Day 114: No bake cookies – why have I never made these before?


Tonight’s project is something I came across by accident on Pinterest.  I saw these Chocolate No-Bake Cookies and I thought – yum, those are my favorite cookies and I’ve never made them.  Whenever I see them on a cookie platter, I always go for them first.  I think it says a lot about me that I’ve never thought about trying to find the recipe and make them myself.  I was always just content to wait until someone else made them!

The recipe came from a site called “One More Moore”.  It’s a VERY cute blog about a young family and their adventures in eating, decorating and playing.  Kind of makes me wish I was a little cooler!    Anyway, she had the recipe for the elusive no-bake cookies that I’ve been dreaming of and had to try.  Here’s the link:

Turns out that these are very easy to make.  The only ingredient I didn’t have was, oddly enough, peanut butter.  This ended up costing me a lot because I had to send my daughter and her boyfriend to the store with my debit card to buy the peanut butter (and $50 of other stuff) because I was just too lazy to brush my hair and expose my previously mentioned white legs to the light of day.

The ingredients - the peanut butter only cost me $50!

The ingredients – the peanut butter only cost me $50!

These seriously took only about 15 minutes to make – if you don’t count the additional 5 minutes spent shooing Big Daddio away from the cookies before they cooled.  Even that only took about 20 minutes and believe me, we know because we were hovering around them waiting for them to cool enough to start eating!  They are really good, although Big Daddio said (rather rudely, I thought) that they look a little like something our Granddogs left behind in the yard!  Haha, I have to admit he has a point but they are still really good.

The cooling cookies - you can't see me holding Big Daddio back!

The cooling cookies – you can’t see me holding Big Daddio back!

That is about all I accomplished tonight.  Big Daddio watched a number of episodes of Pawn Stars and Swamp People – honestly, why can’t he have better taste and watch classy stuff like I do – things like The Kardashians and Fashion Star!   Anywho, it’s time to call it a night and see what tomorrow brings.

Day 113: Caprese Salad – It’s a great summer day

Just wanted to include this picture of the adorable "Thyme Tree" that was sent as a gift for my dad.  What a cute idea!

Just wanted to include this picture of the adorable “Thyme Tree” that was sent as a gift for my dad. What a cute idea!

Today was a beautiful summer day.  I really kind of missed spring and Memorial Day with everything that was going on with my dad, so it’s a bit of a surprise to me that it’s full-out summer already!  Of course my completely white,pasty legs haven’t done anything to tip me off.  Definitely time to get some sun!

Maybe that’s why this recipe for Caprese Salad caught my eye.  It was at a site called Sweet Remedy – An Antidote for your Appetite.  It’s full of recipes with fresh fruits and vegetables.  Here’s the link:

The Island of Capri - I didn't take this picture, but I sure wish I had.

The Island of Capri – I didn’t take this picture, but I sure wish I had.

Seeing this recipe got me thinking about what Caprese meant, so I looked it up.  Turns out it means “salad in the style of Capri”.  That got me wondering what Capri looks like,  because it definitely sounds wonderful.  So I googled some images and it really looks fabulous.  It’s an island off the southern coast of Italy and I think I really need to go there, but for now I’ll just have to settle for eating some Caprese Salad.

My Caprese Salad ready to be mixed up.

My Caprese Salad ready to be mixed up.

The recipe is simple and fresh, much like the Caprese appetizers I’ve made before with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella balls.  This also includes cucumber – I peeled mine, but when I looked at the picture on the original blog it looks like she didn’t.  I think that’s a better idea because it would give it a little more color.

I was in the process of mixing up this salad late in the evening.  My plan was to take it for lunch tomorrow, so I wouldn’t have to pay $6.00 for a meager salad in the cafeteria at work.  Imagine my surprise when Big Daddio wandered in and started showing a lot of interest in what I was making.  Normally he doesn’t like tomatoes or basil for that matter.  I didn’t even know he likes cucumbers, so I was shocked that he wanted to try some.  And even more surprised that he seemed to like it!

Caprese Salad - This will have to do until I can actually go to Capri

Caprese Salad – This will have to do until I can actually go to Capri

It certainly is easy to make and I think it would be really fun to make for a little party and put it in the nifty appetizer mini bowls I put it in tonight.  The only problem I had with it is that the balsamic vinegar turns the mozzarella balls kind of brown and they look a lot like mushrooms.  I really don’t like mushrooms, so that is kind of off-putting to me.  But it tastes good and it sure reminds me of summer, so I will add it to the “keep” list and hopefully make it for the little cocktail party I’d like to have once I get caught up a little around here.

Day 112 – Back to life, back to reality – and a Strawberry Mango Smoothie

One of the beautiful arrangements from my dad's funeral.

One of the beautiful arrangements from my dad’s funeral.

Well, I don’t know if anyone has noticed but I haven’t been blogging for the past few weeks.  Unfortunately, my father passed away last week after an extended illness.  I spent over a month going back and forth to my parent’s house and helping with my dad’s care. It was a heart-wrenching process, one that I hope to not repeat anytime soon.  We had the funeral last Friday and then spent the weekend with the whole extended family.  It was one of those “silver lining in every cloud” situations – we really ended up having a lot of good times even during such a difficult situation.  We are so grateful for all the support from our friends and family.

Anyway, I decided to go on hiatus while all of this was going on.  It was just too stressful to try to keep it up and that was never the purpose of my blog.  So, I decided to take a break and come back to Project Pinterest 365 when the time was right.  Now that I’m home again, I’ve decided to get back to work.  I’ve missed the writing and my household projects have completely stalled, so I’m excited to get started again.

Tonight’s project is pretty simple, but surprisingly hard to find.  For some reason I really wanted a good smoothie when I got home today.  I’ve been eating a lot of cake and other sweets that were sent to my mom’s house during the funeral.   Very good –  but not so good for my waistline.  Some fruit sounded like a very good idea!

Smoothie ingredients - perfect summer food

Smoothie ingredients – perfect summer food

I really spent a lot of time looking at smoothie recipes before I decided on one.  A lot of them have weird ingredients that are hard to find.  Some of them are called “Vegan” and “Gluten-free” which sound suspicious to me.  Also, I’ve decided that I don’t really like  bananas in smoothies.  They are probably healthy, but they give them a texture that’s too much like baby food for me.  Anyway, I finally found a recipe that sounded reasonable called “Strawberry Nectarine Smoothie”  at a site called Ms. Chow.  Here is the link:  Most of Ms. Chow’s recipes look pretty healthy, so I’ll have to take another look someday when I’m looking for something healthy – which isn’t every day!

You may remember an earlier recipe that I tried to make using nectarines.  I had forgotten that it’s hard to find them this time of year, so once again I had to improvise.  I decided to use a mango instead of the nectarine and I got some orange/mango juice.  When I got home, I threw everything shown above into my food processor.  I think a blender is probably the preferred appliance, but I was too lazy to get it out of the cupboard.

My smoothie - it turned out just the way I wanted!

My smoothie – it turned out just the way I wanted!

It turned out good – nice and icy, without any banana babyfood taste.  Just what I had in mind and Big Daddio was pretty happy to see a surprise snack show up while he was watching something on TV.

I’m glad to be back writing my blog.  It will be nice to get back to some normal day-to-day things.

Day 111: Back to Reality – and a little smoothie making

I don't usually "drink my calories" but I might have to make an exception in this case.

I don’t usually “drink my calories” but I might have to make an exception in this case.



I’m back home and just as I feared there is a lot of work to do around here.  I need to get this place cleaned up before the weekend because we have family coming home.  The baby will be here and my youngest daughter is moving home for the summer.  It will be fun, but there’s a lot to do to get ready.

Ingredients for a Sunrise Surprise

Ingredients for a Sunrise Surprise

Before I can even tackle the house I need to do something for work.  I’m doing a little workshop for “Bring your Child to Work Day” and am having a smoothie demonstration.  This means that I need to try a lot of different recipes and I figured I could easily roll this into a Pinterest project.  I’m really happy that I will have a little time to do some things around the house again, at least for a few days.

I found a few recipes that I thought the kids might like and headed out to get everything I need.  It takes a lot of stuff and is pretty expensive because of all the fruit that’s needed.  The checkout lady looked in my cart and said “making smoothies?”  so I guess it was pretty obvious what I was doing.

One of the random things I think about is whether people working in checkout lines have any curiosity about what people buy.  I know I would – I guess I’m just nosy!  I always think about what’s in my cart because I don’t want the clerk to think I’m buying a bunch of junk food.  Haha, they could probably care less!

I took all my supplies home and mixed up the smoothies.  Big Daddio wasn’t home yet so I had to try them myself.  Too bad, because I think he would have enjoyed this activity.

My new immersion blender!

My new immersion blender!

I pulled out my new immersion blender.  I had to get a new one because I broke my old one trying to use it to mix up cookie dough.  I think I mentioned this in my very first blog post and I finally got a new one last week.  They have lots of fun colors and I decided on apple green.  I don’t know why – I just liked it!

I made four different recipes.  Very Berry Smoothie, Sunrise Smoothie, Orange Dreamsicle Smoothie, Strawberry-Kiwi Smoothie

Here are the links to the recipes:


Smoothie making is not hard once you get started, but it is rather messy.  There’s a lot of sticky fruit and juice involved and you have to be really careful with the immersion blender.  One slip of the hand and things can go flying.  Also, be careful around the blade because I knew a woman who cut her finger REALLY bad on one of these.  There’s no guard or anything, so you have to really watch it.

The general agreement was that the Sunrise Smoothie was the best.  I guess it all depends on what you like.  The good thing about these is that you can play around with them until you come up with your own perfect recipe!

Day 110: Chicago, how I will miss you!

One of my favorite places to eat in Chicago.

One of my favorite places to eat in Chicago.

Well, it was a wonderful weekend but it’s time to go home and face my house.  It has been almost a month since I’ve done much around there and even though I hope Big Daddio is there slaving away, I’m pretty sure there’s QUITE a bit of work to do.  But we managed to squeeze in one more good meal and a little more shopping before the fun was over.

Of course today was the nicest weather we’ve seen.  Why does that always seem to happen?  We talk about that at our cottage a lot in the summer.  It never fails that the weather gets really beautiful about 4:00 on Sunday, just when it’s time for everyone to go home!  It’s kind of like that this weekend – it’s finally warm and sunny today.  But I’m not complaining – it was even warm enough to wear the new spring coat that I bought yesterday.

Grand Lux Cafe - i love this place!

Grand Lux Cafe – i love this place!

We decided to have our “last meal” at the Grand Lux on Michigan Avenue.  They have great brunch-type food and I’m just a sucker for the “over-the-top” decor.  It’s fun to see all the big groups of people eating and celebrating various occasions or just a nice meal out.  They also have fabulous desserts, but the meals are so huge that I can hardly ever eat anything else when I’m finished.

Even the ceiling is beautfiul!

Even the ceiling is beautfiul!

I’ve included a couple of pictures of the decor in the restaurant.  Honestly, I could have taken a million pictures in there, but people start looking at you strangely after awhile and my friends got tired of waiting around for me.

A beautiful spot outside of a church.

A beautiful spot outside of a church.

After our wonderful breakfast, we had to start saying our goodbyes.  It was kind of sad, but we’re already talking about next year’s trip – possibly to Vegas and we hope to pull in even more of our friends.  It will be something to look forward to and also motivation to watch my weight and stay in shape – these ladies all look fabulous!

I just loved this display at Crate & Barrel

I just loved this display at Crate & Barrel

My friend Sandy and I squeezed in a little more shopping.  We had to go back to Nordstrom and look at more shoes and baby clothes.  One thing to be aware of is that a lot of stores don’t open until noon on Michigan Avenue, so we couldn’t go to Neiman Marcus.  But Victoria’s Secret opened earlier so we made a quick stop in there.

It's always fun to see the  carriages.  I don't know how the horses do it - I can hardly drive thru the streets of Chicago!

It’s always fun to see the carriages. I don’t know how the horses do it – I can hardly drive thru the streets of Chicago!

Anyway, by then it was time to catch the train home.  We really couldn’t carry anything else anyway!  It was a wonderful weekend with good friends and I can’t wait for next year!

Day 109: Chicago shopping (and eating) spree!

So much shopping, so little time!

So much shopping, so little time!

After a good night’s sleep, we were ready to get back out on the streets again.  A couple of the ladies went out for an early morning run, but the rest of us relaxed a bit in the room and leisurely got ready for the day.  After everyone was ready, we headed over to the Corner Bakery which was conveniently right across the street.  I’ve eaten there several times in the past and the food is good and reasonably priced.  And that’s saying something for Michigan Avenue!

A good place for breakfast

A good place for breakfast

We headed down the street to get started on our shopping.  We spent quite a bit of time in Nordstorm.  There’s so much to look at – shoes, clothes, purses and baby clothes.  I think most of us walked out of there with something, although I somehow resisted all the cute baby clothes.  It’s such a great place to shop!

We spent a lot of time and money here!

We spent a lot of time and money here!

I’m not even sure of all the stores we went in, but there were lots.  It’s so much fun to shop with a bunch of friends.  At one point there were three of us were all trying on the same coat.  We figured it wouldn’t matter since we all live in different cities, but I was the only one to end of buying it.  That was my big splurge of the weekend.

There were so many photo ops that I didn't know where to start!

There were so many photo ops that I didn’t know where to start!

Of course all this shopping worked up quite an appetite.  We tried to stop at the Cheesecake factory but even at two o’clock in the afternoon there was a fifty minute wait.  But no worries, we headed across the street to the Bloomingdale’s Plaza and ate at The Oak Tree.  We got a great table by the window and enjoyed some good soups and salads, before heading out to a few more stores to finish the afternoon.

What a great way to spend the day!

What a great way to spend the day!

By the time we got back to the hotel we only had a few minutes to get dressed for dinner.  Seemed like we just finished lunch!  We went to a restaurant called Volare, which was recommended by the concierge at the hotel.  It’s only a couple blocks from the hotel and we were able to get a table on a Saturday night.  It’s really important to get a reservation.  If you try to just wander around looking for a place to eat you’ll probably end up being “hangrey”.  This is a terrible affliction resulting from a combination of hungry and angry – not a pretty picture.

This was a great place to spend a Saturday night!

This was a great place to spend a Saturday night!

Anyway, we had a great dinner.  The place was packed and the food was really good.  It’s an Italian restaurant. Really good fresh Italian food and the service was great.  I enjoyed the calamari and the red wine that our wonderful waitress helped us pick out.  The only near disaster was when a large glass of wine spilled (not me!) all over my friend’s suede coat.  There was a lot of scrambling and ladies room scrubbing, but everything turned out ok.

We had back to the hotel for one last cocktail in the Michael Jordan restaurant in the lobby of our hotel.  After that we all crashed – I think we were in a food coma!

Day 108: Back to Chicago – Fun with friends

The hotel where we stayed - I didn't actually take this picture.  My friends got tired of waiting around for me to take pictures!

The hotel where we stayed – I didn’t actually take this picture. My friends got tired of waiting around for me to take pictures!

After a quick week at home, I’m back on the road again!  I’m taking the train to Chicago to spend the weekend with a group of girlfriends. I haven’t seen some of them for a number of years.  I can’t wait for our reunion!

Since I’m taking the train, I don’t have to drive in the Friday night traffic or pay for expensive parking at the hotel all weekend.  We are lucky to have a good commuter train that I can take after work and then just walk a few blocks to the hotel.  Unfortunately I’ll be carrying my 30 pound bag, but it’s really not worth getting a cab for such a short distance.  The other option would be cutting way back on the amount of clothes I’m taking, but you know that’s not going to happen!

The outside of the hotel - it's really an historic building

The outside of the hotel – it’s really an historic building

We are staying at the beautiful Intercontinental hotel on North Michigan Avenue.  It’s a great location because of the proximity to the train station.  It’s across the street from the Nordstrom Plaza, where we plan to spend a lot of time.  It’s just across the river so it’s easy to go south to the theatre district if we want to.  Here’s the link if you’d like to get more information about the hotel:

To be honest we didn’t really spend much time in the hotel, but our rooms were very comfortable and the lobby was beautiful.  Apparently there’s a nice pool, but we were too busy eating and shopping to ever make it there.

Night view of Bandera

Night view of Bandera

For our first meal of the weekend (believe me, there were many others) we chose a restaurant called Bandara.  Here’s a link with some information, although I didn’t see an actual website for the restaurant.  They make a great rotisserie chicken that you can either get in a fabulous salad (Macho Salad) or as an entree.  We also had a wonderful grilled artichoke and really good cornbread.  The enchiladas looked great – in fact everything was good.  The restaurant is on the second floor of a building overlooking Michigan Avenue.  We were lucky enough to get a corner table by the window.  They probably figured they should put the table of five yacking women in the back!

A picture of the chickens "rotissering"

A picture of the chickens “rotissering”

Anyway, after a great dinner we made our way back to the hotel.  Amazingly, we stopped talking long enough to get some sleep and rest up for the next big day of shopping and eating!

Day 107 : White Bean Dip with Pesto – yes, this IS what we’re having for dinner!

This dip makes a nice little no-meat dinner.

This dip makes a nice little no-meat dinner.

For tonight’s project I decided we needed something healthy.  There’s been a little too much eating out and eating pizza for me to make any progress on my diet.  Fortunately, we just started a new healthy initiative at work this week so maybe that will finally get me motivated.  I wish they’d make me weigh in each week in front of the whole department.  I have a feeling that would keep me away from the junk food.  Can you even image what that would be like?  Well, I guess it would be like being on The Biggest Loser, except a lot worse.

This reminds me of another great idea I came up with the other day.  I was talking to Big Daddio about a bad day I had coming up at work that I just wished I could completely skip and come out on the other side on the next day!  And then I started thinking – what if every person started life with a handful of “skip” days.  Anytime you just didn’t want to go thru that day you could use one of your skips.  But you would only have a few – maybe four or five for your whole life.   I started thinking about how hard it would be to decide when to use your days.  How would it change your life?  Anyway, just a weird thing that popped into my mind.

Anywho, back to the bean dip.  I found this recipe on a blog that I really like called A House in the Hills.  She has a lot of great stuff and one of the things I like best are her portraits of dogs in costumes.  Hilarious and all for an animal aid charity.   Take a look – all you dog lovers will enjoy it.  Here’s the link for the bean dip recipe:

Only a few ingredients and my favorite - GARLIC

Only a few ingredients and my favorite – GARLIC

I loved this recipe for several reasons:

1)  Only 6 ingredients

2) Everything goes in the food processor as is – no chopping, no prepping, no other pans or bowls

3) It tastes and looks excellent – foolproof

4) It has garlic

4) I kept thinking about those dog in the costumes while I was cooking.  They made me laugh!

It all goes right in the food processor

It all goes right in the food processor

Once it was all mixed up, I put the dip in some cute little bowls.  I topped it with some pesto and olive oil and then put it on a plate with some crackers and fruit.  After a little photo session, I took it in to Big Daddio.  By now you know him well enough to know that he was not going to eat White Bean Dip with Pesto and fruit for dinner without putting up a fight.  A couple of comments I heard were – “Is this what we’re having for dinner?”  and “This looks a little fancy”.  I gave him a look – you know, THE look – and he just quietly ate his dinner.

Yes, this is what we're having for dinner!

Yes, this is what we’re having for dinner!

We actually both liked it a lot.  I think it would make a great appetizer for a party.  If I ever get time to have a party again!

And that’s the story of our White Bean Dip Dinner.

Day 106: Thrifty Gifty – my brother is Fifty!

Birthday present ready for mailing - check!

Birthday present ready for mailing – check!

Tonight I’m still working on the gift for my brother’s birthday.  Fortunately I bought the actual gift last weekend while I was in Chicago.  Now all I need to do is wrap it up and make a card.  Naturally I decided to make a Pinterest project now that I know all about free downloads.

I found a pin for a card that I liked at a site called Greetings Island.  They had lots of cute cards that you can just download and print for free.  Here’s the link for the card I chose:  The card was really easy to print.  You can personalize the inside if you want or just print it out and write your own message.  Since I bought a pack of multi-colored card stock, all I had to do was pick a color I liked and stick it in the printer.  Voila – free card without having to go to the store.

I'm always surprised at how easy it is to make a professional looking card!

I’m always surprised at how easy it is to make a professional looking card!

Once I printed it out, I decided it needed a little embellishment so I pulled out my great mini-bow trick that I learned a few weeks ago.  It’s so easy and cute.  I hope my brother appreciates the cuteness!  If I was really crafty I bet I could make some really amazing cards, but I was pretty impressed with my finished product.  Here’s the link to the tiny bow site:

Once the card was made I just had to scrounge thru my stash of crafty wrapping paper supplies to find something kind of many  – I have quite a lot of pink stuff that would have hardly been appropriate.  I found some blue stripe paper with a matching ribbon.  It looked fairly masculine and turned out quite nice (if I do say so myself!).

I couldn't get a great picture of my beautiful package.

I couldn’t get a great picture of my beautiful package.

That’s about it for tonight.  I had fun making this project and I hope my brother has a great birthday.  Also hope he doesn’t mind me mentioning his age!

Day 105: Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

Very pretty, don't you think? I used a serving dish my daughter gave me - one of my favorites.

Very pretty, don’t you think? I used a serving dish my daughter gave me – one of my favorites.

Well, I’ve really gotten behind this time.  I’ve just haven’t been able to sit down and write my blog due to traveling, working (new job) and trying to finish my taxes.  My apologies to anyone who has been desperately waiting for a new post (haha) but I’ll try once again to get caught up.

Today’s project is related to my brother’s birthday.  It’s hard to believe that my “baby brother” is turning 50 this weekend!  Hmmm, I hate to think about what that says about me.  Anyway, I wanted to send him a little something and by now you realize that pretty much everything I do involves a Pinterest project.  I found a very good sounding recipe called Peanut Butter Cup Brownies from “The First Year Blog”.  I’ve visited this blog before and there are some great ideas.  Here is the link:

I love brownies and I love peanut butter.  In fact, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are my favorite candy.  So this recipe was a no-brainer.  Even better, I had all the ingredients at home so no trip to the store.  Yeah – sign me up!

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies - Only a few ingredients

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies – Only a few ingredients

This was pretty easy.  I mixed up a box of brownies that I had in the cupboard.  Big Daddio bought them – you can tell because he always buys the kind with nuts and I never do.  He regularly complains when I make brownies with no nuts.  Anyway, I didn’t think it would make any difference so I mixed them up and put them in my nifty mini-muffin pan.  It made 1 1/2 pans of brownies.  As you can see from the picture, I didn’t use paper muffin cups.  I just sprayed the little compartments really well with Pam.

This whole project made me think about a couple of products that I regularly use.  I don’t know if people still go to Pampered Chef parties, but when my kids were little we all had parties.  We were just happy to get out of the house and have a glass a wine while our husbands watched the kids.  I bought a couple of things that I use quite a bit.  One is my mini-muffin pan that you can see in the picture above and the other is the “peanut butter measurer” shown below.

The "Peanut Butter Measurer" .  You need one of these.

The “Peanut Butter Measurer” . You need one of these.

No – it’s not really called a peanut butter measurer.  It’s actually called a Metric WonderCup, but I almost always use it to measure either peanut butter or shortening.  It is very handy for this procedure.  You just push the bottom up and the sticky stuff pops right out.  I have two sizes and I really love them.  If you don’t have one, check around.  Maybe one of your friends is having a Pampered Chef party.

Once the brownies are done, you just need to melt the peanut butter in the microwave for a few seconds and then fill the little divets in the top with a little.  I had to actually push the top of a spoon in the top to make the indentation.  I topped them with some chocolate chips.  I didn’t have any peanut butter chips, so I wouldn’t rush out and buy them but they probably would be good.

Yum  - these are good!

Yum – these are good!

These were good right out of the oven, but they were better the next morning after being in the refrigerator.  I think they are really cute, easy and taste great.  I will definitely be making these again!  Hope my brother likes peanut butter. I also hope I can get them in the mail before Big Daddio eats them all!