Aunt Dawn's Protein Bars

My husband razzes me when I refer to my high school BFF & E (you know, BEST FRIEND FOREVER AND EVER!) as "Aunt Dawn," for not only is she not my aunt, she's not our kids' aunt either. But calling her by first name is just not, well, lovey enough. So "Aunt Dawn" she was crowned and that's what the boys call her.

One of our shared loves is baking. Neither of us goes a week without whipping up something from scratch. "I've got such a taste for my sour cream coffee cake," she'll say. "Glad my cousins are coming over so I have an excuse to make it." Her son's friend once saw her baking cookies and asked "Is this one of those houses that has the things to make the things?" Yes, she told him, I own ingredients to make cookies, several different kinds of them, from the beginning. Dawn and I joked the only delicacies this boy finds at home are Chips Ahoy. Poor child.

These protein bars save Dawn from missing breakfast when she's running out the door to work early in the a.m. and are much better than packaged breakfast or protein bars or even a bag of cereal. Nothing beats a homemade creation. Especially when made with all of the "things to make the things."



For me baking is like a reflex. I'll get the urge and BAM! Eggs are cracking, vanilla's flowing and the next thing you know there's a bowl of batter on my counter. I may be mid conversation with my husband and suddenly start grabbing ingredients from the cabinet. "What are you doing?" he'll ask. "I think a banana bread...oh wait a second," I mumble as I check the freezer. "Did I use those frozen bananas last week? Oh well. Guess chocolate chip cookies it is." Minutes later fresh baked goodness is well on its way.


Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Yesterday it was 45 degrees in Chicago. Today, 88. I won't dare to wear shorts (might bring snow tomorrow) but instead jeans,  a t-shirt and shoes without socks. Close enough.

After a brisk walk in the warm, midday breeze, I was jonesin' for cold one. No, not a beer (no alchohol before 5 for me). A smoothie. I looked to the Gluten-Free Goddess for inspiration.


Dijon Vinaigrette

In honor of my almost 12 year-old son's recent debut as a mixed greens eater, I'm posting another salad dressing that's been my go-to lately. It's from a cooking class I took last year at The Chopping Block. The only real labor involves chopping a shallot. Then it's a little vinegar here, a dash of salt there, and so on. All in all, a five, seven on a bad day, minute experience. Well worth it.