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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! ;)


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!).


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


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


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.


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 :)

comatose ovens & crunchy crackers.

23 Jun

Those of you who follow me on twitter may have seen me whining about my oven being, well, defunct. It is true. And you can only imagine my devastation.

My best friend chalked it up to an overuse injury. But I told her that the prolonged periods of rest followed by short spurts of activity were meant to be interval training! And besides, it wasn’t anything I baked that caused the problem… You see, my oven took up smoking, and you know, smoking kills…

My mom baked a little tray of Trader Joe’s cinnamon bun-things for a get-together the other day and for one reason or another it left some residue at the bottom of the oven. I went to preheat it the next day to bake some cookies & I realized that my oven was smoking.

The logical next step was to try to make my oven come clean. But the clean cycle sadly left my oven nonresponsive, in a coma, if you will. It’s still displaying a little red “FO” (maybe for “eff off?”) and a sadly incorrect time, and NONE of the buttons work.

Fortunately there is another oven in my life… my toaster oven.

Hooray for the convection bake setting!

So when my dad scoured through the pantry and found nothing with which to eat his hummus (we’re clearing the pantry/fridge for a 10-day vacation), I was still able to oblige with some socca crackers courtesy of the lovely Ashley.

Actually, I first made these last week with my real oven, but had to make a batch today to use up the hummus… difficult life I lead.

Mine were a little different as I’m kind of stingy with my raw buckwheat groats… So I just used 1/2 cup of chickpea flour, 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast, 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder and mixed it all up and sprinkled it with sea salt, then baked for awhile. Head to the real recipe here for better directions & pictures. :)

The recipe is delightfully simple and while mine aren’t as pretty as Ashley’s (but really, that’s damn near impossible) they were crispy and delicious and psuedo-cheesy. And I may or may not have licked up the batter. I have a thing for nooch. It’s a problem.

I was kind of curious about the nutritionals on these babies and found that if you make a half-batch with 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast (extra nooch = love), it’s about 150 calories and 13.6 grams of protein and 6.4 grams of fiber. Not too shabby! I’ll definitely be stocking some garbanzo flour in my kitchen next year. :)

Oh, and the hummus?

Mission accomplished. :)

What do you do when you’re trying to clear out your pantry, etc? 

Ever dealt with a broken oven? 

arts, sciences, & banana muffins

15 Jun

I’ve never considered myself to be all that creative. Sure, hand me some kind of problem and I’ll probably come up with some “out-of-the-box” solution (remember my “oven mitt”?). But set a canvas and some paints in front of me and I’ll agonize for years and possibly come up with some deep philosophical justification about the blankness of my soul as portrayed on the blank canvas rather than paint anything. Or I’ll put smiley faces and hearts.

Even photography, which I do enjoy, can be a struggle when I have to fabricate some sort of scene or idea. Candids? Sure. Staged artistic pieces? Not so much. I tend to like working with something that already exists rather than “creating from nothing.”

Enter baking. Combining some semi-scientifically-precise amount of fat, flour, & leavening to yield hopefully-delicious results. Certainly not all of my flavor combinations are unconventional or unique, but there’s still something decidedly gratifying about making up a recipe on a whim and having it work perfectly. Obviously the actual writing of recipes is not exactly creative in and of itself; there are only so many ways to write “bake at 350 until lightly golden”.

So when I was feeling an itch to get a little creative, I found my way into the kitchen and started grabbing things. Banana. Almond extract. Sliced almonds. Whatever I could find in my pantry. The result? Not a particularly outstandingly unique concoction, but decidedly delicious nonetheless, and the perfect marriage of art, science, & sugar. Just my kind of mixture.

Banana-Almond Muffins
Created by moi :)
Makes 6 muffins 

1 over-ripe banana
1/3 cup almond milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (more if desired)
3/4 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3-4 tablespoons sliced almond (divided)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a muffin tin (if using a 12-cup tin, put a little bit of water in the empty tins to prevent warping)

In a medium bowl, mash banana and combine with almond milk, oil, almond extract, and sugar. In a separate bowl sift together dry ingredients (except almonds). Make a well in the center and pour in wet ingredients; stir until just mixed. Gently stir in 2-3 tablespoons of sliced almonds. Divide batter between 6 muffin tins and top with remaining almonds.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until lightly golden on the edges and a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.


What’s your favorite form of creativity? 

WIAW: delayed dorm edition.

14 Jun

First off… read about the updates on my life here! I’ve missed y’all!

Secondly… apparently I’m famous! :-P

I was featured on WordPress’s Freshly Pressed on the front page (for this post). Trust me, I did NOT see this coming nor did I really have any idea how it worked, but I am absolutely thrilled and flattered! To any of my new readers… hello! :) If you’re looking for some information about me, there are a few “get to know you” type posts I can refer you to… like this one and this one.

Most weeks I like to participate in my dear friend Jenn’s What I Ate Wednesday… and I accumulated some photos of my dorm food from when I was in school (not the greatest photos… all taken with the little point-and-shoot rather than my baby SLR). As I mentioned in my last post, I’ll be eating a lot less of dorm food next year so this is one of the last dining-hall posts you’ll see!


Oatmeal & fresh fruit. Not gonna lie, having delicious strawberries all year was a definite plus, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to justify the expense of buying strawberries all the time at home… Partly because if I buy a 2-pound thing of strawberries chances are it’ll be gone within 12 hours. Oops!


I saw someone use the waffle iron to make a pressed sandwich and had to follow suit! I opted for gluten-free Udi’s bread just for kicks… a little dry, but pretty good! My sandwich had hummus and lots of veggies.

And of course more vegetables because I’m insatiable.

Snack (one of many)


A highly necessary study break. Also loaded with fresh berries (I’m an addict okay?!) By the way their salted caramel is delicious, though I ended up opting for the plain kind :)


I was super busy (last week of school!) and ended up with a frozen Amy’s meal.

I kind of loved this. I don’t know if it was weeks of not having anything vaguely ethnic, but I couldn’t even pick a favorite part of this dish! Obviously fresh is better but in a pinch… Amy’s is always a good option ;)

Come back tomorrow for a new recipe, at long, long last!

Eat anything good today? And new readers… chime in with any little ole thing about you, thanks for reading! :)

WIAW: workload wednesday.

18 May

Oh how I love me some alliteration… Here’s a rather brief WIAW, because I want to procrastinate just a little longer.

Before we get started… everybody check out Kate’s raffle over here where you can bid on delicious desserts and support a fabulous cause (she’s fundraising for a hospice she’s running the Chicago Marathon for!)! My cookies are up for bids too. :)


Okay, so I made cooked overnight oats with peanut flour. I am newly obsessed with the stuff and may or may not have gone through a bag in about a week. These oats were SO creamy and peanutty and protein-filled and delicious!

Peanut-Flour Overnight/Voluminous Oats

1/3 cup oats
1 teaspoon chia seeds
2 tablespoons peanut flour
sweetener to taste
a few dashes of cinnamon
~2/3 cup of water or almond milk (possibly more)

Nuke for about two and a half minutes and stir well; cover and leave in fridge overnight. Stir in more liquid in the morning if desired! :)


I had me a salad. With some of this salsa on top…

I bought it at the little market my school has and it’s kind of awesome, definitely has a kick to it. But now I have to work on using it all up! So I’m putting it pretty much on everything… Though I’ve always loved salsa on salads. :)


I went for a run on this day (last Friday)… 3.1 miles! That would be my second run in 6 months. I’m not, however, sharing how fast it was because it was incredibly slow… And my shins are still a little tender which is making me freak out a little bit but we’ll see. I pulled a Matt and refueled with (my very first!) Kombucha and Fage 2%

Um, yeah, this was pre-shower… And the posters in the background are my roommate’s. Just sayin’.


I had soup at the lunch room but was hungry again about an hour later (silly running!) so I made some savory oats. Just added some nutritional yeast into the oats and some salsa on top per Heather‘s suggestion.

Oh, and I bought these. They were ridiculously hot and kind of made me cry, so I washed them off a bit which helped… I did like the crunch they added!

**I had more snacks throughout the day that were not photographed!! Just a disclaimer! :) **

Hope you’re all having lovely days… I’m back to hitting the books & learning about the occipital and parietal lobes. Three tests in two days… Oh and a term paper in a week. Whoops.

Eat anything delicious recently? Tell me about it! :) Or go check out my post from yesterday with lots of random facts about me and tell me something about yourself ;)

banana pancakes.

16 May

Pretend like it’s the weekend…

I wish. I also wish it were summer and I were at home where these photos were taken oh-so-long ago.

This week kind of sucks for me. I have 2.5 tests (one’s a “quiz”), 1 review session to plan, 1 small paper, and 1 big paper I really need to get working on. So do excuse me if I’m a little more absent(minded) than usual.

So in lieu of intelligent posts, I will ply you full of photos of treats I made long ago while I stuff myself full of more dietary fiber than a cow probably eats in a day (when I’m stressed, I binge-eat vegetables. It’s perfectly normal, I swear).

And we’ll both look longingly at the pictures & I will hopefully stop looking at them long enough to study…

But fear not, I will be back in full force soon. 13 days of classes left, 24 days of the quarter left, & then I will be free!

This recipe comes from Peanut Butter Boy… check him out if for no other reason than he apparently loves peanut butter a whole hell of a lot which gives us a lot in common. It’s definitely healthy-tasting and is more of a protein pancake than a typically fluffy, light, comforting pancake, but I rather enjoyed them, though I’d be curious to see how a pinch of baking powder would work… and I definitely want to whip up some completely nutritionally devoid banana pancakes in the near future.

Possibly while listening to Jack Johnson. Just for kicks.

Banana Cottage-Cheese Pancakes
from here

1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup nonfat cottage cheese
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons egg white/egg substitute
1 overripe banana, divided
(possible addition: 1/4-1/2 teaspoon baking powder?)
blueberries, chocolate chips, or desired mix-ins (optional)

Blend together oats, cottage cheese, egg substitute, and half of banana until well mixed; if it’s too thick, add a little bit of milk or water and mix until it reaches the desired consistency. Slice other half of banana into thin slices to put on top of pancakes.

Heat a large skillet and spray with cooking spray (or use butter/oil). Drop about 1/4-cup-fuls of batter and flatten if necessary; press banana slices in gently. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the top starts to set, then flip and cook on other side for about a minute.

Spread with peanut butter, drizzle with maple syrup, coat with chocolate chips, or eat them however you want.

And definitely pretend like it’s the weekend.

What do you eat when you’re stressed?

Any Jack Johnson fans? :) I have a really distinct memory of listening to him on the car ride to crew practice after school… Combo of his crooning + the heat of the car made it VERY difficult to get out of the car and out onto the cold water though!!!

what i ate (last) wednesday [pumpkin-chia pudding]

10 May

Procrastinating studying by getting a head start on WIAW… yay for being proactive? ;)


I had some pumpkin in my fridge (side note: organic pumpkin is not as good as Libby’s, I’m sorry, it’s true) so I made some pumpkin-chia pudding. This was not my entire breakfast but it was the prettier part so it’s all I’m sharing. ;)

Pumpkin-Chia Pudding

1/4 cup pumpkin
1/3 cup almond milk (maybe a little less or more, I’ve rather forgotten)
1 scoop protein powder (I use Aria)
2 tablespoons chia seeds
dash cinnamon
sweetener to taste

Mix it all up and let it chill for a couple hours until it gets thick and delicious. Top with blueberries if you want to, or just stuff them all in your mouth.


It was a gorgeous sunny day, so I opted for a salad. I’ve taken to eating my salads with chopsticks… not entirely sure why. Also, mushrooms are my new bffs. Though my bell peppers may still be turning me orange…

I also had some chocolate milk mostly because it was free, honestly. It was kind of too sweet though.

And I enjoyed this light lunch in the sun while looking at roses. Sorry to bore you to tears with more rose pictures but I just couldn’t resist…

My school is pretty. Come visit me. I’ll bake you cookies…


One of my snacks was a Fage yogurt with blueberries.

Okay, firstly… I’ve always had Fage 0%. But oh my gosh, 2% is the bomb. I don’t know how or why I deluded myself into thinking 0% was better just because it had fewer calories, because the 2% definitely satisfies me more. Also, the blueberries are awesome. It’s a little too sweet and I wish it didn’t have so much sugar, but it actually tastes like BERRIES. Still prefer plain old fresh berries, but hey.

Sat in the grass while eating it too! Yay sunshine. :)

My school was also having a book sale and this was $1. Somehow I only walked away with two books… Trust me, that’s impressive. I love books. My goal in life is to have a library like Belle in Beauty and the Beast.

Anyone read this? I dunno, it looked possibly interesting…


Not photographed, sowwy. I had soup & a sandwich at the cafeteria with my friends. :)

And what I wore… please excuse my hair. I have a hair-washing problem.

Oh, and a face-making problem, & a focus problem. Oh well. I got this dress for $5 at a rummage sale :) (Cheap college student much?)

Tell me about your day! :) Also, get pumped because I have a fab guest post coming up tomorrow… and now it’s back to the books for me! ;)