Category Archives: travel

Baked Apple Slices with Peanut Butter Crumble (AKA Peanut Butter Apple Crisp)

Recipe compliments of Hershey’s

PB Apple crisp

As promised, here is the recipe for the oh-so-delicious peanut butter and apple goodness! I pulled this recipe from this book. I highly recommend this little gem and have made several delicious desserts featured in here. For instance, I’ve treated my family and friends to the Chocolate Almond Cheesecake, Hershey’s Special Dark Truffle Brownie Cheesecake, Chocolate and Peanut Butter Filled Peanut Butter Blondies, and the good ol’ favorite: Peanut Butter Blossoms! And let me tell you, ALL were absolutely delicious! I wouldn’t lie about this stuff, folks! Smile

So, next time you happen to have several apples on your hands, try this baby out:

Baked Apple Slices with Peanut Butter Crumble (AKA Peanut Butter Apple Crisp)

PB Apple crisp 2

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups peeled and thinly sliced apples
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, divided
  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine, divided
  • 1 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup REESE’S Creamy Peanut Butter
  • Sweetened whipped cream or ice cream (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch square pan.
  2. Stir together apples, 3/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup flour in a large bowl. Spread in prepared pan; dot with 2 tablespoons butter. Combine oats, remaining 3/4 cup flour, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and cinnamon in medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Place remaining tablespoon of butter and peanut butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at Medium for 30 seconds (or until butter is melted); stir until smooth. Add to oat mixture; blend until crumbs are formed.Sprinkle crumble mixture over apples.*
  4. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until apples are tender and edges are bubbly. Cool slightly. Serve warm or cool with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.

*I had to break my oat mixture up a but with my fingers. The PB makes it a bit sticky, so don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty!

Thank you Hershey’s for such a treat! Mmmmmm

I hope you all enjoy this as much as I did!

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Riviera Maya!

¡Hola! ¿Cómo estás?

That’s right! I am back from Mexico. (Or as it is pronounced there: MeHico). Madre and I had an excellent trip, and as you have gathered, I left my trusty laptop at my casa. (I think I have used all my Spanish knowledge up now. Wait! I know baño (bathroom) and agua (water). Okay, now I’m done!) It’s a good thing I did not lug my Mac across the border, anyway. Getting Internet was a pain in the you-know-what. You had to buy access- in increments of 30 minutes, but just doing that turned into quite a venture. So let’s just say Poppa only received one quick email during our entire trip!

Okay, now let’s get down to business!

Our flight down went pretty well- no major blips to report. We did have to get up early to make our flight though. And I’m talking waking up at 2:15am early. Yeah . . . Madre and I didn’t get much sleep on Tuesday night. Yet, I can’t say we cared too much. Not when sun, sand, and margaritas were awaiting us! Plus, we were able to make a Starbucks pit stop in Dallas/Ft. Worth (Dallas in Dallas! Hahaha!), and we both caught a few zzzzz’s on the last leg of our flight.

When we arrived at the airport in Cancun at around 11:30 local time, it was HOT and sunny! Our hotel was about 40 minutes away, but we had already booked a shuttle service when we purchased our trip via cheapcarribean.com. Oh! And remember when I said I was really pleased with their customer service a few weeks ago- when I purchased additional insurance? Well, I am going to second that and give them another two-thumbs-up for service! Cheapcarribean.com is known as Olympus Tours in Mexico, and they really took good care of us. They acted as our “travel agency representatives” and were there if we ever had any questions.

Oh, and for you future travelers out there: when you are waking out of the airport in Cancun, KEEP WALKING! Don’t stop for any of the people lined up along the walls. They are most likely selling time shares and will talk your ear off to get you to buy something- whether it be an excursion, tickets to an event, etc.

After the overwhelming expedition of keeping those vendors at bay, I was more than relieved we had booked the shuttle. I honestly don’t know if I would have been able to tackle driving there. Let’s just say it involved traveling at very high speeds and weaving A LOT. Oh, and did I mention the police check points randomly peppered along the highway? With the officers wearing large automatic weapons strapped to their chests, the black, shiny metal flashing for all to see. Yeah . . . not intimidating at all . . .

Ah, but look what welcomed us when we arrived at out destination:

That’s the view from the main lobby at our hotel: Occidental Gran Xcaret.

That’s the view of the stairs leading up to the check-in/lobby, taken from the lower deck of the main building. The tables and chairs shown are used in the evening as a nice place for guests to sit and chat while they enjoy a drink from the nearby bar. Although, many guests found this to be just the right place to enjoy a cigarette (or two . . . or forty). I felt like I was walking through Stephen King’s “The Mist” when I went by at night. The smoke was so thick I wasn’t sure if something was lurking in the thick grey clouds, ready to snatch me at a moment’s notice. Okay, okay . . . maybe that’s an over-exaggeration, but it was pretty caustic.

Anyway, what was pretty neat about our resort was that it was like its own secluded little city. Along with the main lobby building, there were around 22 building villas which housed guests.

Our room was on the third floor, the second two last (farthest) window. And yes, we did overlook the pool. Winning!

The view from our room!

I can’t forget what was awaiting us when we got to our room:

Yup! Kickin’our vacation off right!

Pretty good looking room if I do say so myself. However, I could have gone for a bit more fluff in terms of the bed.

Haha! Sorry, I just had to to it. It was too perfect, kind of like those classic “that’s what she said” moments. Love it.

And, in an attempt to bring out that green little monster of envy in you, may I present what made up the remainder of the all-inclusive resort:

Pool numero uno. (Aha! More Spanish!) See that waterfall? You can swim under that and order a drink. Oh yeah! Swim up bar, yeah!

Oh, and if it’s too hot to tan alongside the pool:

You can lay-out on the little island. Personally, I spent as much time in the water as possible. On top of it being suffocatingly humid, the sun was HOT! This time I am not exaggerating. They didn’t have to heat their pools . . . and the water was WARM in the MORNING.

Next to this pool lay yet another smaller pool which Madre and I enjoyed the most. It was just far enough away from all the hoopla and loud music. Plus, we made friends with the bartender, Jesus. You couldn’t swim up to this bar, BUT it had swings!

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Side note: My computer crashed yesterday as I was writing this post, and I just got the program up and running again . . . after much stress and tears. I am also typing one-handed now (will explain more later), so the remainder of this post will involve a little less text! Okay, back to Riviera Maya, Mexico.

Ah! Look what we have here. Yet ANOTHER pool!

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This one was also a little quieter than the big one in the main area . . . but of course it still had a bar.

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However, Madre and I started most of our mornings here:

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The beach! Look at that beautiful blue/green water! And let me tell you what, so so so very refreshing from the blazing sun rays. The icy cool drinks from the bar only 5 feet away didn’t help, either.

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Although I certainly enjoyed this little sandy cove, I did miss the open-ness of a regular beach. I suppose that would be one of my biggest cons about this resort. I missed being able to take walks on a beach, particularly in the morning. You know, feeling the warm sun as it rises, the sand beneath your feet . . . the tiny bit of rejuvenating exercise. Plus, the wide open coast would have provided more of a relieving breeze!

However, there was a fun snorkeling pool just outside the beach cove:

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And a pretty walkway leading up to it:

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Picturesque, don’t you agree?

It’s funny, but one of my favorite aspects of the resort was not a place or an activity, but the people. The guests themselves. Everywhere you went, you were surrounded by a plethora of different languages. Quite a few beach-goers had strong English accents, but I also heard French, Spanish, Aussie (yes!), Eastern-European sounding- tongues, etc. One group had even traveled all the way from Russia!

Madre and I made friends with some dashing fellas from Espana:

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:

Oh yeah, we know how to pick up the men. 😉

We also kept running into the cutest family from Oklahoma. The mother always looked like she had just walked out of a page in a fashion magazine, and the dad was quite handsome. They had two little blond-haired girls and a little boy who was always trailing a few feet behind the pack. He reminded us of that little boy in What to Expect When You’re Expecting– Chris Rock’s cute but klutzy toddler. On our second to last day there, the dad finally came up to me and introduced himself. He (Shannon) told me that him and his wife both thought I looked like Ann Hathaway!

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I don’t know . . . do you see it?

How about now?

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It made my day, though. I was extremely flattered.

It was truly an incredible trip! Just what Madre and I needed- we seriously were asleep by 9:30pm almost every night! Yet, as Monday rolled around, we both agreed that we were ready to go home and be back in good ol’ ‘Merica!

Guess who was squeaky with joy as we came into the door . . .

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Love!

Well, I will fill you in on more later. It’s time for this girl to rest up!

Questions for the day:

  • Where is your favorite vacation destination?
  • Who is your celebrity doppelganger?
  • Do any of you have laptop recommendations?

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Check, Check, Check

The past day and a half has been spent getting things marked off my To-Do list. I can’t say they have all been fun, but at least I feel more productive.

My first major accomplishment was the one I was most dreading. A few weeks ago, Madre and I booked a trip to an all-inclusive vacation to Cancun in September! (I’ve never been on a cruise or an exotic vacation, so I am eager to relax, sip on fancy umbrella-clad drinks, and soak in some hot, sunny rays). However, when booking the trip, Madre and I did not purchase the trip insurance. Unfortunately, in the last few days my grandfather’s health has took another turn for the worst. So, for a little breathing room, I decided to call the travel company to see if I could go ahead add the insurance now.

The only bad part was that I had to call an 800 number . . . so I had a book ready by my side to read for when I was put on hold. However, www.cheapcaribbean.com pleasantly surprised my cynical self. Within a few minutes of dialing, a very nice women began to help me. The best part: I was still able to purchase the insurance I needed. Therefore, I would highly recommend cheapcarribean to anyone looking to book a trip. Although the name sounds a bit cheesy, my experience so far with the company has been beyond exceptional. Oh, and don’t worry, I will give my final review of my vacation experience when I return from the sand and sun in September.

After sending a long list of emails, I took a break from my checklist to hit the gym. Since it was a Monday, my favorite spinning class was on my agenda. However, I always get to the Y early to reserve a bike and warm up before the intensity ensues.

After an easy 20 minutes on the elliptical to get the blood flowing, I intended to complete part of a workout I got from one of my favorite blogs, Peanut Butter Fingers:

Shoulders & Abs

Superset One: Front Shoulder Raises & 60 sec. plank

Superset Two: Upright Row & 50 Crunches (on yoga ball)

Superset Three: Side Shoulder Raises & 20 Reverse Crunches

* Complete three sets of 15 reps for each superset

I got through the first two supersets, but everyone at the gym was in quite the talkative mood. I had to cut my workout short to catch my spinning class, but I wasn’t too upset. Spinning left me looking like a swamp monster: sweaty from head to toe!

Lunch was quickly thrown together when I arrived home: Roasted broccoli, scrambled eggs, and a side of kettle corn. (I need to get the hang of taking pictures of my meals and what not. I promise I will get better. Baby steps, eh?)

Then it was time for a bath. Not me. This little bumpkin:

Ellie boo is not a fan of baths. She’s like a cat . . . she clings to the side of the bathtub for dear life. She did survive though!

Someone is not a happy camper . . . she was mad so she wouldn’t look at me. Ellie is the first dog I’ve met that can hold a grudge.

She did get a treat for her suffering.

Look at her attacking that peanut butter! She certainly is my dog!

The rest of my night was spent cleaning the house. Fun stuff!

I am off to spend the evening with Madre. Let’s see if I can get her to the gym!

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Luck Of the Irish

Happy Saturday everyone! I hope everyone is having a fantastic weekend. My weekend definitely started off with a bang yesterday.

As all of you know, I have been on the job hunt for quite awhile now, and I have to admit that after many unanswered inquiries and rejection letters, I can’t say I am bubbling over with optimism. It’s a tough market out there- I’m sure everyone has felt the repercussions of our economy. However, I have found a spark of hope! I am now in contact with an editor at McGraw-Hill through a childhood friend! She is extremely kind and helpful, and I could not be more thankful for her advice. It is also so nice to actually talk to a person for once. Overall, the entire online application process has been extremely impersonal and cold. Sign up for a company’s application/job site, answer fill in the blank or select “this” option questions, get an automated email confirming the company received your application, hear nothing for a month . . . then maybe you will get a generic rejection email. However, if you’re awesome, maybe you get an interview! If that’s the case, you rock!

Anyway, fingers crossed that something pans out. I would absolutely love to work for McGraw-Hill. Such an exemplary name in the education industry! I would be so very honored!

After a quick workout and more application business, Madre and I headed down to Columbus to take part in the festivities at the Dublin Irish Festival.

I had never been to the festival before but had always wanted to go, especially since an old family friend used to perform with an Irish Dance Group at the event. She was quite the little tapper. Although she no longer sports the tight pin curls and plaid skorts, Madre and I still thought we would head out Friday night to check out the adult dance competition.

As soon as we arrived at the festival (courtesy of the free shuttle service from the parking area- they have a great thing going on there!) We headed to get some cool refreshments.

I’m not really a beer kind of girl, but nothing sounded better on a sticky and humid 95 degree evening. Crisp and cold, baby!

After walking around for a bit, we hit the food! Madre wasted no time in getting a corn dog.

I had a little trouble deciding what I wanted. Fish and chips, sausage, stew in a bread bowl, pizza, ice cream, FUNNEL CAKE . . . so many choices! In the end, it came down to whether I wanted salty or sweet. So guess what I did?

I got both. Kettle corn all the way. Maybe not your most nutritious dinner, but sometimes you just have to go with the flow. We are talking fair food here- not the most health-focused choices. BUT how many times do you go to things like this? You have to enjoy your self and live a little, eh?

By the time we finished munching away, it was almost time for the dance competition to start. Commence wading through the throngs of people!

Our view at the competition ended up being pretty poor, so we did not end up watching very much. We did however get to take in a bit of music before we headed back to catch the shuttle.

Overall, I had a blast! I loved spending some quality time with Madre, and it was fun to get out and do something new. I cannot wait to go back next year- I think I will even make an effort to see the highland games. Men throwing logs. . . while wearing kilts. Yuuzzzzz!

Questions of the day:

  • What are your favorite festivals to attend?
  • What are your favorite special fair-type treats?

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I’m Back!

Honey! I’m home! 🙂

So remember when I said I would not leave you hanging again? Well, my bad. I did. I am ever so very sorry though. Can you forgive me? Pretty please? With a cherry on top . . . and hot fudge and peanut butter sauce? 😉 If you will, I will share some super yummy recipes with you! What am I saying, I am going to share them either way. They are just too scrumdidilyumptious!

So why have I been so MIA? Unfortunately, quite a bit has gone down over the last few months. The bad mixed with the good; however, I would rather not dwell on the bad. So, here is to a new breath of fresh air, a new month, new recipes and new shenanigans.

However, to give you a Cliff’s Notes version of the major events in my average-ish life since June . . .

  • My childhood best friend got married on July 7th in Rhode Island!

Tori met when we were both just tiny little bumpkins. Joined by our mothers’ friendship, Tori and I grew up side by side. From brownies and attending preschool, to playing with Baby Feel so Real and Pretty Pretty Princess, Tori and I did everything together. And man oh man could we put away the Mac and Cheese. Our mothers could not keep that stuff in the house. Play dates always included at least two boxes! I thank you Kraft for contributing to our wonderful memories. (Quick question: Did anyone else ever eat you mac and cheese by putting a noodle on each on the tines of your fork? I don’t know why I found that so pleasurable as a child . . . Haha!)

Anyway, isn’t she a gorgeous bride? The wedding was absolutely beautiful! The ceremony took place in a small, historic church in Little Compton. (It was built in the 1700s!) However, the reception was held at the Naval Base in Newport AND we got to stay at the Naval lodge. Fun stuff right there!

Madre and I welcoming the Bride and Groom with bubbles! We actually had a contest to see who could empty her bottle first.

Oh! And on our drive over to Rhode Island, guess where we stopped?

Mystic, Connecticut!

Mmmmmmm Mystic Pizza! Please tell me you have seen that movie. It is one of my favorites. A Julia Roberts great!

  • I went to visit my best college pal in Seattle!

Yes. We are goobers. We tried Piroshkys in downtown Seattle. They were meh. I think they had been sitting out for a few hours by the time we took a bite of their cinnamony goodness.

Briley and I were BFFs throughout college and roommates our senior year at the University of Arizona. Like Madre, she gets my weirdness. We are one of a kind. Crazy dancers all the way.

So while I was in Seattle, Briley introduced me to the Space Needle, took me on an Argosy boat tour of the harbor AND:

Pike’s Place Market

The Gum Wall

Briley’s family also owns a condo on Cannon Beach in Oregon. So of course we made the trip and spent a few days relaxin’ and goofing off!

Sorry for the terrible picture, but did I mention we are goofballs? We had fun in the Hat Store.

Does this look familiar to anyone?

That odd looking rock to the right is Haystack rock, and this famous movie was filmed here! (Never say die!)

  • Finally, my close friend, Katie, asked me to be her bridesmaid the other day!

Katie is what you call a true friend. She has been there for me through thick and thin since she moved to Ohio in fourth grade. So I cannot even begin to express how honored I am to be able to share in her special day. Her fiance is one lucky guy!

So, what’s next on the horizon? Well, job hunting for sure . . .  PLUS many new recipes! I have so many tucked away to try. Stay tuned for some sugary goodness soon. I have several to share!

Now for some Olympics!

Questions of the day:

  • What is your favorite tourist attraction in the US?
  • Have you been to any famous filming locations?

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