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Punkin Chocolate Bars

Although I confuse words’ actual pronunciation a lot, I am fully aware that this way is wrong.

That being said, I am in pure punkin mode right now. I’ve learned a few things:

1. Punkin baked goods MUST be sweetened, or they are tasteless, and gross all at the same time. Period. No debating.

2. Punkin is best with when combined with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

3. Punkin is good for dog’s coats. SO, if you had a mishap or two like I did, feed them to your favorite furry friend.

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Now, here is the recipe for those bars I promised you. The verdict was, well, there are only 2 left after our get together last night. Get after it.

This is a gluten free recipe, that can also be made dairy free, should you choose to use vegan chocolate chips. Preheat the ‘ol oven to 350!

3 cups gluten free oats

1 can punkin

pinch of salt

2 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1/8 t nutmeg

1 1/2 t cinnamon

pinch of ground cloves

2 t pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 T  coconut oil

1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips, or regular, another 1/8 cup to sprinkle on top!

First, let’s make those oats into oat flour by placing oatmeal into blender or food processor and blend for 1-2 minutes until oatmeal resembles flour. I did it 1 cup at a time to make sure it was smooth!

Place the oat flour in a medium bowl. Whisk in baking powder, baking soda, salt and 3 spices, and stick that out of the way.

In a separate large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, brown sugar, vanilla extract, oil, and applesauce for 1-2 minutes until the consistency is smooth. Slowly add in oat flour mixture and mix until they are all completely combined.

Lastly, add in 1/3 cup of chocolate chips. Pour batter into 9×13 pan and sprinkle remaining chocolate chips on top. Bake for 15 minutes, then check every 4 minutes after. I baked mine for a total or 23 minutes- that’s when that toothpick came clean.

Yum, enjoy! And hide a few if you’re hoping to still enjoy them this weekend 🙂

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‘Tis the season!

Hey everyone! Hope you had a great weekend!

‘Tis the season for what, you ask? 2 things. Crock pots, and all. things. pumpkin.

Truth is, I break out the crock pot year round, but it rarely even gets put away this time of year. I love soups, chilies, and roasts, but I decided to try a recipe I would normally do on the stove, in a crock pot! This one is super easy, my friends. If you love Thai food like I do, you already know there are about a thousand ingredients in each recipe, most that I don’t normally carry in my pantry. SO here ya go. Thai peanut chicken. In a crock pot. 7 ingredients. You’re welcome.

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken

1/2 cup almond butter (you can use PB too, I just perfect almond)

1/2 onion, diced

1/4 cup Tamari  (or soy) sauce

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 T cumin

1 lime, juiced

1/2 t crushed red pepper

Mix together PB, tamari, chicken broth, and cumin in a bowl. Pour into crock pot, then add uncooked chicken. Squeeze in lime juice, and add peppers and onion. Cook on low for 6 hours.

I had every intention of serving this over some greens, with a sesame ginger dressing, but we ate it over brown rice instead. Crushed up some peanuts, and added some cilantro on top for a true Thai feel.

It was delish! I went back for thirds seconds!
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Now, on to dessert. We have a get together tonight, and the hostess asked me to bring dessert. I figured with is being 37 degrees today, something ‘fall-ish’ was a must. I do love pumpkin flavored desserts, coffees, ice cream, you name it. So I decided to combine 2 favs. Pumpkin, and chocolate. I got this recipe years ago, and it was loaded with flour, both white sugar, and brown sugar, and lots of butter. So I made a few adjustments. Keep in mind, I haven’t tried these yet. The verdict will some tomorrow. Stay tuned tomorrow for the recipe and how my taste testers rated my final product!

Anniversary getaway!

One year down, and they say the first year is the hardest! Surely there has got to be something harder than this!

At dinner, over some wine, I asked Aaron some questions that I also answered about a man’s view on the wedding, and marriage. Here it goes.

What was your favorite part of our wedding day?

Aaron: Getting to see you for the first time. It took all of the anxiety away.

Me: ME TOO!!

What is your favorite thing about being married?

Aaron: Getting to come home to you every night.

Me: Why?

Aaron: Because you’re my best friend!

AWWWWW 🙂

What’s you favorite part about me?

Aaron: Answer #1 was inappropriate, but answer #2 was my humor. Turns out he DOES think I’m funny!

Me: How nice he is to me, and everyone around us. And it’s genuine.

That’s enough of the mush-fest for now. Our weekend was fantastic, and it almost felt as if we were about it do it all over again when we pulled in. We had a blast just the two of us, but couldn’t stop talking about how wonderful it was to have all our friends and family there with us on the big day last year.

I think I said about 8395 times that our wedding was the best day of my life. Luckily, Aaron agreed. We spied on another couple’s wedding, and while their weather was definitely better than ours, their dance floor was 1/8th as full. What’s more important to you? My guests knew what was more important to me. As my dear friend Liz  says ‘the only socially acceptable activity at a wedding is dancing.’ Love it!

We ate, and drank, and ate, and drank. Hot tubbed, and hot tubbed some more. Relaxed a lot, and most importantly, walked to the exact places we said ‘I do’, had our first kiss as a married couple, and our first dance. We even had lunch at our rehearsal dinner spot. You can guess who’s ideas those were 😉

 

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We also did a lot of fire place soaking up. There WILL be a fire place in our next house!

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Walking, and enjoying the fall colors..they were stunning!

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Of course Olive was there, enjoying fresh air, Heavenly Beds, and wedding cake.

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Did I mention that this was our favorite 1 year tradition? Busting open the top of our wedding cake and devouring it having a few bites? We had heard stories about how it wasn’t good, but ours sure was.

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I just loved the card Aaron got for me. I may have actually asked this question before…so now he has a come back…

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Then, on our ACTUAL anniversary, we had some weather that looked a lot like our wedding day!

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Then yesterday, we woke up to SNOW! So pretty.

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I’ll leave you with some more great shots! Including my laying around in my wedding dress (I HAD to put it on), a part of my gift to Aaron, and more! Have a great day, everyone. 🙂

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Chilli nights, and shiny hair

Happy Monday everyone! I am still on a major high from our weekend in Beaver Creek. You can read more about that tomorrow, right here!

Is it fall at your house, because it TOTALLY is here. I have been making this chili recipe about once every 10 days, and I can’t believe I haven’t shared it yet. It is not one of my own, it is from the blog gimmesomeoven.com (adorable name). It a very light, white bean chicken chili, with a kick! We love spicy, so if you don’t just cut back on the salsa verde.

In her blog, she mentions how salsas have just about every ingredient we use for flavor (onion, garlic, etc), so you can save a lot of time by just using salsas! In this recipe, she uses Salsa Verde. No, this is not the same as tomatillo, or green chili, I have tried all three. Salsa Verde is where it’s at. So it’s simple. Combine the following 5 ingredients in a large saucepan, and simmer for about 40 minutes.

6 cups chicken broth

2 (15oz) cans of Great Northern beans

2 cups Salsa Verde

2 t cumin

2 large chicken breasts, shredded.

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No, the rest didn’t get erased, that’s IT! It’s amazing. I like mine with cilantro and avocado, and Aaron adds a little greek yogurt (to act as sour cream) to his. I promise, this will be a go to for you, too!

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Such a perfect time of year for chili, and you can feel really good about eating this one!

 

Now, on to that shiny hair. A while back, I wrote about some products that you MUST have for you hair. If you missed that, you can check it again here. https://bakingupbeauty.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/summer-product-picks/

 

I recently discovered a new product that I can’t help but tell you about. Do you blow dry your hair? Color it? Curl it? Brush it? Then you need this product. ASAP.

2 weeks ago, a rep for Pureology (a line I love) walked in to my studio and said, I’ll just leave you this sample, try it, and I don’t need to say any more. He was right. All I had to do was spray it in to my wet hair the next morning, and I was sold. My hair combed out like butter, smoothed out with just the blow dryer, and felt sooooo soft for days. I couldn’t stop touching it. Since then, people actually say to me ‘your hair looks great right now, just so healthy’, and it’s been a while since I’ve heard that. The benefits are endless, hence it’s name, 21 benefits. The 22nd benefit? It smells amazing.

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I mean, the description on the bottle reads as follows; ‘Multi-tasking hair beautifier for perfecting color treated hair’. Try and tell me you don’t want that.

Your only job is to spray it into your wet hair, before your blow dry, or even when you don’t, and it will do the rest! If you need to get your hands on some, let me know! I’m happy to pick you up a bottle. I love it that much. Don’t let me catch you combing out or heat styling you hair without it!

Have a great week, everyone! I hope to see a little extra shine in all of your hair when I see you next!

 

One year later.

This Sunday, the 13th, is our 1 year anniversary of being married. (whoa) If you’ve been married for a year, you know how fast it goes. If you’ve been married longer, please tell me time slows down! I feel like starting the week of our wedding, life is moving in fast motion! If you want to bypass all the mushy stuff…skip to the bottom for our wedding videos an slideshow 😉

I promise I’ll try to pretend I haven’t turned into a sap about this kind of stuff. The truth is, I cried in the anniversary ‘for my husband’ aisle for about 15 minutes on Sunday. I spent some time working on a couple of Aaron’s gifts tonight, and crying a little more. The truth is, I still don’t know how I got so lucky. I wonder every day.

Here’s a little year in review:

October 13th, 2012: We got married at The Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa in Beaver Creek, Colorado. It was an amazing weekend full of friends, family and love. While it poured rain all morning, and night, it cleared up, dried out, and warmed up slightly for our ceremony. We had 116 guests, and couldn’t have asked for more than having our favorite people all in one place. I felt  ridiculously fortunate to have so many people travel to help us celebrate our big day!

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Then, we did a little honeymoonin in Tulum, Mexico. We LOVE it there. We did a lot of napping, wedding reminiscing, guacamole eating, and margarita drinking.

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We hosted a nice little Thanksgiving, or ‘Friendsgiving’ at our house for our first holiday as a married couple.

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Then, it was ski season, pretty self explanatory. Ski condo with friends for the season, and lots of snow.

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Celebrated Christmas with friends sailing the French Polynesian Islands, on good ol’ Dim Sum:

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As well as some family and work holiday celebrations here in CO

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Made it back to Denver within minutes of the clock striking 2013….

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Aaron turned 34, and some great friends from Ft. Collins and Denver combined came out for a fun birthday dinner, and celebration at our house!….and somehow we don’t have any pictures to document that, but I promise, he had a great time!

I turned 30, and we took a fabulous trip to Crested Butte.

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Aaron started a new job that he is loving. He is now with Bank Of America, writing mortgages for them! They are lucky to have him. He’s been there since July, and it’s been a great fit since day 1.

We attended 6 weddings of dear friends since we said ‘I do’

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Speaking of weddings, I have done hair and makeup for 19 weddings this wedding season. 4 more to go.

Aaron proudly inherited a fishing boat over the summer:

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I, on the other hand, opted for a new car! So long Jetta…..hello Murano 🙂

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Here’s a few things you may have missed last year. Our wedding video, and our slideshow that our dear friend, and bridesmaid, Ellen made for us. We had never seen it, so it was such a nice surprise on our wedding night!

Video: http://vimeo.com/51718636

Long Video: http://vimeo.com/52719966

Slideshow: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K49pLsUQE0M&feature=youtu.be

 

We made it through the first year, and we’ve learned a lot. We’ve grown as a couple, and as individuals. They say the first year is the hardest, but surely there has got to be something harder than this! Here’s to many more years! I can’t wait to see what year 2 brings to the Shields family! Stay tuned to find out!

I’ll leave you with a reading from our wedding. Have a great weekend, everyone! We will be back at The Westin celebrating our anniversary!

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Strawberry madness

Wednesday, everyone! I know that by now, you probably think that WordPress must have sent you a notification stating that I posted a blog by accident, because it’s been so long, but it’s true! It’s me!

I made some super easy, super excellent strawberry muffins over the weekend. I am not ready to let go of cheap summer berries on and in everything quite yet, but it was a perfect day for baking. I am also finally getting the hang on sugar substitutes, so I’ll share a great conversion key with you as well.

So, preheat that overt to 400 degrees, and let’s get started.

Grab yourself a food processor, or a blender, whatever you prefer. I melted our food processor in the dishwasher the other night..so this was my last use of that bad boy, looks like I’m moving to the blender. A smarter friend later mentioned to me that I probably shouldn’t put that in the dish washer 🙂

Wash, and Cut up 1 1/2 c worth of strawberries.

Add your strawberries, plus 2 1/2 c certified gluten free oats, 1 c fat free greek yogurt, 2 eggs, 1t baking soda, 1 t baking powder. Now let’s think about your sugar. If you prefer real sugar add 1 cup. If you use a sugar that measures just like sugar, such as erythitol, use 1 cup as well. If honey or agave is your choice of sweetener, use 1/2-2/3 c. I haven’t got around to working with Stevia or Truvia yet, so stay tuned. I used 1 cup of erythitol here in these muffins, and while it seemed like I was dumping in a TON, they were perfect! Now blend or pulse until this mixture is nice and smooth.

NOW, I strongly recommend not using paper baking cups with these- they are a little tricky to peel off when there isn’t flour involved. So either use a silicon muffin tin, or tin foil cups. Pour that batter on in, and for once, I got 15 muffins, rather than 11. It’s not 12, but I’m getting there. 😉

Bake for 23 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. (Am I the only one who still uses that technique?)

I knew I was going to love these when the batter tasted  looked like a strawberry milkshake.

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They are delish and I’ve been munchin on em all week. About 78 calories per muffin…cha ching!

Have a great day everyone! I promise more posts this week. Thanks for reading!