Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Homemade Honey Peanut Butter

I could seriously post this recipe with no words at all, just pictures. Two reasons. 1. It's SUPER easy! So easy I don't know if we can even call it a "recipe" at all. 2. Every time I see these pictures I just want to go get another spoonful! Yes. It really is as good and easy as it looks. 

Peanut butter! I love the stuff. I love it on toast. I love it on bananas. I love it on a spoon with a glass of milk. I love it mixed with jelly and spread on two slices of bread. Love it. But have you ever looked at the label on a jar of peanut butter? It was brought to my attention this week how many ingredients that aren't actually peanuts at all are in a jar of peanut butter. Allow me to share them with you. 


A regular or reduced fat jar of normal peanut butter has 60% peanuts in it. Even natural peanut butter isn't all peanuts. Common ingredients are peanuts (obviously), sugar, molasses, and palm oil. Now if you're going to buy peanut butter, buy natural! It is way better and not at all bad and 90% peanuts. But guess what my peanut butter has in it? 

Peanuts! Well, and a little honey. I'm not a math person, but if I were to guess on the percentage of peanuts in my peanut butter, I'd go 99% peanuts and 1% honey. 

Seriously, this is so simple! If you have a food processor, you can make this and feel so awesome about life, yourself, your body and what you're putting in it, AND your DIY skills. If you don't have a food processor, go buy one! It's a worthy investment. 


  • 2 jars of unsalted dry roasted peanuts (I used Walmart brand)
  • 2 tablespoons of honey


Pour one jar of peanuts into your food processor. Pulse pulse pulse. Hold the button down and let it go! The first stage will look like crumbs and/or powder and you'll wonder if it will really get creamy.

Once the first jar got pretty powdery, I added in the second jar and squeezed in a little honey. I'm estimating about 2 tablespoons worth, maybe a little less, but 2 won't hurt. 

Just keep pulsing, just keep pulsing, just keep pulsing. The next phase it will start to form a gooey ball. Pause to take a picture if you want, but then... Just keep pulsing, just keep pulsing.

Voila! Before your eyes the gooey ball, that was once crumbly powder, that was once hard peanuts, will transform into a luscious creamy nut butter!

It will also be slightly warm right after because of the hard work of the food processor. Slather in on a banana (or a spoon, or your finger) and enjoy immediately! Then put it in a jar or air tight container and show it to all your friends. Or give them some! They'll love you more than they already do.

This homemade peanut butter will keep in your refrigerator for 2 months! And then we will of course make more. Seriously. Do it. 

Pin It

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Super Bowl Party Pizza Puffs

Guess who doesn't know who is playing in the Superbowl? Guess who didn't even know that the Superbowl was this weekend and planned a staff dinner party for that night? Guess whose entire staff also didn't know the Superbowl was on that night or have any desire to change the dinner party to another night. I sure did pick the right 6 girls to be on my staff! So you get it, I don't like or care about football. 

HOWEVER, I do like parties and party foods! Even though I'm having a staff dinner party that's Greek themed where we might turn on the TV and watch the Superbowl commercials, I totally support Superbowl parties. Go to a Superbowl party if you didn't make other plans like I did. Go and bring something! Bring something healthy that people won't even believe is healthy on a pretty plate to steal the show away from the wings and rotel dip. Bring these Party Pizza Puffs and everyone will be talking about your offerings during the commercials (or during the game if you're going to a party with girls like me).

Party Pizza Puffs

Recipe slightly adapted from


  • 3/4 cup Heart Healthy Bisquick
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4th teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic poweder
  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup reduced fat mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 1/2 ounces of turkey pepperoni, quartered
  • marinara sauce for dipping

This recipe is for a single batch which makes about 24 mini puffs. I actually trippled it when I made it because I was feeding a lot of people. For an average size Superbowl party I'd for sure double it. 


Preheat oven to 350. Use non-stick cooking spray to spray a 24 count mini muffin tin. In a large bowl mix the Bisquick, red pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic powder and onion powder. Add the milk and egg and whisk until combined and lump free. Add the cheeses and pepperoni and stir until combined.

I used a cookie scoop to divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Let them cool slightly on a cooling wrack before serving. Serve with warm marinara for dipping! 

I made these for my RAs and for a Christmas Eve party. EVERYONE loves them. Women, men, teenage boys (they really love them), even dieters!

Pin It

My Best Friend Micki

Today, a very special person in my life has a birthday! Most of the girls in our friend group are totally rocking into our 30th year this year. My beautiful best friend Micki has graced the world with her lovely presence for 30 days today! In honor of the celebration of her birth, I dedicate this blog post to her and the role of best friend she's played in my life for almost 10 years.

First, I stole an idea from a friend who recently did a blog post for her best friend's 30th birthday and found 30 M words that describe my wonderful friend. Micki Ellen Bennett Atkinson is... modish, magnificent, memorable, magical, magnanimous, marvelous, modern, majestic, merry, motherly, melodic, motivating, meticulous, modest, mighty, mannerly, meaningful, merciful, masterful, muti-talented, maternal, married, magnetic, marshmallow-lover, marketable, matchless, mature, mesmerizing, missed, and MY best friend!

In honor of your 30th Micki, I found 30 pictures of us on Facebook! Did you know that in the very first picture ever tagged of me on Facebook, I'm standing next to you??

We met as strangers in 2003, 10 years ago this summer, at Camp Garaywa as we debriefed our summer missions experiences. That day was the last day we'd ever be strangers again. We both started as transfer students at Mississippi College that fall and were pretty much inseparable from then on. 

The early years. Some things haven't changed at all. We can still have fun doing just about anything. We can go months (which we shouldn't!) without talking and feel just as close as we ever have. We still both like really grandma-ish nightgowns. And I can't recall a time I've ever been around you and not giggled at least once. However, a lot has changed! From serious things to jobs, homes, losses, marriage, and babies to silly things like... We are a heck of a lot better at making good hair choices than we were in these pictures that are (thankfully) a bit blurry.

You are my favorite secret keeper. I always, and have always, known I can confide in you with anything. 

So many memories. So much fun. So many stories. We could write a book!

We could also write a book called, "How to Be a Bridesmaid." How many weddings have we been in together? How many showers have we planned together? It cannot be denied by anyone that we make a good team!

We learned how to cook together. We learned how to be grown ups together. We learned how to not get lost (okay, we didn't learn that skill TOO well yet) together. We learned how to be Mississippi girls, living in a big, not Mississippi town together! We also learned that we don't care about tans and embrace our paleness together.

And though many who met me in later years may not believe it, if it weren't for you I would have never been the obsessed Harry Potter fan I am! Thank you for putting that book in my hands so many years ago and forcing me to read it. And then for rewinding and playing back the owl parts over and over again in slow motion while we giggled eating cinnamon sticks from Pete's Arena in your dorm room.

I wish we could both always live in the great state of Mississippi and be neighbors. I'm excited for your adventures and where life brings you even if it doesn't bring us to the same places. And I'm oh so thankful that I can always depend on seeing you at the annual Friendmas Party (and many times more a year of course, but the Friendmas pictures were a good theme)! We were at the first one, and if there ever is a last, we'll be at that one. We found a friend group together! The best one too.

Thank you for letting me be part of your life. Thank you for being part of mine. Thank you for the beautiful friendship you give me, and so many others. I'm beyond thankful that I have had the privilege of being a best friend, by your side, for so many great things, like your wedding, and so many things to come. The snapshot to the left isn't even one of the best ones, or planned, but so symbolic to me! I will always be here, standing by your side, your best friend. And one day when I get married I promise I'll do your hair too!

I love you more than any of the words in this blog post could ever say. Happy birthday best friend!

Pin It

Meal Planning 101: Week 19

Remember how I always posted meal plans meant for Sunday on Monday? Well I found a new blog who does Menu Plan Mondays. So I'm just committed now to Meal Plan Mondays! It always worked a little better to post on Mondays, even though I usually use Monday also for Meal Prep Mondays. Meal Prep Mondays were never regular posts though, so I'll just sneak them in occasionally on Meal Plan Mondays. Also, is anyone else as obsessed with meal planning note pads as me?! I can't pass them up. Ever.

I'm full force back on the healthy train! Boot Camp Week 2 started today. Meal planning healthy meals and grocery shopping for them happened this weekend. Oh how I missed Sam's Club and my cheap big batches of produce and healthy things!

I also discovered Sugar Pears this week! How did I live so long and never know about the super cute mini pears?! I couldn't pass them up. To the menu! I'm starting a new thing this week where I bring lighter, smaller meals for lunch instead of leftovers, therefore creating more leftovers during the week, which isn't my reason, but a not so horrible side effect of my plan. And so, less meals on the menu list, but more things on the lunch ideas and make ahead lists. Fair trade right? 


Crock Pot Philly Cheese Steak Stuffed Peppers (used this recipe, but altered it for the crock pot) and Roasted Green Beans and Potatoes


Leftover Peppers


Leftover Peppers


Avocado Pesto Alfredo Linguine & Roasted Broccoli


Leftover Linguine


Leftover Linguine


Crock Pot Greek Chicken, Pitas, Layered Greek Dip and Greek Potatoes (Staff Dinner Party - Greek themed!)


I think I was way too excited about food prep and menu planning again and went a little crazy with it! From Saturday to Monday I made the following:  

  • Breakfast Fruit Parfaits layered with different fruits, cottage cheese, vanilla yogurt, and slivered almonds. I actually made 8! The recipe will come soon. I'm hoping they last until next week. None of the ingredients expire until way later, so I'm thinking maybe? We'll see. 
  • Jar Salads, 4 more.
  • Cookie Dough Greek Yogurt, for easy healthy take to work after lunch dessert. 
  • Homemade Peanut Butter, so easy! Recipe also coming.
  • Banana Bread, 5 batches. Ridiculous.

The amount of Mason jars in my refrigerator is just a little obsessive. I just love make ahead things and food prep! I have a problem. At least it's healthy though right??

Did I mention I made homemade peanut butter?? Still in love with it.

Lunch Ideas: 

And lastly, I'll throw in last weeks lunch pictures to maybe help you come up with healthy, non-eating out, lunch ideas!

microwavable edamame + hummus + 1 pita

bird's eye mushroom & green bean steam in bag risotto + green giant singles broccoli & cheese* + 1 pita

green giant singles broccoli & cheese* + kroger 90 second  cook in pouch red beans & rice

The little Green Giant Just for One sides are one of my favorite lunch items! They are the perfect way to make lunch a little more rounded and have a bit more substance. They have several varieties!

Pin It

Friday, January 25, 2013

Salad in a Jar & Boot Camp

Remember that whole boot camp starting this week thing that I mentioned in my last post? Yeah. It started. It's not called boot camp to just sound cool, it's intense! Today is the first day that I didn't make audible noises every time I moved to or from a standing position. Getting up, sitting down, it all hurt. I also left a trail of things everywhere I went that I dropped on the ground of floor. Just today I was able to pick up the bar of soap that I dropped in the shower two days ago. Sorry Starbucks about that pink plastic spoon I dropped on the floor and couldn't pick up, it just hurt too bad!

I would say it wasn't as awful as I thought it would be, but I won't lie... It was pretty awful!  Life is good, I don't feel like I've been hit by a truck anymore, and I'm proud of myself! However, my apartment is a wreck because my week consisted of nothing but wake up, Jesus & Starbucks time, work, boot camp, eat something I didn't have to stand to make, sit until I could convince myself it was better to take a shower at night than in the morning when I'd hurt worse, shower, sleep, rinse and repeat. I don't remember the last time I went to be before midnight every night in a week. Several nights I went to be before 11!

A few things I learned the first week: Burpees were created by Satan himself. I suck at sprinting. I can sweat way more than I thought I could. My entire body turns red when I work out intensely. I can do a lot more than I thought I could. Weight Watchers gives more Activity Points for doing intense physical activity for a reason! It's apparently normal to gain weight the first week of starting new, intense work out programs (we all did!). Even when it feels like my heart and lungs are about to leap out of my chest, my body can apparently keep going. Working out with people makes a huge difference! I need to marry a personal trainer so I have a motivator for life.

Now to the food! For me, lunch can be the hardest meal of the day to make healthy choices for. It's the one meal we usually aren't home to eat. So today I bring you my all time favorite lunch idea!

A few things you probably already know about me.
  1. I love any make ahead recipe.
  2. I like food prep work A LOT.
  3. I love anything with layers.
  4. I love anything in a mason jar, anything. 
  5. I don't believe in paying money to eat out for lunch breaks!
  6. I'm not a fan of the whole get up early to pack a lunch thing.

If you share any of these things in common with me. This recipe, which is more of an idea, is for you! I don't do these every week, I like variety! But it's one of my go-to make ahead favorite lunch ideas. I love salad! Love it. But before this idea, it was impossible to bring salad to work for lunch without bringing everything and the kitchen sink with me to work. And who wants to be that much of a diva and have a lunch bag bigger than the purse and work bag we already have, or am I the only one who carries three bags to work? If you layer these salads correctly, they can keep in the refrigerator for up to four days! Last week I made two, but I've made four before and had them every day for lunch.

First let's talk a little prep. Prep! It can be so easy with the right tools. So many prep tasks can be done before.

I used to hate carrots in my salads. I liked them dipped in hummus or ranch, but hated them in salads for two reasons. 1. Carrots are hard to cut up into bite sized pieces! Every time I tried little carrot pieces would fling across the room. 2. Stabbing little carrot slices with a fork is equally as hard. Carrots meet mini food processor. It chops carrots in seconds to little crumbly type pieces, about the size of bacon bits. Perfect!

Other prep involves chopping whatever you want in your salad. I usually use whatever I have. For this one my prep involved boiling and chopping eggs, sauteing some pre-cooked frozen chicken pieces, and chopping green onions. That's it!

Then it's all about the layering and ingredients. The most important thing is to keep the dressing and lettuce as far away as possible. Keep the wet stuff on bottom and dryer stuff on top. I layered this batch of salad with the following ingredients in the order listed.

  • strawberry balsamic vinaigrette
  • green onions 
  • finely chopped carrots
  • julienne chopped cucumbers
  • quartered grape tomatoes
  • dried cranberries
  • a little sprinkle of mexi-blend cheese (close to expiration date)
  • a little sprinkle of feta cheese (close to expiration date)
  • cooked chicken breast, seasoned with Tony's, pre-diced
  • a little sprinkle of turkey bacon bits
  • one boiled egg, chopped
  • romaine lettuce (Keep stuffing it, lettuce compacts!)
  • dried french onions (left over from holiday cooking)

Did I mention this recipe can also be used to clean out your fridge/cabinets? If it can be put in a salad, put it in! Be sure to bring a paper plate or large bowl with you to work to pour out the salad. The blog where I found the idea, said to shake it up and eat out of the jar, but that's never worked for me. Just slowly pour it on a plate or bowl and eat!

I saw a blog that posted weekly pictures of what she brought for lunch, no recipes, just ideas. It was useful to me, and I'd be willing to do that if it would be useful for you! Yes? No? Let me know and I'll start doing it! 

Pin It