Monday, July 30, 2012

Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins - A Guest Post on Simply Life!

Hi friends! Hope you all had a great weekend. :)

There's a chance you're swimming in zucchini this summer...  If so, you should definitely check out my guest post recipe for Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins over on Simply Life today!

If you're not already a fan of Simply Life, you absolutely should start reading Gina's blog! It's definitely one of my favorites. And I've been lucky enough to become good friends with Gina outside of blogging too (you know, in that thing called real life - not blog life ;)). Go check out my recipe for these delicious muffins, and also be sure to check out many other of the fabulous, healthy recipes on Simply Life while you're there! Her photos are beautiful, and her recipes will inspire you to eat healthier and live more simply, I promise. :)

Have a nice day, all!!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Peanut Butter Iced Coffee

Happy Thursday to you all! I hope everyone's having a great week!

In my Treat Thursday post last week, I mentioned that I am loving peanut butter iced coffee, and I promised that I'd have the recipe for you soon. Well, here it is! This is SUCH a delicious treat. And that's definitely what I consider it - a treat. I'm not making this for myself everyday, but once every couple weeks it sure does hit the spot!

The recipe is from Steph's Bite by Bite. I tweaked it slightly, and my version is below. Feel free to play around with these ingredients. It's definitely a flexible recipe! Steph's recipe calls for more creamer than I use, and it also calls for vanilla extract, which I don't add. But you certainly can! You can also add more or less coffee, more or less milk, a different flavored creamer, etc., depending on your preferences.


-1 and 1/2 cups brewed coffee (preferably stronger coffee), refrigerated for at least two hours or overnight
-approx. 1/3 cup milk (I use 1%)
-approx. 1 tsp. french vanilla creamer
-dash of cinnamon
-1 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter
-handful of ice


Pour the coffee, milk, creamer, cinnamon, and peanut butter into a blender. Blend for about 30 to 45 seconds, or until the ingredients are well blended and the liquid is frothy. Put the ice in a glass or mug, and pour the coffee mixture over top. 

Enjoy and feel refreshed!!

Although the recipe calls for a full tablespoon of peanut butter, I have added closer to just two teaspoons sometimes when I've made this, and the peanut butter flavor is still very noticeable.

Love me some frothy coffee!

What's not to love about combining peanut butter and coffee? They are two flavors that I love.
And I also love that you know you're getting a little protein as you enjoy this drink. ;)

I typically drink my coffee with only milk or cream and I don't any added sweetener. So, that's why I didn't add the extra creamer or vanilla extract that's in the original recipe; I don't want mine to be too sweet. Personally, I think that the peanut butter adds plenty of flavor on its own, so you really don't need many other additions! I will say that the dash of cinnamon really boosts the flavor another notch though and is a key addition in my variation of this recipe. ;)

When I make this coffee, it doesn't take long for my cup to look like it does in this picture. I'm always sad when a good thing is gone! But then I'm glad to know that I can easily make this recipe again. And I will!!!

And by the way, the cup in this picture? It's from the best coffee shop on the island of Kauai. Java Kai was our go-to coffee shop when we visited Kauai last summer! If you're ever there and you're a coffee fan, you've gotta check it out. ;)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Basil Walnut Pesto (and Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwich)

Basil. Basil. Basil. I feel like it's coming out my ears this summer! But don't worry; that's a good thing. We've received a lot of beautiful basil thus far this year with our CSA, but it wasn't until this week that I thought to make pesto with it. Come on, Colleen! Get with the program! We've had such an abundance of basil. Why didn't I think of this earlier??! :)

Anyway, thankfully it dawned on me that I should make some delicious pesto, so I found this great recipe on for basil walnut pesto. I wanted to try making a recipe without the traditional pine nuts, as they can be a bit expensive and I didn't already have pine nuts on hand. However, I did have walnuts on hand (in the freezer, where I store all my cooking and baking nuts!), so this recipe was perfect. It honestly couldn't be any easier either. Just throw all the ingredients in a food processor, and you're good to go!


-2 cups packed basil leaves (2 oz.)
-1/3 cup olive oil
-1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 cup parmesan cheese


Place the first four ingredients (through the garlic) in the food processor. Process until thoroughly combined. Add the cheese, and blend for about 10 seconds more. If desired, add salt and pepper to taste.

The original recipe I followed actually called for optional additions of two tablespoons of softened butter and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. I did not add either. I thought the pesto was plenty flavorful as is, but I'm sure the addition of butter couldn't hurt... I mean, it's butter. ;)

I actually finely chopped the walnuts in the food processor first, and then I added the rest of the ingredients. It was super easy that way!

Finished product!

Can you believe this was my first time making pesto??!

The evening I made this pesto, for dinner I enjoyed a huuuuge salad along side a delicious pesto grilled cheese sandwich! It was such a great way to use some of the pesto. I just spread some pesto on one side of the bread, topped it with cheese, and grilled it up! So yummy.

What are some of your favorite ways to use pesto? I'd love your ideas! I've got some more to use up. ;)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Treat Thursday: Things I Am Loving

Hi there friends!

Perhaps you've noticed, but I've been a bit of a slacker with the blog these past few weeks... I've really only been posting about twice a week. Whoops! This pretty much has to do with two things: 1) being busy as a bee these days! and 2) it has been SO hot. So, I haven't felt like turning on the oven and baking like I normally would! Excuses, excuses, right?! I'm not quite as dedicated as some bloggers I guess. There have been a few meals that I've made that I've considered blogging about, but to be completely honest, I just haven't felt like snapping photos and writing about them. So due to my lack of delicious recipes to share with you this week, I'll be substituting with another Treat Thursday post and sharing with you a few of my current, favorite things (er, "treats")! :)

1) Fresh, local, organic veggies (and sometimes fruits!) from our CSA

We have been receiving so many awesome veggies from our CSA with Buckle Farm this year. I am in love with summer veggies!! I am so thankful we have access to such great, healthy veggies on a regular basis.

2) New uses for old things (specifically, little jars!)

I love finding new uses for old things. One item in particular lately that I've been saving to reuse is glass jars of all shapes and sizes. A couple examples...

Using an old jam jar for almonds!

Or for salad dressing to bring to work! I am certain that I took a picture of the little jar I use for salad dressing at work, but I can't find the pic... Sorry! But seriously, tiny little jam jars are perfect for salad dressing.

3) Peanut butter & banana "in a blanket"

As an easy breakfast, lately I've been on a kick of spreading some peanut butter on a whole wheat wrap, placing a banana on the wrap, and rolling it up in a "blanket"! So yummy and easy!

4) Peanut butter iced coffee!

I hope to have this recipe on the blog at some point. It is so simple and so delicious! It's the perfect iced coffee drink for the hot summer days we've been having...

And that concludes this edition of Treat Thursday. :)

Okay, I lied. I'm not done yet. Although this little guy doesn't totally fit in with the Treat Thursday theme, I can't help but share this adorable picture of Mike's cat, Whiskey. How cute is he?!? Love him. This has been his almost permanent pose during the multiple heat waves we've had this summer!

And also, I can't forget to mention that today, July 19th, is my dad's birthday!!!!! Wishing you a wonderful day, Dad!!! :)

This is my sister Melissa (on left), me (on right; what is up with my hair cut?!?), and my dad and little brother, Patrick, after Patrick was born in 1987!! Awwwww.

Love you, Dad!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Grilled Banana "S'mores"

'Tis the season for s'mores. Summertime. Campfires. Late evenings spent outside. I am the first to admit that I love the traditional "s'mores," but I'm also one to try a new twist on an old favorite. So when I saw this idea for grilled banana s'mores on Pinterest, I figured it was definitely worth a shot!

The original "recipe" I followed can be found here, at a great cooking site called Quick Dish. The recipe calls for crushed Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal (which would be awesome), but since I didn't have any on hand I just used some crushed graham crackers. So, the "recipe" I followed is this one below. 

Now keep in mind that this is designed to be done on a gas or charcoal grill outside. However, if you don't have a grill, you could easily make it in the oven, or better yet, by the campfire! I made these grilled banana s'mores for a Fourth of July bbq we attended, so I used a grill. If you'd like to try the oven or campfire method, be sure to read the original recipe for those instructions.


-1 banana
-mini marshmallows
-mini or regular chocolate chips
-cinnamon baking chips
-coarsely crushed graham crackers


Preheat grill to medium high heat. Place peeled banana on large piece of foil (I'd say about 1 square foot or so). Slice banana lengthwise so that it's slightly open. Sprinkle desired amount of marshmallows and chocolate chips on top. Loosely wrap the banana in the foil, and grill for 5 to 6 minutes. Unwrap the banana and top with desired amount of crushed graham crackers.

Serve in a bowl with a spoon for the smallest mess. ;) Or, enjoy however else you please! Just be careful; these banana s'mores are hot right off the grill!

Mike took most of these pictures for me while I was acting as "chef." It was a super hot day, so I was a tad warm by the grill! But these fun treats were worth it. And I really can't complain. I wasn't by the grill nearly as long as our friend Jake who did all the cooking of the burgers and dogs!

I actually didn't use the traditional mini marshmallows. Instead, I used these "jet puffed mallow bits" I had found. They worked great! It was easy to just sprinkle them on.

I actually accidentally put the graham crackers on before the whole thing went on the grill. They remained fairly crunchy though!

I think I probably should have crushed up the graham crackers a bit more finely. Oops.
Next time! They did add a nice crunch though to contrast the ooey, gooey melty-ness of the rest of the dessert.

This is how I enjoyed my portion - all mixed up in a bowl with a spoon! It was quite easy to eat that way. I loved the added flavor with the cinnamon chips!

I think these banana s'mores would be great with other flavored chips too. I'm especially thinking butterscotch...

These are such a fun summertime treat! You should give 'em a try the next time you're out by the grill or the campfire. :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cabbage Kohlrabi Slaw with Honey Soy Dressing (and Fish Tacos)

Happy mid-week! We are enjoying a gorgeous week of great summer-like weather here in Boston. And it's not nearly as hot as it has been, which is really nice. :) Hope the weather where you are is great too!

As I've mentioned on the blog before, Mike and I have a CSA share that we split with some friends. It's our second year doing it, although this year we have the CSA with a different farm than last year. So far so good with the new farm! We went with Buckle Farm this year, and we've been very pleased for the past 5 or 6 weeks that we've been receiving their deeelicious organic veggies (and some fruits too!). If you also have a CSA, you may know that even if you are a huge vegetable lover, sometimes it's hard to eat all the veggies you get in a share. But Mike and I do our best to eat everything and we don't let anything go to waste. ;) I try to come up with yummy, different recipes whenever possible, but to be honest, a lot of times we do end up cooking certain veggies the "same old way" (and that's usually sauteeing or roasting!). This week, however, I got creative with a few items, and we loved the end result of this cabbage kohlrabi slaw. This recipe is a keeper, for sure! I hope we get more cabbage and kohlrabi this week. :)

I somewhat made this recipe up as I went along, so we'll call this a Barbershop original. The approximate ingredients are below. This recipe is definitely not something that needs to be too precise, so no need to worry!


-1/2 head of purple cabbage, shredded in food processor
-2 kohlrabi bulbs, shredded
-1 scallion (bulb and stem), thinly sliced
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1/8 cup honey
-1/8 cup olive oil
-approx. 3 tsp. soy sauce
-ground pepper, to taste


Using a food processor, shred the cabbage and kohlrabi to the size/thickness of your liking. Add these two ingredients to a large bowl, along with the sliced scallion. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the minced garlic, honey, olive oil, soy sauce, and pepper. Pour over the vegetables, and toss to coat. 

I recommend letting this dish sit in the fridge for at least 30 to 60 minutes before eating to let the flavors meld together. It tastes even better the next day too!

Serve cold or at room temperature, and enjoy!! This makes about 6 to 8 generous servings, I'd estimate.

(I didn't use the shredder attachment with the kohlrabi, but next time I would.)

The flavors of the honey and soy sauce worked really well together with this dish. And the scallion and garlic added a great punch of flavor too!!

The night that I made this, I was planning on heating up some turkey kielbasa to serve along side the slaw for Mike and me and make a super easy weeknight meal. However, I also discovered that we had one frozen tilapia filet in the freezer, and upon seeing that, a little lightbulb went off in my head. I wonder if this cabbage slaw would work in fish tacos?! I had some whole wheat wraps in the fridge already, so I decided to cook the tilapia and give it a whirl. The tilapia and cabbage slaw worked so well together! It was an awesome dinner. I enjoyed one taco (we really only had enough tilapia to split for two tacos overall), and then I enjoyed another serving of just the slaw on its own.

Yum yum yum!!! When Mike took his first bite of the fish taco, he said "Wow, this is reeeeally good." Mike often compliments my cooking and baking, but when he does so immediately (and without any prompting of "how is it?" :)), you know it's good!

I am crossing my fingers that we get more cabbage and kohlrabi in our CSA share this week... Can't wait to make this dish again!! :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Oatmeal Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again. I love cookies. They're one of my all-time favorite baked goodies to make. There are SO many options when it comes to cookies, and I mean really, who doesn't love a cookie?! Cookies always seem to put a smile on people's faces, and I love that. :)

This recipe is adapted from a recipe for Brown Butter Oatmeal Chunk Cookies from the blog How Sweet It Is. I didn't have chocolate chunks on hand though, so I decided to change the recipe up a bit and add toffee bits and mini chocolate chips instead. I also doubled the recipe, as the original recipe says it makes 15 to 18 cookies. With the proportions listed below (which is the doubled recipe), I made about 40 cookies.


-1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
-1 cup granulated sugar
-1 cup loosely packed light brown sugar
-2 eggs
-4 tsp. vanilla extract
-2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 and 1/2 cups regular oats
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. baking powder
-3 tsp. cinnamon
-3/4 milk chocolate toffee bits (I used Heath)
-1 and 1/4 cups semi-sweet mini chocolate chips


Heat a saucepan over medium-low heat, and add the butter. Whisking constantly, cook butter about 5 - 6 minutes, until small brown bits appear on the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat immediately when this happens, and whisk for about 30 seconds more. Set aside and let cool completely. This cooling completely part is very important!

While the butter is cooling, combine the flour, oats, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer (or you can actually do this by hand!), mix the completely cooled butter with both sugars until smooth. Add in the eggs and vanilla, mixing again until smooth. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients until well-incorporated. Finally, stir in the toffee bits and chocolate chips. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Drop dough by the tablespoonful onto sheets, placing about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until cookies are lightly golden brown in color. Let sit for a couple minutes on the cookie sheets, and then place on cooling racks to cool completely.

Mmmm, toffee bits and chocolate chips!

As I was making these cookies, I realized that they are very similar to the last recipe I posted on the blog - the chocolate and cinnamon chip oatmeal pecan bars. The ingredients are very much alike (well, aside from the cinnamon chip and pecans, that is, and the fact that the other recipe is for bars ;)). Apparently I'm on a brown butter kick!

The texture of these cookies was great - nice n' chewy.

However, I will say, that if you make these, they're best eaten within the first three days of making them, as they start to dry out a bit after that. But the cookies were all gone by the fourth day so we didn't really have to worry about that problem for very long.

I made these cookies to bring on a camping weekend for a friend's 30th birthday. They were a hit with the crowd!

And since we were camping, we actually tried "stuffing" a couple cookies with a toasted marshmallow too. Delish!

The pic below is of the toasted marshmallow cookie sandwich. It's not at all a great picture though since I took it with my phone in the dark by a campfire. However, the flavor was great!

And yes, that's a burnt marshmallow. Mike prefers to toast his marshmallows to the point of burntness... 

If you're looking for an easy, crowd-pleasing cookie, this is it!

Hope everyone had a great weekend and that your week starts off well today! Be back again later this week... :)