to prove Newton's First Law of Physics.

A body in motion will stay in motion ... and I totally knew what was coming to me at this point.  

I hit the ground. Hard.  There was a collective gasp from onlookers in the park and everything went quiet.  Even the birds stopped chirping.  BRIDE DOWN! BRIDE DOWN!  Kenny had landed on his feet (this happens when you're wearing pants, I guess) and just stared at me for split second with a look of complete panic on his face.  We'd been married less than 24 hours and he'd already broken me. 

And then we both just started laughing.

What more can you do?

Thank you so much for following along with me as I relived and reloved our wedding day.  It has truly been an honor to know that there are complete strangers out there who care enough to keep coming back.  If you are planning a wedding, enjoy every moment.  It's over before you know it.

Much love, 
from September 4 to Infinity,
The Mrs.


I bought a dress and completely changed it.  We had a marathon final week of engagement.  I giggled my way through our rehearsal.  Kenny got grilled at our rehearsal dinner.  The groomsmen ran amok in downtown Springfield. The girls got gorgeous.  We exchanged mushy wedding-day gifts.  The guys got fancy and then got dancy.  I became a Bride.  There was a first First Look. I shared my Somethings.  The boys made the most of trolley-time. And did their thing on the Capital grounds. The girls took photos at the hotel. Everyone arrived at the church. We walked down the aisle. We declared our intentions and my cousin preached. We exchanged our vows. Our hands were blessed. Kenny put a ring on it and kissed his bride. We were pronounced Mr and Mrs! We left the church in a blizzard of confetti, and took a "just-married" trolley ride. We made it legal. We took pictures with our families, followed by wedding party portraits. I hit a low point and poured over reception details. We received our guests. The wedding party was introduced. My Dad checked his toast off of his to-do list. Our Best Man and Maid of Honor shared toasts as well. The we cut our cake and had our First Dance. We shared a dance with our parents. And had an Anniversary Dance to celebrate all the marrieds. The photobooth opened for business. I serenaded my husband. The dance floor opened. Kenny's grandmother rocked the dance floor. The party continued and finally rocked to a close





Saturday, February 11, 2012

Skillet Cookie

'Tis the season for yummy sweets for you and your sweetheart.  I love Valentine's Day for this reason.  Chocolate is basically an entire food group.  I dig it.  I also dig pan-sized cookies.  Win-win.


Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 9 ounces) semisweet-chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla; mix until they are fully incorporated. Add flour mixture, and beat until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.Transfer dough to a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, and press to flatten, covering bottom of pan. Bake until edges are brown and top is golden, 40 to 45 minutes. Don't overbake; it will continue to cook a few minutes out of the oven. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, 15 to 20 minutes. Cut into 8 wedges. Serve warm.  Adapted from Martha Stewart.

Yummmmmy. Enjoy!

Five for Friday, vol 34

Better late than never...

1. You want to get a tick mark engraved inside your wedding band for every year we're married.

2.  You set fun mapped courses for me on the treadmill.

3.  You can fold a fitted sheet into a square.

4.  You make the best spa water.

5.  You bend over backwards to cheer me up when I am being seriously crabby.

Saturday bonus: Hearing that you think I am beautiful, sexy, and otherwise amazing every single day never gets old.

I love you.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Let's Fall in Love: And they lived happily ever after, the end.

Everyone always says that their wedding day is one of the happiest days of their lives.  I will not argue that point.  Our wedding day was practically perfect.  The weather was as good as it gets for late summer in the Midwest.  Everyone was happy and enjoyed themselves immensely.  We ate cake for days.  It was splendid. 

As wonderful as the wedding day turned out, the day after was even better.  All the stress and anxiety that came along with planning THE BIGGEST PARTY EVER was gone.  I got to put on my wedding dress one more time.  We got to wander around the park (on another gorgeous day) with just us.  We were still basking in the glow of being newlyweds, but in a much quieter, calmer setting. A lot of cuples are advocates for the First Look on their wedding day, but I am here to tell you that a Day-After photo shoot is even better.

And Tucker got to make an appearance, too.

And off we went to Washington Park.

The wedding day photo shoots were amazing.  We got some seriously phenomenal photos.  Matt's work was just wonderful.  But still, the day after was so much more ... real, relaxed, light.  There was so much less pressure, and it was so much more fun.  


And I felt pretty, too.



And the light was just delicious.







Live, laugh, love.






After wandering around the Botanical Gardens, we had a little time left in our session.  What other choice did we have but to go play on the swings?



 Remember in elementary school when you ended up swinging perfectly in sync with the person next to you and that meant you were "married?"  Yeah, the real thing is better.

After the swings, we made our way to the rest of the playground equipment to get a few pictures on the slides.  As we moved through the very busy park, a little girl about four years old caught sight of me in my dress and completely froze.  She was like a slack-jawed deer in the headlights.  Not taking her eyes off my dress, she tugged at her mom's hand and asked "Mommy, is that a princess?"  It was the sweetest thing.  If she is anything like I was at that age, she will be obsessed with brides and weddings for as long as I have.

In case you missed it ...
I bought a dress and completely changed it.  We had a marathon final week of engagement.  I giggled my way through our rehearsal.  Kenny got grilled at our rehearsal dinner.  The groomsmen ran amok in downtown Springfield. The girls got gorgeous.  We exchanged mushy wedding-day gifts.  The guys got fancy and then got dancy.  I became a Bride.  There was a first First Look. I shared my Somethings.  The boys made the most of trolley-time. And did their thing on the Capital grounds. The girls took photos at the hotel. Everyone arrived at the church. We walked down the aisle. We declared our intentions and my cousin preached. We exchanged our vows. Our hands were blessed. Kenny put a ring on it and kissed his bride. We were pronounced Mr and Mrs! We left the church in a blizzard of confetti, and took a "just-married" trolley ride. We made it legal. We took pictures with our families, followed by wedding party portraits. I hit a low point and poured over reception details. We received our guests. The wedding party was introduced. My Dad checked his toast off of his to-do list. Our Best Man and Maid of Honor shared toasts as well. The we cut our cake and had our First Dance. We shared a dance with our parents. And had an Anniversary Dance to celebrate all the marrieds. The photobooth opened for business. I serenaded my husband. The dance floor opened. Kenny's grandmother rocked the dance floor. The party continued and finally rocked to a close. We enjoyed the Honeymoon Suite and a Day-After Brunch.



Tuesday, February 7, 2012

This little dog.

Just sat on Kenny's face in an effort to make room for himself between our pillows, a space which he now sees fit to claim entirely as his own. He is currently snoring in a very content, if not just a little smug, manner.

Our dog is kind of an asshole.

Pretzel-Crusted Chicken

Kenny loves pretzels.  Love love loves.  I love chicken tenders.  Love love love.  So when you find a meal that brings your two loves together (and adds cheese) you pretty much have to jump on it.

Pretzel-Crusted Chicken with Cheddar Fondue and Zucchini Sticks

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
Salt and pepper
6 ounce whole grain pretzels
2 large eggs
2 zucchini, halved crosswise and cut into sticks
1 pounds chicken tenders
 extra-virgin olive oil 
    Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute, then whisk in the chicken broth and milk. When the milk begins to bubble, stir in the cheese and mustard. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, remove from the heat and cover to keep warm. Using a food processor, finely grind the pretzels. Transfer to a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, beat the eggs. Coat the zucchini with the pretzel crumbs, then the egg, then the pretzel crumbs again. Repeat with the chicken. Drizzle olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the chicken in 2 batches, turning, until firm, about 3 minutes on each side. The burn easily, so watch closely.  Drain on paper towels; keep warm on a baking sheet in the oven. Repeat with the zucchini, adding more oil if necessary. Rewarm cheese fondue if needed and serve alongside the chicken fingers and zucchini sticks. Adapted from Rachael Ray.

    Monday, February 6, 2012

    Puffy Chicken Tacos

    If you're like me and you follow the general rule that you should be eating healthy 90% of the time and enjoy an occasional indulgence the rest, then these tacos are the 1% of dinner.  I mean really, fried tacos?  Yes, please.
    Puffy Chicken Cream Cheese Tacos
    1-1 1/4 pound frozen bonesless, skinless chicken breast
    1 cup salsa
    1 can stewed tomatoes (undrained)
    taco seasoning packet
    6-8 oz light cream cheese
    canola or peanut oil
    12-16 flour or corn tortillas (small)

    Put all ingredients in a crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours, or until chicken is done.  Turn crockpot to warm and add cubed cream cheese, cover and let rest 10-15 minutes.  Transfer chicken, softened cream cheese, and veggies to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Process on low-medium speed until chicken is shredded and cream cheese is combined.  You can also shred meat with forks.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a Dutch oven with tall sides.  Spoon filling into taco shells and fold to close.  Press filling and tortillas to seal as much as possible.  Once the oil is hot, place tacos one or two at a time in the Dutch oven, frying until crispy and flipping occasionally.  Tortillas will puff slightly when cooking.  Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.  Repeat until filling/shells are done.  Let cool slightly and serve. Enjoy!
    Kenny loves it when I make these tacos! It's not something I do very often, but they really hit the spot.  I limit myself to two for the sake of WeightWatchers, and let me tell you, that's tough, especially with fresh guacamole on the side.  These are very much worth the effort and the aftermath of having to scrub my stovetop! 

    Friday, February 3, 2012

    Five for Friday, vol 33

    1.  You never hesitate to say "I love you" regardless of who is also on speaker phone.

    2.  You have the best, most awkward dance moves I've ever seen.

    3. You make me laugh until I snort, which is super professional at my desk.

    4. Impromptu slow dances in the kitchen.

    5.  "You need to set a calendar reminder to shut yo faaaaace."