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My New “Products I Love” Page!

Hey guys! I hope you’re having a great week so far.

I am popping in with a quick post today to let you know about my brand new Products I Love page. I wanted to make it easier for you to reference products I mention in blog posts, so now you can find them all in one place instead of searching through old posts.

The new page is located at the far right end of the menu bar at the top of my site. If you hover over Products I Love you’ll see a dropdown menu with different categories.

 

I’ve separated the products into four categories: Cooking and Baking Equipment, Pantry Staples, Small Kitchen Tools, and Natural Cleaning Products. I am sure that as time goes on I’ll add more categories as needed, but for now, hopefully you’re able to find what you’re looking for.

When you click on a category you’ll be taken to a new page that shows products I love and use on a regular basis.

My New Products I Love Page -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

In some cases I’ve included a bit of commentary to let you know how I use the product or what I love about it.

As I discover new products I’ll make sure to add them to these pages. There are some products for which I was unable to find a reasonable price online, so I haven’t added those to these lists (because no one wants to spend $43 on 2 boxes of cereal!).

I hope you like these new pages and find a new-to-you food product or cooking tool that you love. Please note that if you click on a product image, all of the prices listed are the actual selling prices. While I may receive a tiny commission if you purchase one of these products, there is no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for supporting this little blog!

 

If there are any categories or products that you want to see, just be sure to let me know in either the comments below or by emailing me.

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Planning my 2016 Goals and Resolutions

Happy 2016!

I hope you guys had a great night on NYE whether you went out or stayed in. We spent NYE at our friend’s house, celebrating with delicious food and, of course, plenty of champagne.

Travis and I kept things pretty low-key during the day on January 1st.

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Keeping with our recent New Year’s Day tradition, we got brunch at one of our favorite local restaurants, The Misfit. There may or may not have been mimosas involved.. and it was just as delicious as always.

After that we came home, relaxed, ordered take-out from Canter’s Deli (both Travis and my favorite “treat meal”) and watched a movie on the couch with Bessie. It was a perfect day off of work, indeed.

Canter's Deli Pastrami Sandwich

As I look ahead to 2016, there is so much I want to do and accomplish. For the first time since high school I decided to buy a paper planner. I consider myself a very organized person, and for the last 8-ish years I’ve really just used iCal on my computer and iPhone to make sure I stay on top of upcoming events, deadlines, bills, etc.

It’s worked really well, but one thing I haven’t been good about is accomplishing long-term to-dos that I think about, but never jot down.

Paper Planner - 2016 Goals

I am excited to use this paper planner to keep track of yearly goals whether it be fitness-related, for Little Chef Big Appetite, financial, etc. Over the weekend, I spent some time jotting down notes for January and I already feel so excited about the coming month (and the months to follow).

I am definitely someone who gets really happy when I get to physically cross something off a to-do list (tell me I am not the only one!), so my hope is that by writing down all of these goals, I will stick to them better than I would if they were listed in my phone.

Farmer's Market Carrots

Now, before I leave you, I thought I’d share a few posts that might be of interest if you’re jumping on the healthy bandwagon for 2016!

How I Meal Plan (Great tips to guarantee a healthy week ahead!)

5 Tips to Help You Workout in the Morning (before work or school)

How to Make Steel-cut Oats Overnight (Prep a big batch at the beginning of the week!)

 

Have a great week, guys! Talk soon!

Eats Lately Fitness Tips and Tricks Uncategorized

New Week, New Month, New Goals

Hi everyone! Happy Monday AND happy November!

Let’s cut right to it. I am going to get completely real with you this morning.

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I feel like in every blog post recently, I’ve talked about how busy I’ve been. Ever since we got back from England at the end of August I haven’t felt like my healthy self. It’s almost as if I never got back on track after vacation…even though it’s over two months later. That is SO unlike me.

Don’t get me wrong, I still go to the gym regularly, but my workouts have been complete blah and I honestly attribute that to my not-so-great diet recently. The past two months have been filled with many work events, lots of visitors, celebrations, holidays, and more. In almost all of these situations I’ve let my diet slip (think: carbs on carbs and lots of wine). Even though I still manage to drag myself to the gym the morning after an indulgent night, my workouts are sluggish and they feel ineffective.

So that’s what led me to this blog post. I realized that I have to change a few things in order to start feeling like “myself” again. I told myself that in order to hold myself accountable, I should write down specific goals that I can look back on throughout the month. And what better way to hold myself accountable then to share these goals with you guys and the rest of the blogosphere!?

While I don’t see my crazy work schedule easing up any time soon, I know I need to make more time for myself in order to start feeling healthier and more energized.

Today I am sharing my five goals that will (ideally!) help me get back on a healthy track this November. Let’s do this!

 

1. No meals / snacks / anything (besides water!) after 8:00PM.

No late night snacking

There have been way too many nights where I’ve given into late night snacking desires. I know this is not good to do right before bed and it’s flat out gotta stop. I often see Travis having a bowl of cereal after dinner, so I’ll do the same (even if I’m not hungry!). He has the metabolism of a race car, so I really shouldn’t be emulating his eating behaviors.

Of course, there will be nights where we’ll have dinner plans with friends or other “life” things after 8PM, but my goal is to stick to this rule whenever I can.

 

2. Get back on the early morning gym routine.

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With my previous job, the only time I had to go to the gym was at 5AM before work, and I was seriously committed to that routine. I talk about my old morning routine and tips to help you work out in the morning in this blog post.

My current job allows me to begin my day a little later, but instead of using that extra time in the morning, I’ve been starting to just sleep in. My goal is to force myself out of bed by 6AM every morning and get my tushie right to the gym. That way I will still have time to do other things (blog, meal prep, etc.) before I leave for work. There have been far too many mornings when I pull myself out of bed around 7AM, have my coffee and breakfast, play around on my computer, and then before I know it, BAM, no time for the gym. Not good.

 

3. Be smarter about what I eat at work.

Pumpkin Souffle CHAYA Downtown

I work for a restaurant group and part of my job is taste-testing new menu items. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an awesome perk and I love it. But, do I really need to lick a dessert plate clean at 2PM on a Tuesday afternoon? (Guilty as charged!)

What I should be doing is just trying one small bite of a dish (just like the judges on Chopped and MasterChef, you know?). I really have to stick to that.

 

4. Meal plan every weekend.

Meal Plan - Little Chef Big Appetite

I used to be SO good about this, but have completely fallen off the bandwagon. I’ve mentioned that with the serious heat wave we’ve had, the last thing I wanted to do was turn on the oven or stove, so we resorted to a lot of take out.

No can do anymore! More meal planning –> healthier eating.

 

5. Two drink maximum when I am out to dinner, at social events, etc.

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Enough said. Alcohol leads to low energy and crappier/missed workouts.

 

Okay, now who is with me!? I need all the support I can get in order to stick to these new goals.

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Weekend Through Photos

Hello! I hope your Monday is off to a good start.

It was a beautiful weekend in Los Angeles. These photos should show you a little bit of what I was up to.

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Spring is definitely here (okay, it is pretty much always spring in LA, but go with me here). This beautiful Jacaranda tree outside our apartment just began to blossom. I love looking out our window and seeing this bright periwinkle among the green palm trees on our street.

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Travis and I saw “Neighbors” this weekend and we both thought it was hilarious. I love Rose Byrne and Seth Rogan so much and they had us cracking up the whole time. Before the movie, we went to one of our favorite local spots for dinner, Burger Lounge. I got a turkey patty alongside their fresh vegetable salad. I LOVE this salad because all the veggies taste so fresh (which is very unique for your typical burger joint) and it comes with a delicious lemon basil vinaigrette.  Trav got a regular burger on a whole wheat bun with a side of onion rings and french fries. I may have snagged a few of his crunchy onion rings you see on top there 😉

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We were VERY productive on Saturday. We spent the morning at Ikea (one of our foster dogs peed on our couch a few months ago and, unfortunately, dry cleaning actually made the stain worse, so we had to make the hike up to Burbank to get a new couch cushion). Obviously, we ended up leaving Ikea with way more than we intended on buying. We purchased mostly decorative items, so we spent the rest of Saturday morning placing them around the apartment. I got Travis to (FINALLY!) hang the wooden wine rack we purchased on Etsy a few months ago. He’d been putting it off because it was very complicated to hang properly and we were secretly hoping my dad (Mr. Master Home Improvement) might be able to help (Hi Dad!). But, we put our brains together and finally figured it out on Saturday. I am so excited that our dining room is officially complete – we just need to fill it with a few more wine bottles now!

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Bessie was very intrigued as Travis was hammering away. She wouldn’t take her eyes off of him.

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Saturday night, we were so exhausted from all of our running around, so we decided to reward ourselves and go out to an early dinner.  We decided to check out R&D Kitchen in Santa Monica because it has been on my list forever (I keep an ongoing list in my iphone of LA restaurants I want to try). The food at R&D Kitchen is American Gastropub style. The menu is slightly limited, but everything we ate was really yummy. I chose the veggie burger and it was probably the best I’ve ever had. I usually opt for beef or turkey burgers when I am out, but this one called to me when I saw it on the menu. the combination of ingredients sounded scrumptious. It was served with a thick slice of cheese on a delicious egg bun and definitely did not disappoint. YUM!

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Sunday morning I woke up to Bessie on top of me. We don’t let her sleep in the bed because she sheds soooooooooooo much, but Travis knows how much I love snuggling with her. So after their morning walk together, he plopped her on top of me in bed to wake me up and she immediately began licking my face. It was quite possibly the best and funniest way to wake up.

The rest of the day I spent running around doing errands, recipe developing, and blogging.

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Here I am desperately trying to get a good angle for my food photography. Hello pink toes! (Don’t worry, they were clean).

The end result was this delicious farro salad, which we devoured alongside some tangy honey chicken for dinner last night.

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The recipe will be coming your way later this week, so stay tuned!

Have a great week, friends!

 

 

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NYC: Experimental Cocktail Club

I had an amazing time in NYC this past weekend.

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Travis and I crammed so much into four short days.

Part of the reason we were going to NYC was so Travis and his best friend, Ben, could celebrate their birthdays together with a bunch of our friends from college.

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The entire weekend was packed with birthday festivities, catching up with so many old friends, and eating some seriously delicious food.

I was so excited to spend time with one of my oldest friends, Erica. We met at camp when we were in middle school and remained very close ever since.

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(Back then, we were incapable of taking a serious photo together…ever.)

Up until this weekend, it had been three years since we last saw each other! It certainly didn’t feel like it, though. We picked right back up where we left off.

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Erica and I spent the afternoon wandering around Soho and laughing non-stop. I seriously love this girl.

This weekend, I also got to see two of my best friends from my sorority at Penn, Caroline and Kelsey.

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Spending time in person is 9383924007443 times better than talking on the phone and texting. I wish we all lived blocks away from each other again!

As I mentioned, throughout the weekend, Travis and I ate numerous yummy meals. The highlight, though, was our experience at the Experimental Cocktail Bar in the Lower East side. On Sunday night, I took Travis out to dinner for his birthday at Balaboosta (it was absolutely incredible, by the way!).  His friend suggested that we check out ECC  after dinner since it was a short walk from where we were staying.

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I have to be honest. Neither Travis or I really drinks cocktails (usually wine for me and beer for him), so we were a bit hesitant when we saw that this place ONLY served cocktails. Luckily for us, since it was a Sunday night, the place was basically empty, so we got some SERIOUSLY good attention from Joji, the master mixologist.

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Joji came over to our table and asked us what flavors we liked and didn’t like. He then suggested a drink for each of us based on our preferences. I started with the Paragon and Travis ordered the Stockholm Syndrome. A few minutes later, Joji delivered our cocktails in beautiful glasses. I felt like I was dining in a mansion at a black-tie event. The klutz in me was so nervous I was going to break it.

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We each took one sip of our drinks, look at each other, and said simultaneously, “This is the best drink I’ve ever had!” The drinks we so creative and well-balanced. The foodies in us had us guessing every flavor that hit our lips. We complimented Joji and told him how well he understood our preferences.

A few minutes later, Joji was back at our table holding a little glass bottle. Inside, he said, was a special cocktail that they don’t make at the bar because it takes four days to make. I was shocked, so I asked him how it could possibly take that long. He explained there were numerous steps involved, such as roasting strawberries, adding milk, straining the milk through a cheese cloth, etc., etc.

He poured a bit of the cocktail into two glasses for us to try.

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Just based on the amount of labor that went into this drink, we couldn’t believe he was being so generous! After one sip of the drink, Travis and I turned to each other again and proclaimed that THIS was in fact the most delicious drink we’ve ever had. It was silky-smooth, sweet, but well-balanced, and had a clear presence of cinnamon and nutmeg. It tasted almost MAGICAL, as if no human on earth could have made this drink.

Throughout the rest of the night, Joji took incredible care of us. At the end, I got up to use the restroom and when I came back there were two of those little glass bottles sitting on our table. I asked Travis what they were, and he said, “Joji gave us souvenirs to take with us before our flight tomorrow.” Can you believe that!? He gave us TWO MORE of his incredible 4-day cocktails. On the house! Talk about amazing service. I think Joji appreciated how interested we were in the process and science behind his drinks.

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Before we left for the airport on Monday afternoon, we poured ourselves the cocktails from Joji. We were in a bit of a hurry, so we couldn’t savor each sip like we did the night before, but they were still just as incredible.

I know we wouldn’t have received such great attention at Experimental Cocktail Club on a busier night, but those three hours at ECC were some of the coolest I’ve ever had at a restaurant or bar.  I highly recommend ECC to anyone visiting NYC, but I suggest you go on an off-night, like we did, so you can get the most out of your experience.

It was very hard to leave New York and all of our friends, but I know we will be back sometime soon.

 

Have you ever been to Experimental Cocktail Club? What was the best service you’ve received at a bar or restaurant?

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Making Me Smile

Sometimes we go through our day-to-day routine and don’t stop to acknowledge the little things in our lives that make us happy.

I know that I often get so caught up in my daily rush, that I often forget to do this. So, here are a few things in my life that are currently making me smile:

 

Snail Mail

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I love the feeling of coming home and finding a letter in the mail that isn’t a bill or flyer. Recently, I’ve been getting lots of mail, like thank you notes and St. Patrick’s Day cards, and I love it! What the senders of these cards don’t know is that I always save their mail. For as long as I can remember, I’ve saved hand-written notes that have a special sentiment inside. I love holding on to these memories and they are really nice to revisit now and then.

 

Bessie

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We’ve had Bessie, our current foster dog, for almost three months now! People always ask us if we get attached, and the big, fat answer is YES. I believe every dog is special, but when you foster a dog for so many months, it is impossible not to grow attached. Bessie is also, by far, the happiest dog we’ve had, so she constantly makes me laugh and smile.

Every dog we’ve fostered had a little routine to show they were excited when we came home. Wally grabbed his favorite toy and ran in circles. Woody leaped over two feet in the air. Bessie dances! She lifts her little paws up and down in a motion that, I swear, looks just like she is doing a happy dance. It is the sweetest thing.

I can’t believe she hasn’t been adopted yet, but I am not complaining because I love having her around!

 

Extra Daylight

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I can’t express enough how much I love daylight savings in the spring. During winter, I feel like I never see daylight because by the time I leave work at night it is already dark. I also always bring my lunch to work, so I rarely go outside in the middle of the day. Now that we moved the clocks one hour ahead, I have an extra hour of sunshine at the end of the day. I’ve been taking advantage of this by going on short evening runs after work, when I have the time. I’ve always loved running along the ocean and watching the sunset, but recently my favorite thing to do is take a new route each run and explore different streets in my neighborhood. I’ve discovered so many beautiful houses along the way.

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The sightseeing way makes my runs fly by, and I find that I barely check my watch.

 

Long Distance Friendship

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One of my New Year’s resolutions was to stay in better touch with my friends on the East coast. With the time difference and all of our different schedules, it can be so easy to fall out of touch, but I am really trying to fix that. I generally try to call a different friend on my way home from work each night, even if it is just for a quick chat.

Last week, when I got home from work, there was a beautiful bouquet of flowers at my doorstep. I thought it was a mistake because it wasn’t my birthday or a holiday. I checked the card, and it was addressed to me from my best friend from Boston, Amanda! She sent me the flowers “just because!”

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How many people do you know who would do something like that? Amanda and I have been through so much together over the past 10 years. She is the most thoughtful friend, and I am truly lucky to have her in my life. The world needs more Amandas.

 

Now it’s your turn! What is currently making you happy?

 

 

 

 

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A Foodie’s Dream Vacation

I just got back from a trip to beautiful wine country. 

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Let me tell you, Napa is foodie heaven. I didn’t have a single meal that I didn’t freak out about. And by freak out, I mean sit there and find it absolutely impossible to talk about anything other than how scrumptious every bite was. 

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Although on some days it seemed as though the rain would never pass, we still managed to amuse ourselves with plenty of winery tours and tastings.

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Besides, since we went during Napa’s off-season, we lucked out and scored numerous free tastings at various wineries. 

Can’t complain about that, huh?

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And when it rains, what better to do than eat, right?

So I ate this:

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And drank this:

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Picnicked with these:

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Oh and then, Ad Hoc happened.

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Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc was everything I could have imagined. The one thing to know about Mr. Keller’s family-style restaurant is that the menu is fixed every night, so we called that afternoon and make sure we would like what they were serving. Luckily for us, the main course was a beef pot roast with roasted brussel sprouts, carrots, and pearl onions. 

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MELT IN YOUR MOUTH beef. Talk about heaven. 

I was really sad when it was all gone, but good thing that wasn’t the end…

Thank god for the incredible cheese plate and make your own sundaes for dessert at the end of the meal. 

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Homemade vanilla bean ice cream, hot chocolate sauce, and malted milk balls.

Thanks TK. You really know how to make a girl happy 🙂

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So, there you have it. A wonderful vacation and a very satisfied me (despite being out of the kitchen for a few days…).

A belated Happy Holidays and New Year from me. 

Happy eating 🙂

Love,

Your Little Chef

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Food Tour through Coolidge Corner

This past weekend, as part of a belated birthday gift, I took my (FAVORITE) brother on a mini food tour through Coolidge Corner.  The area is known for it’s great Jewish delis, bakeries, and delicious Middle Eastern flavors. While we’ve both been to area many times, there were a few famous spots that neither of us had tried, and I personally wanted to take a trip to these places before I move out West.

First stop was Rami’s, which is known for it’s DELICIOUS falafel.

We ordered the falafel and hummus plate.  The pita (not featured here because we devoured it before I could even take a picture) was hot and fresh out of the oven. The falafel was amazing – super crispy and full of flavor. YUM.

Next stop was Zaftig’s, where we ordered INSANE banana stuffed challah french toast with bourbon-vanilla batter and an egg scramble with turkey hash, spinach, mushrooms and onions.

Both were delicious, but the challah french toast was by far my favorite taste of the day. I mean c’mon look at that baby!

We easily could have gone down the classic matzoh ball soup route, but we know our mom makes the best – so it only would have been a disappointment 😉

Last stop was Kupel’s bakery. By that point we were both pretty stuffed, so we brought back treats for Mom, Dad, and my soon-to-be sister-in-law 🙂

Hard to decide, but we went with a big ‘ol cinnamon bun, apple turnover, and a cupcake. You can never go wrong with too many treats.

I wish I could eat like that everyday!

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3 Foodie Gifts I am Loving

This holiday season I got some pretty awesome gifts.  Turns out my friends and family know me preeeetty well because they were all very…ME. 

Check it out.

SKIPPY IPhone Case from Travis:


Could I have a more fitting IPhone case? I have been receiving compliments on it everywhere I go – strangers have commented on it waiting in line, waitresses have told me they love it, and I even had one guy give me a thumbs up and point to my case when I was standing outside on the phone this week. 

Umm, I think this means I may be on my phone too much…

Pizza Cookbook by Reader’s DIgest from Emily

Em got me this great Pizza cookbook and I am so excited to use it! Every recipe features a full size picture of pizza, which I love, but it makes you so hungry! 

I am definitely going to try this one first:

Pure Komachi 2 Chopping Knife (in PINK!) from Dave and Morgan

This knife is my favorite thing in the kitchen right now.  It’s completely girly, but totally badass and sharp at the same time. 

What foodie gifts did you get or give this year? 

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The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

I’m participating in the Great American Food Blogger Cookie Swap this holiday season!

It is being hosted by Love and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen and is such a fun idea!

The Food Bloggers who signed up were randomly assigned the names of three bloggers.  We then had to send each one dozen cookies of original recipe (one that has never been posted on our blogs).

I was so excited to come home today to this package:

It was from Abby at the A Team!

I couldn’t wait to see what was inside!

Peanut Brittle Blondies!

She knows me so well! They were perfect.

Sending cookies / bars in the mail is difficult, but these blondies were in great shape and tasted so fresh. The peanut flavor was to die for!

I left the bars out in my kitchen for all the girls in my house to try them. They were gone within three hours…

No surprise there. Thanks Abby!!

What am I baking for the swap? You’ll find out on the 12th, when all the bloggers post their recipes!

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