Tag: treats

2014 Cookie Swap

Last year was my first time doing a cookie swap put on by Veronica’s Cornucopia and I had such a good time I decided to do it again this year.  I focused on 3 variations on a shortbread because I thought they would ship well and then threw in some chocolate covered marshmallows for some fun and color.

cookies2Here are the recipes- all of them came from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays

Book by Ree Drummond
cookies3Christmas Cherry Cookies-
  • 2 sticks Butter, Softened
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 2 whole Egg Yolks, Stirred
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Zest Of 1 Lemon
  • Zest Of 1 Orange
  • Juice Of 1 Lemon
  • 2 cups All-purpose Flour, Sifted Twice
  • Candied Green And Red Cherries (sold Around The Holidays)

Preparation Instructions

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.

Add egg yolks, vanilla, orange peel, lemon peel, and lemon juice, and mix until combined. Use rubber spatula to scrape bowl, then mix again.

Add sifted flour and mix until combined. Place dough in a ziploc bag and refrigerate for at least one hour, or until firm.

When ready to make the cookies, preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cut candied cherries in half.

Roll dough into small balls and set on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a baking mat. Gently press the cherry halves, cut side down, into each ball.

Bake for 20 minutes, removing from oven before they start to brown. Cool on a wire rack.

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peppermint cookiesChocolate Candy Cane Cookies-

  • 2 sticks Salted Butter, Slightly Softened
  • 1 cup Powdered (Confectioners) Sugar
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla
  • 2-1/2 cups Flour
  • 1/2 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 4 ounces, weight (4 Squares) Almond Bark Or White Baking Chocolate (almond Bark Works Best And Is Cheaper)
  • Large Handful Of Red Or Green Peppermints

Preparation Instructions

Cream softened butter with powdered sugar. Add egg and vanilla and mix to combine. Add dry ingredients and mix together until dough comes together. Place plastic wrap on surface of dough and refrigerate for 2 hours.

In the meantime, unwrap candies and place them in a plastic bag. Beat with a mallet until finely crushed, leaving larger chunks if desired.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll cookie dough in walnut-sized pieces and place on a cookie sheet. Gently press balls flat with a plain, smooth surface. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes, being careful not to burn. Cookies will remain the same general size and shape after they bake. Remove from oven and place cookies on a cooling rack. Allow them to cool completely.

Place crushed candies in bowl. Melt almond bark in the microwave. Dip cooled cookies into almond bark, coating half the cookie. Immediately sprinkle crushed peppermints over both sides of the almond bark. Gently set on parchment paper or other nonstick surface and allow to cool before serving.

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marshmellows2 marshmellowsChocolate Covered Marshmallows-

  • Regular Marshmallows
  • 1 package Almond Bark (white Or Chocolate) Or Meltable Candy Wafers
  • Sprinkles, Chopped Nuts, Chopped Pretzels, Chopped Candy, Etc.
  • Equipment: Lolipop Sticks (sold In Craft Stores)

Preparation Instructions

Melt the chocolate or white (or both) almond bark in a double boiler.

One by one, dip the very tip of the lollipop stick into the melted chocolate, then stick that end of the stick into the marshmallow until it’s not quite all the way through. Repeat with the rest of the marshmallows, standing them up as you go.

Next, roll the marshmallow in the chocolate to coat it, then tap the stick gently on the side of the double boiler to get rid of the excess. Using your fingers, sprinkle the topping of your choice all over the chocolate. Set them stick side up on a piece of waxed paper OR stick them into that crazy florist stuff that makes flowers stand up.

Have fun with the toppings and make no two marshmallow pops the same!

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spreads

  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup Margarine
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 6 ounces, weight ( To 8 Ounces) Chocolate Chips

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together brown sugar and margarine. Add egg and mix together. Add flour, salt, and vanilla, and mix together well.
Spread dough onto cookie sheet to a thickness of 1/4 to 1/2-inch.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until slightly brown. At this point, pull out of the oven and sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top. Return to oven for 1 minute. Remove and spread melted chips over the top. Cut into squares.

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So I hope you all have fun making some of these cookies!  They are very yummy! Merry Christmas!

Speedy Rolls and #LDSConf

This weekend I had the great experience of listening to my church’s General Conference where the prophet and other leadership speak words of wisdom and counsel to all of us. The interesting thing about this weekend is there wasn’t one stand out talk.

They all were great and impacted me.  It all made me want to be a better person and strengthened my faith.  I am so excited to dive into them for the next 6 months and make them part of my life.

In the last 2 years I became more involved in the Church’s twitter movement known as #twitterstake.  This isn’t officially part of the church but they have embraced social networking and have established #ldsconf as the General Conference hashtag as well as tags for every speaker.

#ldsconf

Older members may be surprised by the embrace of such social media and wonder if it distracts viewers to be on twitter at the same time they are listening to the prophet and apostles?  If I had not participated myself I might wonder the same thing.

In fact, it is the reverse.  For a multisensory learner like myself being able to interact with a community of worldwide saints while watching General Conference only adds to my understanding and faith.

Not only do other viewers pick up on talk aspects that I don’t, but I am also using reading, writing, listening and viewing to process ideas instead of merely viewing.  I can’t understate how much it has helped me to get the most out of General Conference since I started in 2012.

It has also helped me to feel a part of a worldwide movement.  To literally bare my testimony to others all around the world.  I have made friends that are truly cherished, some that I have met and others that I communicate with frequently.

conference-1

One of my twitter friends @Stan_Way  described it well:

Fullscreen capture 462014 52127 PM.bmp

Indeed, who reading my blog or tweet will become a lasting friend?  What a great world we live in.  Never any other time in the history of the world could a single woman have such a voice.  It’s just wonderful.

For some reason this conference everyone was making cinnamon rolls on twitter.  After about the 300th tweet I broke down and made my own.  I’m not the hugest baker in the world, but I have a recipe for ‘Speedy Rolls’ in my cookbook (see post for more on the cookbook)  for many years. For all of you that aren’t bakers it is the easiest recipe.  Fail proof!

It can also be used as cinnamon rolls and works great.

cinnamonrolls

Speedy Rolls/Cinnamon Rolls

Place in mixing bowl and let disolve

2 cups warm water

2 tbsp yeast (2 packages)

1/3 cup sugar

Add and beat for 2 minutes

1 tbsp salt

2 cups flour

Add and beat for 1 minute

2 eggs

1/3 cup melted shortening or butter

Gradually add until dough forms

4 1/2 cups flour

Let stand for 20 minutes.  Then shape and let rise for another 20 minutes.

Put lots of cooking spray on the pan.

Bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes depending on size. Until godlen brown

If making cinnamon rolls using rolling pin to make dough about 1/4 inch thick.  Then spread cinnamon, sugar, butter and brown sugar very liberally.  Roll up into one large log then cut into 1 inch slices.

Let rise and it took me around 25 minutes to cook because they are so big.

Top with glaze made from butter, powdered sugar and a little milk.

 

The cinnamon rolls also gave me an excuse to meet my neighbors.  Win-win!

 

Bake 360

bakery
Bakery in all its delights
bake360
Bake 360

When there is a local establishment that does great work I like to use my blog to give a little shout out and maybe try to promote it in my own little way.  One such place is a bakery in my hometown of Draper, Utah called Bake 360.  I can honestly say it is as good if not better than any bakery I’ve ever been to.  Everything is meticulously made and you feel guilty tearing into it (in more ways than one) because they are so pretty, works of art really.

Just to show you I’m not alone here are some of the yelp reviews:

An exhaustive review is unnecessary – Just go! Right now!
I’ve tried most of the items in that majestic glass case and every single one is phenomenal. Eclairs? Delicious

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After one visit to Bake 360 I would now trade my Elvis collectible dolls, the contents of my secret lockbox (doh!), and what’s left of my dignity for just one more visit to Bake 360…

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Oh, the poor tattered remains of my diet….After our Saturday visit where we ordered a fairly stupid haul of pastries to sample, my wife asked how much the damage was.  When I gave her a figure in the low $20 range, she was gobsmacked.  The love and care that goes into each product is evident and while paying a bit more might have been understandable, I really appreciate the effort to keep things reasonable.

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I’ve only been there three times since I discovered the place a month ago (and one time I didn’t even eat anything –   I just smelled the air and bought stuff for friends.  No, no – real friends.  Not “air quotes” friends).

Things I might have said recently about Bake 360:

I really didn’t mean to get in my car, drive 10.24 miles, and purchase baked goods there.  It just happened.

I haven’t gone there like, 26 out of the last 30 days.  So I don’t have a problem.

Those are not crumbs all over my car.  I don’t know what you’re talking about.

I wouldn’t have to go if there were better bakeries close by.

Sigh.

My name is Kristin.  And I’m a Bake 360-aholic

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Well, that should give you some ideas.  They always have a wide selection of pastries including scones, kouing aman, chocolate croissants and apricot pastries with pastry cream.

pastries to die for!
pastries to die for!

If you aren’t in the mood for pastries they have a whole case of other desserts like eclairs, brownies, cheesecakes and tarts.  All are some of the best I’ve ever had.

The case to die for
The case to die for

Some particular standouts are the creme fraiche cheesecake and raspberry tarts.

tart
raspberry tart. So good!
cheesecake
Best cheesecake I’ve ever had. Sorry Mom
eclairs
Eclairs. The one with the caramel sauce, holy cow!
brownie
Yes, that is one brownie. Dark chocolate dipped in dark chocolate ganache. Hint one glass of milk wasn’t enough

My trainer says if you are going to have a treat make it a ‘hell yeah’ treat.  Meaning don’t waste your calories on some lame cookie.  Get something really good.  Bake 360 totally fits that bill.  They even have pastry classes I’m dieing to take.   Although they say you only take the class to realize you should buy them!

The service is also great at Bake 360.  The staff is all well versed on every item including explanations as to where ingredients were sourced and how it was prepared. They even have french macaroons for the gluten free crowd (although not always in stock).

The only flaw with Bake 360 is there is no seating so you have to take your treat elsewhere; however, there is a coffee shop called Dancing Yetti’s next store that makes all kinds of drinks and has 2 sofas, so in a pinch you can bring your treats there and get a drink.  The lack of seating keeps the prices down and you can get a lot of pastries for under $20.

Check it out!  You won’t regret it.

 

Two Perfect Foods

My trainer says if you are going to cheat make sure it is ‘Oh heck yeah’ cheat.  No lame brownie from a store.  No dime ice cream.  Something that is really good! Being on day 5 of Jenny Craig this becomes even more important as my cheats are few and far between.

Here are 2 recent discoveries and the best thing is they aren’t necessarily that bad of cheats but oh are they good!

1. Cocoa Metro Drinking Chocolate

For years I have been on the hunt for the perfect chocolate milk.  Almost all chocolate milks have corn syrup and corn starch added in- yuck!  It has a gritty, chalky taste to me.  I am perhaps hyper-sensitive to that kind of taste.  Most people probably don’t even notice it, but it is like runny glue to me. It’s why I hate protein drinks or bars.  I have tried so many different kinds and they all set my gag reflex off.  (And  please don’t tell me that I will like your kind…Heard that before!).  I figure people were healthy decades before protein drinks so I can go without!

Anyway, I have tried just about every kind of chocolate milk and hot chocolate concoction out there and so far nothing has been able to beat good old Hershey syrup and milk…until today .

I found the Cocoa Metro Drinking Chocolate- yes, its not only chocolate milk but drinking chocolate.  Look at the ad:

Image

Holy cow was it good! I like one reviewer said ‘this stuff is crack for chocolate fans’. Another said ““It actually tastes like chocolate—not some weird amalgam of chemicals—with a touch of vanilla to balance it out.”.  That is so true.  It is strong but still a milk chocolate flavor. The vanilla does come out but mostly it is just chocolate deliciousness.  It is thick but not so thick it feels goopy. You can tell the milk is really good too.  Some chocolate milks have a background sour milk taste.  Not this.  Its fresh and creamy. Perfect.

Seriously one of the best things I have ever eaten (or drunken. Is that a word? ). I wish I could get the liter jars but it will definitely be in my Harmons shopping cart again. Wish I could buy in bulk! (Luckily I can see the Harmons from my apartment!) Wow!

2. Honeycrisp apples.  Every year I live for these apples.  Some apples claim to be ‘like honeycrisp’ (Envy, galla, you know who you are) but alas nothing can beat my honeycrisp.  They are a perfect food.  Crisp, tart, sweet, delicious. I have literally been dreaming about them for months and anxiously awaiting their return, looking longingly at the apple section but none until today!

Last year I gave them away as gifts to friends and once they tasted one they eagerly awaited my next visit and the presentation of the honeycrisp.  They are expensive.  I spent over $10 on a bag today but worth the price.  Holy cow! I literally yelped in the supermarket when I saw them.

Image

So while I’m eating my frozen meals I will be supplementing them (its part of the program) with fresh veggies and my delicious honeycrisps! What more can a girl ask for?

Oh and I might get a drinking chocolate every now and then (doesn’t that sound sophisticated?)

Seriously hunt these products down.  You won’t regret it!

(And yes, if either Metro Chocolate or the honeycrisp people want to send me samples I will gladly accept and plug their fabulous products 🙂 )

Aren’t the simple joys the best?  Whoever said you can’t be excited about food and really love it while dieting is crazy!

Twin Cakes

As all my facebook friends know I’ve found a new obsession.  Twin Cakes raw gluten-free snack bites.  These delectable ‘cookies’ are low glycemic, low sugar, low carb and despite their small size they pack a ton of flavor.  I like them so much that I emailed the owner (one of the twins Lori) and she agreed to give me a bulk rate.  I now have 16 bags coming this week- that’s 160 balls in various flavors:

the brownie bites are very rich. Under 100 calories, 6 gr sugar, 9 carbs. For strong chocolate lovers only.
mint chocolate coconut bites
spiced hazelnut dough balls

And I ordered the Cinnamon Coconut bites which they do not have a photo for on their site.  I will sell bags to anyone who is interested at cost. This is really just a way for me to get healthy goodies at a discount.  I’m not making anything. Call me for the prices. They are between 8-10.

Spiced hazelnut dough ball –  4 bags for
Brownie bite – 4 bags
Cinnamon coconut bite – 4 bags
Mint Chip coconut bite –  4 bags

There are 10 bites/balls per bag.

If you are lucky enough to live near certain stores that carry their product I am very envious.  I can’t say how delicious I think they are.  I just love them so much!   If someone tried to tell me I couldn’t eat them I think the fangs would come out.

Ingredients for brownie bites (as an example) maple syrup, cocoa powder, coconut oil, coconut butter, coconut flour (all organic).

Ingredients for cinnamon coconut bites- coconut flakes, maple syrup, coconut oil, coconut butter, cinnamon (all organic).

Most ‘healthy sweets’ taste just awful which leaves me craving for the bad stuff.  These bites are full of flavor.  You really don’t need to eat more than one.  Plus they last forever.  If refrigerated could have them for many months. They are also vegan for anyone interested in that.

It actually means something to me to be able to eat something sweet and have it not ruin my diet.  Something sweet that actually tastes GOOD! It really does add to the quality of my life.  The first time I tried one I literally had a few tears. I had just finished the sugar fast and it was like yes! This I can live with.  This is delicious! This is the sweet life!

Now, you cant eat bags and bags.  They are still a sweet but they are all pretty strong.  The temptation to eat more than 1 is usually not there for me.

If you come by my place ask to try one.  I want to get as many of my friends hooked as I can so I can make more bulk orders, possibly lowering costs even more or convincing Whole Foods or someplace around here to stock them.  They make me very happy.

So, if you are interested in any of the above items at the above prices let me know.  Again, I’m not making anything on this.  In fact, I will absorb the minor shipping charge.  No pressure because any that aren’t sold will be saved for me to gladly eat but if you want let me know.

I applaud people like the twins at Twin Cakes and Elana Amsterdam at Elana’s Pantry because they make good tasting products/recipes despite their dietary restrictions.  They aren’t happy with a ‘kinda, sorta, tastes like the real thing’ treat.  No,  they wanted something genuinely delicious.

I admire that type of thinking.  Too often I feel discouraged because something has been removed from my diet.  I don’t think ‘how could I make it work and make it still taste delicious’.  People like this inspire me to do better and be more adventurous.

I’ve got sweets coming…Life is good! :).

Btw- anyone who comes new to book club will get to try them.  This should definitely entice you to come!  (It sure would entice me!)