Adventures in the kitchen, in fitness and with glitter!

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Bake: Doubletree Copycat Chocolate Chip Cookies

There’s a reason I have not yet published my 2015 resolutions, I am still working to find my rhythm in this new year. But that said, I did find myself back in the kitchen this evening, baking! I was intent to make some comfort treats for a friend of ours and set out to Pinterest for some inspiration this afternoon. The Doubletree Hotel Copycat Cookies immediately stood out. I subbed in gluten-free flour and omitted the nuts for allergy reasons, but also used the mini chocolate chips recommended in the notes. Perfect result!

My frozen cookie balls ready to be popped in the oven!

My frozen cookie balls ready to be popped in the oven!

The treat in this recipe is also the oats, which I blended in the food processor. It gives the cookie some consistency but leaves it still light and sweet. A quick two hours in the freezer, 14 minutes in the oven, and these are ready to be plated and delivered in the morning!

Fresh out of the oven, and delicious - I tested them myself.

Fresh out of the oven, and delicious – I tested them myself! 

Happy cooking all, have a great week!


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Saturday in the Kitchen!

Today was a Saturday, I was in Madison, and I had no obligations. Woo-hoo! This was my first in Madison since July 4th weekend and I made the most of it! Madison has been saddled with muggy and humid weather for the past couple days but I still seized the day and woke up early for a run around Madison with my favorite running partner. Once we were finished with our quick six, it looked like we’d showered outside! Whew. I dried off and hit the farmers’ market. Madison’s Farmers’ Market is expansive and lush with farm fresh fruits and veggies, breads and cheese, crafts, the list goes on and on! I found lots of goodies there today – corn, cantaloupe, peppers, zucchini, grape tomatoes, carrots, basil, cheese, fresh cinnamon rolls, my mouth is drooling just thinking about everything! 

My haul!

My haul!

Pro tip – I cleaned, sliced and diced all necessary fruits and veggies once I got back from the market to make it easier to eat throughout the week. 

After a nap, I returned to the kitchen to prep dinner. My landlords and friends recently experienced a pretty serious health scare, so another friend and I offered to cook them dinner this evening. Cooking for the house meant finding a low-sodium recipe. We turned to this Fettuccine Alfredo we found on an RD’s blog. It actually turned out awesome! It was obviously not as rich as the indulgence Fettuccine Alfredo usually is, but the base sauce plus a sprinkling of parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper was delicious with the whole wheat linguine. We added a spinach salad to the side that rounded out the meal nicely. 

Prior to the meal I whipped up a tasty bruschetta appetizer with the fresh tomatoes and basil from the farmers’ market along with some fresh mozzarella and Tuscan Pane bread from Trader Joe’s. It was soooo good! Had I not been prepping a meal for a group, I may have just eaten the bruschetta for my entire meal! 

Summertime staple!

Summertime staple!

All in all it was an adventurous and exciting day, full of some much needed time in the kitchen. Everything turned out delicious, I may add in an extra run tomorrow just to overindulge in the leftovers! Happy weekend, everyone! 

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Settling into the End of Summer

The end is near for my summer of travel and that means some much needed catching up with my other favorite past times – cooking and regular exercise!

The dwindling of summer also mean the return of students to Madison – our office interns have arrived and I used it as an excuse to whip up some cookies in the kitchen. I had salted carmel chocolate chip cookies on the brain but misplaced my favorite cookie recipe in the chaos of my moving/living situation, so I subbed in this one instead. I also used some spring time Nestle morsels to brighten up the cookies. They were soft and delicious but a bit on the too salty side. The interns didn’t seem to mind, they devoured the entire batch before I could snap a picture!

I returned from a weekend in Portland late last night, but in anticipation of spending the next three weeks in Madison I decide to spend some time in the kitchen tonight with an old trusty recipe – an adaptation of  Mexican Lasagna. I opted out of the lasagna/tortilla portion and instead just made a scramble with the inside mix for the lasagna. I added low sodium taco seasoning to the chicken, some red bell pepper I had in the fridge and a sprinkling of cayenne pepper while the mixture simmered.

All the ingredients simmering over the stove!

All the ingredients simmering over the stove!

I served the mixture over a bed of spinach and topped it with one of the many avocados that are rapidly softening in the fridge. It was delicious and now I have lots to eat throughout the week!

I’ve satisfied my itch somewhat in the kitchen, for now. Next item to tackle on my personal to-do list is refreshing my workout plan and finding the next running race and location. Onward and upward, happy Monday!



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4th of July Pinwheel Cookies

I have one final touch from my July 4th celebration to share with you all – Pinwheel Cookies! These festive beauties were a couple day process including some time in the freezer, but really fun to create!

Red, white and blue!

Red, white and blue!

The recipe was again a Pinterest find, originating from the Just A Taste blog. It is a new favorite read of mine, tons of amazing looking recipes and the author has a really neat story. I didn’t exactly capture the vibrant red, white and blue colors in the original recipe but it was fun to make the dough, separate it to make three colors and then roll up the pinwheels. The recipe made nearly four dozen cookies, so there were plenty to share with 4th of July guests and in the office this week.

Pinwheel cookie platter

Pinwheel cookie platter!

Happy cooking!


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Blueberry Rhubarb Muffins

It’s officially Farmer’s Market season here in Wisconsin and Madison has one of the most fabulous farmer’s market line-ups I have ever seen. It’s encircles the Capitol Square in downtown Madison, over eight blocks of stands selling fruits, vegetables, plants, crafts and most importantly CHEESE!

I wandered around the Square after my run yesterday and picked up spinach, my BF’s favorite cheese, Everyday Cheddar, and most importantly some fresh rhubarb! The rhubarb (and the half-quart of blueberries in my fridge) was my inspiration in the kitchen today.

I based my recipe from this site but adapted it with a few healthy ingredients. I substituted butter for applesauce, some whole wheat flour and used my favorite Greek yogurt.


Prepping the ingredients!

Prepping the ingredients!

The batter came together quickly and I love using fresh ingredients!

Overflowing with blueberries and rhubarb!

Overflowing with blueberries and rhubarb!

A quick 20 minutes in the oven and they are ready to go! I’ve already packed some up to bring to the office in the morning.

Yummy! I may have had a couple as my dinner...

Yummy! I may have had a couple as my dinner…

These will be a great mid-morning snack this week. Hope everyone had a great weekend!

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The Pageantry…

Today was the Preakness in Baltimore, California Chrome won the second leg of the triple crowd and I reminisced about the first major horse race of the year – the Kentucky Derby! A fellow Southern friend (and co-worker) in Madison threw a Kentucky Derby party at her apartment complex and to quote my BF, I went a little “overboard”.

I was in charge of food and did my research to prepare some Derby classics!

Pimento Cheese, Benedictine Dip, Pulled Bourbon Chicken and Conrbread Crostini

Pimento Cheese, Benedictine Dip with veggies, Pulled Bourbon Chicken and Conrbread Crostini

Pimento cheese is one of my favorites but I don’t really follow a recipe when making it. I use a good cheddar cheese (about 8 oz.), about 3 oz. of pimentos from a jar, a light bit of light mayo to mix to the right consistency. Then add a few dashes of worcestershire sauce, a sprinkle of garlic salt and cayenne pepper to taste and mix together thoroughly. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving, or overnight if possible. I like to serve it with celery, carrots or crackers. It’s delicious!

Kentucky Derby Day isn’t complete without a great hat and this year I made my own fascinator! I used a tutorial from Polka Dot Chair with a few adjustments. You’ll need tissue paper, netting, wire or a pipe cleaner, a fake flower and a headband along with scissors and a glue gun.

Start with your own color combination of tissue paper, 5-8 pieces (20×20 makes a good, but still oversized flower for a fascinator).

Step 1: 5-8 pieces of tissue paper

Lay flat 5-8 pieces of tissue paper

Fold the tissue paper like an accordion and bind in the middle with wire or pipe cleaner.

Pipe cleaner can match your colors, or not. Wire will work too.

Pipe cleaner can match your colors, or not. Wire will work too.

Next, use scissors to round off the edges of the tissues paper to form the end of the petals.

Round the edges however you'd like your petals to look.

Round the edges however you’d like your petals to look.

Then fluff up the tissue paper layers one at a time, starting with the layer that you want at the middle of your flower.

Fold the tissue paper up and pull the edges of the paper towards each other.

Fold the tissue paper in towards the center and pull the edges of the paper into each other.

Next insert your fake flower through the middle of the tissue paper flower. Leave 4-6 inches of the wire on the flower steam to attach to the headband.

You can cut off the petals from your fake flower, or leave them on.

You can cut off the petals from your fake flower, or leave them on.

Attach the netting to the headband with a second pipe cleaner or wire and then twist the wire from the flower around the same spot on the headband. It’s best to attach the netting and tissue paper off-center.


Fluff up the tissue paper and adjust the netting so it peaks out beneath the tissue paper flower.


In this case I left the petals on the fake flower.

Then ta-da, you have your fascinator. Pair with a fun sundress and enjoy your Derby Day!

Live it up!

Live it up!

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I was in a panic Sunday night, we were hosting a final gathering for our interns on Monday night and I had neglected to make treats. An intern once told me I was only second to his mother with my baking talents, I didn’t have the heart to tell him it’s because I practice, a lot. I’m a sporadic reader of Siriously Delicious (i.e. I binge on her posts a few times a month because we share a sweet tooth and she is so dang funny!) and had remembered these amazing looking Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies she had shared a couple weeks ago. The recipe had originated on Averie Cooks, which is another blog I have now added to my reading list.

The recipe substitutes cream cheese for a portion of the butter and includes cornstarch, which after refrigerating the dough overnight made the softest and chewiest chocolate chip cookies! So good in fact I didn’t even get a picture of the cookies before they disappeared! College kids plus exams is a recipe that makes food vanish. I may have to whip up another batch here soon and promise to share the the results. Click here to try yourself. Happy cooking!