Friday, October 17, 2014

Candy Corn M&M Cookies

I never used to like candy corn.  I have the biggest sweet tooth on the planet, but it's one of the very few candies I could skip by without batting an eye.  So I'm not sure what ever possessed me to buy White Chocolate Candy Corn M&Ms.  Perhaps it was the "white chocolate" part of White Chocolate Candy Corn (in fact, I'm pretty sure it was).  I was rather unsure about them after my first taste.  They were sort of weird...more white chocolate than candy corn, and the candy corn part I could taste wasn't BAD.  I nibbled here and there over several days until...GASP.  They were GONE.  I guess I must have liked them!

That was last year.  This year, I made the mistake of buying three bags at once.  You know, they're seasonal, and I thought I should stock up.  And save them.  But then I pretty much inhaled bag #1 and I knew something needed to be done.  I can't afford to be pounding bag after bag of M&Ms!  I needed to pace myself.  I decided to make cookies.  I thought if these decadent morsels were in a cookie, I could limit myself to just one a day.  A reasonable amount.  Maybe? 

Candy Corn M&M Cookies
Adapted from Averie Cooks

1 cup unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons fat-free milk
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups bread flour (makes cookies chewier)
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Place the butter in a stand mixer or large bowl and beat on low speed until smooth.  Add the sugars and cream until well-combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add egg, milk, and vanilla extract and beat until light and fluffy.  Add flours, baking soda and salt and mix until just combined.  Add M&Ms and stir gently until incorporated.  Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for a minimum of three hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or a non-stick silicone baking mat.  Use a medium cookie scoop and place eight mounds of cookie dough on the baking sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are just set and slightly golden in color.  Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet. The cookies will firm up as they cool.  Repeat until all the dough has been utilized.  Transfer cooled cookies to an airtight container for storage.   

Makes approximately 28 cookies

Saturday, August 2, 2014

No Soliciting Sign

For some reason, we get a lot of solicitors in our neighborhood.  A lot.  It seems like rarely does a day go by when the doorbell isn't ringing and someone is on the porch trying to sell us something, the dog is going berserk, the boy wants to know who it is, chaos abounds, etcetera, etcetera.  Ugh!  I'd just rather not deal with it.  And so I made a sign...

I got the plain wood sign at Hobby Lobby for $1.79 (using a 40% off coupon, of course), and also picked up some DecoArt Americana acrylic paint in Navy Blue.  I painted the sign with a thin layer of paint, and once it was dry, sanded it with 220 sandpaper.  The next step was to wipe it down with a damp paper towel to pick up all the wood and paint dust.  Next, I painted a layer of Plaid FolkArt acrylic paint in Licorice, let it dry, and then sanded and wiped again.  I repeated step one (for a third layer of paint), and once that had been sanded and wiped, I was ready to add my words.

I designed the words in Silhouette Studio.  Once hubby and I agreed on the phrases and the fonts (Copperplate Goth and Pharmacy), I used my Cameo to cut the design on Oracal 631 White (010) vinyl. Weeding (removing unnecessary vinyl from the design) the Pharmacy font was tricky, because some of the letters are pretty narrow.  I took my time and, amazingly, I didn't get too flustered.  I applied the transfer paper, lined it up on the sign, and applied the vinyl to the wood.

I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.  Hubby promises to hang it near the doorbell.  And then hopefully the new sign will work its magic! 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Skinny Egg Salad

We were on vacation earlier this month and I came home five pounds heavier.  I hate how one can gain five pounds in a week and it takes five weeks (or more!) to take it off again.  So I've been (trying to) cut back on calories and count EVERYTHING that goes into my mouth.  Easier said than done!  That also means making sure every bite will keep me feeling full.  Satisfied.  Not hungry!

This Skinny Egg Salad is high in protein, but low in calories, so it really fits the bill.  And it's The Boy's birthday this week, so I'll need all the help I can get when we order in pizza and have cookie cake sitting around. Sigh!

Skinny Egg Salad
Adapted from Dashing Dish
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3 hard-cooked eggs (3 egg whites and 1 yolk, discard the other 2 yolks)
1/2 stalk celery, diced
1 mini dill pickle, chopped
1/4 cup Miracle Whip Light dressing
1/2 tsp. mustard
1 tsp. Penzey's Sunny Paris seasoning
Sprinkle of dried dill
Salt and ground pepper, to taste

Coarsely chop three egg whites and one egg yolk and place them in a medium-sized bowl along with the celery and pickle.  Set aside.  In a small bowl, mix the light dressing, mustard, and seasonings.  Pour the dressing mixture over the eggs and gently stir until completely mixed.  Serve immediately by itself or on a flatbread.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

Calories:  Approximately 185 (entire recipe)
Serves: 2

Monday, May 19, 2014

German Apple Pancake

Sometimes we have breakfast for dinner.  Because it's easy.  And fairly low in calories, considering the protein content.  And since we don't necessarily care for a large meal as we start our day, it's also the only way we ever get to enjoy something like this:  a German apple pancake.  Apparently, these are also known as Dutch Baby Pancakes or Bismarcks or Danish Pancakes or a host of other names, but since I'm ethnically half German, we'll call it a German Apple Pancake.  Whatever it's called, it's nice to pull it out of the oven and be able to eat it as a family while it's actually hot (tell me you know about how you can't do that with regular pancakes...the cook always ends up eating them cold...or - blah - reheated).  This is one of hubby's faves and he never turns it down when I suggest it as a low(er) calorie dinner.

German Apple Pancake
Adapted from Penzeys
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2 large eggs
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. skim milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
¼ tsp. Penzeys Apple Pie spice (cinnamon may be used as a substitute)
2 Tbsp. Land O Lakes Light Butter
1 medium apple, cored, peeled and thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place an empty 8” or 9” glass pie pan in the oven to heat.  Put the eggs, flour, salt, milk, and vanilla extract in a medium bowl and beat on medium speed for 1 minute.  In a small bowl, combine the sugar and apple pie spice and set aside.  Take the hot pie plate out of the oven and add the butter, moving it around to melt and coat the bottom and sides of the pan.  Spread the apple slices in the bottom of the pan and then pour the batter over the top of the apples.  Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the top.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until puffy and golden brown.  Serve immediately drizzled with maple syrup.


2 (two slices each or half a pancake), approximately 298 calories per serving

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Marinated Five-Bean Salad (gluten-free, vegan)

It's finally warming up in our neck of the woods.  Finally (it's ONLY May!).  At last it's time to put away the soup pot, fire up the grill and break out the salads.  My go-to salad is this one.  But, in all honesty, it takes a lot of time to cut up all the veggies.  I needed something in my repertoire that was quick and easy.  And I like a side dish that is either a) low in calories or b) packs a nutritious punch.  And, of course, yummy (that's such a given, I almost neglected to mention it!) This salad is all of the above:  fast, skinny, and filled with protein. And as a bonus for my friends with food allergies and sensitivities, it's both gluten-free AND vegan, so it will be perfect to share at this summer's backyard barbecues.  Hubby declared it a keeper!

Marinated 5-Bean Salad
Adapted from
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½ c. red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp. Splenda
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ tsp. Italian seasoning
½ tsp. minced garlic
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
1 c. frozen corn
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 can (14.5 oz.) wax beans, drained
1 can (14.5 oz.) cut green beans, drained
1 can (16 oz.) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz.) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15.5 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed.

Combine vinegar, Splenda, olive oil, and spices in a small bowl.  Whisk to combine, then set aside.  In a large bowl, combine corn, red bell pepper, and all varieties of beans.  Toss, then pour dressing over the top and gently stir to ensure all the beans are covered.  Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight, stirring occasionally and prior to serving.

Serves: 8 generous servings, approximately 146 calories each

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cadbury White Blondies with Peanut Butter Chips

Of all the holidays, Easter has the best candy.  Reese's Pieces Eggs.  Nerds Bumpy Jelly Beans.  Cadbury Mini Eggs.  Yes, please!  The pinnacle of Easter candy yumminess, though, has got to be the Cadbury WHITE Mini Eggs, which were available exclusively at Target for 2014 (I'm still unclear as to why the plethora of candy exclusivity, but that is a matter for another day).  I found myself buying a bag here and a bag there, stashing them away, only to sneak an egg here, and another egg there (that might explain the five pounds I gained during Easter...and also that candy is not something I give up for Lent).  Needless to say, the White Mini Eggs need to go (and go quickly!) or this egg sneaking thing could last all spring.  And so I made these:

Cadbury White Blondies with Peanut Butter Chips
Adapted from Averie Cooks
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1 stick butter, melted
1 large egg
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup Cadbury White Mini Eggs
½ cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 8x8 baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray and set aside.  Melt the butter in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring glass.  Place the egg, brown sugar, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl, add in the melted butter, and whisk until smooth. Add the flour and stir until combined.  Mix in the Cadbury White Mini Eggs.  Transfer the batter to the baking pan and smooth the top with a spatula.  Sprinkle the peanut butter chips evenly over the top of the batter and press them down lightly to set.  Bake for 23-25 minutes.  Allow bars to cool completely before slicing.

Serves: 16 bars, 213 calories each


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Gooey Butter Cake Cookies

Gooey butter cake cookies.  Kind of a funny name, but actually a very fitting and accurate description.  And they're totally simple to boot!  What could be better?

I first tasted these cookies at a luncheon.  They were some of the most decadent cookies I'd ever eaten.  Expecting something lemony and perhaps crunchy, they were soft and extremely buttery.  I knew the cookies had been purchased at Schnucks, so when I had the chance, I checked out the market's website to find out what they were called:  Gooey Butter Cookies.

Once I had the name of the cookies, I learned that gooey butter CAKE is actually a St. Louis tradition.  It was supposedly made by accident in the 1930s when a local baker making cake batter swapped the proportions of butter and flour.  The bakery served the flat, dense cake anyway and it became popular.  A number of bakeries in St. Louis now make the treat.  When we visited St. Louis last summer, we made sure to find some at Park Avenue Coffee.  It was very good and extremely butter (although flatter than I anticipated), but I decided I actually prefer these cookies instead!

 (Traditional Gooey Butter Cake from Park Avenue Coffee in St. Louis)

Gooey Butter Cake Cookies
Adapted slightly from
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1 - 8 oz. package cream cheese
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 egg
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 18.25 oz. box yellow cake mix
⅓ cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter.  Mix in the egg and vanilla until well blended.  Add the cake mix and mix until combined.  Using a medium-size cookie scoop, roll the dough into balls.  Coat the dough balls in powdered sugar.  Place the dough balls on an ungreased cookie sheet, one inch apart.  Bake for 10-13 minutes.  Remove from baking sheets to cool on wire racks. Store in a covered container.  Makes approximately 28-29 cookies.

Calories:  Approximately 115/cookie

Park Avenue Coffee makes Gooey Butter Cake in 73 different flavors.  This means one could easily swap out the yellow cake mix for pretty much any other flavor of cake mix.  The possibilities are only limited by cake mix varieties!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Nutella Rugelach

My boy E loves his Nutella.  L-o-v-e-s.  So when I saw this recipe on my Pinterest feed, I knew it would be right up his alley.  But the thing is, my boy is also picky.  So I sort of have to run recipe ideas by him first, so I don't spend a bunch of time making something he'll take one look at and decide not to try.  So I showed it to him.  And his interest was piqued.  And I hoped I might have a winner.

When the opportunity arose, I made the pastry dough.  Unlike any pie dough I've ever worked with, this was a dream.  It came together really easy, but wasn't sticky.  And it rolled out into a perfect circle.  I've never had that happen before!  The most difficult part of the recipe was spreading the Nutella onto the narrow point of each triangular-shaped piece (there are great step-by-step directions here).

Bubba wanted to have a taste as soon as the pastries came out of the oven, but he did take my sage advice to wait until they cooled a bit.  He ate one and asked for another (Mom score!).  Then I decided I ought to have a taste.  The rugelach was still pretty warm (no, I don't always follow my own you?) but it was also really crispy, like an actual pastry!  And that's when I decided to snap a few photos (because this recipe is definitely a keeper) to send to my hubby.  He's a Nutella fan, too.  Later that evening hubby tried one and after that complained how much willpower it was taking not to eat another.  He gave in, though.  And so did I.  Again.  They're really that good.

Nutella Rugelach
Adapted from The Dough Will Rise Again
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Makes 16 pastries


1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 Tbsp. (4 1/2 tsp.) granulated sugar
1 stick (8 Tbsp.) salted butter, cold, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/4 c. Greek yogurt, plain or vanilla (I used non-fat)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. ice water
10 Tbsp. Nutella (warmed slightly, if necessary, to ease spreading)
1 egg + 1 Tbsp. water, beaten well
Raw or turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

In a food processor, add the flour, salt, sugar, and butter cubes. Pulse until the butter is just cut into the flour, and there are pea-size pieces of butter (about 4-5 pulses).  In a small bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt, vanilla extract, and water.  Add a third of the yogurt mixture to the food processor, then pulse three or four time.  Repeat two more times until all the yogurt mixture has been added, and the dough has just come together (you want to keep the pulsing to a minimum, so as not to overwork the dough).  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and lightly pat it so that it sticks together.  Wrap in plastic wrap coated with non-stick spray and place in the fridge to chill for one hour.  When the dough has chilled, lightly flour your work surface and roll the dough out to about a 1/8″ thickness. As you roll, be sure to lift and rotate the dough often, so the dough doesn't stick to the work surface.  Once the dough is rolled out, cut it into a rough circle shape by trimming the jagged edges.  Remove the scrap edges, and then cut the circle into 16 wedges.  Using a butter knife or small spatula, spread Nutella onto each wedge; you want to cover it as well as you can from top to bottom, leaving a thin but substantial layer of filling.  Then, roll each triangle up, starting with the widest end and rolling toward the point, and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet (with the tip of the triangle tucked underneath the roll, so they don’t start to unravel).  Chill the rolls in the fridge for about an hour.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Remove the pastries from the refrigerator, brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with sugar, if desired.  Bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden brown.  Allow to cool (if you can!) and enjoy.  Store in a covered container.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Naughty Dog Peanut Butter Pumpkin Treats (Grain Free)

I made Ruby some dog treats today.

After she ate Bubba's crayons.

Egad.  Nice.

The dog treats weren't a reward.  Certainly not.  But I already had the ingredients, E had the day off school due to snow (or no snow, as the case may be), and I wasn't going anywhere because I'm sick. Hacking up a lung, in fact.  And I felt like baking something, and no human in their right mind is going to eat baked goods made by a coughing sick person (i.e., me).  Sooo, dog treats for a naughty dog.  Right-o.

The whole reason I wanted to make Ruby some treats in the first place is because she's sort of been through a lot in the past month.  She had major surgery (which I shall refrain from describing on this, a food/family blog) and unexpectedly spent about three weeks at the puppy hospital recuperating.  We're really happy she's well enough to be home.  Not so happy about the crayon eating, but I digress.  Plus, she's almost out of kennel treats (which she gets when she goes "in in" to her kennel on her own), so the timing was good.  Anyhow, I made her some reward biscuits.  And she likes them.  Quite a lot.  She even seemed to know when I was mixing them up that they were for her.  She stalks me whenever I'm in the kitchen anyway, because apparently a lot of stuff ends up on the floor.  I know, because when she wasn't here, I had to get the vacuum out.  A lot.  She's a smarty, that one!
Naughty Dog Peanut Butter Pumpkin Treats (Grain Free)
from A Cozy Kitchen
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2 1/2 cups garbanzo-fava flour (plus additional, as needed)
2 eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
2 1/2 tablespoons peanut butter

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix together flour, eggs, pumpkin, and peanut butter. Turn out dough onto a floured surface (it is sticky, so use additional flour as necessary). With a rolling pin, roll the dough to a thickness about 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick.  Using a cookie cutter of your choosing, cut the dough into shapes and transfer onto a Silpat-lined baking sheet.  Alternatively, use a medium-size cookie scoop to shape the dough and flatten slightly with a fork.  Bake for 30-40 minutes and allow to cool completely before serving to your pooch.  Store in a sealed container.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

Peanut butter and white chocolate are two things I just cannot seem to get enough of.  I've been wanting to make these cookies for some time, but I didn't want a whole batch of them sitting on the countertop calling my name.  Because I'd answer.  So when the opportunity arose to take some cookies to someone who is doing us a ginormous favor, I totally jumped on it with these.  I hope our favorer likes them.  I certainly do!  If you make them, let me know what you think!

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from Jif

¾ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup butter flavor vegetable shortening
1¼ cups light brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup bread flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1 12-ounce bag white baking chips, or 12 ounces white chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine peanut butter, shortening, brown sugar, milk, and vanilla.  With a hand or stand mixer, cream together on medium speed until very well blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Add egg and beat briefly, just until blended.  Add flours, baking soda and salt and mix to combine at low speed; do not overmix.  Add in the baking chips or white chocolate, again just until blended.  Using a medium cookie scoop, place batter on baking sheets lined with a Silpat mat or parchment paper two inches apart.  Flatten slightly with the tines of a fork.  Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until set and just beginning to brown.  Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in a sealed container.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Quotes Worth Remembering

A couple of the bloggers I follow regularly on Pinterest often pin inspirational or memorable sayings and quotes.  My mom always used to tell me, "Tomorrow is a new day," so I went on a Google search to see if that was actually a quote.  Turns out, it's from L.M. Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables.  How perfect is that?

Using one of my Photo A Day reject photos, I created my own inspirational quote photo.  I kind of like it and thought it would be fun to share:

I made another in October that I posted on my Facebook page.  Curiously enough, it's also an L.M. Montgomery quote:

There are lots of Bible verses that would be great in this format, too.  Good thing I have a lot of reject photos!

What are your favorite quotes and Bible verses?