Caramel Apple Squares + How I Got Habanera In My Head

Caramel Apple Bars (via my baking addiction)

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped apple
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch pan. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, mix together melted butter, brown sugar, and 1 cup of white sugar with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture until just combined, then stir in the apples and walnuts.
3. Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. In a cup or small bowl, stir together the remaining cinnamon and sugar; sprinkle over the top of the bars.
4. Bake for 30-35 minutes in preheated oven; finished bars should spring back when lightly touched. Cool in the pan, and cut into squares.
5. After these cooled I drizzled them with melted Kraft Caramel Bits! Enjoy!

I promise you that my husband could live on three foods: apple crisp, chocolate chip cookies, and pizza! Tonight he wanted pizza and apple crisp, but I was able to persuade him to try them with a twist. I get bored of cooking the same things all the time! Kevin is always very suspicious of twists on his favorite foods, but they usually win him over. He admitted that he enjoyed these, that they were “amazing”, and “right up there with apple crisp.” And I quote: “I can’t take apple crisp off its pedestal.” Nerd.

While I was out on my sweet but snowy 7 miler, Kevin seriously depleted our Diet Coke supply. And the cold weather was a good excuse for a Skinny Vanilla Latte. He also finished of all the Reese’s Pieces Cookies! There about 20, I just made them yesterday, and I didn’t eat any!!!

And yeah, my husband is wearing North Face. I think he looks hott in that fleece, or trust me, it would’ve gotten shrunk in the drier by now. ;)

We also picked up some dinner and baking supplies to keep me busy in the kitchen while Kevin slaved away on his homework. I am an infamously slow walker. I have no idea why because that’s totally not my personality, and I’m not really a rose-smeller. I just kind of meander along, especially in trips from the parking garage to our apartment. This literally may be the one thing that Kevin is faster at than me so he likes to rub it in.

My husband was apparently in the mood to antagonize me today! He’s probably just bored silly from all the homework so he has to find a girl to torture. I know these things. I’m deathly afraid of the Pillsbury poppy tubes. I always make someone else open them. I hate that little pop! It’s like popping a balloon. Yuck! Kevin thought it would be cool to put me in a headlock and do it in front of my face. But I wriggled out of his grasp!

I immediately set to work on dinner & dessert. As you can see my bloody toe is now properly bandaged.

I spotted this cheese in the grocery store and knew we’d love it our little pizza. Ever since I can’t stop annoyingly humming Carmen’s Habanera. (Here’s an adorable video of a little girl playing a transcription for piano!) I’m probably going to have to listen to it 20+ times before I get it out of my head!

I got lazy with dinner. I had something totally cute in mind, but I started complaining aloud to myself that I didn’t want to make it. So Kevin James got his way with the pizza. We used the cheater Pillsbury crust and topped it with turkey pepperonis, green peppers, and the habanero cheese. My side had pineapple tidbits. It still breaks my heart that Kevin doesn’t like pineapple on pizza. I think he just can’t get over mixing things that are sweet & savory. I’ll trick him into it slowly, don’t worry. He barely even knows how to open the refrigerator after three short months of marriage! The only reason he remembers is because he has to get out the milk for our cereal in the morning because my eyes aren’t opened yet!

Favorite Starbucks drink? I’ve been totally won over by the Skinny Vanilla Latte. Otherwise it’s just a black coffee as bold as possible. I always just drink coffee at home. Yes, I’m continuing to brag about that. I’m just so proud that I trained myself to drink coffee black!! Kevin doesn’t really like anything, but he sometimes drinks my same drink. Copycat. Today he ordered a Tall, and I got his leftovers!

Slow walker or fast walker? I basically only walk quickly when I’m shopping. Clothes shopping. Not grocery shopping. I have a super slow supermercado walk!

Any ideas for entertaining me on a road trip? I am nervous about our drive to Minnesota next weekend. I like to read in cars, but I get restless unless I’m really hooked. I want to stop every hour and run a mile. That sounds fun, right?

Cloudy, Breezy, Peaches, & Cream

Oh. Perfect. Pristine. Running weather! Super breezy & cloudy. I think the wind actually slowed our pace, but it was fun to run in.

Perfect shirt, right? Ayiyi! My hair was even swinging in the wind! We covered 3.69 miles @ a 9 min/mile pace. I also ran 3.4 this morning. I just don’t want you to think I’m letting my mileage slip. :)

We jogged on over to our new neighborhood. This little park is practically in our backyard and will be a great place to run our dogs.

Here’s proof that Kevin helps in the kitchen occasionally! We decided to have a little flatout pizza buffet while we watched The Biggest Loser. It’s very important to have good food while watching BL!

Toppings included: spinach, feta, salsa, bbq sauce, mozzarella, pineapple, crumbled black bean burgers, shredded chicken, and jalapeños! I love that all the toppings are just leftovers from other meals this week!

Tonight I realized (duh) that my post-workout headaches are probably due to dehydration. I just drank 3 glasses of water before dessert. I need to remember to stay on top of that!!!

I was inspired by Cooking Light’s recipe for Peach Crisp, but I didn’t have granola on hand. Instead, I made a little mixture with flour, oats, sugar, and butter. Not super healthy, but delicious! Topped with a little low-fat Cool Whip! This was like the lazy version of a cobbler since I didn’t have to peel & dice up the fruit. I loved it!

The juicy insides!

Today’s been a great day. I love ya. Good night!

But let me leave you with a fascinating article: A Little Deception Helps Push Athletes to the Limit.

Basically some cyclists were challenged to perform with the highest intensity possible and their best times were recorded.

Then Dr. Thompson asked the cyclists to race against an avatar, a figure of a cyclist on a computer screen in front them. Each rider was shown two avatars. One was himself, moving along a virtual course at the rate he was actually pedaling the stationary bicycle. The other figure was moving at the pace of the cyclist’s own best effort — or so the cyclists were told.

They’re competitive! Of course they kept pace with their little avatar!

But athletes themselves have long insisted that mental factors are paramount. Roger Bannister, the first runner to break the four-minute mile, once said: “It is the brain, not the heart or lungs that is the critical organ. It’s the brain.

I love it. :)

Summer Peach Cobbler Dessert Pizza + Couch Potatoes

I’ve been inspired ever since I we went to Sazza to create some kind of peach dessert pizza at home. I started out with my fruit pizza crust recipe from this summer.


The crust was going to be a little thick for my dessert pizza so I used the leftover dough to make 2 3 cookies. Kevin was late getting home from work so I needed a little snack. ;)

“Sauce”: 4 oz reduced fat cream cheese + mas o menos 1/2 cup of powdered sugar

Peach topping: I peeled and sliced 2 fresh peaches and cooked them on the stovetop with brown sugar and a little water.

Struesel topping:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened

Yeah. We ate it all already. Every. Last. Luscious. Bite. I think peach is my favorite flavor of fruity desserts!

Guess what? Kevin and I totally skipped the track workout we had slated for tonight. Kevin had a really short  lunch and has been getting home late in the evenings. We just needed a little QT to chat & catch up. It was so sweet & wonderful. Although right now we are watching THE BIGGEST LOSER, and it totally makes me want to hit the gym. I am so jealous of their gym!!! I want their gym.

Kevin is lucky I let him watch since Anna K. is a trainer this year, and he admitted that he thought she was hot when he was in high school. Guess what? We have both teared up already. It’s an emotional show!! I had never seen the show before last season, and I always wondered how they made a tv show about losing weight. Haha. It’s surprisingly dramatic.

Happy couch time!! We’re thinking about making BL night our couch potato night. Hilarious, right? We had fun trying to guess their weights, but no guesses on the winner (biggest loser) yet. I MISS JILL!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you could be on any tv show what would it be? BIGGEST LOSER!!! Unfortunately, I’d have to gain 85 pounds. Boo!!

What’s your favorite fruity dessert flavor? Peach. Blackberry would be a close second (I need one of Kelly’s birthday cupcakes).

Who would you choose to be your trainer: Bob, Anna, or Dolvett? I’d either choose Bob or Dolvett. Anna has a cute accent, but it’s hard to take her seriously. She seems like she would be an awesome kindergarten teacher, but maybe she’ll prove me wrong.

Light White Chocolate Gingersnap Mini Cheesecakes

The whole McMillin clan is coming over tonight! It’s the first time since Christmas so we’re really excited. Luke & Erin’s flight to our wedding was tragically cancelled and impossibly delayed so they’re making this visit to make it up to us! I couldn’t resist making a little something for our little shindig. I’m tired out of cakes & cookies so I was loving the idea of cheesecake! The modifications on these babies were inspired by last week’s Cookie Friday : Soft Gingersnaps with White Chocolate Chunks. The original recipe called for Nilla wafers, but I knew gingersnaps would be tasty with the white chocolate cheesecake flavor!

(Adapted from Fitness magazine)


Boxed gingersnap cookes (or vanilla wafers)

8 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, softened

4 oz. fat free cream cheese, softened

3 ounces white chocolate baking squares, melted and cooled

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup fat-free milk

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 egg white, lightly beaten


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with twelve
2-1/2-inch foil or paper baking cups. Place one cookie on the
bottom of each cup. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheeses with an electric mixer on
medium speed 30 seconds. Beat in white chocolate, sugar, milk, and
vanilla until well combined. Stir in egg white. Spoon mixture into
muffin cups until each is about three-quarters full.

3. Bake about 20 minutes or until set, then set pan on a wire rack to
cool 10 minutes. Remove cheesecakes from pan; cool on wire rack 1
hour. Cover and chill 3 to 24 hours.

4. Before serving, remove baking cups. If desired, garnish with
chocolate curls, strawberries, and/or kiwifruit.

Nutrition facts per cheesecake: 153 calories, 4g protein, 17g
carbohydrate, 7g fat (4g saturated), 0g fiber

I put the leftover white chocolate to good use and dipped some strawberries. I couldn’t resist a few sprinkles!

I also picked up some gummy candy for the nephews! I’m a professional aunt! How many seconds do you think it will take Keagan and Riley to locate the candy dishes? :)

We have yet another realtor at our house to you right now. I cannot emphasize to you enough how much I dislike dealing with all the strangers cycling through our house right now. They’re constantly interrupting my workouts and making corny little jokes. And then you have the pest inspector telling us about Polish architecture. Oh boy! It’s like dentist small talk that follows you home.  Last night I pointed all the negative parts of the kitchen to Realtor #1. That was fun! But then he responded by pointing out how many outlets we have. I do love that feature!! There are definitely some things I’m going to miss about this little house. Kevin asked me today if I need a Moving Present. He’s a very wise man! :)

Hankies (sniff) & a Colorful DIY

Hope you had an awesome Marathon Monday! I spent the day hanging with my mom and baby sisters. We conquered the printer and how to layout the invitations. Then, we made a trip to my Grandma’s at the farm. My mom has (finally) gotten the idea of the vintage-y/DIY vibe I’m going for with the wedding and realized that my Grandma might have some helpful stuff just hanging out in her old house at the farm. Jackpot! Not only did we find 50+ mason jars for flower/candle related projects, we also came a cross a STASH of vintage hankies. I immediately thought of some cool DIY projects I’d seen online this one from Lauren Elise. We had a really fun time looking through some of my Grandma’s stuff. She had an old typewriter, a washboard, an old-fashioned iron, and literally hundred of vintage postcards. My grandma is never going to be able to live there by herself again, and I actually got a little emo when I was looking at the little dishes she always used to serve us applesauce in. We used to have so much fun eating jam & bread and playing rummy! Grandma would also always take us down to feed the baby calves (until I got old and snobby and hated the barn smell). My grandma’s the feistiest and the coolest and always made the best jam. I am so excited that I am going to be able to incorporate some “real vintage” treasures in my wedding.

When I was chatting with my mom/making lists, I also came across this sweet DIY project from Project Wedding:

You just write something in white crayon and cover it with watercolors. There’s a DIY even my baby sisters can do! Nobody’s safe from DIY projects for our wedding! :) Have a great evening. I’m going to eat some comfort food & chill with Kevin James.

What dessert should I make for the big in-law meet-up tomorrow? Kevin’s parents are meeting mine for the first time ever! Snickers Pie? Strawberry Cheesecake Squares?

Vegetarian Chili Cheese Fries & Healthier Strawberry Shortcake

Vegetarian Chili Cheese Fries

I saw this recipe online today, and my mouth started watering. I’m not a vegetarian. At all. I just have an unnatural fear of touching raw meat. This irrational fear is compounded by the fact that there is a butcher shop right down the street, and sometimes the cow is literally still mooing outside. It smells to high heaven. Anyhow, I’ve gotten into the habit of making spaghetti, chili, and even hamburgers (black bean burgers) without actual carne. So I thought this recipe would be golden.

I should probably have realized it when I was peeling the potatoes, and I couldn’t stand the smell. But I didn’t give up the ship until I had taken the time to peel and cook all of the potatoes. They were rotten. Produce from the supermercado down the street isn’t exactly as fresh as it could be. Apparently, Verde Martes (Green Tuesdays) specials might have something to do with the fact that the produce is old! I’m a little shocked I didn’t cry. I get pretty emotional after running 8 miles and walking home. If 8pm rolls around and there’s no food in my stomach, people know to watch their backs. Luckily, I salvaged the “chili” and I’m going to eat it with some ancient cornbread mix I found in the back of the cupboard.

You can find the recipe over here on FitSugar. I’ll try it again someday when this bad memory fades. The good news is that Google taught me how to know if potatoes are useable or not. I think that the black potato on the bottom of the bag could probably also have been a handy hint.

In my dream world, I’d be having this for dessert.

Healthier Strawberry Shortcake

Tina featured this healthier strawberry shortcake recipe on her blog today.

Healthier Strawberry Shortcake

Makes 4-8 servings


* 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
* 1/3 cup sugar
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 1 egg
* 1/4 cup liquid egg whites (or 1 egg white)
* 2 tbsp canola oil
* Strawberries, diced
* Vanilla yogurt for topping


1. Preheat oven to 325*F.
2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; mix well.
3. Coat a 9 X 3 loaf pan with butter or cooking spray.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan.
5. Bake for 15-17 minutes.
6. Allow shortcake to cool before serving.
7. Top with strawberries and yogurt.

Time to go check on my second attempt at dinner!

P.S. Three more days of school until Semana Santa/Spring Break!