March 9, 2015

Red Roof Inn - Columbus West Broad

Sorry for the short break, mom and I were on a little trip! Where you may ask? The Arnold Sports Festival! For all of you who don't know what the Arnold is, keep reading...

First, let me say the list of sports competing at the expo covered the whole wall...the entire wall! It's ridiculous!

So there's all these people staying in the city to compete throughout the weekend. Booking a hotel was a nightmare. Every room within a 10 mile radius was booked!  Mom and I ended up staying at a Red Roof Inn about 15 minutes from the convention center. And for such a busy weekend, the price wasn't too bad.

Pulling in the parking lot, I was a little nervous. It didn't look like the newest hotel... (we came in late at night so this picture is from their website)

You know how they say "don't judge a book by its cover," the same thing is true for hotels! Wow! I was presently surprised! Hardwood floors, plenty of outlets, a nice bathroom...

I mean look at this!!

There was only one issue...breakfast. Not the greatest selection. Hard boiled eggs, bagels/toast/muffins, cereal/oatmeal, and fruit. I guess I'm just picky when it comes to breakfast.  Usually I'll have scrambled eggs or pancakes or yogurt. 

No big deal, McDonalds was right across the street. If you know how to order, the fast food chain actually has some pretty healthy selections! Egg White favorite!!!

As for other resturants, there was a pretty good selection about five minutes up the road. We ate at Applebee's...and on the way home I just happened to spot a Handel's! I got an eye for them! Can spot one miles away! ...of course we stopped. 

I'd probably rate this hotel a 4 out of 5. The room was spectacular! No complaints! Clean, spacious, efficient, quiet. Just the breakfast. If you're not a picky eater, this may be your five star hotel...

March 3, 2015

Neiman Marcus Cookies

Whether it's true or not, there's a funny story behind these cookies. Well, funny for me, not the woman it happened to...  You can find it all over the internet, but to save a little time I just copied and pasted from

My daughter & I had just finished a salad at Neiman-Marcus Cafe in Dallas & decided to have a small dessert. Because our family are such cookie lovers, we decided to try the "Neiman-Marcus Cookie". It was so excellent that I asked if they would give me the recipe and they said with a small frown, "I'm afraid not." Well, I said, would you let me buy the recipe? With a cute smile, she said, "Yes." I asked how much, and she responded, "Two fifty." I said with approval, just add it to my tab. 

Thirty days later, I received my VISA statement from Neiman-Marcus and it was $285.00. I looked again and I remembered I had only spent $9.95 for two salads and about $20.00 for a scarf. As I glanced at the bottom of the statement, it said, "Cookie Recipe - $250.00." Boy, was I upset!! I called Neiman's Accounting Dept. and told them the waitress said it was "two fifty," and I did not realize she meant $250.00 for a cookie recipe. I asked them to take back the recipe and reduce my bill and they said they were sorry, but because all the recipes were this expensive so not just everyone could duplicate any of our bakery recipes....the bill would stand. I waited, thinking of how I could get even or even try and get any of my money back. 

I just said, "Okay, you folks got my $250.00 and now I'm going to have $250.00 worth of fun." I told her that I was going to see to it that every cookie lover will have a $250.00 cookie recipe from Neiman-Marcus for nothing. She replied, "I wish you wouldn't do this." I said, "I'm sorry but this is the only way I feel I could get even," and I will. So, here it is, and please pass it to someone else or run a few copies.... I paid for it; now you can have it for free.  

When mom and I make it we like to leave out the walnuts.  We aren't big nut fans.  This time, we even tried dipping them in chocolate.  My dad loved it!  

Neiman-Marcus Cookies

by Simple and Sweet Creations
  • 1 cup butter
  • 12 ounces chocolate chips
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 ounces Hershey bar, grated
  • 2 1/2 cups oatmeal, blended
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 375° F.
In a mixing bowl cream butter, brown sugar and white sugar. Add eggs and vanilla.
Mix in flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
Stir in chocolate chips, Hershey bar and nuts.
Roll into balls and bake 10 minutes.

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March 1, 2015

Get Well (Surgery) Candy Card

It's official...I have way too much time on my hands. A candy card for a teacher having hip surgery? Really, Grace? Yes, that's what I did during one of the last bigillion study halls this week. 

Actually, I'm pretty proud of it. May be the best one yet! Mmmmm... I take that back. The Secret Santa one was pretty good. This one takes a close second place. 

And driving around getting all those candy bars look at what happened!  I hit 77,777 miles!  Yay!  I'm finally driving when I hit a mile marker :)  Don't worry, I'm stopped!  (See... 0 mph)  Someone else always has my car when things like that happen...

Back on topic, I went a little overboard this time. Sixteen candy bars is a bit much, don't you think? Whoops! What can I say? I was on a roll! Let's just hope she doesn't eat them all at once!  So to make your own "Get Well" Candy Card...'ll need the following:

Now & Later
Reese's Pieces
Take 5
Good & Plenty
100 Grand 
Reese's Fast Break
Reese's Nutrageous 
Tri-fold Board (or other large poster)

February 26, 2015

Healthy Banana (chocolate chip) Cookies

Block schedule...90 minute periods...4 periods per day.  Just my luck, both study halls land on the same day! Back to back!  Oh yeah, three hours of What should I do now?

What did I do?  Well after finishing an English project, typing a scholarship essay, finishing a scholarship application, and doing a blog post, I decided to make some PB2 Oatmeal Bites.  All that work made me hungry!

So I strolled down to the foods room.  The teacher is super nice and lets me come in and experiment. She must not know how dangerous that is...shhhh, don't tell her! 

After the snack I was all ready to roll up my sleeves and do some baking!  The Menu: Healthy Banana (chocolate chip) Cookies and an Egg Wrap

A couple days ago I found this recipe on Pinterest for Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies.  There's a catch.  They have no sugar, just bananas.  The lady promised "you will NOT miss the sugar in these cookies at all!"  I just had to try it for myself... 

The first batch was good.  I did alter the original recipe a little bit. They were more cake-y than cookie-y.  A good thing for breakfast! And giving up sweets I had to leave out the chocolate chips.  That probably would have made them more like a cookie.  Overall though, not bad. Next time I may add a little cinnamon, honey, or a second banana. But seriously, try them for yourself!  They were much better than I was expecting!

Start by creaming your butter.  

Add in the banana and vanilla.  You're supposed to mash the banana, but I'm to lazy to do that.  I just sliced it and threw it in.  Turned out fine!

When that's all combined stir in the flour and baking powder...

...until a dough forms.  Then if your adding chocolate chips or raisins or something stir them in now by hand.  

Roll into balls and place on your cookie sheet.  Sample some if you must, it's pretty good!  Shhh...I won't tell :)

Bake 10 minutes or until done.  Cool on a cooling rack.

So one batch makes about 14 cookies, depending on how much dough you eat. I gave away 5, ate 1 out of oven, 1 before gymnastics....let's just say I woke up with 2 left.  Whoops!  Hey, they're healthy right?

Healthy Banana (Chocolate Chip) Cookies

  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 large banana, mashed
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips, cinnamon chips, raisins, etc. (optional)
Cream butter or margarine.
Stir in banana and vanilla.
Add flour and baking powder. Stir until combined.
Roll into balls and and place on cookie sheet.
Preheat oven to 350º F.
Bake 10 minutes.
Cool on wire rack.

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February 22, 2015

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

We survived the first four days of Lent!  Yay!  What is it then, 36 to go? Is it bad that I'm already counting down the days to Easter?  Sugar addictions... don't start!

My parents gave up chocolate (shocker!) so dad can't have chocolate chip cookies in his lunch. No cookies just isn't an option!  Not in this household! So mom and I reached way, way back in the cupboard and found the oatmeal raisin cookie recipe. 

Can't tell you the last time we made these.  A little dusty, but boy did they hit the spot!  Look how beautifully she rolled them out.  I think she's hired!

Almost as good as chocolate chip....almost...

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins
Cream together shortening, brown sugar, and sugar.
Add eggs and almond extract. Beat well.
Stir in oatmeal, flour, baking soda, and vanilla extract.
Roll into balls.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Bake 12 minutes.
Cool completely on wire rack.

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February 19, 2015

Boston Cream Pie Yogurt

Yes, I did it to myself again... I gave up sweets for Lent. 40 days of no ice cream, no chocolate, no cakes or pies, no cookies. This is gonna be rough...

Fat Tuesday you know I indulged! Handel's ice cream, ice cream cake, chocolate sauce, Nutella. It'd be bad by Easter! I had to eat eat! 

New York Style Cheesecake may just be my new favorite ice cream flavor. I may have shed a tear or two when I looked down and saw the empty container. Yes, it was a pint. (I didn't wear jeans to school the next day...)  And of course we made chocolate chip cookies in Creative Cooking...

So now I have to find creative ways to satisfy my sweet tooth without breaking my Lenten promise. Idea One: Boston Cream Pie Yogurt

I had a coupon for the little containers of yogurt so I figured I'd try some fun flavors. Boston Cream Pie? What the heck! So I open the container and this is what I find...

...where's the chocolate???!!!!!
I needed chocolate. That's why I bought Boston Cream Pie! Ughhh! 

Then it hit me. You ready for this brilliant idea...  Stir in some chocolate PB2!  

Mmmmmm! Absolutely delicious!!  Not a PB2 fan? Nutella or chocolate sauce would taste just as good...

February 16, 2015

Baked Potato Bar

Baked Potatoes...idea number nine on my meatless meals challenge for Lent.  I did a little research (aka googling) of the best toppings for a baked potato.  Obviously not all of these are "Lent-friendly", but hey!  I may serve this for dinner some other time too!  Football season maybe?

50+ Baked Potato Toppings

Tortilla Chips
Dried Fruit
Scrambled Eggs
Sour Cream
Cottage Cheese
Barbecue Sauce
Spaghetti Sauce
Alfredo Sauce

some interesting combinations...

Pepperoni Pizza Potato

Grilled Vegetables and Sausage Potato

Sweet Potato with Cranberries, Apples, and Pecans

Sloppy Joe Potato

Breakfast Potato

Please note, these are not my images.

February 12, 2015

Angel Food Cake

Is it too early to start the countdown to spring? I know I’ve said it before, but I am literally through with winter! Had enough, done! One more snow/ice storm, I’m packin’ up and headin’ to Florida! Anyone who wants to tag along, come join me!

In the last five days I’ve gotten stuck three times in my driveway! Yes, three times! Stuck! Don’t be mistaken, not on the my driveway. I should probably explain I have a really long driveway. And the turn tends to get a little slippery. Right now, the whole thing is a sheet of ice. Lovely.

So yesterday Abby and I were heading to school and my mom said, “go slow around the corner it’s slippery.” Okay, no big deal! I’m a slow driver anyway! I slow down, turn the wheel...nothing happens. AHHHHH! Straight into the snowbank. Ughhhh!

Mom to the rescue! She literally had to push me out of the snow and around the corner! If our neighbors were recording the whole ordeal, they’d definitely win $10,000 on AFV!

So...if I could get out of my driveway, I’d be on my way to Florida (or somewhere a little warmer!)  Look how beautiful...I'm meant to be there... But I’m stuck. So, I decided to make the most summery dessert I could think of, close my eyes by the fire, and pretend I’m lying on the beach. Little ocean-y/waves music and I’d be good to go! Nothing says warmth and sunshine like a piece of angel food cake and strawberries! 

Start by measuring out the egg whites.  I like to crack them over a separate bowl...just in case a yolk breaks!  It stinks when you're on the last one and have to start all over!!

Beat the egg whites, cream of tarter, salt, and vanilla until soft peaks form.  I test with the beater.  It takes quite a while...

Now beat in the granulated sugar.  They say about 2 tablespoons at a time, but I always just slowly pour it in while it's beating.  

Keep mixing until stiff peaks form.

Sift the flour and powdered sugar together in a separate bowl.  And then sift one more time...just for the heck of it!

Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture about a fourth at a time.  Pour into an ungreased bunt pan...

and bake on the lowest rack of a 350º oven 40 minutes or until golden.

Remove from oven and cool inverted.  I'm so proud of myself this time!  The cake didn't crumble when I inverted it!  Yay!

Here's the picture I got when it came out...

....and then I went to take a picture of the final product...and this is what I found.  Yep, one bite.  How do you photograph one bite?!  Well, this is what I came up with so until I make it again this will just have to do!

Angel Food Cake

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tarter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar

Sift together powdered sugar and flour twice.  Set aside.
Beat egg whites, vanilla, salt and cream of tarter until soft peaks form.
Beat in granulated sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time.  
Continue beating until stiff peaks form.
Fold in sifted flour mixture, about a fourth at a time.
Pour into an ungreased bunt pan.
Bake on the lowest rack of a 350º oven 40 minutes or until golden.

Click for printable recipe.