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updates & foodie guest post!

8 Jul

Hey guyyyys

I’m back! Well, actually, I landed on Monday evening so I’ve been a bit delinquent. But to be fair, I got home on Monday at 10, had two days to hang out with my best friend/sleep, and then yesterday came back to school for summer research & classes. 

Here is one of the fab guest posts I’d hoped to get up while I was gone… unfortunately I had no internet access except my mom’s phone so I was only able to bring it to you now! I’ve spent a lot of today working through the ~2000 pictures I took at Disney (um, seriously) soooo be prepared (ha, Lion King reference!) for some recaps in the near future. 

Let’s give it up for one of my favorite blends (blog-friends, get it?!), XC Foodie! She’s bringing us a little bit of Cookie and a little bit of Carrot (um I NEED to make that dip, stat!)… what a cutie :) And speedy to boot… check her blog out! ;)

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Hello Everyone! I’m Tara from XCFoodie.

I’m a track and cross country runner with a huge appetite for food. I love to bake and cook to offset the energy expenditure of running. I eat a mostly healthy, vegetarian diet, but I think balance is important. Today I want to do a tribute to two of Nicole’s favorite things. What are they? Cookies and Carrots of course! This is the perfect example of balance between nutritious and delicious (not that carrots aren’t delicious!).

COOKIES:

Well, technically these are blondies. But blondies are cookie bars. Therefore they count as cookies. I put together this delicious recipe for my track team. Since we’re runners we eat… we eat a lot. You should see our psyche parties. Dessert is a mad house. I made these for practice though, and we enjoyed them after a long, strenuous speed workout. Not a crumb was left, and people were attacking me for seconds and thirds!

Chocolate Chip Butterscotch Toffee Blondies

Ingredients:

1 cup butter (2 sticks)

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons agave nectar

3 eggs

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup butterscotch chips

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup toffee bits

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9 inch pan.

Cook the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until it turns brown (see browning butter tips here if you are unfamiliar with the process), and then remove it from the heat. While it cools, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.

Combine the brown butter, agave, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, and stir with a wooden spoon until they are combined. Add the eggs to the bowl and attach the bowl to the mixer. Beat the mixture at a medium setting for 3 minutes using the paddle attachment. Add the vanilla and continue beating it until the vanilla is incorporated. Add the flour mixture and mix just until combined.

Remove the bowl from the electric mixer. Fold in the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and toffee bits. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until a knife comes out clean when inserted in the center. Take out the blondies and let them cool before cutting.

CARROTS:

I’m a dried-bean-phobic. I had a bag of red lentils in my pantry for about a year before I decided to use them. One night, I got this intense craving for hummus, but all I had was lentils. My fridge was also overflowing with carrots that I needed to use up. I decided to combine the lentils with carrots, and they complimented each other nicely in this spicy, satisfying dip. It may not have been hummus, but it was just as delicious!

Moroccan Carrot Lentil Dip

1/2 cup dry red lentils

1 1/2 cups water or veggie broth

9 oz. carrots

1/4 cup chopped onions

1/4 heaping teaspoon of each of the following: cumin, cinnamon, coriander, turmeric, and allspice

1/8 – 1/4 tsp cayenne

salt to taste

Add the lentils and water in a saucepan. Heat on high until the water boils. Reduce to a simmer and cover, leaving the top slightly ajar. Simmer for 30 minutes, checking every so often (I checked every 5 minutes) to stir and add additional water if necessary. After 30 minutes, remove from the heat and cover completely. Allow it to absorb any leftover liquid for at least 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute the onions in a small frying pan on medium heat, approximately 3 – 5 minutes or until translucent. Steam the carrots (I used the microwave method, 1/4 cup water and microwaved 2.5 minutes or until soft).

Combine the lentils, carrots, and onions in the food processor. Process until smooth. Add spices and salt. Process for about 30 seconds or until they are thoroughly distributed.

What is your favorite cookie?

What is your favorite way to use carrots?

Nicole’s Question: How much do you want to hear about Disney? Be honest, I kind of understand if you don’t want to hear me babbling about how much I love Disney Princesses because I’m about 4 years old. I have a zillion pictures and don’t want to bore anyone to tears. In fact I may do it in installations. I’m not sure if I should put it chronologically or by park… Any ideas/suggestions/etc welcomed :)

ingredients… for life [a giggling guest post!]

26 May

Thanks everyone for being so supportive! :) I just have to plow through this paper (which I have been procrastinating intensely… to the tune of running 4.15 miles instead of writing it… I mean, I guess there’s a silver lining?) and then I will hopefully be able to post like a normal person this LONG weekend! In the interim, however, I have a guest post from the cutest-ever Meg from PinkGiggles all about her ingredients for a healthy, happy life. :) She’s kind of awesome & studying physiology in grad school and I’m a little jealous, which probably makes me a nerd but you love me anyways ;) Enjoy!!!

Howdy! My name is Meg and you can find me at PinkGiggles.

Thanks to Nicole for the opportunity for my first guest post! :D

I’ve been hooked on reading Nicole’s blog since I joined the blog world; once I saw that she bought a t-shirt with a neuron on it, I was sold. I admire Nicole’s commitment to a healthy lifestyle while being crazy busy and up her to eyeballs with school work. I can relate. I’m in my second year of grad school in physiology, and I spend far more time than I’d like to admit stuck in a lab being a mad scientist. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who goes to bed with negative time left in the day. Also, Nicole seems to like greek yogurt just as much as I do. These are very important qualities in making new friends.

I still think of myself as a newcomer to the blog community.  I’m still finding my footing in the kitchen so to speak (feel free to think of me as Bambi learning to walk….that’s cute, right?), so instead of sharing a recipe for the oven I thought I’d share a recipe for life

Here are my ingredients to a healthy and happy life:

  1. Love.  I was born 9 months less a day after Valentine’s day. (Yes I am a freak for calculating that.) Anyways, I attribute my (healthy) obsession with love to the fact that I was a valentine’s baby. I love love. Love for family, love for friends, love for that boy who is my partner in crime. I love things that are pink and/or heart shaped. I have often been mistaken for a 5 year old.
    Most importantly though, is love for yourself. (By the way, did I mention how pretty you look today?)
  2. Sweat. I’m stealing this from Julie from Peanut Butter Fingers, but I’ve never had a workout that  I regret.  Whether it be a long run, some yoga, or talking a leisurely stroll outside, I make sure to find time to move.
  3. Jokes. I like to think that being silly is my forte. I am not kidding about being mistaken for a 5 year old. I’m still on the search to find a career that involves me giggling to my heart’s content all day long (If anyone has any leads on that, please give me a shout)
  4. Veggies. This one is a no-brainer, right! Food is fuel, and it’s good to think of it that way.
  5. Peanut butter and Chocolate. A modern day Romeo and Juliet if you will. Peanut butter and chocolate is fuel for the soul. The dessert combination of Gods. I need to stop writing before my keyboard is covered in drool. (Oops..too late)

Thanks again for having me Nicole, and to all of Nicole’s fabulous readers: I do hope to see some of your smiling faces over at my corner of the blog universe, PinkGiggles.org

By the way, What are your ingredients for being healthy and happy?

Sidenote: I ate a couple of cookies while writing this, to truly channel what was best for the blog. I planned to eat some carrots as well, but that didn’t end up happening  :P Nicole’s addendum: I’m totally eating carrots while posting this for you (and that was before I read this!) so I gotcha covered ;)

guest post! chocolate chip cookies & pumpkin bread from ‘meow or never’

19 May

So today I’m devoting myself to the books again… Well, I mean, kind of. My presence on Twitter begs to differ. At any rate, I’m handing the blog over to the lovely Katey & Sara… we’re pretty much the same people in different states (actually, I guess Sara and I run exact opposite schedules :) ). They’re sharing some of their delicious recipes with us today! And I’m pretty sure we need to hang out when I get back to Seattle… Just sayin’. :)

Hello! This is Katey and Sara, and we’re excited to be guest posting today! Just a little bit of background on us: We’re sophomores at the University of Washington who enjoy taking long walks, baking, and tanning (especially since the sun has finally come out!). We started our blog “Meow or Never” to document our adventures before Sara returns to California and are striving to fit everything in in these last 3 weeks. Some of our past outings have been going to Pike Place Market, Greenlake and Fremont, all of which typically center around food (we’re big fans of finding new cafes and having picnics). We also frequently start off our Sunday adventures with yoga and Starbucks, which make the perfect recipe for a great day, in our opinion. In order to fund our adventures, we’ve taken our talent for turning flour+sugar+eggs into deliciousness, selling batches of cookies/bars/breads to our friends or anyone in need of some baked goods. Today we want to share some of our favorite recipes.

The first is for our chocolate chip cookies, which are always a hit with customers.
• 2 sticks unsalted butter
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 1/4 cup granulated sugar
• 1 egg
• 2 1/2 tsp. vanilla
• 1 3/4 cups + 7 tbsp. of flour (we know, it’s strange)
• 3/4 tsp. baking powder
• 1/3 tsp. of baking soda (just eyeball this)
• generous 1/4 tsp. of salt
• however many chocolate chips you desire! (or any add-in of your choice! we have made this dough with M&Ms, and also did a white chocolate chip-macadamia nut recipe, both of which rocked)
-Preheat your oven to the temperature specified on your chocolate chip bag (we think we usually set ours at 350-375)
-In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars together. Then add the egg and vanilla and beat till very well blended.
-Mix together dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Gently add in half of the dry mixture into the wet, combine and add the second half. (If you are like us and lack bowls, counter space and patience, feel free to just add each dry ingredient directly into the butter&sugar. We promise they will still come out!) Just be careful not to overmix.
– Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a baking sheet and bake for 8-12 minutes depending on your oven (we recommend checking and timing your first batch). Remember to let the sheets stand for a few minutes after you take them from the oven so they don’t lose their shape.


One of our favorite flavors is pumpkin (we are slightly obsessed with the pumpkin spice latte during the holiday season) and if you are like us and need a pumpkin fix during the off-season, here is a wonderful recipe for pumpkin bread:
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1 cup canned pumpkin
• 1/2 cup of oil
• 2 eggs
• 2 cups of flour
• 1 tsp. baking soda
• 1/2 tsp. of salt, nutmeg, cinnamon (each)
• 1/4 tsp. ginger
• 1/4 water
Optional: 1 cup of raisins & 1/2 cup chopped nuts (or pretty much whatever you want)
– Combine sugars, pumpkin, oil and eggs. Beat until well blended.
– Sift together flour, soda, salt, spices. Add to pumpkin mixture and mix well.
– Stir in water, and add-ins if desired.
– Spoon into well oiled 9x5x3 loaf pan
– Bake at 350 degrees for 65-75 minutes or until done when tested. Turn out on rack to cool.

We hope that everyone is having an awesome week and spring! And we urge you to try these recipes, enjoy them, and have some fun adventures of your own! We especially want to thank Nicole for letting us be a part of her adorable blog, she’s such a sweetheart and so great to work with!

a peanut-buttery guest post: clean eating chelsey

11 May

Thanks everyone for your super-sweet comments on my outfit yesterday… For those who asked, I got the shoes at TJ Maxx but I think they’re Steve Madden (I’m honestly too lazy to go check ;) ).

Today I have a special treat! Chelsey at Clean Eating Chelsey and I did a post-swap! Please give her a hearty welcome; she’s one of my favorite bloggers to read. Her posts are always funny, thoughtful, and/or delicious! :)

Hi Cookies and Carrots readers! My name is Chelsey, and I blog over at Clean Eating Chelsey. Nicole and I are doing a blog swap today, so be sure to check out her post at my place!

I thought I would talk to you about something very, very important today. Like seriously important – you should probably cancel any other plans you have this evening so you can devote yourself to this post. No, I’m not joking.

I want to talk to you about…

Peanut butter. Contrary to popular belief, I do not want to talk about the huge bags underneath my eyes. Give a girl some slack here folks – 6 AM doesn’t look good on most people, including me. I promptly used that spoon to depuff my eyes after eating my OIAJ.

Peanut butter and I have a very special relationship. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved peanut butter.

Okay, that’s a lie. I liked peanut butter when I was a kid – I never really loved it.

Sure, I had my fair share of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for brown bag lunches, but it was never anything I swooned over. In fact, I was always a little bit resentful of the kids who got to bring fluffernutter sandwiches to school – my mom was so against the fluff. It was sad to me then, but I understand it now. My kids are probably going to hate me since I won’t allow fluff within a 100 foot radius of them, but I’m already over it.

When I was growing up, we were a JIF kind of family – you know, that “peanut butter” filled with hydrogenated oils. Yum, sounds delicious, right? Wrong. I’m kind of a peanut butter snob now. Peanut butter must have just peanuts and salt. Evaporated cane juice and palm fruit oil is sometimes okay. Just give me the peanuts – I don’t need anything else. In fact, now that I have seen the light (aka eaten real peanut butter), there is no way I will ever go back to eating JIF (aka fake peanut butter) again. It just doesn’t compare. If you’re on the fence between real and fake peanut butter, just go for it – more specifically, go for Trader Joe’s Organic Creamy Peanut Butter.

The turning point for me was when I started putting peanut butter in my oatmeal. In fact, I thought that I was coming up with some novel idea by doing that until I realized three years later there was a whole blog world already on top of the whole oatmeal with peanut butter and bananas deal. So much for being one to pave the way for others. Around this same time, I went on a peanut rampage. I worked at a restaurant where eating peanuts and throwing the shells on the floor is mandatory. While my partaking in this event just meant I would have to sweep more up, I didn’t care. All I wanted was some peanuts.

I have branched out to other nuts – almonds, cashews – but nothing tastes as good as peanut butter. My favorite way to eat peanut butter is on top of oats or stuffed in dates

and we also can’t forget right off the spoon.

I actually think my biggest fear is being allergic to peanuts – or having a child that is highly allergic to peanuts. I think I would cry. So do me a favor today – eat a spoonful of peanut butter. I swear it will make your day complete.

Question: What is your favorite way to enjoy peanut butter?

[guest post] honor your cravings!

5 May

Thank you ALL for your sweet comments on my last post… I felt a little weird posting it not so much because of its personal nature but because I’m INCREDIBLY self-conscious about my writing, so thanks for the support :) I woke up at 3:30 this morning to go do a bio lab by the sea shore so I have a fab little guest post lined up for you while I sleep the day away ;) Erika is a total doll and one of the best bakers I know… I wish I’d been as cool as she is at her age (or now! ;) )

Hello Cookies & Carrots readers! I’m Erika and I’m taking over Nicole’s blog for the day. I’ve never done a guest post before, so if I sound like a complete nerd you’ll know why. ;-)

 I have a great post planned for today, but before I get started, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I’m a 15 year-old runner, nut butter addict, and foodie who blogs over at The Teenage Taste  formerly Food Fitness Fun. I love food and have a HUGE sweet tooth. I’m never one to deny my cravings and neither should you. Foods like cookies, biscuits, and brownies should never be “off limits” and can easily fit into a healthy diet when enjoyed in moderation. So tell me, what are you craving? :-D

*****

Are you craving hot, juicy buffalo wings?

Make this Buffalo Bean Dip  for your next party! It’s a flavorful bean dip spicy enough for the heat-lover yet mild enough for everyone else! It’s bound to be hit!

Are you craving a hot, gooey cinnamon roll filled with sugar-y goodness?

Make these Cinnamon Roll Larabars instead! They are healthier and taste just like the filling of a cinnamon roll! Just heat them up in the microwave for 10 seconds and you’ll be on Cloud Nine.

 Not craving sweets? How about a salty biscuit filled with cheese and bacon?

Make these Bacon Cheddar Biscuits! They’re loaded with cheddar cheese, real crumbled bacon, and even a little bit of bacon grease. Mmmm…

 Easter just passed so I’m sure you have Carrot Cake on the mind. Don’t you want the opportunity to eat Carrot Cake for breakfast?

If so, make these Wholesome Carrot Cake Scones! They’re packed with good-you-ingredients like bran, raisins, walnuts, and agave, yet they taste just as good as its unhealthy counterparts!

 After all that food you must be craving some kind of dessert. May I recommend something of the cookie variety? It’s filled with vanilla and sprinkles!

How about these Chewy Funfetti Cookies? They taste just like Funfetti cake, but in cookie form!

Alright everyone, thank you so much for reading! I hope you found my recipes just as droolworthy as I did. (For more recipes, click here!)

Now if you don’t mind, I’m off to the kitchen to do more baking! Have a great day!

guest post: Knock Your Socks Off Cake!

21 Apr

**To anyone who hasn’t seen Tangled… PLEASE WATCH IT. It’s actually one of my favorite Disney movies ever, and that’s saying something coming from me ;) SO CUTE. My friends loved it. I have seen it 3 times and may or may not have preordered the DVD like a month before it actually came out… But I digress.**

Today I have for you a fabulous guest post from the lovely Jenn over at The Kitchen Dish. Her blog is filled with amazing recipes and she is such a sweetheart! I’m so excited to give you this awesome cake recipe she chose to share with me. :) If anybody else is interested in doing guest posts, I’m looking at doing 1-2 per week as my life is rather hectic… Just shoot me an e-mail! :)

Please, go pre-heat your oven and get your mixer ready. It is time to make some cake!

You all may be surprised to find out that I have never had or made “Better than (You know what) Cake” (hey, I’m trying to keep this G Rated), but as I have looked up recipes for it, it seems like there are many versions of it. This may be a version of it, but since it came from our church cookbook, it is “Knock Your Socks Off Cake.” I don’t know that you need to be concerned about your socks, but perhaps your jeans. I have ZERO willpower around this stuff, and well, let’s just say I wear sweatpants as a result. I hope you enjoy it!
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The Starters:

  • German Chocolate Cake Mix (including ingredients to prepare cake mix as directed on box)
  • Cream cheese
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla extract
  • Sugar
  • Chocolate chips
  • Instant vanilla pudding
  • Milk
  • Cool Whip

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Prepare the cake mix according to package directions.

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I could lick those beaters! Nicole’s addendum: I probably would ;)

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Pour into a greased 9×13 pan. You can also use two 8×8″ pans, as I did; set aside.

Now…for the CREAM CHEESE layer!

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Add softened cream cheese to a mixing bowl.

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Add eggs, sugar and vanilla.

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Mix with hand mixer until smooth.

Mix with hand mixer until smooth.

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Pour evenly over German Chocolate Cake batter.

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I like to start around the edges and work my way in…

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….and then back out again. I think this is an easy way to get an even coating of the cream cheese mixture.

The final step before we pop this pan of deliciousness in the oven? Chocolate chips! Flour the chocolate chips with either regular flour, or you can reserve some of the dry cake batter to use for this.

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Sprinkle chocolate chips over top of the cream cheese layer; yes, there will be a lot of chocolate chips, but trust me, you’ll be glad there is!

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Bake for 40-50 minutes, and then remove from the oven and cool. You can see the chocolate chips and cream cheese have sunk to the bottom of the cake. So delicious!

Now, for the Frosting!

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Combine pudding mix and milk and beat slowly for a minute.

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Fold in vanilla…

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And Cool Whip.

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Spread on cooled cake and refrigerate.
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YUM!!
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Knock Your Socks Off Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 box German Chocolate Cake Mix
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ C. sugar
  • 2 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 sm. Pkg. instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 C. cold milk
  • 1 (8 oz.) carton Cool Whip
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Directions:

  1. Assemble cake mix according to directions on box.
  2. Pour into a 9×13-inch pan and set aside.
  3. Mix cream cheese, eggs, vanilla and sugar until smooth. Spread on top of cake.
  4. Sprinkle chocolate chips over top of cream cheese mixture.
  5. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 40 to 50 minutes. Cool

ICING:

  1. Combine the pudding mix and milk in a small bowl. Beat slowly for about 1 minute.
  2. Fold in Cool whip and vanilla.

Spread on cake and refrigerate.