Thanksgiving Weekend Recap

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Again. Already! Who else is excited for Christmas? Each year it comes faster and faster (I swear), and I even finished half of my holiday shopping this past weekend. Not to mention a whole lot of baking and eating. ;-) I traveled home to Wisconsin last Tuesday through the end of the week. First thing on my agenda: cinnamon chip scones! My mom baked them for me the morning I arrived. And, of course, a Target run was next up on the list, which resulted in my new favorite Christmas mug. Fa la la la la!

Target Fa La La La Mug

Each year, I like to make a *new* Thanksgiving dessert. Last year was a pumpkin roll, this year: healthy pecan pie! I used a recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie. Below is a picture of the pie before going into the oven. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical about using tofu in a PIE. But it turned out fabulously! And you couldn’t tell whatsoever. I’d highly recommend this recipe, and it was really very easy. You just need a few ingredients and a blender!

Healthy Pecan Pie

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With all of the baking / cooking we did, we ended up with lots of leftover pumpkin. This was the perfect excuse for me to make pumpkin pancakes again! I first made these back in October, and they’ve quickly become one of my new favorite breakfasts. I topped them with maple syrup, mini chocolate chips and banana slices. Yuuuumm!

Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes

Decorating the tree was also in order last weekend! I snapped this shot right after we got it up and lit.

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Aaaand one last baking project from my weekend: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cookie Bites! They are essentially mini cookie ‘muffins’ with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in the center. Pure deliciousness. Recipe coming shortly… stay tuned!

Reese's Peanut Butter Cookie Bites

Hope your week is off to a great start! Let the Christmas countdown *officially* begin… only 24 days!

 

7 Healthier Thanksgiving Pies

Happy almost-Thanksgiving! Who else is excited for the big feast? My family is hosting this year, and I can’t wait to help with the preparations, i.e. FOOD! But honestly, I mostly just care about the desserts. My mom isn’t a fan of experimenting — I’m the total opposite. :-D Every year I like to try a new recipe. Meanwhile, she *always* has to make the same apple and pumpkin pies. So, what’s the compromise? Basically we just end up with a whole lot of desserts! Haha. Last year, we tried a pumpkin roll (per my request)! This year’s experiment: healthified pecan pie from Chocolate Covered Katie. I found quite a few other healthy dessert recipes as well, so figured I’d share. Check them out below:

1. Healthy Chocolate Pecan Pie via Chocolate Covered Katie (chocolate + pecans = perfection):

Healthy Chocolate Pecan Pie

2. Vegan Pumpkin Pie via The Lunchbox Bunch (only FOUR ingredients, folks. FOUR.):

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

3. Apple Walnut Tart via Rodale News (apple pie’s healthier twin!):

Healthy Apple Walnut Tart

4. No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites via The Nutty Scoop (okay, okay… so cheesecake isn’t technically pie, but who can resist this?):

No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites

5. Crustless Chocolate Pie via Healthy Recipes (calling all chocoholics!):

Crustless Chocolate Pie

6. Healthy & Light Cinnamon Apple Pie via Simply, Taralynn (a healthy apple pie that’s far from boring):

Healthy Cinnamon Apple Pie

7. Clean No Bake Pumpkin Pie via iFoodReal (chocolate ON pumpkin pie?! Yes, please!):

Clean No-Bake Pumpkin Pie

Brooklyn Marathon

I finished my first marathon last Sunday! The Brooklyn Marathon. 26.2 miles in just under 5 hours. And guess what: I wasn’t the last person to finish! Never thought I’d run a marathon. I’ve loved running ever since college. But back then, I didn’t have the time or desire to train. That all changed once I participated in my first half marathon this April. I thought to myself: if I can do 13.1, what’s stopping me from 26.2? After all, it’s always been a bucket list item of mine. My aunt has also inspired me. She took up marathon running a few years ago, and has probably participated 10+ races ever since. Pretty incredible!

Brooklyn Marathon

My dad flew out for the weekend to cheer me on. I was so excited to have him here for my first race! We arrived to Prospect Park about 30 minutes prior to the start at 8:30 a.m. The park was absolutely beautiful! All of the leaves were still bright and colorful. Some very stunning scenery to be surrounded by all day! The weather was fine for running, but definitely on the chilly side. 40’s and COLD! I felt bad for some of the spectators. My dad took a break from watching at one point to go to a nearby McDonald’s and warm up. Lol!

Brooklyn Marathon

The course consisted of 6 long loops around Prospect Park. This involved running up a hill each and every time. Have to admit: that was pretty dang hard! My legs were already feeling sore about halfway through. But I just kept going.

Brooklyn Marathon

Thankfully there were water stations every few miles or so. I also took two or three breaks to eat GU chomps and GU gels.

Brooklyn Marathon

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I never realized why runners are given those weird silvery plastic blankets after a race. Well, now I know. Once I stopped running, by body temperature rapidly cooled down. I was freezing! It was nice to have the blanket as another layer to trap in my body heat.

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Check out the medal they gave us. Love that it shows a picture of Brooklyn. I’ll have to find a special place to display this! Now that I’ve finished the race, I’m already thinking about signing up for another. I want to beat my time! But as for now, I’ll be resting up and taking it easy for a few weeks. I’m also looking forward to doing more workout classes again — especially yoga!

Brooklyn Marathon

 

Wisconsin VIsit + Badger Homecoming

Fall is HERE! I traveled to Wisconsin (Milwaukee/Madison) two weekends ago and was overjoyed by the amazing fall foliage and awesome weather. Between UW-Madison’s Homecoming (my alma mater), baking all things pumpkin, watching scary movies and visiting family, it was good to be home.

Wisconsin fall collage 11-2-2014

The weather was *so* nice out on Friday — my mom and I even enjoyed a cup of coffee outside. For Wisconsin in LATE October, that is a rarity!


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The first night I arrived home, we whipped up some crockpot overnight pumpkin oats. Pumpkin venture #1 of the weekend. The entire kitchen smelled like pumpkin pie the next morning! It was like eating dessert for breakfast.

Pumpkin Crock Pot Oats

I went a little crazy on the fall foliage pictures. Sorry I’m not sorry! ;-)

Fall in Wisconsin

Fall in Wisconsin

Fall Leaves

Fall in Wisconsin

Fall Leaves

I couldn’t abandon my marathon training over the weekend. Reality check: it’s only two weeks away! So I worked in a long run on Friday. This was the LONGEST run of my entire training plan: 20 miles! I found a flat trail near my parents’ house and got started early in the morning. It wasn’t as hard as I anticipated, but I was freaking EXHAUSTED afterwardI (I slept pretty poorly the night before, flying in so late.) Completing the 20 definitely felt like a huge accomplishment. It’s crazy to think of where I was a year ago today. I could probably only run 3-4 miles, tops! I’m thrilled and pleasantly surprised by how far I’ve come. It all started with one simple goal!

Fall Run

Fall in Wisconsin

As soon as I got back from my run, I knew I needed a quick snack. My mom had apples and peanut butter waiting for me. :-D

Apples and Peanut Butter

Let me tell you… this peanut butter has become my new FAVORITE! It’s Trader Joe’s Crunchy Salted Peanut Butter with Flax and Chia Seeds. Super chunky and crunchy. I add it to oatmeal, spread it on bagel thins or use it as a dip for apples. (I also find myself sneaking spoonfuls straight out of the jar ;-) .)

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On Saturday, I drove up to Madison with my college friend Beth. We met up with my parents, brother and a bunch of friends. It was so much fun seeing everyone again! I see my family fairly often, but I only get to see my college friends a few times a year. We had a blast catching up!

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Now… back to more baking adventures! My mom and I whipped up our favorite pumpkin bread recipe on Sunday. As much as I love banana bread, nothing beats a warm slice of pumpkin bread in the fall! SO good.

Pumpkin Bread

This happened, too. Affy Tapples! :-D

Affy Tapple Caramel Apple

Sunday morning, I made pumpkin pancakes from a recipe I found on Dashing Dish. I’d been dying to try them! They did not disappoint. Perfect breakfast on the last day of my trip!

Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes

Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes

Only a few weeks, and I’ll be back again already for Thanksgiving. I’m SO looking forward to baking, cooking and catching up with friends and family. Definitely not looking forward to the anticipated temperature change, though. My winter coat will be out by then!

 

Halloween Cookies from William Greenberg

Happy Halloween! Something about this holiday makes me feel like a kid again. Am I alone here? Maybe it’s the candy. Actually, it’s definitely the candy. Candy corn, chocolate bars and all things sugar — I just can’t resist! :-P In my opinion, you’re never too old to treat yourself. So I was obviously excited to pick up some special Halloween treats for work on Friday. William Greenberg sells the cutest cookies — including black and orange (instead of black and white), cut-out pumpkins and ghosts. I stopped in on my break to survey the options!

William Greenberg Halloween Cookies

I ended up with a boxful of various treats — black and orange cookies and a few Halloween-themed cut-outs as well. They were a big hit. I think my favorite was the black and orange cookie, but they were all AMAZING, and a modest size. Not too big, not too small. I’d highly recommend popping in if you’re craving a sweet cookie. There’s something nostalgic about the place. I’ll definitely be back!

Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes

Pumpkins for breakfast?! Oooooooo, yes — you read that right! Going with the trend of all-things-pumpkin, I decided to whip up a batch of PANCAKES last weekend. I found the recipe via Pinterest (where else?!) from blogger Dashing Dish. Read on for more pumpkin amazingness…

Pumpkin Pancakes

Pumpkin Pancakes

I topped them with walnuts, mini chocolate chips and pure maple syrup (not pictured). This was, no doubt, one of the BEST pumpkin recipes I’ve ever made. Ever. Besides maybe pumpkin bread.

Pumpkin Pancakes

Here’s the recipe — modified slightly from Dashing Dish‘s original.

Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes

  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (I used Libby’s)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp water
  • 3-5 packets of stevia
  • Optional toppings: pure maple syrup, mini chocolate chips, walnuts

*Yield: 6 regular-sized pancakes

How-to:

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and combine until smooth. (Try to get rid of as many chunks as you can.)
  2. Heat a nonstick pan (I also used cooking spray) on medium heat. Scoop batter onto pan (whatever size desired). Flip once the edges start to firm up and cook on the opposite side.
  3. Optional: top with pure maple syrup, mini chocolate chips, walnuts or whatever your heart desires. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pancakes

More pumpkin recipes: