Planting Sequoias

In which I blog about a life (hopefully) well lived.


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Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Chip Cookies (in which my husband and I display what can only be described as a disgusting amount of self control)

The other day, I found these Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in our pantry. They date back to Easter 2012, as evidenced by the cute bunny and pastel foil-wrapped candies. We are both appalled at the fact that these were IN THE HOUSE and we DID NOT EAT THEM. Peanut butter and chocolate is definitely Kenny’s favorite food combination of all time, and it is definitely in my top 5. I do not know how these survived for so long.

Easter Reeses

In order to avert the potential tragedy of having to throw these away, and yet being a little leery of how they’d taste at their *ahem* advanced age (I mean that in the nicest way possible), I decided to bake them up into some delightful cookies. I chopped them up and made this delectable-looking* dough using a favorite chocolate cookie recipe.

*My apologies for lack of food-blogger awesomeness/photography skills in general. Read this post if you want to zoom out and see our whole kitchen when I cook…but don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.

please don't lick the computer screen

Here’s the recipe, adapted to accommodate my expired peanut butter cups. It came from the back of some Aldi’s brand chocolate chips. I think I prefer the Tollhouse recipe for everyday chocolate chip cookies (huh, do you think that could be the cause of our post-wedding weight gain?), but this recipe seems to make a fluffier (read: less chewy) cookie which I also like sometimes.

1 cup Butter (softened)
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup packed Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 cup chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 cups Flour

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Cream together the butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, baking soda, salt and vanilla. Avoid adding the eggshells, though, since that adds a distinctively unpleasant texture.

3. Slowly add the flour to the mix. Or just dump it all in; that’ll work too.

4. Stir in the chocolate chips and reese’s and drop onto a greased cookie sheet. (The original recipe said here to drop by teaspoonful, but I suggest you multiply that by like 10 and drop them by quarter cups. Your call…but I think we both know who is right.) Bake 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.

the product of our self-control

And then devour, obviously, while still warm. Do you know how hard it was to actually pause and take a picture of these? I mean, Kenny and I are good at the whole self-control thing (apparently a little too good), but when warm cookies come out of the oven, we get a little crazy. With good reason, though, so that lends some logic to our insanity, right?

Linking up here:


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A Typical Bauman Supper (in which I make dinner and my husband makes a rival dinner)

Last night, I made dinner for my husband. It was a delightful little concoction of my own invention, and I had hurried home from work to have this ready by the time he got home. As I spooned it onto our plates, to my surprise, I realized that I had not made enough pasta–a totally opposite problem from the one I normally have. (Am I the only one who has serious issues when it comes to measuring pasta?)

We sat down and ate the meal together nonetheless and discussed the day’s events. I though all was well.

BUT THEN, once we finished, Kenny got up and began making more pasta.

“Since we have extra sauce,” he said, in explanation.

However, NOT ONLY did he put water on to boil, he also hauled out our bag of frozen chicken pieces and began defrosting a breast in the microwave. It was then that I began to feel a wee bit affronted. I remained silent, though, to see what he would come up with.

As his ingredients cooked, we read the Advent devotional we’re working through. Not only a good reminder of the reason for the season, it was also a good reminder to be nice to my husband.

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We finished today’s reading, and he finished up cooking the second supper.

Sidenote: we lit the Advent candles at church last Sunday. Kenny read from Luke 2 (and wore a suit!), and I am happy to report that I did not accidentally light the white candle.

Here’s his finished creation. I made him put it on a clean plate solely for the purpose of this picture, so feast your…eyes. Uh, yum? I am aware that my food photography is a bit lackluster. As is all of my photography.

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Basically, he just made a more awesome version of my dinner creation (spaghetti, tomato sauce, cream cheese, and spices). His had meat on it, which I always forget to cook/don’t bother with since it’s too much hassle.

Since his version looked so delicious, I politely begged him for a few morsels, and, being an excellent husband, he shared.

While we were munching down our second supper, I noticed a strange mark on Kenny’s forehead.

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I mentioned it to him and he ran to the bathroom mirror to check it out. I may have let out a small chuckle at his consternation. He had no idea what the mark was or how it was inflicted, but I have my theories.

I’m pretty sure this is payback for his dissatisfaction with my first dinner.

However, being that it’s Advent and everything, I kept my suspicions to myself.

So, what is the moral of these ramblings, you wonder? Well, sometimes husbands do have good ideas when it comes to cooking.

Also…I still like him a bunch, especially since he shares.


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Delicious Meijer Savings (in which I give unsolicited advice on how you can keep more of your money)

Kenny and I put 45% of our income from November into savings, which we’re pretty proud of.

Don’t worry; because this isn’t a personal finance blog, I won’t break down every last little detail. But, as an aside, I really really love PFBs.  It’s the geeky side of me coming out again.

But since this is the blog about my life, I do occasionally like to share some of the ways I save money without going (too) crazy.

First, though, I’d like to show you what I came home to last night:

Cake from Ken

Yes. My law-school-student husband made this for me. Nevermind that it is exam week. #shakesheadaffectionatelythenchowsdown. He is handsome and he bakes. I am so blessed.

I had just come from Meijer, where I got these delicious foods at great prices. If you’re interested in how, read on. And if you have any holiday entertaining to do, you should be interested and you should read on, because these would be great baked goods to take to a party. I’m not sure if the Red Velvet cupcakes will make it out our door, though. They look scrumptious.

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Though these deals are specific to this week (12/9/12-12/15/12) and to Meijer stores, the same principles can be applied to most grocery stores at any time. If Meijer is not your preferred grocery store, Google your store name, the date, and “coupon matchups”–hopefully you’ll find some helpful bloggers out there catered to your store.

Here’s how I saved about 70% on these groceries:

Krusteaz Cookie Mix is on sale for $1.59. The box claims it makes 3 dozen cookies, so it probably makes about 12 Bauman-sized cookies.

Get a $1/1 Krusteaz Cookie Mix printable coupon HERE (when you click on the link on the page). You can usually print 2 coupons from most websites by accessing the link twice, so I did that with this coupon.

Total: $.59! And, when I scanned the boxes at the register, out printed the coupon you see in the picture for another $1 off, so I’ll go back later this week and pick up another one! And Kenny and I will just live happily off baked goods forever!

Duncan Hines Decadent cake mix is on sale for $2.50 (actually 2/$5, but at Meijer that does not mean you have to purchase 2 to get the sale price).

If you have an MPerks account (Meijer’s online coupon clipping program), you can “clip” a buy 1, get 1 free coupon for this product. You’ll type in your MPerks account number on the self scanner or credit card machine at checkout to redeem this.

That in and of itself is a great deal, but it gets better: this week, when you purchase 2 boxes of this cake mix, you can get a FREE 32oz Meijer brand Canola or Vegetable Oil bottle! The savings will come off automatically at the register. Don’t do like I did and accidentally grab the 48oz bottle and have to trek from the cash register across the store in uncomfortable wedges to fetch the right size.

I also picked up 2 frozen Jack’s pizzas (on sale 4/$9 or $2.25) and used 2 $.75 off coupons (that can be printed from here), making each $1.50.

When I got home, I checked my mailbox on the way into our apartment and had a coupon for free Yoplait yogurt waiting in there that I’d signed up for a few weeks ago! Yum.

And then, I went on the internet and discovered that you can get a coupon (actually 2, since you can usually print 2 online coupons each time) for $3 off 3 Smart Balance products here when you send ecards to 3 Facebook friends (send one to me if you want!), and Meijer has Smart Balance Spreadable Butter with Canola Oil on sale for $.99. WHICH MEANS THAT YOU CAN GET 3 FOR FREE. FOR FREE. That is, if you’re not morally opposed to anything that isn’t quite real butter. I love grocery shopping.

If you want to see other Meijer deals for this week, go here.

See? Saving lots of money on delicious food is easy. You don’t have to become a crazy coupon lady like me (I place myself into that category because I own and rock a coupon wallet that fastens with velcro)–you can just be awesome and keep more of your own money. And you know I’m all for that.

Now, go forth and save.

Want to learn how we’re saving a BUNCH of money on Christmas presents this year? See this post on using Swagbucks. Also, check out this post if you have a birthday coming up!


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Easy Baked Chicken Taquitos (in which I channel my inner housewife despite utter exhaustion)

Do you ever have days where you get home from work and get this huge burst of energy and motivation and inspiration to do all that needs to be done at home?

No? Me neither. But dinner wasn’t going to make itself, so I picked myself up from the heap where I had fallen the moment I walked into the door and dragged myself into the kitchen.

I may be acting a little dramatically here, but it is true that I was Tired. With a capital T. I don’t really know how this happens, since I sit at a desk and tap-tap-tap away at my computer all day, but it just does.

Anyway, Kenny said he’d “eat this again,” which is, of course, the mark of a successful meal. I’ve adapted the recipe to suit my purposes but it is based on a typical Baked Chicken Taquito recipe that I found in several different places (with no real “first” source to link to…although I did just find this one, and it is dated 2009, so maybe try here for the original? Or just use mine…and I’ll stop babbling now).

Here’s what you’ll need for the filling:

1/3 C (3 oz) cream cheese
1/4 C salsa
1T fresh lime juice
1/2 t cumin
1 t chili powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/4 t garlic powder or 2 minced garlic cloves
1 1/2 T dried cilantro
2 T finely sliced onions
2 C shredded cooked chicken (I just used 2 medium boneless skinless breasts)
1 C grated cheese

 

Here’s what you’ll need for the…not filling part:

small flour tortillas (I had enough filling for 9)
salt
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix all filling ingredients together (sidenote: did you know you can shred chicken in your KitchenAid? You can. I’m speechless.) and then put 2-3 T of the filling on the bottom third of a tortilla (it might be necessary to microwave your tortillas for 10-15 seconds to soften them enough to roll without cracking).

taquito assemblage

Place tightly rolled taquitos on your baking sheet and then mist them lightly with cooking spray. Or, if you’re like me, use your handy Misto filled with olive oil. This gadget is on my top 10 favorite wedding gifts for sure.

misto

 

Found here.

 

After you’ve misted your oil, lightly sprinkle salt on each taquito and bake them all for 10-15 minutes or until the tortillas begin to brown. You could also freeze these for an easy meal later, and rumor has it that you can just pop them into the oven without unthawing them! I haven’t tried it yet, but there are 3 taquitos in my freezer so I’ll let you know how that goes.

taquito finale

Top with salsa, sour cream, guacamole, or whatever your heart desires. I elected to eat mine plain so I could actually taste it, but Ken like his smothered in salsa. I only judged him for it a little bit for that.

And once the dishes are washed and the plates are loaded in the dishwasher, you can then collapse onto the couch and call it a day.

I cannot even imagine adding offspring into the equation. Good for all of you parental-type for surviving!


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Homemade Soft Tortillas (in which I combine cooking with a good forearm workout)

I don’t consider myself to be an awesome cook (I’m too impatient to try complicated-looking recipes), but this recipe for easy flour tortillas hit the ball out of the park. Kenny was very impressed by my cooking skills with this project.

He was also impressed by the muscle definition in my arms that resulted from this cooking adventure.

I found the recipe here on Talia Christine’s blog and am reposting it with my notes, if you would also like to combine delicious food with an energizing workout.

Easy Flour Tortillas

3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4-6 Tbsp. vegetable shortening
about 1 1/4 cups warm water (you may not need all of it)

Mix ingredients together until dough is smooth and elastic. I used my Kitchenaid because I knew I’d need to save my strength for what was yet to come.

Split dough into 12 sections, or, if you’re only feeding two, I suggest you make a half-batch and split it into 6 sections. I guess I should have mentioned that before you get to this point, huh? Here’s hoping you read ahead first.

Sprinkle with flour and do some preliminary arm stretches. No one likes pulled muscles, so safety should be your first priority! Goggles are optional.

Here comes the workout. With your rolling pin, flatten each tortilla until it is about the thickness of a dime. My tortillas were about 12″ in diameter. Sprinkle with flour (and underneath) whenever things get too sticky. Do six reps of this exercise, one for each tortilla.

You can sort of see how thin I flattened the dough here. My tortillas were almost transparent, but they were surprisingly strong and I could pick them up and move them around without any breakage. I played with my food a little because I got sick of exercise about halfway through. Also important: hydrate yourself. Not the tortillas, because that would make a sticky mess, but take care of your body by replenishing all those fluids you’ll sweat out.

Note to self: keep the comments about sweat to a minimum when explaining recipes in the future.

Once you have them all rolled out, heat your frying pan up to medium heat as you slowly cool down your arms with gentle exercises. No oil or spray is needed on the pan, but if you want to oil up those newly defined muscles, be my guest.

When your pan is hot, place the tortilla on the pan (bet you saw that one coming!)

Cook the first side until it gets bubbly like this, and then flip it over and cook the other side. Don’t strain yourself after that vigorous workout. I found that the first side of the tortilla took about 1 minute to cook and the second side took about 30 seconds, but it could vary for you.

And that’s it! Seriously easy. These were very soft and pliable and delicious.

The night I made these, Kenny and I had regular tacos with ground beef, but we went a little crazy with the leftover tacos the next night: egg tacos! I fried up some potatoes and onions and scrambled eggs, and we each added our favorite toppings like chipotle mayo, green peppers, cheese, salsa, and salt and pepper.

My husband was very hungry, so he was moving quite quickly at this point (as evidenced by the photo).

Yes, it’s easier to purchase some pre-made tortillas, but where’s the fun in that? And if I, a non-cook, can do this, you definitely can. Dig out that shortening and flour. Go.

Besides, who can’t use a good arm workout now and then?