Friday, November 22, 2013

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Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

Around Halloween Target had caramel squares on sale. I bought them. I didn't know what I was going to do with them but I figured I would find something. After a particularly stressful day this week, I asked the family what they wanted me to bake them and they all said, "cookies." I decided I would find a recipe using caramel squares and make them cookies. Imagine my happiness when I found a caramel chocolate chip cookie recipe. I love chocolate chip cookies! These cookies were simply amazing. Everyone loved them and you could tell right off the bat they had caramel in them. Cati has already requested that I make them again!

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies 
Source: Two Peas and Their Pod
Yields: 3 dozen cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup Kraft Caramel Bits (or chopped up caramel squares)
Sea salt, for sprinkling on cookies

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a large baking sheet with a Silpat baking mat or parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, cornstarch, baking soda and sea salt together. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugars until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients.

Stir in the chocolate chips and caramel bits. Form cookie dough into tablespoon balls and place on prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle each cookie with sea salt.

Bake cookies for 10 minutes, or until slightly golden brown around the edges. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for two minutes. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.
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Friday, November 15, 2013

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Virtual Race for Charity

My favorite half marathon has been the Disney Princesses one. I did that one back in February and loved almost everything about it; I loved the course, the entertainment on the course, the crowd, and the costumes. The only thing I didn't love was the wake up time, but even that had it's benefits because half the run for me was done in the dark. I'll be running that race again in February, but this time I'm running as part of a charity team. Since I signed up with the team back over the summer I have been trying to think of ways to raise money. I've got some items for a silent auction and people have been extremely generations with their donations. I have 2.5 months to reach my $3,000 fundraising goal and I'm hoping that doing a virtual run will bring me closer to my goal.

I first learned about virtual runs on Facebook and I love the idea of it. You sign up, run the distance whenever and wherever you want, and then you get a medal. My race is a 5K and is called The Cookie Runner Virtual 5K and the medal has the logo of my little cookie runner. I wanted to share the information for the race in case anyone wanted to sign up for it or in case you know of anyone who might be interested in doing something like this. I completed the run last week and dedicated one of my training runs to Give Kids The World.

This is the site with all the information: The Cookie Runner Virtual 5K. The race is $20, includes a medal, and the net proceeds go to Give Kids The World. Thanks for all your help and support!

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Friday, November 1, 2013

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Fun & Fit: October

Oh my, October was a fun month! I started doing yoga, participated in three events, and challenged myself to run 100 miles by Halloween. Of the 31 days this month, I didn't run 8 of them. Can you believe that? My butt was constantly on the move and it felt so good to be so active. I felt really weird on those days that I didn't workout or run. This past month really drilled in the idea that being healthy and active is a lifestyle, not just a phase.

The month started off with me trying yoga. Friends have recommended yoga to me and I have seen plenty of pictures and videos of people in various positions, but I was always unsure of whether this was something for me and whether my brain was even capable of quieting down for meditation. You know what I learned very quickly? My brain can shut down! I am so focused on my breathing, learning new positions, and holding those positions that my brain doesn't get distracted with thoughts of making dinner, picking up the girls, or everything else on my to-do list. Yoga is hard work, but it is also so relaxing for me. I want to keep practicing and learn as much as I can learn.

 My first event of the month was The Color Run. That run was a true experience. We did this run as a family, but soon after the start line our stroller broke. We ended up walking most of the distance and neither of the girls were too into getting color bombed. We survived it, did it as a family, and had popsicles at the finish line. I made sure to get more colorful this time around and, I don't know if they changed the formula of the color or what, but the color washed off so much easier this time around. 

The day after The Color Run I participated in my first duathlon, the Columbus Day Duathlon (1.5 run, 11 miles bike, 1.6 run). If it weren't for my aunt, I would have never done this race because I thought I was content with running alone. I barely trained for the cycling portion and I was riding on my cruiser instead of a nice bike, so I didn't have any expectations of greatness. My aunt tried to keep up with me on the running portions and I tried to keep up with her on the cycling portion. I ended up getting first place in my age group and I was beyond thrilled. The whole experience was great and I realized that I really do like getting on the bike and being competitive with riding.
On October 26th I participated in my first half marathon of this racing season. It was the Miami Beach Halloween Half and I ran it with my running partner and her friend. That morning we decided that the race would be more of a training run than an actual run and that helped set a fun tone for the race. The costumes were great and I was amazed  at the things people were able to run in. My favorite was the runner who ran as the Mad Hatter and carried a tea pot pinata with her the entire way. Towards the end I was ready to be done--the course was a little choppy and crowded and it was windy--and I left my friends to sprint it out to the finish line. My time wasn't my best (2:32), but it was a lot of fun and, in a month where I was running 100 miles, I needed to take all the distances I ran easily.

And speaking of running 100 miles...I'm trying to challenge myself each month to do something new. October was the month for running 100 miles by Halloween. It was pretty hard getting to that distance because my body wasn't used to running that much, but I managed it. I had a running partner on most of my runs and that really help get through the miles. I felt so proud of myself for having actually ran 100 miles. I have never felt like more of a runner than I do now.
I'm sad to see you go October, but I am definitely looking forward to November. There will be more yoga, two races, and maybe even a bikini body challenge. With the holidays coming up, I need to keep myself motivated and challenged!
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