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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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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Waterskiing!

We are taking advantage of the heat wave in Madison these days by spending some time on the water. More specifically, my friend’s (and current roommate) boat! We took it out for a spin this week after work and her husband packed all the toys!

We started off testing out their new tube, Big Mabel, a double tube. Her husband spun us in circles and we caught some serious air! Next came the wake board, my friends and snowboarding enthusiasts are far more talented on the wakeboard than I ever will be. Then my friend tried out the wake surfboard, where you are towed only about 10 feet behind the boat by the rope and ultimately you are supposed to drop the road and “surf” on the wake behind the boat… but we aren’t quite that advanced that just yet. Last we pulled out the water skis, the only water apparatus I am talented at, so I took a nice spin around the bay. It’s a bit of a workout too, I am definitely feeling some soreness in my arms this evening!

It's just like riding a bike! (sort of...)

It’s just like riding a bike! (sort of…)

We stopped off at the Memorial Union on campus for dinner – brats, grilled chicken, grilled corn-on-the-cob, delicious all around! Perfect summer evening in Madison, makes one forget about the long, cold winter (almost).

Gorgeous sunset on Lake Mendota!

Gorgeous sunset on Lake Mendota!


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Viva Las Vegas!

My travel-filled month continued last weekend as I made a quick trip to Las Vegas! This was a girls’ trip I made with two of my best friends from college and my first legal-age excursion to Vegas.

Daytime adventure on The Strip!

Daytime adventure on The Strip!

We spent some serious time by the pool, got in a few workouts (as former college swimmers we couldn’t help ourselves), then it was on to drinks and gambling! I am not the adventurous gambling-type so my personal limit was pretty small but it was still fun to explore the different casinos, see all the card tables and various types of machines. We took long walks down the strip checking out hotels and caught the fountains at the Bellagio and the Fall of Atlantis show at Caesars Palace.

Smoke and Fire

Enjoyed the smoke and fire!

We ran across these awesome benches in the Luxor, they were made from recycled license plates! They were super cool and a few of them were all Montana plates, a little throw back to home! If I could get my hands on that many plates, I would definitely attempt a footstool.

 

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We even made it down to Freemont Street in downtown Las Vegas, interesting street walking experience! Overall, it was a great weekend and fun to connect with old friends, reminiscing for a fun weekend.


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The Celebration

As you know the premise of our trip to the Cape last week was to celebrate the nuptials of  two of our closest friends from Charlottesville. The bride’s family has long had a vacation cottage on the Cape and it was her dream to get married there. The setting and festivities did not disappoint!

The celebration started on Thursday with the rehearsal and then the rehearsal dinner. The dinner was held at the bride’s favorite restaurant on the Cape – Moby Dick’s in Wellfleet. On our last trip to Cape Cod we tried it out on her recommendation and it was delicious, so I was looking forward to going back, the Clam Chowder is exquisite! The bride’s sister, also the MOH, DIY’ed the decorations and they were absolutely adorable. The table names were local towns and looked like replicas of the township roadsigns seen along the highway. The name plates were of a similar design, complete with the glittered emblem – too cute!

My seat for the rehearsal dinner. So charming!

My seat for the rehearsal dinner. So charming!

The next day was the wedding, held at Chatham Bars Inn (CBI) in Chatham. It was the best day weather-wise we’d seen yet, a good omen for the ceremony that was held on the beach. My BF was the best man so he departed early to do whatever it is the groom and groomsmen do before the ceremony (drink beer from what I gathered). CBI was a quick walk from our house, so those of us not involved in the wedding party walked down the beach to the ceremony.

Too picturesque not to capture!

Too picturesque not to capture!

The ceremony was held with the ocean as the backdrop and the bride’s brother-in-law as the officiant. It combined traditional wedding rituals with some Persian customs from the groom’s family. All together, it was fantastic and brought me so much joy and of course tears. The BF’s part in the ceremony also went off without a hitch, even if he did have to untangle the bride’s wedding band from the ribbon in the ring box during the groom’s vows.

Then it was time to party! We caught the bride and groom for our only picture with them of the night early in the cocktail hour, before we broke it down on the dance floor.

With the Bride and Groom!

With the Bride and Groom!

The BF also had a speech to give during the reception. I was too busy being nervous and then crying to take pictures but needless to say he delivered it flawlessly. His sentiment was thoughtful, touching and hardly left a dry eye in the house. Decor-wise, my favorite details were the personalized seashells with our table numbers, what an incredible touch!

Check out that calligraphy!

Check out that calligraphy!

The evening flew by, starting with a delicious dinner. Everyone said it was the best steak they had ever tasted, as a non-red meat eater, I took their word for it. Then drinks, some delicious desserts, and lots of dancing. The Good Old Song from UVa rounded out the memorable evening at CBI. It was such a fun occasion and I was so happy to be there to celebrate with such wonderful friends! #Fashanderman2014

 


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Race to the Cape

The Szlizzer Van or Team Szlizzer was the first car that made it to the Cape. (Bride and Groom as the exception). That meant it was our duty to load in provisions, supplies, luggage and additional people. We loaded up my brother’s Subaru Outback, he conveniently lives in Boston and generously donated his car to us for the week, and packed in groceries from Costco and the local Market Basket. (Is that a New England thing?) We even managed to pick up our fifth passenger while stopped in traffic in downtown Boston, she literally rolled into the car, tossing her suitcase on another passenger’s lap. Totally safe. And then we were off! First to arrive also meant we started the party – gin and tonics for all and cards! 

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Little did I know this would be the first of infinity games of Asshole played throughout the week.

Our arrival on Wednesday also coincided with our friend introducing the house to an old waitressing friend from Northern Virginia, who would later be known as “Alex of the Cape” or AOTC. She swept us into town to visit some local watering holes. They did not disappoint. AOTC was an awesome tour guide and surprising but welcome addition to our group through the weekend. Here is a quick picture of the survivors of the first night. After a rowdy opening night (Spice Girls karaoke may have been involved…), we knew we would survive the week.

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Night One group! Photography by AOTC.

Rehearsal dinner coming tomorrow!!