Easy Banana Blender Muffins

My blog posts are few and between these days! I have quite a few recipes to share from the past few months, I just need to sit down and write them! It’s been a busy but fun spring over here.

We’ve had a mix of beautiful weather and rain here in Winston-Salem. Luckily, we had gorgeous weather for our one year anniversary a couple of weeks ago. We celebrated with a fun wine dinner at Raffaldini Vineyards.

Raffaldini Anniversary Dinner

Our anniversary weekend also coincided with another Pure Barre milestone. After completing my studio’s challenge of 21 classes in 31 days, I finally made it into the 100 club! I’m still loving Pure Barre, and I don’t think I’ll be switching up my routine any time soon.

Pure Barre 100 Club

As we’ve had a busy few months, I’ve been gravitating towards super simple and fast recipes. I wanted a healthy grab ‘n go snack to bring to work and desperately needed to use some browning bananas on the counter, so I found this recipe for banana muffins and decided to give it a try.

Banana Blender Muffins

These muffins could not have been easier to make! I loved that all I had to do was throw all my ingredients in a blender, blend, and pour. No dirty bowl or spoons! And the batter is so much easier to pour from a blender than a bowl. Simple, healthy ingredients make these muffins a perfect snack. You can customize them by stirring in chocolate chips, berries, nuts – whatever your heart desires! These muffins have become a new staple in our house. I hope you give them a try!

Easy Banana Blender Muffins
Yields 12 muffins.

Ingredients:
• 1 cup plain greek yogurt
• 2 ripe bananas
• 2 eggs
• 2 cups old-fashioned oats
• ¼ cup brown sugar or honey
• 1 ½ tsp baking powder
• ½ tsp baking soda
• ¾ cup chocolate chips, nuts, or berries to stir in

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 400.
2) Grease a muffin pan and/or muffin liners.
3) Add all of the ingredients (except the chocolate chips, nuts, or berries) to a blender and blend on high until smooth and creamy.
4) Stir in your chocolate chips (or other mix in).
5) Pour the batter into the muffin pan (about ¾ full).
6) Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
7) Let cool for at least 10 minutes and enjoy!

Note: These keep for about a week, but can also be frozen and enjoyed later.

Posted in Fitness, Gluten-free, North Carolina, Recipes, Snacks | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Purre Barre “Bring on the Men” & Six Month Milestone

This week marked two important Pure Barre milestones: Luke’s first Pure Barre class and six months of Pure Barre for me! A couple more months and I will be a member of the “100 Club”.

Pure Barre

The “Bring on the Men” class that Luke and I attended was amazing. It was so much fun watching the guys experience a class. I was going to try not to laugh throughout the class, but a few seconds into the warm-up and I gave up. It was hilarious. We were just doing high knees and the boys tried so hard, but somehow failed. When the instructor cued our 90 second plank, Luke whispered to me, “that’s a long time!” I smiled. The boys continued pushing through the class and kept looking over at their significant others in wonder. The look on Luke’s face during some of the moves was priceless. He would look over at me with a look that read, “how in the world am I supposed to get into that position? and tuck?! and lift?! and lift again?!” We really have to work on his tuck for the next class…

I have to give it to all of the guys who came – they really did try! Major props to my husband for agreeing to come and giving it his all.

So, what did Luke think after his first class?

“It was hard and a real workout, but I definitely didn’t do a lot of the tucking and other moves right. I gave up many times when I couldn’t hold a position for more than few seconds, and made the mistake of using the 3 pound dumbells instead of the smaller ones. If you’re doing all the exercises correctly — or close enough — it’s all really hard. And two days later I still feel sore.” Truth.

Pure Barre

He didn’t seem quite as distraught from the experience as this guy, but he certainly has a better understanding of how hard Pure Barre actually is and why I enjoy it. Explaining what we do in class can be very difficult, and now he has a sense of what I’m doing night after night.

Six Month Update

As for a six month update… I still love Pure Barre for all the reasons I stated before. The only thing that has changed is that I sweat a lot more than I used to – probably because I’m finally doing most of the moves correctly! Whenever I feel like a move is easy, I listen to the instructor and look around the room. Usually, I’m not on my highest tippy toes or with my hips below the barre. An inch higher on my toes and I feel the burn.

Six months of Pure Barre has definitely toned my body. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I think I would do Pure Barre if only for the ab portion. My abs are more toned than they have ever been. As core strength is important for pretty much any exercise you are doing, Pure Barre is worth it just for strengthening my core so much.

I still struggle with spending so much on Pure Barre, but as my husband says, if you’re going to spend money on anything, fitness will pay off in the end. Luckily, because of my concurrent love for running, I never do Pure Barre more than three times a week. I tell myself this keeps the price slightly lower, knowing that otherwise, I would probably pay for unlimited classes.

In conclusion, my love for Pure Barre continues and I don’t see it stopping any time soon. I will continue to recommend it to anyone I know! And next time my studio offers a “Bring on the Men” class, count us in!

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Mistletoe Half Marathon Recap

On Saturday, I ran my third half marathon!

Mistletoe Half Marathon

My chip time was 2:27:20. When I saw the results, I realized that I was incredibly close to my half marathon PR of 2:25:43. I never imagined I would come close to a PR at this race, so I wasn’t really trying. Had I known how close I was, I would have pushed myself and PR’d this race! Oh well. I’m amazed that I came so close to a PR on an incredibly hilly course, as my current PR was a flat Houston race.

Overall, the race went very well and much better than I thought it would. I had been checking the weather forecast all week and the chance of rain kept getting higher and higher. When I woke up Saturday morning, it was raining and there was a 90% chance of rain all day. I almost didn’t race because of this, but I didn’t want to throw away all of my training just because of rain!

I spent Friday evening googling “running a half marathon in the rain” and reading everyone’s tips. The best tip I found was to wear a hat to keep rain from getting in your eyes – I was very glad I followed that one! I also wore a “breathable” rain jacket that I happened to have in my closet, but I ended up taking it off within the first two miles because I got too hot (it was about 40-45 degrees outside). Luckily, it only lightly rained for most of the race, with only a couple bursts of harder rain. I was wet at the finish line, but not drenched.

The run itself went pretty well. As I expected, the course was very hilly. The first couple of miles were hard and I wondered why in the world I was running 13.1 miles again. The subsequent miles, up until about mile 8 or 9, were fairly good. I mostly stuck to my 3:1 run:walk ratio that I had trained with, with a few longer walking breaks when I hit steep hills. After mile 9, I was starting to feel sore and tired. The last two miles were brutal because I got an intense pain (which I have since learned is probably piriformis syndrome). I have never gotten a pain like that while running, nevertheless run through a pain like that! Somehow I made it to the finish line. The pain worsened throughout Saturday – walking was very painful and I was limping. On Sunday, the pain had dissipated a bit, and was almost gone when I woke up on Monday. I thought time had healed my wound, but the pain came back after I went for a short run on Tuesday night. I may take a few days off and hope it heals for good!

I enjoyed the race course (except the hills). It was a nice running tour of Winston-Salem. I ran through some beautiful neighborhoods, in addition to some parts of the Wake Forest campus that I had never been to. I was also inspired by many of the other runners out on the course. There were some pretty old people out there giving me a run for my money! At the end of the race, I saw a girl hysterically crying out of happiness for finishing her first half. I wanted to go give her a hug and high five!

As always, I’m glad I accomplished my goal and ran this half marathon. Training wasn’t easy this time (it never is), but the end was worth the means! Even though I question why I am doing it throughout each mile of a half, a few minutes after finishing I begin to think about when I will run my next. I am going to continue trying to meet my personal goal of running a half every year for as long as my body allows me to!

Posted in Fitness, Half-Marathon Training, North Carolina, Running | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Maple & Sriracha Roasted Cashews

Yesterday I completed the last long run of my half marathon training! I love the timing of this half because it allows me to get all of my training done and enjoy Thanksgiving, and then have the race be over just in time for the hustle and bustle of Christmas season.

12 miles

Yesterdays’s run was hard. Really hard. I once thought that long runs get easier the longer you’ve been running. Nope. I had to fight for every mile today. I took a few breaks and somehow made it through 12 miles. I am so glad I am done with long training runs. Just two weeks until I add another half marathon to my belt!

Enough about running! Let’s get to this amazing recipe I have for y’all today. Lately, I’ve been searching for a salty snack in the afternoons and not finding anything that is both healthy and appealing in my pantry. When I feel like putting in the effort, I’ve been making my own popcorn. But, more often than not, I don’t have the patience to wait for the kernels to pop and I end up grabbing handfuls of goldfish.

I finally turned my oven on and created a healthy homemade snack that I love: Maple & Sriracha Roasted Cashews.

Maple & Sriracha Roasted Cashews

Just the right amount of sweetness, spiciness, and saltiness!

In general, I’m not a huge fan of nuts. While I’ve found that I really enjoy flavored cashews, they tend to be the most expensive nut at the store. There are some flavored cashews that are quite good, but they can become a pricey addiction. It’s much cheaper to buy a tub of cashews at Costco and make your own!

These roasted cashews are incredibly easy to make and come together in less than 20 minutes. The only tricky part is that the flavoring will stick to your pan if you don’t use a silpat mat or parchment paper.

Maple & Sriracha Roasted Cashews

Maple & Sriracha Roasted Cashews

Ingredients:
• 2 cups raw, unsalted cashews
• ¼ cup maple syrup (honey will work too)
• 1 tbsp. sriracha
• 1 tbsp. olive oil
• ½ tsp grated ginger
• 2 tbsp. sesame seeds

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 350.
2) In a large bowl, mix together the maple syrup, sriracha, olive oil and ginger.
3) Add the cashews and stir to coat.
4) Pour the cashews onto a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper.
5) Spread them in an even layer and sprinkle the sesame seeds on top.
6) Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden.
7) Let cool for at least 10 minutes and enjoy!

Posted in Asian, Fitness, Gluten-free, Half-Marathon Training, Recipes, Running, Snacks, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Favorite Running Gear

The end of my half marathon training is finally near! On Tuesday I made it into the double digits and ran 10.5 miles!

10.5 miles

It was a very humbling run, to say the least. The only thing that pushed me through it was knowing that I only had one more long run left after this one. I stopped and sat down a couple of times and took more walking breaks than I usually would, but I finished. I have to keep reminding myself that bad training is not necessarily indicative of a bad race. The idea of running 12 miles next weekend makes me cringe, but it will be worth it!

I realized while running yesterday that, though I’ve been running for a few years now, I’ve never written a post dedicated to my favorite running gear. I’ve tried out my fair share of gear, so I figure it’s time to let everyone in on my essentials!

Tops:

My tried and true running (and barre, yoga, basically everything) tank is the Lululemon Cool Racerback.

half marathon

Expensive? Yes. But these are truly my favorite tanks and work for everything. These tanks never ride up, and are nice and long. They also wick sweat away and have all those great technical running gear qualities. They come in tons of fun colors and go on sale often (I almost never buy them full price!).

My other favorite tank is the Athleta Chi Tank.

Vineyard Stomp 5K

The fabric of this tank is to die for. It is the softest, most comfortable fabric out there. The fabric is much lighter than the Lululemon Cool Racerback, so it is my go-to summer running tank top. I prefer to wear it with shorts, though I’m not sure I can explain why. I think if Athleta made a thicker and longer version, it might replace the Cool Racerback in my book.

I also love long sleeved pullovers from Athleta. I have the Fast Track Half Zip (which I got on sale for $30 I think), and another half zip that they don’t make any more.

Athleta Fast Track Half Zip

I have been going to Athleta more and more lately (over Lululemon) because they have the same great quality and the BEST return policy EVER. You can seriously return things that you’ve worn. I finally tested this out about a month ago and exchanged a pair of yoga pants that I had been wearing for months for a brand new pair in a smaller size. I couldn’t believe it! I love knowing that if I spend the money on a nice piece of workout gear and it doesn’t work for me when I take it for a spin, I can return it, no questions asked. I can’t tell you how many times I wear something new on a run, only to realize that it rides up or rubs in the wrong place. Athleta ROCKS!

My other favorite cooler weather tops are the GapFit Motion Long Sleeve Tees (they go on sale often too and are very similar to the Lululemon Run Swiftly Tees, but cheaper), and the Lululemon Define Jacket. Sadly, they no longer make the Define jacket, but the Forme Jacket is similar. My favorite feature of the jacket is the “cuffins” – AKA built in mittens for those runs when your hands warm up after the first mile or two.

Bottoms

My favorite shorts used to be Nike Tempos, but now I prefer Athleta’s Pulse Short (pictured with the orange Chi Tank above). They are cuter, very lightweight, have a nice sized zippered pocket, and the fabric helps tank tops not ride up. I wear these when the temperature is above 65-70.

In cooler weather, I love Athleta’s Relay Capri.

Athleta Relay Capri

These are a great length, are made out of a nice soft material, have ventilation in the knees, and have a great zippered pocket (that even fits my phone!). They also don’t ride up or sag. My only complaint with them is that they can be a little warm if the temperature is over 65, but I usually want to wear shorts then anyways.

I also like the Nike Filament capri, and wear the CW-X Stabilyx Tights for recovery after long runs.

I haven’t found a pair of long running tights that I love yet, but hopefully I will this winter, as they say it will be a cold one!

Shoes

I tried to test out different running shoes last year, but I learned that, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

asics gt2000

Asics GT-2000s work for me.

Accessories

Bras: As far as sports bras go, my go-to’s are the Moving Comfort Juno Bra and the Lululemon Energy Bra. Of the two, I prefer running in the Moving Comfort, but it’s very high cut and shows a little too much under a Cool Racerback.

Socks: You wouldn’t think socks make much of a difference, but they do! Many socks make my toes go numb while running. My tried and true running socks are the Brooks Essential Low Tab Running Socks. Recently, I tried Thorlos 84N socks out for the first time. They have very thick padding on the heel and sole of your foot, but somehow the thickness of the sock did not make my toes go numb. I wore them on my 10.5 mile run and was very comfortable!

Other must have accessories:
Garmin Forerunner 10 running watch
Armpocket Arm Band (fits my phone + anything else!)
Handana (for wiping sweat away on hot runs)
Nathan QuickDraw Plus water bottle
BIC Band headband
• FUEL! My new favorite long run fuel is Honey Stingers. They are tasty, super soft and easy to chew while running, and made of natural ingredients.
Compression Socks for recovery (I only wear them after long runs to help prevent sore muscles)

There you have it! All of my favorite running gear. While all you need is a pair of running shoes to run, the right running gear can make running more comfortable and more fun!

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Three Minute Microwave Banana Oatmeal

Happy Halloween! It’s going to be a bit chilly for trick-or-treaters tonight. Since this is our first Halloween in our new house, I’m not sure how many kids to expect, but hopefully we get a few!

Until this morning’s blast of coldness, the weather has been pretty perfect here lately – crisp mornings and beautiful cool afternoons. The trees are getting closer to peaking and I’ve been going on as many hikes and runs as possible!

Pilot Mountain NC

Pilot Mountain

9 mile run

Fall in NC

Salem Lake

Fall in NC

I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to these beautiful fall colors!

As the chilly mornings are becoming routine, I wanted to share my staple fall and winter breakfast with y’all: Three Minute Microwave Banana Oatmeal.

3 minute microwave banana oatmeal

It’s not the prettiest breakfast, but it’s healthy and delicious! I first read about microwaving old-fashioned oats to make amazing oatmeal over on Fannetastic Food. The concept is extremely simple. All you do is mash up a very ripe banana, add equal parts old-fashioned oats and milk of your choice, and microwave for three minutes, stirring half-way through. Then you add whatever you want to customize your oats. My favorite combination is adding a couple tablespoons of pumpkin butter and yogurt, a teaspoon of chia seeds, and a few dashes of cinnamon. Other great toppings and mix-ins are nut butters, fruit, raisins, honey, nuts, seeds, or even nutella or cocoa powder if you’re in a chocolate mood. The possibilities are endless! And these oats are truly so easy and quick to make – there’s no excuse not to have a healthy breakfast!

Three Minute Microwave Banana Oatmeal
Serves 1.

Ingredients:
• 1 ripe banana (the riper, the better!)
• ½ cup old-fashioned oats
• ½ cup of milk of your choice (I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
• Toppings & mix-ins of your choice! (mine is 2 tbsp. pumpkin butter, 2 tbsp. plain Greek yogurt, 1 tsp chia seeds, a couple dashes of cinnamon)

Directions:
1) Slice your banana into small pieces. Place in a microwave safe bowl and mash it as much as you can.
2) Add the old-fashioned oats on top of the banana.
3) Add the milk on top of the oats.
4) Microwave for three minutes, stirring halfway through.
5) Stir in the toppings & mix-ins of your choice and enjoy!

Posted in Breakfast, Gluten-free, Hikes, North Carolina, Recipes | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Rosemary Roasted Chicken with Apple and Fall Vegetables (Plus Lots of Fall Hiking!)

Happy Monday! We had a great fall & fun-filled weekend in North Carolina. First we drove to Asheville to enjoy the foliage, hiking and great food. I crossed “driving the Blue Ridge Parkway in the fall” off my bucket list – and, yes, it was as pretty as people say!
IMG_5844

Blue Ridge Parkway

We hiked to gorgeous waterfalls at Dupont State Forest.

IMG_5869

IMG_5896

IMG_1579

High Falls Dupont State Forest

We also had delicious food (tacos from White Duck Taco below!), and my first ever flight of Kombucha at The Buchi Bar. Highly recommended!

White Duck Tacos Asheville
Buchi Bar Asheville

When we returned to Winston, we took off on another hike at Hanging Rock State Park.

Hanging Rock Summit

Then we successfully smoked our first brisket using our new Orion Cooker (thanks Lisa!).

Orion Cooker

And we ended the weekend with a trip to a local corn maze!

Corn Maze NC

The weather was crisp and perfect. We had a quintessential fall weekend!

And now let me introduce you to my favorite new fall recipe: Rosemary Roasted Chicken with Apple and Fall Vegetables.

Rosemary Roasted Chicken with Apple and Fall Vegetables

When I first saw this recipe on another food blog, I really wanted to try it out, but it looked a little complicated to make. I found that, besides all of the chopping, it came together fairly easily. The sweet apples and salty bacon balance out the rich flavor in the chicken, squash and sweet potato. And the smell while this is cooking… amazing! I’ve made this recipe twice in the last couple of weeks and it will definitely be a part of our regular rotation!

Rosemary Roasted Chicken with Apple and Fall Vegetables

Rosemary Roasted Chicken with Apple and Fall Vegetables
Serves 3-4

Ingredients:
• 5 bone-in chicken thighs, skin on (about 1.5 lbs)
• salt to taste
• pepper to taste
• 3 Tablespoons butter, divided
• 1 onion, chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, chopped
• ½ lb white mushrooms, sliced
• 3 slices of turkey bacon, cut into ¼ inch pieces
• 2 large sprigs of rosemary, plus more for garnish
• ½ cup red wine
• splash of chicken broth (optional, I just thought mine needed more liquid)
• 1 sweet potato, cut into 1-inch pieces
• 2.5 cups butternut squash, peeled cut into 1-inch pieces
• 3 small apples, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces

Directions:
1) Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper and set aside.
2) Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat.
3) Add the bacon, onions, mushrooms, garlic and rosemary sprigs to the pot and cook until onions are translucent.
4) Remove the bacon and vegetables from the pan and set aside.
5) Increase the heat to medium high and add two Tablespoons of butter to the pot. Brown the chicken on both sides.
6) Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
7) Pour off excess fat and deglaze the pan with the red wine.
8) Lower the heat to medium low and return the bacon, mushroom and onion mixture to the pot. Mix in the potatoes, squash, and apples. You can add a splash of chicken broth at this point, if necessary.
9) Place the chicken on top of the vegetables and cover. Cook on medium low for about 45 minutes until the chicken and vegetables are cooked through.
10) Remove the lid and brown the chicken directly under the broiler for a couple of minutes before serving.
11) Enjoy!

Posted in Chicken, Fitness, Gluten-free, Hikes, North Carolina, Travel | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Half-Marathon Training Update

I hope your weekend is off to a good start! As another week of running and Pure Barre comes to an end, I figured it was time for an update on my half-marathon training.

So far, I’ve stuck with my half-marathon training plan of running three days a week, in addition to 2-3 days of Pure Barre. I’ve been doing Pure Barre for almost 2 months now, and I’m still loving it. As my schedule is very flexible right now, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to plan my long runs according to when the best weather is each week. Running in 55 degrees is so much better than running in 75 degrees and high humidity!

This week, in addition to two 30 minute runs, I ran 8 miles along Salem Lake – which is now one of my favorite trails in Winston. The trail is about 7 miles long and loops the entire lake. Though there are definitely some small hills, it felt a lot less hilly than running through Wake’s campus and the Reynolda/Graylyn trails. And you get a pretty lake view for 95% of the trail (the other 5% is just a nice forest view).

Salem Lake

I will definitely be returning to Salem Lake, as I’m sure it will get prettier and prettier as the leaves change more.

Salem Lake

My 8 mile run was okay, but not great. I had an 11:30 pace according to my Garmin, though MapMyRun claims it was a 10:45 pace and that I went 8.6 miles! I kept a 3:1 run/walk ratio for most of the run. At mile 6, my legs were starting to get sore and I got a little lost – the trail forked and I went the wrong way, of course! Overall, other than a little bit of runner’s knee pain afterwards, my long runs have been going fairly well.

Last weekend I also completed another Vineyard Stomp 5K at Olde Mill Vineyards. It was a really hard race again, and I was very slow, but there’s just nothing quite like running through the vineyards!

Vineyard Stomp 5K

I have one more Vineyard Stomp 5K at the end of October, and I’m hoping to sign up for another 5K or 10K before my half in December. It’s hard to believe I only have three long runs left in my training! Half #3 will be here before I know it!

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake Bars

As the weather is getting cooler, I find myself baking more and more. Though I’m not a very big dessert person, my husband has a huge sweet tooth and hasn’t minded the dessert overload in our house. As my pantry is always stocked with pumpkin lately, I was on the lookout for a recipe that used pumpkin to add a healthy twist to a conventional dessert. I found winner in this recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake Bars

These pumpkin cake bars remind me of chocolate chip brownie bars, but a little more “cakey” and with the just the right amount of pumpkin spice flavor. One of the best parts about them is that they stay moist and keep very well. As there are only two of us, it’s difficult to eat a whole batch of dessert before it’s past it’s prime, but we’ve been enjoying these bars for over a week and they are still just as delicious as they were fresh out of the oven!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake Bars

The cake bars are delicious without the chocolate chips too, as Teddy will attest to! He literally goes crazy when he sees Luke or I go near the container. I’d love to try them without chocolate chips, adding on a cream cheese frosting. Mmm!

I made a couple modifications to the original recipe, using melted butter (because I always forget to leave it out at room temperature at first!) and adding a dash of cinnamon. The recipe is pretty foolproof and tastes amazing, so get baking!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake Bars
Yields Approx. 24 Bars

Ingredients:
• 2 cups all-purpose flour

• 1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice

• A dash of cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon baking soda

• 3/4 teaspoon salt

• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

• 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

• 1 large egg

• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

• 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

• 1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:
1) Preheat your oven to 350 and grease a 9×13 baking dish/pan.
2) Whisk together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
3) In a separate bowl or mixer, mix together the butter and sugar. Add in the egg and vanilla, followed by the pumpkin. Mix well.
4) Add in the dry ingredients (reduce speed to low if using mixer) and mix until combined. Then fold in the chocolate chips.
5) Pour the batter into the greased baking dish.
6) Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes, until the edges start pulling away from the sides of the baking dish.
7) Let cool, cut into squares, and enjoy!

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Pumpkin Sauce Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Bacon & Sage

Good morning! Fall has officially arrived here in Winston-Salem and I am enjoying every second of it. Crisp walks with Teddy, a 65 degree house full of fresh air, and amazing running weather! If you want to appreciate fall in a whole new way, become a runner. There’s just nothing like fall running after a long hot summer.

The other staple of fall is, of course, pumpkin. I realize that the last recipe I posted was pumpkin based, and the next one may be too… ’tis the season! If you’re not a fall loving pumpkin fanatic, you could skip out on this pumpkin sauce pizza, but you would miss out on an amazing medley of flavors.

Fall Pumpkin Pizza

The star of the pizza is the amazing pumpkin cream sauce. It’s a simple stovetop blend of butter, garlic, milk, pumpkin, goat cheese, and pumpkin pie spice. It’s basically a fancy white pizza sauce, and it’s delicious. Leftover sauce can be used on pasta – just add a little more milk. This sauce along with a few mushroom and shallots over homemade gnocchi is fabulous (even if the picture isn’t!).

Gnocchi with Pumpkin Sauce

The caramelized onions, bacon, sage, and mozzarella complement the slight sweetness to the pumpkin sauce perfectly, resulting in a mouthwatering pizza. And because you’re making this pizza from scratch and adding pumpkin to the sauce, it’s fairly healthy compared to most pizzas. So go ahead and indulge!

Fall Pumpkin Pizza

Pumpkin Sauce Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Bacon & Sage

Ingredients:
• 2 onions, sliced + 2 tbsp. of olive oil
• Pizza dough
• 1 tbsp. butter
• 3 cloves of garlic, minced
• ½ cup milk
• ¾ cup pumpkin
• 3 oz goat cheese
• a couple dashes of pumpkin pie spice
• 2-3 slices of bacon (or turkey bacon)
• a few sage leaves & a tbsp. of olive oil
• 1 ball of mozzarella, sliced
• salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1) Caramelize the onions over medium heat until golden and browned, about 30 minutes. Set aside.
2) Cook bacon as directed and chop up into small pieces. Set aside.
3) Fry sage leaves in a tablespoon of olive oil or butter over medium heat for about a minute. Set aside.
4) Preheat your oven to 475.
5) In a saucepan, melt 1 tbsp. butter over medium low heat and add the garlic. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring to prevent the garlic from burning.
6) Reduce the heat to low and add the milk, pumpkin, goat cheese, and pumpkin pie spice. Stir over low heat for a couple minutes, until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.
7) Assemble the pizza. Form a crust from the ball of pizza dough and place on a cast iron pizza pan (or whatever pan you have available). Spoon the sauce over the crust (you will likely have leftover sauce, which you can save and use on pasta!). Add the caramelized onions, followed by the bacon pieces and mozzarella.
8) Bake at 475 for about 12 minutes, until the crust is golden (this may vary depending on the dough you use).
9) Remove from oven, top with the fried sage leaves, and let cool for a couple minutes.
10) Slice and enjoy!

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