Sunday, October 20, 2013

Recipe Reblog: Apple Cider Donut Muffins

I've got a fall recipe here for you today. It IS fall after all, right?

Apple Cider Donut Muffins: I woke up last Sunday wanting muffins. It had been quite awhile since I made baked goods for breakfast so I marched myself down to the kitchen and got to work. I found this recipe on Pinterest and, luckily, had all ingredients on hand. As usual, I cut it in half and it still yielded 18 mini muffins. No matter. John downed 4 in a matter of minutes. I subbed in all whole wheat flour. They were denser because of this but I didn't mind. I also skipped the sugar topping and mixed up my own glaze instead.

Maple Glaze

3-4 Tbsp Confectioners' Sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp Maple Syrup

Whisk until fully mixed and appropriate glaze-like consistency is achieved.

Then, eat and say "holy cow."

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Beer Me: Bourbon and More

For the last several years, pumpkin beers have been king. It seems all my fellow beer drinkers look forward to pumpkin season more than any other seasonal genre. And with good reason! The pumpkin beer is a warming, spicy variety that will not disappoint.

This year, however, it would appear pumpkin alone is not enough. The prevalence of bourbon in pumpkin beers shall not go unnoticed. Lucky for you, I have tried several and many, thanks to the help of our wine club hosts. We took a break from wine in September and went the brew route instead.

They outdid themselves! Let it be known that there were at least 5-6 different 6 packs to try in addition to this line up.......for 2 1/2 people. (The 1/2 being John -- the driver).

From Left to Right: Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale, Ace Pumpkin Cider, Breckenridge After Rakin' Ale, Heavy Seas Greater Pumpkin, Southern Tier Pumking, Southern Tier Warlock and Hoppin' Frog Double Pumpkin.

There was also Kentucky's Pumpkin Bourbon Barrel Ale (unpictured).

I'll skip over the 3 on the left because I've talked about them in years past (do a search on the left-hand side there).

Heavy Seas Great'ER Pumpkin: This was one of the first pumpkin bourbons I tried and it didn't disappoint. At 10% ABV, it's best enjoyed in a snifter to let all the flavors swirl around. What flavors? See below.

From the site: "In the most worthy of pumpkin patches and during the silence of the midnight hour, the Greater Pumpkin raises up and pours a rich deep and burnished orange color.  Heady aromas of bourbon, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and clove linger seductively over the thick white head of this tremendous brew.  Its love at first sip as the full malt body, dominated by British crystal malt, brown sugar and pumpkin, slowly washes over your tongue.  Bourbon barrel aging rounds out the flavors with notes of oak, vanilla, and bourbon.  Pairs well with crisp autumn weather, crunchy fallen leaves, and the knowledge that your kids will be asleep soon so you can raid their Halloween candy bags."

Yum, right? Not positive of the price on this. At least $8.99 for 22 oz.I really enjoyed this one.

Southern Tier Pumking: This is really the best ever Pumpkin beer. If you can find it on tap somewhere, try it! The freshness of a draught is insane. The bottle is good too but the flavors from the tap come through so crisply. Lots of spice and lots of pumpkin. I talked about this one last year or the year before as well but I'm too lazy to link back to it.

Southern Tier Warlock: This is a new seasonal offering from Southern Tier's Blackwater series. It's the Imperial Stout version of Pumking so you get a darker, more roasty flavor with the pumpkin as well.

From the site: "Pumpkin Pie laced with coffee and dark chocolate. Smooth, velvety mouth-feel and finishes slightly sweeter than Pumking."

How can you go wrong? If you are stout fan, you'll love this. Also retails for around $8.99.

Hoppin' Frog's, Frog's Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale: Not much information on their site so I'll have to trust my taste memory on this one. The pumpkin and spices melded perfectly to pour of a sweet glass. I know I really liked this one for its pure flavors. Went down smooth but not easy on the wallet at $14.99 a bottle.


Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale: John and I were so excited to see this on shelves this season as it is brand new and you know we like to try new stuff whenever possible. We absolutely love their regular bourbon barrel ale and couldn't wait to see what heights the addition of pumpkin could take it to. Unfortunately, this one didn't have enough pumpkin flavor or enough bourbon flavor. It was having a crisis of conscience. I wanted to love it so badly but it fell short for me. It was still tasty but, if you're going to fork over the cash ($14.99-4 pack) stick with their regular Bourbon Barrel Ale. How cute is their jack-o-lantern snifter though?

I'm all tapped out, folks. Which ones have you tried, loved, hated this season?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Some Things

Can I tell you guys about a product that has been around for hundreds of years but that I have just discovered and am totally loving?


This is the Moroccan Argan Oil line from Organix. My hair had been feeling quite dry as of late. And then, I actually did fry my bangs by straightening them at 450 degrees when they were still a bit damp. (Yikes). Pretty crispy. Then, I got highlights. Bleach on fried hair? Not a winning combination. My hair dresser suggested putting mayo on them (yuck) or extra virgin olive oil. I tried the EVOO but it didn't really do anything. So, I picked up a bottle of the Light Penetrating Oil (in the middle above -- I couldn't pull a picture the single bottle) at CVS for $7.99.

Once a week after my nightly shower, I rub a small amount in my hands and then work it through my wet hair. That's it! You just let it dry in there and you're good to go. I was worried I would feel like a total grease monkey but I don't. My hair feels a whole lot healthier and I think I might start using it more than once a week. The ends could definitely use more help. Somehow, I've gone 4 months without a hair cut. Yep, the ends look like garbage. Hoping the oil will hold me over until my next trim.


Do you have a store you can walk into and always find something you like to buy? If not, I feel sorry for you and you should try really hard to fix that. For me, there are several stores of that nature but for my workhorse, everyday pieces, it's the GAP.


I just bought this shirt (retails for $34.95 but I got it half off) and I cannot wait until the temperatures dip a bit lower so I can wear it. We reached nearly 80 today and it's October. What up, Ohio? Anyway......I loved the heathering and it's gray, which is one of my all time favorite favorite colors and for sure my favorite neutral. Safe to say, I'll be living in this shirt this fall. I know it doesn't seem that exciting but to me, it was perfection.

Speaking of wardrobes.....when I get back from the cruise, I'll be receiving my first Stitch Fix box and I am STOKED! I hope there are some great pieces on there. If you're not familiar with Stitch Fix, it's a styling company that sends you 5 pieces of clothing or accessories and then you pay for what you want and send back what you don't. I filled out a whole questionnaire about my current wardrobe, needs, likes, dislikes and sizing. A stylist will send me some new things that might break me out of a wardrobe rut. More on my experience whenever it happens.


Lastly, I have got to scream my love for these tights from the rooftops! They are only $5.00 from Target. and they come in a rainbow of colors. Don't let your tights be drab! Rock that mint green, sister.

As if the price and the colors weren't enough, here's the best part for my lanky ladies......they come in Tall. TALL! I spent the better part of my formative years wearing tights that were too short in the crotch. Sad, but true. On Sundays, I was the little girl at church constantly hiking them up because I have always been tall. My tights never ever fit properly. If my mother could find a pair that happened to by long enough, then the feet were always too big and I was left stuffing the excess into my hand-me-down dress shoes. Finding inexpensive, fun tights in my size was a gift from above.

OK, real talk. They DO say Juniors on them on the website. Do not be shamed out of buying them. I have pairs in mustard, lilac, magenta and olive green. Collect them all!


OK, those are my things. What are yours?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Dark Places

This is an older offering from Gillian Flynn of Gone Girl fame. I've been in a bit of a reading dry spell lately so I was looking for something with a twist and I knew Flynn would deliver.


Good Reads' Synopsis: "Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” As her family lay dying, little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived–and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who’ve long forgotten her.

The Kill Club is a macabre secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. When they locate Libby and pump her for details–proof they hope may free Ben–Libby hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history. For a fee, she’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club… and maybe she’ll admit her testimony wasn’t so solid after all.

As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the narrative flashes back to January 2, 1985. The events of that day are relayed through the eyes of Libby’s doomed family members–including Ben, a loner whose rage over his shiftless father and their failing farm have driven him into a disturbing friendship with the new girl in town. Piece by piece, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started–on the run from a killer."
What I Thought: I liked Libby and I was truly involved in her finding out the truth surrounding the murders. There was a good twist and the other characters were interesting as well. The juxtaposition between present day and the different POV's of the past were a nice take and kept things moving. However, I liked Gone Girl a lot more. So, if you haven't read that, start there. They're even making it into a (sure to be disappointing) movie.

Rating: * * *

Monday, October 7, 2013

Murder in Belleville

I have been pining for Europe these days. Whenever I see a commercial with the Eiffel Tower in it, my heart clenches wistfully and I start looking up flight prices knowing full well that France is not in the cards any time soon. I knew I would fall in love on our anniversary trip earlier this year. I did not know I would fall this hard.
Thus, I wanted to read something set in Paris to help me reminisce a bit. No, I did not witness any murders while there but I thought Murder in Belleville would do, all the same. It’s the second book in Cara Black's Aimee Leduc series, the first having been unavailable at the time.


Good Reads’ Synopsis: "Tension runs high in this working-class neighborhood as a hunger strike to protest strict immigration laws escalates among the Algerian immigrants. Aimée barely escapes death in a car bombing in this tale of terrorism and greed in the shadows of Paris."

What I Thought: Well, this was just okay. I loved all the city descriptions and I like a good murder mystery but this didn’t hold my interest all that well. Starting on the second book in the series was probably a bad idea as well having missed out on much exposition. I’d like to go back and read Murder in the Marais and see if I can forge on with the series as there are several after this one. For now, skip it.
Rating: * * 1/2

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Recipe Reblog: Chicken Enchilada Quinoa Bake

I have a winner for you today!

This Chicken Enchilada Quinoa Bake comes from the Pink Parsley blog and it was deliciously tasty. Please don't be afraid of quinoa. It's just a grain and it has a wonderfully nutty flavor to it. The consistency is similar to a small grain rice though not quite as starchy. This bake came together pretty quickly and then I kept it in the fridge until we were ready to bake it for dinner. High on protein and fiber with great flavor! It made 6 decent servings so John and I ate it for 3 nights. LOVE when that happens! It includes a recipe to make your own enchilada sauce but I used canned to save time.

Give this one a try!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Beer Me: October Mish Mash

Can you believe it’s October and I haven’t shared a single pumpkin beer with you? FOR SHAME! I have been drinking the pumpkins since they hit the shelves in late August. I’ve had several that are worth mentioning and several that I forgot to photograph. However, there have been some disappointments as well. Some expensive disappointments.
Buckle Up for a bumpy ride........
This comes in regular bottles too but I thought the jug was super cute!
Saranac Pumpkin Ale
From the site: "The perfect hint of pumpkin flavor spiced right with cinnamon, allspice, cloves and ginger. Made with 3,000 pounds of pumpkin per brew, you'll think you just drank fall."
This is a decent, cheaper pumpkin ale. I’m not certain of its availability in a 6-pack but I know it’s included in the fall variety case, 12 Beers A'Fallin! Said variety case is definitely worth your $14.99 (or whatever it is by you) Lots of good, and different, options here. Let’s discuss.
Harvest Ale

From the site: "A balanced mixture of New York wheats and malts combine with a distinctive hop aroma to capture the essence of autumn in every sip."

This was a good crisp fall. It's a bit hoppy but not undrinkable for someone who isn't a hop fan (Me.) Nice alternative to bridging pumpkins and.......


From the site: "A medium bodied copper colored lager. Toasty. Malty. Octobery. An authentic German lager passed down through four generations. One sip will send you straight to Munich.

I always forget how much I like Octoberfests. When I'm through with the wheats of summer, these malted brews are ready to usher me into fall. This was no different and is a great option if you like Octoberfests too. Oh, I forgot to tell you! Over John's birthday weekend, we went to a local Octoberfest celebration and it was super fun! If you have one by you, you should definitely go. There was good music and lots of people dancing. I ate a schnitzel the size of my head that was the most amazing pork I've ever had. We were prepared for it to be totally lame but it was honestly one of the best times we've had in awhile. Score one for Octoberfest!

Black Forest

From the site: "Brewed to pay homage to our founder's homeland, our German-style Schwarzbier is brewed true to style with a deliciously sweet malty flavor. It may be dark in color but it's not heavy on roasted flavor like most people expect in a dark beer."

I liked this one too! It's part of their normal core line of beers but I've never noticed it on the shelves at my store. The description above is dead on. I liked the sweetness but it would pair well with a lot of foods.

The pack also included two other Saranac regulars, Irish Red and Pale Ale. Those weren't my favorite but they're still decent. So, that's six different varieties in one pack! What a bargain!

What is NOT worth your $14.99 is the 4-pack of The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale from Flying Dog Brewing Co. 

From their site: "We brew The Fear with local pumpkin puree and secret blend of spices. But, once you take a sip and sniff, those spices become apparent. (Hint: Think pumpkin pie) Anything seasonally spicy or sweet will beautifully complement this rich and complex brew"
1) It hardly has any pumpkin flavor whatsoever, 2) It has a high alcohol content but to me, it didn’t really feel like it, 3) It’s $15 for a 4 pack. Um, excuse me? John actually bought this by accident without knowing the price. Had I been with him at the register, it would have gone back to the shelf. Luckily, he liked it more than I did so he can have mine and be happy. In my opinion, skip this one.

While we’re on the subject, here is Red Hook’s Out of Your Gourd Pumpkin Porter. Bonus points for the cute name, right? 
From Their Site: "Out of Your Gourd Pumpkin Porter is dark chestnut brown in color and is made with pureed pumpkin. Cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger are added to the whirlpool and maple syrup is added during fermentation. This full-bodied, rich roasty porter makes you want to eat turkey and watch football, or build a bonfire."
This was in a mix-a-six so I don’t really know how much it retails for but the single of it was about $1.75. Anyway…..pumpkin porters do not come across with enough pumpkin flavor for me. Most are subtly slipped in on the finish. I want the pumpkin to be IN YOUR FACE! The spices and other flavors were good, just not enough pumpkin.
Sorry to end on a couple low notes there but we're just getting started! Stayed tuned next week for a Pumpkin Bourbon Beer Showdown!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

September Running Round-Up

Well, well, well. October already. That means all the miles for September have been run. While most laid out on the treadmill (what else is new?), I still ran each and every one of them. I am newly obsessed with Nashville and had to binge watch the first season before season two started last week (Rayna in a coma?!) So, I was gasping and yelling things like "Deacon. NO!" while running and watching.

Sep 1: 3 mi OT in 28:45, humid & hilly in Raleigh
Sep 5: 4 mi OT in 37:18, 9:19 avg pace 
Sep 8: 6 mi TM in 53:55, 9:23:/9:05/9:06/8:57/8:54/8:29
Sep 10: 4.2 mi TM in 35:27, 8:43/8:28/8:23/8:16
Sep 12: 4 Mi TM in. 32:57 , 8:36/8:08/8:08/8:13
Sep 15: 6 mi TM in 55:21, 9:13 avg pace

Sep 17: 3.1 mi TM in 26:13
Sep 22: 7 mi TM in 1:03:28, 9:04 avg pace

Sep 24: 4.5 Mi TM in 44:?? , 9:22/8:33/8:22/8:22/4:53
Sep 26: 4 mi TM slow hills in 39:57
Sep 29: 5.6 mi OT in 52:59

Total: 51.4 miles

Not bad, eh? But, only 3 outdoor runs. I am making yet another deal with myself. If I'm going to forgo more difficult miles out of doors for the comfort of my treadmill and the allure of Hulu, I promise to work more on speed and hills. We'll see how long that lasts.

Happy October, everyone!!! This month is going to be a whirlwind for me and I will likely not hit my monthly goal. No, I'm not setting myself up for failure before the month is even underway but some of my miles will have to be run in a warmer climate. I'll give you a hint.......

Good thing ships have tracks.