What I’m Lovin’ in January

It’s finally gotten chilly in the south and feels like winter! (Confession: I love cold weather.) I hope you are all staying warm and toasty wherever you are. Snuggle up and share a few giggles with me as you read on through the short list of what I loved about January…
january

1. Cookies made with Chickpeas

Guys!! Before you go rolling your eyes and completely abandon this post, hear me out!

Or just oogle this mouth-watering photo of proof I’m not crazy…

chickpea cookie

{I borrowed this delightful picture from Texanerin Baking. If your mouth is watering (mine is!), click the picture to jump over to the recipe.}

I have a very serious sweet tooth. I am a firm believer that dessert is essential – not optional. I also try purdy hard to stay healthy. So…I seek out “healthy” treats. {Chocolate Covered Katie is one of my favorite resources}

And y’all – these Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites are a winner!

The recipe is super easy and fairly guilt-free. {Lazy Cook Tip: If you don’t have roasted peanuts on hand to make your own PB (see #2 below!), Trader Joe’s Creamy, Salted Peanut Butter works great – and the ingredient list is desirable with just peanuts and salt.}

Hubs loves them. And we even made these when my Mom came over for dinner and she was quite delighted and announced that they tasted just like peanut butter balls (which they kind of are, but I’ll let her have that connection!).

PS: If you also enjoy “healthy” [aka: less guilty] desserts, these flourless chocolate muffins are the perfect go-to if you need something easy to take to a party that your vegan and gluten-free friends can enjoy. I wouldn’t recommend the chickpea cookies for parties because 1) they are best served warm and 2) the first batch I made was a bit messy to eat.

2. Making my own Peanut Butter

As I said to my Mom earlier this month: “your generation would probably refer to my lifestyle as ‘crunchy granola’.” I’ll own it. I’m not offended (and yes, I once had a granola-supplier who recently went out of business and I teared up a bit…before ordering 5 bags as stock).

I was destined to be this way: I have a Public Health degree (aka: I was trained to be overly cautious about my health) and I’m a Researcher by trade.

Confession: The context of the statement above was when I was [being very Millennial and calling my Mom to debrief about my doctor’s appointment] after I explained that I told the doctor I had started making my own lip balm because I discovered what I had thought was just petroleum jelly in fact had dyes in it for reasons unknown (I’ve been having some lip issues [and I’ve already told you I’m a) a Public Health nerd and b) a Researcher] and was subsequently eliminating everything funky – including switching my toothpaste to Tom’s without fluoride – in an effort to eliminate triggers. Yep, crunchy granola).

Oh – and if you’re wondering: YES I’m going to share my lip balm recipe with you. I’m still perfecting it so stay tuned!

Anyways, back to the peanut butter!

When I discovered the chickpea cookies above, Texaserin recommended making your own peanut butter for the cookie recipe. She even has a recipe for the peanut butter, but I’ll spoil it for you: throw some [lightly] salted roasted peanuts in your food processor for 4 minutes. THAT’S IT! 

peanut butter

I know what you’re thinking: “but does it taste good?!” Yes, folks – it does! So delicious. I kept my batch in the fridge and it lasted about a day before I ate it all (while I seriously considered taking a spoon to the jar, I did not. I used most of it in the cookie recipe and the leftover was used in smoothies).

Next time your grocery store runs nuts on sale, grab a container of roasted peanuts and give them a whirl in the food processor – just for shiggles!

3. Homemade Vegan Korean Barbecue

korean bbq

{Picture borrowed from Brewing Happiness because my food never turns out this pretty. Click the image to get the recipe!}

DELISH!

The flavor is ahhh-mazing. This is one of the Hubs’ favorite new dinners. {Confession: The first time I tried this recipe, I got so frustrated because I was burning the tofu that *somehow* I pulled our junk drawer off it’s hinges and the contents flew all over the kitchen… Thankfully the Hubs was home and willing to talk me off the ledge – and clean up the mess [I’m a lucky gal!]. As a tip: Pre-measure the ingredients that you can and when you start cooking the tofu: stir often/constantly if you can.}

Since I try to keep my time in the kitchen minimal for everyone’s safety, I can’t speak about the taste of the aioli {I hit my ingredients-to-buy/time-I-was-willing-to-spend-cooking limit with the homemade barbecue sauce}. If you try the aioli, let me know if it’s worth the effort!

PS: Another favorite recipe from Brewing Happiness: Baked Veggie Dogs {they were on my September list}.

4. Tea Time

I got a batch of Lady Grey Loose Leaf Tea for Christmas from my step-sister. I’m trying to balance my sweet tooth with hot tea {otherwise I’d probably eat an entire batch of the Chickpea Cookies in one day which would make them far less “guilt free”}.

tea

Loose leaf tea is gorgeous. And I kind of want to learn to make my own blends, but I’m not sure where to start – if you know any good recipes, let me know!

Also – along with the tea, my step-sister gave me the most adorable ManaTEA tea infuser!

manatea

I named her Minnie the Manatee

Minnie motivates me to drink more tea and eat less sweets. Like a boss.

PS: I found Minnie’s twin Manny [well, they call him “Fred”] on Amazon if you’re interested in your own ManaTEA.

5. Family Recipes

Some friends invited us over for chili a few weekends ago and I knew immediately that I wanted to dust off Jeremy’s grandfather’s cornbread recipe! It’s always a big hit and we’d just eaten some his PawPaw made at Thanksgiving which reminded me how delicious they are (and that we hadn’t made them in forever).

cornbread

I know you’re shocked: Yes, I own an apron. And yes, the reason it looks well-worn is not because of yours truly – it’s vintage 😛

I weaseled the recipe out of Jeremy’s grandpa several years ago. We used to make them all the time, but it’s been years since we’ve made a batch.

The recipe is more of a Mexican-style cornbread with jalapenos and cheddar cheese. I’m not authorized to spill the family secrets, but here’s a similar recipe you could try 🙂

6. Our new knit sweaters

Speaking of grandparents, the Hubs has the best! Last week we received two packages from England!

Since we’d just chatted with his grandma, we had an idea of what they were. She has been working on sweaters for both of us since we visited last Christmas. {In fact, she had my sweater nearly done, but when I arrived and she measured me she realized the bodice was going to be too small and unraveled the whole thing! She laughed at my reaction because I almost cried!}

It felt like we’d won the lottery! 😉

sweaters

We were overwhelmed with excitement [obviously], but I promise to attempt a better picture of the sweaters later…

And with the recent cold weather arriving in South Carolina, we’re both pretty grateful for these snuggly new garments!

Isn’t Jeremy’s grandmother SO talented?! She’s been knitting for…forever. This is my third sweater from her. I wear the other two quite frequently when it gets cold and I know this one will be well-loved too!

PS: Did you know that “knitting and crocheting can lower heart rate and blood pressure and reduce harmful blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol“?! You can read all about the health benefits of knitting and real stories about how knitting has helped people get through tough times {like having a baby in the NICU and quitting smoking} in this article from the NY Times. Fascinating research!

7. Snow

Speaking of cold weather, last weekend we got snow!

snow

If you look REALLY close you can see the light dusting on the roof {and a fur baby peaking out the front door}

Anyone not from the south is probably laughing hysterically at my claim of snow based on the above picture. I was starting to worry we wouldn’t get any snow this year so I’ll take what I can get!

I did watch some tiny flurries come down from the window in front of my sewing machine and it was lovely (even if they melted as soon as they hit the ground).

Now I’m not wishing bad weather on anyone, but I do wish we’d get a little more snow this winter!!

8. My new accessories for sewing

earrings

Because who doesn’t need to look glamorous while sewing?!

My sweet friend Caroline surprised me with these the day before our first quilt guild meeting this year {so I was accessorized quite festively for the meeting}.

love them! And I love my sweet friend for being so thoughtful. She’s the best.

PS: My new earrings coordinate perfectly with my new planner from Sugar and Type {it looks like the planners are all sold out which is a shame because it is so useful!}.

9. Paper Piecing

At our Palmetto Modern Quilt Guild meeting this month, our president did a paper-piecing demo.

I’ve been really wanting to try paper-piecing, but was too scared. Amber demystified the process and I went home and gave it a try with the simple diamond blocks she shared with us.

paper pieces

I’m hooked!

What are some of your favorite paper pieced patterns? I’m looking to try more so I’d love it if you left me your favorite in the comments.

PS: If you’re local to Columbia, SC – follow the Palmetto Modern Quilt Guild on Facebook and consider joining us! We meet every third Thursday of the month and have a sew-in once a month (so fun).

10. My Double Zip Wallet

doublezip2

I won’t bore you with all the details [because you can read those here], but I’m still lovin’ it.

I think my favorite part are the two zipper pouches. I love zippers because they make your goodies feel so secure {and help you to avoid embarrassing moments when change starts flying out of your clutch like a slot machine}.

This also reminds me that I need to finish that Veronika skirt the corduroy was intended for…

Since I haven’t blogged as much this month, I had a lot to share! Thanks for reading all the way to the bottom – you’re such a trooper!

{Catch up on all of my monthly What I’m Lovin’ posts here.}

 

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Tasty Tuesday: Morning Smoothie

In case you didn’t know: I am a huge fan of smoothies! They’re so easy to prepare and it’s the most conveniently delicious way to pack extra fruits and veggies into your day.

In the past, I would make a big batch of smoothies in my very messy, very clunky, very-much-nearly-dead smoothie maker (aka: blender) on Sundays. I’d transfer (very messily) the smoothies into mason jars and freeze them. Every morning, I’d pop one in a koozie, throw it in my lunch box (they double as a freezy pack), give it a good shake around noon and voila! Fresh smoothie at work.

I won’t take full credit for the brilliance of that tip – I heard it on NPR one day as a recommendation for parents to make for their children to pack in their lunchbox (meant for children obviously means meant for Jordan).

Recently, my sister offered to give me her Magic Bullet which I jumped on! I wasn’t sure I’d like it because it made single servings and as you read previously I’m really into saving myself effort by making food in big batches when possible 🙂 Well…I’m obsessed with it!

magic bullet

Here’s my little bullet in action!

The biggest success out of all of this is that nearly every day I come home to find that the Hubs made himself a smoothie at lunch (which is a huge accomplishment because when I met him, he didn’t eat ANY fruit. Seriously. And he barely does now. Unless it’s in a smoothie).

I have been wanting to share a smoothie recipe with you all, but I have to admit: I rarely stick to the same combination and I rarely (..never) measure anything I throw into my smoothies. So, bear with me on this and let your imagination run wild!

Morning Smoothie Recipe (or my guide to your creative smoothie path)

Gather your ingredients:

  • Milk (I use skim, but use what you want! Soy milk is also great! You could probably try to substitute water if you wanted)
  • Frozen fruit: bananas, blueberries, strawberries – if you don’t have frozen fruit, add some ice cubes
  • Fresh spinach
  • Peanut butter
  • Honey (somewhat optional)
  • Ground flax (optional)

Line the bottom of the blender (or cup) with a handful of fresh spinach leaves. This will keep the fruit from clumping under your blender blades making for a more consistently smooth smoothie!

Next, layer in the frozen fruit until the cup is about 3/4 full. If you are using a traditional blender, just throw in about 2 handfuls of fruit.

Toss in a scoop (about a tablespoon) of peanut butter and drizzle of honey (if your sweet tooth isn’t so strong, feel free to omit the honey and save some calories. You can always add it at the end after you taste test).

Add another handful of spinach (to keep the peanut butter from sticking to the blade when you flip it over if you are using a Bullet-like-contraption).

You should have a vibrant, beautiful layer of fresh fruits and spinach in your blender/Magic Bullet cup, like this:

smoothie1

You will want to add milk until it reaches the bottom of the top layer of spinach.

smoothie2

Screw your lid on tight and blend until smooth. After a few seconds, remove the cup or lift the lid of the blender to check the consistency (taste test time! Add more honey if needed).

If the smoothie is too thick, just add a little milk and blend some more. If the smoothie is too thin, add a little more frozen fruit and spinach. Repeat until you reach your desired consistency.

Cheers! Enjoy!