Spring Forward

Whatever I did yesterday must have worked, because my hamstrings and glutes are killing me.   It is seriously painful to sit and stand.  Guess that’s what I get for not doing any strength training for, oh, a month.  Hmph.

Today was nice and chill.  The dog let me sleep in, which was nice,

Last night I made Susan’s protein bars.  

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They were super easy.  It was basically like making a big breakfast cookie!  (Click the link for the recipe.)  The hardest part was cutting them into 8 and wrapping them in foil.  I stuck them in the freezer to pull out one at a time.  I ate one today and wowza, are they good!

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The animals and I had a pretty lazy afternoon.  I did a bit of grocery shopping, but we mostly watched a True Life marathon on MTV.

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The birthday boy got home around 5:30 and requested Chipotle for his birthday dinner.  I gladly obliged!  We got his and hers burritos:

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Tim also brought me a gift back from Vegas—chocolate peanut butter eggs!

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(I’m sharing with him.)

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It sounds like he had a fun weekend of eating, drinking, and carousing with the boys.  Hopefully he’ll stick to his word and write a recap for the blog!

For later, we have Tim’s birthday cake!

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It’s called Gooey Butter Cake, and I swear this is the best thing (besides Tim) to come out of the state of Missouri.  Here’s the recipe I got from Tim’s mom:

Gooey Butter Cake

  • yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 lb. powdered sugar
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 t. vanilla

Mix together the cake mix, softened butter, and 1 egg until crumbly.  Pat in a 9 by 13 pan.   Blend the remaining 2 eggs, powdered sugar, cream cheese and vanilla with a mixer until fluffy and pour over the first layer.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.  Top with sifted powdered sugar.

This stuff is insanely good.  Not at all healthy, but a worthy treat.   I’d never heard of it until I started dating Tim, but man, I’m glad I know about it now.

What are your favorite regional foods?

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I’m back! Part two

Sunday

Sunday was a lot of fun.  T and I randomly woke up early, and we didn’t have to be anywhere until 12:30, so of course what does my mind automatically go to?  Grocery shopping, of course!  Chicago has Trader Joe’s, my absolute favorite place to buy groceries, but Kansas City doesn’t.  So, we stopped at Starbucks for a quick breakfast and then headed out to TJ’s.  My mission?  ALMOND BUTTER.  It’s $9.99 for a small jar here, and $4.99 for a big jar there.  I stocked up! Here’s my “I love grocery shopping” face:

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Here’s the loot:

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I ended up with:

  • TJ’s low sodium creamy tomato soup (SO good)
  • Pecan praline granola
  • four jars of almond butter
  • two jars of peanut butter
  • a Clif white chocolate macadamia bar (haven’t seen this flavor around here)
  • “Just a handful” of cashews, cherries, and almonds trail mix

That’s it.  I tried to behave!

Then we went to Petsmart, where we bought a harness and leash and tags for our dog, because we thought we’d be picking him up today at 4:15.  😦  Long story short–our rental agent represented one thing to us, our lease says another, and ultimately the property owner will decide if we get him or not.  We offered to extend our lease for a year if they allow him, which we think is a pretty appealing offer, so we are just waiting (on pins and needles) to find out what the decision is.  Hopefully we will have something to fill the harness and collar soon…but anyway.  Sorry for the tangent.

After getting lost all over the place, we met with our awesome florist!  I am so, so excited about our floral stuff now.  She is incredible and creative and modern–I just love her.  Here’s the rundown of what we’re getting:

  • My bouquet: White peonies with white and pink dutch tulips and white and pink ranunculus, round and fluffy shape, hand-tied, handle wrapped in champagne satin with ivory or white organza criss-cross overlay and pearl details, skinny ivory plumage around rim
  • Bridesmaids: Mostly light & medium pink and some white dutch tulips hand-tied and simple, with lace accent around handle. Handle tied in champagne satin.
  • T’s bout: white ranunculus w/premium greens, stems wrapped in black with gold wire wrap
  • Groomsmen: light pink ranunculus w/premium foliage, stems wrapped in black with gold wire wrap
  • Altarpieces (reused at reception): tall and showy hurricane-shaped vase, curly willow, white hydrangea, cream french tulips, peach stock, light pink snapdragons, pink and white peonies, minimal foliage
  • Centerpieces for reception: short & full mixed arrangement in square vase with mixture of white hydrangea, white and light pink peonies, and white and light pink tulips; ribbon wrapped around vase in aqua and aqua stones in bottom of vases
  • Plus, assorted flowers for parents, grandparents, petals for the flower girl, and peonies for atop our cake!

I’m really excited about the flowers now.  I never thought I would be, but it’s going to be springy and lush and full of texture.  Our awesome florist thanked us a few times for not using roses (apparently she’s sick of them), and laughed at T a little bit because he is very insistent about his ranunculus for the boutonnieres.

THEN, we did a little shopping (and I got a great black leather bag for work) and headed to our cake tasting, also known as HEAVEN.

T and I picked our cake design almost immediately.  We love the unique shape of the tiers and the awesome piping:

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However, there was some consternation about the color.  I was concerned about an all-blue cake, but I thought an ivory cake with blue piping would look like a sink with toothpaste in it (yes, I’m weird).  Then we thought about a white cake with pink piping, but we didn’t think we’d get the contrast we wanted on that.  Eventually, we saw an ACTUAL blue cake and I was satisfied that it will not look like the Cookie Monster, so we are going with blue fondant and ivory piping.  Like this cake, but in the design above:

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Then, the tasting.  Also known as the happiest day of my life:

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Can I just say how much I wanted to stick my face in that plate of frosting?

We tried all the cakes first and immediately ruled a few out (carrot, banana, plain white).  T and I had the same two favorites, so that was pretty easy–we both loved the red velvet cake and the vanilla chiffon.  Normally, I’m not a white cake person, but the vanilla cake is very french vanilla-y and rich.

Then we tried all the frostings.  There were a few immediate vetos (lemon, mocha, jams) and we pretty quickly decided on the classic red velvet cake with cream cheese icing for two of the tiers.  I was infatuated with their strawberry mousse (it tasted like strawberry ice cream) and T loved the chocolate mousse.  So…we had the genius idea to make a Neapolitan cake!  Two tiers will have vanilla chiffon cake, with two layers of strawberry mousse filling and one layer of chocolate mousse.  Taken all together, it really does taste like Neapolitan ice cream!  Yum.  (The mousses are the big fluffy piles of frosting on the bottom of the picture.)

After the cake tasting was done, we drove to my aunt and uncle’s house and had a lovely dinner with them, my cousin and her husband and son, their friend and their dog.  Steaks, asparagus, and potatoes were on the menu and we brought a cake for dessert.  So good!

Then we rented Marley & Me in anticipation of getting our dog today (sigh) and I snotty ugly cried through the last half of it.

Monday

Today, we got up at  6 a.m. to leave Chicago and drive home because we were supposed to be picking up our dog at 4:15 until the shelter called and revealed all this with our rental place.  So, it was a very stressful drive home and now we’re waiting on pins and needles to find out what the owner’s decision is.  My fingers are crossed so very hard.

And that is my weekend in review!  How was yours?  I hope you enjoyed Leah and Susan‘s guest posts!  Aren’t they fabulous?

Annnd we’re off

So, in a few hours we’ll be on the road, making the long haul from Kansas City to Chicago (about 8 hours by car) for our sister-5K-wedding-extravaganza weekend.  Here’s the lineup:

Friday

  • Drive eight hours home.  Arrive sane at my mom’s house.
  • Sleep.

Saturday

  • 5K with my sister
  • Reception food tasting with T, my mom, and my sister
  • Hair salon consultation
  • Meeting with pastor
  • Dinner with my oldest friend (and bridesmaid) and her husband

Sunday

  • Meeting with florist
  • Cake tasting (!!)
  • Dinner with my aunt and uncle

Monday

  • Drive home

Phew!  We’re going to be busy.  I have some great guest posts all ready to go, so keep checking in to read some fun stuff from some of my favorite bloggers!

As far as the 5K, my goals are no walking (it’s a flat course, so I feel like this is definitely achievable) and finish in under 31:00.  (My secret goal is under 30:00, but I’m not sure I know how to pace myself that well yet.  I think 10 minute miles is do-able.)  I’m not sure if my sister and I are going to stick together, or if she’s just going to take off and smoke me, but we will see.  I’ll have a full race report when I return!  Wish me luck!

Have a great weekend!  Any fun plans?

Warning: Unhealthy food ahead

So, I love to bake.  As I mentioned earlier this week, my mom baked and sold custom birthday cakes out of our kitchen when I was little, and I grew up licking beaters and getting little dollops of frosting on my finger.  (I won’t delve into how this has influenced my later weight and eating issues, but whatever.)  Baking has always been my solace–I love zoning out and measuring precisely and coming out an hour later with something delightfully warm and wonderful.

When I started losing weight, I tried “healthy” baking.  It didn’t really catch on.  Well, that’s not entirely true, I suppose–I still like making whole wheat breads and pizza doughs and such.  But all the lower-calorie cookies and cakes to me are just subpar pale imitations of the real thing (and yes, I can taste the difference between applesauce and oil), so I kind of had to figure out a happy medium.  I tried giving up baking entirely, and that made me sad.  So, I finally just had to figure out some strategies so that I could keep my favorite hobby, but not the extra pounds it was causing me.

Enter strategy number one: GIVE IT AWAY.  I started baking right before I had meetings to attend for school, and would bring treats to share with everyone.  (Bonus: this makes you popular.)  Since we’ve moved, I’ve taken to baking things and sending a good portion of the stuff to work with T.  (Unfortunately, he has a very small office, so I can’t get rid of too much this way.  He needs more coworkers!)  Tonight, I baked a double batch of Bakerella’s Cake Balls.  Half of them will be going to the Ronald McDonald House where I volunteer, for families of hospitalized children to eat.  About a quarter will be going to work with T, and the rest will stay at home.

(Instead of making red velvet cake balls–been there, done that–I made one batch using strawberry cake mix/rainbow chip frosting/white chocolate coating and another batch making German chocolate cake mix/coconut pecan frosting/dark chocolate coating.  Mmm.)  Here is the pictorial evolution of the cake balls:

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Delicious!  (Note: I don’t usually use so many baggies, but the house director at Ronald McDonald House suggested individual size packaging for snacks so families can grab them on their way out the door.)

Strategy number two for baking: portion control.  One batch of cake balls yields probably 36 balls–so, that’s basically 1/36 of a cake, 1/36 of a can of frosting, and a minimal amount of chocolate coating.  Compare that to a whole cake, in which if you eat one slice, you’re eating what, 1/8 of the cake?  1/16, maybe?  No, it’s still not good for you, but it’s less of a calorie hit when you downsize a bit.  The trick with cake balls is to just stop at one, which, trust me, is easier said than done.  But I find that if I bake smaller things, like cake balls instead of cake, or mini muffins instead of muffins, I don’t miss the huge chunk of dessert–it’s nice to just get a taste.

Anyway, what are your strategies for baking?  Anyone else a slightly reformed baker like me?

Let them eat cake.

I seriously cannot  think of anything about our wedding I care about less than how our wedding cake looks.  This presents a problem, as we have our wedding cake tasting (yay) and design (boo) meeting on October 11th.

Our bakery is kind of a unique situation.  Our cake is included in our reception package because the restaurant has a contract with a certain bakery.  From what I understand, they have a book of cake designs we can choose from, so we can’t design our own (not that I would want to do that).  We can customize colors, but the design is standard.  They only have a few options up on their website, and they look just fine.  When I think about it, if I have to form an opinion on this, I guess I want something sophisticated and not boring.  Yup.  I don’t care if it’s square or round, or if it’s colored or white.  I think T is going to be making a lot of these decisions because I cannot muster up the energy to form violently passionate opinions about this.  Here are a couple of ones from their website I like.

Classic but a little boring:

I like this aside from the obnoxious bow:

Again, like it except for the ribbon.  People, step away from the fondant bows:

So, yeah, someone needs to form an opinion about this, because I don’t have one.

Taste is a different matter.  I love cake.  When I was little, my mom baked and sold beautiful cakes out of our house–mostly birthday cakes, but I have lots of fond memories of “helping” my mom bake and frost cakes.  I still love to do it, and she recently gave me her cake decorating kit.  It makes me a little bit sad that I live somewhere where I don’t have friends to make cakes for birthdays and showers and whatnot to play with it!  Sigh.

T and I are both BIG chocolate cake fans.  I hate white cake and T does not see the point in cake that is not chocolate.  I like yellow cake with chocolate frosting, and pound cake, and red velvet cake.   We’ve eaten this place’s cake before, and it’s fab.  I am super excited to pick this out.  Here are our options:

Cake flavors

  • Marble chiffon
  • Vanilla chiffon
  • Chocolate chiffon
  • White cake
  • Double devil’s food
  • Pound cake
  • Almond pound cake
  • Lemon pound cake
  • Banana cake
  • Carrot cake

Fillings:

  • Vanilla custard
  • Chocolate custard
  • Lemon custard
  • Strawberry jam
  • Raspberry jam
  • Apricot jam
  • Vanilla buttercream
  • Chocolate buttercream
  • Hazelnut buttercream
  • Mocha buttercream
  • Lemon buttercream
  • Raspberry buttercream
  • Strawberry buttercream
  • White chocolate mousse
  • Chocolate mousse
  • Raspberry mousse
  • Strawberry mousse
  • Irish cream mousse
  • Lemon mousse
  • Tiramisu mousse
  • Fresh strawberry
  • Fresh banana
  • Seasonal fruit
  • Fudge
  • Ganache
  • Cream cheese

Frostings:

  • Fondant
  • White chocolate ganache
  • Dark chocolate ganache
  • Wedding buttercream

PHEW.  I will bring my camera and blog about all this, but wow.  Talk about a lot of choices!  I think this might be the part of wedding planning I am most excited for. We’ll probably avoid the jams, because I’m not a fan of jam fillings in cake, but fresh strawberries and bananas sound pretty good.  And cream cheese?  And ganache?  Oh man.  I am way excited for this, but the sheer amount of decisions involved will be a bit overwhelming.  We’ll probably have 3 or 4 tiers based on our number of guests, so we’ll probably have different flavors in each.

What’s your favorite kind of cake?  Best wedding cake you’ve ever had?

BONUS: Check out a fun food giveaway at Leah’s blog, Leftovers for Lunch!