Move Over, Cinnamon

Cinnamon may be my favorite spice. I adore everything about it, from the taste of the spice to the smell of it. I even love the soft brown color.

Within the past year I’ve become quite friendly with another spice… Perhaps the only other spice that holds a candle to cinnamon in my book: Nutmeg.

Today my breakfast included both spices in a battle over which spice was more delicious.

Cinnamon made an appearance first in the form of Van’s cinnamon French toast sticks.

This was my first time trying these French toast sticks, and let me just say a beautiful new relationship has blossomed.

Lovers and Friends

Van's Cinnamon French Toast Sticks

Cinnamon came back for more before nutmeg even got in on the goods.

I mixed several shakes of cinnamon into two large dollops of ricotta cheese, along with a squirt of honey.

I placed the cinnamon-ricotta-honey mixture on top of the French toast sticks before adding a freshly sliced pear to the mix.

Then, it was nutmeg’s turn to make an appearance.

I sprinkled copious amounts of nutmeg over the entire dish for a punch of flavor.

Cinnamon vs. Nutmeg

Pear and Ricotta Topped Cinnamon French Toast

Monday Morning Breakfast

Oh how I wish I had syrup for on top of this bad boy! Unfortunately we used it all up on Saturday morning. 😦

Still, syrup or no syrup, this breakfast kicked major boo-tay.

Though cinnamon was prominently featured throughout the dish, and tasted fantastic, the nutmeg really stole the show. It upped the flavor of this breakfast and made it look a little prettier, too. 😉

Workout

Pre-breakfast, Ryan and I hit the gym for an early morning workout. While Ryan went off to kick his own butt in the weight room, I stuck to the cardio machines and pounded out a sweaty workout that looked like this:

  • 20 minutes stair master
  • 20 minute treadmill blast
  • 10 minutes elliptical

My 20 minutes on the treadmill was spent alternating running with super-fast walking. Here’s the breakdown:

20 Minute Treadmill Blast

The hardest part of my time on the treadmill was the last 5 minutes. I was haulin’ hiney at a pretty decent incline. It was tough!

Save the Dates

Wedding news!!!!!!!! Last night Ryan and I brainstormed a bit about our save the dates. We selected a do-it-yourself project and placed an order for a whole bunch of paper and stamps which should arrive within the next couple days.

I can’t wait to get started!

Tonight we’re going to attempt to get to know the self timer on my camera really well as we try to snap a picture of us to include on the save the date cards. We want it to look classy, romantic and loving without looking super cheesy. Should be interesting!

Question of the Day

Did you make your own save the dates or purchase them from a professional? If you are not married, are you planning on making your own save the dates?

I love being crafty and figured making our own save the dates would be a fun way to show our personalities and save some money at the same time.

Cinnamon Apple Ricotta Rollup

Warm apples with cinnamon must be one of the best comfort food combos out there.

This morning I incorporated apples, cinnamon and ricotta cheese into a delicious roll up.

I started by preparing a whole wheat tortilla French toast-style and dipped it in a mixture of one egg with cinnamon before cooking it on the griddle.

French Toast Tortilla

I then added more cinnamon to about a quarter of a cup of Sorrento ricotta cheese to use as filling in the roll up.

Sorrento Ricotta Cheese

After microwaving half of an apple (the other half went directly into my mouth), I placed the warm apple slices on top of the French toast tortilla to complete the roll up.

Cinnamon Apple Ricotta Roll Up

I enjoyed my roll up with a hot mug of sugar cookie sleigh ride tea. So good!

Wednesday's Breakfast

Of course I actually rolled this up to eat it, but those pictures weren’t very attractive. You guys are a smart bunch though and I’m sure you can picture it. 🙂

Workout

It’s chilly outside today!!! I was half hoping to skip my usual cardio after BodyPump today to take Sadie on an extra long walk, but the cold temperatures nixed that idea!

Instead I stuck with my typical Wednesday BodyPump class, followed by 25 minutes of light cardio on the elliptical while reading Orlando Magazine. I love local magazines because they always have a great list of upcoming events in the area. I saw quite a few that caught my eye!

Attune Bar Giveaway Winner

Using Random.org’s random integer generator, Katie is the winner of the Attune chocolate probiotic wellness bar giveaway!

Katie said, “Almond milk chocolate, definitely. Hershey’s with almonds is my favorite candy bar so maybe this would be a healthier replacement?!

Congrats Katie! Please email me (pbfingers@gmail.com) with your mailing address to receive your 14 day supply of these delicious bars.

Ask Me Anything

I’ll be posting my answers to your final Ask Me Anything questions later today. If you have something you’d like to ask, please click here to submit an anonymous question before noon today. Thank yooou! 🙂

Last Laugh

Cute

Cute x2

Second Place Dress

This morning I took a little extra time to make myself a weekend breakfast on a weekday!

Certain meals I typically save for weekends because they take longer to prepare, but today I was craving my ricotta stuffed French toast from Saturday morning and had to give my body what it wanted.

I dunked a whole wheat sandwich thin into two egg whites mixed with cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice and placed the two bread slices on the griddle to cook.

Spices

Sadie devoured the egg yolks and was a happy camper.

Toasty

While the French toast was cooking, I stirred cinnamon into ricotta cheese and spread the mixture on one half of the sandwich thin when it was done cooking.

Cinnamon Ricotta Filling

I then placed the other sandwich thin on top of the ricotta mixture and doused the stuffed French toast in syrup.

Smothered in Syrup

Sliced Up

This breakfast was oh-so-good! Sometimes the extra effort is sooo worth it!

Workout

My workout today was nothin’ special, but still good. I took my typical 5:45 a.m. BodyPump class and followed it up with 25 minutes on the elliptical with the lastest issue of Fitness magazine.

The issue featured two different half marathon training plans, one for beginners and one for intermediate/advanced athletes. I flagged these plans to reference when I begin training for the Chicago half marathon in June. I really like the simplicity of these plans… That’s also what I liked best about the Hal Higdon training plan I followed when I ran my first half. It’s like a “Running a Half Marathon for Dummies” plan. 😀

Bridesmaid Dresses

Thank you to all of you for your comments on my post about the three bridesmaid dresses I like. So far, my bridesmaids seem to like the third one the best, with the exception of my sister (who will also be my maid of honor) who really likes the first one (that one is actually my favorite, too). I may look into having my sister wear the first one and the other girls in the third one if I like the way they look in person. We’ll see!

I loved all the different points you guys brought up to consider as well:

  • Spaghetti straps are often not flattering on certain body types
  • Printed patterns may look strange in pictures (My dresses will be all one color: champagne)
  • Everyone in the same dress is less distracting in pictures
  • Choosing multiples dress styles in the same color allows bridesmaids to feel more confident in the dress they select

It’ll be a fun decision!

Second Place Dress

When I previously went dress shopping, I told you guys that I was between two wedding dresses: one simple, classic dress, and one dress with more of a “WOW” factor. Well, I went with the romantic and classic dress, so I figured I could share pictures of the BIG dress with you now.

This is not the dress I selected, but I absolutely love it. I didn’t like the color though and would have ordered it in ivory, not the coffee color it’s pictured in below. This dress is a Justin Alexander gown which I would have ordered in this color.

The dress I actually picked is pretty much the exact opposite of this dress. It’s so weird how my top two dresses were so different!

Second Place Dress

The Back (Clamped In!)

Justin Alexander Dress

Bodice

Do you like simple wedding dresses or dresses with a big WOW-factor?

I honestly love both types of dresses! I think I am more of a simple person though and ultimately felt more comfortable in a more simple dress. 🙂

Autumn Lunch

I’m glad to know that pumpkin still holds a place in many of your hearts. For those of you sick of pumpkin at the moment, please forgive the following post.

I opened up a can of pumpkin for my breakfast this morning and used the orange goodness in my lunch today as well. Double pumpkin post!

Pumpkin Apple Yogurt Bowl

My lunch was more like a breakfast. I usually like savory foods around lunchtime, but big bowl of pumpkin yogurt sounded great to me today.

I made my pumpkin yogurt bowl with a cup of Chobani Greek yogurt, pumpkin, sweetener and cinnamon. I added a crisp apple, another autumn favorite, to the mix and stirred everything together.

Autumn Lunch

The changing seasons often make me crave different foods, but I can’t neglect my favorite foods throughout the year. 🙂

What is your favorite season for yummy food?

I think my choice will be a popular one: I love summer! Fresh fruit galore!

French Toast Strips and Christmas Shopping

This morning I awoke to the sound of rain on the roof. I curled up and went back to sleep for another hour or so since there’s no cozier sound than rain against the window. Ahhh, I love the weekends!

Once I got out of bed, Ryan and I leashed up Sadie for a chilly walk in dreary Orlando. It actually felt like winter! Brrr. Our chilly walk prompted cravings for a warm breakfast. Cinnamon sounded tasty and I wanted to try to make French toast strips out of Joseph’s lavash bread.

French Toast Strips

I used egg whites and lots of cinnamon to dip the lavash strips in before placing them on the griddle. They smelled and tasted phenomenal. Of course I topped them with yummy syrup.

Yum, Yum

After breakfast, Ryan and I headed out to put a dent in our Christmas shopping. We arrived 20 minutes before the stores opened (we figured they’d be open by 9 a.m. – not so!) and wasted time wondering around the shops.

Since it was cold outside we stopped by Starbucks for some hot beverages. I ordered a skinny caramel latte.

Hot and Delish

After Starbucks we wandered into Le Gourmet Chef where I think I ate my lunch in free samples! Yikes! They had so many different foods and dips to try and I couldn’t resist any of them. I even took several handfuls of animal crackers to enjoy while I browsed.

I loved just about every thing I saw in J. Crew, including these pj pants:

J. Crew PJ Pants

Every year on Christmas Eve, my family gets new pajamas. I love this tradition because going to sleep in my new Christmas pj’s makes me feel extra festive. Plus, it’s fun to have something to open before all the Christmas madness begins in the morning. 😀 Needless to say, I always take extra time looking at holiday pajamas in the stores.

After stopping in several more stores, Ryan and I headed toward the car.  I dropped Ryan off at home before heading out to a shopping center near our apartment for a little more shopping. My shopping stamina exceeds his by just a little. 😉

We bought some (hopefully great) gifts for our loved ones.

Shopping Success

On my way back from my second round of shopping I got a call from Ryan with a special request: the new eggnog milkshake from McDonald’s. Since neither of us have ever tried it before, I swung by the ol’ McD’s and picked up a small shake.

What’s your favorite kind of milkshake?

Eggnog Shake

This seasonal shake was g-o-o-d! I think eggnog is very tasty and this shake replicated the flavor really well. YUM.

Hope you’re all enjoying the weekend so far!

A Very Autumn Meal: Apple Acorn Squash

Acorn squash!

Acorn Squash

Acorn Squash

After purchasing this lil’ guy at the grocery store at the beginning of October, he was relegated to the “produce basket” for several weeks.

Fruits and Veggies

Fruits and Veggies

I didn’t want to disturb him because he added such a nice touch of fall flare to the mix. (Looks like it’s time to use those bananers, huh?)

Alas, D-Day for the squash arrived last night.

Ahhhh

Ahhhh

I’ve never prepared an acorn squash and I didn’t even realize they were used for anything other than autumn decoration until this year! I turned to my favorite resource (Google) to figure out how to prepare the squash.

First, as instructed by the MayoClinic’s Web site, I pierced the squash all over with a knife to allow steam to escape when I microwaved it on high for five minutes (turning at three minutes).

This made it suuuuper easy to cut into the acorn squash, unlike any experience I’ve had cutting into it’s spaghetti or butternut brothers.

Once the acorn squash was halved, I removed the seeds.

Lots o' Seeds

Lots o' Seeds

I Don't See Any Seeds

No Mo' Seeds

Because I didn’t just want to eat plain squash for dinner, I turned to autumn’s  favorite fruit to fill the squash – the apple.

Ambrosia Apple

Ambrosia Apple

I sliced the apple with my handy-dandy apple slicer before cutting it into chunks and topping it with brown sugar.

Apple Slices

Apple Slices

Chunk-a-Chunk of Apple

Chunk-a-Chunk of Apple

Because Apples Apparently Aren't Sweet Enough...

Because Apples Apparently Aren't Sweet Enough...

I distributed the apple mixture between the two halves of acorn squash.

Apple Acorn Squash

Apple Acorn Squash

I placed the apple-stuffed squash back in the microwave for another three minutes until the apples were warm, but still slightly crisp.

When the squash was done, I plated one half and smooshed it out, topping the squash with lots of cinnamon.

Cinnamon Apple Acorn Squash

Cinnamon Apple Acorn Squash

It was delicious!

About halfway through my squash, Ryan casually mentioned he thought it would taste good with syrup, so I added light syrup to the mix and WOW. My fiance is an acorn squash genius.

For lunch today, you can bet I smothered my leftovers with syrup!

Leftover Lunch

Leftover Lunch

This dinner and lunch was yummy and I’m excited to make it again, adding even more fun additions.

Possible recipe additions:

  • Pecans
  • Honey
  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Peach Slices
  • Pear Slices
  • Craisins or Raisins

All in all, this was a tasty (and festive) meal!

Streusel Topped Pumpkin Loaf

Tomorrow night Ryan and I are heading out to an annual pumpkin-carving hoopla at our friends’ apartment.

Pumpkin carving for our twosome is the same every year… Ryan cuts into the pumpkin and removes the seeds (which we save and I later bake) and I carve the face! Here’s a picture of one of our previous creations:

Me, Ryan and Pumpkie

Me, Ryan and Pumpkie

Since the wonderful hostess Merri has promised homemade chili at the event this year, I wanted to bring something festive and tasty to share.

After browsing the internet for pumpkin-inspired breads, desserts, cheesecakes and more, I stumbled upon a recipe for Crumble Top Pumpkin Muffins and knew I had a winner.

Crumble Top Pumpkin Muffins

Crumble Top Pumpkin Muffins

As if the crumbly streusel topping wasn’t reason enough to make these muffins, I have a box of Bisquick Heart Smart baking mix chillin’ in the pantry dying to be used in a delicious recipe. I think I found a winner!

Though the recipe calls for muffins, I decided to make a pumpkin loaf because I figured it would remain fresher than individual muffins might since we won’t be enjoying the loaf until tomorrow night.

Here are all the goodies required to make this bad boy:

Pumpkin Loaf Ingredients

Pumpkin Loaf Ingredients

Following the recipe (which I cut in half), I combined the Bisquick Heart Smart baking mix, oats, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl. (I omitted the raisins because I didn’t have any on hand.)

Dry Mix

Dry Mix

In a separate bowl, I combined the pumpkin pie mix and egg before stirring it into the oat mixture.

Pumpkin and Egg

Pumpkin and Egg

Talk about easy-peasy! The loaf was nearly complete and I poured the batter into a lovely lil’ disposable loaf pan, so we may leave any remains with our wonderful hosts.

Lots of Batter

Lots of Batter

You Know I Licked That Bowl CLEAN

You Know I Licked That Bowl CLEAN

Yummy Batter

Yummy Batter

To create the streusel topping, I combined flour, sugar and cinnamon before slicing in the butter to make the mixture crumbly.

Streusel Topping, Pre-Crumbled

Streusel Topping, Pre-Crumbled

Crumbly Streusel

Crumbly Streusel

After topping the loaf with the streusel, I let it bake for approximately 35 minutes.

Pre-Cooked Pumpkin Loaf

Pre-Cooked Pumpkin Loaf

The aroma was unbelievable. We could hardly resist having a slice when I pulled it out of the oven.

Done!

Done!

Since we’re saving it for tomorrow, I cannot speak on how it tastes, but if the batter and smell are any indication, I think we’ll be swapping Halloween high-fives! 🙂

Festive Fall Loaf

Festive Fall Loaf

Crumble Top Pumpkin Muffins Recipe

Ingredients
  • 4 cups all-purpose baking mix
  • 1 cup raisins, (optional)
  • 2/3 cup quick or old-fashioned oats
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 can (30 oz.) pumpkin pie mix
  • 2 large eggs
  • Streusel topping (recipe follows)

Directions

PREHEAT oven to 400° F. Paper-line or grease 24 muffin cups.

COMBINE baking mix, raisins, oats, sugar and cinnamon in large bowl. Combine pumpkin pie mix and eggs in medium bowl; mix well. Stir into oat mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling 3/4 full. Sprinkle with Streusel Topping.

BAKE for 14 to 16 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pans to wire rack; cool slightly. Serve warm.

Streusel Topping

COMBINE 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon in small bowl. Cut in 2 tablespoons butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture is crumbly.

Makes 24 muffins with 180 calories each.