Sunday, July 16, 2017

Tart Cherry Cobbler

This summer dessert recipe for Tart Cherry Cobbler is delicious warm or cold, with a slightly crunchy cake topping and almond glaze frosting.


Phrases I searched this morning = "what is a cobbler?" I wanted to make sure I was naming this dessert appropriately. The answer: A cobbler is a dessert consisting of fruit baked in a deep dish with a thick, cake-like crust on top. Thanks Google.


I can't think of a better fruit to use in a cobbler than tart cherries, especially those harvested in Door County. I actually made this dessert at the beginning of summer for a friend's barbecue, using a jar of my favorite Door County cherry pie filling from Bea's Ho-Made Products.


I waited to share this recipe until the start of cherry picking season in Wisconsin, which began mid-last week in southern Door County. Cherry season in Door County is typically from mid-July to mid-August. Around 2,000 acres of montgomery tart cherries grow in Door County. Click here for a map of orchards.


I used cherry pie filling since I made this before the start of cherry season. The filling I used was purchased from my favorite jam store in Door County, and only lightly sweetened - not the gloopy, "pie in a can" that you usually find.


I think this cobbler would be even more delicious using fresh tart cherries instead of pie filling.


I rarely make desserts like this for K and I to have at home. It's much better to wait and share the pan with friends and family. This also helps me avoid dipping my spoon in for one last bite before bed!


Tart Cherry Cobbler
Yields: 10-12 servings

Ingredients:
32 ounces tart cherry pie filling or pitted tart cherries
1 cup all-purpose white flour
3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar + 3 Tablespoons
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted coconut oil or butter
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

Almond Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 Tablespoon milk

Directions:
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*Add flour, 1 cup of sugar, baking powder, eggs, melted coconut oil, milk, vanilla extract, and salt into a bowl. Gently mix with a fork until the ingredients start coming together and finish by mixing the dough with your hands. Be careful not to over-mix the dough.
*Add cherry pie filling to a 9x13 inch cake pan or baking dish. Add the dough on top of the cherry filling in small clumps.
*Sprinkle the extra sugar {~3 Tablespoons} evenly over the dough.
*Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
*Prepare the almond glaze while the cobbler is cooling. Whisk powdered sugar, vanilla extract, almond extract, and milk until you achieve the desired consistency. Add milk one Tablespoon at a time, if needed.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Outdoor Favorites in Door County, WI



My family of three spent a few days in Door County, Wisconsin over the 4th of July holiday. For the past three years, we have traveled up north for a short vacation with family. July 1 marks the beginning of high tourist season in Door County and Independence Day weekend is a great time to visit. The best activities in Door County involve being outdoors - today I'm sharing three of my outdoor favorites from our trip.


Hiking in Peninsula State Park

We visited Peninsula State Park for a morning outdoors and a picnic lunch. Peninsula is located between Ephraim, WI and Fish Creek, WI in the northern half of Door County. The park includes beautiful views of Green Bay and feels like an enchanted forest on the hiking trails with birch, aspen and evergreen trees. Peninsula offers biking, hiking, beaches, camping and a golf course.


Baby C and I finished a two-hour hike with my sister-in-law, mother-in-law and three nephews, starting on the Sentinel Trail. The men of the family rode on Peninsula's bike trails. Baby wearing can be quite a workout:


We packed peanut butter sandwiches for lunch and Lorissa's Kitchen protein snacks for our hike. Thank goodness we had snacks because we took a wrong turn and ended up on a second and third trail. What should have been a 1 or 1.5 hour hike ended up at 2 hours, but we had a great time!


We all loved the Korean Barbeque flavor - especially the spicy kick at the end. I appreciate that Lorissa's Kitchen snacks use 100% grass-fed beef with no preservatives or nitrates! Buy them yourself here.

Europe Bay Beach

Europe Bay Beach is located in Europe Bay Woods, between Europe Lake and Lake Michigan in northern Door County. I love this beach because the water is calm and the area is almost entirely undeveloped. The beach is perfect for relaxation and is extremely quiet compared to other beach areas in Door County.


Baby C enjoyed his time in the beach tent, watching his cousins play:


While Kristen and I spent 90 minutes kayaking on Lake Michigan.


After our kayak experience, we shared Ginger Teriyaki meat snacks. It can be hard to think of creative, non-perishable food items for a warm day at the beach but these snacks were perfect.


Sunset at Sister Bay Marina

K and I missed the fireworks show this year to put baby C to bed, but we went on a walk along the lake first to catch a glimpse of sunset. Sister Bay Marina offers an amazing sunset and Lake Michigan views, with boats and the beach in the background.


We also shared a meal at my absolute favorite place, Door County Creamery, for an impromptu anniversary dinner a few days late. I love my boys:


For more on Door County, check out these posts:

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

5 Reasons I Love Chicago in the Summer


Today I'm sharing five reasons why I love summer in Chicago - my city home for almost 10 years.


It's hard to believe I have lived in Chicago for so long! I miss my family and friends in Iowa, but moving here has fulfilled my life in ways it's hard to fully describe. In my time here I have held four jobs, lived in four apartments, met wonderful friends, got married, bought a house, and had a baby.  I love living in this city and I think summer is the best time of year to enjoy it.

If you're considering a move to Chicago or the "Chicagoland" area, check out ForRent.com to learn more about cities and neighborhoods. ForRent.com is an apartment rental listing service with lots of information about Chicago and other cities. I think the ForRent.com conclusion that Chicago combines the big city with the Midwest mindset is the perfect way to describe living here.

1: Millennium Park

Millennium Park has an amazing outdoor music venue, Pritzker Pavilion, that hosts concerts and events all summer long. A few of my favorites include the National Public Radio taping of the popular show Wait Wait Don't Tell Me; weekly {free} music performances; and the annual outdoor opera highlights concert in September. The park also hosts free outdoor workouts during summer months, on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings.


2: Chicago Parks

Within the 77 neighborhoods of Chicago, there are 535 parks totaling more than 8,000 acres. I love spending time in Chicago parks on summer days. Two of my favorites are Lincoln Park {pictured below} and Horner Park. Lincoln Park includes the free Lincoln Park Zoo and weekly Saturday Green City Market farmers market. Horner Park includes many baseball fields, a 1 mile loop for running, walking or biking; one of the few running hills in Chicago; and a small Saturday farmers market during summer months.


3: Breweries

Chicago is a beer city - there are 65 breweries in the city limits and 110 in the Chicagoland area {see The Hop Review - The Comprehensive Brewery List of Chicago}. That number is second to Portland, Oregon. K and I still have many breweries to visit but I'll mention two of our favorites in this post. The best brewery to take friends to on the north side is Half Acre in North Center. It's cozy, they have a tap room and store, weekly tours, and a new dining menu. The best destination brewery is Lagunitas Brewing Company in Douglas Park. They have a large tap room/restaurant, an amazing tour and it's literally Willy Wonka themed as you walk through the main entrance. Two summers ago we took a long bike ride there with friends, ending with lunch and beer flights. Their beer circus event can't be missed, if you can get your hands on tickets.


4: Lake Michigan Beaches

One of the most amazing things about Chicago is the fact that all of the beaches on Lake Michigan within the city limits are public. While reading an article on little known Chicago beach facts, I learned the first public beach opened in 1895 {see 10 Things About Chicago Beaches You Might Not Know}. Today there are 27 beaches along the lakefront. Pictured below is Montrose Beach on a quiet morning before sunbathers arrived.


5: Neighborhood Races

Chicago is a great city for running. There are amazing running groups {two examples: Three Run Two and Chicago Area Runners Association}. Fleet Feet Sports also offers frequent group running events - check out their running calendar here.  There are also races scheduled on most weekends in the city and suburbs. I usually run at least a handful of races in the summer. I haven't signed up for any races in July or August yet {here's why} but there are a few I am considering:
  • Bastille Day 8k - July 14
  • Big Ten 10k - July 24
  • Humboldt Park 5k - August 14 {2015 race recap}

Here's to another 10 years Chicago :)

Have you visited or are you considering moving to Chicago? Check out the ForRent.com local Chicago guide here!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Cinnamon Zucchini Muffins

This breakfast or snack recipe for Cinnamon Zucchini Muffins is the best way to use up summer produce.


We had a lovely weekend hanging out with friends at a neighborhood party, a local park and an early dinner outdoors on Sunday. I chopped my hair for the new season and I'm ready to embrace all things summer.


Baking with summer produce is at the top of my list. I made a batch of zucchini muffins on Saturday morning, inspired by my last post on zucchini noodle recipes. I don't know why I was previously intimidated by zucchini muffins - chopped zucchini is so easy to bake with. If you have a spiralizer, the easiest thing to do is spiralize a zucchini and chop the spirals into small pieces. This took less than 5 minutes.


These Cinnamon Zucchini Muffins are made healthier by incorporating white whole wheat flour, yogurt, and bananas.


I topped each muffin with a light sprinkle of cinnamon-sugar, which isn't required but highly recommended.


We aren't growing zucchini in our raised garden bed this year, but buying it every week at the grocery store instead. I'll be making another match of these muffins ASAP.


Cinnamon Zucchini Muffins
Yields: 16-18 muffins

Ingredients:

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 egg
1 medium zucchini, shredded or finely chopped
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt 

Muffin topping:
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*Mix wet ingredients - mashed bananas, oil, yogurt, egg, and vanilla extract.
*Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl - flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
*Add dry ingredients to the wet and mix until combined. Stir in chopped zucchini.
*Add batter to lined muffin tins and top each muffin with a sprinkle of cinnamon-sugar.
*Bake for 20-22 minutes.

Looking for more muffin recipes? Try my:

Thursday, June 22, 2017

15 Zucchini Noodle Recipes for Summer

One of my favorite summer vegetables is a crunchy zucchini - the easiest way to enjoy it for dinner is by making zucchini noodles. This recipe roundup includes 15 of the best healthy zucchini noodle recipes for summer.


This post contains affiliate links.

Warm weather makes me crave lighter lunches and dinners, and follow up each with a huge bowl of watermelon for dessert. Zucchini is in the summer squash "family" - it's low in calories and high in potassium {source}. We have been incorporating spiralized zucchini noodles {zoodles} in place of pasta a few times a month, but I would like to make this a weekly habit now that seasonal zucchini is available again. I use the Paderno spiralizer to "noodle" my zucchini. I have been using this spiralizer for a few years - it cuts vegetables very well and cleans easily.

This post includes 15 zucchini noodle recipes for summer from a handful of my favorite food bloggers. Check out these amazing zucchini noodle ideas by clicking on the recipe link below or the direct link to each site.  

Chicken Satay Zoodle Salad 
from Taste and See


Scallop Scampi with Zucchini Noodles 
from Garden in the Kitchen


Caprese Chicken Zoodle Bowls 
from this blog


Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai 
from Danielle's Kitchen


Lobster Scampi with Zucchini Noodles 
from Le Petit Eats


Asian Orange Sesame Zoodle Salad 
from Vitamin Sunshine


Skillet Pepperoni Pizza Zoodles 
from Make the Best of Everything


Rainbow Noodle Salad 
from Lauren Cary Cooks


Taco Zoodle Bowls 
from this blog


Stir Fry Zucchini Noodles 
from Veggie Inspired


Zoodle Bowls with Thai Peanut Chicken 
from Coffee & Crayons


Miso Zucchini Noodles 
from A Virtual Vegan


Zoodle & Grilled Corn Salad 
from Apples for CJ


Vietnamese Zucchini and Carrot Salad with Peanuts 
from Karen's Kitchen Stories


Bucatini and Zucchini Noodle Cacio e Pepe 
from Pinch and Swirl


Thursday, June 15, 2017

6 Thoughts on Running after Pregnancy

Now that my baby is six months old, I have six thoughts to share on running after pregnancy.


This post contains affiliate links.

I have been a casual runner for years, as mentioned numerous times on this blog. "Casual" meaning I run for fun and for the health benefits, not to win - it's nice to see improvements and increased speed, but I choose not to make it a priority. My relationship with running has changed over the past year, before and after baby C joined our family. I keep hearing comments from people like this: "Oh I hear running is terrible after pregnancy" and "Running is never going to be the same again." Running is definitely not quite the same but it's not terrible! Caveat: Everyone has a different pregnancy experience. Talk to your doctor before beginning any workout routine.

1: The run itself won't be as hard as expected.

This may not be true for everyone, but it was true for me. I took a clean break from running for 7 months. I expected to be the person that ran straight through, but running became quite uncomfortable just a few months in and I was pregnant during the {hot} summer. Besides general discomfort, I also worried about getting overheated and decided walking would be a better use of my time. When I had my first run in January of this year, I expected it to be awful. I ran 3 miles and while I took a few breaks, overall it felt good.

2: The pace will be slower.

Even though running feels pretty good post-baby, I am taking it a lot slower. I'm already not the fastest runner - the quickest race time I have had is around a 9:25/minute mile. I have lost at least 1.5 - 2 minutes per mile at this point and I am absolutely okay with this. I know it will come back with time and effort and for now, I'm just happy to get out there when I can.

3: Early morning races are easier {once your baby sleeps through the night}.

Hear me out on this one - I have always been an early riser and never one to sleep in. Having a baby has made me an even earlier riser most days, especially on nights when baby C sleeps right through. His sleeping habits are very good at this point {knock on wood}. He typically wakes up once in the night.

Before I went back to work in May, I read a lot about being a working mom and one of the suggestions was to wake up an hour before your family for the "golden hour." For me, the golden hour means time to have my first cup of coffee, take a shower, and work on this blog before work begins, if I have extra time. For race days, using the golden hour to get ready and wake up has worked very well. I have run three races this spring, and for each of them had no problem feeling awake and ready to drink my early coffee before heading out the door.

4: Getting out the door takes extra time.

Even with the golden hour, getting outdoors for a run or for a race is not a fast process. For me, it requires feeding the baby and pumping before getting myself ready, which combined can take 30 minutes or longer. I occasionally try to multi-task by having my coffee and/or breakfast at the same time.

5: Expect to take breaks.

Despite the positive comments so far on running after pregnancy, it has been quite a challenge. The hardest part is not the act of running - it's letting go of the "mom guilt" and finding time to get out there since I have gone back to work. I have only run a handful of times in the past 6 weeks since I started working again, even though I work from my home office the majority of the week. My goal for the summer is to figure this out - I want to have a routine where I'm able to run twice a week, with a third workout of weights, yoga, barre, etc.

6: Make plans to incorporate your baby.

To resolve the issue of taking long breaks, I'm looking forward to incorporating baby C into my runs and making it a family affair with K when possible. I was gifted a jogging stroller but haven't actually used it for "jogging" yet - based on what I have read, the recommended age for using a jogging stroller is between 6-8 months. The age to start using it may also depend on your baby and/or the stroller you purchase. I have the J is for Jeep All-Terrain Jogging Stroller. For city living and running, I have heard great reviews of the BOB Revolution FLEX Stroller.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Key Lime Cookie Frozen Yogurt Sandwiches



This dessert recipe for Key Lime Cookie Frozen Yogurt Sandwiches is the perfect summer treat with the flavors of key lime pie.


Over the long weekend, I baked up a new cookie recipe and paired it with frozen yogurt for a sweet treat after dining outdoors. It took a few batches to get this cookie right but I think the recipe is going to become a summer favorite - Key Lime Cookies with the flavors of my favorite pie.


I love the sweet, tart flavor and creamy filling of key lime pie. For the past few years K and I have taken a weekend trip to southwest Florida to spend time with family. On these trips we always enjoy a key lime pie. During our visit earlier this year, we stopped by the South Naples Citrus Grove for oranges and other treats. I found a bottle of key lime juice and I have been waiting for months to find the right recipe to use it. Key lime pie isn't quite the same outside of Florida!


These Key Lime Cookies include lime flavor from key lime juice and lots of lime zest and pie flavor from crushed graham crackers. If you don't have access to key lime juice, the juice from regular limes will work just as well. I made frozen yogurt sandwiches with these cookies using delicious Kemps Yo² frozen yogurt, purchased at Jewel-Osco.


I picked up two flavors of frozen yogurt: Yo² Salty Caramel Cookie Crunch and Yo² Cold Brewed Coffee. Both flavors work well for my Key Lime Cookie Frozen Yogurt Sandwiches. You can find Yo² in the ice cream aisle at Jewel-Osco. Find a $1 off Jewel-Osco coupon for Kemps Yo² frozen yogurt here.


Yo² frozen yogurt is a "clean label" product, with no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial flavors, and no artificial growth hormones. Good thing both frozen yogurt flavors fit in the beverage holders on baby C's stroller ;)


Making these frozen yogurt sandwiches is easy. Wait for your Key Lime Cookies to cool and use approximately half of an ice cream scoop for each sandwich. It works best for the Yo² frozen yogurt to be slightly soft.

Here's a quick recipe video for these Key Lime Cookies!



Key Lime Cookie Frozen Yogurt Sandwiches
Yields: 22 cookies {11 sandwiches}

Ingredients:
12 graham cracker sheets
1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup sugar

2 Tablespoons lime juice
Zest of two limes
1/3 cup melted coconut oil OR butter

2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1 Tablespoon milk
1/4 teaspoon salt 

Directions:
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
*Add graham cracker sheets to a food processor and mix until the sheets turn into crumbs. Add whole wheat flour, sugar, baking soda, lime zest and salt. Mix until combined.
*In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and add lime juice, melted coconut oil, vanilla extract, and milk. Mix until combined.
*Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula until combined. Stir in coconut flakes.
*Bake for 11 minutes.

Frozen Yogurt Sandwiches:
*Wait for the cookies to cool. Add 1/2 scoop of frozen yogurt between two cookies. Gently press the cookies together to create a sandwich. Eat or freeze immediately.

{Adapted from the Kitchn's recipe for Graham Cracker Cookies}

Don't forget to download a $1 off coupon to try Kemps Yo² frozen yogurt yourself!