Friday Favorites

Last time I did a Friday Favorites post we were in the midst of some pretty awful winter weather. But I’m happy to report that it’s starting to feel like spring around these parts. We’ve had some days in the 50’s and 60’s, we set the clocks ahead so there’s more daylight, and it’s officially spring! So without further ado, here’s what I’m currently crushing on.

Love & Toast Clementine Body Lotion

This winter has wrecked havoc on my skin, as I’m sure it has for almost everyone. My skin was always dry and itchy during swimming season, which I learned to accept as part of the territory. But this past winter my skin was the driest it’s been in years and I couldn’t seem to find relief. So after trying a bunch of different lotions, I saw Love & Toast at Marshall’s and grabbed a bottle. I figured that at the discounted price of $3 it wouldn’t be such a loss if it didn’t work.

Love & Toast Clementine Crush

Well let me tell you – it was the best $3 I’ve spent in awhile! The lotion smells like you’ve just bathed in fresh orange juice, and it actually left my skin soft and flake-free. It’s parabens, phthalates, petrolatum, mineral oil, propylene glycol, retinol, sulfates, and synthetic color free, never animal tested, and has no animal ingredients. What’s better than that?! I’ve since bought their body wash, and it is equally impressive.

Cookie Dough Oreo’s

I don’t remember where I first saw these or heard about them, but once I did, I knew I had to have them. When Oreo had their limited edition birthday cake filled cookies I bought them, and was pleasantly surprised. I was a little weary of the cookie dough “flavor” that the cookie boasted, though. I mean, could it really taste like cookie dough in between those delicious chocolate wafers? I’m so ashamed for ever doubting Oreo, because they are seriously amazing.

Oh yes
Oh yes

I bought them when I was at the grocery store two weeks ago, and they were gone within a matter of days. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find them again at the store, but I’ve been looking every week! If you haven’t tried this yet, you really need to. I’m yet to talk to anyone that has tried them and hasn’t fallen in love! Now I just need them to make a speculoos version…

Single Serve Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookie

I love baking, but skip out on it a lot because it makes too many servings. I’m all for having leftovers and like to think I have enough self control to enjoy a cake throughout the week, but a lot of homemade desserts just don’t taste the same as the week goes on… so I don’t make anything. I’ve seen recipes for single serve desserts before, but by the time I am ready for dessert and want something it’s usually around 9pm, and I’m too lazy to get up and put something together. But when I found a recipe for a single serve deep dish chocolate chip cookie, I had to make it.

Deep dish chocolate chip cookie w. cookies & cream ice cream. Yup.
Deep dish chocolate chip cookie w. cookies & cream ice cream. Yup.

This is basically a warm and gooey chocolate chip cookie… which is one of my absolute favorites. Oreos are actually the only type of “hard” cookie I like, as I generally prefer soft cookies. Putting all the ingredients together is really easy; the hardest part about the whole process is waiting for it to bake in the oven! But it is totally worth the wait. I’m definitely going to be making this a lot more.

Motown / 60’s Music

I grew up listening to Motown (and the like) music on Saturday mornings. My dad always had the same radio station on, the Rhythm Review with Felix Hernandez, while he would clean around the house. I have fond memories of dancing around with my sister (she had special pink rain boots that she’d dance in; when she was really little, they oftentimes were on the wrong foot), and loving every single song that came on. So when my mom, sister, and I went to see Motown the Musical a few weeks ago, I was reminded just how much fun that era of music was. The Chiffons, The Marvelettes, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Smokey Robinson, The Miracles, The Four Tops, The Temptations… you get my drift.

Motown Record

I’ve been listening to it non-stop since last Wednesday, and can’t help but dance in my seat or smile when some of my favorite songs come on. I also love recognizing a song and knowing the words when no one else around me has any idea what it is. If you’re ever in a bad mood or need a pick me up, or just feel like a departure from current music trends, I highly recommend finding yourself a Motown or 60’s music station on Pandora, iTunes Radio, or Spotify. Your mood will instantly improve.

Fancy Oatmeal

While I’m sure there are “fancier” variations of oatmeal out there, I’ve been really enjoying  oatmeal for breakfast recently. It’s perfect to eat before a mid-day run; it keeps me full so I don’t feel like I’m starting my run hungry, but I also don’t feel like I’m going to throw it up while I’m running. And, the possibilities are endless when it comes to combinations! I’ve been enjoying it on the sweet side recently (chocolate chips, shredded coconut, peanut butter, and a dash of cinnamon), but I’ve also had quite a few savory versions, my favorite being with eggs, tomato, onion, and curry powder.

Fancy oatmeal
Fancy Oatmeal

So tell me…
What are you currently loving? 

Funfetti Cheesecake Bites

The past few weeks have been super busy with family events, work and work events, and this whole training for a marathon thing (which is on SUNDAY!). So, my time in the kitchen has been rather sparse – I think my husband has spent more time cooking for himself while I’ve been gone!

So this past Sunday after a successful last “long” run of 8 miles and a trip to get race day supplies, I spent the rest of the afternoon in the kitchen. I started with slow-cooker lasagna, going off of a recipe I saw posted on YumSugar. Growing up I remember my mom always bemoaning lasagna and how labor intensive it was (as you can guess we didn’t have it very often). So after seeing a recipe were I didn’t have to precook the noodles, I was all over it.

While dinner was cooking away, I got to work on my next project – Funfetti cheesecake bites. After the success of the Funfetti fudge I made for Halloween, I figured I could work Funfetti into more things. I had made Mini Oreo Cheesecakes before and they were awesome, so I took the same base recipe but instead used Golden Oreos, some Funfetti cake mix, and sprinkles. Not only was the recipe straight forward, but they are pretty darn tasty. The combination of cheesecake and Funfetti may sound weird, but it works – I promise.

This got me thinking – cheesecake is one of those vehicles that can really take on a whole bunch of different flavors. It might be time to branch out in the cheesecake world and try some different combinations. Or I can just stick to what I know and love – Oreos and Funfetti. Either way, these would be a perfect bite-sized treat to bring to a Holiday party… and you know that’s where you will be spending most of your weekends between now and the new year.

Funfetti Cheesecake Bites
– Makes 20 –

20 golden Oreo’s
1 lb cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp Funfetti cake mix
2 Tbsp sprinkles

1. Preheat oven to 275°F. Line your cupcake/muffin tin with paper liners and place one Oreo into the bottom of each lined cup.
2. With a stand or hand mixer on medium-high, beat cream cheese until creamy and smooth, then gradually beat in sugar until combined. Beat in vanilla.
3. Drizzle in the eggs a little bit at a time until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in sour cream and Funfetti mix. Add sprinkles at the very end (or the colors start to run).
4. Divide the batter evenly among the cookie-filled cups, filling each one almost to the top. Bake until the cakes are set (about 22 minutes), rotating the pans halfway through.
5. Remove from oven and place pans on wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, chill the cakes in the pans for at least four hours (or up to overnight).

A Wedded Weekend

On Saturday, my fiancé and I set out to conquer more to-dos on our wedding list. With my mom in toe, we headed up to a florist near our venue to discuss flowers. This is the second florist we’ve met with, and we’re meeting with one more before making a final decision. It’s really hard, because I’m not super picky when it comes to flowers; I don’t have a favorite flower, for example, and I’m really clueless about them too. So, I’m really looking for someone that can use their creativity and the little bit of input I have to make something gorgeous. All I know is that I want bright beautiful green and yellow in my bouquet, with more muted colors for my girls since they’ll be in green. As for centerpieces, I just want something low, and bright. Maybe like this…

After meeting with the florist, we headed to the hotel where we’ll be booking a block of rooms for ourselves and our guests. By booking with that hotel, we also get a deal on transportation for all of our guests to and from the venue, which was extremely important to us. We’re also in the process of finalizing our invitations… Things are starting to come together!

On Sunday, we spent the morning trying to clean up our townhouse, since I have my bridesmaids coming next Saturday for their dress fitting! After that we headed out for a run. We still have it on our heads that we’ll be “running” the half marathon April 17th, and I think my fiancé finally realized that it’s something we’ll be doing together, slowly. On Thursday after my 4-miler, I noticed that when I accidentally hit my shin, I felt pain. Pain very similar to my shin splints in December. Low and behold, I’m definitely on the road to get shin splints again. This time, though, I’m not ignoring it and I’m icing, compressing, rolling, and not increasing my mileage like crazy. I was supposed to run 6 miles Sunday, but kept it at 4 just to be safe. I’ll try and tackle 6 on Tuesday, followed by 2 on Thursday. I can’t seem to catch a break with these injuries!

Since we’re back to running, I’ve welcomed yummy desserts back into our routine. On Sunday evening, I decided to make How Sweet Eats’ Triple Layer Cookies & Cream Crunch Bars. Ohh yes – they were absolutely amazing. Of course, they didn’t look quite like Jessica’s, but they tasted awesome! Everything she puts on her blog looks so scrumptious; I wish I could be that creative in the kitchen. And checkout the sweet plate – these awesome Maleficent (from Cinderella) plates were on sale at Target for 75 cents! So I scored four!

This week’s kitchen adventures were first squashed when, again, the avocados at ShopRite were nowhere near ripe. I’m hoping they’ll be ready sometime this week to use in other recipes, but the homemade sushi I was planning on making Sunday night was a no-go. Maybe next week. But, I’ll be making some veggie burgers and sweet potato fries, falafel, and finally the huevos rancheros I wanted to make last week. Maybe I’ll even bake something else!

Caramel Apples!

As you’re (hopefully) enjoying this post, I’m currently presenting functionality of my company’s software to some of our business partners. Imagine how thrilling time and attendance time allocation through managing and configuring cost centers can be!

For the conference that’s held the third week in October every year (this is year number three), each team member does two presentations on different things within the system. Yes, we’re a time and attendance, payroll, and HR software development company – I support the software that my fiancé makes, how cute! At the end of one of our joint presentations, my work BFF slash bridesmaid and I always play a game. This year, we decided to play a version of Jeopardy. With that we of course needed to also come up with a fun prize to give out to the winners. Last year, we gave out candy, but figured we needed to spice it up. Since the theme of the conference is always Halloween, we went with caramel apples!

While perusing the store on our lunch break, we stumbled upon a package of pre-made caramel that you literally stretch over an apple, bake for 5 minutes, let cool, and enjoy. While I first thought it might be a cop-out to not melt our own caramels and dip the apples, I also realized we needed something quick and easy for a week night. We wanted to decorate them, but couldn’t find any black and orange sprinkles, so we grabbed Halloween themed Oreos.

I have every intention of making real caramel apples, but if you’re ever in a hurry, or maybe you’re planning to make these with some yougin’s, I would highly recommend these. Hopefully, at the end of the game, our partners will recommend them based on flavor, too!

PS  – The Double Tree chain of hotels are genius. All hotels should offer warm chocolate chip cookies upon check-in!

Mini Cookies ‘n Cream Cheesecakes!

Every so often I find a recipe that screams, “make me now!” This particular recipe was one of them. I found it on Friday at work, and there I was making them Saturday morning before going snowboarding. Considering I’m a newbie at the whole winter sports thing, I figured there really couldn’t be a better way to nurse my wounds than with some mini cookies ‘n cream cheesecakes!

This is actually a Martha Stewart recipe, but I found it on The Indiscriminate Foodie’s blog. The pictures alone sold me. A whole Oreo at the bottom of a deliciously sweet and creamy concoction? It seemed like the cone-head sundae you get with a kid’s meal at Friendly’s! You know, the one with the Reese’s Pieces at the bottom!

The preparation for the cheesecakes themselves was pretty straight forward. Beat everything together, crush up Oreos, combine, cook, chill. I’m still having issues with my hand mixer, though. I’m finally at the point where I think it’s me. Maybe I need a bigger bowl, or to use a different setting? Whatever I’m doing isn’t working; nothing ever creams as I expect it to. Maybe I’ll just have to get that giant KitchenAid standing mixer!

Enough of my kitchen supply wants and desires, back to the deliciousness! These little mini heavens were a perfect ending to a successful day on the slopes. They had just the right amount of flavor you would expect in a cheesecake; cheesy, sweet, rich, creamy, decadent… you get my point. Add in some crunch at the bottom from an Oreo and you’ve got yourself some seriously good cheesecake.

I really love that they’re miniature; you don’t feel so badly for eating one. And believe me, one is enough! They’re so rich that any more would have put me over the edge; but it did take a lot of self control to stop! To be fair though, I had just inhaled a vegetarian fajita burrito from Chipotle only  moments before. And sure, the fact that you cook them in cupcake pans didn’t really hurt either, since I’m completely obsessed with all things cupcake!

I can definitely see myself making these again, and maybe even with some different flavor variations!

I can’t encourage you to make these any more – prep time was about 20 minutes with a 20 minute bake time. The hardest part will definitely be the 4+ hours you wait while they’re in the fridge. But it’s worth it, I promise! So go get the ingredients and get started! Here’s the recipe:

Martha Stewart’s Cookies and Cream Cheesecakes


21 Oreos or other creme-filled sandwich cookies. 15 whole, 6 coarsely chopped.
1 lb. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large, room temperature eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
pinch of salt


1. Preheat oven to 275°F. Line standard-sized muffin tin with paper liners and place one sandwich cookie into the bottom of each lined cup.
2. With an electric mixer on medium-high, beat cream cheese until creamy and smooth. Gradually beat in sugar until combined. Beat in vanilla.
3. Drizzle in the beaten eggs a little bit at a time until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in sour cream and salt. Then stir in the coarsely chopped cookies by hand.
4. Divide the batter evenly among the cookie-filled cups, filling each one almost to the top. Bake until the cakes are set (about 22 minutes), rotating the pans halfway through.
5. Remove from oven and place pans on wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, chill the cakes in the pans for at least four hours (or up to overnight).

A couple of notes:

To chop the cookies, I put the cookies in a zip-top bag and crushed them with his hands. A rolling pin works too!
When it comes to chilling them, I think the longer they chill, the better; mine were in for about 8 hours before I had a taste, and they were great!