Halloween Treats

Halloween Treats!

It's officially Halloween weekend, everyone! Halloween is a BIG day in our household, as the boyfriend is an absolute NUT about it and plans his costume months in advance (Seriously. I think he started brainstorming in February this year). I've also loved Halloween all my life, too. Every year growing up I had to have the perfect costume, and luckily my mom is skilled at the sewing machine and would put in hours of working crafting my costumes to perfection. I'm not one for dressing as a sexy black cat (Really? We're supposed to be turned on by a cat?) or a sexy firefighter, or a sexy construction worker... or chiropractor...... I've always loved off-the-wall, creative costumes. I've also been known to spend hours searching around, thrifting, looking for the perfect pieces to make my costume juuuusssttt right. And this year mine will be no different (Don't worry, I'll give a full recap after tomorrow!).

Aside from dressing up, I love carving pumpkins! We have been SO busy the past few weeks we haven't been able to go pick out pumpkins or carve them yet! So we both took today off work to finish up our costumes, go pick out pumpkins and carve them while watching "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." Yeah. We're taking a vacation day to prepare for Halloween. We're cool like that.

But what might be my favorite part of Halloween of all is, of course, the treats! I still light up when seeing bowls of fun-sized candy bars in the office (though I can't scarf them down like I used to...). And I've bookmarked about a dozen recipes for Halloween snacks that I've been dying to make this year. However, I've only had time to squeeze in baking one treat so far! But this treat was a GREAT one: Mini Halloween Oreo Cheesecakes. 

I sent the batch out with the boyfriend to take to work, and he reported back that his coworkers RAVED about them, one of them even saying he liked the cheesecakes better than the maple-bacon cupcakes I made last spring, which apparently are still being talked about in his office.

The cheesecake, itself, has crushed Oreo mixed in the batter, but where the REAL treat lies is at the very bottom, with a full Halloween Oreo neatly settled underneath the creamy cheesecake goodness. I hadn't had in Oreo in what seem like years, and had forgotten just how delicious they are (Yeah, I might have sneaked one or two with a cup of almond milk...).

If you're scrambling for a treat to bring to any Halloween parties this weekend, give these a try!

Mini Halloween Oreo Cheesecakes
(Adapted from Gingerbread Bagels)

Here's what you'll need!

21 Halloween Oreo cookies, 15 left whole, 6 crushed (I actually used about 20 whole)
16 ounces (1 pound) cream cheese, softened – That’s two blocks of cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs, room temperature and lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
orange gel food coloring
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line a cupcake/muffin baking pan with cupcake liners.
Place 6 whole Oreo cookies in a food processor and grind them up. If you don’t have a food processor, put them in a plastic bag and crush them. Set aside.
Put 1 Halloween Oreo in each cupcake liner.
In a large bowl with the paddle attachment (a handheld mixer works fine) on medium speed, beat the 1 pound of cream cheese until smooth.
Add in the 1/2 cup of sugar to the cream cheese and mix on medium speed until combined.
Mix in the 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Slowly add in the 2 lightly beaten eggs and continue mixing. Now add in the 1/2 cup of sour cream and mix to combine the ingredients.
Once the ingredients are combined, use a spatula to ensure that all the ingredients are combined.
Add in a small amount of orange gel food coloring and stir with a mixing spoon/spatula in order to color the entire cheesecake batter.
Throw in the Oreo crumbs and stir to combine.
Fill each cupcake liner with the cheesecake batter, almost to the top.
Bake at 275 for 25 minutes. Halfway through the baking time, rotate the pan.
Allow the cheesecakes to cool on a cooling rack. Then refrigerate for at least 4 hours. I usually refrigerate my cheesecakes overnight.


Sunday Meals from Scratch

Mmm... comfort food bliss.
Sunday Meals from Scratch

Now that my incredibly busy summer has slowed down and a nice, relaxed fall season is in full swing, I've really been enjoying free time on the weekends to whip up some of the meals/treats I've been putting off until time allows. I've been compiling a truly epic recipe book for the past few months, but have noticed it's really skimping in the "meals" department, whereas the "treats" section is bursting from the brim (you know... the brim of the 3-ring binder...). I am definitely more of a baker than a cook, and don't often have many ideas for whipping up a hearty meal rather than, say, a three-layer buttercream cake.

Lucky for me, there's my very own yin to my yang living right with me! He is the savory to my sweet, and is a better cook than I am. Our strengths in the kitchen balance out perfectly, which allowed for us to make a meal of epic proportions for lupper (lunch/supper... it was a 3pm meal!) yesterday afternoon.

The boyfriend suggested we make chili for football Sunday (uuhhh... HOW many more weeks are left???), which I thought sounded like a great idea. I will say I usually prefer a white chili over red, so I wasn't too ecstatic to hear he wasn't up for turkey and white beans, but nevertheless, I knew it would be tasty. He whipped up the chili, which had a mix of so many delicious things: black beans, kidney beans, navy beans, fire-roasted red peppers, fresh green peppers, chorizo and, what I thought was the star of the show, SWEET POTATO. Mmmm... we topped it off with a sprinkling of mild cheddar and a dollop of sour cream and it was ssooooo good. The perfect hint of spiciness. I had to swallow my pride and admit it was better than any white chili I would have made...

While the chili was simmering (and after a completely killer workout on the bike trainer), I started on the corn bread. I knew I didn't want your typical, run-of-the-mill, crumbly, plain corn bread. I wanted to make something a little special. Something with a kick. A corn bread that lies somewhere between savory side and decadent dessert. And so was born my cheesy, spicy-sweet corn bread. Say it with me now, "Drool....."

It was super moist, but dense. It had a kick to it, but also a mild sweetness. It definitely was not the crumbly, cardboard-esque stuff that comes from a box. Honestly, it was the best cornbread I've tasted in a long, long time. Maybe.... dare I say..... EVER?

And you're in luck! Because I will share the recipe wit you. I apologize in advance, as I would've like to take photos and explain each step in the corn-bread-making process, but honestly I just flew right through it and improvised a lot. There was no time for photography, folks. Just see the photo at the top of the post.

(P.S. I posted the above photo to my Facebook profile, and a couple friends/old roommate commented on how they recognized those bowls. We all bought them together when we moved into out first apartment our junior year of college. We bought them at the Dollar Store, and I inherited them after we graduated. They're still holding up today! Hooray for good bargains!)

So, here we are:

Cheesy, Spicy-Sweet Cornbread


• 3/4 cup all purpose flour

• 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal

• 1/4 cup sugar

• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

• 1 teaspoon baking soda

• 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

• 1/4 cup minced jalapeño chile with seeds (I actually used pickled hot peppers from a jar in mine, but regular old canned, sliced jalapenos would work fine)

• 1/2 cup frozen corn (thawed)

• Red-pepper flakes, to taste
• 1 1/4 cups buttermilk

• 2 large eggs

• 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled

• 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar
• Drizzle of honey


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter metal baking pan (I used a 12"x8" pan). Whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in large bowl to blend. Stir in green onions and jalapeño. Whisk buttermilk and eggs in medium bowl to blend, then whisk in melted butter. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir just until blended (do not overmix). Then stir in corn, red pepper flakes and drizzle of honey. Transfer batter to prepared pan (batter will come only about 3/4 inch up sides of pan).

Bake cornbread until lightly browned on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer pan to rack and cool cornbread completely in pan.

Do you prepare more elaborate meals on weekends than you do on weekdays? What's your favorite go-to Sunday comfort food?


Honeycrisp Apples

Honeycrisp Apples

I had my first Honeycrisp apple of the season today, gang. Yes, I know they have been "in season" for quite some time now, but I just haven't been able to justify the $2.99/lb price tag when a prefectly delicious Gala could be purchased and consumed for a fraction of the price.

But today, while at lunch, the stars had aligned and, lo and behold, Honeycrisp apples were on sale! I picked out a perfectly-shaped, rose-hued apple and took off toward the register. I made it about five steps before I dropped the pristine fruit, bruising it badly. So I did what any normal person who is only a halfway-decent individual would do: I picked it up, placed it neatly on an empty shelf without telling anyone, and went back to find another apple. The second apple was not nearly as perfect, but it was still a mighty fine specimen, and it did not have a bruise.

My Honeycrisp apple was supposed to be my 3:00 snack, but it was taunting me from the corner of my desk. It made it until 2:00 before it met its demise.

This is what a Honeycrisp apple looks like in the process of being demolished, just pleading for me to finish the job.

It was crunchy, it was sweet, it was juicy and perfectly tart. It completely squashed the craving I had for Sour Patch Kids right at that moment. As Goldilocks would say, it was juuuuuusssttt right.

If you know anything about Honeycrisp apples, you know how it is impossible to eat them without splashing everything around you with their juice. You also know your hands will be unbelievably sticky by the time it's finished.

This is an example of what will happen to your gorgeous, brand new computer screen at work when you eat a Honeycrisp apple while seated directly in front of it. When this happens, wipe it up quickly and hope that no one in the IT department has witnessed.

Now that I have consumed my first Honeycrisp apple (and now that temps are back down in the 60s in Milwaukee), Fall can officially begin. In fact, to keep the Fall theme going, I just finished off a cup of pumpkin spice chai tea - divine.

Tonight, I'm taking my first stab at creating vegan chocolate chip cookies! I'm going home to Ohio for a friend's (of 22 years!) wedding, and giving a ride to another friend who happens to live in Milwaukee, whose sister lives in my hometown (does this make sense?). My roadtrip buddy just had a birthday, and is vegan, so I thought I'd surprise him with special cookies. I've made vegan meals before, but have only baked a vegan treat/dessert once. I bought special, vegan (and expensive) chocolate chips just for the occassion. Cross your fingers for me! A blog post could result.

Have you ever baked for a vegan before? Are you vegan? I follow a few vegan baking/cooking blogs and have a ton of recipes bookmarked, but just have never got around to doing anything with them. Let me know if you have a tried and true recipe!


The Wisconsin Outline MKE Card

Wisconsin Outline MKE Card

Isn't the card pictured above adorable? I've seen a few tattoos around Bay View and the East Side that look similar to this, but the little, pink heart marking Milwaukee's location in the state really sets it apart. You can find it at Broadway Paper, one of the cutest stores in the city, located in Milwaukee's Third Ward. Every time I step into this store, I know instantly I am in trouble. They've got the best selection of paper goods, gift-wrapping materials, notebooks, stationery and of course, an amazing selection of cards for all occasions. They tweeted about this card, created by Gold Teeth Brooklyn, last week, and I haven't been able to get it out of my head since. I just wish I had someone or the right occasion to be able to send it!

Do you send cards to anyone "just because?" I'm really horrible at keeping on top of sending cards (I can't even remember to call people half the time!), but maybe if more cards looked like this, I'd be more on top of being thoughtful....


Brooks Ghost 3

Brooks Ghost 3

I just ended a very healthy, nearly 10-year relationship.

Sometimes, breaking up is hard to do. But you look back fondly on the memories, are thankful the relationship was strong, but realize you need to move on, you need to try out new things, you need to grow and experience life. In nearly 10 years of running, I have never purchased a shoe that was not a product of the Asics brand. Asics have always been reliable, they've always been trustworthy. The Asics Nimbus 12's guided me through training and my first-ever half marathon in September. They've done me no wrong, but as my running career has begun to expand, so has my curiosity to see what else is out there in the running shoe world.

I needed a break.

Enter The Brooks Ghosts. After painstakingly scouring the Interwebz for the perfect shoe for my wonky supinated stride, I landed on the Brooks Ghosts. Brooks is a fantastic running gear company to begin with, so I knew they wouldn't let me down. These shoes are flashy. They are light. They are cushy. They were also on sale. Big time. So now, they are mine.

I took my purdy new shoes on their inaugural run on Friday. It was five straight miles of cushioned bliss. For the first time in about two months, I felt like the bounce was back in my stride. My feet felt like they were flying along the sidewalk. They also carried me along my relatively effortless 9.5-mile run yesterday. The shoe is shaped differently than my last pair, so my calves have definitely had to adjust (today, walking is a difficult task), but I think this love affair is going to be one full of passion and respect.

Will the affair be fleeting? Will I bid Brooks adieu after this one jaunt together, and return to Asics, groveling for them to take me back? Time will tell, but it's all about broadening your horizons, experiencing life. And these Brooks Ghosts have given new life to my running for now.


Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon Photos

Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon Photos

A couple days ago, I promised I'd share a few of the favorite photos I took at Sunday's Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon. I had such an amazing time capturing the event. While I don't have the talent of the professional, official race photographers, I certainly felt professional! I think a couple of the runners thought I was official, too, as they made certain to wave, smile and show me their bib numbers as they ran by. All the extra interaction made for an incredibly fun day - a day that flew by!

But as for now, I'll let the photos do the talking!

[Just after the starting gun went off. All those dudes in the front? Those are the fasties. You can see race winner Scotty Jansky in the middle-left - the tall guy with the white singlet and black shorts.]


[The very patient, yet super enthusiastic water station volunteers from a local cross country team. You can see how chilly it was that morning!]


[This was one of the runners who thought I was a professional photog! He made sure to wave extra wide and smile extra big for the camera. He looked like her was having a great time!]

[This is definitely in my top three of photos taken that day. Krista and Anne had just spotted Sarah and Cheryl cheering them on. They skipped and screamed all the way up and stopped to give them BIG hugs at the 11-mile marker.]

[The essential "Must include at least one photo of the Calatrava in a Milwaukee-themed photo shoot" shot.]

[One of my top three photos of the day. Krista and Anne were SO excited to see Sarah and Cheryl cheering them on - they skipped all the way up to them and stopped to share hugs.]

[Nearing Veteran's Park, just about two miles to the finish line.]

[The essential "Must include a shot of the Calatrava within a photo about Milwaukee" shot.]

[This little boy was going absolutely nuts the entire time I was standing near him. Just running around, clanging his bell and cheering so sincerely for every runner that passed. He really captured the spirit of the day!]

[This adorable little girl was working so diligently to finish her sign before her mom crossed the finish line.]

[Trying to catch a glimpse of the Hoan Bridge in the background. At the finish line.]

[Simply the most inspiring photo of the day. Jenny Crain is the woman in the wheelchair. A former Olympic marathon hopeful, she was severely injured after getting hit by a car in 2007. Just this year she has been allowed to participate in races. She still has the competitor's spirit. Olympian Anne Marie Letko pushed her three miles to the finish.]

[Hands down my favorite photo of the day. This girl was SO excited when she saw her mom running to the finish. She worked her little heart out on that sign. And how about that *adorable* little outfit??]




This morning, an article was posted on a new local web site, BrewCity101.com, about the 2010 Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon, which took place Sunday morning. I'm not trying to blatantly plug it here, but the article was written by me. I went to the marathon an observer and was completely swept up by the magic of the day. The runners, the families of the runners, the complete strangers who cheered on the runners - it was really a moving experience, and it was my absolute pleasure to spend the day capturing it in photograph, and later, capturing it in words.

I posted a link to the article on my Facebook, Twitter and DailyMile accounts, and I have been completely blown away at the amazing feedback it has received. Thanks to many of the incredible marathon runners, volunteers and friends who embraced the story and plugged it themselves on Twitter, it's reached more people than I ever dreamed it would, and I've been told by many that reading it moved them to tears.

I'm one of the only people I know who has always known what she has wanted to do her whole life. I think I knew I wanted to write at the age of five, when my 1st-grade teacher sent me to the principal's office to read him a story I had written based off the classic fable "The Tortoise and the Hare." I continued to write just because I loved it. It was the only thing I'd ever done where I really felt I had actual talent. So I took that talent to journalism school, and did very well there. But after college, it just kind of.... stopped.

This article was the first I'd had published since my senior year at Ohio University. I was incredibly nervous about it being posted, and was so worried that no one would like it. It has made the rounds all day through social media, and I sit here, tonight, with a gigantic smile on my face that just won't go away. I was happy to write about the marathon, and happier to be able to spend some time with those who competed and cheered on the sidelines. I have never run a marathon, and just completed my first half a month ago, but I can honestly say the pride I have in this article is akin the the pride a marathoner must feel when crossing the finish line. For a writer, our medal is making even the tiniest affect on our readers' emotions. I feel like a winner today. And the feeling of having whatever talent might still exist somewhere within me affirmed is incredible.

If only my principal could read my story now.

If you'd like to read my article, "Keeping Heart: The 2010 Lakefront Marathon," you can do so here. Be sure to look around the site while you're at it. I'll be contributing content here and there as time goes on.

(P.S. The photo above is one I took at the finish line on Sunday. I'll post more of my favorite photos from the day in the next few days)


Running Tights

Running Tights

Or... I guess I should say the topic in question is what I'm not loving today. Or, what I want to love but just cannot get behind. (har, har, har: "behind." Tight pants. Get it??)

It's a blustery, chilly fall day here in Milwaukee, with cloudy skies and a high of 52 degrees. A far cry from the absolutely gorgeous weather we've had all week, and the equally gorgeous weather that is forecasted for the upcoming week. You know, starting Monday. Just after the weekend. But cold or no cold, I don't have a gym membership, and if I want to keep up with my running, I have to sack up and keep hoofing it outside. And do you know what running outside in the cold means?




Every fall I actually get excited to suction my lower half into the running tights, envisioning myself as one of the cute, little 100-pound runners that prance along the lakefront in seemingly effortless strides, nary a bead of sweat upon their brow, an angelic rose hue ever-so-softly gracing their nose and cheeks.

The actuality of the situation is that once the tights are on, my donk exposed in all its black, shining glory, tightly wrapped in synthetic fabrics, I suddenly realize I am not a tiny, bouncy runner. I am a wide-strider who drips sweat no matter the temperature, and ever since one of my brother's friends declared that I had a "ghetto booty" in eighth grade, have been incredibly aware of my rear in any kind of form-fitting pant.

But, it's a necessity. I hate running in sweatpants and baggy pants. It slows me down and makes me feel frumpy. I'll wear a pair of shorts over the running tights, but the running tights will be there. They will always be there. No matter how much I try to convince myself I can run in 30-degree temperatures with nothing but a long-sleeved shirt and some 2.5" running shorts (I've done this a number of times. My teeth have been chattering and snow has been falling as my red, wind-chapped legs are exposed to the elements).

So, as I am forced to run outside more this fall/winter than I ever have before (the Tyranena Half Marathon is just five weeks away!), it will be inevitable that more running tights must be purchased. The only thing is, they are OUTRAGEOUSLY expensive! I've yet to come across a worthy pair that cost less than $40. I'm not about to spend $70 on a piece of clothing that strikes fear into my soul upon a simple glance. 

So what I guess I am asking is, if anyone has any connections to the underground running apparel mafia, or whose rich uncle just happens to be John Lycra* himself (or maybe if you just know of a place that sells quality, reasonably-priced cold-weather running gear), let me know. I'm on the lookout.

*Let it be known that I don't actually think there is a John Lycra, just as I discovered Bill Asics was not the fellow who crafted my Nimbus 12's.



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