July 2017 archive

flourless peanut butter cookie ice cream sandwiches

Happy happy Monday! We had some absolutely gorgeous weather this weekend and I haven’t yet brought myself to terms with the fact that the hot, humid weather will be back any minute. One thing that makes the August heat a bit more bearable is cold, refreshing ice cream. And what could be better than ice cream? The easiest flourless peanut butter cookie ice cream sandwiches!

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches | www.passthecookies.com

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches | www.passthecookies.com

With no flour or grains of any kind, these cookies are naturally gluten free. But, don’t let that scare you away, gluten lovers! These are now my go-to peanut butter cookies for gluten free and gluten loving friends alike – no one can tell that they are flourless! Even my mom, who has no problem with gluten and does not like anything peanut butter flavored, proclaimed these as her favorite peanut butter cookies. All hail the flourless peanut butter cookies!

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches | www.passthecookies.com

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches | www.passthecookies.com

These are the easiest cookies to throw together. With only 5 ingredients and no mixer required, I can throw these together in just a few minutes, which leaves more time for enjoying all of the summer activities. They are perfect for last minute get-togethers or backyard summer cookouts and are total crowd-pleasers! Every time I offer these, someone asks for the recipe. They are too simple not to share with everyone!

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches | www.passthecookies.com

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches | www.passthecookies.com

You can make these cookies on their own, or take it up a notch and turn them into ice cream sandwiches. Chocolate ice cream pairs perfectly with the smooth sweet and salty peanut butter cookies, but vanilla would work well too. You can make these a plated dessert by topping one cookie with a scoop of ice cream. If you’re feeling really fancy after putting minimal effort into such a delicious dessert, add some chocolate shavings or chocolate sprinkles. People will oh and ah, but only you will know how little time it took to throw together. That’s the goal of summer dessert, right? Minimal effort, maximum effect. Check, check.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
Barely adapted from the Ovenly cookbook
Makes 26 to 28 cookies (using a 1 ½ tablespoon scoop), or 13 to 14 ice cream sandwiches

1 ¾ cups light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 ¾ cups peanut butter*
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips or chopped milk chocolate (optional and not pictured here, but so so good when included)
Sea salt, for garnish

For ice cream sandwiches:
1 pint of ice cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and eggs until smooth. Stir in the vanilla, then the peanut butter and salt until smooth and completely incorporated. You should not be able to see any ribbons of peanut butter.

You can scoop and bake the cookies immediately after mixing them, though I found that they keep their shape better if you chill them in the freezer for 15 minutes before scooping. Scoop or spoon the dough into balls (I use a 1 ½ tablespoons or a medium (#40) cookie scoop) and place a few inches apart on prepared pan. They won’t spread much so you may need to gently press them down with the palm of your hand if you want flatter cookies. I like them tall for the maximum soft center :)

Lightly sprinkle the dough balls with sea salt just before baking. Bake cookies for about 8-10 minutes for smaller cookies and 10-15 minutes for slightly larger cookies. If you make very large cookies you may need to increase the cooking time even more. The cookies should be golden around the edges when they are done. Let them rest on the baking sheet for a minute or two before transferring them to a wire rack to cool. Let the cookies cool completely before eating.
You can make the dough in advance and either refrigerate it for a couple days or freeze it longer. If you want to freeze the dough, scoop it into balls and place them in one layer on a baking sheet covered with plastic wrap in the freezer. After about 30 minutes you can put the frozen balls into a gallon zippered plastic bag. You can bake them straight from the freezer.

To make them into ice cream sandwiches:
Scoop ½ scoop of ice cream onto half of the cookies and sandwich the rest of the cookies on top of the ice cream, gently pressing down. You can serve immediately or freeze the sandwiches for a few hours to make sure they are frozen together and don’t slide apart when you are eating them.

*To save you some measuring, the 16.3-ounce jar of peanut butter is estimated to contain 1¾ cups. I tried this with natural peanut butter and it worked just as well. The natural peanut butter makes the dough a bit softer, so in order for them to keep their shape you should not skip the chilling step if you use this variation. I have always used creamy peanut butter, but you can use crunchy to give them some texture.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches | www.passthecookies.com

link love

Happy Sunday, friends! Link love is a little later than usual this week, but we still have some Sunday left to relax and enjoy the end of the weekend. The weather has been unseasonably beautiful here this weekend and we are soaking it up as much as we can before the heat and crazy humidity returns. I’m headed to a baby shower for one of my lifelong friends who I mentioned in my LA posts and I’m excited to see all of the teeny tiny things :)

link love 7.30.2017

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Before the weekend slips away from us, here is some link love from last week.

In case you are in the mood for an ice cream sandwich, this taste test for the best ice cream sandwich might be helpful. My favorite part is the five-year-old who gives the same opinion for every brand of ice cream sandwich: “I like these.”

How many days a week do you go without spending any money? Likely not many. Even though we try to stick to a budget, zero-dollar days are so intriguing to me. Having days where we don’t spend any money would be a challenge, but ultimately would lead to better spending habits and enlighten us to how often we make unnecessary purchases, even if they are within the budget.

On the topic of money, it interestingly didn’t make the list of the 9 motivators of millennials in the workplace. As I read this article I found myself agreeing with many of the statements and motivators. Some of them are so easy for companies to enact and don’t cost anything. As the workplace demographic shifts, I wonder how long it will take for companies to change and include some of these incentives.

The wallpaper in this home is insane. There are so many pretty patterns that are meaningful to the family. All of that wallpaper reminds me of when my mom and I installed wallpaper in a tiny powder room then swore we would never do it again.

Moving to a different kind of art, Misty Copeland, the first black woman to become principal ballerina at the American Ballet Theatre, reenacted famous ballerina paintings and sculptures by Edgar Degas for an upcoming art exhibit and the sneak peaks are amazing. The goal of the project was to bring these iconic paintings and sculptures into the 21st century, and include the body types, ethnicities, and races that are now included in the ballet world, which were not previously reflected in art because they didn’t exist as commonly in the ballet community. It is a beautiful project and I can’t wait to see the final product.

With that, have a beautiful Sunday and a great rest of your weekend!

favorite summer dishes

Summer nights mean longer light, enticing warm weather, and fun outdoor activities. To maximize the time that we can enjoy these slow evenings, we have had a few favorite summer dishes that have rotated through our menus regularly.

Favorite Summer Meals

Having a few go-to recipes that we like makes it easier to meal plan and grocery shop, and quicker to make dinner, since we are already familiar with the recipe steps. Even when we go out of town for a weekend and don’t have time to meal plan or make a grocery list for the week, having some go-to recipes on hand means that we know which ingredients to pick up and we know they won’t go to waste. This has been one of the best things in a busy season and has really decreased the stress and time spent meal planning throughout the summer. Below are a few of our favorite summer meals and dishes. We’re always looking for more go-to recipes, so if you have any summer favorites, I’d love to hear them! (more…)

link love

Happy happy Friday. This week has been so busy and so long. There are so many things I have wanted to do but didn’t have time.  I simultaneously want to do everything this weekend and just relax and not do anything at the same time because I’m exhausted. Sometimes I can’t relax until I have been productive, so the dilemma continues. I hope you can relax or be productive – whichever you desire! Or better yet (for me) both!

link love 7.21.2017

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Until then, let’s soak up some great link love from the week.

This guest room reveal is amazing. It makes me want to add paneling and paint every room.

People have been talking about it for weeks now, but the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale opened to the public today! There are some great sweaters, jeans, boots, and home decor. I grabbed these boots online and am am excited to see if they work! I love these boots too!

We have done a lot of weekend road trips this summer for weddings and family events and aren’t done yet! Despite having a lot to catch up on when we get home, experiencing new places on our road trips and seeing other people’s vacation photos makes me want to go somewhere new every weekend. I love this guide to a road trip in each state.

Speaking of going somewhere new, this is a great post about why we should try new things right where we are.

You know those epic cheeseboards that you envy all over Instagram? You can make that just from a Trader Joe’s haul, and this post will tell you how. Trader Joe’s is one of my favorite places to get cheese. They have a good selection and great prices, compared to some other stores. And their snack and dried fruit selection can’t be beat, which, after the cheese, is really key for a good cheeseboard. Now I want to make a cheeseboard for dinner.

We prepped all of the ingredients for lunches and dinners this week. Substitute zucchini for carrots and this is how I felt, including the part about the beets. It took at least an hour and a half, and was worth it the rest of the week, but I won’t lie and say I didn’t want to just do something totally different than what we prepped on Thursday night. We did what was planned because we had worked so hard to prep it. On another note, did you know that those beets you chopped that dyed your hands pink for a whole day don’t release any juice after you store them in a tupperware in the fridge? That was news to me. I may stick to the cheese board next time.

Happy weekending, friends! I hope it’s a lovely one!

los angeles part II

Welcome to the second installment of my Los Angeles trip! If you missed the first, check it out here.

On Sunday, our last day of the trip, we drove out to Santa Monica and up the Pacific Coast Highway 1 to Malibu, where we stopped and walked down the cliffs to the Pacific Ocean. I have been to the Pacific Coast in both San Francisco and San Diego, but the water in Malibu was much more clear and blue than I remembered it being in either of the other California cities. We spent our day wandering around cute towns and driving along the PCH1 with the mountains on one side and the ocean on the other.

Los Angeles | www.passthecookies.com

Los Angeles | www.passthecookies.com

Los Angeles | www.passthecookies.com

Los Angeles | www.passthecookies.com

Los Angeles | www.passthecookies.com

The blooms in Malibu were unbelievable! Wouldn’t you love to have this as your doorway?! (more…)

mango margaritas

Tomorrow is my little brother’s 21st birthday, which makes him my not-so-little brother. For my sister’s 21st birthday I made adult hot chocolate with peppermint, gingerbread, and eggnog marshmallows. To this day, that is one of my favorite posts on the blog, partially because I love all things Christmas, and partially because that combination is ridiculously delicious. But, since hot chocolate and marshmallows is more appropriate for her December birthday for than my brother’s warm July birthday, a new “adult” recipe is in order! Mango margaritas are much more fitting for the heat of July and are perfect for a summer celebration.

Mango Margaritas | www.passthecookies.com

Mango Margaritas | www.passthecookies.com

Fresh mango makes the base of these delicious drinks, and when combined with the lime each sip is so fresh! You can pour this over crushed ice or add more water (or tequila) to thin it out, but I love the thicker consistency the mangos give it. It almost has a smoothie vibe when you first make it, but after a few minutes it does melt a bit into a sip-able drink like the typical margarita.

Mango Margaritas | www.passthecookies.com

Mango Margaritas | www.passthecookies.com

One of my favorite parts of this mango margarita is the spicy salty rim combined with the sweet and tangy drink. The rim gets its color and spice from chile powder, and a classic flavor from the salt that would typically adorn a margarita rim. A sip of the sweet mango margarita tones down the spice of the thin salt rim and creates a great flavor combo. If you or your friends don’t love spice, leave out the chile powder and just stick with salt. You can’t go wrong either way.

Mango Margaritas | www.passthecookies.com

On top of the amazing flavor and smooth texture, these are super easy to make for a crowd. The recipe can easily be multiplied to fill a pitcher. Now the only question – when is the party?

Mango Margaritas
2 medium mangoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 cups ice
6 ounces tequila
4 ounces grand marnier (or other orange liqueur)
4 ounces fresh lime juice
agave or simple syrup, to taste (optional)

For rim:
Lime wedges
1 tablespoon chile powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt

In a blender, puree the mango chunks, ice, tequila, grand marnier, and lime juice. Taste and add a little more tequila, agave, or a little simple syrup, as desired. I like to taste it before adding any sweeteners because I often find that the mango is sweet enough. If yours is not sweet enough, add agave or simple syrup (1/2 cup sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup water) to taste.

Mix the chile powder and salt on a plate. Wipe the rims of each glass with lime juice. Dip them in the chile-salt mixture and twist to coat the rim. Pour the mango margarita in each cup and garnish with a lime wedge to serve.

los angeles part I

Last month I spent a long weekend in Los Angeles with three of my childhood friends. We all grew up at church together and have kept in touch as we have gone to different colleges and moved to different cities. Three of us live in cities and towns across North Carolina and our fourth friend has lived in Los Angeles for about two years now. We have been trying to make plans to visit her since she moved to California, but with four different schedules to juggle, it wasn’t easy. After two years, the announcement of a baby on the way for one of our lovely NC ladies kicked all of our booties into high gear. Sometimes all you need is a nonnegotiable timeline to get things done. ;)

LA-4

LA-3

Our trip was a quick one (we took an early flight and arrived in LA on Friday early afternoon and took an early flight out of LA on Monday morning), and we really only had two and a half days to fit things into our trip, but we made it work! Two things surprised me about LA: it was very chilly, especially for June, and there was no public transportation! I have always heard about LA traffic and how terrible it is, but I didn’t realize that they don’t have a good public transportation system! Every other large city I have visited in the US has some kind of public transportation, and as someone who commutes by bus every day it was shocking to me that LA doesn’t!

LA-2

LA-1

The temperature didn’t get above the mid-70s, with the classic West Coast lack of humidity. The low humidity felt nice, but left us layering sweaters and jackets when it got windy or when the sun went down. As I type this, the temperature is 93 with a heat index of 103 in North Carolina, so it was very different from what we were used to and expecting. 75 in LA did not feel like 75 in NC. It was beautiful, but unexpected, and honestly, a little chilly.

LA-10

LA-9

We spent some time wandering around Echo Park and eating at delicious local restaurants, but also made sure to hit up Shake Shack and see some of the Hollywood stars on our first night. In the few days we had in the city, I feel like we got a great view of a lot of areas, as we drove around different neighborhoods and up and down the mountain to Griffith Observatory. There was a huge event going on at Griffith Observatory the weekend we were there, so we didn’t get a chance to see the view from there, but we saw a beautiful sunset from the top of another mountain one night and over the water from the Santa Monica Pier another night.

Los Angeles | www.passthecookies.com

Los Angeles | www.passthecookies.com

Los Angeles | www.passthecookies.com

One of our favorite places (hence all of the photos) was The Last Bookstore. It is a book-lover’s paradise. All four of us were immediately enamored and spent over an hour looking around at all of the different sections. If you are in LA, whether you like reading or not, this is a great place to check out. There are thrifted books that people have sold to the store (I got two books for $4 each!), and new books that have just been released. The combination is so unique because you can get great deals on books you recognize, but also see all of the current raves. The bookstore’s second floor is more artistic than the downstairs section. Books create tunnels and windows, local artists studios line one wall, and you can find old books sorted by color (fillers for those perfectly styled bookshelves).

Los Angeles | www.passthecookies.com

Los Angeles | www.passthecookies.com

Next up, Santa Monica and Malibu!

goat cheese mac and cheese with peas

This time of the year I’m always on the lookout for a good summer potluck dish. My newest go-to is this deliciously creamy goat cheese mac and cheese with peas.

Goat Cheese Mac and Cheese with Spring Peas | www.passthecookies.com

Goat Cheese Mac and Cheese with Spring Peas | www.passthecookies.com

With so many cookouts, picnics, and gatherings in the warm months, it is nice to have a few tasty dishes up my sleeve. As a very type A person, having a small portfolio of go-to easy-to-share dishes helps take the stress away from trying to find a potluck dish to bring in these situations, and helps me focus on seeing friends, rather than worrying about what food to bring.

One of my criteria for these sharable dishes is that they appeal to a lot of people. I always want to make sure I am contributing well to the group meal, and bringing something that appeals to many people, perhaps with different tastes, not just a dish that only a few people will like. Mac and cheese is always a great go-to in the colder months (I mean, who doesn’t like mac and cheese?!), but goat cheese gives the classic comfort dish a fresh update for the summer.

Goat Cheese Mac and Cheese with Spring Peas | www.passthecookies.com

Goat Cheese Mac and Cheese with Spring Peas | www.passthecookies.com

Goat cheese mac and cheese is amazingly creamy and cheesy, with a slight tang that is perfect for the warm summer months. The fresh summer peas pop against the pale cheesy noodles and add a little color to this delicious shareable dish. With an unexpected twist on the classic mac n’ cheese that everyone loves, goat cheese mac and cheese with peas is a total crowd-pleaser, perfect for your summer get-togethers.

Hop over to Lexi’s blog to get my recipe for this summer staple.

Goat Cheese Mac and Cheese with Spring Peas | www.passthecookies.com

link love

Happy weekend! If you celebrated the 4th of July, I hope your short work week was wonderful! We are spending the weekend at a beautiful lake with lots of friends and I’m so excited for what the weekend has in store. I hope you have a great one!

link love 7.8.2017

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Here is some link love for your weekend enjoyment.

I was laughing so hard at this post. These tops are everywhere, and while I have seen a few cute ones, I feel like everytime I try on one of them I just look like I am wearing a shapeless bag. I’m sure other people have found some that actually look cute in person, rather than just on the hanger, but I’m lost.

Do you remember what we did before the internet? I remember a lot of crafts and running around with neighborhood kids. Last night, we somehow started the activity of throwing a water bottle and trying to land it right-side-up on the counter. At first it only a few people were involved, but as more and more joined we had a group of 10 people standing in a circle waiting for their turn. It reminded me of what we would do before the internet :)

I am amazed at the photos some people take with just their iPhones. The iPhone photography awards have some amazing photos with such stories behind them. It shows that we don’t always need a fancy camera, but sometimes just the camera in our pocket. Now to figure out how my phone could be capable of that…

On a similar note, if you are looking for the beauty in this world, National Geographic always amazes me. We saw some of these photos in person a few years ago and the detail is incredible!

Lastly, Bon Appetit has a rent week “category,” which is both great and hilarious. Check it out.

Happy weekend!

july goals

2017 July Goals

Since I work in an academic setting and Will’s medical school schedule mostly changes with the academic calendar, my year is primarily measured by the August to May academic calendar. This means my summer is measured in months between the end of one school year and the start of the next. Working on projects for the start of the new school year, as I am now, is always startling and kind of scary because it reiterates how soon the next school year will be upon us. In some ways it feels like a month and a half have passed since the end of the (college) school year, and in some ways it feels like June only lasted a week. Mostly the latter. With all of it’s events, this summer has been both crazy busy and wonderfully relaxing at the same time, which is just how I love it.

Having a summer bucket list has helped give some purpose to any unexpected free time we have, and has helped me continue to cross things off the list as we go through these summer months. Some people prefer to spend their summer free time relaxing, but having structure helps my Type A personality feel like I can relax and I’m not forgetting about something that is looming on my plate. Sometimes though, I plan out my weekend or overbook my week and end up doing something completely different than my plan, but usually because we want to spend more time walking outside or spending time with family or friends, which are the perfect reasons to bend my schedule. This summer has been one of learning grace and flexibility with my Type A scheduling, my summer bucket list, and my monthly goals. With that in mind, below are my July goals, with a side of grace.

June Goals
-Make and decorate a cake for a baby shower
-Celebrate Will’s brother and almost sister-in-law getting married!!! – Woohoo!
-Help with the wedding, rehearsal dinner, and other celebratory events
-Enjoy a girl’s trip to LA with childhood friends – More on that to come
-Add two go-to dinner recipes to our list
-Use the lettuce and herbs from our garden in meals – We each got at least 4 meals out of it!
-Find a moisturizer or foundation with SPF that I like and start wearing it regularly – I have an SPF face lotion but did a poor job wearing it regularly until the end of June, but now I feel like it is almost part of my routine, so I’m marking it as an achieved goal
-Make new popsicle flavor combinationsRoasted strawberries and cream popsicles! I made another one that wasn’t good enough to share, but still a fun experience!
-Continue with a regular running schedule or do indoor toning exercises when it is thunder storming or too hot (welcome to North Carolina summers!)
-Have tea at Honeysuckle Tea House
-Celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary (!) – We made plans to!

July Goals
-Celebrate the 4th of July with fun, family, and food
-Find a paint color for the second bedroom
-Spend a weekend relaxing at the lake with family and friends
-Pick blackberries
-Get/order wedding gifts for our next three weddings
-Celebrate with friends at a wedding (I’m excited about the venues for this one! The other weddings we have been to this year have all been gorgeous, but I haven’t known anything about the locations/venues since most of them have been in different cities and states.The venues for this one are local, and places I have been, but never for a wedding. I’m excited to experience them in a different setting!)
-Make a plan or a timeline for our list of projects
-Run regularly, even in the heat
-Celebrate a childhood friend and soon-to-be mama
-Continue to use my Write the Word journal regularly throughout the week
A note: I got this one a few months ago and have loved it! Everyone can use it differently. Some people start a new page every day, but for me “regularly” means reading and writing down the verse and what I’m grateful for one day, filling out the “what’s on my heart,” and my word for the day another day, looking at the contextual passages another day, and rereading the verse and remembering what I’m grateful for each day. All of the Write the Word journals are sold out right now, but according to their instagram, all of the journals will be back in stock in August!

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