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Its Beginning To Look a lot Like Christmas

Hope everyone is enjoying the start of the holiday season.  I know we we are.  What better way to kick things off by making our little apartment feel a little more homey?

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and drum roll please…..Our Tree

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I can’t take any credit for the layout of the decorations, that’s all Brittni, and I must say she does some nice work! But I my parents gave me MANY of my old ornaments I have collected over the years, and its always a great time putting up each one as they bring back some of my fondest memories.  (Ill have a post later with some individual ornaments and why they mean so much to me)

We slowly put everything together starting Monday and by Wednesday night we had it all done.

To cap it off I surprised Brittni with part of her Christmas gift….Dinner and a Concert over the weekend.  I made reservations at one of our favorite restaurants downtown at The Rathskeller.  It’s a classy, highend German restaurant, and pride themselves on top German beer and classic scratch made comfort German food.  They are know for their Pretzels with hot horseradish mustard they bring each table before each meal, and when I say “hot” I mean the spicy hot that burns so good, and you know its spicy, but go back in for seconds just to make sure the second bite was as hot as the first.  However, if you have never had top shelf German food, this is your place, and the Sauerkraut and Red Cabbage are soo on point.  After eating our way through Germany, and a few cocktails, we wandered across the street to the Murat Center to catch Straight No Chaser’s Christmas Show! For those of you whom don’t know.  The group a cappella men’s singing groups. The Indiana University (Go Hoosiers) group is composed of 10 to 12 undergraduate men whose lineup changes every year. The professional group, known simply as Straight No Chaser, is composed of former members, mostly original members, of the college group.

Going into the show, I was a little worried I wouldn’t like the show, but after hearing my sister and Brittni talk about them all the tie I took Britt and I was NOT disappointed.  The Christmas song were good, but the cover sooo many bands and artists such as Michael Jackson, Beach Boys, The Temptations, and so many more.  It was a blast and would highly recommend seeing them live!

They played for an hour, had in intermission, just long enough to grab another round of cocktails, and then sang for another hour, however they are really know for their song, 12 Days of Christmas!, and they  ended the show with singing that song.  (Its my sister favorite)

We had a blast and was a perfect way to get into the spirit.

The rest of the weekend was spent at the farmers market and I finished my Christmas shopping! Feels so good to have 99% of it done already!

But what better way to round out a perfect holiday weekend?  Yep.  Baking.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Milk and Mans best friend.  I under baked them on purpose to make sure they were pretty chewy, which made them a bit more flat, but still taste unbelievably good.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.)
Directions

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.
COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
BAKEfor 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Next time Ill add some Peppermint Chocolate chips, along with some White Chocolate Chips to add a little more Christmassy feel.  But Britt was napping in the afternoon and wanted to surprise her with her favorite classic cookie and didn’t want to disappoint her, and disappointed she was not!

It was a great way to end a great weekend here in the big city, along with Indiana’s big win of Stetson.  Go Hoosiers!

Hope everyone had a great weekend! And only 20!! more day until Christmas.

Question of the day

What your Favorite Holiday dessert to make or eat?

Mine would be my moms Cinnamon Rolls on Christmas morning!

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope each and everyone’s Thanksgiving was as blessed with amazing food, and even better friends and family as mine was!

I came back to mom and dads last Friday night (11/18) and kicked off the week of Thanksgiving, by heading up to the annual Trinity Fish Fry, at the local catholic church.  I met pops, a few good friends, and some cold drinks, where we played Blackjack, Poker, and had some good grub.  We then proceeded to end the evening with drinks at the PitStop.  It was a good way to start a week of vacation.

Saturday night was the annual Winter Fest in Portland, IN.  It kicks off by open houses of all the local businesses (ours included), lots of Christmas Decorations and music, and it ended with a Christmas Parade of Lights.  However, only in Portland Indiana can a classy, quaint parade goes from this:
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And This

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And ends with this!

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Yes, it’s a bit blurry, but it really is a John Deere with Christmas Lights.  Be Jelous.  That’s just how we roll in Jay County.

Thanksgiving and the holidays in my family means two things.  Amazing amounts of food, and TWO separate Thanksgiving gatherings.  Two days of Thanksgiving?  Yes Please.

We got together for my moms side on the Sunday before Thanksgiving for Lunch.  If you missed the lunch/dinner/supper conversation I recommend reading it.  Anyway, we had a Thankgiving Lunch, which lead into supper.  With mounds of mindless eating all day.  It was great to see everyone, but the food was…..so killer

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Grandmas Popcorn and M&M mix, pumpkin fluff dip, Pumpkin Pies, and those famous Sugar Cookies

If you missed it, I had the honor of being on TV at the beginning of last week to make my Grandmothers, and moms famous Sugar cookies, to help them kick off their Holiday Memories cooking segments.  I have been on the show before, but this time was much more laid back and loved every minute of it.  The hosts Tracy and Andi are some of the warmest and nicest people I have met while living in Indy, and the lady I did the segment with is a hoot, and has one of the best personalities I have been around.  You can view my clip here, if you missed it.  (Thanks mother for your baking skills)

Back to the feast…….

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Green Bean Casserole, Homemade Noodles, a Butter nut squash dish I made, and dressing

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Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, and gravy.

Needless to say I don’t think anyone walk away hungry.

Turkey Day

Thanksgiving morning, pops and I got up and went hunting, and were big losers.  However, no disappointment on our part, because we had my dads family over for Thanksgiving at our house as well in the afternoon.  He is one of 10 kids in his family and its quite the production to get us all in the same place, but when we do its usually dominated by some of the finest down home cooking and mazing desserts, however on this day my food coma was highlighted by homemade Vanilla, Strawberry, and Maple Syrup Pecan icecream! I was in heaven, and had three bowls of each.  I ate the icecream so fast I did not even bother with pictures.

While missed being apart from the finance, I still had a really nice time back home, and can not thank my parents enough for letting me mooch off of them for a week.

The Meaning of Thanksgiving

I think Thanksgiving is my second favorite holiday hands down, behind Halloween.  There are no bunnies, fireworks, candy, or fat jolly men riding sleighs.  No.  Its about taking time to just enjoy what you are most thankful, and reflecting on all that we are blessed with.  Thus, I am thankful for:

Them

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Her

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Him

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Baseball

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And Country Views like this

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Oh…and gluttonous amounts of icecream

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Hope you all had the best Thanksgiving yet and cheers to a great start to the holidays!

Questions of the day

What one thing are you most thankful for?
What was the best thing you had for thanksgiving this year?

I am most thankful for amazing family and friends, who have stuck beside me though some rough times over the last few months.

And hands down, my favorite food of the week was the Maple Pecan Icecream our friend B made, it was serious the best homemade icecream I’ve had this side of my White Chocolate homemade Icecream. 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

26.2 Miles

“26.2 miles will take something from you, deep down, a part inside of you. You will, however, live a little more each day after that.” – Rookie

Happy Friday guys!  And Happy Veterans Day.  I want to thank each and every one of you that have served our country and allowed us to have so many things we take for granted every day.

I wanted to use today to discuss my running recaps and why running means so much to me.
As you can also read in the About Me section, I  feel in love with running during my sophomore year of college, while attending Indiana University. (Go Hoosiers).  I began to jog a mile or two a day in order to drop a little weight, and soon I was up to 3 or 4 miles a day in a span of less than 6 months, and was feeling better than ever.  Running was also a bonus inorder to eat greasy food and drink pop beer, like a typical college kid.  During this time I also attempted to mix in weight training and lifting weights, however it just never ever appealed to me, as much as running.  It was addicting, and loved to have a habit that was GOOD for me.  The next spring I signed up for my first 5K, in Bloomington, IN.  It was the Habitat 5K, and helped support the local Habitat for Humanity,  which my sister Maria was very much a part of during her four years at IU as well.

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Thus, after competing in my first race, the race bug caught hold, and wanted to run more, farther, faster, and and most of the race entry fees support a good cause!

So I continued to run father, more often, and added more 5K’s to my regimen. Since then I have participated many different types, lengths, and in many different locations, however, one of the most fun took place back in my hometown in Portland, IN, the Firecraker 5K, which kicks off all the festivities for the Forth of July.

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Why I Run

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The reasons behind my passion for running has evolved over the last few years.  As you can read here, I first ran to better my health, to lose weight and to feel better mentally and physically. After being a plump kid all my life, I loved how running helped me drop weight pretty quickly.  The more I ran, the more I loved it, and the the more weight I lost.  However, the fact that it helped me lose weight part so quickly become more and more important to me, and even though I ran more often, I began restricting my diet much more, and the weight then quickly fell off. On top of my job making me unhappy, depriving my body of the food it loved, and all the running, I began to become almost “sickly” skinny.

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Thus, my eating habits DID not coincide with my running habits, but I ran more and farther to lose more and more weight.  Its weird, but if I would eat something I thought was “bad” for me, I would immediately wanted to go run it off. Running now had a new and 2nd meaning to me.  Now running was a tool to make myself feel better for eating certain foods.  Nevertheless, at the peak of my eating issues, I would run as much as normal but eat less and less, and I had just enough energy to run every morning and none left to do anything else I loved. My daily runs, were lethargic, took twice as long to go the same distance, and I really did not have the muscle or endurance strength to run like I used to.  It took everything I had to run, and the had no energy left to  to do the fun things I used to: going out to eat, visiting friends and family, even go for a walk with Britt after work.  All my energy was saved for my running.  I became pretty unsociable and shut myself off from many amazing people, whom I have reached back out to and apologized, and for those of you whom I have still yet to talk to, I am gravely sorry.

However, lets skip forward to the beginning of this year (2011), I started to get things back into perspective and back on the right path health wise.  With a new outlook on life, running again became FUN, and slowly but surely with proper food and eating regimen, I began to regain strength, endurance, and longer running distances.  Running now had a third and new meaning for me.  Running now is all for my mental health.  I start at 4:45am every morning, and it really helps me start my day.  It is so mentally and spiritually cleansing, but more importantly its “MY” time.  No phones, no internet, no bills, no problems to worry about.  Just me, the road, and time I have to clear my mind.  It really is like my caffeine in the mornings.  And when I do not get to run or when I take a day off from running, my day is soo slow and I function different than I do when I do run

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Mini 500

As many of you know, we live in downtown Indianapolis, IN, which is also home to the countries largest half Marathon, the 500 Mini Marathon.  Seeing that the Start/Finish line is right out our back door, and little push from some good friends I decided to stretch out my runs and train for my first half Marathon (13.1 miles).  Leading up to the race, I ran close to 10 miles per run on the weekends and thought I would be prepared.  Food and fueling my body made me pretty nervous though, and wanted to eat enough inorder for my body to not break down mid race.  So with some amazing help/guidance of great friends I took some mental notes and asked others how they fueled their body’s before a long race. Looking back, the way I WAS eating 2 months before the race I would have never been able to finish the half marathon. I took the suggestions and attempted to fuel properly with a mix of carbs, proteins, and liquids.

The morning of the race I awoke at 6am, which is sleeping in for me, and ate an chopped apple covered in peanut butter, a piece of toast, and a banana.  Then headed out the door! We lined up, and I really didn’t know what to expect, except I knew I wanted to RUN the whole thing without quitting ro walking.  The race started, and I was near the middle of the pack, and quickly ran upon SO many runners slower than me, and it made it a bit of a hassle running around the slower participants.  And near the middle of the race, it almost became frustrating zig zagging back and forth.  However, my anger quickly turned to excitement, as I forgot to look at the course map, and they were soon directing us on the Indianapolis Race Track! We ran on the same track as the Indy 500 cars race, and where so many spine chilling races have occurred.  It was my first time inside the speedway and I really got caught up in the surroundings, the ambiances, and the history of the “Greatest Spectacle in Motorsports”.  They let us run a WHOLE lap around the track, however, when I say lap, a lap around the track is 2.6 miles.  It was an amazing experience and really took your mind off the distance you were running.  However, after we left the track, I was coming up to mile 8 of 13.   We’ll just say mile 9, was my Achilles heel.  Nothing physical was wrong, and I felt great, but there is something about running your first LONG race, that you begin to have a fight with your own mind.  You mind says, whoa whoa, that’s enough, but you legs keep running.  And by mile 10, you have to keep your legs moving, because at that point my mind quit  and knew I had to fight to get to the finish line.  However, when I saw the maker for mile 11, and I knew the rest would be pretty easy.  I remembered there was a free BEER at the end for us, and kept reminding myself I would get a free beer, and bottle of chocolate milk.  Laugh all you want, but until you run those distances, you take ANY kind of inspiration to keep you going.

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Well, there ya have it, I finished.  Tired, cold, and…tired.  I did it.  It was a great experience, but said several times, what the Hell did I do that for?  I told myself NEVER ever again will I run that far for fun.  Like I said, running to me is FUN, and when I was done, that felt that was the opposite of fun.  But running that far did come with a perk, the next 12 hours was spent eating, and eating…..everything! I ate like I hadn’t eaten in days, and loved every minute of it, and never thought twice about one thing I ate.  Thus, the next morning was a little rough and felt a little weak so I took a break from running and got back to it Monday morning.  The one thing I took away form the race was that I needed to eat even MORE than I did before the race.  I ate right, but apparently not enough.  So after sleeping on it a few weeks, something inside got me thinking about running a race again, then someone sent me an invite to another marathon. I thought, no way..never again.  But the email and invite resonated with me, and thought, “Why not?”  So I signed up for another half marathon.

Cameral Half Marathon

So there it was, June 8th, 2011 I got the email from the Marathon committee telling me to come pick up my packet for the race on Saturday.  I knew I could delete the email and back out, or move full speed ahead and start preparing myself both mentally, and physically.  I took what I learned from the first marathon, along with a few more tips from my running buddies and took it with a full head of steam, even getting excited about this one.  I ate better, psyched myself up more, and was much more prepared.

The race gun sounded, and we were off, however, unlike the 500 Mini, this race was up in the town Carmel, IN.  A smaller, quaint, classy, and a bit more relaxed racing than the downtown.  The course ran mostly in wooded areas, and sub division’s, which made for a more clam, peaceful run.  I loved every minute of it, until…mile 9.  The same mile that almost made me quit the first race.  Again, it was not physical, it was mental.  Hitting the proverbial “running wall” at the same mile which hurt me last race, can be pretty crushing to your will power.  Not to mention it was close to 25 degrees warmer than the first marathon, made it even tougher.   I sweat, and lost more liquid than I did during the spring Mini 500.  But I pushed though mile 9 and 10, and kept telling myself I would get a big buffet for supper that night, inorder to help me finish stong.  Well, my mantra of eating a buffet helped, but still the remaining 3 miles were tougher than the end of the first race…..but…

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I ran hard and finished, but honestly had so much more fun during this race.  I feel that due to the higher temperatures, which were close to 75 degrees vs the 40’s I ran in during the Mini, made the race a little tougher.  However, I was much more proud of what I just accomplished and being a bit more relaxed helped me to enjoy the race.

26.2 miles

“You become completely exhausted…. broken even and although you feel as if you cannot take a single step further… you keep going… you keep going to prove to yourself that you can. To push through the pain of it all because you know that in the end you will be re-built as a new person and that the discipline will bring you one of the most amazing accomplishments a runner can ever have.” -Runner World

As the summer lent its way to fall, and my eating habits closer to where they should be,

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I ran a few more 5k’s and 10K’s throughout the summer and on October 15th, 2011 I ran my first FULL marathon. Honesty, running a marathon never crossed my mind.  However, A few friends asked if I was joining up to run the Monumental Downtown Indianapolis Marathon which was last week (Nov.2nd, 2011).    At the time I said no way, because I figured it would be below 40 degrees outside, and when the temperatures drop below 40, I become a wimp and I stay inside on a treadmill. It’s not so much I’m a pansy, but as a runner, when/if you do run outside when its cold, my body goes into extreme survival mode and pulls all the blood from my fingers and toes and moves itcloser to your core and heart, thus, I said thanks but no thanks. I blame my mother for being so so cold blooded, it could be 70 degrees in the middle of the summer and she still uses a blanket at night while she watches TV.  (Love you mother)  However, Brittni’s oldest brother Derrick just ran his first FULL, at the Chicago Marathon, (big ups to him), but his feat really had me stoked to try one myself. Thus, it did get me thinking about running a FULL marathon and I remembered seeing that there was one here in Indy coming up in the middle of October, but forgot about the race completely until I was driving by where the location of the Indianapolis Marathon was being held, and stopped in and said I’d love to get one more HALF marathon in this year.  As I was signing up, I had a change of heart…..I decided I was running the FULL, and not giving myself the time to rethink it!!! So I signed up and headed home to prepare my mind and body like any other race I ran in.

Why I choose to run a Full Marathon

With this being my first FULL Marathon, I didn’t tell a SOUL, I now feel bad for not even letting Britt know but I had a few reasons for this decision:

1) I wanted to do it for me, first and foremost.  To prove to myself I was back on the right track, health wise.  And to also show myself I had the will and spirit to do things much bigger than a running a race.

2) I wanted to do it for those who are unable because of a physical limitations.

3) I wanted to do it for those runners whom strive to run a Marathon and are still working their way up to that distance.

4) And lastly, I wanted to do it for those whom sit on the couch, out of shape, but long to be healthy and happy. I hoped my story would be an inspiration for them to get off the couch and make the choice to begin to exercise and change their life forever.

Very few people in the world can say they have even attempted to walk 26.2 miles, let alone run a full Marathon and really wanted to prove to myself I could do something of that magnitude.  The days leading up to it were like any other race.  However, as I stepped outside to drive to the race I noticed the wind and the cold…my two enemies.  So I grabbed my hat, gloves, and a pull over and headed out! This race vibe was also a little more laid back, but once we lined up, the anticipation increased and bang, the gun went off.  Now, I knew if I was going to finish the whole thing RUNNING, I would have to really not runn too quickly the first few miles, so I eased my pace and did not try and pass people.  The course was gorgeous, it ran through the Fort Harrison State Park in Lawrence, Indiana which was very relaxing and calming, and lent to make the race easier.

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Thus, I was feeling pretty good and moved right along until MILE 8! Again I got to mile 8/9 and hit a wall, but said, “you have A LOT more to run, and too many people I would let down if I don’t push though”, and push on I did! That was until mile 12.5.  Again I didn’t check the course map, and had no idea at mile 12.5 the course split and if you wanted to just run the HALF marathon you could turn left, and if you wanted to run a DULL you could go straight and head even deeper into the state park.  Wow, what a choice, I could quit now, knowing I’d be proud of running another half marathon, but knew I would be even more proud if I ran the FULL.  So I laughed at the sign and kept running.  Again, it was a pretty relaxing course and once we passed the “split” where the smart ones half marathoners left the course, the runner began to get spread out and I never once had to deal with passing another runner.  By mile 16, I was wondering and wishing for the choice to turn left and only run the half half Winking smile  But luckily I was told I may need a little sustenance and bought some GU Gel packets I stached in my pocket for an emergency boost of energy.

“There is a moment in every race. A moment where you can either quit, fold, or say to yourself, ‘I can do this.'”
-Gatorade Ad

I was told to buy the plain and vanilla versions, and at mile 16 I ate one of the Vanilla.  I have NEVER tired using these during a race, and for those of you whom never tasted them:  they are very sweet, full of sugar, and need a chaser to help you swallow them.  So I sucked it down around one of the water stations and waited to see happened.  They did they job and helped for the next few miles.  Until about mile 19.  When I hit a wall again, and this was a BRICK wall.  I had one more GU packet left and suck it down, praying it would help push me to the finish.  However, I’m not sure if it was the GU or seeing the mile 20 sign.  I believe it was seeing the mile 20 sign that REALLY helped push me to the finish.  When you know you only have 6 more miles left, you start getting pretty emotional and think about what you are about to accomplish. Thus, your adrenalin again begins to pump and I ran the last 6 miles as strong as I ran the first 6.

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You can click here, to see the rest of the pictures for proof I really ran in the race. However, it was so amazing to hear complete strangers cheering your name as you crossed the line.

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The race was a once in a life time experience and something that I will take with me forever and where-ever I go.  No one can take it away from me.  The key take away for me was realizing what your body can really do if you push it hard enough. You have NO idea your will power, mental strength, and perseverance until you run 26.2 miles.  And for those reasons, I pray that each and everyone of you get the chance to participate in a Marathon once in your life.

Again I can not and will not thank those who showed me love and support leading up to  and after the race. With out your kind words and encouragement on my road back down the right path health wise, I would have never thought about running a Marathon.  A special thank to Brittni, for allowing the alarm clocks to go off at 4:45AM , never giving up on me, and for caring every day.  thanks to my parents and sister for their tough love and kind words, and pushing me to really rethink what I was doing to my body 8 months ago, and lastly Derrick Ristich, Dianna Fox, and Lori Bantz for giving me some solid tips and support during all my races this year.  For those whom I did not mention and should have, speak up so I can give credit where credit is due.

Finally,  for all those who have helped along this long journey, I cursed thought of all of you while I 26.2 miles and can not thank you enough, and I heard each one of your voices pushing me to the end.

“The marathon. How an average runner becomes more than average.”
-New Balance

 
4 Comments

Posted by on November 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Fall Ya’ll

Well with the sounds of Christmas Music and Christmas Trees being put up in box stores already….

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I figured I should get around to posting our fall shenanigans.  Fall is my all time favorite time of year and Halloween is hands down my favorite holiday.  Plus, it doesn’t hurt my birthday is on the 26th Winking smile

But to get the season started out right, the last 4 years Britt and myself make a yearly trip to Anderson Orchard, in Moorseville, IN, about 15 minutes west of downtown Indianapolis.

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You can pick your own apples and pumpkins, and after you are done pickin, you can browse the main store which has everything from fruit butters, squash, pears, candy, to candles.  We have made it a MUST trip each fall.

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We’ll just say after an HOUR, Brittni finally found the perfect pumpkin Winking smile

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Along with the Pumpkin we picked up a few way to many other orchard staples….8 Spaghetti Squash, 3 Acorn Squash, 3 Pumpkins, 2 bushel of apples picked, apple cider, pumpkin butter, apple butter, and amish chow chow.

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Even this guy! A TWO pound apple.  It could have fed a family of three.

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So what do you do with all those apples?  Call mother and ask for her famous pie recipe, that’s what.

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I made two pies.  The one of the right is your typical apple pie, the one on the left is made with light butter, light brown sugar, splenda, and whole WHEAT flour.  Both were really good, but I still think my moms was a little better.

Well with way more apples than we knew what to do with, I got busy in the kitchen for Britt and her co-workers, and threw together another apple pie, and a spider web brownies to get everyone in the fall mood as well. Moving on.

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More Fall Fun

Another fall time activity that is becoming a yearly tradition is, my parents Halloween / Chili Fest.  They had the party  two weekends ago and graciously open up their new rec. building.  They assign a few families to make big batches of chili while we made a big batch and start ours in a huge cast iron pot over the fire, then when others show up with their chili we add it all to the same pot! It’s a blast and fun to see everyone else’s variation on a “Chili” recipe. Along with Chili we smoked one whole Turkey the night before, and on the day of the party we also deep fried a whole turkey.  Those who didn’t bring chili were asked to bring a side dish or a dessert.  I forgot to snap pictures, but we’ll just say no one left hungry.

Since I have the worlds biggest sweet tooth I choose to make a dessert for the party.  To follow the fall theme, I choose to make “Payday” Bars.  They were rich, chewy, salty, and straight from Heaven.  I will post the recipe at the end, but as you will read, I lightened it up a bit  by using fat free condensed milk and a few other subtle healthier variations which can be found in the recipe.  The party was a blast and ended with a famous “Haunted Hayride and House”, put together by my Dad and their neighbor, Steve.  Never a dull moment when they get all their friends together

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Halloween/Birthday Week

Then came Halloween and my Birthday week.  Probably the greatest week of the year for me.  Its my birthday, the World Series game 7 was on, and its Halloween.  So to kick off the week, I made some of my mothers/grandmothers famous Sugar Cookies, and added tinted orange frosting to keep with the Halloween theme.

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And these are not your thin, flavorless, cutout sugar cookies, that America has come to know.  These are full of flavor, light, and fluffy, and topped them with some frosting to give them just enough sweetness and creaminess to bring the whole cookie together.  I think they are best friends with a tall glass of milk, and a great night on the couch watching playoff baseball Gossip Girl XOXO.

As for my birthday, I just wanted a quiet night on the couch, and a simple supper.  So when I was back home for the Halloween party the weekend before I ordered fajitas from the greatest restaurant I have ever dined,  El Camino Real.  Thus, I brought home the take out and hid them in the back of the fridge so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat it throughout the week, then on my birthday, I waited ALL day, and finally feasted on what I was waiting for all week! It was so worth the waitl Needless to say, it was a great birthday, one of the best with the greatest fiancé everWinking smile

Then came Halloween weekend, while Britt had to work, I decided to would hang out and just watch some TV, until I got a call from Mother.  Lets just say she needed help and advice on a Halloween costume to go out to bar hoppin in, and the pictures below show what the parents came up with. All and all it was a great few weeks, spent with some of my favorite people, and as you can see its easy to say, that I am truly blessed.  Ill leave you with what Mom and Dad came up with.  Love those kids.

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Ps. Mom is a “Deviled Egg” !

PayDay Halloween/Holiday Bars

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  • 1 (16 ounce) jar dry UNSALTED roasted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons of LIGHT stick butter
  • 1 bag peanut butter chips
  • 1 can 14 oz FAT FREE sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup of Candy corn
  • 1/2 cup of Health Milk Chocolate toffee baking pieces.
  • 1/2 cup of Orange and Black Reece Pieces OR Halloween Orange and Black M&M’s.  I used Reece’s Pieces to add a taste of Peanut Butter!
  • Or any other of your favorite Halloween candy chopped in small pieces

Directions:

  1. Grease 9×13 pan.
  2. Pour enough peanuts on bottom of pan to cover.
  3. Melt Margarine and Peanut butter chips in microwave safe bowl on high 1 minute, stir and microwave for another minute until everything is one gooey melted mess.
  4. Add in Marshmallows and stir, I had to throw it back in the microwave for about 40 seconds to get ALL the Marshmallows to melt
  5. Add in condensed milk and stir
  6. Pour gooey mixture evenly over peanuts
  7. In a small bowl, combine remaining peanuts, candy corn, Reece’s Pieces, Heath topping, and any other appropriate holiday candy and mix them all up Put rest of peanuts in and pat down.
  8. Sprinkle the bowl all over the top of the gooey mixture
  9. Pat the mixture down with wax
  10. Chill for atleast an hour, cut and serve with a childish smile, or….horde them all yourself and love every last bite.
    Note, you can change up the mix ins for EVERY Holiday, say use red and green candy for Christmas, Red and Blue for the fourth of July, Pastel Colors for Easter! I just laid out a template and Ill let you guys decide how to get creative!  PS, someone needs to make it with their own flair and bring it to thanksgiving!

Hope everyone had a great Halloween!

Question of the day

What’s your Favorite Halloween Candy?

What’s your most hated Candy? 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

240 Halloween Popcorn Balls

As a kid I remember eating those white, powdery, seemingly tasteless marshmallows you buy on the bottom shelf of your local box store.  My Mom would make many things with them, but none were more famous than her Rice Krispie treats.  I say famous because, little did we know until we were older, that “famous” recipe came from off the side of the Rice Krispie box.  So disheartening, when one of your favorite childhood foods was prepared off the side of a cardboard box, when in reality you thought your mother had a special recipe.

However, now that I am older and like to think my pallet is a little more mature, I have had the wonderful opportunity getting to know the amazing ladies from 240 Sweet.  They not only have an amazing background story you can read here, they put out some of the finest quality handmade MARSHMALLOWS.  Remember those little, “puffs” I mentioned before.  Those should not even be in the same category as 240’s.

240sweet is based in Columbus, Indiana where catering company partners Alexa and Samantha concoct these marshmallows for their customers.  They use high quality, no filler, local ingredients, including Michigan beet sugar, Ohio glucose and Indiana cornstarch and have created hundreds, yes hundreds of flavors.  The marshmallows come in two sizes, the standard (which are really HUGE) and petite puffs sold by the 8 ounce bag. They are some of the warmest and sweetest business owners in the area and am lucky to have met them.

Getting back on track, I was speaking to the ladies from 240 Sweet, at a local pre-Halloween street fair this weekend and noticed they had kits ready to go to make Halloween Popcorn balls with their marshmallows! How could I turn that down right?  I choose to make my popcorn balls with an all time classic flavor of their Salted Caramel.  A little Sweet, a little chewy, a little salt to balance the sweetness, pretty solid if you ask me.

DSC00646(I know it! Puffs the size of your hand!)

It came with 6 packages of “Puffs” as we 240 insiders call them, and some instructions, which as I guy I laughed at, and put aside Winking smile

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I had my 1/2 cup popcorn, 8 tbs of butter and 16 Puffs.  I figured I could handle the rest.

DSC00653DSC00655

Rather than pop them in oil, I choose a little healthier route and Microwaved air popped them in brown paper sack and it turned out perfect! I highly recommend to those whom are watching their girlish figure to air pop yours.  And please don’t go buy a 50 dollar air popper, reuse your bags from the grocery store.  Just put your popcorn on bottom on the bag, roll up the top half way down to allow the popcorn to pop and rise for 2 minutes on high, shake the bag, and put back in for 30 seconds and you have your popped kernels!

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I then melted a little LIGHT/low fat butter, threw in the Puffs on low heat (The Marshmallows are so amazingly large I cut them up into smaller pieces to speed up the melting process) and stirred, and stirred until smooth.

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DSC00661(It took all I had to not drop a spoon in and take a bite)

And then I added my popped popcorn to mix.  This is where you have to work fast since the marshmallows will harden quickly.  I used my hands, spayed with a little non stick cooking spray, but you can use plastic gloves coated in butter or spray to shape the popcorn balls.

The popcorn balls were really good and highly recommend them if you like covered popcorn. They were sweet, and a little salty, which highlighted the amazing caramel running through the Puffs, plus the popcorn itself gave them just the right amount of texture and crunch.  Decedent, yes, something I would eat all the time no.  But as I like to say once in awhile, you need to indulge in the finer things in life once in awhile.

Overall there would be a few changes I would make.  First, I would use gloves like 240 recommends, it was a pretty “sticky” situation towards end.  Also, since it was Halloween, I would have tinted the Marshmallow mix orange to give them an even more Halloween feel.  Last, while I liked the popcorn balls, I think I would make them with Rice Krispies next time! But thank you again 240 Sweet, and if haven’t tasted the amazing confections from 240, I highly recommend ordering them online or finding them at a local farmers market or local event at http://www.240sweet.com .  Happy Halloween!

Popcorn Balls

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ cup un-popped popcorn
6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons butter (to cover your hands or gloves to shape popcorn balls)
16 240sweet Artisan Marshmallows (240 suggest using one flavor)
*Sea salt, to taste

1. Coat bottom of 4 quart or larger saucepan with vegetable oil. Heat over high heat until hot. Add popcorn. Keep in constant moving until all popcorn is popped. Remove from heat.

2. In medium saucepan, melt 6 tablespoons of butter over low heat. Add marshmallows. Stir constantly until melted. Remove from heat.

3. Immediately add popcorn and mix well with wooden spoon. Quickly put on food-safe gloves and coat them with softened butter. Shape popcorn mix into palm-sized balls and sprinkle with sea salt. Place individual balls on waxed paper until cooled.

4. For storage or gifting, wrap in clear plastic wrap and tie with ribbon.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on October 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Welcome!

Hello, and thanks for visiting CheeseandIcecream!

I have gone back and forth with the thought of starting a blog to journal this little thing we call life, and with enough push and support from friends and family, you are now looking at the new Cheeseandicecream blog.

chocolate-ice-cream-bhavarti1

The basis behind the blog is an attempt to share my passions in life, which consist of an amazing family, running, exercise and FOOD! Healthy food that is. However, if you take a look at the about me tab, you will see that after a long battle the last few years, I now try to do everything in life in moderation, including the food I eat.  With that said, my one place I go to when my world is spinning out of control is the kitchen.  I have a strong passion for cooking, baking and creating healthy and filling recipes, while tweaking the old classics!

As for the name of the blog, which you can read also in the About Me, I have two loves in life, cheese and ice cream. I’m not really sure if there are two greater foods I’ve tried.  But thank you for poppin in and checking the blog out, and look for a Halloween post in the near future!

 
6 Comments

Posted by on October 30, 2011 in Uncategorized