paleo soft and chewy double chocolate cookies. and the cutest apron.

We’ve been celebrating World Baking Day all week over here. Strawberry Banana Coconut Muffins, a rhubarb pie (from scratch, never again) and these PaleOMG’s Soft & Chewy Double Chocolate Cookies.

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The cookies took the cake. They were good. So good.

And how cute is this little apron?

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The kid on my hip is pretty cute too.

I have a thing for aprons. I’ve amassed quite a collection–a whole drawer full of them actually. This apron–a coffee shop design (allllll the caffeine. she knows me too well)–came from my girlfriend Alexandra at Altruist Aprons. Alex is a crafting and sewing queen and an animal lover. She really, truly has the biggest heart–she gets it from her mama who is one of my favorites too.

Alexandra sews all her aprons (and pillows!) by hand, made to order. Check her out. And treat yourself to one of her sweet little creations (this blue floral vintage apron has your name all over it, don’t you think?). Oh and you can spice up your kitchen look and help fight animal cruelty at the same time. Alexandra donates $2 from each of her handmade apron sales to Animal Equality International, a non-profit organization that aims to defend all animals through public education, campaigns and investigations. So win, win.

. . .

Here’s the recipe for those PaleOMG’s Soft and Chewy Double Chocolate Cookies. Enjoy.

Ingredients
  • 1 cup thick almond butter (Make sure it’s not too oily or the cookies won’t come together. A few of our cookies kinda fell apart, this is why. They were still delish.)
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips
Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, mix almond butter and coconut sugar. Johnny was begging to use the “mixing gun”. image.jpegDon’t do it. It made a huge mess. Just use a spatula. Then add the egg and stir again until well combined.

3. Add ¼ cup of cocoa powder at a time. I used my hands to knead the cocoa powder into the dough. Add all the cocoa powder and knead completely.

4. Add baking soda, vanilla, salt and chocolate chips and knead until everything is well mixed. It’s messy, but eh. (Your dough should be a very thick. If it’s not, you need a thicker almond butter).

5. Scoop out 2 tablespoons of dough at a time and form into round balls. Place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. I had enough dough for about 14 cookies.

6. Once you’ve placed all your cookie balls onto your baking sheet, use a fork to press the cookies down just slightly.image.jpeg Don’t flatten them, just get them to look more like cookies than balls. If you press them down too much, they’ll come apart when they bake so be careful–this happened to some of mine. Again, eh.

7. Bake for 10 minutes.

8. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before removing cookies from baking sheet to place on cooling rack. If you try to remove these from the baking sheet too soon, they’ll fall apart. You were warned.

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Ours went straight from our baking sheet to our mouths. And I didn’t Maggie Hockenberry them either. I ate four, maybe five. And then I answered the door and had a long conversation with the Fed Ex man with teeth covered in double-chocolate cookies. Nice work, Hat.

TGIF…

ode to the minivan.

Full disclosure. I sell cars. I have since college. I work for Napleton’s Toyota of Urbana, formerly O’Brien Auto Park of Urbana. And they’re paying me to write this post. So read it. Share it. Click on and through the links. And if you’re in the market for a new vehicle (Toyota, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Kia, Mitsubishi, Mazda or anything pre-loved) give us a shout. We’d love to earn your business. You will help me convince my boss this kind of advertising works–the honest mom kind–and I’d love you forever for that.

Also full disclosure. I would have written this post anyway. Even if they weren’t paying me. Because I really really really love my Toyota Sienna Minivan. And I want to tell you allllll about it. 

. . .

I remember my girlfriend Carrie telling me once that she loved her minivan more than her husband.

It was before I had kids so I didn’t really *get* it. I thought maybe she’d (we’d) just had one too many glasses of wine. And we had. Or she was trying to flatter me–her favorite car salesperson. And she was.

But at that time she was a mom of two little baby girls–and she was 100% serious.

Five years and two kids later–I get it, Carrie. I feel you. Sorry Danny. Haha. I love my Swaggerwagon so hard.

. . .

I got pregnant with Dean when Johnny was just a few weeks old. I was lugging around a heavy infant seat and soon realized I’d be lugging around two heavy infant seats. I felt the need to make my life as easy as possible. So I traded in my SUV for the mother of all vehicles–literally. The minivan.

We bought our Toyota Sienna four years ago. And I love it just as much today as I did that first day we brought it home. Here are my top ten things I love about it–in no particular order.

1. Smart Key and Power Sliding Doors and Rear Lift Gate. Look ma, no hands (literally)! Unlock, lock and open the sliding doors and lift gate with the click of a button. So handy for a mom who has her hands full.

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2. It’s spacious. Mine fits eight passengers. Plenty of room for my good vibe tribe. Here’s a pic of us from a few years back–Danny, Uncle Nic, Nanny Carol, the boys and Grandpa Hat and me (in the way back). We ride around like this all the time. So. Much. Space.

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3. The back-up camera and parking assist. I can see what’s behind me. And my van beeps at me when I get too close to anything–like the side of the garage–which I hit twice with my old car that didn’t have this feature.

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4. Dual View Entertainment Center with ear phones. They can hear their show. I can hear my music. Win. Win.

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5. Sun Shades. Keeps the sun out of their eyes. So I don’t have to listen to them whine about it.

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6. Climate Control. Backseat passengers can control their own AC and heat. And the driver and front seat passenger can control their own too–perfect if one of you is cold blooded and the other is hot blooded. And now you’re singing that song.

7. Navigation with touch screen. Because one of us is always getting lost. And the other hates asking for directions. You can guess who is who.

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8. Safety Features (Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Anti-lock Brake System, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Brake Assist, Smart Stop Technology, Blind Spot Monitor, Front and Rear Parking Assist, Air Bags, Latch systems in four locations, including lower anchors and tethers on outboard secon- and third-row seats. Child Anchor Locks. Ummm…all that because of all that precious cargo. Enough said.

9. Eco Driving Indicator, MPG. Soooo, I may have a little bit of a lead foot. Or I did. Before I discovered this feature that lights up to tell me when I’m driving in a way that conserves gas and emissions. Now I drive super slow. Boom.

10. These hooks on the back of the way back seats. And the way these way back seats fold down. The hooks are great when I actually remember to bring my re-usable grocery bags to Schnuck’s–or when I don’t (they hold plastic bags too).

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Or if I clean out my closet and want to drive around for three months with three bags of clothes I need to donate to Goodwill. Please tell me you do that too. Whoops. And four bag chairs I drag around all week for Saturday morning TBall games).

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. . .

I could probably come up with 100 things I love about my minivan. Tons of cup holders, tons of nooks and crannies to hide snacks and hair bands, the hands-free Bluetooth phone, a CD player (yes, I still listen to CDs), satellite radio and USB port, how my husband looks driving it, etc.  But you get the gist.

And something else to love? Toyota is offering $1000 rebate or 0% for 60 months (to qualified buyers) this entire month of May. What’s better than free money? Nothing. Nothing is better than free money.

Thinking about a minivan? Come see us at Napleton’s Toyota of Urbana. Tell them I sent you. And get some Swagger(wagon) love in your life. You’ll thank me, I promise.

crockpot salsa chicken. for cinco de mayo.

Everyday is a good day to eat Mexican–especially today. Here’s an easy, healthy recipe for your Cinco de Mayo family dinner–or just any family dinner. ¡buen provecho!

Crockpot Salsa Chicken

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups salsa
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder

Place all the ingredients in your crockpot, cover and crank it up–8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.

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Once the chicken is cooked, shred it with two forks.

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You can dress this salsa chicken up with lettuce, tomato, onion, cilantro, lime–whatever you like. I eat mine on a bed of lettuce and Danny and the kids eat theirs wrapped in warm corn tortillas. It’s good both ways. Oh and last night my girlfriend Theresa suggested throwing a little cream cheese into the crockpot too–um, ya–that would be creamy and amazing.

Here are a few more favorites–perfect for today.

And margaritas with a big splash of prossecco are the only way to go with of these recipes. So have one (or two) of those too. Boom. Enjoy.

a little illinois marathon recap. and a little life recap.

Oh hey, Monday morning. Anyone else having their coffee from the big coffee cup today? You know the one. We all have it. Mine is big, chipped and stained–and takes the excessive microwave reheats like a champ. Praise it–that big coffee cup.

I’m not limping around too badly this morning. How are you all feeling? The Illinois Marathon weekend was a wet one, but a fun wet one! Right?! I seriously want to give a virtual high-five (and butt-slap) to every volunteer and all the emergency personnel out there on the course Friday night and Saturday. You all made it work for all us runners. You kept us going–so big thanks for that.

My Aunt Patty came from Kansas City to run the 10k with my parents, Danny and me. And we had a blast. I actually ran my best time–in the cold rain wearing a big poncho–go figure.

Here are some pics from the race weekend. Enjoy.

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^^^ just a little carbo-loading the night before the race. ^^^

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^^^ or a lot. a lot of carbo-loading the night before the race. ^^^

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^^^ me, pam, nanny carol and aunt pattoo ^^^

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^^^ looks like fun, right?! so proud of aunt pattoo! she killed it. ^^^

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^^^ took about two dozen pics like this. under my poncho while running and probably fiddle-farting with my playlist. boom, nailed it.^^^

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^^^ the worst pic ever. of the best sign ever (about prosecco tasting better after a 10k in the rain! yessss, ma’am). my girlfriend whitney nailed it. i love her so hard for cheering us on in the rain. ^^^

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^^^ post race. nailed it. ^^^

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^^^ and pancakes after. always pancakes after. ^^^

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^^^ and how sweet are these little sweet babies?! nanny pat and grandpa john kept them dry at home. ^^^

. . .

And I’ve slowed down the posts over here a bit–from three each week down to two. Between my mom job, my day job, my night job, my blog job and a crazy awesome (and crazy time-consuming) class I’m taking right now–I had to rein it in. So hang in here with me. I’ll ramp it up again this summer.

I’ll see you back here later this week with a tasty, healthy, easy dinner recipe. Happy Monday. XOXO.