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Poached Egg and Avocado Toast

We all need to start the day with a healthy breakfast.

I know there are some of you out there, that can’t handle the thought of stuffing food down their gullet until, like ten-ish. I however, am not one of those people. I ‘m a hungry camper in the morning. Sometimes I think it’s the grumbling of my belly, not the alarm clock that wakes me up and forces me out of my nice, cozy bed.

As you may have noticed, I’m partial to sweets. And I do love a flaky, delicious pastry in the morning afternoon and night.  But if I want to downsize my jeans, and by jeans I mean ass, pastry is clearly not the best choice for me. I’m gonna need some protein and healthy fats to keep me full so I’m strong enough to pass up those cursed delish donuts.

Enter this tasty little dish. Hearty, healthy, satiating, delicious, easy and quick. Need I say more?

Poached Egg and Avocado Toast

poached egg avocado toast

Loaded with all the good things the body needs to start the day strong and keep you going all morning. Nutrient-rich avocados, loaded with heart healthy fats, protein and whole grains make for a perfect meal any time of the day.

Just an egg, a slice of whole grain toast, half a ripe avocado, some fresh chives and a few minutes is all you need for a delicious, healthy start to your day.

poached egg avocado toast

If you don’t want to poach the egg, you can always just fry it in a pan with a little cooking spray. And, I don’t mean to be bossy, but poached is definitely the way to go. If you’ve never attempted this technique, it’s super duper easy and quick. Four minutes is all you need. If you’ve never had a poached egg, what the hell is wrong with you. You have been totally missing out on a deliciously creamy, oozy, flavorful experience.

If you think it’s too difficult, don’t be afraid. Check out how to properly poach an egg here and get cracking. See what I did there?

It’s a whole lot easier than you think and well worth it. Trust me.

Happy poaching!

Poached Egg and Avocado Toast
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
A delicious, healthy breakfast to start your day off right and keep you full all morning
Ingredients
  • 1 egg
  • 1 slice whole grain toast
  • ½ ripe avocado, sliced or mashed
  • 1 tsp. fresh chopped chives
  • Fresh ground salt and pepper to taste (I use Himalayan pink salt)
Instructions
  1. Poach the egg and place on top of avocado and toast.
  2. Sprinkle with fresh, chopped chives and season with salt and pepper.

 

 

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12 Week Wednesday Weight Loss Challenge – Week Three

Wednesday Weight Loss Challenge Week Three
It’s been three weeks already. Last week I reminded you that BLTs count. That being said, one of my goals was to log every bite, even BLTs. I really wanted to know why I gained last week. I was so good about logging everything. Um, yeah, turns out I was eating like 10 points in Mentos! Yup, fucking Mentos! I never looked at the point value, I just assumed, mistakenly, that they were maybe 1 point for 5 or so. Nope. 1 point each! And I was eating them like, well, candy. The was the end of that. Sugar-free gum time!

This week I am the same weight I started at three weeks ago. But, I am not the same person I was. In the past few weeks I think I’ve gained some valuable knowledge about myself and have grown quite a bit. I have nine more weeks to go. I’m fairly confident that if I continue to apply the things that I learn each week, that I’ll reach my goal. Twenty pounds in 12-weeks has now come to nine. It’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication, but I’m ready! I’m not letting it get me down. Unless you count “getting down to business”.

I know it’s a slow process. And, if one more person tells me “You didn’t put it on in a day!” I’m going to flip a table…Just sayin.

Wednesday Weight Loss Challenge Week Three

Ok, all anger and frustration aside, I am trying to keep a positive front. To stop and smell the flowers. It’s a journey. For me, and for many of you, a lifelong one. It’s hard. It’s frustrating. And frankly, it sucks. But, it is what it is. So we’ll deal with it. Together. At my age, lately I feel like I’m 100, I think it may be time to embrace who I am. LumpsCurves and all. It’s time I’m a little nicer to the woman in the mirror. I say things to myself that I would never, ever say to my daughter. Or another human being actually. Do you find yourself doing that?

Sometimes I listen to “Mean” by Tailor Swift when I’m exercising and as she is singing about being bullied by a critic, I am singing to those nasty voices in my head. We all have them but how we respond to them is what makes us grow, or wither, as the case may be. I allow myself to be trampled on constantly. I don’t know why that is, but it is. Whenever I look in the mirror. Whenever the house isn’t clean enough or when I’m late or, well you get the picture. I hear it and I speak it all the time.

I am by far, my own worst enemy. But here’s the thing, as my kids get older I worry about what I’m teaching them. If you’re a mom who struggles with negative body image or low self-esteem, how do you teach your children to love themselves just the way they are, if you can’t? I remember when Nina was really little and she stood on the scale and immediately started seething. She wasn’t mad at the the number, she had no idea what numbers even were, but she mimicked what I did, pretty much every time I stepped on the scale. That was an eye opening experience. And now at age 10, I still see it. I picked her up from school one day and told her she had to have a physical. Immediately she welled up with tears and said she was afraid to step on the scale because the doctor may have “bad things to say”.

It’s just a number

“It’s just a number, baby. It’s only one small part of a healthy, fit body. And it isn’t something you need to focus on”. I said that while fighting back my own tears. It was hard for me to see her struggling with that. That very same struggle I had at her age. Things are different now. Bullies seem meaner. They fight dirty. There are so many ways and outlets to be cruel, thank you social media. I can honestly say I don’t remember any of my friends ever being mean to me about my weight. I didn’t need anyone to do it for me. I was my own bully. And many years later, I am still fighting that bully in the playground.

Well, this past week I put on the gloves and am trying a different way to deal with that asshole. I’m going to kill em with kindness. Something I’ve never tried. It’s going to take some effort, but I’m giving it a shot. What do I have to lose? Nothing else has worked! At least my kids will hear me. When I tell them that weight is only a number and that being physically active and eating good food is what’s important, I’ll be leading by example.

Today I looked in the mirror and said to myself “I got this”. It felt weird. I think it will take some time to start believing it, but I’ll keep trying.

You got this!

Today I want you look in the mirror and say something nice. Then do it again, and again. Until it comes naturally.

 

12 Week Wednesday Weight Loss Challenge – Week Two Results and BLTs

I love a good BLT. Salty bacon, fresh, crisp lettuce and vine-ripened, garden tomatoes between thick, toasted bread and a rich swipe of mayo.  I’m salivating just thinking about it. Do you love a good BLT?

I eat BLTs everyday.

And since I made a promise to share my victories and defeats, I gained a pound this week. And I’m cranky about it.

I’m pretty sure it’s because of all those BLTs.

I can’t help myself.

BLT

Oh, by the way, This is not the BLT to which I am referring.

I’m talking about the other BLTs.

Bites, Licks and Tastes.

The half a grilled cheese on the kids’ plates. The “not enough left to put in the fridge”. The “let me just check to make sure it isn’t poisonous”. Or my personal favorite,  the “If no one’s around to see me eat it, it doesn’t count”.

Aaaaaaaahhhhh ok. Now you know what I’m talking about, right? Sure you do. These are the things that sabotage our diet. Yes, even if you don’t actually log them in, they still count. Man do they count! Those BLTs can add up to hundreds of extra calories and can wreck all your diet efforts.

My goal for this week, in addition to an increase in my daily activity is to be totally and brutally honest with my points. That means everything gets logged. Everything! Every M&M, every cookie, every piece of candy, every leftover mouthful. Everything.

How honest are you with yourself? Is this something you need to work on too? Chime in peeps. I need to know there are other fibbers out there to keep my company.

Speaking of company. If you want to friend me on Fitbit, I’d love to challenge you to a daily hustle! You can find me on Fitbit as Cluttercafe.

Let’s kill it this week!

 

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

This past week has been so hot! Like swampy hot. The heat is tolerable. But the humidity is simply hellish. You never feel clean. There’s always a bead of sweat dripping down your back that feel like a little spider crawling down your pants. And even that I can kinda handle. What I can’t handle is the bad hair days.

 

So, let me take you back a few weeks to the top news on the interweb.

Sofia Vergara Gets Bangs!

Oh-Mah-Gahd! Fortunately there was nothing major going on in the world to keep us all from this breaking news story.

This was a big deal to me though. I haven’t had bangs for a while. But I also have been pinning my “bangless” hair back out of my face on a daily basis. So when I saw that Sofia cut bangs, well my friends, if she can, so can I!

So I went to my hairdresser, whom I have been friends with and a client of for twenty-something years and told her to cut me some bangs.

“Did you see Sofia Vergara’s new bangs?” she said.

She gets me.

As she has been doing my hair for so long, she also knows that my hair curls up drastically and those new bangs better be cut on the long side or they will shrivel up and look ridiculous. She was copying Sofia Vergara’s bangs. They couldn’t look anything but amazing, right?

Once cut, they looked pretty cute. I really liked them. Sofia and I could have been twins! I guess in the same sense that Bart and Hugo Simpson are twins. But anyway, I needed something new and that did the trick.

Then the humidity crept in. I curled, straightened, brushed, flattened, rolled…you name it. Nothing helped! No amount of product was helping keep these frizzy, little bangs from spiraling (literally) out of control.

One day Nina had clearly had enough of listening to my constant complaining and said “Well, maybe you should have given a little more thought about cutting bangs in the summertime, Sofia”.

I chuckled and called her a “smart ass” and rapped her on the back of the head. That kid kills me.

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

Well, last night after a bit of thunder and a torrential downpour, the humidity broke. I woke up to a fresh, crisp, Fall-like breeze. It was heaven! The air conditioners went off and the windows were all tossed open immediately. It was a gorgeous day and it made me not want to cook outside for the first time in weeks.

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

 

That’s where these babies came in, Chicken Parmesan Meatballs. Ground chicken instead of beef lightens them up a bit and seasoned with parmesan cheese and herbs, rolled in panko for a delicious crust then baked in a cast iron skillet with your favorite marinara and bubbly mozzarella. Served with some crusty bread and salad for a crazy, delicious meal perfect for a cooler summer evening.

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

I enjoyed the meatballs and the frizz-free bangs.

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs
Print

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

Meatballs made from chicken and parmesan cheese for a variation from your everyday meatball

Ingredients

  • 3 oz panko crumbs , divided
  • 4 oz Parmesan cheese , grated, divided
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground chicken
  • 1 large egg , lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flake
  • 1 Tbls dried basil
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 c marinara sauce
  • 1 c part skim mozzarella cheese , grated
  • 3 oz extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Mix together 1/2 oz. of the panko with 1 oz. of the Parmesan in a small bowl and set aside.

  3. Combine the chicken, egg, 1 Tbls olive oil, the remaining 2.5 oz. panko, the remaining 3 oz. Parmesan, basil, garlic powder, parsley, oregano and salt in a large bowl. Gently combine using your hands until just incorporated, don't over work the meat.

  4. Divide the meatball mixture into 28 golf ball sized rounds (1 ounce each) and roll them in the panko mixture. I used a medium sized ice cream scoop for perfectly sized and uniform meatballs

  5. Heat 2 Tbls olive oil over medium heat in a 12-inch cast iron or oven safe skillet. Brown the meatballs about 30 seconds on each side, working in batches if needed to avoid crowding the pan. 

  6. Add all the meatballs back to the pan, cover with marinara and grated mozzarella and bake until the meatballs are cooked through, about 10-12 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Serve with crusty bread or over cooked pasta.

Recipe Notes

Recipe adapted from Alton Brown

 

12 Week Wednesday Weight Loss Challenge-Week One

So how’d y’all do this week? Smiley face or frowny face?

12 week wednesday weight loss challenge

I did my first “real” week of Weight Watchers.  By that I mean, I’ve been paying for Weight Watchers for 3 months and haven’t followed the program at all. Therefore gaining even more weight than when I started. No lies people.

So this past week has been all about logging my food. More importantly, logging my days from beginning to end and not beginning to whenever I screw up. That has been my m.o. from the beginning. As soon as I eat something I know I shouldn’t, I say “Fuck it. I’ll start again tomorrow”. Well I said that about 90 times, and here I am. Back at square one.

If you if you aren’t on the Weight Watchers program, or just starting out with tracking points, it’s a bit of a shocker. You quickly begin to realize how you got into the boat you’re in, or shall I say the jeans you’re in?

Did you know one serving of a 6 serving Bloomin Onion has 75 points? Jaw drop. Oh, and that’s not even counting the heavenly, spicy dipping sauce. For those of you not on the program and have no concept of points, let me shed some light on this for you. I am allowed 30 points a day. You do the math. There ain’t no Bloomin ANYTHING worth that! Am I right?

I feel like I did pretty good during the week. I logged my points and not only made better food choices but also watched my portions. My concept of portion sizes was waaaaaaaaaaaay out of whack. It’s amazing how small an actual serving size is. You find that even though you are having a healthy meal, you may unwittingly be eating several servings of it.

The weekend was a bit tougher, of course. I did not log my points. I was back to my old tricks. “I’ll get back to it on Monday”. Then I drank a few beers, ate a few wings and popped a few Doritos. Not how I wanted to finish out the week, but damn it was a good weekend. And yes, I got back to it on Monday.

Regardless of what the scale says this week, it was a good week for me. I learned a lot about the program and about myself and am ready to move forward with even more drive than ever. This week I’ll be logging my food, trying some new recipes and adding in some more exercise. I’m so excited to be heading back to the barre! The class. Not the drinking establishment.

My take away this week was this.

  • I’m a baby-stepper. One meal at a time, one day at a time, one pound at a time
  • Just because I don’t log my food, doesn’t mean I didn’t eat it. It still counts!
  • Quitters never win and winners never quit!
  • and most importantly, I can never eat from a Bloomin Onion again. Like never. Ever.

So here’s how I did this week…I lost 2.5 pounds! Slow and steady wins the race, right? I’m hoping with some increased exercise, next week will be just as good, if not better.

How’d you do? What challenges did you face? Was your neighbor making you drink beer all weekend? Hey Jen! Did you secretly eat a bag of chips on the way home from the grocery store? Did you skip the gym just because you couldn’t find your left sneaker?

Spill it! I wanna know! Good or bad, we’re all in this together!

Good luck with Week Two my fellow challengers!

 

 

12 Week Wednesday Weight Loss Challenge

you can't pour from an empty cup

So, today I’m getting super personal and vulnerable with you (shudder).

For those who know me know that I have battled my weight since I was like, oh I don’t know, ONE!

I have tried every diet, every fad. I have been to doctors and gyms and clinics. I struggled with eating disorders in high school, and even now I have internal battles with myself about making myself vomit after overeating.

For the past two years I have felt my health decline. I have suffered with Lyme Disease, increased anxiety and stress related issues. I had to have a hysterectomy late last year, which has been a blessing, as those issues caused a host of other issues which now have been resolved since my surgery.

Recently I had a bulging disc that was incredibly painful and debilitating. The last time I had pain like that was during childbirth. It was while I was lying helplessly in pain on the couch that I became very much aware that being overweight and out of shape was taking control of my life. I made a promise to myself that once my back issue was resolved I had to take a serious, healthy approach to my health.

I signed up for a 3-month Weight Watchers plan. I weighed in and am logging my points and changing the way I look at myself. Not as an aging, overweight, stressed out, chaotic wife and mother of two. But a busy, energized, strong, woman of character and perseverance. I am not going to think about the 75 pounds that I need to lose to bring me to my goal weight. But I am going to focus on what I’m going to eat today, in the moment.

I’m pretty sure a lot of you struggle with the same issues that I do. We try to do it all, and as moms, we’re usually doing everything for everyone else and we end up in rough shape. How many times have you heard “You can’t pour from an empty cup”?  

I’m sharing post today because I think being vulnerable and making myself accountable to others is crucial to success. So every Wednesday I’m going to share my successes and defeats (hopefully there won’t be many of those) here on the Café. I’ll also be sharing some great recipes, exercise and beauty tips, helpful apps and even some Instagram stories. I really hope you join me. I really need all the encouragement I can get!

What’s stopping you from taking care of yourself?

Nothing would make me happier than to hear from all of you out there that are struggling. Whether it be with your weight, or just the burdens of daily life that keep you from caring for yourself properly.

My good friend Heather at Totally Tailgates did a 12 Week Weight Loss Journey on her blog, which is pretty tough to do when you’re surrounded by delicious tailgating food (thanks for the fried macaroni and cheese balls girlfriend). Go check out her story and be inspired. She’s sooooooo close to her goal! Go cheer her on, and get some great tailgating tips and helpful posts about college life (for parents and students) while you’re there. Tell her I said “Hey!”

Friends, we are stronger together. We can do it altogether. I don’t mean we can do it ALL together, because we can’t do it all. I’m pretty sure that’s half the problem right there, by the way.

Today I weighed in at 225 pounds. Which would be great if I were 8 feet tall, but at 5’3”, it’s not so good. Actually, it’s really bad. Actually, I can’t believe I just shared my weight with the world. But I did it.

But today, I’m not going to let that number discourage. I’m going to use to encourage me.

Just think of how much more amazing my success story will be!

Are you with me?

Grilled Pork Chops with Onion Butter

How’s summer been?

Pretty good here. Thanks for asking.

It’s the middle of July and up here in New Hampshire, the farms are just starting to put out freshly grown vegetables. The growing season is pretty darn short here. New England’s kinda sucky like that. But we have the Fall. Life’s all about give and take folks.

grilled pork chops with onion butter

I was in the grocery story a week or so ago, and this young woman and I were both reaching into the same, not so appetizing pile of brownish, greenish beans with the same look of frustration and disgust on our faces. She said she had just moved here from California and was beyond frustrated with the produce selection thus far. “Is this what I have to look forward to?” (gag face) I gave her hope by telling her the farmers’ markets will be opening soon and proceeded to rattle off my list of who has the best summer corn, where to pick berries and where and when to visit my favorite farmers’ markets. She was truly grateful and not at all annoyed that I chastised her for not taking notes. I didn’t want her to miss out on all my vast knowledge of local produce.

grilled pork chops with onion butter

There are two things you can count on around here during the summer.

  1. Produce comes from local farms. End of story.
  2. 9 out of 10 of our meals are cooked on the grill

After making these gorgeous chops, the grill is my new go-to for incredibly flavorful, juicy, tender pork chops. Yeah, that’s right. I said juicy and tender and pork chop all in the same breath. I can’t tell you how many people tell me “My pork chops always come out dry!”. Well not these! No siree!

Here are a few tips for perfectly juicy grilled chops

First, you need the right piece of meat. You need a chop with a bone and you definitely don’t want once of those super skinny, thin-cut chops. You also don’t want a huge, thick slab either. Go for a chop that is right in the middle, about an inch thick. Then you’re going to make two little slices through the fat that runs down the side. You don’t want to cut through the meat, just the fat. Have you ever cooked a pork chop that curls into a little cup causing only the middle to brown. Also causing you to stand over a frying pan smooshing them down with a spatula? Well, this fixes that little problem. You’re welcome.

The trick to getting them browned versus gray (ick) on the grill is to make sure they are dry. Moisture = gray, unappealing. Dry=charred and delicious. Sprinkle the meat on both sides with salt. The salt will draw out excess moisture. Then wipe the chops down real good with paper towels. Place them on a wire rack set in a rimmed cookie sheet and put in the freezer for about 30-45 minutes until a little firm. This allows the cold air to circulate and get’s them nice and dry. It also chills the insides so it can stay on the grill longer, allowing for a beautiful brown chop without drying out.

While the meat is chilling, make your onion butter. One stick of softened butter, finely minced green onions, brown sugar, salt and fresh ground pepper. If you only have salted butter, just omit the salt later.

Preheat the grill by turning all burners to high until hot, then shut the primary burner off and turn the other burners to medium-low.

Spread the butter on both sides of the chops, it will harden on the cold meat. Place chops on the preheated grill for about 3-4 minutes per side until the internal temperature is 145°F. That’s the perfect doneness. Then remove from the grill, place on a platter and top each chop with the remaining butter and cover with foil to rest for 3-5 minutes. The butter melts into a delicious, flavorful sauce while the pork rests.

The prep is actually pretty minimal, but the flavor is off the charts! I guarantee that once you try them, these beautiful bone-in chops will be making a regular rotation on your summertime menu.

grilled pork chops with onion butter
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Grilled Pork Chops with Onion Butter

Perfectly grilled tender, juicy pork chops topped with a brightly flavored onion butter. Perfect for those hot, summer nights when a burger just won't do!

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6 bone-in pork chops

Ingredients

  • 6 pork chops approximately 1" thick
  • 4 green onions (green only) finely sliced
  • 1 stick unsalted butter softened
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Cut 2 slits about 2 inches apart through the fat

  2. Dry the chops and then sprinkle with salt

  3. Arrange chops on a wire rack placed in a rimmed baking sheet

  4. Place in freezer until firm, approximately 30 minutes (no longer than an hour)

  5. While chops are chilling, combine the butter, onions, brown sugar and season with salt and pepper (if using salted butter, don't add more salt)

  6. Preheat grill on high until hot, then leave primary burner on high and turn all other burners to medium-low

  7. Grill chops 3-4 minutes per side and remove when they register 145F on a digital read thermometer

  8. Top each chop with remaining butter and cover with foil for 3-5 minutes to rest

 

 

 

 

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Summertime Sucks

summer mom

I don’t mean to be a Negative Nelly or anything but I’ve just got to get this out there.

Summer vacation sucks!

Well, it doesn’t suck for everyone, but I do have say, it kinda sucks for us working moms. It throws a real monkey wrench in an already hectic schedule. Actually, it takes the schedule and turns it to shit.

Oh, and let’s not forget about the serious mom guilt that comes along with having to be away from your kids all day while they are not in school. Especially on those hot, sunny days that scream “Come to the beach!” and you’re stuck in the office. That guilt comes out in full force when your child cannot go with friends because you can’t get them where they need to be. That one kills me.

It’s hard working a full time job and having kids at home. My son is 15 so he is at home. He’s too old cool for camp, and stays home alone. He finds things to do most of the time. I really don’t have to worry about him too much. Except for the food. You’re at the office or where ever you work and the teen calls. You know those calls moms.

Mom, I’m hungry!

Teen: “Hi Mom. I’m hungry. Is there anything to eat?”
Me: “I don’t know. Look”
Teen: “I don’t think there’s anything in the fridge”
Me: “Did you look?”
Teen: “Forget it”
Me: “Have a bowl of cereal”
Teen: “I don’t like cereal. What time are you coming home ?”
Me: “Just make yourself something!”
Teen: “Forget it”
Me: “Starve then”
click

Five minutes later…
Teen: “Hi Mom”
Me: “What?”
Teen: “Can you order me a pizza? The place down the street will deliver. You just gotta give em your credit card”
Me: click

Then I come home at the end of the day to the teen still in pajamas, an empty pizza box, dirty dishes, crumpled napkins and crust on the floor that the dog spit out.

“Mom! I found some money! I ordered it myself! I even had enough for some wings!”

He says this beaming with pride. Like this is some sort of real accomplishment and he’s actually thinking that I should be proud of his resourcefulness. Wow. That’s all I can say about this. Wow. He’s going to be living in my basement forever.

Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah

Then there’s the 10 year old.

She’s not old enough to be home alone during the summer for long periods of time. So, I work to pay for camp. Funny thing about that, she bitches every single day that she has to go to camp. Because clearly, kayaking, swimming, playing games, eating s’mores and arts and crafts is a real drag. So we start each day with an attitude. And sometimes tears. That’s always a special way to start the day.

But camp doesn’t start for a few more weeks, so every day we shuffle off to a different friend’s house. Thank God for a great group of helpful parents and good friends. It really does take a village.

Friday morning was exceptionally busy. I had to pick up my son from a friend’s house and bring him home to dog-sit our injured dog, drop Nina off at a friend’s for the day and be at work early. As I was running around (hobbling is actually a better word due to my recent back injury, so there’s that), Nina said she would be in the car waiting. So, I got my shit together, ran limped to the garage and off we went.

Scratch that. Off I went. About a mile down the road I realized I was in the car talking to myself. Nina wasn’t in the back seat. I turned around in someone’s driveway and high-tailed it home, pulled into the driveway and there she was. And she was pissed.

“Don’t say a word! Just get in!” I yelled.

An argument on who’s fault it was that I was down the street while she was in the driveway instead of in the car, where she said she was going to be, was futile and it would only stand to piss me off and my day was already getting off to a not-so-great start. And it was only 7 a.m. At least it was Friday. That’s all I can say.

By the way, this is Day 3 of summer vacation. DAY 3!

I’m already tired and need them back in school. It’s just so much less I have to think about. Please tell me I’m not the only one who feels this way.

To all the stay at home moms, I’d like to to take this opportunity to say “I hate you“.

Ok, I don’t really hate you, I do envy you though. After my surgery in December I was home for 6 weeks, and it was so much easier and less stressful. I didn’t dread the call from the school nurse or the sick kid in the morning or the early releases. There was no worries about how kid one was going to get home from staying late at school or getting kid two on the ice before 5:00. I enjoyed not eating dinner at 8:00 or folding laundry at 10:00 p.m.

Do you work outside of the home? Do you feel more stress when the kids are out of school? How do you deal with it? How do you keep your schedules organized so you don’t, let’s say forget a child at home?

Don’t say alcohol either. Although I find it helps.

For real, I want to know. I totally need you in my village!

 

 

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Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

gluten free peanut butter cookies(affiliate link) 

My kids are not gluten-free. So honestly, I don’t care if these are gluten-free or not. You may not either. Or maybe you do. I feel for all you parents who have to deal with food allergies. It’s hard enough to get kids to eat as it is, without having to throw allergies into the mix. So gluten free or not, I’m declaring these cookies frigging delicious. They have quickly become my very favorite cookie. Maybe even my very favorite sweetie snack. I heart them. Truly.

Easy enough your kids can make ’em!

These cookies are made in one bowl with only a few ingredients. Flour and butter aren’t on the list either. So there’s that. Nice, right? Peanut butter, eggs, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, salt and vanilla. THAT-IS-IT! Super easy!

Nina can make these cookies in her sleep. They are her thang. They come out perfect every single time. Crispy edges and chewy middles, peanutty and sweet but with juuuuust a hint of salt from the Himalayan Pink Salt sprinkled lightly on the top.

I ask Nina to make these all the time. She’s like my little peanut butter cookie pusher.

If you love peanut butter cookies, you absolutely need to try these. Easy and delicious. Win-Win!

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies
Cuisine: Dessert
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 18 cookies
 
Easy, delicious, gluten free peanut butter cookies.
Ingredients
  • 1 c. smooth peanut butter (not oil on top type)
  • ½ c. packed light brown sugar
  • ½ c. granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • Pink Himalayan Salt ( or coarse sea salt) for lightly sprinkling
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside
  3. In a large bowl or bowl of an electric mixer, beat peanut butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until well blended, then add remaining ingredients (save the Pink Himalayan Salt for sprinkling the top)
  4. Using a large ice cream scoop (1½ Tbls) scoop onto sheet, approximately 2 inches apart
  5. Flatten slightly with the tines of a fork (traditional criss-cross pattern) and lightly sprinkle tops with salt. Just a few grains are enough.
  6. Bake 10-12 minutes until edges are slightly browned and cookies are golden.
  7. Cool on pans for 2 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely

gluten free peanut butter cookies

Recipe from Alton Brown’s Everydaycook Cookbook

This is one of my favorite cookbooks. Every single page contains an amazing recipe and beautiful food photography. If you’re looking for a new cookbook to lose yourself in, you can grab it here

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which means I receive a small payment if you make a purchase through this link. Thank you for supporting my coffee habit

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Boozy Barbecue Fathers’ Day Gift Guide

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which means I receive a small payment if you make a purchase through this link. Thank you for supporting my coffee habit.

June is all about last days of school and first day of camp. Bonfires and beaches. Warm, sunny days at the lake and of course, barbecues and beer. I don’t know about you, but when I think about all these things I think about Dads and Fathers’ Day. Also because my father in law (a.k.a. Grumpy or Cranky Frankie) reminds me to not forget his birthday which is the same day as Fathers’ Day, or thereabouts.

Did you know that in the past, a lot of men were upset about the day because it was an “attempt to domesticate manliness with flowers and gifts, most likely paid for by the man himself”.

Men.

Whatever.

We love ya dads! And because we love you, we’re giving you booze and barbecue for Fathers’ Day!  Which, by the way folks is June 18th, Cranky Frankie just reminded me again.

Now go out there Dads and grab your beer, get your buzz on and cook us some meat!

If you’re lost for what to get Dear Old Dad for Fathers’ Day or are looking for something clever, here are some of my favorite gift ideas.

Boozy Barbecue Fathers’ Day Gift Guide

fathers day gift guide

  1. Dad need a hobby? How about Mr. Beer Premium Gold Edition 2 Gallon Homebrewing Craft Beer Making Kit. He can make brew from start to finish with this kit. There’s no need for additional purchases, it’s all in here. That’s a hoppin deal!
  2. Whether dad’s barbecue is world famous because it’s finger-lickin, lip-smackin good or because he burns everything to a crisp, he’d be proud to display this Dad’s BBQ Vintage Tin Sign by the pit.
  3. Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades–Bastes, Butters & Glazes, Too and
  4. How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques, A Barbecue Bible! Cookbook by Steven Raichlen. These books are a must for anyone passionate about BBQ. From the beginner to the sophisticated BBQ chef! I bought this for my husband for Fathers’ Day. Ssssshhhh, don’t tell him! Also, don’t tell him I already sorta kinda read it. I couldn’t take it anymore!
  5. Praise the Lard: Recipes and Revelations from a Legendary Life in Barbecue Here’s another can’t live without barbecue book written by “The Legend” Mike Mills and “Barbecue Heiress” daughter Amy. Anecdotes and almost 100 smokin recipes from 17th Street barbecue royalty. Who can resist recipes like Pork Belly Bites, Ain’t No Thang Like a Chicken Wing and Blackberry Pie? A great read with beautiful full color photos.  The man in your life will love it. Ok, you will too. But, don’t buy it right now and read it and wrap it. That would be wrong.
  6. Barbecuing can be messy business. Dad needs an apron. I have a thing about aprons. They define you as a cook, as a person even. At least mine does. What does your apron say about you? Is it a bikini body or funny cartoon or a smart ass phrase? This apron is definitely going into the gift bag. It says it all!
  7. Does the man in your life prefer wine? This Wine for Two Gift Box includes two wine tumblers and two wine twirls chillers that sit at the bottom of your wine glass for a refreshing sip every time. So “swirl and twirl” and enjoy!
  8. I personally love this new  YETI Hopper Two Portable Cooler. Tough as nails and ice for days! The new tapered design makes it easy to load (and unload) and carry and it is nearly indestructible. YETIs are pricey but they are so worth it! If you are an outdoorsman, you need to make this investment. They really are fantastic products! My husband loves his YETI Tundra 75 Cooler. It’s big and heavy, but they do sell two-axel wheels separately, of course. I think my husband would have a tough choice to make if someone said “It’s either the wife, or the YETI”.
  9. ROCKS Whiskey Chilling Stones Handcrafted Granite Round Sipping Rocks with Hardwood Presentation and Storage Tray is a unique gift for a whiskey lover. These stunning, eco-friendly granite stones will quickly chill your spirits without watering down your drink.  They come in a gorgeous hardwood presentation and storage tray and would make a beautiful addition to the home bar. These would make a perfect companion for a good bottle. Here are a few recommendations if you need soe help. Whistle Pig Straight Rye Whiskey for the rye lover,  and you can’t go wrong with an exceptionally smooth Gentleman Jack and if you’re looking for bourbon, Maker’s Mark is a great choice for a wheat bourbon.
  10. Mason Shaker Barware Set I loved this! Of course I do have a fondness for Mason jars, but who doesn’t? This set comes with a Mason Shaker,  a natural hardwood muddler, a Jigger (.75 oz) and an awesome book called “Shake: A New Perspective on Cocktails” that contains 168 Pages of recipes like the Watermelon Daiquiri and The Down Easter. Yes Please!

Remember, nothing replaces the gift of time. Bring him some lunch. Help him out around the house. Play a few games of cribbage and just be present. There are many that would give anything for just that.

Have a great Fathers’ Day!

Let me tell you a secret about a father’s love 
A secret that my daddy said was just between us
He said daddies don’t just love their children every now and then
It’s a love without end, amen

-Love Without End Amen, George Straight-

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Chocolate Sprinkle Cookies

I’ve got to know.

Sprinkles or Jimmies?

In New Hampshire, we call them jimmies. Well, I call them jimmies and I’m from New Hampshire, so I’m guessing everyone in New Hampshire does too. Actually, that’s only partially true. Because I say chocolate jimmies and rainbow sprinkles. And sometimes I say chocolate sprinkles. Ok, I’m wishy-washy. It’s all part of my charm.

chocolate sprinkle cookies

I do love me some chocolate jimmies though. I think I could stick my tongue into a tub of them and be perfectly okay with that. Wrong? Sure. But as always, this is a judge-free zone.

If you like jimmies or sprinkles or whatever you call them, you’re gonna love these Chocolate Sprinkle Cookies. Oh, and if you like chocolate, you’ll love them even more. These cookies are like little, cakey dark chocolate brownies covered completely in delicious, chocolatey sprinkles. See? I said sprinkles.

I can picture these in red, white and blue for those Memorial Day cookouts coming up this weekend. What d’ya think? Colored sprinkles really don’t have any flavor, not like the chocolate ones do. And even the chocolate sprinkles aren’t really super chocolaty, unless they are really good quality. And let’s be honest, good quality sprinkles are kind of a waste if you’re just sticking your tongue in the container. But, no one would ever really do that.

I make these cookies often. A lot of times I use rainbow sprinkles, just because they’re purdy. But the chocolate on chocolate version is my personal fave. I love how dense they are and because they’re made with cocoa powder and not chips, they aren’t super sweet. These got rave reviews from the neighbors, by the way. Like, “Here’s your empty plate. We’ll wait while you whip up another batch” type review.

They are easy and fun to make with the kids too, if you’re looking for something for your budding baker to help you with in the kitchen. There aren’t a lot of ingredients and shaping dough into balls and rolling them in sprinkles is always a good “chore” for the kiddos. They can’t really screw it up and the perfectionist in me can chill.

chocolate sprinkle cookies

I’ll be making these for a neighborhood Memorial Day partay on Sunday. What kind of treats are you serving up this weekend?

chocolate sprinkle cookies

Whatever you’re cooking up this weekend, make sure to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for this great country.

Chocolate Sprinkle Cookies
Recipe type: dessert
 
These cute, dense chocolate, sprinkle covered cookies are simple and delicious. They
Ingredients
  • 1 c. butter
  • 1½ c brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 c. flour
  • ¾ c. cocoa powder (I used Scharffen Berger Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder)
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder1 tsp. salt
  • ½ c. chocolate sprinkles
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy
  3. Add in eggs, one at a time mixing completely after each
  4. Mix in vanilla
  5. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix until blended
  6. Add flour mixture to wet mixture and beat on low until fully combined
  7. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in fridge until dough is chilled for at least 30 minutes
  8. Roll two tablespoons of dough into a ball and then into sprinkles (or granulated sugar if you want)
  9. Place balls on a parchment lined baking sheet approximately 2 inches apart and bake for 9-11 minutes, edges will be slightly firm and centers will be a bit soft
  10. Cool for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack
  11. allow cookies to cool on baking sheet

Recipe at Created by Diane

 

 

 

 

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