The end of another weekend is upon us. Say it isn’t so! Fortunately, it’s been another fun-filled one, so I can’t complain!
First of all, Twilight totally met and exceeded my expectations. I haven’t felt this way about a book-turned-movie series since Harry Potter. It literally makes me giggle like a little girl, and I love that feeling. I have plans to see it again very soon. My friend and I arrived at the movie theater at 9:45 pm on Thursday night, only to find that the line had started as early as 5:00 in the afternoon! Fortunately, we still secured a good spot and brought along some magazines to read until it was time for the show to start. The movie also featured the new and improved trailer for the next Harry Potter movie, so it was twice as nice! I just want to recommend the Twilight books once again – they are suitable for so many different personalities because who doesn’t like to read about love? If you read them, let me know what you think!
On Friday, I met up with my cousin Lisa – who came to visit me earlier this summer – for dinner on Michigan Avenue. We decided on the Grand Luxe Cafe, a favorite of mine and a restaurant that is very similar to Cheesecake Factory in terms of portion sizes and menu variety.
The best part was that we were actually able to secure window seats and got to look out on the amazing splendor that is the shopping district of downtown Chicago. Splendid! We sampled some amazing fare as well, including New England Clam Chowder and a Southwestern Salad. But by far the most impressive part of our meal was the dessert!
Apologies for the slightly blurry picture, but it was very dark in the restaurant! This dessert is called New Orleans Beignets. It’s baked to order and can basically be described as a lighter-than-air puff pastry that is covered in powdered sugar – aka ABSOLUTE PERFECTION! It came EIGHT to a basket (we each had two and brought the rest home for leftovers!) with three dipping sauces: chocolate, raspberry and a white one whose name escapes me but involved a sweet liqueur and white chocolate. Mm Mm Mm! We were so impressed!
After dinner, Lisa and I walked around and browsed some of the shops. I came home with a bit of a splurge beauty product: Jacqua Sinfully Rich Body Butter in Buttercream Frosting. It makes me smell like a cake! And the best part was that it lasted all day long. I went to the gym this morning and even though I was sweating, the smell of cake permeated the air around me. I was surrounded by a buttercream cloud 😉 If you enjoy sweet scents, I highly recommend this product!
On Saturday evening, my roommate and I ventured back to Michigan Avenue to witness the Holiday Lighting Ceremony. There was a Disney parade – complete with Mickey Mouse and the gang – and the chance to watch the entire street become lit up in the glow of holiday cheer. The roomie and I also enjoyed a fabulous dinner at Big Bowl, which I have reviewed before. It’s another one of my favorite restaurants of all time. Two of my favorites in one weekend? I’m a lucky girl.
Unfortunately, a busy weekend did not leave too much time for me to post a new recipe for this week’s Blogger Secret Ingredient contest. But good news! Lindsay was nice enough to allow me to post one of my old favorites. It also happens to be one of the first-ever recipes I posted on my blog! They’re called ‘Pump’ It Up Muffins – click here for the recipe page link – and I wanted to post the recipe again for your convenience.
‘Pump’ It Up Muffins
At first I was going to make mini muffins to have as a snack option. In the end, however, I decided to go all the way and make six big muffins that I can have for breakfast options instead! I’ve dubbed them “Pump” It Up Muffins – thanks to the extra “power” provided by oats and flax. I hope that’s a somewhat original name!
Here’s what I used:
- 1 cup old fashioned oats
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tbsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 1 can pumpkin
- 1 tbsp. ground flax seed
- 1 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. chocolate chips (divided evenly)
- Cinnamon to taste
Combine ingredients in a bowl (leave out the chocolate chips at first). Grease a muffin pan with cooking spray and evenly distribute the muffin mix into each cup. Stick chocolate chips on top. Bake at 375* for 25 to 30 minutes.
So they look super scrumptious and all, but my favorite part about pumpkin pie is the crust. I thought to myself, what could I use to mimic the crust and still be somewhat light and healthy?
Two words: TEDDY GRAHAMS!!!!!!
A perfect imitation of a graham cracker crust. Plus, they’re adorable!
Each muffin has 180 calories and 7 grams of fiber!
Last but not least, I’d like to introduce a really cool new site. It’s called Glisten, and it features a lot of great workout tips for women, among other things. It was started by a brother and sister team who are both professional athletes – the sister, Allyson, even won a medal in Beijing! – and if you sign up on the site, you can have workouts delivered to your inbox. Check it out if you’re interested!
That’s it for now. I promise to have more foodie-ish posts this week – especially since it happens to be THANKSGIVING week! I can’t believe it’s already here! I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with for this foodie’s dream holiday, and I’m excited to share some of my own recipes with you as well. As long as you can keep a family secret 😉 You know Papa Bender will be cookin’ up a storm!
Have a great evening – “see” you again soon!