Week 11 in Review

24 Oct

Yep, you read that right- WEEK 11!!- which means that we’re starting our last week here in Stuttgart!  Well, not that there’s very much to report, but since it’s been a few weeks since I’ve done a Week in Review, I figured what the hey! I’m thinking, ‘Foodie Post.’ 🙂

So after last weekend’s ‘eating and drinking and celebrating our way through Amsterdam,’ we were excited to get back on track this week- healthy cooking at home, nesting in the evenings with heavenly-smelling fall candles and hot cider…Some of this week’s ‘healthy takes on our European favorites…’

Homemade Caprese Salad with buffalo mozzarella and fresh-snipped basil (yes, we have a plant even over here!)

Healthy Flamekuchens...Whole grain tortilla 'crusts,' fat free creme fraiche, turkey bacon and lean ham...They were amazingly delicious!

Yep, we even made healthy versions of John's famous white sausages! And paired them with a dinner salad 🙂

Mexican Fajitas Night 🙂

And a true Fall meal for the coldest night so far (it was 31F at dinnertime!)...Smothered chicken, acorn squash and broccoli...

Oh, and one night, we even splurged and went up to our favorite little lowfat frozen yogurt joint in the mall (thanks, Sam, for reminding me in Tel Aviv just how much I love this stuff!) for a healthy dessert.

John finished first, so he was in charge of keeping our little vultures in check! 🙂 Still so great being able to take the pups with us in the mall!

Well, the weather has definitely been a snooze this week- VERY cold and mostly rainy.  In fact, there have been rumors of snow, but so far…nothing.  I almost think it’d be better if it did snow.  Just think: 28F, steady rain drizzle and gusty winds.  Jeez, just snow already!  Moving on…

Not surprisingly, the highlights of the week have come since the weekend rolled around (I think this is a trend…).  Friday night, the guys at work (and their families) threw John a little Going Away party.  Nothing fancy- just the three Bs (burgers, brats and beers) at one of their houses- but it was great fun nonetheless and SUCH a nice gesture.  Best part?  I could tell how much it meant to John.  He really lucked up working with such a good group of guys here and I know he’s really going to miss them, at least until his first trip back just after the holidays.  Per John’s request, we took dessert (what can I say, apparently we’ve had a sweet tooth lately.  Don’t judge.  I think it has something to do with the body searching comfort 🙂 )- Chess Bars, a Kentucky original.  And for those of you who haven’t ever had Chess Bars, stop reading this right now, go immediately to the store to get the ingredients, then come home and bake yourself a 9×13″ pan of Heaven.  Heck, I’ll even give you the recipe!  I promise you three things: 1. It’s one of the easiest desserts you’ll ever make.  2. It’s one of the most calorie-laden desserts you’ll ever eat, but it’s worth every single one of those calories.  And 3. It can’t be made healthier with substitutions.  In fact, not that you need proof as to what big nerds we are, but we decided to spend our Saturday night in the kitchen, determined to come up with a healthy version.  We baked several pans of bars- changing out butter subs, cake subs, cream cheese subs, egg subs- in all different combinations.  Bottom line: Ain’t Gonna Happen.  So just revert back to #s 1 and 2.  Bon Apetit!

Chess Bar

Erin’s Chess Bars

Bottom Layer Ingredients

1 Yellow Cake Mix (butter recipe is best), 1 Egg and 1 Stick Unsalted Butter (not margarine)

Top Layer Ingredients

8 oz. Cream Cheese (full fat), 2 Eggs, 1 Tbsp. Vanilla Extract and 3C Powdered Sugar

How to

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease your 9×13″ pan (bottom and sides).

Combine all Bottom Layer ingredients (I find that doing this by hand is easiest).  Mash into bottom of pan.

Combine all Top Layer ingredients (I find that a food processor works best, but a mixer will do fine, too). Pour over Bottom Layer.

Bake 35-45 minutes, or until top is just starting to get golden brown (Don’t overbake!).  The middle should still be jiggly when you take it out.  Cool completely before cutting (these bars actually taste best the next day, once all the flavors have melded 🙂 ).

Oh, and the great thing about Chess Bars is that you can change up the recipe for whatever you’re craving…Some of our favs over the years…Switching up the cake mix flavor on the bottom: chocolate (gives a very ‘Cheesecake Brownie’ feel), Spice Cake, Red Velvet…You can add chopped nuts to the bottom or the top layer.  My pick for this very second?  Adding pumpkin puree to the top layer and cinnamon/nutmeg to the bottom layer- trust me, it’s a Fall Wonderland in your mouth…

Oh OK, I’ll go ahead and say it…You’re welcome. 🙂

The other highlight of the week was today’s big adventure…One that we’ve been putting off/saving for as long as we could.  A trip to the local Baths!  Now I realize that many of you may not be familiar with European bath houses, but they’re a really big deal here (especially in Germany) and taken very seriously.  The people go to them regularly to relax and unwind…In saunas, steam rooms, whirlpools, relaxation rooms, ice cold tubs…Oh, and did I mention that these Baths are nude?  Yep, and not just ‘clothing optional.’  I’m talking ‘clothing forbidden.’  What a unique, awesome (albeit comfort-stretching!) experience for us!

Inside the main solarium of the SchwabenQuellen Baths...

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s full rundown of German Baths…including our swell Sunday afternoon spent in one!

Tschuss!

 

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