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The Art of Running in the Rain

"To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift." -Prefontaine

Take Advantage of Where You Live.

Dave and I woke up one Saturday morning a bit on the early side (we don’t have children yet, so waking at 7:30am on a Saturday is early for us), looked at each other and I said, “you wanna go to San Diego?” Because he’s always up for an adventure, Dave said “yes!”  That aspect of where we live is so awesome, it’s an hour south to San Diego, an hour north to Los Angeles, and an hour east to Palm Springs.   We hurriedly got dressed, walked/fed the dogs, jumped in the car and were off.  It’s pretty rare that we haven’t made plans, so I try to relish these moments when we can be spontaneous and go on a random day trip.

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The first stop was for food, we went to a place that I’d seen on another blog before called “Snooze an AM Eatery.”  I completely forgot to take pictures, and honestly I’m not super upset by that.  I found a hair in my burrito, which was a major bummer.  At this point I don’t even remember how it tasted and it just grosses me out to think about it.  Dave reports that his was tasty, but really heavy.   As I’m sure you could have guessed we won’t be going back.

We wanted to pick up a donut before we headed to our destination, but the donut bar was sold out!  They were super nice and gave us a coupon for a free donut so we’ll totally be back.  I hear their donuts are off the hook!  Then we off to explore the area near the San Diego zoo called “Balboa park,” and I’m soooooo glad we did (at first I wanted to go to the zoo because I love how amazing and progressive the San Diego zoo is, but we were just there a little while ago so Dave convinced me otherwise).  The first spot we scoped out was called the “Spanish Village Art Center,” and it was super beautiful.

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The ground is painted in this cool way, and it’s surrounded by cute little art shops.  I don’t know why, but I never feel grown up enough to go into art shops.  Maybe one day 😛

I can see why San Diego would be the place to be if you were an artist.  Dave was telling me that his uncle Jeff’s mom sold her art in this village.

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After exploring the art village we decided to check out more of the park.  I can’t even describe how cool it is, there is so much to see.  Some of the places you have to pay to get into (like the natural history museum), but a lot of the stuff is free.  There was this really neat botanical building.  I’ll start with a picture of the outside, which reminded me of Jurassic Park.

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This picture doesn’t do the size of it justice.  It felt like I was transported back in time, because you really don’t see buildings like this made of wood anymore.  Inside the ceiling felt so massive, and beautiful!

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It’s been amazing being able to explore a completely different kind of nature and climate than the one I’ve been used to my whole life.  The PNW is full of evergreens, pine trees, and moss is everywhere; down here it’s more tropical with (obviously) palm trees everywhere.

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The smells in this building were amazing!

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I wish I would have snagged a few more shots of the area surrounding all the different buildings.  You can tell that the landscape is really well taken care of, and there were a ton of people there so it seemed like a really popular spot.

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Some of the architecture reminded me of Spain, it was  just so beautiful!

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And some was scary! (San Diego doing it’s part by not having water coming out the mouth, or having their water fountains active, bonus points for water conservation).

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I can’t get enough of Spanish tiles, I want it in my house!

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Dave and his elephant friend!

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After we had explored all the free stuff we decided to pick a museum to check out, we settled on the natural history museum because it looked amazing on the outside and the inside didn’t disappoint.

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All in all it was a really fun day of exploration!  San Diego has always been this city that my heart has longed for, but I’ve never really spent an extensive amount of time there.  Now we have to go back, I mean we have a coupon for a free donut!!!!!  Hope you have an adventure this weekend.

Be well!

 

As I Sit Here Missing Seattle

I can’t help but think of one of our favorite places to eat there, the Korean Tofu House.  It combines two of my favorite things about a good food spot, cheap and delicious! In fact so much so that I included in my 10 inexpensive date ideas post.  Now, it’s definitely been too long since we’ve been there, but reminiscing about it might help me fill that void!  Or just long for that tasty delicious goodness!!!

It’s located right off the Ave, and for those of you who know Seattle you know that’s college student central.  I personally love being around it, takes me back to my scholarly days.  The restaurant itself is just what you would expect of a cheap quirky University area Korean place, and it’s UH-mazing!

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Always good company ❤

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Before every meal you will receive Banchan, which translates to ‘side dish,’ but I always think of it as an appetizer and it’s delicious!  I especially love the potato, kimchi, fish cake, and Korean pancake….okay, I guess I like it all! Haha.  The cool thing is that it often changes, so you never know what you’re gonna get….Omnomnomnomnom.

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Dave and I both get the Bibimbap frequently, I usually get mine with tofu (this place is pretty great about any substitutions you may need/want).  This dish is served in a stone dish that is extremely hot (Seriously. No touching), and before you eat it you are suppose to stir all that yummy goodness together.  As you are stirring the raw egg in the middle cooks, everything becomes evenly dispersed, and the rice gets crispy and delicious!

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Dave likes to put his gochujang (savory, spicy, fermented sauce) on before he mixes it, this makes for equal distribution of taste and some have said leads to flavorgasms.

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Now, Tteokbokki (say what?) is one of my favorite FAVORITE dishes!   It’s made of rice cakes, fish cakes, and that yummy red sauce, gochujang!  This restaurant usually serves this dish with meat, but again they are very flexible.

Now I’m not sure if this post actually satisfied anything in me or created a deeper craving.  Either way I hope you enjoyed it!

Be well.

Girl’s Weekend…Errr Actually Jill’s Weekend

This weekend was the #2ndgirlsweekendpalmsprings (longest hashtag ever…we couldn’t figure our shit out), and it was simply the best!

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Abby was having a really good time 😉  I laughed so hard this weekend, if I had slightly worse bladder control, I would have peed myself multiple times.

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Jill has been such a good friend, and when I decided I wanted to post about this weekend it reminded me that I didn’t do a post on her visit back in October.  My OCD just won’t allow that…

In October these two lovely ladies came to see me and it was everything!

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We started our weekend off the right way….with donuts, and it’s safe to say that Ilee was happy!

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Then Charlie needed a cuddle.

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After Charlie was sufficiently cuddled we headed to the pool.

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The next day we took the ladies down to the Los Rios Historic District of San Juan Capistrano.  One of my favorite areas!  When we first moved down here I spent so much time at Hidden House Coffee shop.

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Ilee is sooooo adorable!

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Dave and I got such a kick out of her.

DSC_0031.JPGAfter exploring the area, we headed to San Clemente for some Pizza Port, beer+pizza=THE BEST!

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Then it was time for the beach.  I think Dave really loves taking friends and family to San Onofre because it means so much to him.  It’s where his dad taught him to surf, and he has so many fond memories.

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I love surf culture, I haven’t met a mean surfer.

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Ilee fell asleep before we even got there, look at this little bean!

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Jill and I jumped in to boogie board while Dave watched over a sleeping Ilee.

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When she woke up we took advantage of her excitement and had ourselves a pretty good time.

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Alright, maybe I was the one who was extremely excited (if you couldn’t tell by that face)!

#Beautifulladies

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I mean, look at this face.

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Such a good time at the beach with a few of my favorites!  I’m so glad I’ve gotten to share so many special moments at this beach with Dave and friends!

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The next day was their last day 😦 but we were able to grab brunch and walk around Newport Beach before they headed out.  When we were about to leave I caught Dave and Ilee swapping stories….pretty adorable!

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I love these girls, and I’m so glad that they came down to visit!!!!  I can’t wait until the next visit (…Disneyland???)

Love you Jill & Ilee!

Be well.

 

 

Friday Favorites

“It’s Friday night, and the mood is right!  Gonna have some fun, show you how it’s done, TGIF!!!” — that just turned into a Friday flashback, but seriously who else misses Balki, Michelle Tanner, and the Dinosaurs?!?!

Well because it’s Friday I thought I’d share with you some of my most recent favorite things, here goes:

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1.) Rock climbing – Dave and I took a break from our gym in Seattle when we were saving for the wedding (plus the vibe at our gym in Seattle changed a bit and we weren’t feeling it), but lately it’s been calling to me.  We got a membership at a gym down here and we are super happy with it, in the last week we’ve been 4 times.  (picture source)

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2.) Kettlebells – the climbing gym has kettlebells!!! The gym at our apartment doesn’t have kettlebells, so I haven’t been able to use them since I was in Seattle.  I did this workout yesterday and I was a sweaty happy mess!! Next up is this one. (picture source)

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3.) Stop, Breathe, & Think App– I’ve always had an underlying love of meditation, especially after taking yoga nidra, a guided meditation class, some 5 years ago.  I haven’t ever committed to continuous practice though, and I realized it’s because I’ve been trying to fly solo and really I benefit from it being guided.  After taking the psychology of happiness course (I promise more recaps on that soon) and seeing all the evidence surrounding the benefits of meditation I’ve had my mind on setting up a regular practice.   That’s where this app comes in, you start by taking a deep breath and “checking” in with how you feel physically and mentally.  After your check in they suggest different meditations to try (from “body scan” to “gratitude”).  They are wonderful, I especially like the “change” meditation.  I even purchased a couple extras, including “sleep.”  It has really helped me to slow my mind down before bed, and the other day Dave was a little upset and he tried the “change” meditation and afterwards he said he felt way better.

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4.) Meditation spot – to go along with #3, I felt like I needed a special place to do my meditations.  I set up these Buddhas and candle and when I start my session I light the candle it definitely sets the mood….for meditation that is ;P

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5.) Old journals – I’ve been going through my journals from young childhood all the way up to my early twenties and it has been such a wonderful blast from the past.  I’m realizing that my blog/instagram/facebook are my new age ‘scrapbook.’  In the journals I’ve seen pictures (which now end up on instagram/blog), narratives about what was going on in my life (now on the blog), and music lyrics (my friends may not like it but I’m always posting lyrics on facebook).  Making scrapbooks was always a cathartic activity though, and I often think about getting back into it, maybe one day.

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6.) Coloring – I bought this at Fireworks Gallery (love that store) in the Seattle airport for the flight back to LA.  In addition to passing the time on the flight, it’s been such a relaxing thing to do when I’m waiting for appointments or watching Dave surf (it’s been a scootch to cold for me to go in, I know, I’m a weenie).

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7.) Seeing this little guy when I’m baking/cooking.  For some reason he loves to go between peoples legs when they’re standing, and it’s so adorable.  You would assume it was to catch food, and I’m sure that’s part of it, but he does it in the morning when I’m standing in the closet picking out my clothes too.

Well that’s it for this Friday, have a good weekend!

Be well.

 

 

Christmas 2015

I love Sundays!  Even though the work week is looming and that means I’ll get less time chillin’ with the husband, it also means a day of decompressing guilt free.  I’ve also been trying to use my Sundays to do meal planning so there’s less frantic assembling during the work week.  Today I’m prepping a polenta lasagna and cutting up vegetables for a home style salad bar.

I wanted to recap on some of the holiday happenings from this Christmas.  I get more and more excited about these recap posts ever since taking that happiness course.  One of the exercises proven to increase happiness and decrease stress is to reflect on photos of happy moments, and after I’ve completed these posts I do feel great!   I think there may be a correlation with posting happy photos on social media as well, I’d love to see research on that.

We started our trip with an early morning flight, Dave and I headed back up to my homeland to visit my family.  We had such a good time, but man did that week fly by.  We flew with the animals, and although I felt like Oliver should have been so happy to be with us in the cabin he was pretty much freaked out the entire time.

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Charlie was in cargo, I just had to not think about him because I know that old man was nervous the whole time.  All in all I would fly with them again, especially if the trip is over a week and dog friendly.  It ends up being less than a sitter and I LOVE having my little dudes with me whenever I can.

We were very excited to see nonna!

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The gentleman in the background is my zio Antonio, he’s my nonno’s brother.  It’s so nice to visit him and his wife; Dave loves the glimpse into my background and I love seeing someone who reminds me a lot of my nonno.

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You can’t get away from their house without feeling full and a little drunk.  I hope that’s how people feel about my place 🙂  *oh, Daniel*

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Zio makes his own wine, and this year it was out of this world.  I can’t even describe the flavor it had, unreal.

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He was very excited about this bottle, you pretty much grab it by the butt and boobs (censored terminology for the interwebs).

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“Ma, whatayagonnado?”

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Following the delicious wine, zio wanted Dave to experience some Italian beer.  Dave said it was crisp and refreshing, but more than anything it was fun to try beer from Italy.

After visiting with zio and zia we headed to my auntie Lauren’s house for dinner.

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We all got the grey memo 🙂

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My cousin’s daughter is so incredibly adorable!!  I just kept wondering if they made that outfit in my size.

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So many Christmas day memories in this house.  Also, did you catch nonna downing the wine?

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Proud parents with chez Lauren!  Her meal was fantastic!!!!

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I had the most adorable view during my dinner!

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My grandpa’s birthday is Christmas day, so we always have christmas/birthday combo celebration.  The gift he was opening was from a family friend, Rocco.

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It was a coffee mug with pictures of all of my grandparent’s six children (two of which are no longer with us anymore).  Everyone was pretty happy about the memories.  There was one for all of the aunts/uncles and my grandparents, very thoughtful!

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After dessert it was photo time and then we played heads up.  What a fun Christmas!!  Hope yours was filled with family and laughter too!

Be well!

 

 

Savory eggy oats

Hello everybody!

****cut to pretty much the best movie ever****

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday.  Ours was pretty eventful, but I’ll get to recaps in upcoming posts.  Today I wanted to tell you about a breakfast that Dave and I eat quite a bit, it’s called “eggy oats.”  We tend to use the recipe from ‘running with spoons,’ this girl knows her oats.  The best part about this recipe is that it’s a base and you can do so much with it depending on your preference.  I’ve had it sweet with banana or berries along side some sort of nut butter, but I have to admit that my favorite way to have it is savory.

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I just realized that you can’t see the eggy oats at all in this photo.  Believe me, they’re there, under all those delicious toppings.  We like to make our eggy oats savory by topping it with a quarter of an avocado, some cheese, an over easy egg, and a little bit of salsa (season to your taste with pepper-this photo doesn’t reveal it, but I’m a pepper fiend).

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Once you break into it, the yolk makes everything that much more creamy and delicious.  Plus there is so much protein in this dish, when I have it for breakfast I’m always full until early afternoon.

Let me know if you make it, and if you have any suggestions or feedback.

Be well,

Nicole

Alzheimer’s

This post has definitely been a hard one to write.  It’s a combination of loss for words and avoiding sadness.

I’ll start with my first experience with Alzheimer’s.  I don’t recall the exact age, but I was very young, and received the news that my nonno (Italian for grandfather) was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

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Here are the things I remember about my nonno: he had a sense of humor, he loved to sing, he loved to hunt (I’ll forgive him for that one because he loved dogs), and he cared very dearly about providing for his family.  He taught me the Italian songs that I still know how to sing.  I was young when he passed away, 18; but I still have good memories of times spent together, laughing, singing, and of course (we’re Italian) eating.

My nonna is a strong woman, she also has a sense of humor which can erupt an entire room into laughter (I will never forget the time nonna, staring directly at a young man who was about to pass out from being so drunk, made a gregarious hand gesture and yells, “You have a bit too much of da juice?”).

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I remember it being hard times for her when my nonno wasn’t doing so well.  She was stressed, sad, confused, and so many emotions which it feels unfair for such a spirit to have to endure.  I know that the love my nonna and nonno had for one another helped them through such a difficult time.  I’m not a religious person, but I believe they will see each other again one day, without the burdens of life’s difficulties.  Until then, I’m happy I still have my nonna here with me.

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Now for the part that seems so unfair to be true.  Would you imagine that this disease would affect this family once again?  Well, it has.  Almost one year from today my dad received the diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s.

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I’m going to start by telling you the positive things: he is active, strives to eat healthy, has a positive outlook, he doesn’t smoke, he drinks one glass of red wine each night, and it’s early.  Now that list is suppose to make us all feel better.  I guess the most important thing to me is that my dad is happy and enjoying life.

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If you know me or you’ve read my posts, I’m a realist.  I’m also a speech language pathologist, I’ve worked with people who’ve had dementia, traumatic brain injury, dysphagia, etc. and I know all too well the various roads that could be ahead.  My dad is right though, we can’t worry about what’s ahead, we can only try and handle what’s right there in front of you.

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I’m telling you my story because you can help.  They’ve made so many advances in the area of Alzheimer’s; however, they still have not determined a cure and the medicine they are using to slow the progress is the same medicine they were using when I was in grad school 5 years ago.

Family

Please join me and my team to help find a cure for Alzheimer’s.  A few of my family members and I are doing a walk in Southern California on November 14th, 2015.  I invite you to join us on the walk and/or donate to help make a difference in the lives of so many.

Click here to donate or join our team, thanks!!

Be well.

The Love of My Life

One year ago today I had the privilege of marrying the love of my life.  When I look in his eyes, I can be transported to that day and I’m filled with so much joy!

View More: http://rickplusanna.pass.us/nicolelovesdavid

Just to name a few of his strengths: he always listens, he cares about my feelings, he is interested in my interests, he loves Charlie as if he were his own, his love of animals/music is on par with mine, he’s introspective, and the list could go on.

View More: http://rickplusanna.pass.us/nicolelovesdavid

Our relationship hasn’t always been easy, but as I’ve mentioned in my post about conflicts, we’ve worked through so many things, and our communication is stronger because of it.  All that is to say I feel like we put in the work (both individually and together) and we are reaping the benefits now.  We’ll always have things to work through in life, but it’s so great to know I have someone who’s always on my side to do it with.

View More: http://rickplusanna.pass.us/nicolelovesdavid

View More: http://rickplusanna.pass.us/nicolelovesdavid

View More: http://rickplusanna.pass.us/nicolelovesdavid

Happy anniversary to the love of my life.  He helps me be a better me.  I love him so.

Be well.

Photos by Rick+Anna

Sunday Style VIII (kind of) + Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hey all!

I was going to come at you with a Sunday Style post, but we didn’t realize until way too late that there was a big grease spot right where we were taking photos and they just turned out…meh….

I will share with you these two photos from the shoot, of my current obsession!

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These shoes are extremely comfy, cool (it’s been 100 degrees this past week), and very cute!  I got them on Urban Outfitter’s sale, and they are unfortunately all sold out now, but they have a lot of similar styles.

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Shoes: Ecote Huaraches (similar here, I would totally buy these ones too!)


Now it’s time for food porn!

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When you crave peanut butter and chocolate I believe you should just give in and go for the gusto!  These cookies are so delicious, they are super moist and everything about them melts in your mouth.

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I often find that the typical peanut butter chocolate chip cookie is just not peanut buttery enough for my taste.  Because these cookies don’t have flour in them it allows the peanut butter to shine through a bit more.

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Flourless Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

  • Servings: 2 dozen
  • Time: 50-60 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix peanut butter, sugar, egg, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl.
  3. Fold in the cup of dark chocolate chips.
  4. Form tbsp size cookies on cookie sheet two inches apart.
  5. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.

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Mangia!

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