4.26.2014

Hummingbird Oatmeal Cookies

.  So Easter…

I am neither prepared nor ready to admit this lovely family holiday is fast approaching.  It most definitely crept up on me, to say the least.



So what do you know...Easter has come and gone and this post surely did not make it out before the Easter holiday.

I whipped up these cookies a few weekends ago [the second I pinned them] in hopes that I’d [go gaga over them and] get the chance to share them with you all for the holiday.  But as you can see, that most definitely did not happen.  And I'm not happy with myself.  But hopefully there will be some reason for you to include these delish chewy cookies in your upcoming entertaining repertoire.  For they most certainly deserve to be.



You may recall that I've made Bake or Break’s Hummingbird Cupcakes many a times before, they were actually one of the very first recipes I ever posted on LSM.  Which I’m sure I've told you.  Several times before.  But to this day, they continue to be one of my go-to and all-time favorite recipes.  And I can now vouch that my baking blog idol, BoB, has done it yet again.  But this time in cookie form.

These perfectly sized chewy, chewy cookies contain all of the traditional Hummingbird flavors: ripe bananas, sweet pineapple, fragrant spices, and crunchy pecans.  With a dollop of rich cream cheese frosting to top it all off [literally and figuratively], these cookies are near perfection.


And outright addicting. 

A sure crowd pleaser for any holiday brunch, lunch, or dinner. 

Or any ol’ time for that matter.  Because they’re good year round.  You’ll see  .


Adapted from Bake or Break

Ingredients:
Hummingbird Oatmeal Cookies:
2 c. all purpose flour
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 medium ripe banana, mashed
1-1/2 c. old fashioned oats
1 c. chopped pecans
1/2 c. chopped dried or candied pineapple

Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
1-1/4 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Banana chips, chopped pecans (garnish; optional)

Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 350ºF.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. For cookies, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.  In a large bowl, beat together butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Mix in vanilla extract until combined, then add banana and mix until combined.
  3. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add flour mixture, mixing just until combined.  Stir in oats, pecans, and pineapple.  
  4. Drop dough by scant tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between cookies.  Flatten each cookie slightly. 
  5. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool on pans before removing to wire racks to cool completely.  Repeat with remaining dough.
  6. For frosting, in a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and butter with mixer on medium speed until well blended and smooth.  Mix in vanilla extract until combined.
  7. Spread about 1/2 tablespoon of frosting on cookies and garnish, if desired.  
Yield: 4 dozen cookies

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4.21.2014

Secret Recipe Club: Banana Coffee Chai Smoothie

.  So, this post is a debut of sorts.  A smoothie debut, to be exact.

As I've mentioned many a times before, SRC has been a way for me to broaden my baking and [very limited] culinary horizons.  And this month's assignment was most certainly a way to do just that.


From Brazil to You, published by Denise, is a blog dedicated to well, Brazil!  Denise was born and raised in Brazil but soon transplanted to the United States when she married her husband in 2002.  Since then, with extensive experience in the culinary industry, Denise has used her blog as a platform to share with her readers both classic and modern Brazilian dishes, as well as tid bits of information about her home country!

Searching through Denise's array of recipes was undoubtedly eye opening, how had I not heard of SO many wonderful things?!  From Arroz de Forno Cremoso (Baked Rice Casserole), Macarronada com Requeijao (Brazilian Mac and Cheese), and Bolo de uba com Coco (Coconut-Cornmeal Cake), it'd be an understatement to say it took me a few days to finally decide on what I just had to make from Denise's intriguing recipes.


But lately I haven't been in much of the baking mood, I think it may be that I'm trying to get on track with the whole wedding diet thing?  Or maybe because the weather seems to be turning towards the warmer side of life, which doesn't have me craving those comfort foods quite like the winter months.

So when I came across Denise's Drinks section, I knew what I had to try.

Banana Coffee Chai Smoothie.

Uh hello, how can you pass that up?

Sadly, and not sure how it's possible, but I've never made a smoothie before.  In my life.  Slightly pathetic, huh?  But I must say, if I was going to pop my smoothie-cherry, I wouldn't have wanted it to be with any other smoothie but this one.

Smoothie Selfie!
From the yummy banana to the spiced chai, subtle coffee flavor, and a drizzle of hot fudge sauce that brings it all together, this beverage hit that 'summer' feeling for me.  A refreshingly healthy smoothie perfect for a cool down moment on the hot summer days that I'm positive will eventually make their way to Chicago.

So thank you SRC and From Brazil to You for once again showing me the wonders of this blogging world I would have otherwise never known.  Until next time!

My Notes:
  • I used Light Vanilla Silk (soy milk) for the milk in this recipe.  It was absolutely wonderful if you're looking for a scrumptious dairy substitute, less calories, and more calcium!
Adapted from From Brazil to You

Ingredients:
1/2 c. hot water, divided
1 Chai tea bag
1 tsp. instant coffee
1 large fresh or frozen banana, cut into chunks
1/2 c. milk
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground ginger
2 to 4 tbsp. sugar, honey, or sugar substitute
4 iced cubes
Hot Fudge Sauce (optional)

Directions:
  1. Boil water and divide into 1/4 cup each.  Place the Chai tea bag in one cup and the instant coffee in the other.  Let brew for 3 to 5 minutes.  Squeeze out teabag and discard.  Pour the brewed tea and coffee into a blender.  Add banana, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and sugar, and puree until smooth.  Add iced cubes and pulse just until ice is crushed. 
  2. Warm hot fudge sauce until drizzling consistency.  Drizzle sauce along sides of serving cups.  Divide smoothie into cups and serve immediately.
Yield: 2 servings

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4.13.2014

My March Stitch Fix

.  If I had to list out my passions in life, not surprisingly baking would be one of them.  Right at the very top.  Obvi.

But what would probably come as a bit of a surprise is that I’m ca-razy about fashion.  Style.  The necessary evil.  Whatever you want to call it. 

And I have been since the day I realized I could love sports but also dress like the girl that I am.  No more Umbro shorts and sports tees.  No more tight, slicked back ponytails.  No, I could actually wear a dress.  And heaven forbid straighten my hair.  And still be a softball-er, volleyball-er, runner [er…?], etc. at the same time.  Outlandish thoughts, I know.

So needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, I L.O.V.E to shop.  I could pretty much live at a good mall.  Walking around, gazing at trendy fashion, and albeit trying on those pieces I  just can’t resist.  Doesn't get much better than that, my friends.

Sadly enough, busy weeks of work and fitting in workouts at night doesn't leave me time for much else.  So even though we live in the bountiful land of Chicago, I really only venture out to the shops on the weekend.  So when I stumbled across a personal shopping service through a Facebook friend, I couldn't resist learning more.

Which brings me to the point of this post. 

The concept is rather simple.  Every month, for $20, an assigned stylist sends you five items of clothing and/or jewelry they think you’d like [via studying an extensive fashion profile you fill out when signing up and also from the help of researching your Pinterest fashion board, if you have one].  Once you receive the package, you have three days [give or take…] to decide whether you’d like to keep the items or send them right on back if you’re not feeling anything.  Plus, Stitch Fix conveniently includes a pre-labeled bag for any of items you don’t want, so shipping is free!

I've been a Stitch Fix customer for about six months now, some months have been absolute hits while others I've sent every item back.  But the fun thing about it is that each month, Stitch Fix uses your feedback/requests to make your next month’s package more desirable.  I mean, their goal is to get you to  want to purchase everything, right?

So out of my shipments thus far, I've bought things such as a plaid cropped shirt, a green army-like jacket, and grey skinnies.  All because my stylists did their homework and sent me items inspired by my Pinterest board!  Who can resist that…

Lately I've been mulling over ways to change up things over here at LSM.  The same types of posts over and over can get a little redundant, cha know?  So I thought introducing my love for fashion via Stitch Fix would be perfect. Fun for me, new service for you!

So each month I’ll go through my Stitch Fix package with you, whether you like it or not.  I always love reading others posts about what they’re wearing these days, so why not join in on the fun?!

And here we go…

$58.00
First is the Hawthorn black blouse, which you'll notice I used in almost all of the outfits because of it's versatility.  However, I didn't keep this piece because I wasn't a fan of the fabric.  The shirt felt a touch cheap on so I didn't think it was worth keeping.

$78.00
My next item is the Kut from the Kloth boyfriend jeans.  I'm always on the look out for a good boyfriend jean so I was ecstatic my stylist sent me these.  Overall, I really liked these.  The fit was great, loved the wash, but not quite sure what it was that held me back from keeping them.  Plus, ironically, at the time I had just ordered a pair of boyfriend jeans I was waiting on... P.S. there's that black blouse again!

$48.00
Hmmm, did not like this piece.  The style was okay but it just wasn't flattering on me (e.g., horizontal stripes).  I did like the lightness of the cardigan though, it would definitely be a great piece for a cool summer night. But unfortunately, this was sent back as well.

$128.00
My stylist noted that from studying my Pinterest board, he noticed I was a maxi fanatic so he sent this  summery piece.  And although my stylist was absolutely spot on, I wasn't a huge fan of the color combination.  I also like maxi's a little more flowy and this fabric was just a bit stiff.  So back to Stitch Fix headquarters it went.  P.S.S. another outfit with the black blouse!

$36.00
My last piece was this necklace.  Who doesn't love a statement necklace, by the way?!  I really loved the color combo here but there was something about the gold that kind of drew me away.  Again, it was a little cheap looking to me so I decided not to keep this either.  

Although I didn't keep anything this month, there were definitely pieces my stylist sent that were pretty spot on with my style.  There just wasn't something that I couldn't live with out (which is my purchasing rule) so I opted out this month.  But I made sure to note all of these thoughts in my checkout, which the stylists use for next time around.  So we'll see what they come up with next month!  .

This post is not sponsored by Stitch Fix, all opinions are my own.

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