Category Archives: Baking

Trails and donuts

Saturday morning started as all Saturdays should, with a great trail run. I met up with my friends Lori and Sandee for 15 miles.

It was great to have the company, and the weather was gorgeous.

It’s amazing how fast the miles flew by with good conversation.

When I got home, Steve and I worked on some things around the house. Very exciting stuff like finishing flooring, painting moldings, etc, etc. I love it when I feel productive.

I also wanted to bake something for my mom. On Friday afternoon I received the following email from her:

Hi Laura,

I delivered your bananas and rakes, and raked up a bag of leaves. Since it’s supposed to rain, I cut your grass.



Yep, she is pretty much the best ever. I whipped up some coconut carrot cake donuts based on this recipe. Instead of the coconut milk, I used Coconut Cream Concentrate from Tropical Traditions, which worked great.

For the glaze, I mixed about a cup of powdered sugar, 1TB coconut cream concentrate, and 2TB almond coconut milk. So good.

This morning’s 18 miler with Team in Training brought me to 68 miles for the week, 44 of which were on trails. I will continue to ramp into this week, which will culminate in a 35 mile trail run on Saturday. Then it’s vacation time!


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Five things Friday

Since I missed Three Things Thursday this week out of sheer laziness, I preset you with Five Things Friday. I hope the two things bonus will make up for my motivational failure. Without further ado:

1. I am racing an 8k tomorrow, and not looking forward to it for several reasons. I feel like I have completely lost all sense of speed in my legs over the past few weeks. Also, it is going to be cold, like really cold. And windy. Wind chills approaching -20. And it’s been snowing all day. Crap.

However, I am going to suck it up and not think about any of that, because tomorrow’s race will be about something much more important than myself and my incessant complaining about the weather. I will be dedicating the race to Sherry Arnold, a 43 year old wife, mother, and teacher from Montana who went out for a run on January 7th and never returned. There is a virtual run planned in her honor, and more information can be found here. Consider printing out your own bib and dedicating your workout tomorrow to Sherry. It doesn’t have to be running, it can be anything. Just move your body and think of Sherry. Simple.

2. I managed to try several new recipes this week worth mentioning:

Easy Nutella Brownie Cups – I brought these to my running group’s “holiday party” and they were devoured. Only three ingredients. Make them.

Quinoa Burgers – One of the best “burgers” I have made at home!

Curried Greek Yogurt Egg Salad – I have been craving hard-boiled eggs. Craving = satisfied.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Banana Bread – Yes, just yes. I found a wonderful use for my pb cups. Check out this pb to chocolate ratio:

I don’t know if I can ever buy Reese’s again.

The last one is not so much a recipe as an amazing snack combo that I have enjoyed every day this week:

3. As I mentioned, my Tuesday night running group had a “holiday” party this week. There was so much delicious food it was ridiculous. Pretty sure I ate at least eight homemade cookies, along with chips, guacamole, salad, bread and beer. Wednesday night I ran with the local trail running group. I brought the aforementioned Peanut Butter Banana bread to share after the run. This was the treat table:

You may notice my bread at the bottom right. The huge container in the back contains an entire tier of red velvet wedding cake. There were also about seven different varieties of cookies, macaroons, and baked goods. But don’t worry, there were some grapes to balance everything out. I don’t understand why I never lose any weight from running so much. Weird.

 4. I think I am going to stop at Target today for a couple of items. Necessities like paper towels, Chobani, shampoo, and perhaps a little Kleenex or TP. Does this happen to anyone else at Target?

How do they do that??

5. To the person that found my blog by Googling “ate too many pretzel m and m’s,” welcome. I feel your pain.

Tell me something totally random. And…go.


Filed under Baking, Cooking, Dessert, Food, Miscellany, The run, weather

Cake Mix Cookies

This morning I made the easiest cookies ever to bring to a Packer Party today (GO PACK!!)

Take one box of cake mix (I used Devil’s Food)

Mix in two eggs and 1/3 cup oil

Add mix in’s (I threw in a handful each of walnuts, craisins, white chocolate & dark chocolate chips)

Side note: I got this bag of the best chocolate chips on the planet at Costco for $9.99. The banana is there for size comparison.

Three and a half pounds of heaven in a bag right there.

Ok, back to the cookies. Mix everything together (I had to use my hands).

Drop onto a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

Let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a rack.

Go for a twelve mile run while the cookies are cooling, fantasizing the whole time about devouring several upon your return. (Optional)

Try not to eat too many so you have some left to bring to your party (also optional).

I sampled one just to see if it was good. It was. I sampled one more just to be sure. I am sure. Go make them.

Our first Christmas tree in the new house is all decorated. It’s getting mighty festive around here. If only all of the presents were already wrapped and under the tree, I would be all set.

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Filed under Baking, House, The run

Settling in


{emerges from piles of moving boxes, paint rollers, flooring, miscellaneous tools, and general chaos}

Good news! I am in fact alive and Steve and I are all moved in to the new house. We are slowly getting settled, and it feels good to be done with the major deconstruction phase and on to the organizing stage. There is still lots of work to be done, but the really messy stuff is over. Thank goodness. I am excited to start showing you what we all did, complete with before, during and after pics.

Through all of the chaos, running has been my constant, as usual. I have been consistently logging 35-45 miles per week. I have also been figuring out new running routes and exploring the neighborhoods. Nothing will ever be able to replace running at the lakefront in downtown Milwaukee every day, but we do live close to a nice rec trail now that will be good for long runs. We are also much closer to my favorite trail running spot, which I am really excited about. I ran there a few weeks ago with my friend Cara and ended up biting it big time in the mud.


I was pretty much caked from head to toe.

But it was still a blast!

And since it is the holiday season, I will leave you with the only thing I have baked so far: Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles with Cinnamon M&M’s.

I followed this recipe exactly for the cookies, then pressed the Cinnamon M&M’s in before baking. They were deliciously chocolaty and spicy!

Question: What is your favorite holiday cookie? Bonus points if you link to the recipe!

There are so many good ones, but I think my favorite of all time have to be the Chocolate Wheeties cookies that my mom makes. Maybe I can get her to share the recipe she uses. Hint hint mom!


Filed under Baking, House, The run

Luck-O-the Irish

I haven’t been able to post this week because my laptop is on the fritz. It has some sort of virus that has even my IT lovin’ computer genius husband banging his head on the table. Because I love you all, I am coming to you now from my desktop computer which is a huge pain because I don’t have live writer/picasa installed on here.

See? Love.

Last night we had my mom and Joe over for a “Luck-O-the Irish” dinner. You see, every so often we give them the gift of a themed dinner. In this case, it was their Christmas present, and somehow it took almost five months to find a Saturday that worked. In the past, we have done dinners from Cuba, Italy, and Thailand. Each one has been a huge success, and I was hoping that Ireland would be no exception. Really, all you need to know is this:

That, my friends, would be a GIANT chocolate Guinness cupcake with Bailey’s cream cheese frosting. I will let you have a moment…

It almost didn’t make it until dessert time.

It was not easy, but I refrained.

We started things off with a batch of homemade hummus with pints of Guinness for the men. My mom opted to go straight for the wine, and I hate Guinness (unless of course it is mixed with chocolate cake, as you will see), so I opted for a non-Irish beer. I’m pretty sure hummus is not Irish either, but it has never steered me wrong in the past.

Please note my beautiful live lettuce there on the counter. It has roots and is sitting in a bowl of water. I have no idea what to do with it or how to take care of it, but I kind of like it.

For the main course, I decided on a vegan version of shepherd’s pie.

The bottom was made up of mushrooms (crimini & button), carrots, celery, onion, and parsnip. The top is mashed potatoes. Delish!

On the side is Irish soda bread, which was super-easy to make. This version was made with whole wheat pastry flour and raisins. There was also a spinach & strawberry salad that went un-pictured.

Ok, enough about the dinner. We all know I am really here to talk about dessert. I gave Steve the incredibly important duty of slicing the giant cupcake. He is much better than me at not making a mess.

The money shot:

Yes, that is indeed more Bailey’s cream cheese frosting oozing out of the middle. Yes indeed.

Obviously we had to have ice cream on the side. You know, to cut the sweetness.

Cake was enjoyed by all.

The perfect ending to a wonderful evening.


Filed under Baking, Cooking, Dessert, Family, Food

Whacking the pinata

I forgot to show you something the other day, and it was too good not to mention. Last week a coworker showed up to the office with this:

I don’t think I need to say too much about it, other than I ate half of it for lunch dessert and half of it for dinner dessert, and likely became diabetic twice in one day.

This is the type of thing that Steve and I can be found doing on any given night.

He got new goggles and I got a new swim cap, so why would we not just wear them around the kitchen? Not weird at all, is it?

How ’bout a little weekend recap? Glad you asked. Friday I left work early so we could drive down to the middle of nowhere Roselle, IL and purchase a new vehicle that Steve found online. He decided to upgrade his Ford Explorer to a Mercury Mountaineer with a V8 engine because of the greater towing capacity. We have a boat and he was worried about the transmission in the Explorer giving out from towing it. He was able to find the Mountaineer for a great deal and will hopefully be able to sell the Explorer for not too much less than we paid for this one. Sorry I don’t have a picture of the new vehicle, but it’s pretty nice.

We left Milwaukee just after 3pm hoping to avoid traffic on the way down, but of course we hit traffic anyways. It took us two hours to get to the dealership, then several more hours at the dealership between the test drive, contracts, financing, etc. By the time we left it was 8pm and we were starving. I had noticed a cute little deli/ice cream shop on the way in and was so excited to stop there for food and ice cream. We got there at 8:05pm and they were closed! Seriously, what kind of ice cream shop closes that early on a Friday night?? There was nothing else close by, so we just got back on the freeway and headed towards home. I didn’t want to get off the freeway anywhere on the IL tollway, because you have to pay a toll to get off on most of the exits. Lame.

Just over the border into WI I pulled off the freeway and into Culvers. It was now just after 9pm and I was hungry and exhausted. I am not proud of the food choices I made, but I just wasn’t feeling a salad, which is the only healthy thing on the menu. I ordered a kid’s meal with grilled cheese, apple sauce (yay fruit) and chocolate milk (which I saved for my Saturday post-run recovery smoothie). The main reason to order the kid’s meal is it comes with a free scoop of frozen custard. However, I wasn’t into the flavor of the day and I also had a coupon for BOGO sundaes. Steve was game and that is how I ended up with this:

That would be a turtle sundae and I am embarrassed to say I couldn’t even finish it. We made the rest of the drive home and by then it was 11pm. I promptly collapsed on the couch for a little while before going to bed.

Despite going to bed at midnight (2 hours past my normal bedtime), I still woke up bright and early Saturday morning at 6:45am. I had some baking to do for a birthday party later in the day. I combined a few different recipes to make these chocolate chip cookie topped brownies.

For the brownie layer I used the recipe on the box of Bakers Unsweetened Chocolate. The chocolate chip cookie recipe was improvised from several different vegan recipes because I was out of eggs and needed to modify for what I had on hand. You could really make this with any brownie and chocolate chip cookie recipes. Just bake the brownies half-way before placing the cookie dough on top, then finish baking. They turned out great, and were perfect alongside the ice cream cake that was served.

After baking, I headed out for a 10 mile run, my last weekend “long run” before Boston. I must be tapering correctly because I felt really good and ended up with an 8:14 average pace. After refueling, showering, and refueling part two, it was time to head to the party.

The birthday party was for two of my little cousins, and there was a pinata.

All of the kids took turns being blindfolded, spun in circles, and whacking the pinata. The birthday girl Megan took the final blow that knocked the massive candy-filled orb to the ground.

Candy madness ensued.

It was magical. You know I stole some.

We started watching the movie Due Date when we got home from the party, but I was falling asleep half way through (typical), so we are going to finish watching it tonight. It is supposed to reach 80 degrees today before some major storms blow in this afternoon. I do not have a run on the schedule, but I will almost definitely be heading out for a short easy one in the beautiful weather. Happy Sunday!

Are you able to stay awake for movies?

I fall asleep 97% of the time at home, it’s pathetic. I have dozed off in the theatre several times as well, which is even worse.


Filed under Baking, Family, Food, The run, weather

Attitude adjustment

It is no secret that I hate winter. I have actually broken up with Mother Nature and will not consider getting back together with her until she decides to stop ruining my life. By my life I mean running. I had an 18-miler on the schedule for Saturday morning, and what does she do? Dump more snow over the land, that’s what.

What did I do? I woke up, looked outside, and decided to give myself an attitude adjustment. Instead of dwelling on how awful my run was going to be, how long it was going to take, and how many times I might take myself out on the ice, I decided to be at peace with the situation. I loaded up my audiobook, laced up my trusty trail shoes, and hit the roads for what I already knew would be a very long time. And slow going it was. Almost no one had bothered to shovel their sidewalks, and much of the way there was a layer of ice just underneath the fresh snow. I pressed on slowly, and did not allow myself to get frustrated. The good news was my legs never really got tired because I was running at a much slower pace than usual. 18.66 miles and nearly three hours later, I was home.

Yesterday afternoon we attended my little cousin Nora’s 5th birthday party. Of course I made some treats for the occasion.

The first were called Secret Promises Cookies. They were peanut butter cookies with Dove dark chocolate promises baked into the middle. And yes, they are just as amazing as you might imagine.

The second treat was called Sweet, Salty, Frito Candy, but I like to refer to it as white trash toffee. I came across the recipe at the last minute, and I instantly knew it would be a hit. I mean come on, it has fritos and chocolate. And Reese’s pb cups and pretzels. How could this not be good? I am not kidding when I tell you that the plate of these was attacked in a serious manner. Everyone was raving about it and asking what was in it. So if you want to be a hit at your next party, I suggest you make these. They’re super easy too!

There was a delicious dinner which eluded photographs on account of I was busy stuffing it into my face. The birthday girl blew out her candles and it was time for ice cream cake.

Isn’t the princess cake adorable?

Yay! Ice cream!

Sorry about the creepy weird smile I have here. I was getting irritated because I couldn’t take a picture of myself and get the cake in the shot. It took a few tries, and I just wanted to eat it already!

At some point a butt load of deer came into the yard for a snack. There were a lot more than this, and they were fighting with each other over the food. At one point two of them were actually standing up on hind legs swatting at each other. Deer are scary.

By the time we got home last night I was so exhausted I fell asleep approximately four minutes into an episode of The Office. This morning I woke up only to have to try to motivate myself to get out and run all over again. I made it 10 miles with a not quite as positive attitude, but at least I got it done.

Tonight is homemade pizza night. It shall be the perfect ending to a pretty darn good weekend.

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Filed under Baking, Family, Food, The run