Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Breakfast Cookies


These have been taste approved by the husband and his diet conscious coworkers. They're healthy tasting but in a good way and good for breakfast or workout food. No added sugar, and it's egg, flour, and dairy free.

I jazzed up the original recipe with dates, coconut, almonds, and chocolate chips (though obvs this adds sugar) and you can add (or omit) whatever you like. The below measurements for the add ins are estimates, I was just trying to get rid of things in my pantry so I wasn't measuring exactly.

Adapted from Watching What I Eat

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups rolled oats, uncooked
2 ripe bananas
1 cup unsweetened applesauce (if you're out of applesauce, boil two chopped apples in a little bit of water until they get soft. Then purée them with an immersion blender.)
1/4 cup chopped dates
1/4 cup toasted, sliced almonds
1/4 cup shredded coconut
Handful of chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 F/180 C.

Mix dry ingredients together.

Mix apple sauce, bananas, vanilla, and cinnamon together and pulse with the immersion blender. You can also just mash the bananas yourself with a fork, but I didn't like the chunks of banana in the cookies and preferred something smoother.

Add the apple/banana mix to the dry ingredients and mix together. Let stand for a few minutes (original recipe suggests 10 minutes but I was impatient). Drop spoonfuls onto parchment paper and press them flat. Bake for 20-30 minutes and let cool. Keep in an airtight container.

Very yummy!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Snow, snow, and more snow

According to the news, this has been the darkest winter in Germany in 50 years. I think everyone is ready for spring and sunshine and an END to the snow. But considering that we woke up this morning to a few inches of fresh snow and a snow plow slowly making its way up the hill and my annoyed looking landlord shoveling our driveway, I think spring is still a ways off.

My hair is really suffering from all this cold weather. The German radiators don't do much to put moisture back in the air, and yesterday my hair was looking very sad indeed. Hair mask time? I think yes.

3 Tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup honey
1 raw egg

If raw eggs gross you out, omit it. But it does make a difference!

Wet your hair and work in your mix from scalp to ends (if your scalp is oil, just work on the ends). Cover your hair in a shower cap or if you're not prepared like me, some Saran Wrap. (Sexy and you know it, right?) Wrap your hair up in a towel and let the mix soak in for 20-30 minutes. Then wash it out and wash/condition your hair as usual. If you want an extra boost, rinse your hair with half a cup apple cider vinegar after your shampoo. Rinse with water and condition as you normally do.

However a word to the wise-you might want to microwave the vinegar first since pouring cold apple cider vinegar on my head was not so nice.

The results? My hair is smooth, soft, shiny, and I can't stop touching it.

The real test? My husband even noticed. when he walked in he actually commented that my hair looked "really shiny" today. A normal dude noticing hair changes?? That's the true miracle.

I feel like something like this is best done he's not around though...our beauty secrets involving kitchen supplies and Saran Wrap and waiting around for 30 minutes are best done in the privacy of girl time. Then you can just smile and say it's natural ;)

I'm spending the rest if this snow day cuddled up inside! Snow, snow go away!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Long Weekend in Rome Part 2

By the time we finished the Vatican it was still early afternoon so we decided to press on and see the Colosseum. I know, we are overachievers :)

The Colosseum is AWESOME. I mean, as a history nerd, being able to see it in person, to go inside and imagine what it would've been like to be there was mind boggling. And it's so well preserved! It was unreal. Visiting the Colosseum was also awesome because we bought the Roma Pass, which gives you free public transport, free access to your first two attractions and reduced price for the rest, and most importantly, line jumping privileges. The line at the Colosseum was huge, but we happily sailed by in our own Roma Pass line and got inside (for free!). I told Fionn that made the card worth it for that reason alone!






While walking around the Colosseum we ran into one of Fionn's college classmates who's also now in Germany. Small world! We walked around a little more before admitting that our feet were killing us and it was probably time to call it a day.




Our first thought was, hey! early dinner! Until we realized Italians don't eat til 7 or 8 and it was only 5. We stopped at a very Italian cafe/bakery where we had the most delicious cappuccino I've ever had and some pastries. It took some language mix ups with the non English speaking staff but we finally managed. I really wish I'd learned some Italian!


Yes, please!

We finally decided to picnic in our room and hit up a grocery store for salads, fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, pesto, and some juice. It ended up being so delicious and actually really fun to camp out in our hotel room for dinner. Fun times :)

For our last day in Rome we decided to visit the Roman ruins of the Roman forum, Palatine Hill, and the Imperial Forum. I had a total nerd moment visiting the ruins. It was seriously one of the coolest places I've ever been. I just kept running around saying, "Do you see this?? Look at that!! WOW!" Fionn snapped photos :)


I was so excited I couldn't stop smiling


There was just so much to look at. So much coolness! Since we got there early it wasn't crazy crowded either. Bonus!









While we were walking around we ran into the sister of a college boyfriend of mine. It was a very unexpected surprise and really nice to see her. She's studying abroad in Italy this semester. Kind of funny to have 2 chance encounters with people from our past in one weekend!

After meeting our Roman ruin quota for the day, we stumbled upon the Mouth of Truth (it's supposed to bite your hand off if you've lied) but didn't get any pictures. We spent the rest of the day walking around, visiting some shops, and eating canoli. Ok, well I ate the canoli(s). :) There is so much to see and do in Rome, I think if you have a limited amount of time like we did you have to just accept that you won't see everything and just enjoy what you can see. And wow did we enjoy what we did! :)


That night we found an Ethiopian restaurant and pretty much stuffed ourselves with all its tasty goodness. Fionn asked me to look up Ethiopian recipes to try at home. haha, we'll see how THAT turns out!

And so, our long weekend came to a close. We hopped our flight to Munich, unpacked, and welcomed the cold and ice back into our lives. Well, maybe not so much "welcomed" as accepted...Italy, we miss you already!

Long weekend in Rome Part 1

For Presidents' Day weekend, we decided to hit up Rome. Fionn had already been, but since he is a sweetheart he suggested we go so I could see it. Plus it was Valentine's Day weekend and February is an off season for tourists and it's only a one hour flight aaaaaand do we really need any more reasons to see ROME?? :)

We arrived Friday and got there early enough to do some sightseeing before sundown. First stop, Trevi Fountain!



We didn't throw a coin in though, waaaaaaay too many people!

We stopped into this really cool hat store where an Italian lady talked my ear off (in Italian) about some vintage velvet hats we were both looking at, and Fionn bought himself a vintage hat. The shopkeeper took 5 euros off the price and handed it back to him saying, "So you can take your lady for coffee!"

We wandered into a random, beautiful church before visiting the Pantheon, where I proceeded to have a total history nerd moment that I was in the actual Pantheon.






We popped into a bakery before climbing the Spanish Steps, and ended our day with some pizza and a stroll past a deserted, illuminated Colosseum.





Our first full day we were up bright and early and headed for the Vatican. I gotta say, coming in February was AWESOME, because there was hardly anyone in the line to get inside the Basilica. We probably stood in line for 10 minutes max, and zip! We were in.





The Basilica was beautiful, even more than I expected. Everywhere you look is gold, beauty, opulence. It was interesting to see such earthly splendor and reflect on Acts 7:49, where it says, "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house can you build for me,' declares the Lord, "or what place is there in which I can rest?" Puts His greatness into perspective, doesn't it?


The whole place really was incredibly beautiful. We managed to glimpse St. Peter's tomb, Michelangelo's Pieta, and lots of other masterpieces.


After some lunch (where I learned I do NOT like Gorgonzola), we set off for the Vatican Museums. We got lucky again since there wasn't even a line to get in-we just zipped through the front door and up to the ticket window!

The Sistene Chapel is inside the Vatican Museum, but you can only buy a ticket for both, not either/or. The Vatican Museum is also very mazelike-you basically have to walk ALLLLLLL the way through the whole collection to see the chapel. There are signs that'll let you shortcut, but after walking through a few amazing rooms we slowed our pace down so we could enjoy everything.


We spent a really long time walking through the museum. There is almost TOO much to look at, and you start to get jaded after a while. Oh, another Raphael or Michaelangelo? A Bernini piece? Meh...what's in this room? Is that a good thing or a bad thing?






Finally we reached the Sistene Chapel, which was beautiful but so crowded. Pictures are forbidden and they mean it! I saw three people dragged out and yelled at by the guards just for trying. Yikes! So if you want to see if, try google ;)

By the time we left the museum, the tourists had come out in force and our once deserted line had started wrapping around the building. So we took a break, got some gelato, and headed for our next stop...

Bacon, Spinach, and Asparagus Quiche/ Angel Tears Quiche

This was a fast, easy quiche i whipped up for our Valentine's day dinner! I thought it was pretty dang good, but that was confirmed when Fionn took a slice to work for his lunch and one of the sergeants commented it smelled like "angels' tears" (that's apparently a good thing). So make this and make your coworkers jealous come lunch time. Or hey, share it with them and make friends :)



Ingredients

Pie Crust (I used store bought, but you can get fancy and make your own if you have a recipe you like)
3 eggs
1/2 cup 2% milk
2 Tbsp yogurt
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
Salt and pepper
Dash of nutmeg
Cooked bacon, crumbled
Cooked spinach
Asparagus spears

Preheat oven to 350 F/180 C.

Grease pie plate and arrange pie crust inside.

Mix first 6 ingredients together in a bowl. Fold in bacon and spinach, pour mixture into pie crust. Arrange asparagus spears on top and bake for 30 minutes or until mixture is set and crust is golden brown.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Slow Cooker Chicken Mole Tacos


After our tasty burrito experience in Berlin, we were craving chicken mole. But since Berlin is like 5 hours away and america is even farther, I knew I'd have to put my trusty slow cooker to work to make it myself. Mole, for those of you who haven't tried its amazingness, is a spicy sauce with hints of cinnamon and chocolate. Cinnamon and chocolate? With meat? I know, I know, just try it!

This recipe turned out so good. We had it the first night with corn tortillas and for lunch the next day it was reinvented into a burrito bowl. Both awesome.

I followed Martha's recipe, but made a few adjustments.

3 chicken thighs, 2 chicken breasts
Coarse salt
1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 large chipotle chile in adobo sauce (chopped and seeded if you don't want it too spicy)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup dates, chopped
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Fresh cilantro leaves, for serving

Directions

Season chicken with salt and place in slow cooker. Using an immersion blender, puree tomatoes, onion, chipotle chiles, almonds, dates, garlic, oil, cumin, and cinnamon until smooth. Add chopped chocolate to mix and stir. NOTE: My immersion blender does not like to chop chocolate, hence why I added it after. If yours can handle it, add the chocolate with the rest of the ingredients when you're pureeing.

Add mixture to slow cooker, cover, and cook on high until chicken is tender, 4 hours (or 8 hours on low). Shred chicken and serve with sauce. Top with cilantro.

This had just enough heat for me (I don't like really spicy stuff), but if you love spice, add more adobo chiles. This barely lasted 1 day in our house before it was all gone!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Fasching in Bavaria

While everyone stateside was talking about Mardi Gras, Germans (especially Bavarians) were going nuts for Fasching. Fasching is German Carnival-crazy parties, crazy costumes, crazy parades, and normally reserved Germans throwing candy and handing out shots and cutting off ties. While the big Fasching party is in Cologne, we managed to catch a small glimpse of Fasching during a parade in a local town. It was fun!












As you can see, it was a pretty crazy mix of costumes. The floats went by, people pelted you with candy or gave out shots, and since the parade was small it looped around the town about 3 times before coming to a stop. Then everyone danced in the street and drank. It was pretty funny, and VERY Bavarian. Our favorite part was all the tractors-where I'm from it's big pick up trucks and beauty queens that dominate parades! ;)

Happy Fasching, everyone!