Have you ever noticed that one of the first questions people ask upon meeting for the first time is “What do you do?” Most of us spend more than half of our time at work, so I suppose it makes sense that we all seem to be so interested in others’ jobs. I used to think this is a question we asked only as adults because work is such a center of adult life. However, looking back, I can remember “what we do” defining us even in childhood. Growing up, I was always “the girl who sang.” Church choir, show choir, my parents back yard, you name the place, I was probably singing. This is funny to me now because the girl I am today barely even sings in the shower. But back then, singing was an integral part of who I was, yet today it is kind of a distant memory. Later on I became “the girl who runs” thanks to the many miles I logged and the number of times I heard “hey! I saw you running yesterday…” And though I still love to run, I have cut back a bit on the miles I log each week. But the identity that I have carried around with me the longest is “the girl who bakes.” Baking has been something I have loved for as long as I can remember, but my love of baking has evolved over the years. The other day at the gym, someone came up to me and asked if I was “the girl from the cooking website.” This stranger had somehow stumbled upon this little blog of mine and recognized me. I responded rather awkwardly, as it is still hard to believe that anyone besides my own mother even reads this site. Yet there I was, talking to someone who happened upon one of my recipes from a few years back. It startled me a bit because I haven’t really been “the girl who blogs” in a while. It’s been a while since I’ve felt the urge to write on my little space on the internet. And though I still identify as “the girl who bakes” it has been a while since I’ve had the time. And I miss it dearly. I miss covering my kitchen in butter and flour and sharing the delightful result with my loved ones. I miss the look my husband gives me when he is tasting a recipe that he deems “a keeper.” And though I may not have as much time to devote to this little blog as I did back in college, I miss sharing my kitchen mishaps and triumphs. So even though it’s been a while…I’d like to think I’m still “the girl who blogs”. Even though I’ve had a long absence from my little space on the internet, I hope to share more recipes and stories going forward.
Below is one of my favorite new recipes for a quick and healthy snack. I typically make a batch of these on Sunday afternoons to pack in lunches throughout the week. Enjoy!
Ingredients: Makes 18 cookies
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter (I used Meijer Brand Natural Crunchy PB)
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon honey
2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup raisins
Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until well combined
Place tablespoons on a lightly greased cookie sheet
Bake t 350 for 10-15 minutes (cookies should be dry to the touch)
A few days ago I stopped by the grocery store to pick up a few items to make this hummus, and as I was placing my items on the conveyer belt, I saw a little girl dressed in an all too familiar black and white plaid jumper. It was the same plaid uniform that I wore during my years attending St. Paul Catholic School. So I smiled thinking about which teachers this little girl might have and which classroom she spent her days in. And I thought about the little friends she might be making in the same hallways that I met my best friends. I wondered if the friends she was making now would be the same friends that would stay by her side for the rest of her life. Because that’s how it was for me at St. Paul. I spent my school days at St. Paul with LT and Annie, and these two wonderful girls are still my very best friends today. We were attached at the hip through those 8 years of Catholic School, and the bond we formed there is probably why I look back at my time in grade school so fondly. And though we all had different groups of friends in high school and college, and our friendship went through many different phases, these two have always been my anchors. Because whether we were in a period of talking every day or whether a few weeks passed between our long winded interactions, I never doubted that they were my best friends. There is something special about having friends who have known you through every phase of your life. Those type of friendships seem to be especially strong, as they effortlessly ride the storm of “growing up.” There were times I got caught up in some short lived friendships in high school and college, but when it came down to it, I always turned to Annie and LT in the end. This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from a play by Edward Albee. “Sometimes it is necessary to go a long distance out of your way in order to come back a short distance correctly.” Because no matter how many twists and turns our lives take, we always have each other to come back to. And that, my friends, were my long winded thoughts while standing in line at the grocery store.
This easy hummus recipe doesn’t contain tahini, but is still just as delicious as the store bought varieties. I added garlic to the mix, but you could easily customize it with roasted red peppers, chili powder, or whatever other flavoring you like.
Ingredients: Makes 1 1/2 cups
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 whole clove of garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until mixture is smooth
At the end of December my mom’s very best friends threw me a beautiful bridal shower. My “aunts”, as I call them, put so much thought and detail into the special day. From the green and white “Michigan State” color scheme to the perfectly festive Christmas centerpieces, everything about it was perfect. They even gave every guest a jar filled with cookie ingredients with an attached recipe.
Our festive table
My beautiful bridesmaids and best friends
But one of my favorite details had to be the Recipe Box that they gave me, filled with recipes from all the guests who were able to attend. It was such a sweet and thoughtful gift and will serve as a wonderful memory of such a great day. So now, well after the holiday season has calmed down, I am finally getting around to sampling the recipes that were carefully stuffed into my recipe box. The first recipe I tried was a recipe for Hasselback Potatoes from my Aunt Renee. You slice russet potatoes and sprinkle with herbs and cheese for a delicious and decadent side dish. Make sure you fan the slices out well, or the potato will not bake through all the way. I served these potatoes with a simple pork loin and it was an incredibly delicious dinner.
Ingredients: Makes 4 servings
4 medium russet potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
2-3 tablespoons fresh herbs ( I used a combination of chopped thyme & sage)
4 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Scrub and rinse potatoes
Cut potatoes into thin slices but not all the way through
Put potatoes in a baking dish, fan them slightly
Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with melted butter. sprinkle with dried herbs
Bake potatoes at 425 for 50 minutes
Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheeses
Bake potatoes for another 10-15 minutes until lightly browned, cheeses are melted and potatoes are soft inside
Like a lot of people my age, I grew up on Chewy Granola Bars. I remember having those delicious granola bars for after school snacks and post soccer game treats. My favorite by far was always the Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Variety. But although the Chewy bars masquerade as a “healthy snack” the lengthy list of ingredients says otherwise. These classic school time snacks are definitely a healthier alternative than most snack items these days, but they still have quite a bit more sugar and unpronounceable ingredients than I would like to consume regularly. So I was happy to find a healthier alternative that rivals the taste of the childhood favorite. These easy No Bake Granola Bars consist of rolled oats, mashed banana and peanut flour. Peanut flour, often called PB2 , is powdered peanut butter that has far less fat than typical peanut butter. It is available in most grocery stores in the health food aisle, and adds a nice flavor to these bars. The original recipe didn’t contain chocolate chips, but I added a few in because, well… chocolate makes everything better. Enjoy!
Ingredients: Makes 9 bars, Adapted from UndressedSkeleton.Tumblr.com
1 cup rolled oats
1 large, very ripe banana, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey
4 tablespoons powdered peanut butter or PB2
1/4 cup chocolate chips
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until well incorporated and mixture resembles oatmeal cookie dough. This will take a few minutes, and the mixture starts out very dry, but don’t add any additional liquid
Once mixture resembles dough, add in chocolate chips
Scoop dough by the tablespoon and form into 2 inch bars
Place bars on a cookie sheet and place in the refrigerator overnight