Chocolate · Cookies · Dessert · Healthy · Winter · Winter Treats

My childhood memories become my adult addiction

Only 4 days left to the Olympics and I am starting to get concerned about how I will spend my time moving forward. For two weeks every two years I completely shut my life down and do nothing but watch athlete after athlete do the impossible. There is a great commercial that references every time the Olympics happen you, the normal folk like you and I, get inspired by these athletes to go out there and do the impossible. I am the number one culprit of this. For two weeks every two years I go to work, rush immediately home and wait until the Olympics are on and then I watch them until well past my bedtime.

This year I am at least doing something with that inspiration and have started pushing myself workout wise AND focusing on my eating. Anya on the daily burn always says “its not just about working out, diet is also important.” Well she says something like that and I have finally said ok, fine, you are right, maybe the pound of gummy bears I eat almost every day, although made with fruit juice so technically a fruit, may not be helping in my progress to lose weight.

I don’t believe in Diets and I don’t believe in denying yourself. I have an addictive personality. No I am not an addict, but I am someone that struggles to say no in a lot of ways whether it be more one more cocktail, one more piece of pizza, one more beige colored cardigan sweater because this one has pockets and the three I already own don’t! Its taken me until just this year to realize that I truly struggle to do things in moderation and also tell myself no, in many ways in my life.

In November I tempted the Whole30 Diet. I made it about 23 days ( probably more like 20 because I think I cheated a couple of times). The problem with this is I was telling myself a COMPLETE NO to things. This doesn’t work for me, it might for others, but not for me. I did it but I did not do it well or enjoy myself. Instead, I am focusing on moderation and not denying myself what I want.

I have set a few rules for myself:

  • Desserts or sweets only on the weekend
  • If i am going to go out to eat or drinking, I need to make sure I workout in the morning
  • Workout, especially when you don’t want to. If you are at home and just watching TV, you have to do a light weight and ab workout.
  • No more drinking at home, only when out (if I have to pay for it, I am less likely to consume as much #poorlife)
  • Cook for the week every weekend
  • BAKE! and then Bake again!

Maybe calling these rules is a bit harsh, I think perhaps they are life mantras, or mantras at least for the moment. Focusing on these mantras or rules should hopefully open my eyes to not how little of something I am doing, but how much of it I was doing prior to now. For me, this is where change can actually happen and become a life change rather than a quick fix.

This weekend I got real crazy and started a new puzzle and spent about 6 hours on Sunday working on it.
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When I was a kid I spent summer nights with my mom and sister working on puzzles. We would go to the local multi-purpose store, this was before Target and Walmart existed and buy a new puzzle every few weeks or so. I think we bought every Charles Wysocki puzzle that was every manufacturer in the 90’s and only Charles Wysocki puzzles. Why? Honestly, I have no idea but they are the only puzzles I like to do. There is also a solid chances these were the only puzzles the store sold and thats why we always bought them. Either way, I fell in love with them.

I have fond memories of sitting on our screened in porch at night, with tons of candles and a table lamp, basically in the dark working on our puzzles and listening to the crickets chirping in the summer night. I can’t pinpoint when this all basically stopped. Likely when I started playing soccer in my teen years, which quickly became my life obsession.

A few months ago the store we used to buy our puzzles from, a local family owned business finally closed its doors. It was really sad. It was just a store, but its one of those things in my childhood that holds a lot of memories. My mom and I were reminiscing and I brought up all the puzzles we used to get from there. Two days later, I got a package when I cam home from work. Now, every time I come home and there is a package in the doorway of my building I always look at it. You know, just to double check if its for me, not that I bought anything and not that I am expecting anything, but you never know when someone might just randomly send you something right? Never happen to you either? Well it finally did for me! It was literally so thrilling to actually see a random, spontaneous package waiting for me. I may have squealed a little. Turns out, while we had been chatting my Mom was on Amazon and mailed me a Charles Wyscoki puzzle.

This was about 4 months ago. I blame my father for what happened next. My Dad insisted on buying me Amazon Prime at Christmas. Dad loves Prime he also LOVES Alexa. He asks her to tell him jokes and the weather. He now has her in the living room and the kitchen where she plays music for him while he eats. He wanted me to have an Alexa even though I asked him what would I do with an Alexa? I have a two room apartment so small that it feels cramped when there is more than just myself in it. He just so happened to have an extra Echo to give me and in order to have an Alexa… I had to have Prime.

What comes with Prime?
-Two day free shipping.

What can you order on two day free shipping?
-Every new 1000 piece Charles Wysocki Amazon sells, thats what!
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This might go back to the whole addictive personality thing. Also, if you have an Alexa, ask her if she knows the Muffin Man?

Puzzling… I think that’s an actual word… has been really stimulating for me. It gives me something to do on my days off and something that I can easily start and stop if I need too. Its also great to do while you are impatiently waiting for things to cook! This weekend I came across a recipe I made a few times last year for a friend who is GF. I thought I would whip up a batch of these PB and Nutella Crinkle Cookies because I was craving something a little sweet and they are fast and super easy to make. What makes it for me is the chopped, toasted hazelnuts on top.
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There are a lot of things you can do with hazelnuts, but like Almonds, if you do not toast them prior to eating them or baking with them,they will taste very raw and almost flour like.

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Cookies · Dessert · Valentine's Day

Day 5- Happy Valentine’s Day from my cold Black Heart to Yours

I started Valentine’s Day off the only way I know how… by promptly waking up, laying on my couch and stuffing my face with a Cookie Butter Blondie. Off to a swell start I would say!

I came home last night and to my surprise, there was a card in my mail box! Could it be a card from my POS ex-boyfriend finally telling me he is sorry for being a terrible human being and a check for the $300 he still owes me? Nah… life never works out that way.

The only cards I ever receive are literally all at Christmas. I usually get 3-10 cards each Christmas from friends or family wishing me a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” from their perfect little family to mine. Me? Well, I don’t have a perfect little family. I don’t have a husband that loves me no matter how terrible I am to him and a bunch of filthy kids that look like said husband, but would be cuter if they looked like me… I am just saying what you are all thinking. New plan for next Christmas, I am gonna start sending out cards of me and my cat and see how they like it.

I could tell by the writing on the card it was from my parents. My mother has the most beautiful handwriting, always has. I remember as a kid purposefully asking her to write things for me because it was so elegant. People do not write like she does anymore. Literally, they don’t teach cursive in schools anymore, hell I bet kids don’t even know what a pencil is.

I opened up my card and laughed harder than I have in weeks. Inside was the cutest card with a cat on the front giving me the biggest stank eye and striking a yoga pose.

Oh, if you have not figured it out, I am a crazy cat lady.

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It immediately warmed my heart and I knew the message inside because 5 years ago my parents sent me this very same card for the very same reason; something to brighten up my day when I was feeling down!

“I Meditate, I do Yoga, I Chant… and I Still Want to Smack Someone!”

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This card has lived on my fridge for the last five years and whenever I have had a bad day, I repeat the message inside over and over to myself to find some kind of zen. I think I might need to actually frame these now…

This, is the closest thing I am getting to a Valentine this year. I can always count on my Dad and I suppose knowing that he is my rock is all I really need. I am not going to do the whole GIRL POWER thing where all the girls I know get together and pretend like they are not sad depressed ladies and try to convince the world that things are SUPER COOL and that they LOVE being single.

Lies.

All Lies.

You know it, I know it, lets embrace it and accept it.

Yeah, I am single with no lovers insight. I have been single for a while now and I do wish I had someone to share my life with. What I am okay with is not having someone to share today with, because I think everyday should be Valentine’s day. Society and greeting cards should not have to tell you when to confess your love for someone… you should be able to do that on your own, on a random Wednesday, in July!

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So in honor of my new optimistic outlook on this stupid silly holiday I whipped up some Sugar Cookie Conversation Heart Cookies and went out of my way to buy each of my co-workers a little something something to brighten up their day.

Also, although I will not see him, I had to make my dad some granola since he is my valentine!

I started making my own Granola over 10 years ago once I realized how easy it was and how much better it tasted than store-bought. Traditionally I like to keep my granola plain, no nuts, no dried fruits. Today though, I am going to live dangerously and do something different.

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The shredded coconut and pepita seeds are small enough that they provide a little bit of texture to the granola and a whole heck of a lot of flavor. I added some of it to my morning yogurt and it paired really well with the grapefruit and mangos in my yogurt.

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Coconut Pepita Seed Granola


Ingredients


3 TB Brown Butter, Melted
3 TB Coconut Oil, Melted
1 Cup Quick Cooking Oats
1 1/2 Cups Rolled Oats
1 TB Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 Cup Wheat Germ
1/2 Cup Ground Flax Seed
1/2 Cup Pepita Seeds
1/4 Cup Shredded Coconut
1/4 Cup Buckwheat Honey (or orange blossom)
1/4 Cup Real Maple Syrup

Directions

  1. In a small sauce pan melt and brown the butter. Once melted, add the coconut oil until melted.
  2. In a large mixing bowl mix together the oats, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, salt, wheat germ, flax-seed, pepitas and coconut.
  3. Add the maple syrup, honey, brown butter and coconut oil to the dry ingredients and mix until all the dry ingredients absorb the liquids.
  4. Pour granola onto a parchment lined sheet pan and spread it out evenly using an off-set spatula.
  5. Bake the granola at 325 for 20 minutes. Rotate the sheet pan and using a spatula, mix the granola around so the bottom does not burn. Bake for an additional 20 minutes.
  6. Note: If you let the granola cool completely before touching it, it will break up nicely into little chunks.

Whatever you are doing today and whether you are alone or lucky to be in love, I hope everyone has a Happy Valentine’s Day!

xoxo

– K

Bars and Brownies · Chocolate · Dessert · Valentine's Day

Day 4-of Swoon worthy V-day desserts has me updating a classic

As a kid I never liked blondies. I always thought of them as the brownies sad, ugly cousin. It wasn’t until I worked in a kitchen and was forced to make blondies that I learned to appreciate them and eventually, fall in love them. There is something so mind-blowing simple and delicious about the combination of melted butter, brown sugar and chocolate chips.

Blondies are also a great vessel for a variety of ingredients like chocolate, nuts and dried fruits. Me? I like the classic combination of semi-sweet chocolate chips and walnuts but you can do whatever you like.

Around Christmas my mom gave me a jar of Cookie Butter she bought from Nuts.com. Mom tends to see things, think they look interesting and then randomly buy them for me. As you can imagine, I usually make out quite nicely when this happens.

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After a moment of fat kid weakness where I pretty much ate half the jar of Cookie Butter, with a spoon, straight from the jar I started thinking of ways I could use it in baked goods. I have seen lots of recipes over the past couple of years that call for the use of Cookie Butter but recently came across one that incorporated it into a blondie.

YAAAASSSSSSS Blondies meet Cookie Butter. Cookie Butter meet Blondie 🙂

The Cookie Butter definitely adds extra moisture and sweetness to the batter so I adjusted my recipe by adding more flour and decreasing the brown sugar in the recipe. The result is a soft, gooey texture that is moist and packed with flavor.

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Enjoy!
-K

Cookie Butter Blondies

  • Servings: 9
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients


1/2 Cup Cookie Butter
1 Stick Unsalted Butter, Melted
1 1/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1 Egg plus 1 yolk
2 tsp Vanilla
2 1/2 Cups AP Flour
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Cup Chocolate Chips
1/4 Cup Chopped Walnuts

Directions


1. Grease a 9×9 inch baking pan and cover the bottom with parchment. Its goo
2. In a mixing bowl combine the cookie butter, melted butter, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Beat on low until smooth.
3. Once mixture is smooth, continue to beat on medium until everything becomings fully incorporate, mixture becomes thick and fluffy (it should appear lighter in color as you aerate it).
4. Add the remaining flour, baking power and salt and mix on low just until all the flour gets incorporated.
5. Remove the mixing bowl and with a spatula, fold in the chopped walnuts and chocolate chips, scraping the sides and the bottom of the bowl as you go.
6. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in a 350 oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the center is set.
7. Let cool before cutting!

Bars and Brownies · Dessert · Valentine's Day

5 Days of easy, swoon inducing treats for the baking challenged that are perfect for your Valentine- Day 1

A couple of weeks ago I made Brown Butter Rice Krispy Treats and promptly ate the entire pan within 2 days because they were SOOOOOOOO good.

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Now the problem with making Rice Krispy Treats is not how good they are and not how quickly you will eat them, it’s that there is always leftover Rice Krispy Cereal and I have no idea what to do with it. Honestly, I did what any intelligent person would do, I made more Rice Krispy Treats!!!

This time around I started thinking about ways I could jazz them up and add a little something special to them. A lot of ideas flowed through my head… are you getting the idea that you are going to see a lot of funky Rice Krispy Treat ideas from me in the future? You are not wrong…

I started to get inspired by the colors and desserts most popular around Valentine’s Day and immediately it hit me- Cocoa Nib Raspberry Rice Krispy Treats!

I had a half a bag of freeze-dried raspberries leftover from a baking experiment gone wrong and had just purchased a new bag of Cocoa Nibs.

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I used the standard Rice Krispy Treats Recipe Found on the box of the cereal and simply added 1/2 Cup Freeze Dried Raspberries and 1/4 Cup Cocoa Nibs to the sticky batter and mixed them in when I added the rice cereal to the hot marshmallow.

For a thicker treat, I buttered a 13×5 baking dish with butter and lined the bottom with wax paper before pouring in the batter. Using a buttered off-set spatula I gently pressed the treats down into the dish to create a nice smooth top.

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Holy Moses these are incredible! The classic Rice Krispy Treat is still my favorite but the addition of the crunchy chocolatey cocoa nibs and tart raspberries really help balance out the sweetness of these treats.

Happy Baking!
-K

Bars and Brownies · Dessert

Browned Butter Rice Krispy Treats

Browned butter provides a uniquely rich, deep and nutty flavor to baked goods. Although I am not one to mess with a classic, don’t fix what is not broken as they say, browned butter makes everything better.

Browned butter is easy to make, but time consuming. The key is to cook it slowly, if you rush it, it will easily burn. You simply add butter to a saucepan and melt the better slowly on low. As the fat solids in the milk form and sink to the bottom of the pan, they begin to toast and brown. The butter will start to turn brown and give off a rich nutty scent. The longer you cook the butter, the richer and browner it will get.

Rice Krispy Treats are a perfect quick, easy treat to make to use up leftover marshmallows. With it’s slight nutty flavor, I thought browned butter would be a great addition to a classic recipe and I wow was I right. I also added a healthy pinch of cinnamon to give it a little earthliness and balance out the sweetness from the marshmallows. I recommend cutting them and wrapping each square individually in wax paper. The wax paper helps prevent exposure to the air and also they won’t stick together.

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Enjoy!
-K


Browned Butter Rice Krispy Treats



6 Cups Rice Krispy Treats
5 TB Melted Browned Butter
10 oz Marshmallows
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Cinnamon
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Directions

Using 1 Tablespoon of softened butter, coat the sides and bottom of a 8 x 8 inch square cake pan. Cover the bottom with a piece of wax paper and coat with more butter. In a large saucepan add the remaining 4 Tablespoons of butter and cook until golden brown. Add the marshmallows to the pan and stir continuously until melted. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cinnamon and vanilla. Add the dry rice krispy treats to the melted marshmallow and mix until completely coated with hot marshmallow. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and with a greased off-set spatula, highly press the mixture into the pan. Continue to pat the mixture down until its evenly dispersed in the pan. Let cool 1 hour before cutting.