Recipe: Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake

I took some PTO this past week and decided I wanted to bake. I’m working on eating a healthier diet, which includes eliminating sugar, simple carbs and grains. It’s been going pretty well, but I knew it’d be difficult to stick to this while making a dessert that included salted caramel (I love almost anything with salted caramel!), pumpkin and cheesecake.

I found this recipe on Pinterest and decided to give it a shot.

I followed the recipe except for the following modifications:

  • I flopped the brown sugar and white sugar measurements; honestly, it was because I didn’t realize I was almost out of brown sugar. It didn’t affect the cheesecake at all.
  • I ground my own cinnamon from sticks, so to make sure all the sugar and spices were very fine, I put it all in the Vitamix for a little bit.
  • I cut some of the sugar in the crust … I thought the cheesecakes would be sweet enough with sugar in the crust, cheesecake and caramel.
  • I used less caramel on the tops to cut out some of the sweetness.

It turned out awesome and I did end up trying a bit of one. It’s so good! I think this will become a fall staple recipe.

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Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve been on here to do a blog post! Life has been insane and every time I’ve thought to post something, it doesn’t happen. A lot has happened since my last post: birthday, getting back on track with healthy living, vacation to San Francisco, visit from my best friend from college, etc.

Aside from work, a lot of my time has been spent trying to get back on a healthy track with life. Long story shortened, I went to the doctor and got a reality check (diabetes runs in my family and some numbers were alarmingly high, though not enough to classify me with the diagnosis, thankfully). Hopefully doing a separate post about this in the near future!

One of my favorite things to do when I have time (haha) is to sew. A friend recently had a gorgeous baby girl and I made some handmade gifts for her. I just LOVE how they turned out!

I knew her nursery colors were koral, teal and sunshine yellow. I decided to add orange and grey to the mix.

I embroidered her name on each of the burp clothes and made a coordinating summer dress … although I know she won’t fit it for another year or two. I love making gifts for people when I can, rather than buying them from a store. There’s just something so meaningful and personal about it!

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OK, before you start laughing, I need to preface this post by saying I am not by any means a fashionista or a beauty queen. I could live in sweats, tie my hair up in a messy ponytail, and walk around with no makeup if I wanted too! It’s not because I don’t like beauty and fashion, but I just don’t care about it enough to go all-out with it. That said, however, here are some of my go-to favorites for beauty products.

  • Julep Freedom Polymer Top CoatI’m part of Julep’s Maven program (a Boho Glam girl) so I get to try lots of new products every month. One of my favorites so far, outside of the color selections of nail polish that arrive monthly, has been the Freedom Polymer Top Coat. It sets your polish and creates a nice hard protective barrier between your nails and anything that comes in contact with them. I haven’t purchased this on my own yet, as it came in a previous box, but I think I might once I run out of it. It’s $18 so it was definitely worth getting it my box!
  • Havaiana “Slim” Flip FlopsRewind a few years and I would’ve sung the praises of Old Navy flip flops. Fast-forward to today and there’s nothing wrong with them, but they’re cheap and fall apart rather quickly … somewhat expected for the price you pay. I purchased a pair of Havaiana flip flops two summers ago, and believe it or not, I still wear them and they haven’t failed me yet! It’s worth the $15 I paid for them (they are usually closer to $25, but I found a pair at Marshall’s).
  • Maybelline Eye Studio Master Drama EyelinerI have watery eyes … even when I’m not crying. And my eyes water even worse when I’m in tense situations or when I’m in meetings and talking. It’s super inconvenient, especially with my line of work in the communications industry! I don’t know how many brands and varieties of eyeliners I’ve tried, all in search of one that won’t smear off or completely disappear by lunchtime. I’ve tried cheap brands, expensive brands, “oily eyelid” varieties, gels, liquids … everything. I stumbled across this type from Maybelline and love it! It is soft enough that it’s easily applied, but it stays on well too. It’s about $7 and I try to get it when Fred Meyer has BOGO sales.
  • The North Face Venture JacketAgain, a few years ago I would’ve never considered paying $99 for a rain jacket. But when I got my job and started taking the bus every day, I knew I needed a high-quality jacket that would keep me dry from the inevitable Seattle rain. I love this jacket! I have three right now and will probably get another one soon. Another huge plus is that The North Face has an awesome warranty program and will replace jackets if they wear-out or if something weird happens to them (I once had the seams in mine separate and another lose its waterproofness after too much wear … I sent them in and got new ones back!).

know that I’m not the only person who struggles with unending heaps of responsibilities and time management. Honestly (and humbly), I think I do a good job at balancing my time among the things that I have to get done in any given time frame. Sure, it’s not easy, but it’s something I try really hard to do well. I need to. My job depends on it. My non-existent social life depends on it. It’s just a necessity.

All that to say, I have been struggling a lot the past couple of weeks (er, months). So much going on at the same time and I still can’t get it all done. I know we’ve been given enough hours in a day, enough weeks in a month, enough months in a year, etc. to work with in life, and I appreciate that one day is only 24 hours long. But, sometimes I think that there is not a single way I can tackle everything that needs to get done now.

I know about priority management, about stepping away from your desk, going for a walk, taking a break, getting more (or less) sleep, eating differently, etc. that are all things that are great and supposedly are proven to help one’s productivity. I just feel like sometimes I’m at my maximum capacity.

I’m not just talking about work (although it does play a large role in this), but I’m also talking about friendships, social events, family life, personal time, etc.

Please tell me you also struggle with this and that I’m not the only person who does!

What do you do to reduce stress, juggle responsibilities, manage time, etc.? Maybe you have a trick that I haven’t heard of. Let me know! I’d love to hear about it.

I love easy recipes and, in my opinion, this doesn’t really even “count” as a recipe because it’s so simple. But nevertheless, here is a great one I found using my Epicurious app. The recipe originated from Bon Appetit’s test kitchen. I’ve made this recipe several times in the last year and cannot believe how easy it is. If you like fried chicken, you’ll like this!

chicken

Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs (adapted from this recipe)

6 chicken thighs, bone-in with skin

Sea salt

Black pepper (freshly cracked is best, but pre-ground works too)

2 tablespoons neutral cooking oil (I used canola, but I want to see if coconut will work)
Method: Heat oven to 485 degrees with the rack in the lower-middle position. Rinse chicken and pat dry with a paper towel. Generously season with salt and pepper, on both sides and under the skin (be careful not to detach skin from meat). Heat a Le Creuset Dutch-style oven pan (like one of these) on medium-high heat. Add oil and keep on heat until glossy and hot. Cook chicken skin-side down for 14 minutes. Occasionally move chicken pieces around depending on the heat of your pan and stove, ensuring each piece gets an equal amount of browning. Move pan from stove to oven and continue to cook skin-side down for another 14 minutes. Carefully flip the chicken and finish for five minutes. Remove from the oven and let it rest in the pan for five minutes. Enjoy!

 

I haven’t had a lot of time to bake as much as I like to, so tonight I decided to bake some banana bread for the family. I also wanted to bring something to the office tomorrow, so I poked around online and came across this recipe for Morning Muffins from Martha Stewart. Honestly, Martha isn’t my go-to person for recipes or ideas … nothing against her, but I just don’t have a personal preference for her stuff.

This recipe was super easy and has a lot of healthy-ish elements to it. I made some modifications to the original recipe (my adaptions are included in the recipe below).

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Morning Muffins

Makes: 12 regular-size muffins

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup white sugar (I was out of brown … and didn’t have enough agave)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup chopped dried plums

3 tablespoons canola oil

1 large egg

1/3 cup whole milk

5 carrots, shredded

Method:

Combine all dry ingredients into a bowl. Add plums and oats. Add shredded carrots. Add liquid ingredients and gently stir, just until moistened. Scoop 1/4 cup batter into greased muffin tins. Bake at 400 for 18-20 minutes.

*Note: I meant to include the banana, like Martha does, but totally forgot. Surprisingly, the muffins turned out well and aren’t too dry.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here. Yes, I’m still around, but I’ve been so busy with work, church and life that I haven’t had much new info to share.

A quick snapshot of my life right now:

  • Trying to get back to a good eating and workout routine
  • Planning lots of vacation! So far, I have plans for a trip San Francisco; a friend coming to visit me from Wisconsin; a trip to Massachusetts; trip to Portland; trip to Greenville. Phew!
  • Working. A lot.

In addition to that, I’m in this Eeyore-like phase of life right now, and I’m not sure what to do to kick it. Just spending a lot of time evaluating where I am in life and where I want to be in life; thinking about the friends I have and how I spend time (or don’t) with them; etc. Yep, it’s super exciting. And yes, that was sarcasm.

What have you been up to?

Hopefully this weekend, I’ll have a fun post about some crafty things I’ve been making. (Keyword: hopefully.)

It’s not a secret that I love my little niece (aka, my Princess Poopypants). She is the silliest, craziest little girl and I love every bit of her! One of my favorite things to buy for her when she was really tiny, was onesies from Carter’s. They are adorable and I always bought the ones that somehow referred to niece/aunt/auntie.

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My niece is going to be a big sister in July (yay!) and it’s not just one new baby coming … two identical twin boys are joining the family. To celebrate, of course I’m now on the lookout for anything that screams boy/nephew/aunt/auntie. I came across this cute onesie and had to buy it!

You can find Carter’s products almost any place that baby clothes are sold. I found these at Fred Meyer.

Disclaimer: This is an honest post. I am a relatively private person, so it’s taken quite a while to draft this and have enough courage to actually post it.

So, my best friend from college started a Facebook group about getting healthy, losing weight, etc. and I joined the group. It’s actually been nice to “meet” other people who are her friends from other parts of life and see how we’re all trying to encourage each other in our individual efforts to get healthy (or healthier).

I got in a really nice groove last year of working out, eating well and losing weight. While I didn’t lose as much as I wanted to as fast as I wanted to, at least I wasn’t gaining. That was huge! I didn’t notice a lot of changes in myself, other than being able to run longer than normal, lift higher weights than normal, not have as much of a “muffin top”, etc., but other people were telling me they could see a difference. That, too, was huge! Then somewhere between April and May, I kinda dropped off the map. I got really busy with work, started going to a new church and got really involved there, and fell into the “no time” trap. It sucks … it’s almost been a year and I’m back to where I was pre-workout groove. It’s easy to start playing the pity game, but I’m trying really hard to refuse that option!

Reality is what I’ve been thinking about quite a bit recently. There are so many things to think that will only hinder my ability to get healthy or lose weight. It’s thinking things that aren’t reality. Things like:

  • “If only I was like _____ and could lose weight by just eating well.”
  • “If only I was like _____ and could eat crap (not literally) and not gain weight.”
  • “If only I didn’t have PCOS and could just take a run or lift some weights and lose inches instantly.”
  • “If only I had _____’s metabolism.”
  • “If only I wore size __ and could look good in anything.”
  • “If only I had more money and could do Crossfit or something fun like that.”
  • “If only I kept up with my personal training sessions at the gym.”

See where that leads? It gives me excuses.

I’m not _____ and I can’t lose weight by just eating well; because I’m not ____ and gain weight even when eating well; because I do have PCOS and it screws with weight loss (for real); because I don’ have _____’s metabolism; because I don’t wear a size __ and can’t wear what everyone else does; because I don’t have money for “fun” workouts like Crossfit; because I didn’t keep up with my personal training sessions … THIS IS MY REALITY, whether or not I like it.

The reality is I will likely never be that skinny girl that I envision in my mind. But that will have to be OK … who said healthy had to be skinny?

So what can I do about it? I can keep hoping the statements above are my reality or I can do something about them, because they’re not. I’m setting some goals for myself, realizing that they are somewhat longterm, so I can have a new reality of feeling and looking good about myself.

This is taking so much courage to post the following realities … but here are some goals to combat the harsh realities:

  • Exercise at least 50 minutes five days each week. Reality today: I don’t remember the last time I checked in at the gym (but I did go for a walk/jog this week!). 
  • Get to 150 lbs (even less would be great, but for now this is a big goal number); I haven’t weighed that much since before high school. Reality today: 212 lbs. 
  • Achieve 25-28% overall body fat. Reality today: 38%. 
  • Learn to tolerate (notice I didn’t say “learn to like”) running. Participate in the 2014 Tinker Bell Half-Marathon; it’s next January and it’s at Disneyland … if I have to run, that sounds like a pretty awesome one! Reality today: I can barely run a continuous mile (as in one).
  • Get my PCOS under control (separate post about this coming). Reality today: I’ve been playing the “ignorance is bliss” card … and it’s not really bliss. 

What are some of your goals for yourself? Do you run from your reality? Or try dictate your reality when it’s really not?

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If you follow me on Twitter (@kalynkinomoto) or are a friend of mine on Facebook or real life, you probably know how much I love the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Alaska & Washington! People ask me why I love it so much, and I honestly can’t give an answer other than 1) I love kids, 2) the mission is so simple and 3) they really impact kids’ lives.

The month of June will mark one year that I’ve volunteered for Make-A-Wish and I am SO glad I made this decision. It has changed my life in so many ways. I was honored to be the organization’s volunteer spotlight for the January e-newsletter (here).

Last night was a tremendous evening. I volunteered at the annual Wish Night auction and gala. It’s the “big event” for Make-A-Wish. It’s a time when former and present Wish Families, sponsors, volunteers, celebrities and community members come together for one huge night to raise money to grant wishes. I was the lead volunteer for the registration area and got to meet lots of people whom I’ve only met and interacted with online (before you jump to any conclusions, I mean via Twitter), as well as other volunteers whom I’ve heard about from other wishes and events.

I came *this close* (really, like practically standing next to) several of the Seattle Sounders FC players who came to support the cause. If I had my phone with me, I would’ve taken a picture with them! So cute, so generous and so cute. That is my only regret of the night … not taking a picture with Brad Evans or Roger Levesque. Sigh.

This year’s theme was “Mission Incredible” and incredible it was! My first volunteer event was helping out at Colby’s lair party for his wish, which happened this past summer. His wish was to be a secret agent and it was one of those wishes that was so imaginative and creative. Colby was at Wish Night and throughout the evening, so were his nemeses. Lots of fun the entire night (including, but not limited to circus school kids unicycling on the escalators, sneaky kids spying on the events of the night, interruptions in the main program from Rex Velvet, etc.).

The energy in the room was so awesome! So many people come super excited to give thousands of dollars to change kids’ lives. I stayed in the volunteer hangout room for most of the main event time and watched the live feed of the auction. There were so many generous givers.

At the end of the night, more than $1.25 million was raised! That’s incredible! So many wishes can come true with that money.

I’m thrilled to be part of such an incredible organization. If you have any inklings of volunteering for a great cause, please, contact Make-A-Wish! You will not regret it, I promise.

tHe fiCkLe piCkLe

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