Friday, November 10, 2017

Gingerbread Cookie Dip

This holiday recipe for Gingerbread Cookie Dip is perfect for a dessert table at a family party or to share with friends. Or to eat with a spoon.

I am sharing a new, holiday-inspired dessert recipe today - because it's Friday; it was 20 degrees this morning; it's SNOWING; and the holidays are only a few short weeks away. Who has started Christmas shopping? I have one item purchased so far. But I have a list.

This dip is easy to make with only a handful of ingredients. I lightened it up slightly and added protein by including Greek yogurt, but this is not a diet recipe. It also includes full fat whipped cream cheese and crushed cookies. When making holiday desserts, I don't like to skimp.

This no-bake dip can be made in 5 minutes and works best if you use a stand mixer or hand mixer to whip all the ingredients together.

Enjoy and happy Friday!

Gingerbread Cookie Dip
Yields: 6+ servings

1/3 cup whipped cream cheese
1/3 cup Greek yogurt + 2 Tablespoons
1 cup whipped topping
1 Tablespoon blackstrap molasses
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground all spice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
5 small ginger cookies, crumbled

Whipped topping
1-2 crumbled ginger cookies

*Mix all ingredients in a stand mixer or hand mixer, until combined.
*Serve with ginger cookies and your favorite fruit.
*Keep refrigerated - this dip will last a few days if chilled.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Pumpkin Spice + Hazelnut Latte

This Pumpkin Spice and Hazelnut Latte is a delicious, healthier version of a pumpkin spice latte using home-brewed coffee or espresso, pumpkin puree, hazelnut milk, spices and maple syrup. This coffee drink is vegan since it uses hazelnut milk.

This post contains affiliate links.

I tried a new vegan pumpkin + pecan latte at a coffee shop over the weekend that used pecan milk instead of almond or soy. I'm not vegan but I usually order almond milk in my coffee because I prefer the taste over cow's milk. The pumpkin flavors combined with pecan milk were SO delicious that I wanted to re-create the drink at home as soon as possible. I couldn't find pecan milk at the store, but I picked up a container of Hazelnut Milk instead and it was just as delicious.

I am always looking for new combinations using my favorite goard and this new pumpkin spice latte recipe might be my favorite for 2017. However - I admit I'm not a huge fan of the typical coffee shop Pumpkin Spice Latte. The drink is usually overly sweet, rarely contains real pumpkin, and leaves me feeling sluggish instead of awakened {which is what I'm going for with my daily coffee - not a sugar bomb}.

For this coffee drink, I opened a brand new bag of coffee beans that's one of my favorites - the Winter Blend from Whole Foods. I found this bean blend back in stores over the weekend. This pound of coffee should last me at least a few weeks ;)

This coffee drink took me less than 10 minutes to put together. I cooked hazelnut milk, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and pumpkin spice in a small sauce pan for a few minutes on medium-low heat, whisking often. I used a milk frother to whip up the milk-pumpkin mixture before stirring in my coffee.

This Pumpkin Spice + Hazelnut Latte was the perfect start to a blustery Monday. Hazelnut milk has a delicious, slightly nutty flavor that is a great complement to pumpkin. I'll be making another latte tomorrow to celebrate Halloween.

Pumpkin Spice + Hazelnut Latte
Yields: 1 latte

1 cup hazelnut milk
2 Tablespoons pumpkin puree
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup coffee or 1-2 shots of espresso

1. Add hazelnut milk, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, vanilla extract and pumpkin pie spice to a small saucepan. Heat on medium-low for 3-4 minutes, whisking at least twice per minute.
2. Pour the milk and pumpkin mixture into a large coffee mug. Use a milk frother* to whisk the pumpkin and hazelnut milk mixture for 30-45 seconds, until thickened and frothy.
3. Add coffee or espresso and lightly stir until combined.

*Instead of a milk frother, you can use a blender or shake the milk/coffee mixture in a Mason jar to create a similar frothy texture.

My favorite coffee products:

Bean Envy Electric Milk Frother:

Capresso Coffee Grinder:

Friday, October 27, 2017

Friday Five: All Seasons Orchard

If you're looking for an apple orchard, pumpkin patch and corn maze to explore in the Chicagoland area before the end of the fall season, you need to visit All Seasons Orchard in Woodstock. K and I took baby C a few weeks ago for his first orchard visit. I feel like I have been waiting for years to take my baby to an apple orchard and pumpkin patch! Today I'm sharing five {ok, six} orchard photos for Friday from our road trip.

Woodstock is an hour's drive northwest of Chicago. All Seasons is only open in September and October, and the upcoming pre-Halloween weekend is the last opportunity to visit their fall festival. It's a popular spot, so plan to wait in line for tickets. The line looked rough when we arrived, but apple cider donuts fixed our concerns and we only ended up waiting 20 minutes.

One of the best apple cider donuts I've ever tasted. The donuts fueled us for selfies, checking out the apple trees bursting with apples to pick, and visiting the goats and bunnies. There is also a barnyard at the orchard with a petting zoo, chickens, a pig, a bull and baby cows.

We also checked out the Super Mario Brothers corn maze - we picked the short route, Phase 1, which is a 15 minute walk through the cornfield.

All Seasons Orchard has a huge offering of fall activities for kids that baby C can enjoy in the future - such as pedal carts, pumpkin bowling, and a mini zip line. We were content to visit the pumpkin patch this year. The orchard offers pumpkin picking and apple picking just a hayride away, but we decided to explore the already-picked offerings instead. The pumpkins were just as good.

We ended our visit with a stop at the Farm Market on the property - a half gallon of Honeycrisp Apple Cider came home with us, along with a mini Caramel Apple Pie for the road {so amazing}, apple spice tea and apple-flavored barbecue sauce.

The movie Groundhog Day was filmed in downtown Woodstock, so we stopped for a quick walk after our orchard visit and lunch at The Double Yolk Cafe. Good food and a classic diner experience. I had raisin bread french toast and it was delicious.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Door County Fall Colors + Dinner Date at Wickman House

Last weekend I visited Door County in northern Wisconsin for a short getaway with K and baby C, to explore the fall colors. Door County is located on a peninsula in northeastern Wisconsin, surrounded by Green Bay and Lake Michigan. We spend most of our time in the northern half of Door County, with K's family. 

We missed "peak color" by only a few days, so the trees were at 60% color over the weekend. Driving around was beautiful - I couldn't resist a roadside photo or two.

We also visited Newport State Park for a short hike on the Monarch Trail before a rainstorm arrived - baby C enjoyed the quiet trail and testing out his new fall gear.

We also spent time with K's parents at Fall Fest in Sister Bay - this was our first visit to the festival, in its 71st year as an annual event. We loved it - so many things to see {and eat}.

K and I spent a few hours away on Saturday night for a dinner date at one of our favorite restaurants in the area - Wickman House.

Wickman House is a farm-to-table "New American" restaurant that focuses on local farms and seasonal ingredients. The restaurant is located inside a beautiful three-story house, on more than four acres of land. The house was built by the Wickman family in 1872, and previously held an inn, a B&B and another restaurant called T Ashwells. Wickman House opened in 2012.

If you visit Door County, I highly recommend making a reservation at Wickman House or arriving when they open for the evening {5 pm}. Even though we had to wait to be seated, my favorite part of the meal was starting with a glass of wine in the outdoor {heated} gazebo bar.

All of the food I have tried at Wickman House is delicious and beautifully presented. We started with the deviled eggs on special that night - with a light amount of cheddar added to the filling. So good.

K ordered the pork chop and I had the salmon special, which was served over grits and garnished with blistered shishito peppers. Shishito peppers are incredible and extremely mild! I need to try making these peppers at home. Adding them to a salmon dish resulted in quite an interested flavor combination.

We finished our dinner by sharing a slice of flourless chocolate cake - it was super rich and chocolatey and I didn't need it, but the cake was worth every bite. Wickman House is located at 11976 Mink River Road, Ellison Bay, WI.

More posts about Door County:

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Chai Pumpkin Muffins for a Friend in Need + ALS Awareness

This recipe for Chai Pumpkin Muffins is a warm, spicy breakfast idea for fall. Adding chai spice and pumpkin pie spice is a great flavor combination. These muffins are perfect to warm up your home on a chilly day or take to a friend or family member in need.

I am partnering with Linqia on a charity program for today's post, to raise awareness about ALS {amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's Disease}. This charity campaign benefits the ALS Therapy Development Institute. Before I share more information about this disease, I have a fall-inspired muffin recipe to tell you about that's comforting, will make your house smell wonderful and is perfect to take to a friend or family member in need.

When I started thinking about how to share information about ALS for this post, the first thing that came to mind was I need to bake something. While I don't personally know anyone that suffers from the disease ALS, anytime I think of a friend or family member that is suffering, I want to do something to provide extra comfort.

Comfort can be in the form of a phone call, visit, or small gift to provide a bit of extra cheer. These fall-inspired muffins would be welcomed in a care basket. I think these muffins are best enjoyed warm and topped with nut butter.

I'm on a chai-pumpkin baking kick this year, as I have made this batch of muffins multiple times as well as this recipe for Pumpkin Chai Slow Cooker Oats.

Before I get to the muffin recipe, I want to share more information about ALS.

What is ALS?
ALS is a disease that impacts the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, specifically those that control voluntary muscle movement. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder. {source}. Doctors estimate that 5-10% of ALS cases are caused by a gene mutation, but the rest do not have a known cause {source}. The famous physicist Steven Hawking has ALS.

Can ALS be treated?
There are currently two treatment drugs that can extend life expectancy by a few months - but the ALS Therapy Development Institute is working on a promising treatment, AT-1501. Learn more about AT-1501 here.

How can you help? 
Take action! The ALS Therapy Development Institute is a non-profit, biotech organization that is dedicated to finding a cure for ALS. Make a donation online by clicking here.

On to the muffin recipe. I used a pre-made chai spice, but this DIY Chai Spice Mix from Fit Foodie Finds also looks delicious.

Chai Pumpkin Muffins
Yields: 12 muffins

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white flour wheat flour
2 ripe bananas
2 eggs
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup sugar or maple syrup
2 Tablespoons unsweetened almond butter
4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon chai spice
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Optional Chai Pumpkin Spice Sugar:
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon chai spice
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*Mix wet ingredients in a food processor or mixer - bananas, eggs, pumpkin puree, oil, almond butter and vanilla extract.
*Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl - flour, sugar, chai spice, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
*Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until combined.
*Add batter to a muffin tin, with each muffin tin 3/4 full.
*Add ~1/2 teaspoon Chai Pumpkin Spice Sugar on top of each muffin.
*Bake for 25 minutes.

Looking for more recipes using chai spice? Try my:

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

15 Savory Apple Recipes

It's apple season and I'm looking for new ways to use my favorite tart and crunchy fruit. This recipe roundup includes 15 of the best savory apple recipes for fall.

My refrigerator is full of apples right now, from my parents' apple tree and a recent apple orchard visit. I have been stuck in the rut of only making apple desserts from my apple stash, so I have been looking for inspiration to make savory recipes instead. This post includes a ton of great savory apple ideas, from meatballs, to salad, to cheesy apple bread.

Check out these amazing apple recipe ideas by clicking on the recipe link below or the direct link to food blog.  

Apple and Bacon Cornmeal Scones from Caroline's Cooking

Spiced Apple Cider Cornbread from Make the Best of Everything

Sage and Apple Turkey Meatballs from It's Cheat Day Everyday

Apple and Caramelized Onion Tart from Tara's Multicultural Table

Roasted Apple & White Cheddar Soup from 4 Sons 'R' Us

Cheesy Brie and Apple Pull Apart Bread from Family Around the Table

Spaghetti with Tomato Apple Sauce from Cooking Chat

Pork Chops with Apple-Sage Sauce from Food Meanderings

Apple Cider Baked Beans from Making Healthy Choices

Apple Olive Oil Boule from Food above Gold

Skillet Cooked Apple and Sage Stuffing from Earth Food and Fire

Apple and Pear Spinach Salad from Yay! For Food

Apple and Butternut Squash Soup from made by luci

Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash from healthy world cuisine

Apple Cider Vinaigrette {Two Ways} from the rising spoon

Monday, September 25, 2017

Fitness at Home: 5 Free Online Workouts

I'm sharing five free online workout channels that I plan to incorporate into my weekly fitness schedule this fall.

Now that Baby C is 10 months old and autumn has officially arrived, I'm looking for motivation to start working out on a regular basis again. Since I went back to work in May, fitting in runs and other workouts has been difficult. I wear a Fitbit every day and walk as much as I can, but it has been a daily struggle for the past few months to do more than that. In order to find my way back to fitness again, I started researching online workout options that I can do at home and signed up for an 8k race in November with a friend - the Hot Cider Hustle.

One of the reasons I am struggling to fit a workout into my daily schedule is because my morning routine is always in flux. Baby C wakes up at a slightly different time everyday and he continues to wake up once {or more} during the night. This means when I am able to fit in a workout in the early morning hours, I need something to get me going as quickly as possible - like a banana with nut butter and cinnamon or a yogurt drink:

We have experienced unseasonably hot weather recently so this cold and creamy yogurt drink is perfect to wake me up with enough protein for a quick morning workout. I found a 4-pack of both Dannon® Oikos® and Dannon® Light & Fit® Nonfat Yogurt Drinks at Walmart in the Dairy section of the grocery store. This yogurt drink is easy to pull out of the refrigerator to enjoy on a hectic morning. These yogurt drinks are also a great source of calcium and Vitamin D.

Interested in trying Dannon® Light & Fit® & Dannon® Oikos® yogurt drinks? Click here for a $1 Ibotta rebate!

5 Free Online Workouts

1: Jenny Ford Step Aerobics Workouts

Step aerobics isn't the most popular workout, but it involves minimal equipment and doesn't require very much space. I bought an aerobic step on Amazon last winter and I plan on finally putting it to good use this fall. Jenny Ford is a great free workout channel on YouTube - she has close to 50,000 subscribers and many videos to choose from. This 14 minute video is a great starter for a step workout. My glamorous set-up includes a laptop on my desk chair, but it gets the job done.

 2: Jessica Smith TV

Jessica Smith TV offers free online workout videos as well as DVDs for purchase. Workout videos are available on her YouTube channel and website. This 20-Minute Naptime Workout: Barre Fusion will be easy to fit into my schedule and requires minimal equipment.

3: Nike+ Training Club

I have been using the Nike+ Run Club app to track my runs for several years. I should have downloaded the Nike+ Training Club app long ago! Nike offers an amazing series of free workouts on the Training Club app, including strength, endurance, classic, etc. I signed up for a 4-week beginner workout plan via the app, for 2-3 online workouts per week. There are over 100 workouts on the app so this should keep me busy.

4: Do Yoga With Me

I'm skeptical of online yoga but willing to give it a shot - my concern is falling on my head while trying to see what's happening on the screen. Free online yoga classes from Do Yoga With Me will be a good way to try out yoga at home. I'm not an experienced enough yogi {or let's be honest, a yogi at all} to recall enough moves for a solo workout without video encouragement.

5: Mini Barre Workouts from Physique 57

I have tried barre workout classes a handful of times over the years. While I think it's a good workout, attending classes regularly is an expensive habit. Physique 57 offers a series of 15 mini barre workouts that are free and give you an idea what barre classes are all about. I am considering signing up for an online barre subscription, so this is perfect to give barre another try.

Don't forget to click here for a $1 Ibotta rebate on yogurt drinks!