Ultimate Green Smoothie (and a giveaway winner!)

“It looks better than it tastes.”
Fortunately in the case of this Ultimate Green Smoothie it’s the exact opposite. Before we look at the smoothie itself, let me be the first clarify. IT TASTES BETTER THAN IT LOOKS. 

See all of those pretty, colorful ingredients? Packed full of nutrients, I aptly named this an “ultimate” smoothie because it really can’t get much better. Greens, berries, healthy fats and more make this smoothie the perfectly well-rounded breakfast, lunch or snack. I suppose you can eat it for dinner or dessert too – no reason to discriminate which meal suits it best.

Okay, so now you see what I mean? It’s not the most appealing color once you blend everything together. If you’ve ever had a green smoothie before, I’m sure you’re familiar with a not-so-pretty result and are okay with this. If you have never had a green smoothie before and expect a smoothie to be bright magenta, pink or orange, then…well, it’s time to try something new. Don’t let the looks of this fool you. Just do it. (insert Nike swoosh here).

Changing subjects now.

Did you watch the Oscars? I know those award shows are always hyped up, but for some reason I felt like this year, the Oscars in particular, got a TON of attention. I get the past year has been full of great movies, but isn’t that always the case? Maybe I’m naive and this year really was much better than past years. To be honest, I haven’t seen many of the movies that were nominated – Dallas Buyers Club, 12 Years a Slave, Wolf of Wall Street – I know, I have some catching up to do. So maybe that’s why I don’t fully realize what a great year it was. I enjoy seeing celebrities on the red carpet, being interviewed, and presenting and accepting awards. But still.

After an hour of watching the pre-show, I was bored. Plus Greg had about zero percent interest. So we turned on a movie, Nebraska instead (a Best Picture nominee after all!) and I didn’t even watch a minute of the award show. I figure I’ll catch the good stuff online and on E! News this week. I’m sure I can count on Robbin’s blog to keep me informed as well. Or you can tell me in the comments…what were the highlights?

Ultimate Green Smoothie

Makes 1 large smoothie

Ingredients:
1 ripe banana
2 large handfuls of spinach
1/2 medium yellow squash
3/4 cup frozen strawberries
2 tablespoons oats
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1/4 cup coconut milk

Directions:
1. Add add ingredients to a blender. Blend on high speed for 2-3 minutes, stopping to scrap down sides and stir as needed.
2. Pour in a large cup, find a straw and slurp away!

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GIVEAWAY WINNER

I want to thank everyone who participated in the Food Lion giveaway last week! I used Rafflecopter to run the giveaway and randomly select a winner:

Congrats, Shannon Finer! Please check your email for a message from me to claim your gift card!

Fluffer Nutter Cookie Sandwiches

I know what you’re doing right now. You’re staring at that unbelievably creamy marshmallow fluff, puffing its way out the sides of those cookies. So light, and pure, and white. Heavenly, one might say. Like mounds of snowfall or a sky full of pillow-like clouds. 

That’s an awfully big coincidence, if you believe in coincidences I should say, because right now I am in Breckenridge, Colorado. Not only am I almost 10,000 feet high in the clouds, but I am also surrounded by powdery white snow.  
If only the clouds and snow tasted like marshmallow fluff, as my childhood self used to imagine. 

And then we have the cookies. If you’re eyes were closed while taking a bite, you might think you were eating peanut butter chocolate chip banana bread. The cookies couldn’t be more soft and gooey. They do their best to contain the marshmallow fluff, but they will inevitably fail. 
Sure, it makes for a messy snack. You may even prefer to eat these sandwiches with a spoon (I did!). In the end, you won’t care how it gets in your mouth, as long as it does. 

And now I will proceed to ski my heart out, hopefully burning off close to as many calories as I just consumed. Then again, the recipe doesn’t contain any flour or butter. On top of that, peanut butter is a healthy fat and there’s even a banana in the mix…the guilt is washing away as I speak! Can you say “health food”?

Fluffer Nutter Cookie Sandwiches
(Cookies adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Makes about 6 cookie sandwiches

Ingredients:
1 large egg
1 medium extra ripe banana, mashed
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons chopped pecans
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup marshmallow fluff

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with Silpat mats or spray with non-stick spray. Set pans aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg. Add banana, peanut butter, brown sugar, baking soda and cinnamon. Stir well to combine. Fold in the pecan pieces and chocolate chips. Place bowl in fridge for at least 10-20 minutes to stiffen up the dough.
3. Use a cookie scoop to drop dough onto the pans, spaced evenly apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes (I baked for 8 minutes for a very soft, doughy cookie; bake longer if you want a crispier cookie). Remove from oven and let cool at least 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
4. Add marshmallow fluff to a microwave safe bowl and heat for about 20 seconds. Stir well. Spread about two tablespoons of fluff onto the bottom of a cookie. Place another cookie (bottom down) on top of the fluff. Repeat with remaining cookies. Eat immediately!

*Warning:
-These are very delicate cookies. Things will get messy if you’re not careful.
-They are best consumed the day you bake them. If you are not going to eat them the same day, wait to form the sandwiches until you are ready to eat.

July Blog-A-Day #26: Best Part of the Week

Going along with yesterday’s post, where I walked you through a typical weekday in my life, today I wanted to focus on one of my favorite parts of the week. 
Saturdays are almost always the one day of the week we don’t need to set an alarm or worry about being up for church at a certain time. We sleep in to our hearts’ content…or until Zoey barks enough. This usually ends up being between 8:00-8:30am. 
We move slowly downstairs and spend an hour or so sipping hot coffee, eating breakfast, and watching tv on the couch. Today I ate an apple while waiting for my toast to pop-up from the toaster. Then I spread the slice with peanut butter and drizzled it with honey. Simple and delicious.
I love Saturday mornings because we can hang out in our pajamas for awhile, take our time enjoying breakfast and just relax together. It’s a special time of the week and I am appreciating it more than ever these days. Until very recently, I have always tried to get my workout in first thing Saturday morning. I don’t know exactly what changed, but now when my plans (or lack of plans) for the day allows, I prefer taking it easy in the morning and doing an afternoon workout instead. These first couple hours on Saturday morning are the best. 

Doughnuts, Pancakes and PB&J

doughnuts
I know I’m not the only one who can’t live without doughnuts. I don’t eat them often, but they are an extremely welcomed indulgence whenever I feel like really treating myself. For all of you doughnut lovers out there, have you ever heard of Spudnuts, or any other doughnuts made with potato flour for that matter? Spudnuts is a doughnut shop in Panama City Beach (along with many other cities across the country) that I discovered thanks to Greg and his family on one of my first trips to the city a few years ago. Oh my word, they are heavenly. 
This past weekend, we were in PCB and I couldn’t wait to get my Spudnuts fix. The cream-filled (NOT CUSTARD!!) long johns are my absolute favorite. I also split a cinnamon sugar twist with Greg. 
Love, love, love.
Spudnuts Donuts on Urbanspoon
Pancakes are another welcomed treat for me. I have pancakes much more often than doughnuts, but I still have to have an excuse to opt for pancakes rather than a more nutritious meal. Last week, I met with my good friend Hannah at The Village Bakery for breakfast and some good spiritual talk. As my first time at the restaurant for a sit-down meal, I knew I had to do it right. Pancakes it was! 

pancakes
It was so worth it. The fruit on the side cancelled out any negatives, right? These pancakes, and my time with Hannah of course 😉 , were the highlight of my day. 
Village Bakery Cafe on Urbanspoon
Doughnuts and pancakes are great, but you know what never gets old? Good old fashioned PB&J.
pbj
Eating a PB&J sandwich while driving is optional. Driving or not, it only takes one bite to realize it’s a classic for a reason. If you use whole wheat bread, all-natural peanut butter and all-natural jelly or preserves, there’s no reason to feel guilty either. Paired with an apple or some baby carrots and you’ve got a perfectly simple and satisfying lunch. 
You + PB&J…make it happen. You know you want to. 

Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Cheesecake Squares

Well that’s a mouthful. A mouth full of light, fluffy, cheesecakey deliciousness! 
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We can shorten the name to PB ‘Nana Choc Cake Squares if you want. I like abbreviations. Probs. Maybs. Totes. Adorbs. 
Perf. 
You get the point.
IMG_6632
Do you realize Valentine’s Day is in two days? TWO! I think you could use a PB ‘Nana Choc one of these to sweeten your V-Day.  
But be careful. They can be addicting! (Name that movie!) 
At first I wasn’t sure I liked the outcome of these. There is no mistaking the banana flavor. Not bad by any means, just stronger than I expected. I think after literally not being able to stop myself from just taking ‘one last bite,’ then ‘no really, just one last bite,’ I realized how good they were. 
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Things were getting out of control between these little squares and myself so I shared them with my coworkers and only heard good things. Then again, I can’t imagine a coworker telling me to my face they didn’t like something I made, but you never know. 
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Now I wish I still had one, or two, left for Valentine’s Day. Prepare yourself for the sadness that comes when you or your coworkers finish these off. I’m still mourning the loss. 
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Oh, oh! And if you’re counting calories as my obsessive self usually does, these are only about 150 cals each, assuming you use “light” versions of the ingredients as I have them listed below. 
Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Cheesecake Squares
(Adapted from Bake at 350)
Makes 16 squares
Ingredients:
1 1/3 cup chocolate Teddy Grahams
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (I used light)
1/2 cup sour cream (I used light)
1/4 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons corn starch
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg + 1 egg white
1 very ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup white chocolate chips
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 8×8 baking pan with foil so that the foil completely covers the pan and hangs over the sides. Spray with nonstick spray and set aside.
2. Add Teddy Grahams to a food processor and blend thoroughly. Pour into baking pan and gently shake the pan to spread the crumbs in an even layer. 
3. In the bowl of a stand-alone mixer, add cream cheese, sour cream and yogurt. Beat on medium speed until ingredients are well-blended, about two minutes. With beater on low speed, add cocoa powder, corn starch and sugar. Add egg and egg white and continue to beat until well-incorporated. Add banana and peanut butter, again mixing until well-incorporated. Pour batter into the baking pan and gently shake to evenly distribute. Sprinkle white chocolate chips across the top of the batter. 
4. Bake 35-40 minutes. The top of the cheesecake will begin to crack slightly. Remove from heat and let cool in the pan for up to an hour. Place in fridge to chill an additional hour. Slice into squares and serve chilled.

Peanut Butter Cookies – Three Ways

After my first batch of tailgate cookies, I have received a couple more requests. I made the frosted sugar cookies for an OSU soccer game, which were delish, but the frosting didn’t do so well being trucked around.

For the next tailgate, I chose something different in hopes they wouldn’t be damaged before the game!

Since it was a Buckeye game, I wanted to use the traditional Buckeye candy flavors: Chocolate and peanut butter. 
I used a basic peanut butter cookie recipe to start with, and winged it from there. I baked about half of the batch following the recipe exactly, aka no chocolate involved. For the other half, I incorporated the chocolate in a couple ways. 
One way was making a chocolate-filled cookie. To do this, form two relatively small balls of dough. Place a few chocolate chips on one ball and press the other ball on top. Press around the edges to seal the chocolate inside. Done.

For the remaining dough, I simply stirred in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
I wasn’t sure how much these cookies would spread while baking, so I slightly pressed each one down with a fork to flatten a little. 
The chocolate chips were a nice addition to the cookie, but this particular recipe doesn’t lend itself well to the chips. The consistency of the dough did not hold the chocolate chips very well. So although they tasted great, it was a bit difficult working with the dough and forming the cookies into the right shape. Overall though, the flavor was rich and the texture was chewy and soft. You can’t have one of these without a glass of cold milk!
I have included the basic peanut butter cookie recipe below, but feel free to add chocolate chips as I did! I used about 1/2 cup of chips. 
Peanut Butter Cookies
(Adapted from Annie’s Eats)
Makes about 3 dozen cookies
Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
Sugar for rolling cookies (about 1/3 cup)
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray baking sheet(s) with non-stick spray. 
2. In a medium bowl, combine first 5 ingredients until well incorporated. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the shortening, butter, peanut butter and honey. Add the eggs one at a time. While the mixer is on low speed, add the dry ingredients to the peanut butter mixture and mix until just incorporated.
4. Roll the dough into balls and roll each ball in sugar until coated. Place the dough balls on baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden in color. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Repeat until all of the dough is used. 

Dessert Quesadillas

Oh my goodnesssssss.

Can we all just take minute and stare at this picture…
I need this. Right now. 
But first I need to tell you all about it so you can make it for yourself and understand what I experienced last night. This is what we like to call a dessert quesadilla. I based my recipe off of the talented and amazing Mrs. How Sweet. She really does come up with the most mouth-watering concoctions in the world.
I had just finished dinner last night and was scanning all of my bookmarked recipes for a quick dessert to finish off my day. I read through this recipe, realizing it was perfect because I had one last tortilla I needed to use. 
As I pulled out the peanut butter and chocolate chips, I found the remaining mini marshmallows from these and thought they would be the perfect addition to my quesadilla. 
A satisfying dessert is what I needed last night and a more-than-satisfying dessert is what I got. I will definitely be making these again and again. It only took a few minutes and is easily adjustable to make however much you need. 
Please do yourself a favor and make this for dessert tonight. Actually, let’s just have one for breakfast right now. I can’t wait all day. 
Dessert Quesadillas
(Adapted from How Sweet It Is)
Makes 1 quesadilla (cut into 2-4 wedges)
Ingredients:
1 8-inch tortilla (I used whole wheat)
1/2 tablespoon butter or margarine 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup mini marshmallows
2 tablespoons chocolate chips
1/4 cup whipped cream
Directions:
1. Heat skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. 
2. Spread butter onto one side of the tortilla and sprinkle cinnamon overtop. Place the tortilla butter-side down on skillet.
3. Cook tortilla for about two minutes until it is lightly crisped. Remove from heat.
4. Spread half of the open-faced tortilla with peanut butter. Spread marshmallows and chocolate chips evenly across the peanut butter half of the tortilla. Fold the empty half of the tortilla overtop of itself and lightly press with spatula.
5. Slice quesadilla into wedges, top with whipped cream, sprinkle with more cinnamon, and serve warm.