No Bake Chocolate Energy Bites

These little gems are perfect for before workouts, after workouts, after school snack, or to toss in lunch boxes for your family. They offer healthy ingredients with a bit of chocolate yum added. And the best part is, you literally can throw them together in minutes with common, everyday ingredients.

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Give them a try…

 

Chocolate Energy Bites

1 cup of quick cooking oats

1/2 cup ground flax seed

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup peanut butter

3 tsp. cocoa powder

pinch of cinnamon

pinch of sea salt

In a large bowl, mix the oats, flax seed, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and sea salt together until well combined.

In a microwave safe bowl, mix the honey and peanut butter and heat for 30 seconds or until easier to combine by mixing with a spoon. Mix this well and pour it over the dry mixture.

Combine until no crumbles are left and then form into ball sizes of your desire.

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Store them in the refrigerator for up to a week and enjoy.

Recent Thoughts, Recent Eats, Recent Randomness

Where should I begin…..

Thoughts, ideas, inspirations, dreams….do you all have them rolling around in your brain like I do? Sometimes they drive me a bit crazy but I often wonder if they aren’t meant to do that. Some of the things rolling around in my head range from where to camp this coming summer,

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to what trails I want to hike this year,

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to what state do I want to toss at my family and see if they are on board to go visit.

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I would love to plan a girls weekend where all my girl friends escape the role of wife and mother and just be us for a few hours. No worries where this child is or that child is, what we will be preparing for dinner, how high the dirty dishes are stacking up or how much laundry I need to eventually make time to get done.

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I am not a big shopper but I want to plan a Trader Joe’s trip(2 hours from us is the nearest) and also want to make a trip to the next REI garage sale day for members(again, another 2 hours from us).

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I have a million recipes I want to try in my new dutch oven. However, I have been using it quite a bit with old recipes and so far I am thrilled…it is fabulous. Big huge thank you to one of my daycare families for this wonderful gift.

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I also have a list of places to research for possible destinations to visit and I am really feeling the need for elevation…..a long trail that’s leads up where no one else is typically found when you finally reach the top. In other words, a little peace and quiet to gather all these thoughts and put them in order of importance.

So let’s move onto an easier topic….recent eats. This last week it’s been all about cleaning up the frig and open food in the pantry. I hate leaving home and having to throw out food. So it’s been a bit of random meals but still good meals per say.I have been really enjoying spicy black bean salads for my lunches. I am not a big side salad person but give me a meal salad and I am all in.

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With winter chill in my bones I have been really enjoying oatmeal for lunch also. Oatmeal is not a family favorite so when I get the chance to make it for just me I do.

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We had one bottle of Trader Joe’s curry sauce left and it was time to enjoy it since I had a few chicken breast we needed to eat up. My son and I were in heaven…..hubby…not so much. He had italian chicken breast instead. He is not a fan of curry in anything…party pooper.

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Let’s see, workouts have been going great. I have been concentrating on weekends at the gym and maybe one day during the week since right now it is so crowded it’s more stressful to go that not to go. Weekends are busy but not nearly what Monday thru Friday are at the moment. I have not been outside to exercise in quite sometime….and even though I miss fresh air, I have no urge what so ever to go outside to “play”! Too much snow for this desert loving girl!

I know my husband is waiting patiently to go ice fishing for the first time this winter which really causes me anxiety. Although, this year it seems he is going with someone new and it could prove to be very interesting to hear about when they get home. We shall see….

I am trying to figure out when and how I plan to surprise my boys with something they purchased me for Christmas and of course, I want them to share in the fun of it also. They thought it would be a great gag gift to buy me a brick of ration bars. Why…..who knows??? All I can tell you is, when they least expect good ole mom to have snacks in the snack bag while 10 miles back in the middle of nowhere….this is all I am going to produce and they are going to share in the fun of trying it if they are hungry enough. Fun will be had by all of us;-)

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For now I will leave you with all this. You may not feel better but I feel a bit lighter.

If you feel the need to get something off your mind…feel free in the comment section….I will listen.

 

Braised Cauliflower

I love my vegetables and could never have imagined preparing cauliflower so easily and then also getting my husband to eat it with me. This in itself is a small miracle which makes this recipe a winner. So I thought I would share it with all of you.

Ingredients Needed

1 head of cauliflower

1 pint of tomatoes….grape, cheery, heirloom, whatever you prefer or is available

1 tsp of salt

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2  large sweet onion, chunked

dash red pepper flakes

1/4 cup water

pint of fresh sliced mushrooms

4 whole, peeled garlic cloves

Directions:

Wash and peel the leaves from the bottom of the cauliflower head leaving the core in tact but trimmed close to the head itself. Set aside.

Chunk up your onion and slice your mushrooms if they are whole.

Peel your garlic cloves.

Wash and slice your tomatoes in half or if they are large chunk them into large pieces.

Heat your dutch oven and pour in the olive oil. Place your cauliflower head into the pot and spread the onions, tomatoes, garlic cloves and mushrooms around the sides. Pour in the water, and add the red pepper flakes and salt.

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Cover and let this cook on low/medium for 15 minutes. Return and give it a quick stir and baste the cauliflower head with some of the juices you will now find in the bottom of the pot.

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Recover and cook for another 15 minutes or until a butter knife can be easily inserted into the middle of the cauliflower head.

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When its tender, use a spoon to break apart the head and serve over rice, pasta, soba noddles or just as a side dish. We had ours over soba noodles topped with a little shredded parmesan cheese and crushed croutons and it was fabulous.

Enjoy!!!!

Big Changes Bring On Big Decisions

Gosh, I thought October flew by quickly but November has been even faster. It literally feels like just yesterday my family was vacationing in Arizona and now it’s mid November already. Alright, I admit, my Sedona tan is fading fast…..but I really don’t know what has happened to the first few days of November. Let’s catch up a bit on what’s been happening.

Wisconsin has seen some amazing temperatures so far this fall. Honestly, I am still going to the gym in shorts and not wearing sweatpants over the top of them. This is a miracle in itself. However, they say it’s on the way….you know that wonderful white stuff that covers every green surface I love so much….grass.

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Unlike my younger years when all my Christmas shopping was done by Thanksgiving and I spent the week of deer hunting wrapping while everyone was gone….I literally just started shopping this year. However, we really revamped the way we shop today compared to past years and I do not have many gifts to purchase at all. With very little contact with nieces and nephews it was time to make some big changes to the way we spend. Most will get gift cards and only the people we are close to get actual gifts. So it is much easier to shop today than it was when we had a bunch of gifts to purchase.

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I have come to the conclusion that I am as good as I am going to get. Let me explain a bit….January of this year(in case some of you missed it) I had major surgery. I was told it would take me a year to completely recover but without a doubt life has improved greatly. However, there are a few things that I have been trying to ignore, look past or really just try to get back to and simply can’t. Did I think 10 months ago laying there for weeks with so much pain that I would ever get back to normal….no not really…..but I am really trying to learn what my new normal is and I believe this next step will help. I have decided to sell my home gym weight machine. Now if you know me, this is a big decision. I LOVE to exercise!!! However, I have tried this machine numerous different ways and with much lighter weights than before surgery and everything I have tried causes me pain for at least two days afterwards. So then I back off, workout with different things for a few days all while this machine stares back at me and the guilt for not trying it again drives my crazy. So I do and again, two days of pain! I have discussed it with my doctor, I have done what they told me to do to try and remedy the issue and nothing is working. So I have decided to sell it to keep from torturing myself. I have to learn to live with my new normal and I can only hope this helps.

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As we approach Thanksgiving many people are planning to run/walk the Turkey Trot in our area on Thanksgiving morning. I however, am not into run/walks because, well, I am too cheap to pay the admission cost to walk on a street when I could do that right in my own neighborhood for free. Although, this did give me an idea and I approached a friend of mine who has given hiking a try and loves it and we are now planning to do a hike Thanksgiving morning together. Our plan is to hike a trail near us at a waterfowl preserve that is about 3.5 miles long. This should be a fun way to start a great Thanksgiving day and maybe we can make this a yearly tradition.

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I have also been experimenting with some new holiday warm drinks to take in a thermos on winter hikes. I came across one and tested it out this week and hit the jackpot. I even may make this for our Thanksgiving morning hike….it is so good!!!

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As for the next few months I am concentrating on just getting through the holidays. With Christmas parties planned, family get togethers planned, and hopefully a Christmas Day family hike somewhere, I just want to enjoy the next two months. January for me is when the seasonal depression really hits hard and I can only hope winter is not so rough….although everyone has told me the farmers almanac says its going to be a doozie this year. We also have some big plans coming up in January and possibly some big family decisions to make….but let’s not get ahead of ourselves quite yet…..the rest of November and all of December come first.

 

Feeling Good About Being Back In The Kitchen

With the cooler temperatures I find myself getting the urge to do two things, #1 return to the kitchen and #2 research next summers destinations. IMG_5524

Although one takes much longer than the other, returning to the kitchen comes fairly easy to me. I am not a big fan of cooking in the summer months. It’s simply a waste of sunshine and daylight hours for me to spend time in the kitchen. If it’s above 75 and the sun is shining, you better be willing to grill out or make your own meals at my house because this mom is not cooking…..

Fall brings changes to our backpacks by adding gloves and hand warmers for trail hikes

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and it also brings changes to what we eat for meals on a daily basis. There is no more grilling for us once the temps hit the 40’s unless my husband is willing to face the cold.

Some of my fall/winter favorites start making appearances for those chilly mornings like peanut butter oats with sliced bananas.

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I also found that both my family and my daycare children enjoy egg omelet cups. Which is basically your choice of veggies sauteed and topped with an egg. Bake these for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees and tada…..you have enough to feed a crowd or enough for a day or three to grab and go.

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For lunch I love roasted veggies. Sweet potatoes are one of my favorites.

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And dinners are all about casseroles again. No more brats, burgers, and hotdogs plopped in a bun for dinner. I recently made stuffed manicotti for the first time and it was FABULOUS!!!

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And then there is soup. What can I say…..I LOVE SOUP!!! I could eat it for every meal, everyday, and during every season. However, soup would not go over well with my boys in the summer months….so I make it at least once a week as soon as it gets chilly.

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For more recipes and ideas click on over to my recipe page. Enjoy!

Tell me…..what are some of the things you bring back to the table when the temperatures drop?

Do you have any favorites?

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

Beef stroganoff is one of the best smelling meals to come home to at the end of a long day. Not to mention one of the easiest to prepare in a slow cooker. And with the cooler weather, it’s one of my families favorites. So I thought I would share my recipe with all of you.

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

1.5-2 lbs beef stew meat

2 cans cream of mushroom soup

2 Tbsp. worcestershire sauce

1/2 package dry onion soup mix

1 tsp. minced garlic

1/4 cup sour cream

Potatoes or pasta

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Set your slow cooker to low and spray it with non stick cooking spray. Add your beef.

In a separate bowl mix the remaining ingredients together but RESERVE the sour cream.

Pour this mixture over the beef, cover and cook for 6-8 hrs.

After 6-8 hours the beef should shred apart very easily and this is when you would add the sour cream to make a nice creamy gravy.

Serve this over mashed potatoes or pasta with a side salad to make a comforting meal after a long day.

Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Sweet And Sour Beef With Veggies

I have tried many, many different recipes for sweet and sour beef. After much trial and error, I combined many different recipes to finally settle on our favorite. It’s easy, ingredients are simple, and as a bonus, it is prepared in a slow cooker.

Now of course you can change up the vegetables to your families liking and you could even change up the beef for chicken or pork I would imagine. So give it a try and see what you think.

Slow Cooker Sweet And Sour Beef With Veggies

1.5- 2 lbs. beef stew meat

1/2 large onion-chunked

3 large carrots-sliced

1 large green pepper-chunked

broccoli- 1 small head

2 celery stalks-chunked

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Sweet and Sour Sauce

1 tsp. salt

6 Tbsp. vinegar

4 Tbsp. sugar

2 tsp. chili powder

1/2 c. molasses

1-15 oz can tomato sauce

Rice

Take your slow cooker and set it to the low setting. Spray it with non stick cooking spray.

Lay your root vegetables first….carrots and onions. Top these with the beef. Lay the remaining vegetables on top of the beef.

Mix the sweet and sour ingredients together in a separate bowl and pour this over the beef and veggies.

Cover and cook for 7-8 hrs.

Serve over rice for a delicious, at home, sweet and sour meal.

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No take out required!

Enjoy