Blogmas Day 24: Wine and Cheese Night

I cannot believe Blogmas is coming to an end, and Christmas is tomorrow! It’s crazy how time flies, isn’t it?

Merry Christmas Eve!

Today for Blogmas, I’m sharing the family wine and cheese night we had last night.

In preparation, my mom and I stopped by an Italian grocery store for cheese. While there, I also found gluten free sourdough! I had heard of the company, and when I looked it up, it was carried there. YUM. I had it with avocado toast for lunch!


We saw a vaguely Christmas movie in the afternoon which was a mixed bag, and then started prepping!

My mom and I made my great-grandmother’s Molasses Spice Cookies. They didn’t turn out quite like expected because we had to make a few modifications. We used gluten free flour, and butter in place of the Crisco the recipe called for (it was a different time then), and as a result, the cookies flattened a ton. But hey, still delicious!

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The only other thing that needed prepping (minus cutting) was a lentil tapenade we made. At Trader Joe’s, we tried a sample of this simple dish made using Trader Joe’s products. Simply stir together fresh bruscetta, cooked lentils, and feta cheese. It’s delicious atop crackers!


As my sister and fiancé arrived, we put the final touches on the spread and poured a glass of wine.


Here’s the spread:


Molasses spice cookies.


Cheese tray with persimmons and pear.


Lentil dish with pita chips, crackers, white chocolate cranberry bread (!), sourdough, and veggies with butternut squash hummus.


Goat and bleu cheese.


My plate.

We enjoyed the wine and cheese while watching Home Alone. We tried different wine pairings; I had some Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, but skipped the reds with dessert because I’m much more of a white wine girl.


We had a 2007 Reserve wine that has been aging in our house, and my family broke that out. It was definitely quality wine but sadly not my thing!
It was a really fun night with family, and a great way to start off Christmas!

Have a fantastic Christmas Eve!

Blogmas Day 23: Christmas Cookies

I had a more informational post planned for today, but I just don’t have it in me, so it will have to wait until after Blogmas. I’m so freaking tired, but for lots of festive reasons!

The first of which being my annual Christmas cookie baking night, which I’ll share today! Nothing like some cookies to get into the holiday spirit, right?

This tradition started in my freshman year of high school (eek).


And we’ve done it every year since. We usually use this recipe for sugar cookies, and then make frosting from the recipe on the powdered sugar.

Let’s see if I can dig up throwbacks from the years past, shall we?

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^This is freshman year. The VERY first time we made cookies actually wasn’t for Christmas!


^Also freshman…?

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^Sophomore. We made a gingerbread house murder scene and gingerbread cookies.

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^Senior. No cookie pictures but I KNOW based on these pictures we must have done it.


^College freshman

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^College sophomores

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^College Juniors

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^College Seniors

And now, somehow, we’re college grads, but we still managed to squeeze it in.

We started the evening with dinner at a Japanese restaurant. I had miso soup and salad with grilled chicken.

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And of course, everyone was decked out in their Christmas sweaters.



We poured a little champagne as we rolled out the dough.

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Once everything came out, it was decorating time! I had some help from Chloe, of course. Once she got over how excited she was to see everyone, she was much calmer thankfully!


And here are the results!

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I actually used half gluten free, half regular flour for the dough. I thought that I would be able to eat a few bites then without dying, and without harming the texture too much!


Delicious. No death, but I think I was way sleepier than I should have been when everyone left just before midnight!

Such a great night with friends, and I love this tradition that we’ve maintained year after year. I hope it’s something I continue to look forward to as our lives change and we move away!

This morning, I participated in another Christmas tradition. At 6am. But come on, worth it for 12 days of Christmas!


This is always a fun one. The workout goes like the song…1 push up, 2 burpees 1 push up, 3 PU 2 burpees 1 push up….etc.

I used 75# for the barbell movements and finished in 36:55. It was surprisingly festive for 6am, and definitely a fun way to start the day! That being said, I think a nap may be in my future….

One a final note, I achieved one of my life goals of getting a snapchat filter on my cat. Merry Christmas.




Blogmas Day 22: Killer Abs

It’s right about time I shared a workout, isn’t it? I feel like a lot of Blogmas has been a ton of sweet recipes, so I think maybe at this point some abs will be necessary?

Today’s workout is courtesy of one of my zoo friends, who has killer abs. So who better to get a workout from??


I did these with my (and the internet’s) best interpretation, so I’m sure if I got anything wrong, I’ll hear about it an correct it 🙂

And yes, I did test this out beforehand, and I’m currently feeling it! I actually waited so long to post it because I wanted to try it first, but I had a little bruise on my tailbone (thanks to my jumpy dog…).


So without further ado…


Note: these can be done with weights, so choose at your own risk!

Here are some links to the ones that are less familiar. If you have questions on any other moves, let me know!


Lateral Toe Touch (Photo shows legs down; legs up is pulse up)


Blogmas Day 21: The Best Recipe I’ve Ever Made

Guys. I know I shared a recipe yesterday, but I couldn’t wait on this one. I can’t call myself a baking expert, but one thing I consider myself to have mastered is the art of one particular quick bread recipe. I’ve taken the base for it and modified it in SO many different ways at this point, and it has yet to fail me.

This recipe is probably the best modification. No, definitely the best modification. It’s INSANE.

I KNOW I just posted peppermint bark bread, but today’s chocolate peppermint bark bread knocks the socks off of yesterday’s.


After making the peppermint base in the previous bread, my mom requested a chocolate base for the next loaf (we still had plenty of peppermint bark to use up.) I wanted to modify my favorite quick bread recipe, and as a result, this bread has a secret ingredient: sweet potato! No, you cannot taste it, but it gives it an amazingly moist texture, and of course some nutritional punch!

While whipping this up, my mom and I enjoyed a festive holiday happy hour, complete with Pentatonix Christmas Pandora station, and a new beer to try. I randomly found a Kansas City beer, which seems to be the closest I can get to St. Louis!

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Chocolate Peppermint Bark Bread



1 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato

1/3 cup vanilla Greek yogurt (plain would work)

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp oil

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup cocoa

1 1/4 cup flour

1 egg

2 candy canes, crushed

2/3 cup chopped peppermint bark

1/3 cup mint chips (can sub other chip or omit)


Preheat oven to 350.

Mix up sweet potato, yogurt, oil, egg, and milk in a medium bowl.

Once combined, add all dry ingredients except for the chips, bark, and candy canes. Mix thoroughly.

Stir in mint chips and peppermint bark.


Pour into a foil lined loaf pan.


Sprinkle crushed candy cane evenly on top.


Bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


Enjoy, and happy holidays!


Blogmas Day 20: Peppermint Bark Bread

Happy Blogmas! I’m hitting you with another recipe today! Peppermint bark bread. This was another idea dreamed up while sweating through November in St. Louis  and wishing for fall to finally hit (it’s 15 degrees in St. Louis right now though so I guess the cold weather actually hit.)


Before I get to the recipe, I have to share my ridiculous cat’s ridiculous antics.

I was working on my laptop in my room and I heard a noise. I looked over and my cat with messing with my Blogmas Closet Clean out, clothes to get rid of bag.

After a few minutes, the noise stopped. I got up to see what he was up to, and just laughed.


Who, me?

*please note that it’s not a good idea to let cats play with plastic bags because of the risk they get caught and suffocate*

As I went to get him out, I noticed a scarf was lying next to the bag…what? It turned out that instead of getting in the opening of the bag like a normal cat, he dug a hole in the bottom and burrowed through the clothes to get to where he was. Cats.


But now the recipe. It’s loosely based off of Sweet Tooth Sweet Life’s triple lemon blueberry muffins. This bread has a mint base and is studded with crushed peppermint bark, and topped with candy cane.

Peppermint Bark Bread



6 oz vanilla yogurt

1/2 cup milk

1/3 cup oil (I used avocado)

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 tsp peppermint extract

2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2/3 cup crushed peppermint bark (roughly chocolate chip sized)

2 candy canes, crushed

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mix all wet ingredients in a medium bowl.
  3. Whisk together all dry ingredients in a large bowl (except for the candy canes and bark), and then stir in peppermint bark.
  4. Stir together wet and dry ingredients, and put into a lined loaf pan.


5. Sprinkle the crushed candy canes on top.


6. Bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. If the top begins to brown, cover with foil halfway through baking.




Protip: this bread is also delicious with ice cream. I had it crumbled over vanilla Halo Top with a drizzle of fudge sauce.