Thursday, December 29, 2016

Thinking Out Loud #17

Holy smokes where has the week gone?! This week has been very crazy and honestly I've spent most of the week trying to figure out what day it is. Christmas being on a Sunday threw everything off for me plus the events following Christmas have been crazy, so let's jump right into this weeks thinking out loud.

1. And we are back at the hospital🙈 in the wee hours following Christmas my dad landed back in the hospital. I don't want to get into details but he's where he needs to be but it's the reason I have been MIA from the blog and haven't been responding to emails or comments. I apologize for being so absent but my dad comes first. Prayers for my dad and my family would be very much appreciated.

2. I've been keeping myself busy at the hospital while I'm with my dad. Luckily I was given Nicholas Sparks new book Two By Two for Christmas so I'm going to dig into that. I'm a giant Nicholas Sparks fan and have read every book he's written so I can't wait to see how this one compares to his others ones. Everyone always thinks it's ironic that I read his books because I cannot stand chick flicks, but I'm a sucker for romance novels. I also blame Nicholas Sparks for unrealistically high expectations for relationships. 

3. I'm very happy to say that the vegan double chocolate chunk cookies were a hit in my family over Christmas weekend. The batch was gone within two days, but they're super easy to make so I didn't mind whipping up another batch (or two). And seriously who doesn't appreciate warm gooey cookies?! Not to mention everyone can eat them because they are allergy friendly.

4. Despite all the craziness with going back and forth to the hospital and everything else going on I have still be getting to the gyms. Granted, my lifts have been shorter but I'm still getting them done so that's all that matters, plus it gives me some much needed stress relief. Leg day was intense that I've been feeling it ALL week. I thought I was going to have to be rolled out of the gym because my legs were already so sore by the time I left the gym😳 my legs are getting much stronger though so all the pain/soreness has been worth it. 

5. Speaking of Christmas I hope everyone had a great holiday however or wherever you celebrated. I stayed at home with family and friends and Cora of course. We did have a white Christmas but it didn't last long because the next day was 52F degrees, which is incredibly rare for MI, and it rained all day. Cora got a few new toys so she was a very happy camper.

6. I want to start back up with half marathon training, but I'd have to do most of it on the treadmill because it's cold, snowy, and windy outside so for fellow runners how prepared have you felt training mostly indoor for a race? I've been lengthening out my runs but treadmill runs don't feel the same to me as running outside- I always run faster outside than on a treadmill (weird I know) but I want to be really prepared for a half going into it. 

I'm going to keep it short and sweet this week because I am exhausted. Have a great Thursday and have a terrific New Year!

What did you do for Christmas?
Do you have a favorite gift from Christmas, if so what?

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Vegan Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Merry Christmas Eve! I can't believe Christmas is almost upon us! I am so excited to spend the day with loved ones and celebrate the birth of Jesus. Our Christmas celebration is very low key and starts Christmas Eve when we attend a candle light service and then go look at Christmas lights. 

One of my favorite parts of the holidays is all the time I get to spend in the kitchen. This year I have hardly been in the kitchen because of everything going on, but yesterday that changed. I had a recipe for an allergy friendly cookie that I really wanted to test out and what better time to test it out than the holidays? They turned out SO GOOD and even my dad gave his stamp of approval- he still doesn't know they're gluten and dairy free😏 

I wasn't going to share the recipe until next week, but I was too excited to wait😁 I based these off an old recipe my mom and I used to use for a small batch of double chocolate chip cookies, but I changed it around to make it allergy friendly. These cookies are super easy to make and are ready in less than 20 minutes, including prep time! Quick, easy, and delicious is music to my ears during the holidays!

Vegan Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies
  • 3/4 cup gluten free all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup gluten free oat flour
  • 1/4 cup special dark cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • small handful Enjoy Life chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup nut butter of choice
  • 1 flax egg (1 TB ground flax mixed with 3 TB water)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, partially melted
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a small bowl combine flaxseed and water and set aside. 

In a mixing bowl combine nut butter, honey, and coconut oil.

When those are mixed stir in vanilla and flax egg.

Next, add in gluten free all purpose flour, gluten free oat flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder. Stir until well combined. If the batter becomes too dry add in a teaspoon up to a tablespoon of water.

Fold chocolate chips into batter. 

Preheat oven to 350F degrees and spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cookspray. 

Using your hands roll dough into balls roughly 1.5-2 Tablespoons in size and place on cookie sheet. Gently flatten dough with hand and press an extra chocolate chip or two onto the top of the dough. Repeat with remaining dough. I was able to get 16 cookies.

Bake cookies at 350F degrees for 12 minutes or until edges begin to crinkle, the center will still be gooey but that is ok.

Allow cookies to cool before removing from cookie sheet. Store in a container for up to a week.

Friday, December 23, 2016


It's been awhile since I've done a recently post and what better time to do one than right before all the Christmas festivities begin?! It's no secret that I'm very excited for Christmas day, but I love Christmas Eve too. Every year my family goes to a candle light Christmas Eve service where we sing carols and read the Christmas story. After service we always go looking at Christmas lights while listening to Christmas music. It's nothing fancy but it's one of my favorite parts of Christmas. 

Before I jump headfirst into the Christmas fun I wanted to do a recently post because it's been awhile, plus I've gotten a few requests to share some things so I'll get to those too. Just a fair warning that this recap will jump around a bit. Some of you have noticed that I have been taking a break from instagram. Honestly it wasn't something I really thought about doing it just happened. Life has just been really busy, but truth be told it's been nice to live life away from social media. I have still logged on to see what my friends are up to but I haven't felt the desire to post, some aspects of my life I do like to keep private. I've been spending time with people I love and working on some fun projects and Cora has been getting quite a bit of attention too. She's been keeping me company while I've been working.

For whatever reason this week has just been a really off week for running for me. My lifts have felt amazing and I've upped all my weights but my runs have been a struggle. Three or four miles have felt like 10 and it's been really frustrating. I love running so having legs that feel like lead has been hard. I've taken a few days off and I'm hoping that when I attempt a longer run tomorrow after leg day that my body finds it's natural rhythm. It has taken time but this year especially has given me a new appreciation for running. All of the rough days where running is a struggles makes me appreciate the days where I feel like I could run forever so much more. 

Even though my runs aren't feeling on point this week my lifts have been awesome, my entire body is so sore😭 I restarted a program I did awhile back and in just two weeks I've already seen an improvement in my strength. Where I used to hate spiderman pushups because they were hard (and they are hard) they have gotten much easier and I actually enjoy doing them now. My squat game is also improving💪

This past weekend was the first time in about a month I got to fully decompress. My dad wasn't in the hospital and I didn't have to be running back and forth to see him. I was exhausted and I didn't feel like doing much. Luckily my boyfriend was totally ok with doing a whole bunch of nothing since he just finished finals, so we watched movies and lots of hockey🙌 One of the movies we watched was Eddie the Eagle and it was really good. It was a great movie that families could watch together because while there is some adult humor kids would not pick up on it. Eddie is such a lovable character and I always enjoy a good sports movie. 

Also, if you've been following my blog for any length of time you probably know I am a GIANT hockey fan. I'm not going to discuss the Pittsburgh Penguins games last weekend because it was a rough weekend to be a Pens fan but holy smokes the Wings and Ducks game on Saturday was crazy! It was a back and forth game but in the end the Wings prevailed🙌 now if they could hold onto the momentum and keep the wins coming that would be great.

Sunday I convinced my boyfriend to go to an open skate at a local arena. I used to skate all the time, especially since I grew up on a lake where pond hockey was basically life in the winter. It had been awhile since my boyfriend had skated (like over 10 years😂) but he did so good! He still has a few things to learn like how to stop (kind of necessary😂) but I'm proud of him. And yes I wear men's hockey skates. I always have and always will. I'm already excited for the next open skate and to get back on the ice. 

I actually took some time to do some meal prep this week. It's been awhile since I've done it but its been nice to not have to cook and to just be able to heat something up. I am definitely back on the meal prep train because it's made life MUCH easier this week. My favorite thing from this weeks meal prep has been the chocolate superfood energy balls- I shared the recipe on Tuesday. They're super easy to make and you only need a few ingredients. 

One of my friends sent this meme to me and I about died laughing😂 it's such a nerdy joke but I love it! And yes I've been obsessed with memes if you couldn't tell from yesterdays thinking out loud post.

Tuesday I got the chance to dress up for a meeting I had to go to. I love any chance I have to dress up so I was excited. I stuck with a basic black tank that a had lace back, which I threw a blazer on over it because it's freezing outside, a statement necklace, purple printed dress pants (that I'm in LOVE with), and nude pumps.

After I posted a quick snapshot of my outfit on my instagram story I got a lot of questions about where I got everything. I've had each of these pieces for awhile, but I checked and none of them are still being sold😥 However I did round up a few similar pieces for you to check out. 

First up the floral statement necklace, I got it a few years ago from Forever 21 and I still love it. I've used it many times and I always get compliments on it. I couldn't find the same color but I found a few necklaces that are similar in a pale pink/blush.
I got this black tank top over the summer and I've gotten a lot of use out of it. It can be dressed up or down, which is great because you can wear it to work or to meet up with friends and look good for both. I found a few simple alternatives that look almost identical from the front and still have a fun flare to them in the back.
As for the pants I have yet to find a great alternative. Apparently purple pants are hard to find. I got mine on Amazon on a whim when I came across them a few months ago. I couldn't even find a good pair of purple pants to share, but I found a similar style, minus the print, in red. They would still look just as good paired with any of the black tanks above- not to mention they're on sale right now🙌

The meeting ended up running much later than expected and I was starving by the time I left. I had eaten breakfast and a small lunch before I left but I had over an hour drive back home. Driving home was a trip. I got on the freeway and there was this maniac driver in front of me. He couldn't stay in his lane, he was going off onto the left shoulder and jerking back into the lane then he was weaving into the center lane. Cars were driving in the center lane and kept honking. I'm not one to interfere but someone was going to get hurt by this nut job. I called the local police who told me I needed to call 911. The operator transferred me TWICE and when I finally got to explain what was going on and gave the operator my location and the guys license plate I was promptly told no cops were in the area but thanks for letting them know. I was more than a little angry because that's what cops are for and it's only a matter of time before this guy hurts himself or someone or worse. 

I still needed to stop at Target for my dad and by the time I got there I was starving. Target was an utter nightmare, there were well over 50 people in line to checkout most of them had multiple carts of stuff. Then there was me with three items. Luckily the line moved pretty quick since they had every register open, but traffic getting out of the store was horrible. I sat in the parking garage so long I was about ready to eat anything in sight. There was a Panera across the street so I got on the app and ordered takeout. As soon as I got my food I basically inhaled it. I got my favorite the Thai chicken salad minus the dressing and wonton strips. 

I've spent the rest of the week working on some new content and getting ready for Christmas. I'll end here because it's gotten rather long, but I hope you get to spend the holidays with family, friends, and loved ones. Have a very Merry Christmas and remember the real reason for the season🎄🌟

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Thinking Out Loud #16

Happy Thursday and ONLY THREE DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS🙌 I might be a tad excited for Christmas, BUT I have all my shopping done and everything is wrapped so I can sit back, relax, and enjoy these next few days. Surprisingly this weeks thinking out loud isn't very festive, which was totally unintentional, but still random as always. Let's get this TOL party started🎉

1. I'm semi obsessed with all the Obama Biden memes. The other night I probably spent 20 minutes scrolling through some of the memes. I think my favorite meme is still Biden looking out the window (see it here) but this one is definitely a close second. I really don't care what your political party affiliation is but I think everyone can appreciate these memes😂

2. DAIRY FREE YOGURT WIN🎉 I might have shared about Daiya before but seriously this stuff is so good. It's a gluten, dairy and soy free alternative to greek yogurt. It's super thick and creamy, plus unlike other dairy free yogurts it actually contains protein. The macros for one container are 20C/8P/4F and it contains 150 calories. It's hands down the best dairy free yogurt I've had that actually packs a nutritional punch. The only downside is it isn't sold in a big container and these individual containers run about 2 for $3 so it adds up. I treat it as more of a special treat to have one because I don't want to be dropping $1.50 on a container of yogurt all the time (college budget problems).

3. SaladPower reformulated their drinks and they're so good👌 I'm not getting paid to say that, but they did send me a case of their juices to try. My favorite so far is the veggies and mango but that changes depending on what I'm in the mood for. I definitely recommend checking them out because they are definitely different from the other 'healthy' juices on the market. Take it from someone who hates juice- literally I haven't had juice in probably 10+ years) these are worth trying. Each of the flavors is packed with superfoods, vitamins, nutrients, and low in sugar. 

4. Maybe I'm just obsessed with memes in general😬 I saw this meme while I was scrolling through instagram and I busted out laughing. Seriously this is the story of my life in meme form😂 my family, friends and boyfriend all know a hangry Rachael is generally not a pleasant Rachael. I a drop in blood sugar when I'm hungry for causing me to get hangry. 

5. These energy balls are already gone. They didn't even last three days in the house before they were gone, but I'm not the only one eating them so I don't feel too bad😬 They are the chocolate superfood energy balls I shared on Monday and I promise they're super easy to make. It took me less than 10 minutes to get them thrown together and rolled into balls. They also disappear just as quickly as they appear....

6. Does anyone else love glitter?🙋 It's one of my favorite parts of the holiday season because it's literally EVERYWHERE! I have gotten so many Christmas cards with glitter and they make me so happy! Of course my Christmas cards included glitter too😬 I have seen pictures on pintrest of people doing glitter photoshoots and now I really want to do one. My mom HATES glitter but I've always loved it. I'm not very girly at all but I love me some glitter👌 

I'm going to end things there this week, what better way to end than with a sparkle?😜 Have a great Thursday and have a very Merry Christmas!!

What are you doing for Christmas this year?
Do you have any memes you love?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Chocolate Superfood Energy Balls

Happy Tuesday, I totally typed Monday there and had to backspace🙈 Obviously it's one of those days. On the bright side there's only FIVE days until Christmas!! I'm excited for Christmas this year (I'm excited for it every year) but I do need to finish up some last minute shopping. This year I got to it and got stuff done early because I was not about to be one of those people in a shopping frenzy come December 23rd and 24th.

Anywho, this weekend was pretty laid back which was very much needed after weeks of craziness with my dad in the hospital. I finally got back into the kitchen and did some much needed meal prep. One of the goodies I whipped up was these delicious chocolate superfood energy balls. They're super easy to make and loaded with vitamins and nutrients, plus they're the perfect snack for on the go!

Chocolate Superfood Energy Balls
  • 10 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 Tablespoons nut butter of choice- peanut, almond, coconut
  • 2 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/2 Tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • OPTIONAL: pinch of turmeric
  • OPTIONAL: sprinkles (<-never optional)

In a food processor place all ingredients except the sprinkles (if using). Process until everything is coarsely ground and dough like.

Add sprinkles into food processor and pulse a few times to mix them into dough.

Use your hands and scoop out 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon of dough and roll into balls. If the dough is not sticking together gently squeeze to help bind everything together. 

Repeat until all dough is gone. Store energy balls in the refrigerator for optimal freshness. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Recently and Thinking out Loud #15

Happy Thursday! At times this week has felt like it's flying by but other times its felt like it's dragging by, plus I keep getting the days mixed up. I blame lack of sleep and the utter craziness of the past two weeks for having me totally confused. The hecticness (is that is a word🤔) is also to blame for me being MIA from the blog basically since Thanksgiving, but I do have some new recipes lined up to test and share so I'm excited about that. This weeks thinking out loud is going to serve as a TOL and recently life update all mashed into one. Basically it's still a ton of randomness so on that note, let's jump right in! 

1. Last week was total chaos because my dad was in the hospital all week. The hospital isn't close so when I went to visit it was a 30 minute drive in good traffic, in rush hour it was closer to 45 or 50 minutes. Making that trip multiple times a day for a week was exhausting. I'm happy to share that my dad was discharged Saturday and went home to finally get some sleep, because if you've ever been in the hospital you know that it's near impossible to sleep while you're there. Despite the long drive to and from the hospital I have no complaints, everyone from the nurses to the doctors were incredible and I'm so thankful for the wonderful care my dad received. 

2. In the midst of all the craziness last week I took some time out to meal prep to make life easier. I made roasted sweet potatoes and my one pan oven fajitas but I forgot it at home🙈 I was bummed, but luckily there was a Panera right next to the hospital so I was able to run there and get a quick bite to eat. I ate my meal prep when I got home for dinner because I was way too tired to even think about cooking. Meal prep saves the day once again.

3. Saturday night my boyfriend and I had date night and the down time was much needed after a very long week. We got food and then went and saw Office Christmas Party with Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman. Let me just say if you want or need a good laugh then go see this movie! We laughed so hard, the movie really is hilarious and I definitely recommend going to see it. It was the perfect way to end a chaotic week, not to mention the company wasn't half bad😜

4. I know it's really late, but we finally got the Christmas tree up. With everything going on we just hadn't had time to get it up and decorated, so we got it up and decorated Sunday night. I've been sharing some pictures of my favorite ornaments over on my instagram story. This year I really want to get or make an ornament that I can have Cora's paw print on. I've seen people make salt dough, get the print and then bake it but I'm not sure how that would hold up. If you have an recommendations comment and let me know! 

5. A big thank you to the team at SaladPower for sending be a box of their new and improved drinks! I'm super pumped to test out the newly perfected recipes especially the fruity ones😋 I will do a blog post with my thoughts on the new recipe. 

6. This meme had me literally laughing out loud because this is seriously how I am when I'm waiting for a package. Anyone else guilty of constantly looking for the mail/UPS/FedEx truck when you know your package is supposed to arrive?! I may be in my 20's but I still enjoy getting mail- as long as it's not bills, no one likes getting those.

7. Shoutout to Panera for saving me from being seriously hangry more times than I can count in the past week. Between forgetting to pack food going back and forth to the hospital and being super hangry when I left the doctor on Monday Panera has saved me and fellow drivers from potential the danger of driving while hangry. My go to is always the Thai Chicken salad but I get it without the wonton strips and no vinaigrette dressing. Every Panera I've ever been to has been so accommodating of food allergies that it makes life so much easier. 

8. I have to share this because I was super pumped (no pun intended) to get gas for $1.25/gallon!!!!!! I had a ton of Kroger points and was able to use them to get a dollar off per gallon. Nothing beat the feeling of filling up my tank for only $22. Fellow Midwesterners know how awesome Kroger points are. 

I'll end things there this week. Have a terrific Thursday and be on the lookout for some new recipes (FINALLY) next week!! 

How do you like to unwind after a long week?
What is your favorite place to grab a quick bite to eat on the go?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Thinking Out Loud #14

Happy Thursday!! I apologize for being MIA this week, but my dad has been in the hospital all week so things have been a little crazy with going back and forth to the hospital multiple times a day. I still wanted to get a quick thinking out loud post up this week so here goes nothing!

1. Despite everything going on I have been hitting the gym for quick lifts and runs. I have been lengthening out my runs and despite being sleep deprived with everything going on my runs have been feeling really good. The post run high has been a nice energy boost too.

2. Last Friday I finished the series finale of The Newsroom and I'm very sad it's over. The finale was definitely good but I have nothing to watch now so if you have any recommendations for good shows that are available on Amazon let me know! If you haven't watched The Newsroom definitely check it out, I know I have praised it but it is seriously so well written and shot. Aaron Sorkin is a genius🙌

3. I read this in a Christmas card and literally laughed out loud😂 even Santa gets hangry!

4. Monday I got stuck at the Apple Store getting my mom's phone repaired so I had a lot of time to kill. I walked around the mall and of course had to go into Sir La Table, which is an awesome store if you've never been to one. They had the cutest foodie ornaments ever! There were cupcakes, pancakes, chocolate covered strawberries, avocado toast with chia seeds and so many others. Of course I had to snap a pic of the avocado toast because it was so dang cute. 

5. With my dad being in the hospital I have had zero time to food prep so a lot of my meals have been on the go. Luckily there is a lot of healthy options near the hospital including a Whole Foods. I made this delicious salad at the salad bar and took it over to eat with my dad. I finally got to try some of the Whole Foods roasted sweet potatoes and they are so good😍 I am definitely going to try to recreate this recipe because it was so good! 

6. One of my friends shared this picture with me and I got a good laugh out of it. It's totally disgusting but sometimes in nasty situations you have to have a sense of humor to get through. After everything going on this week this picture provided a much needed laugh. 

I'm going to stop at six this week and keep things short and sweet. I hope to be back with some recipes next week but in the mean time have a great Thursday!!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thinking Out Loud #13

Happy Thursday! I can't believe it's already been a week since Thanksgiving, time is really flying by which means I really need to get going on Christmas shopping😳 I am so not about Black Friday shopping, having worked Black Friday at a retail store I saw firsthand how horrible it is for employees, plus I'd rather stay at home and shop online anyway. Anywho I hope you had a terrific Thanksgiving with family, friends, or whoever you celebrated with. On that note let's get to this weeks thinking out loud!

1. Thanksgiving did not turn out as expected in my family. Holidays rarely go according to plan, but my dad wound up in the hospital the day before Thanksgiving complaining of chest pain and shortness of breath. Come to find out he has AFIB so he was forced to spend Thanksgiving in the hospital. The day before Thanksgiving was an incredibly long day with him going to the hospital and then my boyfriend came to see me before leaving to visit his family for Thanksgiving. I got to bed around 3 and was wide awake a little after 6. I hate coffee but I was in desperate need of caffeine so the amazing nurse on my dad's floor brought me some coffee. It tasted like dirt but it got the job done. Thankfully my dad is ok and his heart went back into rhythm.

2. People always make fun of me for keeping a protein bar in my coat pocket but you never know when you're going to need a snack! Keeping an rxbar in my pocket came in handy while I was visiting my dad in the hospital. Everything in the hospital was closed for Thanksgiving so unless I left the hospital I couldn't get lunch. Luckily I had the bar with me so I munched on that and then got some more food when I got home. 

3. Despite all the craziness with my dad being in the hospital I still managed to get to the gym every morning. I took a few days off lifting over Thanksgiving weekend and just ran but my workouts have been feeling awesome! My runs are getting longer and I've been shaving time off my miles which makes me really happy🙌 even though I only took a few days off from lifting I have been feeling my lifts this week. My entire body is sore😳

4. Over the long weekend I did get some much needed downtime with my boyfriend. His phone had been having problems so we got up bright and early to get to the Apple store on Saturday to see the genius bar. He was able to get his phone replaced but his backup got corrupted somehow so he had to go with an earlier back up from September so he lost two months worth of stuff on his phone🙈 Needless to say he was not a happy camper, but at least he didn't lose everything on his phone. 

5. I'm almost done with the HBO series The Newsroom and I'm so sad! By far it is one of my favorite shows of all time👌 I only have three episodes left in the final season and I'm trying to stretch them out so I don't blow through them all at once. If you ever need a show to watch I highly recommend The Newsroom, I really can't praise it enough. It's written and shot so well. It's free if you have Amazon prime.

6. While most people were out Black Friday shopping or getting back from shopping my boyfriend and I met up with some friends at Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the Red Wings hockey game. I'm not a big drinker and I don't drink often but I like to have a drink when I'm out with friends. I got the Buffalo zoo and it was so good😋 it was definitely strong but I only had one and then had plenty of water, plus I wasn't the one driving home. If you ever go to Bdubs I definitely recommend trying out the Buffalo zoo, it's delicious.

7. I have not been on social media a lot over the past week due to everything going on, but I was on instagram yesterday and got tagged in a post. The lovely @veggiefiles made my flourless chocolate peanut butter muffins. Seeing you guys make my recipes totally makes my day and I love seeing those posts! Please tag me and use the hashtag #thesimplelife so I can see your creations💜

I'll end things on seven this week. Have a great Thursday and stay warm outside (it's freezing here)☃

What did you do for Thanksgiving? Do you have any fun family traditions for the holidays?

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Christmas Puppy Chow

Christmas baking has officially begun! It may be early, but a few of my friends at college and I decided to do our Christmas gift exchange early this year. For this first time we decided this years gift would be entirely homemade. Homemade gifts, in my opinion, are the best kind of gifts because they come from the heart. My friends love sweets so I put a spin on an old time favorite, puppy chow.

You will need:
  • 9 cups any kind chex 
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 12 ounces chocolate baking chips
  • 12 ounces M&M's
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup promise butter
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 gallon Ziploc Bag
  • 5 one quart Mason Jars

Measure out the chex cereal and put it in the Ziploc bag.

In a microwave safe mixing bowl add chocolate baking chips, promise butter, peanut butter, and vanilla extract. Microwave for one minute, take out stir, then microwave for thirty seconds, take out stir again making sure all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Microwave for an additional thirty seconds.

Then take contents of mixing bowl and pour into Ziploc bag. Seal Ziploc bag, double check to make sure the bag is tightly sealed, then shake! Shake for one to two minutes until all the chex cereal is coated in the liquid mixture. 

After all the chex is coated in the liquid chocolate and peanut butter mixture, open the Ziploc bag and pour in the powdered sugar. Seal the bag back up and shake! Shake hard, not too hard to break open the bag, but hard enough to coat all the cereal with the powdered sugar. Rotating the bag around helps distribute the powdered sugar around.

Once all the chex is coated in powdered sugar pour the puppy chow onto a lined baking sheet to cool. Allow puppy chow to cool for three hours. Once the puppy chow is cool mix in the M&M's. Do not add the M&M's in while the puppy chow is warm or the M&M's will melt. The grocery store I went to was out of red and green M&M's which is why I got stuck with patriotic M&M's.

Finally fill mason jars with puppy chow. Before or after mason jars are filled decorate with tags, bows, ribbons, stickers, or anything to make the jars more festive. 

Mason jars filled with puppy chow make the perfect gift for family, friends, coworkers, or any sweet lover in your life! It's never too early to spread some Christmas cheer!