Silk Almond Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies With Wheat Flour

I’ve been jonsin’ for a homemade chocolate chip cookie. Even though I haven’t eaten a cookie or (intentional) sugar for about 30 days, the only thing that sounds good to me right now is a chocolate chip cookie.

A long while ago, when I started drinking soy milk because I thought I was lactose intolerant, I found this recipe for chocolate chip cookies and it quckly became the only recipe I use. While following paleo, I bought Silk Almond Milk instead of soy and after a quick tweet confirmation from Silk (@lovemysilk) that I could make my recipe with Almond instead of Soy milk. I got started.

Unfortunately, I didn’t  check to make sure I had the REST of the ingredients before I started. (baking fail). I ran out of white flour and my brown sugar was dried into an unbreakable brick. …Uh oh. Instead, I improvised.

Silk Almond Milk Cookies

Ingredients (I ended up using)

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Silk (Almond) Vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/4 1 1/4 cups flour + 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

I combined according to the recipe. As I was mixing, I thought, these were either going to be the best or worst cookies ever. They weren’t either but they ARE pretty tasty! They’re a bit ‘heartier’ than the normal cookies, which I attribute to the wheat flour (accurately or inaccurately). 

So unfortunately, I can’t gauge the difference in taste from soy to almond milk but I do know it works! Even with wheat flour subbed in.

Now, I have 24 cookies looking for a home. And an impending snow storm in Denver. So, actually, I’m glad these cookies haven’t found another home because I think this is what my night has in store:

 

Sparkly Soul Headbands & Giveaway!

***THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED AND WINNER WAS ANNOUNCED HERE***

Last week, I got some Sparkly Soul headbands to try out and I am in LOVE! See what they’re all about.

Wanna get your SPARKLE on? You’re in luck! I’m giving 2 headbands away! (1 thin, 1 thick).

2 easy ways to enter:

  1. (REQUIRED) Check out the Sparkly Soul website and leave a comment with which color headband you’d like! (Don’t worry, if you’re the lucky winner, you can change your mind)
  2. (OPTIONAL) Tweet about this giveaway and leave me a comment that you’ve Tweeted! (To make it really easy on ya: ‘I want to win @sparklysoul headbands from @lgsmash! http://wp.me/p1oGVP-vm

This giveaway is open until (Super Bowl) Sunday, February 5, 11:59 p.m. Winner will be selected from the comments at random using Random.org and announced on Monday, February 6.

If you just can’t wait to get your hands on these headbands, I don’t blame you. You can get 15% off when you order online at Sparkly Soul for the entire month of February. Just enter FITFLUENTIAL as your promo code once you get to the payment screen.

I already ordered mine!

**Disclaimer: Sparkly Soul sent me a sample of their product (seen in the video) to try for free but, as always, all opinions, videos and blog posts are my own.

Wedding Wednesday: Bridesmaids Cards

When I started thinking about bridesmaids, I knew I wanted to send them a personal card to ask them to be part of our wedding. I started perusing the internet for inspiration – from Etsy to wedding blogs.

I found Elise’s Envelope Pocket Love post and LOVED it! This is what I wanted to do! From the paper to the letters to the finished product, I lusted. I wanted to recreate the look and feel of her cards but I don’t have that crafty gene and wimped out.

Instead, I decided to DIY my own cards. I hit up a local card store, Card Blanche, and looked for individual paper pieces in our chosen colors. I found white and brown note cards, pink scalloped cards and brown envelopes. Forgive me, paper people, for not knowing the sizes of the paper!

The most involved this got was gluing the white note card to the pink scalloped card. I then wrote a note to each girl on the brown note card; asking her to be my bridesmaid, a bit about what I know about the wedding so far and who their fellow bridesmaids are.

Then, both pink/white card and brown note card went into the top folding envelope.

Once in the envelope, I tied a green string around the envelope to give it a classier touch. (tip: to keep the string in place, put a dot of glue on the back of the envelope)

Last step, slide into a green envelope (size A7 from Staples), address and mail!


Pretty easy! These definitely didn’t look as ‘professional’ as I’d imagined but they’re absolutely as personal as I wanted. We have a pretty sizeable wedding party and after decorating 2 bridesmaids cards, I kind of wished I’d drawn one, scanned it and printed it on the remaining cards. It took a lot of time (and spare paper!) to draw out exactly how I wanted each to look.

Overall, though, I’m satisfied with how they turned out and proud of myself for venturing into the world of REAL DIY.

Injury Recovery: Back on the Bike & Not Overdoing it

Since I’ve been approved to ride the stationary bike, I’ve ridden a few times but kept my duration to 20-30 minutes. I didn’t want to stress my knee or over exert myself.

Last night, I packed my backpack with a water bottle and some magazines and crutched a few blocks to my gym to ride the bike. I planned to ride for an hour.

I biked for 72 minutes, to be exact, at a VERY slow pace with zero resistance. In those 72 minutes, I biked just under 2.5 miles. My knees felt amazing – no pain, no discomfort, nothing! It felt SO GOOD to do an ‘extended workout’ but quickly showed me how much work I have in front of me.

In those 72 slow minutes, I only burned 200 calories. Today, my booty is SORE and my legs are tired. My abs and back are tight. My hunger is OUT OF CONTROL. I feel like I ran a half marathon yesterday, not slowly biking 2+ miles.

But to my current body with the lack of lower body muscle, this bike ride WAS like a half marathon. It was the most time I’d spend doing one exercise movement in months.

I plan to take it easy tonight and use my at home weights and kettlebell.  As I get back into physical activity next week, it’s important for me to remember to take it slow and not over do it. Anyone who is or has been injured can tell you that the last thing you want to do when you’re allowed to get back into exercise is to slow down. But too much too fast = (more) injury.

So today, I’m drinking lots of water, trying not eating everything my eyes see and am moving around as much as possible to loosen up my muscles. It feels SO good to have that familiar just-had-a-hard-workout feeling back – the first of many to come!

Foodie Pen Pals: January

This month, I joined a group of bloggers and readers who participate in a ‘Foodie Pen Pal’ group. Essentially, each month, Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean collects everyone’s name and matches us up. Rather than 2 people sending treats to each other, Lindsay has it set up so I receive a package from someone but am sending to a different blogger. It’s a fun way to meet new friends and who doesn’t love receiving a package?!

This month, my package came from Krystie at My Tracks and she hooked me UP!

This package rocked – she sent sweet treats (banana nut muffin mix and candy!), Gatorade mix and Vitamin Water, protein bars, oatmeal, dried prunes and green tea with mint. Yum!

I was extremely surprised to find out that I love these little dried prunes. I know, I know – go ahead and make your jokes and prunes but seriously, they are a sweet, gummy piece of goodness.

The other thing I’ve been loving a lot is the Bigelow Green Tea + Mint. I’m a big tea drinker (coffee? not so much) but not a big fan of mint. But I like to give everything in life a fair shot, including mint tea and I was floored. The mint is very subtle but really wakes me up. I think it just may be my new ‘go to’ tea bag.

The next thing I’m looking forward to trying – Banana Muffin Mix! I haven’t been ‘able’ to break into the muffin mix yet because I’ve been limiting my grain consumption (hi, paleo) but I think these will make a great treat for the Super Bowl this weekend.

So fun!

If you want to join in the fun (blogger or not!) you just need to send Lindsay an email (theleangreenbean@gmail.com) with the following info:

  • Your full name
  • Email
  • Blog name/address (if applicable)
  • Twitter handle (if applicable)
  • If you’re in Canada, it’s important that you note that too, so you get paired up with fellow Canadians.

Each month (or as long as you choose to participate), you’ll get matched and send a package, receive a package and then write a cute little post, like this one!

You can find all of the information at Lindsay’s post here.

How The Heck Do I Cook Peeled Beef Knuckle?!

This was the question I asked myself when Alex came back from Sams Club with this:

What the??

We had 10 lean steaks to cook and we weren’t quite sure what to do with it. After spending about 45 minutes researching online (Google + Twitter), I was much more informed about beef, beef cuts and possible ways to cook this meat. Ever wondered what part of the cow your beef comes from? Not anymore!

Thanks to Heather for sending that gem.

So, after much googling, I learned that this cut is also called: beef round tip steak, sirloin tip. (Source, source) and I found a few tips on how to cook it.

The first suggestion was to sear both sides of the steak and bake in the oven. The second was to adapt a London Broil technique. because we had so many steaks, we tried both methods this weekend.

These, by no means, are the *best* or official way to cook these steaks – just my experience with these steaks.

First, Sear ‘N Bake.

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Season the steaks. I took 3 similar sized steaks and seasoned both sides. The seasoning I used was a mix of: spicy steak seasoning, garlic powder, cumin, parsley, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper. Kind of a hodge podge because we didn’t have enough of any one seasoning to be the dominant flavor.
  3. Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet - very important that you use a cast iron skillet for this! You want the skillet to be good and hot to get an instant sear on the steaks. I warmed up the olive oil until it was just about to start smoking.
  4. Add your steaks to sear for a few moments per side. I placed these steaks down, took a photo and flipped immediately, so about 30 seconds on each side.
  5. Place skillet of steaks in oven. Once browned, I baked the steaks for 15 minutes. My meat thermometer showed that the temperature should read 145* to be medium rare but when I pulled these thin steaks out and it read only 120*, I cut into the steak to see how done it was: Well done.

  6. Reduce drippings from steaks. We cooked off the excess liquid from the skillet to create a thicker topping for the steak.

  7. Plate and eat.

It was decent. I’m not a fan of well done meats so next time, I would have baked it much, much less. Because it was so thin, lean and well done, it was a bit chewy but very flavorful. Not my favorite cut of steak but I wouldn’t turn it away it if showed up on my plate.

Second, London Broil (Adaptation)

I initially found this recipe first and wanted to try it – I know that wine is a meat tenderizer and this lean meat needed exactly that. Typically, a london broil is done with a huge hunk of meat and not thin steaks but we gave it a try anyway.

Since it had to marinade overnight, I made the marinade at the same time my oven was preheating for Sear N Bake. Here’s what went down:

Marinade ingredients (adapted from here)

  • 12 ounces red wine **
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons ginger
  • 3 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 2 bay leaf

** more wine was added in step 2

  1. Mix all ingredients into a bowl. Pour yourself a glass of wine.  I combined all ingredients in this purple mixing bowl and transferred to a tight sealing Tupperware container when I was finished.
  2. Add steaks to marinade. Let sit overnight. I put 2 steaks in the container, poured some marinade on, added 2 more steaks, more marinade, etc. When all steaks were added to the container, I came up short on covering all of the meat. I liberally combined wine and water until all steaks were submerged.
  3. Place steaks in baking pan, add veggies and extra marinade. We had 7 steaks to cook so we used 2 pans. I added the extra mushrooms that was in the fridge and cut some onion wedges to spread in the pan.
  4. Broil on low until desired done-ness. We opted to broil on low because the meat is so thin. We checked the steaks every 5+ minutes to ensure that we didn’t overcook. But guess what…. we overcooked.
  5. Plate and eat. Decent flavor but again, I would have cooked for a bit less time. (and yes, that’s bread. More on that later this week)

What I learned from this experiment – thin, lean steaks cook incredibly fast and are not my prefered cut of steak. Most of the recipes I’d found for ‘Peeled Beef Knuckle’ were for the huge hunk of steak (Thick Flank from the diagram above) and not these thinly sliced pieces.

Since making these last night, I’ve learned of a few other ways that might have resulted in a better steak (braising, roasting, stewing).

These weren’t the worst meals I’ve made but they certainly weren’t the best. Fortunately, we used all of the steaks last night so no more overcooked steak is in my immediate future.

 

 

Friday Fun Featuring Wine, Mustaches and Jerky Parking

When life gives you wine….

…Play Amy WineHands (or Edward WinoHands, if you’re a dude). (Inspired by: TheBoringRunner. Click over for even more entertainment!)

When your sister sends you a funny mustache mirror…

…hang it behind the toliet and take funny photos.

When someone parks SO CLOSE to your car that you and your crutches can’t get in…

…Leave a nice note about how they made you climb through the passenger side door to get in, knee brace and all.

And when your carpets are drying from steam cleaning them at 11 p.m. last night and your (already tiny) kitchen looks like this…

…Don’t smack yourself in the face while you dry the skillet you used to scramble eggs. My chin is bruising.

7 Things About LGSMASH

Last week, Courtney tagged me in this post to come up with seven things you may find interesting or may not know about me. I like this idea – get to know a bit more about the blogger behind the keyboard for those of you who may not know me ‘in real life.’

 Typically, in situations where I have to give a ‘little known fact’ or unique thing about myself, my knees surgeries (7 in total!) and Osteochondritis Dissecans are my ‘go to’. On the blog, however, that’s the one things you already DO know about me!

1) I’m an irish twin. My next youngest brother and I are 11.5 months apart and for 2 weeks each year, we are the same age. Since the beginning, we’ve got along really well – we were experiencing the same highs and lows at the same time and having the same child/teenage reaction/adult reaction to it.

2) I’ve visited 11 countries. A study abroad in France in college was the spark that ignited the insatiable travel and international travel flame. In total, I’ve been to: France, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, The Netherlands, Scotland, Germany, Greece, Costa Rica, South Korea, Japan.

3) I am a carnivore, through and through. I gave vegetarianism a shot for 7ish months in college…while I worked in (and loved eating at) a steakhouse. It was all over when I let Alex make me a steak + mushrooms/onions for Valentine’s Day that year. Peace out, Boca Burgers!

4) I am kind of lazy about my upkeep. Not to mean I’m unkempt, just prefer to spend my time and energy focused on other things. I get my hair cut once every few months and use dry shampoo 5 days a week so I don’t have to wash and dry my hairmore than twice a week, body and facial hair waxed so I don’t have to shave or pluck it, eyelashes tinted occasionally so I don’t have to remember mascara (I never remember mascara) and rarely paint my nails because I can’t keep them up once the polish starts chipping off.

5) My apartment is haunted. I am convinced! There have been instances of bedroom doors opening after they were latched shut, hanging pictures somehow getting off-center when I lived alone, toothbrushes falling into the bathroom sink with no one around, strange noises. I’m sure watching Ghost Adventures isn’t the best remedy for this either.

6) Salty > Sweet. Everyday. Except for those few days a month where I ONLY WANT A BROWNIE. You know the days I’m talking about, ladies. But the other 90% of my life, I want pretzels, fries, and a sea salt shaker for every meal.

7) Give me a few seconds of a song and I can probably tell you song name and artist. Whether full blast in the car or over the noise of a loud crowded bar, I’m really good at doling out artist and song titles of way too many songs. And genre doesn’t matter – if I’ve heard it, I can usually recall it. Unfortunately, this ‘recall skill’ doesn’t translate very well to ‘things my fiance tells me’.

And now, it’s your turn! According to the ‘rules’ I get to tag people to post 7 things about themselves. I’m picking 7 bloggers so  head’s up: Lauren @ Lauren’s Tri Blog, Janene @OneRun At A Time, Lena @ Fit On The Rocks, Diana @My Marble Rye, Tiffany @ Snack Snark Bark, Melissa @ Live Love and Run, and Ashley @ Coffee Cake and Cardio.

Races Registered: Cherry Creek Sneak 5M & Colfax 10M

Today is 1 month post-surgery, 2 weeks till my doctor appointment to get off crutches and I can’t stop smiling these days.

Today, I am getting back on a stationary bike. In 2 weeks, I’ll get both hands and feet back. In 2 weeks, I’ll kick my crutches to the curb (or maybe just the closet). In 2 weeks, I get my pre-surgery life back… but better.

At my post-surgery doctor appointment, I asked my doctor what his thoughts were about me signing up for races in the spring. He said that if my knees feel good and I feel ready, I can go for it. Since I’m able to walk, if I can’t run the full distance, I can certainly finish by walking.

In fact, a blogger I follow, Ashley, inspired me to make my goals official and register. After recently fracturing her hip in a bike accident, she finished the Disney Marathon in January. If Ashley can pull it together to finish a marathon, I can get my butt back into the game too.  

I had my sights set on one race in particular in May but needed a shorter race in between. After some research, I pulled out my credit card and signed up for 2 races that fit the bill!

Cherry Creek Sneak 5 Mile Race. April 29.

This race is close to home, is a hometown favorite and celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. I was looking for a 10k to run around this timeframe and decided 5 miles was just as good for me. This race will be just about 12 weeks after I’m off my crutches – right about where my right knee (first surgery) will be in 2 weeks. Because my right knee feels so great, I’m confident that I will be able to handle 5 miles in April.

Then, I registered for the race I had my eyes on.

Colfax Marathon, Urban 10 Miler. May 20.

This course looks really cool! It runs from the outside of downtown, through the amusement park and our downtown mall and then ends at one of my favorite parks, City Park.

This race may be a stretch for me – it’s 10 miles and only 3 weeks after the Cherry Creek Sneak. I’m not sure my muscles or endurance will be ready for this yet but I signed up to give myself a goal. If I need to walk during the race, I will. I’m not about to hurt myself. And if I decide I need to drop out of the race, I will drop out. Safety and no injuries is the name of my game right now.

I plan to attack these races safely and with a plan to build up mileage slowly. Very slowly. I don’t have a plan yet but will soon.

And as if that weren’t exciting enough, I conned my fiance into running them both with me! He used to run cross country in high school but hasn’t run since ‘the glory days’. We’re both trying to get back into shape and make healthier choices (hello, paleo) so we’ll be running and training together this spring and summer too. A live-in fiance AND running buddy! Can life get better? I submit that it cannot! (Brian Regan anyone?)

I’ve got more race plans bouncing around in my head but haven’t quite pulled the final pieces together. Let’s just say… I think this summer’s going to get WILD and MUDDY.

Smiling smiling smiling. :)

Denver Eats: The Capital Grille, Yelp Style

First things first: Yelp Denver (and Tiffany N) put on fantastic events for us Yelpers. (for example, the Monster Mashup)

Last weekend, Yelp hosted a 2012 kickoff event at The Capital Grille in Downtown Denver. I’d never been to The Capital Grille and didn’t realize it was a chain. Chain or not, this place makes goooood food.

The restaurant was closed except for the 50+ Yelpers who attended, including a few of the usual suspects: Diana and Tiffany.

(Please note: all paleo ‘rules’ were broken at this event and it was worth every bite)

First thing we saw was a giant table of over-sized shrimp. Yum! Because I’m still on crutches, I didn’t grab any shrimp but it looked delicious.

The second thing we saw was a server, handing us The Capital Grille’s signature cocktail for the event, the Stoli Doli.

This drink had me ready to pack my bags and set up shop on a tropical island. It’s a pineapple infused vodka that is dangerously pineapple-y. There’s no harsh liquor taste so it’s easy to drink this like juice – don’t drink it like juice.

Soon after we picked a spot at the bar, the servers brought out delicious food samples for us to try. These items are from a new lunch menu that The Capital Grille will be offering at a reasonable price point, $18.

We tried a fresh take on Lobster Rolls:

These were okay. I’ve never had a traditional lobster roll so I don’t have much to compare it to. It was light, fresh. Tasty but not my favorite.

Next, beef tenderloin sandwiches:

If I had to pick only one thing to eat for the rest of my life, right now, I’d beg for this sandwich. It was out of this world. The bun was buttery, there was an herb cream cheese on top and grilled onions and mushrooms underneath the juiciest piece of beef I’ve ever had.

Lastly, truffle fries:

My first ever experience with truffle fries and I was pleasantly surprised! Fries were served piping hot and had a light earthy flavor (I assume the truffle oil?) and big grains of salt. To be reunited (briefly) with french fries in this manner was perfect – these were scrumptious!

We chatted with other Yelpers while we munched, snapped some photos of our food and each other and enjoy the afternoon.

(borrowed from Tiffany)

Before we left we were offered a tour of the kitchen with the executive chef where he talked about The Capital Grille’s food and service principals. He talked to us about the quality of their meat, how they age it and how they cut it.

We also learned that rather than throwing away food mistakes, they save this food and donate it to the homeless shelters in Denver. Each month, they donate about 6,000 pounds of food to homeless shelters. Seriously amazing. Why aren’t all restaurants doing this?

On our way out, we grabbed a ‘swag bag’ full of The Capital Grille goodies: an voucher for a free appetizer, 2 Capital Grille cookies (chocolate chip & white chocolate chip), 2 chocolate truffles and 1 container of mushroom coffee steak rub.

I’m planning to use the rub later this week for dinner.

I liked the intimacy of this event – no significant others, no casual yelpers. Just us weirdos who check in at every restaurant and store we go to, take photos of our food to blog about and want to attend events with our others of our kind.

Welcome to Elite 2012 @ The Capital Grille

Yep, just us weirdos.

You can check out Tiffany’s review here or Diana’s review here.

Thanks again to Yelp and The Capital Grille for hosting us!