Peanut Butter to the rescue!

Peanut Butter to the rescue! 1


Who doesn’t love peanut butter, right? (I mean…aside from those with deathly peanut allergies.) PB has been a long-time favorite pantry staple of mine for the following reasons:

1. It’s one of the only foods I know that tastes good both in sandwiches and on ice cream.

2. The girls love it. I feed it to them when we run out of “real” dog treats, and then take photos known as “peanut butter action shots” of the hilarious faces they make while trying to smack it down.


Jolie’s first peanut butter action shot — Spring 2007

3. It gets gum out of your hair without having to cut it. (I’ve had to use it for this purpose more than I’d like to admit.)

4. When I’m sad, it’s nice to grab a copy of Us Weekly and eat giant dollops straight out of the jar. (Cutlery optional.)

5. I once read it’s a great alternative if you run out of shaving cream. Never tried this as it would undoubtedly lead to me licking peanut butter off my shins in the bathtub, and…well, even I have standards.


Just when I thought good ol’ peanut butter couldn’t be any more awesome, I discovered a brand new use for it.

It tones down too spicy chili!

Remember the impromptu batch I made on Tuesday that ended up being hotter than Hades in July? In a last-ditch effort to save the six cans of beans I used, I added a few teaspoons of vinegar and a giant gob of peanut butter to the mix. Boom. Instantly half as spicy.

I’d been Googling ways to fix my chili and had seen the peanut butter trick posted on a couple of different online forums. While initially skeptical about how it would…well…taste, I decided to go for it. Surely, the chili couldn’t get any worse.

Not only did the peanut butter reduce the heat to a manageable level, it added a rich, nutty flavor to my recipe that actually improved it. I’m not sure how to explain it–it didn’t actually taste like there was peanut butter in the chili, but it added a new depth of flavor to each bite.

Peanut butter, you’ve done it again. Now if only it was socially acceptable to carry a jar of you around in my purse for on-the-go finger dipping.

(Don’t act like you’ve never thought about it.)


Psst! Want to read about my other chili disasters? Check out this post and this post.


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Coffee + dog food

Coffee + dog food 4


This weekend, I embarked on the Suja 3-day juice cleanse. I’ve completed three days of non-stop juicing once before, but this time I opted to order the juice instead of making it myself. Purchasing the juices was definitely more my style for the following reasons:

  • I wasn’t slaving away making six juices a day. (Not to mention spending 20 minutes cleaning out our juicer every single time.)
  • The juices tasted better than the ones I made myself.
  • Every last ingredient was certified organic and non-GMO. The juices were also cold pressed, which mean they were more nutrient-dense than my homemade versions.
  • I had an extremely packed weekend schedule, and the pre-bottled juices were perfect for being on-the-go.
  • Because the cleanse was so damn expensive, I managed to muster the motivation to see it through to the end…if only to get my money’s worth.
  • I avoided completely destroying my kitchen and living room in an ill-fated attempt to blend cashew milk.

Overall the cleanse went really well, and I highly recommend  Suja’s products. Their cleanse was about forty dollars less than the infamous BluePrint Cleanse, and seemed to offer a better variety of flavors and ingredients. Also? All 18 juices shipped for free with my Amazon Prime account.

But let’s keep it real…the cleanse wasn’t all sunshine and roses. The morning of the very first day may have been the toughest. I woke up with a pounding headache and growling stomach. I just wanted to eat something. This lead to the first cheat: my daily two cups of coffee.


I justified my rule-bending by reminding myself that I was doing this less for the actual cleansing, and more to kickstart some weight loss.  While caffeine is a “no-no” in the cleansing world, it wouldn’t add to my daily calorie count, so I decided to indulge. I felt better with the first sip, instantly deciding to allow myself two cups during each morning of the cleanse. When juicing in -10 degree weather, such exceptions are a necessity. (The coffee was also a lifesaver as I ended up going out to eat twice with friends. Having a hot cup of joe to sip on made forgoing all the tasty food much less painful.)

The following 48-hours of juicing went surprisingly smoothly. Despite a highly active schedule (which included filming my Body Pump audition video) I felt light, energized, and not at all hungry!

Until I got to the end of day three.

I’ll let a text message conversation from last night explain my other…um…”cheat”.


Okay…let me explain five things real quick:

  1. The donkey rides are completely irrelevant to this blog post, but I thought that part was worth leaving in.
  2. You know those paper thin pieces of “bread” they serve at restaurants that are really  just delicious shreds of fried cheese? THAT is what these dog treats taste like. Only saltier.  And when you’re in the midst of a juice cleanse, extra salty bites of cheese bread is just what the doctor ordered.
  3. Each treat is gluten-free, and just three calories. (And I only had four twelve of them!)
  4. Now that I’m off the cleanse and less hungry, I tried them again  to see if they tasted as good. And they did. I stand by my love for this high quality snack product.
  5. I will not be able to offer my friends the treats as appetizers after all; Jolie, Penny and myself devoured every last one of them.

Have I convinced you yet?


You can buy them on Amazon! (Just saying.)

And that, blog friends, is 600 words on why I should probably never do a juice cleanse again.

(At least just not when there’s an ample supply of “Cheese Please” in the pantry…)



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HOT Wings

HOT Wings 11


Last night, the Taylor house was full of excitement.

And not because my beloved hometown football team won the Super Bowl.

I’d invited two of my girlfriends over to watch the game with Scott and I. “We’re going to keep things simple,” Chef Scott instructed, “Chili, hot wings and guacamole.”

I nodded my head in agreement. Scott and I have been known to overdo the food aspect of hosting from time to time, and sticking with the basics sounded like a solid plan. Yet when we hit up the supermarket for supplies, Scott insisted on making the guacamole and bleu cheese dressing for the wings completely from scratch. “What happened to keeping it simple?” I challenged. Eventually I gave in, allowing him to peruse the aisles for homemade mayonnaise accoutrements while I picked up ingredients for my famous chili. It’s one of the few dishes I hit out of the park every single time.


Yesterday afternoon, I came downstairs to the sound of sizzling meat. Low and behold, there stood Scott, browning the spicy italian sausage that was reserved for my chili.

“What are you doing?!” I screeched. “That’s for the chili!”

“I know,” Scott responded calmly, “I have a new chili recipe I wanted to try out.”

Excuse me?

Scott does ninety percent of the cooking in our house, which I truly appreciate. He has some serious culinary skills, and I’m often treated to gourmet meals without having to lift a finger. (Until cleanup time rolls around, that is.)

Unfortunately, he’s also been known to hijack my recipes.

“Scott…this was my thing! I was really looking forward to making it today.”

“No,” he insisted, “You use the store-bought chili mix. That’s unacceptable. I’m making the entire pot from scratch. Here…watch this YouTube video about it.”


I spent about ten minutes trying to kick Scott out of the kitchen so I might reclaim my chili. Eventually, I realized my attempts were futile. He had seized control of my one-pot wonder, and there was no getting it back. I let out a sigh of frustration, grabbed my purse, and did what I always do when I’m angry.

Drove to Target and bought a ridiculous amount of throw pillows.


Told you.

I returned home just in time to help Scott put the finishing touches on all of the food. As my friends arrived we turned the chili to simmer, set out the chips and guacamole, and poured ourselves some red beers.

“I just have to fry up the chicken wings.” Scott informed us.

And that’s when it happened.

Scott dropped four frozen wings into the fryer, immediately creating a louder than normal bubbling sound that continued to crescendo to a sickening hiss. Just when I didn’t think it could get any louder, the fryer burst into flames. Six-foot tall flames that hit the top of our kitchen ceiling and quickly began to spread.

One of our guests screamed while running to the other room. The other grabbed her cellphone, prepared to dart out the backdoor and call 911 if necessary. Penny let out a terrified screech, bolting upstairs to the safety of her crate. Jolie, sound asleep under all those new throw pillows, was completely unaware of the drama unfolding below her.

Scott had the presence of mind to dash over to the utility room and grab the fire extinguisher we’d purchased for such a catastrophe as this. All the while, the flames grew brighter, hotter and larger.

And then there was me. I calmly took a few steps back from the stove top, and just stood in the corner laughing hysterically at the entire thing. I briefly remember thinking, “These $%(@* chicken wings better not burn my house down”, but mostly it was just laughing.

(Apparently I’m not the most helpful in moments of crisis.)

Just as Scott was prepared to spray the extinguisher, the flames disappeared. In what can only be described as an act of God, the grease fire had subsided on its own.

While relieved Scott hadn’t turned our house to ashes, the after math was still disheartening. Hot grease was everywhere. Our new jute kitchen rug was totally ruined, and every single surface in a five-foot radius was saturated with peanut oil.

And then there was the ceiling.



“I’m just glad you did this instead of me,” I remarked wryly, “You would never let me live something like this down.”

Scott quietly agreed, instructing us to go into the other room and watch the game. “Kickoff is in two minutes.” he urged. While I felt bad not helping with cleanup, a giant bowl of guacamole was far more appealing than the aftermath of a grease fire. Over the next three hours my friends and I ate, drank and pretended to know a few things about football. All the while, Scott cleaned. He even managed to salvage those godforsaken chicken wings.

“You sure you don’t want to watch the game?” I kept calling over from the TV room.

“Not as badly as I want to clean this up!” he yelled back. I felt guilty that Scott was missing the broadcast…but when he gets into cleaning mode, it’s best to just keep your distance and let him do his thing.


Four hours, and one completely deconstructed oven later, the kitchen looked like new. (Aside from a ceiling that appears to have been tie-dyed with charcoal, but that’s a project for another weekend.)

“Wow…I can’t even tell there was a fire in here.” I commented.

“I’m never cooking chicken wings again.” Scott muttered.

“Sorry you missed the game. If it makes you feel any better it wasn’t very exciting.”

“It’s okay,” he shrugged, “I can watch the highlights. I’m just glad I didn’t burn the house down.”

You and me both, I thought, trying to hide my smirk.

While I felt sorry Scott had spent the better part of Super Bowl Sunday soaking up grease with paper towels, I couldn’t help but think that this is the sort of thing fate throws at you when you insist on commandeering  your wife’s chili.

Just saying.


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The Fab Five: January 2014

The Fab Five: January 2014 4


It’s time for a New Year’s addition of my monthly fab five round-up! (AKA, a summary of my most favoritest Christmas presents.)

I’ve tried to keep with the January theme by focusing on goodies that promote healthy living, or products that are helping crush my 2014 resolutions. Here’s what I’m swooning over this month:

1. Pure Organics Fruit Sandwiches


I stumbled across these tasty little gems via a free sample, and immediately went searching on Amazon for them. Luckily, I didn’t have to look too far! Think of them as a natural, organic fruit leather that tastes better than ice cream! (Although not at all like actual ice cream.) Scott, a recovering Fruit Roll-Up addict can’t get enough of them, and has since been limited to two sandwiches a day. (At 70 cents per unit, I can’t condone a 6-sandwiches a day habit.)

The sandwiches come in two flavors —  strawberry banana and pineapple passion fruit. Both are to die for, out of this world, off the chain, etc. (Do people still say “off the chain”? If not, I’m bringing it back, organic fruit sandwich style.)

The best part? With only sixty calories of whole food ingredients per pop, they’re a snack you don’t have to feel guilty about.

(Unless you exceed the two-a-day limit, of course.)


2. Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle paperwhite

I’ve been an avid e-reader user for the past four years — yet up until this week, I was using the Kindle for iPad app. Don’t get me wrong — the iPad is capable of amazing things, and I absolutely adore mine. But I can’t help remember a trip to Hawaii Scott and I took a few days after beginning my e-reading journey. I downloaded several books onto my device, delighted at the idea of packing light (in the reading department, at least) and leaving all my paperbacks at home.

The next day, I sat sunning myself on Waikiki beach, my iPad stowed safely at the bottom of my beach bag. It was essentially useless as the screen was unreadable in bright sunlight. Certainly, the iPad is a magical manifestation of technology and convenience — but a top of the line e-reader it is not.

Scott gifted me the Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas, and it was love at first page. Because the device is intended solely for reading, the overall user experience is significantly more pleasant. The size, the contrast, the weight, the screen…everything is just right.  We’re heading back to Hawaii in just over a week, and I can’t wait to read on the beach without any glare or greasy looking thumb prints. (No offense, iPad.)

On a related note, I just started Born to Run and am already hooked. I don’t even like running all that much, but the book is incredible.


3. The NutriBullet


Scott and I won this 12-piece NutriBullet blender set at his office Christmas party during a “match the celebrity couple” game. (Fred and Ginger, for the win!) We were the proud owners of the original Magic Bullet, which we used religiously until it bit the dust two years ago….rest in peace, MB.

I, for one, was thrilled to receive an updated bullet. I’ve been back on the juicing bandwagon, and have also been trying to incorporate green smoothies into my daily meal plans. I also have a hate-hate relationship with our Blendtec–seriously…we really don’t get along…like, really–and I was happy to have an alternate blending tool at my disposal.

I originally assumed the NutriBullet to be the exact same product as the Magic Bullet, just with an updated, “healthy” marketing campaign. The NB boasts an extractor blade, which they claim “transforms ordinary foods into superfoods by busting open seeds, cracking through stems, and shredding tough skin!” Uh…pretty sure you don’t need a fancy blade to extract nutrients from your fruit and vegetables, but okay Blendtec. Really, I’m just happy to make smoothies without having to use an 80-ounce pitcher.

Imagine my surprise when I opened the package and realized the NutriBullet actually is better than its predecessor. Here’s why:

  • It’s prettier. (Clearly, this is priority numero uno.)
  • It’s larger and more powerful.
  • It just blends better. (I still don’t buy all that “extractor” marking spin…but the new blade is definitely an improvement.)
  • The cups that attach to the blender are larger, more durable, and for all the hippies out there, BPA free.

The true sign of success? Even Scott has been using the NutriBullet to make his morning “power smoothies”. (Shh! Don’t tell the Blendtec!)


4. Lorna Jane MNB 2014 Diary



I purchased this as a New Year’s treat for myself, and am totally smitten. Call me old-school, but I much prefer writing my goals, progress and daily check-ins down with a pen and paper. This diary quickly replaced three different online applications I was using to track my nutrition, calorie intake and daily activity. The book is beautiful, motivating, and full of recipes, positive mantras, and fun new workouts. I keep it on my nightstand and genuinely look forward to writing down my daily entry each night before bed.

Of course, Scott makes fun of my by screeching “Deeeeear Diaryyyyy!” In his most obnoxious pre-teen girl voice. (I think he’s just jealous.)


5. Rosetta Stone TOTALe


One of my New Year’s resolutions was to become fluent in another language. While I briefly debated  taking the plunge into Old Norse, I eventually landed on Latin American Spanish as I already have eight years of classes under my belt. I downloaded Rosetta Stone TOTALe levels 1-5 during a half-price promotion that was running over the New Year, and jumped right in.

While I’ve only completed a few lessons, I already love how simple and intuitive the program is. (Even if it was a huge pain in the arse to install.) The software is highly interactive and comes with three months of live tutoring via Skype. The cherry on top of my Spanish-learning flan? Zero English is used, so I’m completely immersed in my new language. I’ve really enjoyed the ability to go at my own pace (not to mention schedule) and feel like I’m remembering quite a bit of what I learned in junior high and high school. It’s still quite a bit of review, but so far, me gusta!


What were your favorite Christmas gifts? Any tools you’ve discovered that are totally helping you rock your 2014 goals? Someone please tell me I’m the only one cheating on my $400 Blendtec with a NutriBullet from Kohl’s


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