Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Caramel Apple Cake

Today is my last day of school this week!!! Plus, it's a test day!  I know...I'm a little evil.  I'm a math teacher and I'm excited about giving a test.  Actually, I'm really excited about this test because my students are going to do amazing on it and that is pretty awesome.

I'm also pumped because after school I am leaving for NYC with my family!  We are DRIVING there.  So, if we don't kill each other, by Wednesday night, we will be in NYC to meet up with my little brother and the University of Illinois Marching Band.  My brother is a proud member of this band and they are performing in the Macy's Day Parade on Thanksgiving!! How cool is that?

I'm excited to go to New York, see my New York family and see the Macy's Day Parade in person for the first time.  It is going to be so fun.

To celebrate, I'm sharing a cake!  This Caramel Apple Cake was inspired by the Brown Eyed Baker.  I made it for the ladies of my book club and they thought it was one of the best cakes they had ever had.  I made my cake with two layers of apple spice cake and then spread some "to die for" cinnamon, caramel cream cheese frosting over the whole thing.  Finally, I topped it off with some fresh slices of a granny smith apple.  YUM!  This dessert is super tasty and it is a great option for a Thanksgiving dessert that celebrates fall flavors.

Caramel Apple Cake

4 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cloves
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
4 cups unsweetened, plain applesauce
12 oz light cream cheese
1 cup unsalted butter
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp caramel sauce
1-2 tsp heavy cream (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 and line two 9 inch circular cake pans with parchment paper.  Grease generously.
2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves together.
3. In a large bowl, beat the butter with the sugar for a few minutes.  Beat until it is light and fluffy.  Beat in both eggs until well combined.
4. Alternate adding the flour mixture with the applesauce mixture to the butter and sugar.  Start and end with the flour. Divide the batter into the two prepared pans. Bake for 55-60 minutes.  Let cool completely.
5. To make the frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese together until well combined.  Add in the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time until you have a desired taste and consistency.  Add in the cinnamon and caramel sauce and beat well.  Add in the cream if needed.
6. Once your cake is totally cooled, you can spread a layer of frosting over the top of one layer and the place the other layer on top.  Frosting completely and top with some apple slices.

Enjoy :)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Marathon Training Mondays: Turkey Trot 10K

Yesterday I ran my fastest 10K! It was super exciting and I think it is because of my confidence from completing my second marathon and from all my boot camp conditioning classes I have been going to.  I felt great and I was able to maintain a 8:45 pace.  I usually run at about a 10:00 pace so this is way faster! I shaved more than 6 minutes off my last 10K time!

I ran with Jana which was super fun because it brought back all those marathon training memories.  And, guess what?  We are both going to be doing winter marathon training because we are both running the Nashville Marathon in April!  I can't wait!  Winter training starts January 2nd.  It is going to be super cold.  Yesterday was super cold as well and it went great so that gave me confidence that running in the cold will be totally doable.

I did have the issue yesterday of not having any winter running gear! I work leggings and a longsleeve shirt with a jacket over it.  It was a pretty lame running outfit.  I'll have to look for some actual running clothes so that I am ready for winter training!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Smokey Chicken Avocado Roll-Ups

I have one excellent lunch today.  I hosted book club this past weekend and I decided to make these cute chicken roll-ups for the ladies.  I also made a dip and a Caramel Apple Cake, but you will just have to wait on those recipes.

The Chicken Roll-Ups were super tasty, a huge hit, and I secretly made way too many with the plan of keeping some hidden away in the fridge for myself.  Now, I have an awesome school lunch!

Last night we had cheer practice and I just have to talk about it here.  It was an amazing practice.  The team members who were at practice did a phenomenal job learning three new cheers.  Plus, we reviewed a fairly complicated dance that I taught them and they looked great!  This team is getting better every day and it is so incredibly exciting to see and be a part of.  I am super proud of them.  With basketball season just getting started, I can't wait to see what these girl's can do and where they end up.  We're also working on planning bonding activities, team fundraisers, and a cheer clinic.  I just love how into it the team is and it is so much fun.  I was nervous about becoming a coach because it is so time consuming, but I know I made a good choice because it is so fun and I just love all the girls!

Smokey Chicken Avocado Roll-Ups

4 Flat-Out wraps
1/2 lb smoked chicken breast, sliced thin
1 avocado
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp siracha
salt and pepper, to taste
1 container roasted red pepper pesto
8-12 slices light, sharp cheddar

1. Place avocado pieces, lime juice, siracha, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until you have a smooth paste.
2. Start with one Flat-Out wrap and spread some avocado spread over the first 2/3 of the wrap.  Use 2-3 pieces of cheese and lay them over the avocado.  You may have to break up slices to get a nice layer.
3. Lay slices of chicken over the cheese.
4. Drizzle the roasted red pepper pesto over the chicken.  Then, start with the end of the wrap that is not empty and roll tightly towards the other end until the wrap is completely rolled.  Cut into about 6 slices. Repeat this process with the other wraps.

Enjoy :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wedding Planning Wednesday's

I am just exhausted.  I don't know what is up.  I think it's probably the weather and how dreary and dark it always is.  But then again, maybe I am just coming down with something.  I don't know.  I just feel like no matter how early I get to bed, I am still super, crazy tired.  Today I am grateful that we have a short day of school (students leave at 2 instead of 4) and then we have teacher meetings until 4.  After that, I have cheer practice until 5:30.  I know this sounds like a long day, but compared to Monday and Tuesday where I stayed at school until after 7, today is gloriously short.  

A week ago, I went in for a hair cut at Seta's Salon in Deerfield.  I have been going there for ages and Courtney does my highlights and cuts my hair.  She is awesome.  This past week when I was there, she also did a sample wedding style for me and I ADORED it.  I mean look:

It's beautiful! I love it!  I am totally going to go with her for my wedding.  Courtney and Seta are going to come downtown to our hotel, do my hair, my mom's hair and any of my bridesmaids that want their hair done.  I can't wait!  Now, I need to start working on finding a makeup person for the big day.  If you have any ideas for Chicago makeup artists please let me know!  I am looking for someone super reasonable as I know that no one in my wedding party wants to spend a ton on makeup.  I feel like I'd much rather spend on the hair and save on the makeup.