Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Buttery Chocolate Chip Cookies

When your husband is sick he wants comfort food. This is at least how Ryan works. He specifically asked for chocolate chip cookies. This is my Grandma Emerdine's recipe that I managed to get from my mom after my Grandma passed away. She had this old Betty Crocker book that was falling apart and she wrote modifications to the recipes in the margins of the book. This recipe makes about 5.5 dozen cookies and they are buttery and rich. You will love them trust me.

What you need~
1 1/3 cups butter, softened                                
1 cup granulated sugar                                     
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. In separate bowl, combine flour salt and baking soda; add the butter mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.

 Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheets.

              Bake at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes.

You want to remove from oven when they are lightly browned.

Stack of heaven.

I bet you cannot eat just one!

I honestly forgot how many cookies this makes. This is technically a double batch as my Grandmother states in the column of the recipe (double the batch). I love these cookies they remind me of her and when I was young.  We would have cookies and milk at her house. I may only drink almond milk and soy milk now but I still get that warm happy feeling when I bite into one of these soaked in milk. I hope you have some family recipes you get to share with others.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Monday, January 25, 2016

Roasted Chickpeas

I decided that I wanted to add some texture to my salads and I saw that people recommended roasted chickpeas for this purpose. I thought okay that seems easy enough and it totally was. I have made them two times and they turned out really good. Keep an eye on them though they can go from perfect to burnt really quick. Ryan liked them on his salads as well.

What you need-
1 can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans
Olive oil
Seasonings (this batch I used salt, cumin and cayenne)

Start by rinsing the chickpeas and then placing them on a paper towel to dry for at least 10 minutes to remove some moisture. During this time pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.  

Put them on a cookie sheet like pictured here after they have dried a bit.

Coat with your olive oil and seasonings. Place in the oven for 30-45 minutes. Mine took 30 minutes but I wanted them a little meaty and not as crunchy.

So crunchy!

Never enough cumin.
These should last at least a week if you do not eat them all up like we did right away. I had to make another batch for this weeks salads they were so good. It is a nice spicy crunchy element to my salads. I hope you have good luck making them.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Friday, January 22, 2016

Removing Shellac Nail Polish

I prefer to do my own nails but every once in a while I will treat myself to a shellac manicure. What is shellac/gel nail polish exactly? It is a super heavy duty polish that does not dry it needs to be cured under a light. Once cured it will last up to three weeks. Most people remove the polish incorrectly by peeling it off. DO NOT DO THIS! If you do this you will remove the top layer of your nail bed and down the road get an infection. I wanted to share my method for removal that I have taught myself over time by reading and watching about 100 videos/tutorials. It has been a lot of trail and error and I do not really have patience. It can take almost an hour to do this for both hands so I recommend doing it when you are watching TV or something. I watched some downtown abbey.

This is what my  nails looked like after almost 3.5 weeks of wear. That is a record for me the out growth usually drives me insane sooner. I had a light colored tan glitter called cappuccino applied for New Years. As you can see one of my nails had naturally peeled off half way and I knew it was time to remove the polish.

This is what you need~
A small scissors to trim the polish pieces that are hanging or loose enough to trim.
A bowl to dip your hands in with 100% pure acetone in it.
A buffer to buff off remaining polish.
(not pictured) A cuticle stick to scrap off the polish 

Step 1. Wash your hands and dry them off.
Step 2. Using your scissors remove any polish that is loose or is hanging that you can. Do NOT peel the polish off at this time. 
Step 3. Place your hand in the pure acetone finger side down. This is going to be the majority of what you do. Only do one hand at a time. I usually let them soak for at least 5 minutes before I attempt to use the cuticle stick to start scraping the polish off. If it feels hard to scrap stop and place your hand back in the acetone. I try to focus on one nail at a time. This step is going to take you the longest amount of time and try to be patient. 
Step 4. Buff, buff and buff those nails some more. Buffing will help you get any remaining polish off. Feel your nails with your fingers to see if they are smooth or if you have spots that need to be buffed more.
Step 5. Wash your hands and lotion them heavily. Acetone is a harsh chemical and it strips the oils off of your hands. Make sure you really wash your hands good and lotion them. 

Gross picture but I wanted to show you what the polish looks like after being scrapped off.
It took an hour but they look nice and clean in the end.
 Please remember this is time consuming and you can always go to the salon to get the polish removed. I prefer to do it myself since I only get shellac a couple times a year anyway. I hope this was helpful to some of you.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Did I mention lately I love having a food processor? Whelp, it is my favorite purchase from last year and it may take the #1 most loved place of my crockpot soon. I searched everywhere for a good hummus recipe and they were so complicated. This is a hybrid of like 5 recipes because I wanted to make this easy not overly hard to do. Also, do you know how hard it is to find tahini? It took me like forever and asking like 2 people for help. I need to learn to make it now that I know what is in it.
I made this hummus for game night on Sunday and it was a huge hit. I had zero leftover at the end if the night. This makes a huge batch too.

What you need- 
1 can of Garbanzo beans/Chickpeas
2 garlic cloves
1/2 a lemon (~3 tablespoons of lemon juice)
3 tablespoons of tahini
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 roasted red pepper 
Cumin, salt and paprika to taste

This is a crappy picture but I wanted to show you what the roasted red pepper jar looks like. Listen go ahead and buy a normal red pepper and roast it for this recipe if you want. I have zero time or patience to do that plus I had this pepper already in my fridge. The super plus is that you can use some of the olive oil marinate for your 2 tablespoons required for this recipe for extra flavor!

Start by cooking your beans in the microwave for about 2-3 minutes. Let them cool slightly before putting them in the food processor.

Blend up all the ingredients in the food processor.

After adding it to it's serving dish yum!

This recipe is so simple. Besides buying the ingredients, opening the cans and cooking the beans it is super easy. It really was a huge hit and I will have to make it for every get together from now on I am sure. It is so healthy and tasty though that I do not mind one bit.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Band Spotlight: O.A.R

You know those bands that fly under the radar right. You hear their music on the radio and you think  to yourself "I love this band." That is O.A.R. for me. I downloaded their most recent album earlier this year because I liked it so much and it has been in circulation on my spotify for a while. They have this soulful indie feel to their music that is perfect for jamming out to while you work or drive somewhere. Some of my favorite songs are "Two Hands Up", "Heaven" and "Favorite Song". All of which have been played pretty frequently on the alternative rock station where I live. I wanted to spotlight them this week because Ryan and I are actually going on a beer and music cruise and guess who is going to be on that cruise!? I cannot wait to see them live. I watched them on a TV special last winter and thought they were fantastic live. I really think you should check them out.

CLICK HERE to stop in at their website.

Until next time~

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Buffalo Chicken Soup

I am busy this is a fact of life and I totally have to fit in crock pot meals at least once a week. This recipe I made last week when I worked a 10 hour day and had Zumba right after work. Coming home to this was a fantastic way to end my long day. I will warn you if you do not like buffalo sauce this is not for you. Ryan was not a fan because he does not like a ton of buffalo flavor but I LOVED it!

What you need-
12 ounces of buffalo sauce (prefer franks buffalo wing sauce)
2 chicken breasts
3 medium carrots
2 celery stalks
2 garlic cloves
1 yellow or white onion
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups egg noodles
Mrs. Dash, Salt and Pepper to taste 
Blue cheese crumbles for topping

Chop up those carrots and add to the crock pot!

Chop up the celery and onion as well and toss it in.

You want to add everything to the pot besides the egg noodles and blue cheese. 30 minutes before eating remove the chicken breasts and shred them. Add them back to the pot. Add the 2 cups of noodles as well.

Add the blue cheese crumble right before you eat. This was really good and I had enough left overs for lunch all week. I will be making again for sure. It has been really cold around here so I hope you can eat some warm food like this to keep you toasty.

Until next time~
XOXO Emily

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Blueberry Overnight Oats

I am always trying to find breakfast/meal options that are healthy and will fill me up for a long time. Chai seeds and oats are just the perfect mix that fulfills my requirements. I prefer to warm these up in the microwave and eat them but you can eat them cold too. They will also last in the fridge for a couple days which is great when you make a giant batch like this.

What you will need-
2 cup of oats    
2.5 cups of milk ( I used almond)
2 tablespoons of chia seeds
3 tablespoons of sweetener (I used honey)
1.5 cups of blueberries

The great thing about this recipe is you can customize it 1,000 ways this is just the base of what you need. You could do different fruit, milk or sweetners depending on what is in your house. You really just mix it all together and let it chill in the fridge.

Here it is all mixed up and reading to chill for at least 8 hours.

This is all microwaved and ready to eat the next day!

It is really important you let it sit for a while before eating as the oats and chia seeds will soak up all that honey and milk and become soft. This maybe my go-to mini meal before I hit the gym during the week now. I hope you are inspired to try this out soon.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Music That Shapes Us.

Lately a lot of really good artists are passing away. It is heart breaking for sure that we lose such legends as Lemmy and David Bowie. A lot of their music people love without even realizing it. Music is really a big part of who I am as a person. I would have to say two of my big loves in life are food and music. I was thinking I really lack posts about music yesterday and that bothers me to a certain extent. Therefore, I want to start having some posts showcasing my favorite artists to help expose everyone to what I love. If you review some of my previous posts from way way back I talk about the Civil Wars and 2 Cellos. I love those two bands for sure. I spent a lot of my year going to as many concerts as I can. This is the best way to discover new bands.

I guess with music the best part about it as it shapes you in ways you do not really know about. Think about it when you hear certain songs they bring up memories. Here is some songs I can relate to in shaping who I am as a person and some fun stories that go along with them.

REO Speedwagon- Ridin' the Storm Out
 Ridin' the Storm Out Video
Riding with my dad in the semi at like 2 am listening to this during a rain storm. It was funny and exactly what was happening in that moment. Makes me smile to think back to my college days traveling with my parents all over the U.S. 

Elton John- Your Song
 Your Song Video
Watching Moulin Rouge with Ryan when we were 17ish on my old futon. This song makes me think of him and being in young love.

Kansas- Dust in the wind 
 Dust in the wind Video
For some reason this song was playing the day my Grandmother passed and I now hear it and think of all the good times we had.

David Gray- Sail Away
 Sail Away Video
One year while driving around drinking hot coco Ryan and I listened to this whole album while looking at Christmas lights. Now I think of Christmas and chocolate when I hear this song.

 Foo Fighters- Skin and Bones
Skin and Bones Video  
You thought I would get through the list without a Foo song!?
This actually reflects this whole album it makes me think of that transition period I had between college and working full time in Green Bay. I must have listened to this album on repeat during that time of my life and it makes me so grateful for what I have.

Fleetwood Mac- Tusk
Tusk Video  
For some reason tusk reminds me of watching the labyrinth and that makes me think of David Bowie. I guess it is because it reminds me of the scene in the movie with the creepy red bird things. That song is really similar to tusk. This song is so fun and upbeat it reminds me of when I was in choir in high school as well.

What songs flood your brain with fond memories? What has shaped your life?

Share in the comments.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Monday, January 11, 2016

Crispy Kale Chips

It is hard to eat healthy sometimes. Especially when you by ruffled lays potato chips for your Packer party on a Sunday. I wanted to try to make this for a while but never got around doing it till Saturday night when I wanted a snack late at night. They were a little salty so be careful with the seasoning. What they reminded me of was roasted brussels sprouts in the most fantastic way.

What you need- 
1 bunch of Kale
~2 tablespoons of olive oil
Cajun seasoning
Garlic powder

This is my giant bunch of Kale I had. It was a lot but it really cooks down when you roast it. Start by heating the oven to 275 degrees F.

 Cut out the ribs of the Kale and then cut the Kate into about 1 inch pieces. As you can see I am a mess in the kitchen sometimes.

Place the cut up kale on sheet pans. Toss with the olive oil, salt, cajun and garlic powder. Go light on the salt as kale is naturally salty anyway. Put in the oven for 10 minutes and then flip/move the kale around on the plan. Cook for another 10 minutes and check for if it is done. I had to have it cook for 12 minutes to make sure it was all crispy to my liking.

All done and crispy.

mmm, so crispy.

They are fantastic. I wish I would have taken a picture after baking as they cook down a ton and would have liked to shown that. These are best served nice and hot.

I  hope you have time to sub in a healthy snack this week.

Until next time ~
XoXo Emily

Friday, January 8, 2016

New Years Resolutions

I will start out by saying I am not a fan of these. It is not because I fail at them or that I give up. I actually always follow through with anything I start (Hello losing 50 pounds and becoming a healthy beast). Anyway back to the topic at hand New Years Resolutions. What are these strange things that people decide to do every year that they never stick with? Here are my tips for sticking with a life change in general not just a resolution you decided to do for 2016.

(WARNING- I will use weight loss through out this post as my primary example as it is something I have experience in) 

1. Pick something doable- 
What do I mean by this? Pick something that is not going to be so drastic a life change that you cannot apply it to your life. You want to pick something manageable. You want to lose weight start with a small goal 5 pounds and work your way up.

2. Baby steps-
Do not go 110% in or you will burn yourself completely out and be so over your resolution. Start small and apply those changes. Keep adding till you completely get all the changes applied. A good example is my weight loss plans. I started in July 2014 by logging everything I was eating and walking my dog everyday. I did this for like a month and then started making changes to my diet and exercise. You have to see what you need to change before you can really change anything. Once I saw what was in my food I could make healthier substitutions. For example do you know that simply Heinz ketchup has 65 calories per tablespoon compared to normal Heinz that has 140!

3. It takes at least a month for something to become a habit-
I could not agree with this statement more. Sticking to a resolution is going to take time for it to start to feel like normal life. It is going to feel strange to change your life. I mean it still feels strange to order water instead of a giant soda when I go out. Stay with it though and you will be really happy in the end.

4. People are going to sabotage  you-
They do not always mean to do this but it will happen trust me. Trying to quit smoking? Someone will try to get you to smoke with them. Trying to lose weight? Come on you are skinny already eat a cheeseburger. When you make changes to your life others are forced to change or take a look at their life and it will make them uncomfortable. Try to be prepared and learn to say no.

5. DO not give up- 
There will be times when you feel like giving up. There was a time that my weight was fluctuating a lot and it freaked me out. I wanted to give up but I did  not do that because there is no end game. When you decide to make a resolution the goal should be for life not till next year.  Stay strong my friends and focused and there is nothing you cannot do.

Everyone is of course at this point wondering what my resolution is this year. It is to have better communication with others my spouse included.

Happy New Year!

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Black Bean & Corn Salad

Along with the awesome guacamole I made this past weekend I made some really tasty black bean & corn salad. We ate it for dinner and then I shared it with our skiing friends on Sunday. This is a huge batch I am still eating it for lunch today and it is Wednesday!

What you will need-                                     
1 bag frozen corn defrosted
3 cans of black beans (rinsed)
1 yellow pepper
1 red pepper
half a head of cilantro
3 garlic cloves 
1 jalapeno
2 limes (squeezed)
1 red onion
1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of olive oil 
Salt, cumin and cayenne pepper to taste 

Defrosted corn with some cumin and cayenne added. Ignore the worchester sauce that was for my guacamole not this recipe.

Time to use that food processor to blend up the onion, jalapeno, cilantro and garlic. While blending I added some of the seasonings and lime juice. I also blended the yellow and red pepper in their own batch.

I also mixed the olive oil and red wine vinegar in a bowl to add later.

Add the food processor mix to the corn in the bowl. Already looks tasty. Makes your mouth water looking at it.

Rinse your three cans of black beans really well under cold water to get the grit off of them and then once drained add to the mixture in the bowl. At this point all ingredients are in the bowl besides the dressing of vinegar and oil. Add that now and season really well with the salt, cumin and cayenne pepper. Toss the salad really liberally to coat with the dressing mix.

I added some of the salad to my tacos much like a salsa with that creamy guacamole I also made. With the chorizo sausage I made the tacos were so good. I am pretty sure Ryan ate 6 tacos for dinner that night. The next day at our skiing lunch the salad was a big hit as well. As mentioned above you can eat it with chips like a salsa too if you want.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily