Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas & Almond Espresso Chip Cookies (GF!)

Merry Christmas! In this year of exciting firsts, this was yet another. 2015 was the first Christmas that I was not at home to spend it with my family in Allentown. In fact, Christmas went so not according to plan this year, I'm not even sure what to make of it. Through the type of disluck that comes from two people in the first year of very demanding jobs, my husband had the week before Christmas off of work, and I had to give one of the last finals at CMU. Thus, I was working through Christmas eve, while my husband has to return to work at 5am on 12/27. It was not the end of the world though-- we decided that I would fly to Connecticut-- meeting up with my brother & sister in law on a connecting flight-- on Christmas morning to have Christmas dinner with his family and then help Aidan with the drive back to Pittsburgh the following day so that he would be rested for work the next day.

Lobby of my building decorated for Christmas!

This plan began smoothly. Grades were good for my organic chemistry class and I managed to finagle some really steep discounts from vendors on the last few big pieces of equipment my lab still needed. Aidan got to Connecticut safely and Christmas eve was lovely-- it started with a really great warm & sunny ride. I'm discovering the riding is absolutely incredible around Pittsburgh-- so much climbing! I think my only complaint is that most of the climbs are only 5 minutes, so the terrain will help train my 5 minute power, which is already comparatively my best. After running a few errands (last minute gifts for my nieces!) and attending an early Christmas eve mass, I went over to a friends house for Christmas eve dinner. This was awesome because he has kids who were excited for the big day and watching a Santa tracker, among other reasons. I also barely had time to think about missing my family's traditional Christmas eve feast of the seven fishes!

Christmas morning was when things started to unravel. The day opened with coffee and a bunny sleeping outside my bedroom door, so that was a plus. However, I quickly brought it down with a lack-luster trainer session. Between the abbreviated warm-up and my head already worrying about making my flights on time, I lacked focus and was all over the place like I have't been in some time. Each training session is an opportunity, and that was definitely an opportunity missed. Sigh. I guess I'm allowed to mess up sometimes and it's been a good 6 months since the last time I disappointed myself so I guess I'm doing ok. As long as I do better next time...

The trainer wasn't so abysmal so was still in a great mood as I arrived at the airport. However, when I went to check in, I discovered that my flight was cancelled, and I wasn't scheduled to get into Hartford until 5pm. I actually could have rolled with this pretty well, but I was appalled that I hadn't gotten any notice from Delta before arriving at the airport! I was apparently supposed to spend the whole day sitting in the airport, and potentially take the risk of getting stuck in whatever city my flight was connecting through. I panicked that I was going to ruin my in-law's Christmas! After spending a good couple hours negotiating with the airline representatives about earlier flights and hemming and hawing with my husband and family about what the right thing to do was, I decided to ask for a refund and went home. I was very disappointed and lonely, but fortunately my husband was able to keep my spirits just high enough to avoid a meltdown in the cab.

After a lengthy nap, I spent the day watching Christmas movies, snuggling my bunny, and Facetiming/ Skyping with my family and Aidan alternately. In the end, I know that I am lucky to have a nice house and lovely bunny to come home to, and so many loved ones concerned enough about my unlucky travel day to spend the time talking with me. Plus, I have this job that I like and a fast bike and good roads to ride so what more could I ask for? :)

Biscuit demonstrates proper lounging technique. He got a bed for Christmas this year, and I've shamelessly taken dozens of pictures of him snoozing in it!

Anyways. Recipe time! I developed these gluten free cookies for my best friend because well, everyone has to give cookies to friends at Christmas! Inspired by espresso chips that I found recently, I decided to keep these cookies on the healthy side with oats and almond butter, since I knew that her sisters would be sure to have her covered with unhealthy Christmas treats! I taste-testing, I learned that saw the these espresso chips have plenty of caffeine, (I didn't sleep one night...) so there should be enough to classify these as a performance enhancer. It only takes 5mg/kg according to a recent study! These cookies are perfect out of the oven or the next day... they are crispy on the outside, but stay soft and chewy inside. Just how I like them!

Almond Espresso Chip Cookies

1c quick cook rolled oats, ground to oat flour
1T baking powder
1c brown sugar
dash cinnamon 
1/2c unsweetened almond milk
1/2c almond butter
1c espresso chips

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Food process oats to make oat flour.
3. Add dry ingredients to mixing bowl and stir to combine.
4. Cut in almond butter.
5. Stir in almond milk, then add espresso chips.
6. Bake 13 minutes, or until the edges just start to brown.

That's all for now. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

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