Weekend in Photos

Happy Monday! Or should I say….. crappy Monday:

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You’d think I would’ve learned last year when my back tire was stolen that I need to bring my bike up to my balcony every.night. My balcony was occupied when I got home last night so I told myself I’d move it later…but of course forgetful Katie + an early bedtime = did not remember to go back downstairs for it before I went to sleep. Oops!

Determined to not let that set my day on a bad path, let’s remember a fantastic weekend, shall we?

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I came home on Friday only to be greeted by this adorable lab, Lucy. My roommate’s parents dropped her off with us for the weekend! While Lucy and Hanna went and had a play date with some other dogs and their humans, I stayed back and enjoyed my Friday night wine + cheese & crackers + Netflix. I was so happy to have a new Parks & Rec to look forward to!

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I woke up early on Saturday morning and was surprised it was brisk enough (in the high 50s/low 60s!) to require a t-shirt and leggings for my morning run! Usually I wear a tank and shorts. Lucy was a great running partner, but I definitely have shin splints from all the stop + go I did to control her, and from the increased speed at which we were jogging she dragged me along.

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I rode my bike over to Kristin’s apartment and we took light rail to the Megabus, which took us over the new Bay Bridge into San Francisco for one of the last Giants games of the season! I woke up CRAVING those garlic fries, and they didn’t disappoint.

I hadn’t been to a Giants game since 2006…my friend Jordan’s parents have season tix and were kind enough to let us go with Jordan and his girlfriend (both good college friends of mine I hadn’t seen since graduation!).

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We missed the first 3 innings due to traffic (and Megabus leaving, like, 20 minutes late), but we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day at AT&T Park. It was in the mid 70’s and sunny, with not a cloud in the sky.

After a couple of margaritas at Pedro’s, we stopped at Safeway to stock up on some essentials for the tipsy bus ride back to Sacramento. (I am obsessed with kombucha and Nutella, as you all know. And apparently I get carsick now…the bus ride there was not pleasant!)

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After sleeping 11 hours on Saturday night (11pm-10am. Apparently, I needed it!), my project for Sunday was to prepare beignets for Monday Night Football tonight. Every week, my friend David hosts MNF and he makes a dish native to the city hosting the game. I’ve actually been meaning to write a post about what I’ve brought (maybe even a new weekly series)…Tonight, they’re in New Orleans, so to go along with Dave’s gumbo, I prepped some beignets! They are currently chillin in the fridge, ready to be plopped in the deep fryer and covered in powdered sugar. Hope they turn out!

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And of course… if you have the internet, chances are you heard that the Breaking Bad series finale was last night. I gathered one last time with my group of friends/faithful fans to watch, and we were all extremely pleased. I thought it was a perfect ending! I just hate that it had to end 😦

Looking forward to a good week full of perfect weather (high 70s-low 80’s! Still no fall here yet!) and hopefully better luck than I had this morning. Have a great week!

Are you actually having fall weather where you live? 

Without spoiling it for anyone who hasn’t caught the finale yet, what did you think about Breaking Bad?

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Muesli Protein Bars

***Muesli Fusion chose these Protein Bars as a finalist in their recipe contest!! If you like what you see, PLEASE head over to Facebook and click on my recipe – Muesli Protein Bars (Blonde Ambition Blog)…all you have to do is click! Voting closes this FRIDAY, June 21st! THANK YOU!!!***

I think I’ve mentioned a few times that I have been really into overnight oats lately. This is in large part due to the fact that I acquired a bag of Muesli Fusion at Blend, and I l-o-v-e it.

When I heard Muesli Fusion would be sponsoring one of our breakfasts, I was actually pretty skeptical about the whole idea of muesli. I thought, “It has no added sugar, so it’s not crunchy like granola…it’s basically just oats and fruit??” whyyy would you eat raw oats and fruit?

Fortunately, Muesli Fusion totally proved me wrong. One beef I’ve always had with overnight oats is that it’s too mushy. I am a texture freak, I need to have SOME kind of crunch or chew in my oatmeal/overnight oats. And Muesli Fusion’s An-Ox totally provides that. It has walnuts, dried goji berries & blueberries, and cacao nibs. Perfect solution!

I’ve all but decided to eliminate plain oats from my grocery-staple list and replace them with muesli. Seriously, I love the stuff.

Last week, as I was approaching the end of my bag of An-Ox, I remembered that Muesli Fusion is hosting a recipe contest. The challenge: to create a recipe featuring Muesli Fusion cereal.

Challenge accepted!

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I really wanted to make homemade granola muesli bars, but every recipe I found used at least 1/2 cup and usually closer to 1 cup of sugar/maple syrup/honey/etc. One of the most advertised characteristics about Muesli Fusion cereals is that they have no added sugar, except that which comes from the added fruit, and I really wanted to keep a somewhat low level of sugar in my recipe.

What I ended up with not only has less sugar than a store-bought granola bar, but also, thanks to a few scoops of protein powder and crunchy quinoa, packs a good 8 grams of protein per serving!

Instead of tons of sugar, this recipe uses only 3 tablespoons of honey, as well as the natural sweetness of banana.

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Though An-Ox already has a bunch of good add ins, my inner texture freak came out and I added a few crunchy ingredients: chia seeds, quinoa, and almonds.

I maaaaay have also used chocolate protein powder and added chocolate chips…but doesn’t everyone love feeling like they’re eating dessert for breakfast?

These aren’t your typical crunchy granola bars, but I love them all the same. The version with chocolate chips that I made clocks in at around 200 calories, only 5g of fat, a whopping 7 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein. This version has about 11.5g of sugar, which would be a fair amount lower if you omit chocolate chips.

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So will you join me in eating dessert for breakfast?

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PS. If these sound like something you’d like to try making yourself, please re-pin this post on Pinterest! I could get a prize if I get the most pinned recipe! Click this link to re-pin 🙂

PPS. If you aren’t feeling up to the challenge of creating a new recipe…try entering Muesli Fusion’s summer giveaway! No purchase necessary, no blog post needed. Just like their Facebook page!

(Chocolate) Muesli Protein Bars
makes 8 bars
pin this!

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (you can also use skim milk or any unsweetened non-dairy milk)
3 tbsp honey
1/2 ripe banana, mashed
1 tsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups Muesli Fusion An-Ox
2 scoops chocolate protein powder (I used Onnit Hemp Force, but you can use any kind! Doesn’t have to be chocolate!)
1/4 cup sliced almonds, or full almonds roughly chopped (measure after chopping)
1/4 cup uncooked quinoa (or cooked. depends on what consistency you’re going for! i kinda par-cooked mine, haha)
1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional, will increase amount of sugar in bars)
1 tbsp flour (optional, if needed)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium-large bowl and mix well to combine. Set aside. Mix remaining dry ingredients in a separate bowl. When evenly mixed throughout, slowly add dry ingredients to bowl of wet ingredients, making sure everything gets evenly incorporated. Mixture should be pretty wet, but if you think it looks too wet, feel free to add about a tablespoon of flour.

Ideally you will use an 8×8 or 9×9 pan for these bars. Spray your pan with oil and press the batter tightly into the pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, checking at the 20 minute mark to see how done they are. You will want them to be firm in the middle, and to look dry. Remove from the oven and let cool a bit before removing from pan. Let cool completely to room temperature before cutting into bars…it should make about 8!

Keep in an airtight container, or individually wrap the bars in saran wrap, and keep in fridge. Should keep for about a week.

Blend Retreat Swag + Chocolate Protein Muffins

Sooo, if you haven’t heard, we got a lot of free stuff at Blend.

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A yoga mat from NatureMade? Seriously?! 😀

photo cred: Becky @ Olives n’ Wine

We found all of this waiting for us in the swag bag we got upon checking in on Friday afternoon. And just… WOW.

Additionally, there was an expo room set up with tables featuring even more sponsors, with MORE products set up for us to take as we pleased. What? Like…REALLY? We were in disbelief all weekend at all the great companies who want to promote their products to healthy living bloggers.

The funniest moment had to be when we opened our bags and saw:

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coconut oil and vanilla beans!

Becky, Carly and I started freaking out. I’m pretty sure I was jumping up and down in excitement…we were in food blogger heaven.

We thought that was it for the swag, but to our surprise, we walked back to our rooms on Saturday post-breakfast and pre-hike to find:

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MORE swag?!

So you get the point…there was a lot of swag.

The weekend concluded with a closing ceremony on Sunday, which included a raffle. Only, it wasn’t just a couple of items being raffled off…I think almost everyone won something!

{both photos courtesy of Lindsay @ Lindsays List}

2 of those 3 Onnit goodie boxes ended up going to Becky and I!

photo cred: Becky at Olives n’ Wine

Onnit has a lot of very interesting products…namely, their supplements. Their supplement Alpha Brain was one of the first nootropic supplements on the market. It is supposed to help with focus, creativity, and apparently it enables lucid dreams as well. I think Stron Bone & Joint might be a little more my speed, but I am definitely excited to try some of these out!

When I got home, I was determined to make the most out of all the free stuff I got, and save some money on groceries this week in the process. So I went to Safeway and got the essentials: bread, Alexia frozen fries because I’m obsessed, and mixed greens for salad. With some coupons from my swag bag, I also bought:

Yogurt and almond milk from Chobani and Silk, two Blend sponsors!

So basically, the swag legacy continues.

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I decided to use my Hemp Force protein from Onnit, Chobani yogurt, and Musselman’s apple sauce (yep, we even had apple sauce in our swag bag!) to make some chocolate protein muffins. At only about 110 calories and less than a gram of fat, they’re just as skinny as my Lemon Blueberry Poppyseed Muffins, but thanks to the hemp protein they pack a bit more fiber and protein!

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Skinny Chocolate Protein Muffins
verrry loosely based on these Skinny Double Chocolate Chip Muffins
makes ~11 muffins

2/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 banana, mashed
3/4 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla (optional, but recommended)
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour (or mixture of all purpose and whole wheat)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3 scoops chocolate-flavored protein powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 425F.

Start by mixing all the wet ingredients together in a bowl: applesauce through vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift all the dry ingredients and whisk together. If you are using hemp protein powder, the only ingredient you need to sift is the cocoa (if you sift the hemp, some bits might not make it through). Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix just until combined. The mixture will be thick.

Spray a muffin tin with oil, and divide batter among tins. (Because of the low fat content, I don’t recommend using paper liners) It should almost reach the top. Place muffins in oven for 5 minutes. Then, keeping muffins in the oven, reduce the temperature to 375F and continue to cook for about 15 minutes. Check the muffins with a toothpick: if it comes out cleanly, they are done. If not, give them another 2-3 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let the muffins sit for 3-5 minutes before removing to cool on a rack. I used a butter knife to loosely release the muffins.

NOTES: Hemp definitely has a strong taste, so next time I use hemp protein powder in this recipe, I will definitely add vanilla (I didn’t in this batch), chocolate chips, and maybe even cinnamon to off-set the flavor. Even so, these have great texture and are rather large for 110 calories!

Paired with even more Greek yogurt, this made quite the protein-packed breakfast!

Also, it was pretty much dessert for breakfast. I can always get down with that.

Have a great 3-day weekend!

Do you ever use protein powder in your smoothies or baking? What is your favorite kind?

I can’t wait to try the other protein/energy powders we got in our bag: Vega, Plant Fusion, and Fitmixer!

Wednesday Around the Web

Hello all! I was contemplating jumping on the What I Ate Wednesday bandwagon for the first time ever today, because I actually took pictures of every.single.thing I ate yesterday…but then I realized that my food was actually pretty ugly (I had oatmeal for breakfast and a bowl of black beans, peas, corn, chard, and quinoa for lunch…yeah, that doesn’t even sound appetizing). And no one wants to see ugly food…amirite?

The exception, though, was dinner!

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I got a special treat last night – T-Man cooked me dinner! This feat has only happened a handful of times (if you don’t include his amazing cheesy eggs in the morning, or his other specialty: Chicken Caesar wraps). This is mostly because, on nights that our schedules meet up at dinner time, either I insist on cooking or T-Man insists on going to Burgers & Brew 🙂

Last night, we had baked chicken (on which we both slathered BBQ sauce), steamed white rice, mixed greens, and his mom’s famous garlic bread. I think even a simple meal like this trumps eating out – on both the wallet and the waistline!

Anyhow, since none of my other meals yesterday were quite as share-worthy as this special one, I’ve decided to share some of my favorite finds from around the web lately. I’ve had a lot of spare time at work, so you can bet your butt I’ve been spending a lot of time on BuzzFeed 😉

1) Lip Sync-Off with John Krasinski on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Please tell me you have all seen this. If you haven’t seen it, WATCH NOW. If you have, I’m confident you loved it so much you’ll watch it again. I’ve watched it like 4 times already. J-Kras is freakin’ dreamy, talented, and makes me laugh like no other. We’ve been re-watching last season of The Office trying to catch up to the series finale tomorrow, but it ain’t gonna happen. I’ve been avoiding reading any articles about the final season so far, what’s another week or two? I don’t even care that it has gone “downhill” in the past couple of years. Definitely one of my top 10 all-time favorite shows. PB + J FO LYFE!

2) 43 Things That Will Make You Feel Really Old


I may only be in my mid-20’s, but most of these made me feel pretty old. Maybe it’s not so much that they made me feel old, as much as they made my childhood feel really, really far away.

3) Zach Braff’s Kickstarter movie’s 1st Casting Announcement

A few weeks ago, I decided to jump on the bandwagon and pledge money to Zach Braff’s Kickstarter project to fund his new movie. I know he’s gotten some critics for the move (yeahhh, it’s always a little ballsy for a millionaire to ask other people for money), but I think the idea behind this is solid. For $20, I have been enjoying production updates and will later be getting sneak peeks at the soundtrack. The Garden State soundtrack was pretty much this emo high schooler’s favorite album ever, so I’m excited to see how this one turns out.

ANYWAY, my decision to back this project was 100% justified when Zach announced this week that MANDY PATINKIN is going to play his father! You may know him as Inigo Montoya from Princess Bride, or Saul from Homeland. Rock on.

4) How To Create Your Own Original Cookie Recipe and Cookie Science

I’ve always steered clear of trying to create my own cookie recipe. This guide may change that. It breaks down each ingredient in a cookie (flour, leavening agent, fat, mix-ins): why they’re there, what you can use, and how to substitute in other options. Very informative, and her cookie recipes don’t sound half bad either!

5) A Guide to Living in Lyon for Parisians

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At the risk of alienating any non-Francophones who read my blog (AKA most of you), a few of my Facebook friends posted this article yesterday. It’s basically told from the perspective of a girl from Paris now living in Lyon, where I studied abroad in college. Lyon is the 2nd largest city in France (unless you ask someone from Marseille, who will tell you it’s Marseille ;-)) but it is still known to be quite “provincial” compared to the City of Lights.

The author describes Lyon’s slower way of life, plethora of amazing and cheap restaurants, questionable fashion sense, and slang. I was surprised to learn that some phrases I thought were normal colloquial French are actually regional “Lyonnais” language quirks!

6) This Roasted Vegetable and Quinoa Salad from Bev Cooks

I was catching up on my Google Reader’s 100+ unread posts and found this gem. My dad gave me some beets from his garden and I just happen to have parsley and too many lemons on hand. Aaand there’s roasted garlic in the vinaigrette?! I’m thinking this needs to be dinner tonight + lunch tomorrow!

Which website can you lose hours browsing?

Any fun internet finds this week?

Skinny Lemon Blueberry Poppyseed Muffins

Yup, I went there.

Two lemon recipes in one week.

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I actually made these muffins a couple of weeks ago, when I was on this muffin + yogurt for breakfast kick. But I really don’t have a huge appetite for breakfast, and I was feeling like a 140 calorie yogurt and a high fat 200+ calorie muffin was a bit much for breakfast.

So I set out to make the lowest possible calorie muffin I could. And guess what? These puppies are not only virtually fat free, and only 112 calories a pop…but they’re also delicious. Whaaaaaat?

That’s right. You didn’t think I could possibly post two lemon recipes in one week without mentioning my favorite Lemon, did I? Much love, LL.

Anyway, back to these muffins.

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I think it was last spring or summer that I bought these poppyseeds – I was seeing so many lemon poppyseed recipes and I needed to make something of my own RIGHTTHISMINUTE. And then they sat in my cupboard for half a year.

I used the same white whole wheat flour that I used in the braided lemon bread, except this time I used it exclusively – no all purpose. (Healthier source of carbs/fiber? Check!) Instead of oil or butter, I used plain nonfat Greek yogurt. (Replacing fat with healthy protein? Check!) Add in some lemon zest & juice, poppy seeds, blueberries, and vanilla, and you’ve got your flavor factor.

I was super scared when I put these in the oven. I was looking at 2-3 different “skinny” muffin recipes to guide me, all of which included bananas or apple sauce, which I didn’t plan on adding. So I was really winging it.

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me when I took these muffins out of the oven

Apparently I did something right! The texture was as close as you can get to a traditional full-fat muffin. These puppies are light and fluffy, lemony and fresh, and they’re perfectly moist inside! They’ve got about 1 gram of fat, 2 grams of fiber, and 4 grams of protein per muffin. Not too shabby.

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Not too shabby at all!

Skinny Lemon Blueberry Poppyseed Muffins
makes 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour {or combination of all purpose and regular whole wheat flour}
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp poppyseeds
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup nonfat plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
juice and zest of one lemon {about 3 tbsp of juice and 1 tbsp of zest}
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/4-1/3 cup milk {start with 1/4 cup and add more as needed}
1/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen-then-thawed

Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside. I don’t recommend using paper liners, as these muffins have very little fat and will stick to the paper.

In a bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, and poppyseeds). Set aside. In a large bowl, combine wet ingredients (brown sugar through milk) and mix with a fork, whisk, or handmixer until thoroughly combined. Slowly add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing only until combined – do not over mix. Fold in blueberries. If the mixture seems too thick/dry, add a tablespoon or 2 of milk as needed. It will be rather thick though, so don’t add more than 2 tablespoons.

Scoop spoonfuls of batter into the muffin tins and place in the oven to bake for 12-14 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out mostly clean.

Let muffins cool in tins for about 5-7 minutes, then remove and place on cooling rack. Store in an airtight container. Mine kept best when refrigerated (then reheated for a few second in the microwave).

Final step: eat one of these muffins fresh out of the oven and you’ll feel like this:

LEMON OUT!

Braided Lemon Bread

Springtime. Seems like most people associate Easter with Spring, and the fact that Easter came early this year means…so did Spring? Aside from an epic thunderstorm on Saturday night/Sunday morning, I’d say it’s been pretty springlike here in Northern California!

You know what else I associate with Spring? LEMON!

I love lemon everything. Lemony marinades and vinaigrettes in savory dishes…lemon poppyseed desserts…ANY kind of lemon dessert…you name it, I’m all about it.

So when my lovely boyfriend brought me half a dozen lemons fresh from his coworker’s tree last week, I knew I had to make something carby and lemony for Easter Brunch. All I knew was that I didn’t want it to be too desserty for 11 in the morning…and then I saw Deb from Smitten Kitchen’s Braided Lemon Bread.

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Bingo!

Besides pizza dough, I have only made a couple of breads from scratch before. One was Bacon & Cheese Bread last year on Easter, which I made the mistake of making with whole wheat flour and it ended up tough and dry. This year, I had a secret trick in my arsenal:

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White Whole Wheat Flour has the same taste and texture as all purpose white flour, but nearly all the nutritional value of regular whole wheat flour. Score.

In addition to whole wheat flour, I also used 1/3 less fat cream cheese in the filling, and nonfat Greek yogurt in place of sour cream. Not huge alterations that would change the integrity of the pastry, but it made it feel just a little less guilt-inducing.

Baking your own bread isn’t nearly as hard as it sounds. Just takes a bit of patience to wait for the yeast to activate, and the bread to rise. Not to mention a bit of elbow grease if you don’t have a stand mixer to knead the dough 😉

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All you need is your two hands. (complete with a reminder scrawled on one of them to pay your rent)

Try it yourself! And reap the benefits. This was so delicious.

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{note: if you don’t have a rolling pin, a wine bottle will do juuuust fine}

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I was freaking out the entire time I was braiding this puppy. It is such a beautiful pastry; I can’t wait to try other fillings!

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One side was totally more flour-y than the other. Easily fixed by dusting it off with a pastry brush! {seriously, who has a pastry brush and not a rolling pin?!}

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Here’s how our entire Easter Brunch spread ended up:

The baked and stuffed bread joined a fruit salad (with a simple lime juice/honey/fresh mint dressing) and my dad’s famous Chile Egg Puff

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{also, adorable Peeps Sushi that my parents brought home from church!}

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Perfect balance of savory and sweet!

Braided Lemon Bread
adapted from smitten kitchen’s Braided Lemon Bread

Sponge
6 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast {I actually added an entire packet of instant yeast, which worked fine}
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Dough
Sponge (above)
6 tablespoons plain nonfat yogurt {or sour cream}
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg, + 1 egg white to brush bread with
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Sugar, for sprinkling

Lemon cream cheese filling
1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) cream cheese, softened {feel free to use 1/3 less fat cream cheese}
2 tablespoons (5/8 ounces) sugar
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) sour cream
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (2 ounces) homemade or prepared lemon curd

To begin, make your sponge:

Combine all 4 ingredients (make sure water is not too hot) together in a small bowl, mixing well to combine. Let sit for 10-15 minutes until yeast has proofed and the mixture looks frothy and smells, well, yeasty.

To make the dough by hand: {see Deb’s original recipe for how to make in a stand mixer}

Mix together wet ingredients (yogurt, softened butter, egg, sugar and vanilla) in a large bowl until well combined. Stir in the sponge. Next, add both kinds of flour and do your best to combine it all with a wooden spoon. It won’t come together super easily, so your hands will probably work best here. Once most of it has formed into a shaggy ball, turn the dough and any other scraps out onto a well-floured space. Knead for 5-10 minutes until all the pieces are incorporated and the dough has become smooth. Add flour or water to your hands if necessary. Place the ball of dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a towel, and place in a somewhat warm spot to rise for 60-90 minutes, until it is puffy and nearly doubled in size.

While the dough is rising, make the filling (see instructions below).

Deflate the dough by pushing it down a bit, and roll it into a 10″ by 15″ rectangle. **Make sure the dough is on some sort of portable surface, such as parchment paper or aluminum foil, or you’ll regret it later!** Use your hands to press lines into the dough that equally divide it into three columns. Spread the cream cheese filling down the middle column, leaving ~2 inches free toward the top (see photos above). Next, spread lemon curd over the cream cheese filling.

To make the braids, cut 1-inch strips on each side of the middle column. Make sure each strip has an equal-sized corresponding strip on the opposite side. Cut off the “corners” that will be leftover – the space between the 2 inch flaps you left above and below the filling, and the strips. To begin braiding, flip the flaps (lol) over the filling. Next, fold first strip on the left side diagonally over the filling. Repeat with the corresponding strip on the right. Lather, rinse, repeat, until you’ve gone all the way down the braid. Set aside for dough to rise for another 45-50 minutes, until it’s puffy.

Pre-heat oven to 375F. After it’s done with its second rise, brush the dough with the beaten egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Bake about 25-30 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for a bit before serving.

To make the filling:

Combine all the filling ingredients (except the lemon curd) in a small bowl, mixing until smooth and lump-free. Set both the cream cheese filling and the lemon curd aside until ready to fill the braids.

Notes: As Deb points out in her recipe, you can make this ahead of time and put the bread in the fridge overnight if needed. Just make sure you leave enough time to bring it back up to room temperature before proceeding with the next steps. I put mine in the fridge once the braids were done, then I brought it out on Easter morning and left it in a warm place to come to room temperature and do its second rise. Also, click the link in the recipe to see how to make homemade lemon curd- it is actually quite easy!

Have you ever baked bread?

What’s the coolest/most impressive thing you’ve ever made from scratch?

Friday Faves

I’ve got some goodies for you today, folks! The internet was killin’ it this week.

1) Running costumes

I’m cruisin’ into my 5K race tomorrow fresh off a dodgeball high from our game last night. I caught not one, but TWO balls thrown by one of the biggest baddest dudes in the league last night and, along with a couple of other players, delivered us our first victory of the new season! Nicki and I are going to Target tonight to figure out our outfits for the Veggie Chase…I am totally loving the ideas on this site, though a lot of them don’t exactly look super conducive to running quickly…

2) 20 Ways Cory And Topanga Gave You Unrealistic Expectations About Relationships

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I woke up this morning to this link on Facebook shared by one of my childhood neighbors. So many memories of Friday nights spent watching TGIF together and dreaming about a Cory and Topanga relationship of our own… SIGH. I couldn’t choose between these two screenshots. The first is from the best episode ever (Halloween episode with South Park references galore, anyone?), and the second is just so cute and so unrealistic. “I can never really get mad at you”…really? Really? Never?

3) Braided Lemon Bread by smitten kitchen

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Easter is Sunday, and we’re having two meals – I’m making brunch here in Sacramento for us and my parents in the morning, and then we’re driving to Napa for early dinner with T-Man’s family. I’m going to make my dad’s famous Chile Egg Puff and some kind of fruit salad…I’m trying to keep it light, but wanted to make a 3rd dish involving lemons because T-Man brought me a whole bunch from his coworker’s tree. I’m hoping if I make the lemon curd the night before, I’ll have enough time to make this bread on Sunday morning! It just sounds tooooo good.

4) Having only one team left in the tournament…but it being the team that matters!

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You guys, my bracket majorly failed this year. I knew I was being pretty risky by choosing a lot of upsets…but the payoff would have been high! See, my pool rewards a LOT more points depending on the rank of the team…the lower their rank, the more points you get if they win. Unfortunately, I picked North Carolina and New Mexico instead of…La Salle and Florida Gulf Coast?! Who could have predicted those upsets? Thankfully I still may be in luck if Michigan State wins! I’m still in it….for now!

5) 4 steps to pairing colors and patterns by nutritionella

I love this easy guide to decorating your home/apartment! My roomie and I haven’t done much in the decorating department, since we accepted a lot of mismatching hand-me-downs from our parents when we moved in. We will either be renewing our lease in a month or finding a new place…I think either outcome will call for some spring cleaning and decorating! Speaking of spring cleaning, I have had some serious clutter anxiety lately. My desk at work, T-Man’s fridge, and our living room were victim to my anxiety-induced organizing/cleaning sprees this week…I’ve never had this urge before, but suddenly I can’t stand clutter! Might as well ride the train while it’s here…I’m sure in a month I’ll be back to preferring what I like to call my organized chaos. 🙂

6) Skinny blueberry lemon poppyseed muffins!

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Last weekend, I set out to make a muffin with as close to 100 calories as possible…and I did it! I’ll be posting the recipe for these low cal, super low fat muffins sometime next week 🙂 I’ve enjoyed them for breakfast with my yogurt or oatmeal every morning this week!

Have a great Easter weekend!

What are your plans? Do you do Easter brunch or Easter dinner?