National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day 2015

Peanut Butter Chia Overnight Oatmeal I Pretty Little Pastimes

It’s that time again! The day is here that we get to set aside special time to celebrate the creamy (or crunchy) wonder that is PEANUT BUTTER! I was scratching my head Saturday night thinking of a way to incorporate my favorite all-natural peanut butter into my breakfast routine. So I decided to mix it into some oatmeal and voila! Peanut Butter & Chia Overnight Oats. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter & Chia Overnight Oats

  • 2/3 cup skim or almond milk
  • 1/4 cup steel cut oats
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • fresh blueberries or banana

Mix together the milk, oats, chia, vanilla and one tablespoon of peanut butter and place in the refrigerator overnight (or at least 4 hours). In the morning stir to incorporate and top with remaining peanut butter, honey and fresh fruit. I packed mine in a mason jar so it I could grab it on my way out the door.

Bonjour, 2015!

Engaged in Paris!

2014 was jam-packed with some amazing moments. I traveled to Europe for the first time, I landed an exciting new job, and met some remarkable people along the way. BUT, of all the moments I experienced, this was by far my favorite! There may only be one thing that could top getting engaged in Paris and that is becoming a Mrs. to my wonderful Mr. Here’s lookin’ at you, 2015!

Wishing each of you the happiest of New Years!

As I prepare for the Big Day, I will be sharing some fitness tips, DIY projects and wedding planning tips right here. Thank you for following along!

Pumpkin Butterscotch Snickerdoodles

Pumpkin Butterscotch Snickerdoodles

Pumpkin Butterscotch Snickerdoodles

Happy first day of October everyone! If you are like me, than you try to hold on to summer just as long as you can. Unfortunately, for us on the East Coast summer came late and fall didn’t follow in suit. But now that it is officially October (and fall) I am gearing up for my favorite season, full of baking, decorating and holiday celebrations! I thought it would be appropriate to kick off the season on Pretty Little Pastimes with a pumpkin cookie recipe. While the lines grow longer for PSL’s, non-caffeine drinkers like me have to get their pumpkin fix in other ways. So, I present to you the Pumpkin Butterscotch Snickerdoodle! Fluffy, sweet and full of fall flavors, this has to be one of my top five cookies of ALL TIME! I hope you love them as we do. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Butterscotch Snickerdoodles

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • 1 and 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 and 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup butterscotch chips

In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar and 1/2 cup of sugar together until no lumps remain. Whisk in the vanilla and pumpkin puree until smooth. Set aside.

Pumpkin Butterscotch Snickerdoodles

In a large bowl, toss together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, 1 and 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together with a rubber spatula. Fold in the butterscotch chips. Cover the dough and let chill for at least 30 minutes. This is an important step, so don’t skip it!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Take the dough out of the refrigerator. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll the dough into balls (about 1/2 tablespoons each). Mix together the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon. Roll each of the doughballs generously in the cinnamon-sugar mixture, coating all sides. Arrange on the two baking sheets. Slightly flatten the dough balls, as the dough will not spread much while cooking.
pumpkin butterscotch snickerdoodles I Pretty Little Pastimes

pumpkin butterscotch snickerdoodles I Pretty Little PastimesBake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow the cookies to cool for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. You can store at room temperature for up to one week … but they NEVER last that long!

Pumpkin Butterscotch Snickerdoodles

 

Follow along for more fall-inspired treats this season!

Blood Orange, Salted-Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Blood Orange, Salted-Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Blood Orange, Salted-Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies I Pretty Little Pastimes

The chocolate chip cookie, a classic that we all grew up eating hot out of the oven with a cold glass of milk, right? Well, consider this a grown up version of your favorite go-to cookie. This Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie has all the sweetness you remember, with an added citrus zing and sea salt finish. What’s not to love about that?

Next time you find yourself face-to-face with Blood Oranges, grab some of these colorful cuties and add them to your favorite orange recipes. I can’t wait to try them in some frosty beverages for a pop of color and tartness! But for now I will take my Blood Oranges with a dose of chocolate!

Blood Orange, Salted-Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup pure granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons blood orange juice
  • zest of one medium blood orange
  • 2 and 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 5 ounces dark chocolate chips
  • sea salt for garnish (optional)

In a small bowl combine flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Incorporate eggs, one at a time, until combined. Add vanilla, zest and blood orange juice. Mix until evenly distributed.

Slowly add in the flour mixture, stirring to combined. Once thoroughly mixed, stir in the dark chocolate chips (be careful not to over-mix).

Refrigerate the dough for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drop the chilled dough onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until edges are slightly golden brown. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and let sit for 2 minutes before transferring the cookies to a wire rack.

Sprinkle tops with a small amount of sea salt and enjoy!

Blood Orange, Salted-Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies I Pretty Little Pastimes

Blood Orange, Salted-Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies I Pretty Little Pastimes

New Orleans

New Orleans, LA

New Orleans, LA

In honor of Fat Tuesday, I thought I would share some photos from my trip to New Orleans this past November. One of my closest friends from college flew out to meet me from California to help celebrate my birthday. It was both our first trip to NOLA so we did a lot of exploring, tourist-style. Here are just a few of my favorite finds.

Munson’s World Famous Swamp Tours Bull Run Rd. Schriever, LA 70395

Although Munson’s a good hour and a half outside the French Quarter, we decided to make the drive to this privately-owner swamp. I didn’t realize at the time that coming in November = no gators. We learned from our friendly guide, Schaefer (sp?) that the gators hibernate during the winter months … jealous! But even without the gators, Munson’s tour made up for it in other wildlife and the beautiful view! Maybe I have seen one too many scary movies, but I did not imagine the swamp to be so picturesque.

Munson's SwampMunson's Swamp

Nottoway Plantation 31025 Hwy 1, White Castle, LA 70788

The Nottoway Plantation is the largest antebellum mansion in the South. From the charming tour guide, to the breathtaking views of the Mississippi from the balconies, this was by far one of my favorite finds in LA. The tour was jam packed with stories and anecdotes that made the home come to life right in front of you.  Stunning chandeliers, hand carved moldings and original artwork, further showcase the opulence of John Randolph’s original vision. No expense was spared in the construction of Nottoway.

Nottoway PlantationNottoway Plantation

My absolute favorite space in the home was the White Ballroom. Can you imagine the parties that must have gone on in this room? Is my inner history-nerd showing yet? … Nottoway Plantation

And of course!

Cafe du Monde 800 Decatur St. New Orleans, LA 70116

What trip to NOLA would be complete without enjoying some beignets at Cafe du Monde? Light, airy and covered in powdered sugar, these babies were worth every minute of our half hour wait! And did I mention they serve 24 hours a day? Dangerous.

Cafe du Monde, NOLA

A couple of other must-do’s:

  • catch some live music on Frenchmen Street
  • take the Haunted Ghost Tour in the French Quarter
  • grab a hurricane at Pat O’Brien’s
  • stroll through Jackson Square

It’s easy to get lost in the booze, beads and bars, but don’t forget to take a little time to explore past Bourbon Street while you are visiting New Orleans.

 

 

 

National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day

Peanut Butter Banana Chia Smoothie I Pretty Little Pastimes

When I heard it was National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day, I knew this was one occasion I would gladly celebrate! Since I didn’t want to wait until dessert to indulge in the creamy good stuff, I decided to make a breakfast smoothie that would make any self-proclaimed Peanut Butter Lover proud. Not only is it filling, it is also a great source of protein, potassium and Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and antioxidants, from the chia seeds. If you prefer a sweeter smoothie, you can also add a couple drops of natural sweetener or honey.

Peanut Butter Banana Chia Smoothie

  • 1 large ripe banana
  • 1 cup almond milk (I used dark chocolate flavored)
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons old fashioned oats
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
  • handful of ice cubes

Start by soaking the old fashioned oats and chia seeds in the almond milk for 15 minutes to soften. Place all ingredients in a high speed blender until frothy and creamy. Serve immediately.

I don’t normally pay attention to these funny daily “holidays”, but if it gives me an excuse to snack on peanut butter for the day, I just might begin to add them to my calendar. Enjoy!

Super Sunday Creamy Guacamole

Creamy Avocado Sauce I Pretty Little PastimesStill looking for some last minute snacks for the Big Game? How about this Creamy Guacamole, perfect for dipping or spreading?

All you need is:

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • juice of 1/2 of a lemon
  • 6 tablespoons fresh cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients into a high speed blender until smooth. Cover and chill until ready to serve. It’s that easy! So simple, so fresh, so tasty!

Happy Super Sunday!