Kelly the Culinarian: February 2012

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cooking with Kelly: Healthy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Coconut Cookie Recipe

Wow, that title was hard to spit out. There's a ton of tasty ingredients packed in these tiny cookies, hence the super long, rule-breaking title. The Suburban Crafting Club met again last night, this time at Becca's house to make fabric rosettes. I was a bad crafter and did absolutely no prep work or homework, so I didn't have much to show for it at the end of the night. But I did bring cookies! You can read about all the lovely things my friends made at Kim's blog.

Healthy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Recipe
1 egg
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup Splenda
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup quick-cooking oats
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chips

Whisk together the eggs, then add the vanilla, vegetable oil and applesauce. Add the Splenda and brown sugar, then mix to combine.

In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, except for the chocolate chips. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients, then stir to combine. Fold in chocolate chips. Freeze the batter overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll out the dough into 1 Tablespoon-size cookies. The recipe should make about 30 cookies. Place on cookie sheets, one dozen to each sheet, then bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.

These cookies are actually better the second day, as it gives these tasty morsels a chance to get softer and chewier.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Vino Van Gogh Again

A Kelly Janowski original
More photos from our artsy date! It's funny how Alissa and I went to the same Vino Van Gogh class, painted the same landscape from the same example and ended up with slightly different interpretations of the skyline. They're both Chicago, but mine looks more like a kid did it. A 27-year-old kid, of course.

I'm looking off into the distance for some reason ...

Thanks, Alissa, for the photos. Check out my other post about our painting date.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Practice Tri with a New 5K PR

My official triathlon training plan doesn't kick off until next month, but practice makes perfect. It was beautiful outside with temps reaching into the 40s, so I set out to enjoy the day.

I started with the last leg of the triathlon, the run. Because it was so beautiful, I was amped up on coffee and the tunes were great, I ran my fastest 5K ever. I finished just short of 3.1 miles in 25:04. My first race ever in October of 2010 was a 5K and it took me 33 minutes, during which I thought I would die. This also marks my fastest mile ever, 7:43.

After that, I took a little puppy outside, refueled with an orange and drove to the gym to swim. This is why I don't consider this a real brick workout. I took my time through my 45-minute transition to the gym, then swam the 450 meters I'll have to swim on race day. It was hard. Really hard. Of all the things that I'll have to do during the triathlon, the swim might be the hardest.

After I was done with my official distance, I did some drills with a kick board and pull buoy. I had the lanes almost to myself, which I thought was strange for noon on a Sunday, but I'm not complaining. Post gym and shower, I made the mistake of not refueling immediately. By the time I got home, I had skipped the "hungry" stage and proceeded directly to the nauseous stage. Lesson learned.

I tore through some roasted cauliflower, tuna, pumpkin Greek yogurt and turkey jerky (not in the same dish, of course). Napoleon enjoyed licking the can the tuna came in, which might have been the fastest he moved all day. If reincarnation exists, I hope to come back as my dog.

Several hours later, I loaded up the bikes (Tim bought a Trek on Craigslist this week) and headed to Busse Woods for a ride. However, when I got there, I realized the trails were still obstructed with snow. I'm a little gun shy after my accident, so I completed barely four miles before backing it in for the day. I'm starting to call my car the triathlon wagon, because it holds both bikes and has a few tie-down hooks that are perfect for hanging up my swim cap and suit to dry. And much like a triathlon, music is not allowed in my car, because my stereo is broken.

Overall, I felt good during each leg, but I have a long way to go. I am, however, celebrating my progress in the 5K arena and working on a better nutrition strategy.

Cooking with Kelly: New Favorite Foods

As I get older and healthier, my taste buds change. McDonald's doesn't really appeal to me, and chips don't sound all that good. Chocolate chips and coconut sounds heavenly, but I recently had a salad that, to my amazement, tasted amazing. Here are a few of my new favorite foods.

Crunchy Open-Face Banana Wrap
1/2 FlatOut Whole Wheat tortilla
2 Tablespoons natural peanut butter
1 small banana

Toast the tortilla under the broiler for three minutes, flipping once. Top with peanut butter and banana.

Again, it looks burned. It isn't. That is the color of delicious.
Roasted Cauliflower Bites
1 head cauliflower
1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil (not extra virgin, it will smoke!)
Salt & pepper, to taste

Chop the head of cauliflower into smallish pieces. The smaller the pieces, the more delicious the browning. Toss the cauliflower in the oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour out the mixture onto a baking sheet. I used a stone baking sheet, which I recommend if you have one.

Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. I set a timer for 18 minutes and turned the pieces each time it went off until the cauliflower was equally browned on all sides. These are DELICIOUS with ketchup, but I might have a problem with ketchup.

Also, my phone has decided to give me back some of the photos it ate yesterday. Doesn't Napoleon look cute with his new haircut? He's not sure about it and is plotting murderous actions against me for this injustice.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

What Went Wrong


  • My camera inexplicably did not save any of the photos I took today. Napoleon got groomed and I took some great photos on a run this morning. This is the blog you get, instead of the adorable photo of a squirrel on my run and Napoleon in his car seat looking pathetic.
  • I overslept, waking at about the time that I think my gym buddy was mounting the bike, thinking "Where is that bitch?" Sorry, McKenna, my phone froze overnight.
  • My Garmin was dead.
  • The vending machine gave me Diet Coke instead of Diet Pepsi. Not OK.
  • I dropped a jar of salsa at the grocery store while in line to pay, leading to a series of awkward moments. The guy watched me drop it, then begrudgingly mumbled it wasn't a problem.
Here's to a better Sunday!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Outfit of the Day, Feb. 24

Erin told me not to be afraid of coloring blocking, because it's a super hot trend right now. So today is a navy tank top, cyan green T-shirt from Target, super old navy cardigan from who knows where, khakis from the Gap (via Goodwill) and flats. I'm also rocking some Lia Sophia earrings my mom gave me and a necklace that was a gift from her for my 21st birthday. My, that seems like a long time ago ...

See other outfits.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1. Are you a fan of quidditch? You know, from Harry Potter? Or perhaps you were intrigued by my Midwest Quidditch Cup post? If so, you'll want to head over and "Like" this Facebook page to Bring the Quidditch World Cup to Chicago. My sister, Katie, is big into the management of Purdue's internationally ranked quidditch team and would really like to see the World Cup at a closer location. And Purdue quidditch won the world cup last year, so that should count for something.
Katie and I at the Midwest Quidditch Cup near Indy

2. I've been so busy at work, I feel complete oblivious to the outside world. For example, my coworker, Becca (the blonde one with the "E"), announced her pregnancy this week. Everyone said they had their suspicions... I didn't. I'm clueless. I'm so excited for Becca, especially since she has the cutest pregnancy blog I've ever seen. Go check it out!

Becca's blog is "A Pea in a Pod" themed. Think she'll let us dress her baby?

3. I'm still going strong at the gym. While swimming still makes me feel slow and clunky, I'm enjoying spinning and lifting weights. One of these days, I'll give Michael Phelps a run for his money, but until then, I'll settle for learning how to complete a proper flip turn.
That's what a flip turn is supposed to look like? Weird.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Chicago Running Bloggers

I'm conducting a teleconference tonight for work, so excuse my drive-by blogging. Are you a runner/jogger/walker in the Chicagoland area? Do you have a blog? Then come and join us on Chicago Running Bloggers.
Created by the multi-talented Maggie Wolff, the writer behind Mag Mile Runner, the Chicago Running Bloggers site brings together athletes of all abilities throughout the Chicagoland area to help support one another and keep up on what's happening on the running scene. Support the site by joining or adding the code to your Web site. Who knows, maybe we'll have a meet up some day, in which case, there had better be cookies or beer. Or both. Definitely both.

Outfits by Erin, Part 3

Black skirt from Banana Republic, print top from The Limited and sweater from Forever 21. Or as I call it, Forever 20ish. Flat shoes from DSW and silver hoop earrings that were a present from Tim.

Check out other outfits by Erin.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cooking with Kelly: Chocolate Butter Cookie Recipe

I make all my baked goods with a pinch of love, and love is fat free; therefore, these cookies are healthy. Not really, but I do think that they have healing properties because of the chocolate. My coworker recently tore a tendon, so I made her these cookies to speed along her recovery. She maintains it's the best thing I've ever made, and she's tasted a lot of my baked goods. These cookies are a little time consuming, but generally easy.

The recipe yields about 30 moist, fluffy cookies that aren't overly sweet and end up looking very impressive. With some nice packaging, these chocolate butter cookies could completely pass for bakery treats.

Chocolate Butter Cookie Recipe
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder
1 package cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 egg
1 box moist chocolate cake mix
1 cup powdered sugar

Mix the coffee and vanilla extract to reconstitute the coffee. Using a stand mixer on medium with the paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the egg, then add the vanilla mixture. Finally, add the chocolate cake mix slowly, scraping the sides as needed until incorporated.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then chill for two hours or freeze for about an hour. 

Place the powdered sugar in a mixing bowl, then roll out the cookies. I used a one-Tablespoon scoop to portion out the cookies because the batter is sticky, but you can roll them out by hand if you add a touch of vegetable oil to your hands first.

Drop the cookies in the powdered sugar a few at a time and shake gently to coat in powdered sugar. Place on a cookie sheet no closer than two inches from each other. Bake at 350-degrees for 12 minutes, no more, no less. The cookies will look slightly undone, but that's what you're after for a tender, gooey cookie.

Outfits by Erin: Part 2

White sweater, black pants, black flats, black socks I had to stop at CVS to buy because I forgot my socks and discovered it at the gym (sigh, $4 for socks? Really?), and a scarf. Jewelry today includes a multi-color beaded bracelet and copper-colored earrings.

I love this YouTube video by Wendy that shows 25 ways to wear a scarf in less than five minutes. The editing on this is mesmerizing. Today's scarf is tied in what she calls the waterfall.

More Outfits from Erin.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Cooking with Kelly: Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars Recipe

Now that I'm heading to the gym most mornings, I wanted a breakfast that was easy, didn't require reheating and traveled well. Bonus points for being low calories and kind of healthy.

And since we all know I love peanut butter and oatmeal independently, it's only a wonder that it took me so long to put them together in baked form.

These peanut butter oatmeal bars are perfect for breakfast on the go. They're about 150 calories per square, so I round my breakfast out with a couple of pieces of fruit.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars Recipe

1 1/2 cups quick oats

1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup skim milk
2 egg whites, beaten
1 banana, mashed
1/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter

Mix together the oats, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, milk, egg whites, banana and peanut butter. Add to the dry ingredients, then place in a greased 8 x 8 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 22 minutes or until the edges are brown.

Outfits by Erin: Part 1

In honor of Erin's graciously coming over to try and fix the hot mess that is my apparel, here's the first of the outfits she recommended.
In the mix today was a black stretchy pencil skirt, wide black elastic belt, short-sleeved black top and statement jewelry in the form of a silver bangle and necklace my mom gave me from The Icing. Not pictured: open toe medium-high heels.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Vino Van Gogh and Goodwill Greats

After some awesome pumpkin protein crepes, I decided to take a rest day. It was beautiful outside and I really wanted to ride my bike, but I was tired and needed a day off after yesterday's run. I ended up sleeping way later than I intended, so I took that as a sign that I needed a break. Instead, Tim and I gave Napoleon a bath. He looks much nicer now and smells like apples.

Then, I meandered over to The Office Dining and Spirits for a painting class through Vino Van Gogh. First, I stopped at a grocery store and got some great bargains. This place had a huge bundle of bananas clearanced out, which I sliced and froze for smoothies and bread. I also snagged a Taco Bell dinner kit, which I mixed up with black beans instead of meat for a $3 dinner.

I also stopped at Goodwill and got two dresses (tags still on), jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt (with tags), a sweater vest and a silk scarf for $10. Score!
When I got to the restaurant, Alissa and I both started with white peach sangria, which was delicious and potent. Despite the fruit, it wasn't all that sweet. The way Vino Van Gogh works is they pick a theme for the day, then bring all the supplies and set up in a place where drinks are readily available. Alissa and I both got a Living Social deal and snagged this afternoon craft for $19. The artists/teachers walked us through how to paint a Chicago skyline step by step. It seemed very intimidating when we started like this:

When we finished a few hours later, Alissa and I both ended up with some pretty cool paintings. Here's my best interpretation of the skyline:
It started with creating the gradients for the sky and water out of yellow, magenta and blue. Then, we added black lines for the buildings before filling in each building separately to try and get the angles right. Finally, we outlined the buildings in gray and added the illusion of windows with white, yellow and magenta lines before adding lights along the water line.
Thanks, Alissa, for an awesome Sunday afternoon filled with wine, painting, bargains and chatting!

Cooking with Kelly: Pumpkin Protein Crepes Recipe

Pumpkin is one of my many food loves. It's healthy, versatile and only available during certain times of year, which means I crave it even more when I can't have it. It's great for breakfast, because it helps bind together delicious flour-free pancakes and crepes. This recipe is a great way to create a healthy crepe that's packed with protein and can be stuffed with fillings as healthy or as decadent as your heart desires. My crepe this morning was stuffed with a sliced banana and two tablespoons of my favorite peanut butter. I also made a "whipped cream" type topping of on tablespoon Fage mixed with a dash of cinnamon and Splenda.  So yummy.

Pumpkin Protein Crepe Recipe
1/2 cup egg whites
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1/2 heaping teaspoon baking soda
1/2 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1/2 Tablespoon Splenda
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Whisk the egg whites together, then whisk the pumpkin into the eggs. Add the dry ingredients, then whisk together.

Heat a skillet to medium high heat and add a little cooking spray. Add three Tablespoons of the batter to the pan, then swirl to spread the batter to the edges of the pan. I like to dust the crepe with cinnamon while the first side cooks, but that's optional.

When the edges start to pull away from the pan, flip the crepe using a spatula. It should take about two minutes on the first side and less than one minute on the second side. This recipe makes three to four large crepes.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Erin's Rules of Style

Today was a fabulous day. Tim and I got up a little bit later than our normal workday time, then made breakfast. I tried out a pumpkin protein crepe recipe that I'll share a little later, then we went for a run. I put in seven slow miles that had me doubting my sanity, then came home and ate tons o' snacks. Erin came over and we had some crock pot enchilada soup that both Erin and Tim agreed should make it onto the "keeper" list. I'll share the recipe once I can get a photo that does the recipe justice.

Erin came by to help me with some clothing dilemmas. I read on Kim's blog that she helped her out with putting together some outfits. And she is really good at what she does. Erin started with asking me to pull out a few items that I don't know what to do with or only wear in one way. Then, she showed me a few different ways I could wear the stuff and offered advice along the way.
I ended up with at least a week of new outfits and a ton of tips and tricks that I'm looking forward to implementing. It's great to have someone else look at my clothes, too, because it gave me a new perspective on different ways to wear the stuff I already have.

Here are some of Erin's style tips:

  • To wear prints without looking like a billboard, pair the print with a cardigan or blazer.
  • For a polished look, follow the rule of three: wear a skirt, top and cardigan; pants, sweater and button down; or dress, statement earrings and scarf.
  • Don't be afraid to mix prints. Look for some unifying element, like a common color, color family or accent.
  • Scarves and belts are hot. Use them wisely to accent an outfit, bring attention away from your hips and to your waist and create a figure.
  • If you have dark hair, like Erin and I, dark shoes tend to balance out your outfit because it serves as a bookend to your hair color.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cooking with Kelly: Cauliflower Pizza Crust Recipe

It may look burned. It isn't.
Pizza is a staple in this house. We enjoy pizza in many forms; in zucchini, on whole wheat, grilled and any other combination. But I heard all about this whole cauliflower pizza crust craze that's sweeping the Internet, so I thought I'd give it a try. This pizza crust is low carb and gluten free, and it lends a different flavor.  I really liked this new take on pizza, but Tim wasn't the biggest fan. Any time I make something new, I'll ask him if he'd eat it again. His expression usually gives it away, so I'll probably end up making this again when he's traveling for work.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust Recipe
1 cup shredded cauliflower
1 egg
1 cup shredded mozzarella
Pizza toppings of choice (this was a barbecue chicken pizza, so I used a baked chicken breast, barbecue sauce and cheddar cheese)

Start out by shredding the cauliflower. The easiest way to do this is to use the grating wheel on your food processor, which will make quick work of the cauliflower. Place the cauliflower in a microwave-proof bowl and microwave for six minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
In the meantime, use the same food processor grater to shred the mozzarella. Whisk the egg, then combine the cheese and cauliflower. Pour the mixture out onto a greased baking stone, then use a spatula to form into a circle. It makes about a 10-inch circle.
Bake in a 450-degree oven for 13 minutes or until the "crust" is golden brown. Remove from the oven and top with desired fixings, then place under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese is bubbly and all the toppings are warm.

This makes about two servings.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1. My car continues to annoy, perplex and anger me. Earlier this week, I replaced a headlight, then the radio stopped working. If I have to listen to the top 40s forever, this car is as good as gone. Kidding ... sort of. Tonight at my mom's house, the car wouldn't start. When it did, nothing on the dashboard worked, including the speedometer.

2. I continue to hit it at the gym every morning. This week, I've done two spin classes, one core class and swam laps twice. Tomorrow I'll be enjoying another spin class, since I ate White Castle yesterday, dinner with Kate last night and Mexican food with my mom today. Oh, yeah, I have a Taco Bell date for lunch tomorrow, too. I know what one looks like is at least 70 percent diet, so this was not my week.

3. Time to get real about triathlon training: swimming is so much harder than I thought. I don't know why I assumed I would take to it so easily, but it is far from second nature. I have more of the speed and endurance of a manatee rather than a shark. Worse yet, since the Tower Tri is an indoor swim, I need to master the flip turn. I have yet to complete a flip turn without taking on water in my crappy goggles or swallowing half the pool. That is, if I make contact with the wall at all. Feel free to say "I told you so," or chip in your advice.
This is what I look like swimming

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cooking with Kelly: Banana Protein Muffin Recipe

Protein can be hard to come by with my diet, because I don't eat a ton of meat (this just happens, not because I'm a vegetarian or anything). I met with an exercise physiologist in the fall who told me I should eat one gram of protein per kilogram of weight. I was already trying to reach 100 grams of protein per day, so his formula was a bit more achievable to me.

I already love my chocolate protein muffin recipe, but I saw this recipe on Pinterest and couldn't wait to try it. Instead of microwaving, like with the chocolate recipe, the banana recipe is baked like regular muffins, so it was easy to make a week worth of healthy snacks quickly. Better yet, these fit comfortably in a half-cup plastic container, so they're portable. They're roughly 60 calories per cupcake and about 8 grams of protein.

Banana Protein Muffin Recipe
1/2 cup mashed up banana
3/4 cup egg whites (about six egg whites)
1/2 cup Fage 0%
2 scoops vanilla protein powder (I have a giant bag of protein powder from Costco, but use what you have on hand)
1/2 cup Splenda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Whisk together the banana, egg whites and fage. Mix the protein powder, Splenda, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon together, then add to the wet ingredients and mix well to combine. Scoop evenly into a well-oiled nonstick muffin pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Allow to cool for about five minutes, then use a butter knife to free the edges of the muffins from the muffin tin. Move to a cooling rack and allow to completely cool.

These are best served warm and they're great plain, but I've tried them with just a dab of peanut butter or some no sugar added applesauce, both of which are good options, too.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day 2012 at White Castle

Alissa was a beautiful bride
Lovely tablescape at White Castle
We live very close to a White Castle, but I've never been inside the place. I'm more of a Taco Bell girl, and I haven't had a fast food burger in a long time. I have only eaten White Castle once at Alissa's wedding several years ago. Alissa and Luke had crave cases brought in after the reception and I think I ate several that evening.

Since then, Tim and I have joked about making reservations at White Castle for Valentine's Day every year when we see the "Reservations Available Now" sign go up. We wanted to see what the hype was all about. So I made a reservation about a month ago and we made a visit for our favorite Hallmark holiday.

It. was. Awesome.
The vending machine really adds something

We were a little late for our reservation and I was worried they would give away our table. Alas, we were safe. Our evening hot spot had printed menus and servers. The menu was the same as the regular menu, except they had a Valentine's Day Feast, which included 10 sliders, two fries and two drinks. I opted for sweet potato fries, which were mighty tasty. Didn't care for the sugar cinnamon glaze something or other, though.
For dessert, we got free fudge-dipped cheesecakes on a stick because we made reservations. How's that for classy? It was actually really tasty, but packed with sugar. I easily blasted through as many calories in 30 minutes as I consumed for the rest of the day, and at least as many as I burned during my 5:30 a.m. spin class. Meh, it's a holiday. Sort of.

Post dinner, we followed up our $19 dinner (we tipped) with two free Redbox movies. We got Contagion and Paranormal Activity 3. Technically, these cost us $.60, since we sprung for the Blu-ray version of these flicks. Big spenders ...

Happy Valentine's Day to my boys! I love you both very much.
If only Taco Bell decided to host such a classy Valentine's Day celebration, I could make room in my schedule for Feb. 14, 2013 ...