bake.sweat.create.

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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Big Things in 2015!

What a holiday season it was for me! I spent over a week at home in MT for Christmas. There was a total of ten people staying at my parents’ home and it was a fun, full house. We ate, drank and celebrated, but more on that later.

Out for a long exploration around town on our action packed Christmas Eve!

Out for a long exploration around town on our action packed Christmas Eve!

We enjoyed our traditional fondue dinner on Christmas Eve and I found an awesome fondue recipe that wasn’t too “swiss-y”, my family isn’t a huge fan of the overly strong cheese. Well Plated had a delicious recipe!

Winter delivered with a beautiful white Christmas and we spent much of the day in our PJs, opening presents, of course eating and drinking mimosas!

Beautiful Christmas view of the backyard!

Beautiful Christmas view of the backyard!

The best part of the week was spending quality time with my family, siblings and their significant others and it was very special to celebrate with my future in-laws. That’s right – the BF is now my fiancé! Christmas Eve will forever be my favorite day of the year (until my wedding I suppose). We are ecstatic and so excited to start this wonderful new part of our relationship. Having our families there was so special and made for quite a memorable week!

We rounded out our holiday season celebrating with close friends at a lake house we rented at a near by lake back in Virginia. A two-night stay celebrating the new year and our new engagement was a perfect close to 2015!

Closing out 2014!

Closing out 2014!

I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings! Hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday season! Best wishes in 2015, I’m back in action now with lots of DIY projects on the horizon!

MtChristmas_InstaCollage

The most memorable Christmas celebration yet!


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It’s December!

It’s December and that means a free for all in the cinnamon-cloves-cranberry department! Oh, and the holidays too! My favorite smells/flavors are warm cinnamon/cloves and cranberries. I count down the days in late fall every year, until a time that is appropriate to put on a pot of my favorite stove-top potpourri. Usually a good freeze or snow fall is the turning point. It is my absolute favorite and love to keep it simmering all day on my stove, while lounging indoors on a cold winter day. It came a little later this year with all the traveling and activities we have been doing, but it was worth the wait! All it takes in an orange, a handful of cranberries, a few cinnamon sticks, a sprinkle of whole cloves and a dash of nutmeg in a small pot. Fill the pot with water to just cover your ingredients and make sure the water doesn’t boil off completely, or else it will scorch your pot (experienced that!).

So easy to throw together!

So easy to throw together!

We had an awesome, casual weekend, part of which included friends coming over to watch the U.Va. men’s basketball game. I could’t resist making some mulled wine in the crockpot. I had a nostalgic bottle of red wine from my hometown, MisSOULa Red and was encouraged to make a spiced wine with it. I had a great recipe for a quick and easy Cranberry Orange Mulled Wine in the crockpot, made with cranberries, cinnamon sticks and brandy, which I happily poured from a bottle purchased for a summer sangria.

Seeing a similarity in my holiday ingredients...

Seeing a similarity in my holiday ingredients…

It was a hit! We had to throw in an extra bottle of red and crank up the crockpot again to simmer a second batch! My house smelled amazing all weekend! I hope everyone is enjoying this holiday season, more sharing and festive recipes to come!


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SFFD

I’m rejoined a weekly tradition since I’ve been back in Charlottesville, SFFD. A close friend of ours started SFFD with her family and has passed along the tradition of Sunday Family Dinner to our little foursome. We alternate cooking and tonight was our night. I’ve still got that autumn food obsession and after a cold morning volunteering with the Junior League of Charlottesville, all I wanted was soup! Luckily I had picked up a butternut squash at the Farmers’ Market yesterday and decided on this Savory Butternut Squash soup. I had nearly everything at the house and roasted the squash, onion and apples with the spices in the oven. Once that mixture was soft, I dumped the tray in my dutch oven and added the broth. I then used my immersion blender instead of a regular blender to liquify the soup. It just dawned on me, I forgot the garlic! Quite out of the ordinary for me, especially with garlic! But I added a pinch more salt and several grinds of pepper during the simmer process and didn’t know the difference. Now I am really curious about how the garlic will change the flavor. I’m libel to try this again next week for version two: with garlic. I added a bit of cream at the end, but after tasting the before and after, I don’t think the cream is completely necessary.

One small squash in the recipe and it made over six cups of soup!

One small squash in the recipe and it made over six cups of soup!

We paired the soup with some gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, with grilled onions and extra sharp Cabot cheddar. Yum! After dinner I remembered the caramel in the cupboard I had purchased a week ago and it almost burning a hole in my pocket! I decided to whip up a couple carmel apples. We had just bought apples this afternoon and I couldn’t resist.

Sprinkles for me, roasted peanuts for the BF!

Sprinkles were my choice, roasted peanuts were the BF!

Sunday’s are always a nice, relaxing time with the crew and it feels great to be back with everyone again. Happy Sunday, y’all! Have a great week.


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Out on the Town

I received the most pleasant surprise during work today – a good friend from MT texted around noon and reminded me that he was visiting Madison this weekend, or rather tonight! His family is from Wisconsin and he and his girlfriend are visiting with his family for an extended vacation around his cousin’s wedding. His first stop was Madison! He’s quite the beer connoisseur so he visited a couple local breweries before meeting me in downtown Madison.

A quick recap of the first part of his trip – Ale Asylum was the first stop, the brewery is location yards from the Madison airport and I believe gets a lot of airport traffic! My BF’s favorite is the Hopalicious, an American IPA, super hoppy! My friend highly recommended the Belgium IPA, which is made with a Belgium-yeast and lots of hops. Next was the ever-popular Wisconsin brewery, New Glarus Brewery. The brewery doesn’t export beyond the Wisconsin boarder and is up there next to Miller as the most popular cold one in Wisconsin. Spotted Cow is their biggest seller and the brewery expanded into a new location recently, it’s like a castle, a really neat trip to rural central Wisconsin to visit.

From there I met up with my friend and his family on the Capitol Square, at The Coopers Tavern. I had a great Blanche De Bruxelles, Belgium Ale and the crew split a local cheese plate and traditional soft pretzels. From there we moved on to the Tipsy Cow. My friend walked by and was so intrigued by the name, we had to stop. He chose well on the menu and got a Mokah stout, a chocolate and coffee stout beer. It wasn’t my style, but he was impressed. I went for a Heartland Wheat, from Lucky Bucket Brewing. Then it was finally on to dinner, I had picked out a list of some of my faves near the Square and we decided on Graze. This was one of the first restaurants I tried with the BF on the weekend we were apartment searching in Madison, and the mac and cheese has kept me coming back! The place has a great view of the capitol building and the square looks so nice lit up at night. We had a great meal, I got the mac, made with 10 year cheddar, and my friend also opted for the mac too, but topped with pulled pork! His mom and sister split the Graze burger, which was made of fresh ground bacon, sirloin, ribeye & short ribs! My friend’s GF was feeling adventurous and ordered the Bibimbap – marinated ground pork, crispy rice, sunny-side-up egg, market vegetables, and a spicy sauce. She raved about it, the radishes on top looked delicious too. It may go on the shortlist for next time I visit Graze.

It was a fun the evening with old friends and we made quite the tour of downtown Madison. It was awesome to connect with a friend from MT out in Madison and visit with him and his family. Sorry, no pictures, we were having too much fun!


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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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#IceBucketChallenge

So we’ve all seen it, EVERYWHERE, and I was nominated yesterday by my dear friend at the HappyWifeHappyLife blog to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I obliged, luckily it was an especially sticky day in Madison.  

Here I go! Brrrrrr!

Here I go! Brrrrrr!

I decided to make a donation to the ALS Association, as well as the Alzheimer’s Foundation. My grandmother had ALS and passed away before I was born and Alzheimer’s is also a cause that is also close to my heart, in honor of my late Poppa Tom.

I appreciate the viral-ness of the the Ice Bucket Challenge and applaud how people have responded and donated.As a marketer, I am in awe of those behind this challenge and the good they have done for Lou Gehrig’s Disease. But I also think people should think freely about where and how they donate their money.  

The bright side is that I got to nominate three other people to similarly dump themselves with ice water. I selected my mom, sister and the BF. They have 24 hours, we’ll see how they do. 

Anybody else participate in the challenge? Come across any hilarious videos of others you know? Good luck if you are nominated!