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.
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!
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.
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.

Baked · Breakfast · Cake · Chocolate · Dessert · Donut · Snacks · Valentine's Day · Winter Treats

I never met a donut I didn’t like, until today!

The Donut.

It’s a staple in American culture, it’s an excuse to eat cake for breakfast and it’s flavor and topping options are endless. One thing for me should be a firm constant when it comes to the donut.Donuts should always be fried. Whether it’s a cake donut or my personal favorite, a yeasted donut, they should always be fried: NOT BAKED!

Donut pans are something I only recently started using. About a year ago I was teaching a donut class and had my first baked donut encounter. If I can remember correctly we were making a Nutella filled yeasted donut, an apple cider donut and for some god awful reason the third donut, a lemon poppyseed with a delightful lemon glaze, as a baked donut. In a pan. A donut pan to be specific.

The donut pans themselves are cute. I have seen three basic sizes for the pans- regular size (the size of a donut from the supermarket or dunkin, not a fancy giant donut) a medium one and a small one. The small donut is a little bigger than a silver dollar.

I have several issues with baking donuts in pans, but the main two I will talk about are as follows:

1. The texture
2. The look

Donuts are typically made from a dough. It’s rolled out and shapes are cut out with a cookie cutter. It’s dense, almost heavy and when fried gets a soft but firm interior texture and a firm, sometimes crunchy, outer texture. They are easy to pick up and handle, especially when dipping in ganache or glaze.

Baked donuts are made from a batter that is thin and handled easiest when piped into the donut molds. The texture is soft, almost crumbly and the exterior is thin and delicate. Baked donuts are literally cake, shaped into the image of a donut.

The Look:
Donut pans CAN produce very round, symmetrical pretty looking donuts. The issue I constantly have when I make these is figuring out the perfect amount of batter to add to each mold.

You can see from both images the different amounts of batter I added to each row of donuts. Lookig at the second picture, the first row is what we are looking for shape wise. I filled the molds about 1/3 of the way full.

The middle row is a little overfilled and the donuts looks bloated. They basically look the way i feel after eating a burrito. These were filled about 1/2 the way full.

The last row are overfilled and the middle hole has been engulfed with batter. These molds were filled almost to the top of the pan.

Personally I think donut pans should be used to make anything except what I would call a donut. Since my first time using them in class, I have dabbled here and there in trying out different recipes. Each recipe I have made has come out fine, if I was aiming to make round shaped disks of cake. They just aren’t donuts and not what I want when I want a donut.

The latest recipe I made comes from King Arthur and was pretty good! I omitted the chocolate chips in the batter and used vegetable oil instead of melted butter. I also made a traditional ganache for the top:


Chocolate ganache
8oz dark bittersweet chocolate
5.5oz heavy cream

Heat the heavy cream and chocolate over a double boiler until the chocolate is melted. Let cool down for 2-3 minutes before using.

Winter Treats

The first snowfall of the New Year, childhood memories and homemade treats

There is something incredibly magical about waking up as the snow is coming down. A light dusting already canvassing the earth, with the promise of more to come. Then reality hits-this crap is quickly going to turn into slush or ice, it’s going to turn brown and dirty and I have to go out in it. Two years ago I finally bought myself a pair of winter weather boots from The North Face. These are my obsession:


Upon further exploration I am realizing that these bad boys are old and out of date, which makes me incredibly sad as I absolutely love them and it makes going out into the snow just a bit more tolerable because I get to wear them. They do however still sell a similar version of my boots with red laces and a little patch of red on the back of the boot which are pretty darn cute.

This Christmas I was reminded of one of the last time I went sledding as a kid. Every time it would snow enough to stick, my Dad would take us sledding at the local golf course of all places, which has a huge hill at the end of the course. I have a couple vivid memories of these trips. The first being of one from when I was about 6. I was wearing a pink onesie ski suit and sledded a bit off the path and headed straight to the tiny brook of water in the middle of the course. I remember screaming bloody murder thinking I was going to crash. Crashing is exactly what I did. My sled slid right into the water, hit a rock, flipped over and I was face first into the cold water.

My second vivid memory is one of the last times I went sledding there. I was probably about 12 or 13 because I went alone with my Dad; my sister was older and probably too cool for sledding at the time. We headed towards the back of the hill, having never ventured there before and thinking not to many people would be back there sledding. We walked through a small forest of trees and came to the edge of the hill, no one was there. Looking down we noticed that people had been skiing there earlier in the day and formed a nice sledding path down the hill.
My Dad went first…. whoosh down the hill and all of a sudden: BAM! The tip of his sled hit something, causing the sled to flip over and he landed face first in the snow. I stood there laughing and thinking it was funny he crashed. About thirty seconds later, my Dad was still lying there in the snow, not moving. I ran down the hill and at the bottom saw that what he hit was a man-made snow mound, right at the bottom of the hill. His sled hit it dead on and that’s what caused him to flip over. He was coming around and I managed to get him to roll over. I remember he cut himself and was bleeding, I think around his ear. He looked disoriented and confused.

My 12-year-old mind immediately freaked out. What was I going to do? For one, I couldn’t carry him. Secondly, I am old people, cell phones did not exist. My third thought immediately was, we are not far from home, but I have no idea how to drive!

As an adult, I look back at these memories fondly. Time with my Dad was always rare as a kid. He worked seven days a week for most of my life. As of a few months ago, he closed his business and essentially, retired. His retirement has been good for him. He looks happier then I have seen him in years. It makes me think, will he have time to make the kinds of memories he made with me, with my nephew? I hope so.

Today I enjoy the small amount of snow falling on the ground. I treated myself to a hot cup of cocoa this morning and topped it off with some homemade Chocolate Marshmallows I made right before Christmas.


I think its important, as I work towards my happiness and positive transformation in the new year that I stop to appreciate the moments of tranquility I do have. This morning obviously made me think of my Dad and being a kid, spending my snow days sledding and not caring about things so much. The weekend is in our sights and hope that everyone else can take a moment to enjoy the snow and all that they have in their day. You can worry about everything else tomorrow.