Monday, December 11, 2017

S'more Cookies

Ooey and gooey these are rich and decadent. I made these for our cookie exchange which means I had to make 7 dozen. Which is a big tax to take on to bake them all. I followed a recipe on a site (bakerbynature.com) really closely.

Ingredients

  • 2 and 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs, very finely crushed (see post for more on this)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 2 sheets graham crackers, roughly chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F). Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, salt and set aside.
 
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and both sugars; beat on medium-speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add in the flour mixture. Be sure not to over beat here! Turn mixer off. Using a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon, fold in chocolate chips, marshmallows, and graham crackers.
 
3. Roll 3 tablespoon sized portions of dough between your palms to form a ball (they should be big; almost a 1/4 cup), then place on prepared sheet (make sure to leave 2" between each cookie for inevitable spreading). Continue this process until all the dough has been rolled. Place baking sheets in preheated oven, one at a time, and bake for 11 to 12 minutes, or until golden at the edges but still soft in the middle. Let cookies cool for 10 minutes on the sheet before transferring to a wire wrack to cool completely.
 
Dough mix.

Action shot!

Flour mix.

It's go time!

Yum!

So many cookies!


It was hard to not eat them all.
I hope you are able to do some of your yearly Holiday traditions like I am doing this year. It is always the best time of the year. I hope they are a big hit during the exchange. I am excited to see what everyone else makes this year. I also have to bake all the sugar cookies with my mom this weekend. So much baking I love it!
 
XoXo
Emily

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

UnitedHealthcare Service Heros


YES!

I never ever ever post about work. But I was just way too excited to not share this news. We have a program called Service Heros where your peers nominate you to win a trip to Disney World each year. This trip includes dinners, meeting leadership and so many other cool things. Only a small amount of people each year are selected and it is a huge honor to be selected. I hope you see where I am going with this. I was selected this year. It was a total surprise and everyone did a good job surprising me at my desk today. I am so blessed to work with all these awesome people and them not only nominating me but picking me is a dream.

Here are some pictures courtesy of Jena Vogel that they took today surprising me. March cannot come soon enough!

Dawn (Our site director) and I.

I cried like the whole time.



Trying to collect myself. :)

I would have hugged everyone if they let me.

This is the exact moment they rounded my desk and surprised me. Instant tears.

Crying.

WHAT FOR REAL!?

My award hanging out with my Minnie Mouse. She has a cool Mickey balloon on her arm.

How cute right? I also got a beach towel, cute Mickey bag and some shampoo goodies.
I just feel so incredibly honored. Okay I gotta go before I cry again.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Thursday, November 30, 2017

1950's Date Bars



They taste like home and happiness. On Thanksgiving I sat down with my mom and dad and went thru my grandmothers and great grandmothers recipes on my dad's side of the family. The smells in the room with the turkey baking and lightly stained recipes I will never forget. I could go on about how I loved the memory of this past Thanksgiving with my two parents crammed around the table watching the dog show and laughing for like hours. But let's get back to the date bars. This was a clipping I think from a magazine or something that my great grandma had stashed in her cute little recipe collection. I have included the full recipe below. Spry=vegetable oil. I learned that off of the internet after much research. I hope that you love these little bars as much as Ryan and I do. They are so good for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner because they are lightly sweet.

What you need~
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 cups dates, pitted and chopped
1 cup walnuts (chopped)
2 eggs well beaten
Powder sugar

Action shot.

What you need.


Sift flour with baking powder, salt and sugar. Combine dates and nuts with flour and mix well. Beat eggs in a mixer until light and add the oil. Add date mixture slowly until combined. Pour batter into a 8x8 or 9x9 pan that is greased. I had an 8x8. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. When cool dusk with powdered sugar.


Baking away.
Ready for powdered sugar.



Yum.

 
 
 
 
Until next time~
XoXo Emily 


Monday, November 27, 2017

Hearty Lentil and Rice Soup


The perfect cold weather rehab soup. You know what I am talking about... You ate way too much on Thanksgiving and you need to reset and get back to eating in moderation again. This soup is perfect for that. I watch way too much PBS and there is an Italian show on there with this cute lady named Lidia. This is a variation on her recipe. Due to living in the Midwest I had to make some food substitutions because where I live is lame and does not have amazing things like panchetta to buy in large quantities. Lucky for me smoke applewood bacon worked just as well. This was a great soup and it made enough for lunches all week. Enjoy and I hope you get back on track like me ASAP with eating healthy again.

What you need~
half pound smoke bacon
6 cloves of garlic
1 large carrot
2 stalks of celery
1 small yellow onion
28 ounces of crushed tomatoes
2 cups fresh Italian parsley
2 bay leaves
4 quarts of cold water
1 lb of green lentils
1 cup rise (I used jasmine)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Olive oil (to drizzle)
Seasoning (1 tablespoon of salt, herbs de provence and natures seasoning-- to taste)
Bacon and garlic ready to blend.

The meat and garlic should be paste like once blended.
Start by putting the garlic cloves and bacon in the food processor and blend until smooth. It will look like a paste almost. Put into a stock pot that is on medium heat and cook down for about 5 minutes. To prevent burning I did add about a tablespoon of water to deglaze the pan at one point. While this is cooking down clean out the food processor and blend the carrot, celery, onion and parlsey until small pieces. Add this to the meat in the stock pot and simmer down for about 5 minutes. At this point add the can of tomatoes and fill the can with water to add to the pot as well. Stir well and season with everything but the salt. Add the water and 2 bay leaves. Cook down for about an hour. Add the lentil and cook for another half hour. Add your rice after the lentils have cooked for about 20 minutes. Add your salt now.  Let this shimmer down till rice is done. Put in bowl and top with a drizzle of olive oil and Parmesan cheese.
All the veggies blended.
Right before adding water.


Ready to simmer.


I learned a bit from making this such as making sure the lentils were cooking for longer before adding the rice. It made enough for lunches all week which made me really happy. I will be making this again.



Lunches all week!

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Monday, November 20, 2017

Spicy and Sweet Butternut Squash


Oh my heaven this is insanely good. So good I am eating the leftovers for lunch as an entrée instead of a side dish today. I actually was cooking the other day and had PBS on in the background when I heard a similar recipe to this on the TV. I of course modified it to my liking and it turned out so well. Ryan and I both loved it. I will put this on the side dish rotation in my house. The thing is I really like squash and I hate the boring mid-west recipes of dumping brown sugar and maple syrup on them and calling it a day. I am constantly trying to find healthy and tasty ways of preparing squash. This was a huge hit. I hope you enjoy. It would be a perfect way to prepare squash for Thanksgiving this week.

What you need~
1 medium sized butternut squash (peeled and shredded)
4 dates (pitted and diced)
1 onion (diced)
4 large leaves of mint (chopped)
11/2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1/3 cup pistachio (chopped)
Cajun seasoning, natures seasoning, smoked paprika and cayenne powder (to taste)



Here are some instructions on prepping the squash:
Take your squash and cut it down the fat side or short way. Once cut peel all of the skin off of the squash much like you would do to a potato. Then cut it into stripes that will fit into your food processor neck. You want to make sure you are using your shredding attachment not the slicing side. Shred the entire squash.



Prep all items including your squash. Place your onions in the pan with a little oil on medium heat. Season the onions. Let them sweat down for about 2 minutes. Add all your squash to the pan.  Let this cook down for about 15-20 minutes until the squash is softened. Season as needed.Then add the dates and lemon juice. Let that cook for about 2 minutes. Then we want to go ahead and add the pistachio and mint to the pan. Season once more as needed and serve.








THIS is my new favorite thing ever. It is spicy from the seasonings but sweet from the dates. The crunch from the nuts pairs really well with the mushy squash. You really have to make this if not for the holidays just for dinner some night.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Monday, November 13, 2017

Cinnamon Sugar Banana Dessert

 

Easy, tasty and actually a low calorie dessert. That is right this dessert is perfect for all those banana's you have sitting out on the counter. I made this one day when I forgot to take the whip cream out of the freezer and was unwilling to wait for it to thaw. Not sure if you know this but frozen whip cream really tastes like ice cream in a way. I now am addicted to this dessert and if their are banana's in my house I make this at least 2 times a week. So what is all in this yummy dessert? It is actually simple take a look below.

What you need~
1 banana
Cinnamon sugar
Whip cream


Turn the broiler on in your oven on hi. Cut your banana in half and place on a cookie sheet. Lightly dust the banana with the cinnamon sugar. Place under the broiler and heat until the cinnamon sugar starts to bubble and looks caramelized if you will. While this is happening take a scoop of the frozen whip cream and place in a bowl. When the banana is done to your liking add it on top of the whip cream and then eat!


It is really the best low calorie and quick dessert I have come across. Try it soon!

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Travel Adventures: Foo Fighters Concert Madison

What a concert and what a night! We just had the best of times in Madison this week at the Foo Fighters concert. Arriving in Madison around 3pm we had plenty of time to snag a piece of pizza and a beer before the concert. The opening band the Struts was fun and energetic if not a bit too loud. Followed by my favorite band the Foo Fighters. Putting on a 3 hour show they never disappoint. We then closed down a piano bar and townie bar before heading back to our hotel. I have not been up till 4am since I was like 21. A trip to remember for sure. Filled with friends and a ton of good music. Making memories like this are always worth the time. Here are some highlights from the trip.

Foo Fighters stage. They had a really cool moving screen that rotated all over and was really cool. It is pictured in the middle of a giant jumbo screen behind it here.

Another image of the cool moving screen AND Mr. Dave Grohl himself. He is pictured here with his famous blue guitar.

A picture of the entire band. From left (Chris Shiflett, Dave Grohl, Nate Mendel , Pat Smear, Rami Jaffee and on drums Taylor Hawkins)

A picture of the entire stage.

You can see how close we were in this picture. Loved out seats!

Yes!

All the ladies!

Had to get a beer before the game. Maggie's finger also pictured.

I have always wanted to try Ian's famous mac n cheese pizza it did not disappoint. Rich and creamy!

Group picture. Not pictured Nate, Alyssa and Ryan.

Waiting not so patiently.

A recap of all the fun.
We had so much fun singing and dancing all night to such awesome music. I did not take a picture but my favorite part of the concert is when they sang my favorite song "Skin and Bones". When you see most bands they play your favorite song most of the time. My song I love is more rare and I have never seen them play it live. This was extra special for me to see this song I even got tears in my eyes.  22 years of rocking and they are still going strong!

Until next time~
XoXo Emily