Time for a confession… Chili is one of my desert island foods. If I was stuck on a desert island and I could eat only one food for the rest of my existence, chili is easily in my top five (tacos are number one though). Clearly I don’t have an issue eating hot/spicy food when it’s hot outside…

Chili is one of our staples when the weather turns chilly (pun intended, sorry) and this is the recipe we always reach for because it’s hearty, comforting and has enough flavor for Laura to be excited about it. Hint: the special ingredient for her is the cinnamon!

What better way to make Chili than at 5:30 in the morning with a pot of coffee…
because you forgot to prep the recipe the night before…

Inspired by the Fartlek Chili recipe from the Run Fast Eat Slow Cookbook. This is one of the three cookbooks we reach for on a weekly basis and cannot recommend it enough.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 large red onion, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt (cut in half if your broth is not low-sodium)
2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
.5 pound ground bison
.5 pound steak, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (this doesn’t make it that spicy, just adds flavor)
2 cups bone broth or chicken broth (low sodium if possible)
2 cans (14.5 ounces) no-salt-added diced tomatoes
2 cans (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed

  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onion, and salt cooking until soft but not brown for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, red pepper, bell peppers, bison and steak. Stirring continuously breaking up the meat, cook for about 5 minutes until the meat is browned.
  3. Add everything from the skillet to the crock pot and combine with the broth, tomatoes, and black beans.
  4. Cook for 6 to 8 hours on low or 4 to 6 hours on high.
  5. Taste and add more salt or red pepper depending on taste.
  6. Serve in bowls with your fixings of choice.

Part of the reason Laura likes this recipe is because it’s got a little bit of heat but it’s not overwhelming since the cinnamon cuts the heat. (Her taste buds just can’t handle too much spice, no matter how hard I try). This truly is a mild chili – if you’re looking to make it a bit spicier, I recommend adding another 1/4 teaspoon of ground red pepper and potentially some chilies depending on the level of heat you’re looking for.

Now, why do I call it healthy-ish? Because this recipe is really as healthy as you want to make it. Don’t want to be healthy? Dress it up with all the cornbread, cheese, sour cream, etc that your heart desires. Want it to be healthy? Grab that Greek yogurt and an avocado and you’ve got a delightfully creamy, flavorful bowl of chili that will warm you from the inside on the coldest of Minnesota days.

Done and ready to devour – dressed with an avocado because we’re being good.


January and New Years Resolutions always make me think about how I could be a little bit healthier, or eat fewer desserts (yeah right!) Of course we always receive a ton of chocolate and sweets over the holidays, so Jason and I both justify eating them to “get them out of the house!” Now, I know it is March but since all the chocolate is gone, I had to find a way to satisfy my cravings.  So, when I found this marbled banana bread recipe on the Food Network under “Healthy Dessert Recipes” I figured it was worth a shot. The recipe looks more complicated than it really is, so don’t be afraid of it, it really isn’t that hard to put together.

Chocolate Marbled Banana Bread
3/4 c all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the pan
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 medium very ripe bananas
2/3 c sugar
1/4 c canola oil
2 large eggs
3/4 c while wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 by 5 inch metal loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and dust well with all purpose flour to cover the pan completely. Tap out any extra flour. (The flour really helps the bread slide out of the pan easily when it’s done baking!)
2. Melt the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl on high in 30 second intervals until melted and smooth. (About 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds) Set aside.
3. Mash the bananas until mostly smooth, then mix in sugar. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, add in oil and eggs, stir until combined. Mix in both flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Then stir in vanilla and buttermilk.
4. Stir 1 cup of the batter into the melted chocolate.

Banana Batter and Chocolate Banana Batter

Banana Batter and Chocolate Banana Batter

5. Fill the loaf pan with half of the banana batter, then half of the chocolate batter. Repeat the layers with the other half, then using a knife or spoon, gently swirl the layers together.

"Marbling" the Banana Bread

“Marbling” the Banana Bread

6. Bake about 45 minutes until golden brown on top and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
7. Cool for 15 minutes in the pan, then transfer  to a wire rack to cool.

Finished! Chocolate Marbled Banana Bread

Finished! Chocolate Marbled Banana Bread

I needed about 10 extra minutes until the banana bread was done (I love using the toothpick test to help tell me how done the bread is!) and lucky for me the top did not get too brown. If the top of your bread starts to get too brown and the bread is not done baking yet, you can always tent the banana bread with some tin foil. This will help keep the top from burning but the bread will still bake.  The bread was not that dry at all, and the chocolate was not overpowering either! There was a nice balance between the banana flavor and the chocolate flavor.  Let’s just say the banana bread did not last very long in our house. Do you have any other healthy dessert recipes that you bake often? We’d love to hear them!

It has been yet another busy week; some later nights at work, things that have to get done at home, and lots of volleyball in the evenings for me (I can’t complain about that though!) We try every week to plan out dinner for each night and try even harder to stick with it. But, these busy weeks make it easier to say “let’s get takeout” instead of putting the effort into cooking a healthy meal. I do love using the crock-pot when I can, especially since dinner is all done by the time we get home! I often swap recipes with a friend of mine, and he sent me a lower calorie version of chicken wild rice soup, with milk instead of cream. We thought this week would be the perfect week to test out the recipe. You would never have know it was made without the cream! The soup turned out very hearty and creamy.

Crock Pot Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
2 Tbs butter
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 small carrots, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
8 c chicken broth (we used low sodium)
1 rotisserie chicken, shredded (you could also use 2 chicken breasts, shredded)
3/4 c wild rice blend
1 c milk
1/4 c flour

1. Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrots, season with salt and pepper, and saute until tender (about 10 minutes.)
2. Add garlic and thyme and saute for another minute. Add finished veggies to the crock pot.
3. Shred the meat from the rotisserie chicken, add to the crock pot.
4. Add the chicken broth and wild rice blend to the crock pot. Stir well to mix everything together. (Don’t worry if you think 8 cups is a lot of chicken broth, the rice will absorb a lot and it will cook down)

Everything mixed in the crock pot!

Everything mixed in the crock pot!

5. Cook on low for 8 hours.
6. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 c of milk with the flour until smooth. Add remaining milk. Slowly stir into the crock pot. Turn the crock pot to high for 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Slowly mixing together the milk and the flour

Slowly mixing together the milk and the flour

7. Serve and enjoy!

Cream of Chicken Wild Rice Soup!

Chicken Wild Rice Soup!

I sauteed the veggies and mixed everything together (minus the flour/milk) the night before we were planning on cooking the soup. The next day we let the crock pot do all the work and mixed the flour/milk in right before we were ready for dinner, so prep time was not bad at all! I think it took us about 20-30 minutes the night before, with all the chopping, sauteing and shredding.

Now I compare all chicken wild rice soup to a restaurant called Grandma’s up in Duluth, MN. In my opinion they make the BEST version of this soup I have ever had. But since Duluth is a little too far away, we’ve been trying to find a recipe that we could make at home that was close to Grandma’s. We both loved the way this recipe turned out. It was creamy, hearty, tasted delicious and the best part, it was lower in calories! I’m excited for the leftovers too, especially since we are in for another visit from the Polar Vortex! What are your go-to crock-pot soup recipes?


I’m just going to be upfront with this…I love gnocchi. My mom said it was one of my favorite things to eat when I was little. How can you go wrong with potato, flour and cheese? The best gnocchi I ever had was in Vernazza, a little town in the Cinque Terre region of Italy. I’ve tried a couple of times to make gnocchi at home since then and failed miserably each time…the first time I had really lumpy gnocchi and the second time I had a pile of mush. So I’ve been a little shy about trying gnocchi at home again, but when my co-worker sent me this recipe for a sweet potato gnocchi with a balsamic brown butter sauce, I had to give it a try. I mean, third time’s the charm right?

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Balsamic Brown Butter Sauce
For the gnocchi:
2 red-skinned sweet potatoes (about 1 lb)
1 15oz container of ricotta, strained in a sieve/colander for 2 hours
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
2 to 2 1/2 cups (maybe more) all-purpose flour

For the brown butter:
8 Tbs (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 c loosley packed sage leaves
3 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Parmesan cheese, for serving

Make the gnocchi
1. Wash the sweet potatoes, prick all over with a fork and microwave them using the baked potato button. (You could also microwave on high about 5 minutes per side) You want the sweet potatoes to be tender.
2. Cut the potatoes in half, and scoop the flesh into a large bowl. Thoroughly mash the sweet potatoes.
3. Add the ricotta, stirring until thoroughly combined. Stir in the Parmesan and salt.
4. Begin to add the flour, 1/2 c at a time until a soft, pliable dough forms. Have patience here! Sweet potatoes vary in the amount of moisture they contain, so the amount of flour you will need might vary. But, the trick is not to add too much flour, otherwise your gnocchi will be very dense. After adding about 1 1/2 c of flour I started using my hands to mix the flour in. It made it easier to mix and feel when the dough got to the “soft, pliable” point.
5. Shape the dough into a large ball.
6. Flour a baking sheet and set it aside.
7. Flour your work surface and divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Take one portion and roll it onto your work surface using your hands until it’s about 20 inches in length. Cut about 1 inch pieces to form each gnocchi and transfer them to the floured baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining 5 pieces of dough.

Cutting the little gnocchi

Cutting the little gnocchi

8. Using the tines of a fork, press each gnocchi to form little indentations.

Make the brown butter
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil while you’re making the sauce. I like to add a little olive oil to the sauce to keep the pasta from sticking. The sauce will cook in about the time it takes the water to boil.
2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally.
3. Cook until the foam subsides and it begins to turn a golden brown color (about 3 minutes)
4. Turn off the heat and add the sage leaves, cook for about 1 minute.
5. Remove the pan from the stove and stir in the balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Save to toss with the warm gnocchi.

Cook the gnocchi
1. When the water is boiling, add a portion of the gnocchi to the boiling water and stir.
2. Let the gnocchi cook until the float back up to the top, about 1 minute. Be careful not to let the gnocchi cook too long! They’ll take on water and get mushy.

Watching the gnocchi float to the top of the pot

Watching the gnocchi float to the top of the pot

3. Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon into a serving bowl. Repeat until all your gnocchi is cooked.
4. Toss with the brown butter sauce, top with Parmesan cheese and serve.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Sweet Potato Gnocchi


I was so nervous but the gnocchi turned out delicious! The texture was right and the sauce had the perfect flavors to compliment the sweet potatoes. It took me about an hour and 15 minutes to cook all of it, not counting the time I left the ricotta out to strain. I suggest a lot of patience with the dough though, take your time and don’t be afraid to add more flour to your work surface or hands to help keep the dough more manageable. Now to add a little bit of protein, I also cooked up some sweet Italian turkey sausage while I was cooking the gnocchi and mixed it in with the pasta. The savory of the sauce and sweet of the sausage worked really well together! I’m really happy that there are leftovers for lunch today!

– LG

It’s no secret that I love food so two of my favorite holidays throughout the year are Thanksgiving and Christmas due to the large amounts of really delicious food that we get to make and eat! But not only do I look forward to the meals that day, one of the best parts is all of the leftovers. I am a huge leftover fan!

Every time we have any turkey leftover, I have made it a house rule that we make one of these Turkey Rolls because they are pure deliciousness! I’ve even gone as far as recreating this meal with rotisserie chicken from the super market but nothing beats having it with leftover turkey!

Finished Turkey Roll deliciousness!

Finished Turkey Roll deliciousness!

Turkey Roll
10 oz turkey/chicken
1c cheddar cheese
2 packages crescent rolls

Dipping sauce (optional)
1c Mayo
2tbsp dijon mustard
1tbsp finely chopped onion

• Preheat oven to 375
OPTIONAL: mix mayo, mustard and onion
• Separate rolls into 16 triangles and arrange in a circle with wide ends overlapping in the center and points the outside.

Fold each triangle over the roll and tuck up underneath

Fold each triangle over the roll and tuck up underneath

• Add turkey and 3/4 cup of cheese mixed together
• Fold outside points of crescent rolls over the filling and tuck under the dough
• Bake 20-25 minutes
• Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of cheese
• Serve with mayo/mustard mixture as dipping sauce

Do you have anything special you like to do with leftover turkey? I’m always looking for great ideas!

– JM

Yesterday we got our first snowstorm of the season. I love snow, don’t get me wrong, but I really dislike the traffic that happens when it snows.  Lucky for me, I was fortunate enough to work from home while we got about 6″ of snow dumped on us. I loved watching the big fluffy snowflakes fall from the sky, and how pretty all the trees looked with the blanket of fresh snow. I felt so cozy at home that I got this urge to bake cookies, no complaints from Jason of course.

Normally I have my go-to recipe when I want cookies (oatmeal chocolate chip), but I had been holding onto a recipe we had heard about from an episode of How I Met Your Mother. Jason watches the show pretty regularly, and I just happened to be watching an episode with him, the one when “The Mother” meets Lily on the Train and uses her “sumbitch” cookies to help calm her down. They sounded so good! Who could resist, chocolate, peanut butter and caramel?

Here’s the recipe I used:

How I Met Your Mother “Sumbitch” Cookies
1 c butter softened
1 c granulated sugar
1 c packed brown sugar
1 c creamy peanut butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
bite size chocolate covered caramel candy (I used Hershey’s Kisses with caramel)

1. Beat butter, sugars and peanut butter until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla, beat until blended
2. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Add to the butter mixture, beat until blended. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes
3. Preheat over to 350°F. Shape 2 Tbs of dough around each unwrapped candy. It helps to use lightly floured hands to keep the dough from sticking. Place on an ungreased or parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Cookie dough around the Hershey Kisses

Cookie dough around the Hershey Kisses

4. Bake for 13-14 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on baking sheet for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. (Cooling for extra time on the sheet is very important! The candy is still really soft/melted so if you pick up the cookies too early, the whole thing will fall apart.)
Yields: about 4 dozen

The finished "Sumbitches!"

The finished HIMYM “Sumbitches!”

The cookies did not disappoint! I loved the combination of peanut butter and chocolate and to throw the caramel in there too added another yummy flavor. The cookies were chewy (my favorite) and the caramel stayed pretty soft too. I was worried about it hardening, but it didn’t at all. The kisses  melted into the dough really well too, but did not spread all the way though the cookie. The stayed close to the center, so don’t be surprised if that happens to you too. Jason took a few into work for taste testing, and everyone loved them! Now I’m really craving a “sumbitch” and of course they’re all on the counter at home.


Homemade Crockpot Applesauce

November 21, 2013

We’re fortunate enough to have two apple tress in the backyard, a Courtland tree and a Honey Gold tree. The first year I moved in, the trees didn’t produce any apples, so I originally thought they were too young. But after talking to the people at our local greenhouse, they said it wasn’t uncommon for young trees to have apples one year, and none the next year. They also gave us some great tips about using something to help strengthen the roots, since apple tree roots don’t grow very deep, and different sprays we could use to keep bugs away.

This year, the apple trees delivered! We had so many apples, we almost ran out of room to store them. The Courtland apples ripen first, and I was ambitious enough to make an apple pie, and we saved the rest for eating. The flavor was so delicious! Crisp and the right amount of tartness. The Honey Gold tree ripens second, usually about 2-4 weeks later, and by this time, I do not want to make another pie or even a crisp! We both love applesauce but hate how the store bought stuff has so much sugar added in, we decided to try making our own at home.

Our bounty of apples

Our bounty of apples

Our schedule has not lightened up at all recently, I think in the last 2 weeks we’ve had something going on after work every night of the week! I knew we wouldn’t have time at home to make the applesauce on the stove top so I decided to try it in the crockpot. Except for all the prep work of peeling and cutting up the apples, it was so simple!

Crockpot Applesauce
14 medium apples (I filled the crockpot very close to the top)
1 strip of lemon peel
1 tsp lemon juice
cinnamon stick
8 tsp brown sugar
2/3 c sugar

1. Peel, core and chop up the apples, add to the crockpot
2. Add sugar, lemon peel, lemon juice and cinnamon stick. I broke the cinnamon stick in half, hoping it would help increase the flavor

All the ingredients in the crock pot ready to go!

All the ingredients in the crock pot ready to go!

3. Stir all the ingredients together
4. Cook on low for 6 hours (I did this on a work day, and after the 6 hours my crockpot turned to warm and stayed on until I got home from work. The apples did not burn or start sticking to the sides which was a relief!)
5. Remove the cinnamon stick and lemon peel.
6. Mash or blend the apples to the consistency of your choice. I was able to use a potato masher to get a very smooth apple sauce, the apples fell apart perfectly.
7. Can and process as you would normally. I used a hot water bath, otherwise you could keep it in the fridge if you plan on eating it relatively quickly, or freeze it to enjoy later on.

The crockpot applesauce turned out great. The little bit of sugar was perfect to make it just a little bit sweeter, but still let the flavor of the apples come through. We were a little disappointed that we only got 3 pint sized cans though. We were both hoping for more!  I’d absolutely make homemade applesauce in a crock pot again, it was nice to throw it all together and forget it! Now we see how long we can wait before we open the first can!

Crockpot Chicken Pot Pie

October 14, 2013

Crockpot season is officially upon us!  As soon as the weather starts to turn colder and grey, I love to pull out the crockpot (or slowcooker depending on where you’re from), throw everything in the night before, have it cook all day and have dinner ready when we get home from work the next day. (Yes I know you can use them year round, but something feels wrong about using the crock pot in the middle of the summer to me.) It’s so easy and really nice to not always have to cook every night! I do feel bad for Maggie sometimes though since she has to smell the food cooking all day long, then never gets to have any.

We both love chicken pot pie, it just feels like a comfort food to me. I remember eating Marie Callender’s mini pot pies when I was growing up on cold fall and winter days, so it brings back memories of growing up in upstate New York and all the snow we got.  After searching for the perfect crock pot chicken pot pie recipe, we ended up combining elements of a few different ones. Instead of pouring the filling into a pie, we decided to make some refrigerated biscuits and serve the pot pie filling over the biscuits. I’m sure it would have been just as easy to make the pie but the biscuits were a fun twist.

Now, I get skeptical with any crock pot chicken recipe.  I have a horrible track record with the chicken turning out dry, so naturally I was nervous, but it turned out great! The chicken was not dry at all and it was the perfect warm and hearty dinner for a grey and rainy day.

Crock Pot Chicken Pot Pie
3-4 chicken breasts, chopped into bite size pieces
4-5 red potatoes, chopped into bite size pieces
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cups frozen veggies (I used 1 c of corn and 1 c of peas)
1 large (family size) can cream of chicken soup
salt and pepper to taste
2 cans refrigerated biscuits

1. Chop and dice the chicken, potatoes and onion. Place into the crock pot.

2. Add in the frozen veggies, cream of chicken soup and salt and pepper. Stir all the ingredients together so the soup evenly coats all the  ingredients.

The chicken pot pie mixture, all stirred up and ready to go!

The chicken pot pie mixture, all stirred up and ready to go!

3. Cook on low 6-8 hours, until chicken and potatoes are cooked. We cooked it on low for 8 hours and everything was done when we got home from work.

My mom bought me this crock pot as a Christmas gift last year…I have never been more excited to get kitchen gadgets as a present! It has a fantastic feature that allows you to set your cook time, and after the cook time is up, it automatically switches the heat to warm so you dish doesn’t get cold, or keep cooking.

4. When it’s time to eat, bake the biscuits according to the package directions.

5. When the biscuits are done, open them up and serve the pot pie mixture over the biscuits.

Chicken Pot Pie over Biscuits

Chicken Pot Pie over Biscuits

It tasted delicious! I loved having the flavor from the onion in there, plus the heartiness of the potatoes. The chicken was not dry at all, and it fell apart easily. There was enough pot pie filling for us to have dinner that night,  plus leftovers for at least 2 more meals.  The one thing  I would do different though is season the chicken before putting it into the crock pot. We thought the flavor was good but it could have used a little more pepper. Seasoning the chicken as well as the entire mixture might help kick up the flavor just a little bit. This recipe is definitely being saved and made again sometime this winter! Anyone have any variations on chicken pot pie that they have tried before?

The weather is slowly turning to fall, which means our garden is just about done for the year. I really enjoyed all the fresh herbs, cucumbers and tomatoes all summer long. For some reason though, our basil and cherry tomato plants  are still growing! I was pulling plants the other day and I think I picked at least 2 cups worth of cherry tomatoes! I needed to figure out something to do with all the tomatoes and basil, quickly before they spoiled sitting around our house. It was perfect timing too, we ran the Twin Cities 10k last Saturday as our race for October and I was still searching for a good pre-race meal. Well with all the basil and tomatoes, what better than homemade pesto with oven roasted tomatoes and chicken over pasta!

I’ve always loved Giada’s peso recipe. It’s fairly easy to make and really hard to mess up.
1 garlic clove
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts
Salt and black pepper
1/2 cup – 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1. Add garlic, basil, pine nuts, salt and pepper into a food processor. Pulse until everything is finely chopped.
2. While the blender is still running, slowly pour in 1/2 c of the olive oil. You want the pesto to have a thick but smooth consistency. You can always add more oil if necessary.
3. Add the Parmesan and blend until the cheese is mixed in.

I know pine nuts are expensive, so I’ve substituted walnuts and even almonds in a pinch. I couldn’t really tell any difference in taste between pesto with pine nuts and pesto with walnuts. I know the recipe calls for toasting or roasting the pine nuts, but I always forget this step! I’m sure the flavors would be different, so someday I’ll have to remember to roast whatever nuts I’m using.

Roasted Tomatoes
This could not have been easier to do, and you could use any seasoning you feel like.
As many tomatoes as you want
Olive Oil
Balsalmic Vinear
Salt and Pepper or other seasoning to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400°F
2. Chop all the tomatoes in half or bite size pieces depending on what type of tomatoes you are using. I also cut up some of the extra roma tomatoes we had sitting around.
2. Place into a large mixing bowl. Toss with olive oil, vinegar and seasonings.

Seasoning the yummy tomatoes from the garden

Seasoning the yummy tomatoes from the garden

3. Lay out onto a greased roasting pan or cookie sheet. Roast in oven for 8-12 minutes, or until the skins on the tomatoes begin to shrivel and brown.

Finished tomatoes

Finished tomatoes

While I was roasting the tomatoes and making the pesto, I boiled half a box of rotini (it was all we had left in the house for pasta choices) seasoned some chicken breast with Italian seasoning and baked it in the oven. When the pasta was done, I mixed in the pesto and topped it with the roasted tomatoes, chicken and some more parmesan cheese.

Finished dish

Finished dish

The pasta tasted amazing. All the flavors came together really well with the fresh basil, tomatoes, rosemary and oregano in the Italian seasoning. The flavors were pretty light but it was a filling dish! The whole combination must have been perfect pre-race fuel too. Both Jason and I beat our goal times and set new PRs for a 10k! It was a beautiful course, starting by the capitol building in St. Paul, past the Cathedral, down Summit Ave with all the old houses and back. The best part was finishing on a downhill, running toward the capitol building, what a beautiful view. It might have been the course that helped us PR, but the dinner couldn’t have hurt either! I think we’ll be making this again the night before a race.

After the race with our medals and the capitol building

After the race with our medals and the capitol building

No-Bake S’mores

September 19, 2013

We went camping a couple of weekends ago at Mille Lacs State Park to check camping off my list of “Things to Do in Summer 2013.” It wasn’t my first time camping, but my first time really using my new backpack. We had a 3/4 mile hike out to our campsite on a small lake, beautiful, quiet and not too far for my first time backpacking. I loved it! Packing everything in the pack was a struggle for me trying to fit everything, (note to self, I need a better sleeping bag! One that is meant for backpacking.) but we planned ahead with clothes and meals so we had the right amount of food and all our supplies fit just perfectly. Maggie came along too and got to experience her first weekend camping. Being a beagle, she LOVED all the new smells and that we went on lots of long “walks.”

Big smile from Maggie on our hike

Big smile from Maggie on our hike

I insisted that we bring stuff to make s’mores, even though we were trying to save room in our packs. I love roasting marshmallows over the campfire, trying to get them perfectly toasted. I end up burning the marshmallow most of the time though. Plus, s’mores have chocolate so they’re an automatic delicious treat in my book!

Since we don’t have a fire pit to roast s’mores at home, Jason found a recipe to satisfy my s’mores craving…no bake s’mores! Making these were so easy and quick; it took about 30 minutes total, including the time the s’mores spent in the freezer. Here’s what you’ll need:
Graham crackers
Marshmallow fluff/creme
Chocolate to melt
Sprinkles or chopped nuts to add as a topping (optional)

1. Take the graham crackers and break them into quarters.

2. Using a knife or spatula, spread about a tablespoon of the marshmallow fluff/creme onto one graham cracker. Set aside on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.

Graham Crackers and Marshmallow Fluff

Graham Crackers and Marshmallow Fluff

3. Top with another graham cracker quarter. The fluff was a little runny, so we put them in the freezer for about 10 minutes.

4. Melt your chocolate. We used about 3/4 of a bag of Toll House’s milk chocolate chocolate chips. They melted fairly quickly, and were ready when we pulled the graham crackers out of the freezer, but you could use whatever chocolate you prefer. We used our “double boiler” set up, a metal mixing bowl over a pot of boiling water.

Melting the Chocolate

Melting the Chocolate


5. Dip half to 3/4 of the graham crackers in the melted chocolate. Leave some plain graham cracker so it’s easier for people to pick them up and eat!  The bowl was deep enough that it worked out easily for us to just dip the s’more and put it right back on the cookie sheet. The trick to this step is to dip as quickly as possible. The heat from the chocolate will start to soften the marshmallow fluff, and we didn’t want it dripping into the chocolate.

Dipping the s'more!

Dipping the s’more!

6. Sprinkle your desired topping onto the chocolate. (Totally optional!) We were hosting a game night and wanted to be festive. Do this while the chocolate is still soft so the topping sticks.

Adding the sprinkles to the s'mores

Adding the sprinkles to the s’mores

7. Put the cookie sheet back into the freezer for about 10 minutes. This will help the chocolate harden and the marshmallow re-harden if it started to melt.

8. Enjoy! Everyone at game night LOVED them and by the end of the evening they were all gone. If you do have any leftovers, I would suggest storing them in the fridge, the marshmallow fluff started to run again as they sat out during the evening.
I might have to make some more of these soon to re-live our camping weekend!

Finished S'mores

Finished S’mores