Sunday, October 16, 2016

Cookie Catch Up: Colleges

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Boy oh boy!  Am I ever behind posting cookies!  I give people my card, and they must be super confused if they are solely looking for cookies.  I need to catch up and convince the cookie lookers to stick around and cook too! Here is an assortment of college, sports, some football commitment cookies and a birthday for a Vandy boy!

We love to hate them!

A popular past time for my girl friends!

A Bama/Chi O grad!

A UT Grad!

She is heading to Chatanooga!

She's heading to Birmingham Southern!

A Tennessee Volunteer is off!

A Bama girl!

Heading to U of Central Florida!

Tulane Bound!

Mississippi State!

A Germantown Tradition, The Charity Horse Show!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Final 10 of Whole30 and SWYPO

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Ten days left.  It seems crazy that I haven't had a grain of sugar (you should know I make thousands of sugar cookies every year...and did throughout this!), flour or any grain, alcohol or dairy.  Really, it just isn't that hard. I woke up on Day 20 feeling like a new woman.  I went to the farmer's market and roamed and smelled all the amazing produce.  I was alone so I cooked dinner for 3 meals, that is a key to survival on Whole30.  I also have found my quick go to meals.  I cook lots of extra chicken and cut it up and freeze portions.  I can whip up chicken salad rolled in lettuce, toss it on a salad, put it in an omelet, or just eat it as is.  I cook up a dozen hard boiled eggs at a time and eat a couple as a quick meal and I love them on a salad.  Egg salad?  YUM!  And tuna, I love tuna packed in olive oil, my goodness, I am Italian all the way through.  Again, on a salad, rolled in lettuce, made into cakes like last post's Salmon Cakes.  I told you about my batch of meatballs, they are in the freezer and can be cooked lickety split.  I'm even making a batch to take to a party.  If I can't find the lone sugar free BBQ sauce, I'll make a tahini or homemade ketchup something for them.  Maybe even buffalo.  I love that stuff! I drink lots of water and LaCroix, but also Tazo tea and coffee.  A cup of decaf after dinner with a little coconut milk is decadence for me and it feels like dessert. Tazo Sweet Cinnamon Spice tea is also a nice dessert feeling drink.

I do Pure Barre pretty much every day I'm not playing golf.  Sometimes I only play golf.  I know I should be doing cardio heavy, but my torn meniscus limits that sort of thing in many ways.  Besides, I like the strength and flexibility I get from Pure Barre.  Did I mention my awesome triceps?  Sleeveless for sure. What I'm saying is I'm sure plenty of people feel great on Whole30 without any major exercise.  I do my thing, you should do what you want too.

So some recipes I loved during this phase.  First of all, let's talk about SWYPO.  It's a funny term and basically means Sex With Your Pants On.  Apparently it's a thing, not as good as the real thing.  How this translates to Whole30 is that yes, there are recipes for pancakes, ranch dressing, pasta and more, but the idea here is to eliminate that stuff for a month.  Not remake it to be compliant.  So I was all fine and dandy with that until this came along. Vegan Coconut Ice Cream from EATMEBLOG and I decided right then, I am having SWMPO.  I am not even an ice cream kind of girl, but it is so friggin' muggy here that something cool and refreshing was what I wanted.  Like SWYPO, I was a little disappointed.  I changed it up, because that's what I do, but it froze into a brick and just didn't melt the way I wanted.  But hey, it was delicious and cold and...on plan compliant.

Coconut Milk Ice Cream

1 14oz can Coconut Cream
1/2 cup salted cashews (that's what I had)
5 dates
3 T Pernigotti cocoa
1 banana

Whirl this up in the Vitamix until smooth and freeze in a covered container.  Take it out a good 30 minutes before you are ready to eat it.  It is solid! I didn't take's not pretty!

The other wonderful thing about Whole30 is the fridge and freezer situation.  I buy meat when it's on sale and then tend to forget I own it.  I decided to clean out and eat them clean.  So today I found a scrawny little pork tenderloin.  I generally grill them after a marinade or brining, but it was thawed and ready to cook and Mr. Preppy was at poker night.  So I bagged the grilling idea and made Dutch Oven Pork Roast that I found on Nom Nom Paleo.  But it isn't her recipe, and I didn't really use a pork roast, or the honey.

Dutch Oven Tenderloin

1 pork tenderloin
coconut oil
salt and pepper
1 yellow onion
3 garlic cloves
3 T olive oil
3 T cider vinegar
1 T Penzey's Tuscan Sunset
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup water

Brown the tenderloin that is seasoned with salt and pepper in the coconut oil in your Dutch Oven.  Get it crispy on all sides.  While it's cooking dump everything but the water in a Vitamix or food processor and pulverize it.  When the tenderloin is browned, remove from heat and add the sauce and the water and bake at 325º.  I set my timer for 1 hr.  It was a crap shoot, and that scrawny little tenderloin cooked in about 45 minutes and was a little tough.  Just not enough fat to make it tender.  However, the aroma was intoxicating.  Next time, less water, more fatty cut, and we will see what happens. Taste?  Oh, it was wonderful.  Really, this isn't diet food folks.

So then I started thinking about vegetable ideas.  I mean, how many ways can you roast a veggie?  One as far as I'm concerned.  I was also trying to lay off some of the super cruciferous ones, but how many salads can a girl eat? Don't answer that one.  So I bought some zucchini at the farmer's market and was going to can some zucchini butter from Food In Jars blogger who published a book called Preserving by the Pint. I love this book and dig into it often as canning is a fun pastime for me!Her recipe sounded amazing but I didn't have the fresh thyme, so I found another that was a little less involved as far as ingredients go. I love The Kitchn and this is their Zucchini Butter.  The comments are from 6 years ago, and no one ever responded to them.  Hmmm.  I would respond.

Zucchini Butter

4 zucchini, scrubbed clean
4 T olive oil
2 T bacon fat (I know, right?)
1 shallot
2 large cloves garlic

Grate the zucchini on a box grater. Set on a strainer and let any water drain if necessary.  Mine was not watery and this did pretty much nothing.  Heat fats in skillet with higher sides, and cook the shallot and garlic just slightly.  Add the zucchini and keep the heat low and slow and cook until it is soft and can be smooshed into a butter.  This will take a good 20-30 minutes.  Don't rush it!

So let's be brutally honest.  It's not great.  It's not terrible, but it isn't "butterish", it still tastes like zucchini, and it's a damn mess to make.  Zoodle those zucchini.

So final notes.  The 6 of us lost just around 100 pounds.  Yep, you could say it was successful.  The men lost way more, shocker.  Mr. Preppy had the most dramatic looking loss of 22lbs.  He had that 50 year old man belly, and it just disappeared.  He now drinks less than a quart of milk a week (used to be 2 gallons), ketchup is a treat, and very sporadic.  He won't eat his beloved, and sugar laden French dressing, and I don't know the M&M status, but there isn't any here.  The second fridge still holds many of those off limit items, no one misses them.  We enjoy our wine and vodka, if we eat bread, it's damn good bread.  We have become rather picky eaters.  I am wavering between 12 and 15 pounds, but the way I feel is all that counts.  I can't wait to go Whole30 again!

Halfway Through Whole30

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I made it to the top of the hill, it is all downhill now!  The first 2 weeks of Whole30 can be challenging.  I love tackling recipes and keeping them compliant. The emails continue to be a great source of information, and I recommend anyone trying Whole30 to subscribe.  

True to everything they told me, I did get sick.  I was so floored to wake up feeling like I did that first day with the flu a month ago.  It was awful.  It happened on Day 13 (unlucky, right?) The fever was more mild, and it broke the following night so I didn't suffer long.  I can only hope it has been permanently purged from my energized body.  My family thinks the 7 rounds of golf I played that week may have been a contributing factor.  I just know I felt great!  And I do again.  Tiger Blood is how it's described, and I'll take it.  The sleep is lovely, the mornings I bounce up at 5am, I am great at 3 in the afternoon and not searching for a cozy cat nap spot.  I played so much golf I didn't cook much, and I missed a few photo ops.  But here is a rundown.  And a quick word on compliance.  The Whole30 isn't for sissies.  They are sticklers for every single detail to be compliant or you start over.  I'm a little easier on myself than that, and I don't find this a nuisance or a short term plan, so my little slip up didn't send me back to Day 1.  Not going to happen. My slip up? Vanilla extract.  As soon as I smelled it when I was eating my blueberry omelet I knew I screwed up.  Selling great vanilla at Williams Sonoma for years, I had a few customers who steered clear of it and stuck to beans and vanilla sugar because of the alcohol.  Yep.  That 1/4 of a teaspoon in my omelet should have sent me back to Day 1.  Seriously?  I beat myself up enough, I wasn't going there.  If I'm going non compliant with alcohol it will involve a well aged Cabernet with one of those grass fed steaks!

We did have dinner guests one night, and I am happy to report they were stuffed when they left.  I brined some amazing bone in Iowa pork chops.  We put them on the green egg and served them with a salad full of junk (tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, scallions), green beans seasoned with some compliant (and expensive) bacon and a potato salad with compliant mayo and scallions.  It was perfect.  Did I mention the shrimp wrapped in that bacon and grilled?  I mean whats a dinner party without an appetizer? 

A few nights later, Mr. Preppy and I played in a tournament and it went way longer than we had hoped.  As we waited for the results and prizes (we took second!), everyone was sipping cocktails and eating chips and dip.  We sipped our LaCroix with a lime, looks like a cocktail, and politely nibbled on nuts and grapes.  People felt sorry for us.  Ha!  Jokes on you.  I feel sorry for you.  You have no idea how amazing you can feel when you give your body whole, nutritious food.  We were pretty hungry when we got home so I took out a couple cans of Wild Planet canned salmon.  I mixed it with egg, some compliant spicy seasoning, a squeeze of lemon, ground almond meal and some chopped onion and a jalapeno right out of my garden.  I made the mixture into 5 patties and fried it up in some coconut oil.  I had a little avocado and lemon with mine and Mr. Preppy made a little faux tartar with approved mayo and dill pickle.  They were delicious and not seriously filling for being so late in the evening.  A salad and a roasted veggie would make it the perfect real dinner for sure.

Salmon Cakes for a quick meal.

Salmon Cakes

2 cans Wild Planet Salmon
1 egg
1/4 cup almond meal
1 T spicy seasoning (I use Potlatch)
half a lemon squeezed
1/2 cup total chopped onion, jalapeno and red bell pepper
2 Tablespoons chopped Italian Parsley

Mayo and chopped dill pickle for tartar knock off

Coconut oil for frying

Mix all ingredients well and you will want it to stick together.  Add anything from the crisper drawer, and any spices or herbs you may have on hand. Form 5 patties (one of mine was smaller than the others, that was Mr. Preppy's 3rd for his dinner). Fry in coconut oil, just a Tablespoon until crispy and flip and continue.  Serve with avocado and fresh lemon or pretend tartar.

eggs...ghee and bluberries

A few mornings later after barre, I was standing looking in the fridge.  I knew breakfast was eggs of some sort.  I just really wanted something a little sweet.  So I whipped up a couple eggs and a couple egg whites (my pooches like a yolk each!), some coconut milk, a scrape of vanilla bean and I cooked it like an omelet in my skillet topped with blueberries.  It looked great, until I tried to get it out.  My daughter was terribly unimpressed with this, I rather enjoyed it, a nice break from mushrooms, onions and salsa eggs.  In my old life, I would toss some old fashioned oatmeal in there to ramp up the fiber, but those days are behind me!

Blueberry Omelet

2 eggs
2 egg whites
a scrape of a vanilla bean
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 T almond meal
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup blueberries
coconut oil for cooking

Isn't that pretty? Until you flip it.

Whisk all ingredients to the blueberries, and place in skillet that has a film of coconut oil.  Cook over medium low heat and sprinkle the blueberries on before it is totally set.  Try as carefully as possible to flip, and when it disintegrates, say screw it, and make it a blueberry scramble.  Put a little ghee on top and enjoy!
Not pretty, but pretty good.

Guacamole Deviled Eggs
I can't really give you a recipe per se.  I boil up a dozen eggs on Sunday so I have a to go protein all week.  I took a 4 eggs and peeled them and took 2 yolks (2 yolks for my dogs!) and mashed them with some guacamole I had on hand.  It was quick and easy and great with a salad for lunch!

So here we are winding down to the last 10 days.  I am cruising along pretty good.  My clothes fit great, the giant zit has disappeared (where did THAT come from) and my fridge is bulging with great ingredients! I was alone a good number of nights in this segment of Whole30, so hopefully I'll get cooking this week.  So, what are you waiting for?  Get in there and cook whole!!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

SweetiePetitti Goes Whole 30

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I'm not really a very good dieter.  My weight hasn't really changed by more than 5 pounds in the last 5 years, so as long as my Lucky jeans slide on, I'm happy.  But who doesn't want to drop some pounds? Then, I got the flu, or what the doctor suspected was the flu.  I was sick, for like 7 days.  It had really zapped me. I am back at the barre, but at 3pm every day I am curled up on the couch.  It took me 2 weeks to get through 18 holes of golf, I pooped out after 9. I just am not my old self.  I decided the best way to bounce back was to reset my body.  The whole family is on board with doing the Whole30, and kudos to the awesome website with downloads and printables to make this journey a little easier. Also, Pinterest has jillions of recipes, I am so inspired!  I also signed up for the daily email for $15.  It had great reviews, and I thought it would be full of great resources.  And I was right.  I pull snippets of wisdom and pass it on in our hilarious group text. Along with some great memes.
I won't give you a day by day of how things went, but I will check in every week with recipes and notes on the week.

So here is my post for 5 days in.

Starting to thin out the bad stuff, and pack it with veg and meat!

I am so happy that I did a little prep work prior to starting. A week or so ahead, I backed off my usual groceries, and we finished up the ice cream, the yogurt, the milk and the bread.  I pitched the last of the tortilla chips and Wheat Thins, and wrapped all my imported cheeses in foil and tossed them in the freezer.  I moved the BBQ sauce and ketchup, the Ranch and the sweet pickle relish to the fridge in the laundry room.  It made room for my new mayo, my new hot sauce, almond and coconut milks, lots and lots of veggies, and all those eggs. The worst part of the Whole30 is the eggs.  And I love eggs.  But I really do miss oatmeal and yogurt and toast for breakfast.

One of the funny memes I sent in the group text!

My mornings have been a couple of eggs, fruit, maybe half a sweet potato and some days I have tossed some peppers and mushrooms with the eggs.  On Pure Barre days, I have a little almond butter before I go.  My coffee is no problem as I have been using the Califia almond creamer forever.  No sugar, no carrageenan.  I find myself checking the downloads I printed off on a regular basis, and tucked the one with the bad ingredients in my purse.  Being a label reader is rather empowering. Who knew there were so many terrible additives? Now I know what all of them are for, and which ones are okay.  I kept it simple the first few days and ate my Greek Turkey Burgers from the freezer (no Cavendar's, it has MSG!) and quick sauteed veggies, salad etc.  I usually make my own dressing so no biggie there.  By day 4 I was hankering for something a bit more interesting.  Thankfully there are a lot of bloggers out there posting and pinning all kinds of ideas. I made the following recipes this week and froze portions to streamline my mornings and quick meals.

This stuff is great seasoning.  I use it a lot!

Some clarification on things.  Whole30 has all the rules on foods, I am not going to rewrite the program, if you're here, you are likely looking to see someone else's journey. But if you are new to the ingredients, it can be confusing. Coconut milk is found in 2 forms.  In the refrigerated section, in a carton is the drinkable, more liquid version.  In the Asian cooking section is the canned milk.  This is gold.  Thick and rich and naturally sweet, but make sure it doesn't have carrageenan or sulfates.  They are a no no. Itching for something sweet. Slice some berries and put a little of the canned, chilled coconut milk and some ground almond meal (Trader Joe's) and you have a Whole30 sundae.  It's not really ideal, but I know that many people have trouble the first week battling the sugar dragon.  This is not how they recommend killing it off, but it's better than a bowl of ice cream! It might be SWYPO but hey, we all take a different path on our journey. This is the kind of thing to deal with on week 2.

And finally the 5 day results.  Weighing is a no no.  However, one in my group has lost 6.8 pounds in 5 days.  Another, 6 and another just at 5.  The other three in our hilarious group have abided by the rules or don't own scales (smart!), but by day 5 all felt better. The headaches are real, the crappy get out of my face feelings are real, the longing for a cold beer, a piece of chocolate or one of those Chik-Fil-A biscuits that douche bag brought to your office are real.  Very real.  However, the energy level is real, the disappearing bloat is real and the sleep, my goodness that heavenly restful night, is also very real.  I know what I am loving.  Here is to the next 5 days!

Buffalo Chicken Egg Bake

I screenshot this recipe, and then I changed it.  I can't find the original source, but when I Google it there are jillions of the same thing out there.  The original I saw had spinach, some have sweet potatoes, there are as many variations as you could hope for.  They are delicious, but I agree with my daughter, you can't eat these things every day.  Change up those eggs, they are your friend!

8 eggs
1/2 cup coconut milk (the kind in a carton)
1/2 cup hot sauce (we love WingTime)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper
3/4# chicken meat, cooked
4 scallions, sliced
1 1/2 red peppers diced
1/4 cup mushrooms

Mix all ingredients well.  I used a 12 cup muffin tin with the reusable silicone cups, you can also just grease the wells with coconut oil. I also oiled a small 6x6 baker. Fill the wells and baker (or more muffins) I baked the muffins at 350º for 20 minutes (no jiggly eggs for me) and the baker stayed in for another 15 minutes beyond.  Cool completely and freeze the portions.  2 is a good breakfast for me.

This plus 12 muffin cups.  Good freezer to microwave breakfast!

Pork Meatballs in Tomato Sauce with Zoodles

Mr. Preppy loves pasta with a hearty meat sauce.  And lucky for him he married an Italian girl.  It is super easy to make a great sauce that is compliant.  This one is with meat balls, but you could do ground meat, approved sausage or all veggies. The key is in the simmering.  Cook, cook, cook.  It makes it sweet and hearty. I use a large spiralizer for my zoodles. I used to use a julienne peeler, but decided even though the spiralizer is big, clumsy and a pain, I like the end result better.

Makes about 22 good sized meatballs

1 pound ground turkey
1/4 onion diced
1 clove garlic minced
1/4 cup almond meal (Trader Joe's)
1 egg
Italian spices, salt and pepper (about 3 teaspoons)

1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 onion minced
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
coconut oil or olive oil for sauteing
1 can Fire Roasted Tomatoes
1 can tomato puree
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 T Italian seasoning (I use Penzey's Tuscan Sunset and Trader Joe's garlic salt grinder)

2 zucchini, scrubbed well and spiralized
oil of choice
salt and pepper

This is 2 zucchini spiralized.  They shrink up pretty good when cooked!

Mix meatball ingredients in a bowl and make into meatballs and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.  Freeze what you won't be cooking right away.  When the frozen meatballs are firm, toss in a freezer bag. Saute the meatballs you are eating (I ate 4, Scott ate 6) in coconut or olive oil until they are browned and cooked through.  Then put them in your pasta sauce below.

To make the sauce, saute the onions, garlic and mushrooms in coconut or olive oil until soft and browned slightly.  Add tomato sauce and vinegar and spices and simmer.  The longer it cooks, the thicker it becomes. Mine cooked for nearly an hour and was thick, dark and hearty.

My thick sauce, cooked for about 2 hours.

In a large skillet, heat oil. Drop in all of the spiralized or julienned zucchini.  Season with salt and pepper and toss constantly to cook slightly, but not browned. It takes about 4-5 min at the most.

Cooked down zoodles!

I find the best way to serve is to keep zoodles and sauce in different bowls and top the zoodles on your plate with sauce and meatballs.  You won't miss the parmesan, the sugar or the pasta! I promise!


Buffalo Chicken Drumsticks with Sweet Potato Fries

This is pretty straight forward, but after 17 years in the cooking store world, I know there are folks who need a blueprint for all recipes.  The sweet potato fries are a standard here.  Burgers, chicken, chops...and yes, you can use regular potato, they are Whole30 approved!

6 Drumsticks (buy good meat) you can use any cut of chicken
coconut and or olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 cup Wing Time buffalo sauce or other Whole30 approved sauce

2 sweet potatoes
coconut oil or olive oil
salt and pepper
1/4 cup approved mayo
Tabasco Sauce

Put the oil on cookie sheet and roll the drumsticks around to coat them a bit.  Salt and pepper them well and bake at 400º for about 45 minutes or until juices run clear. In a large bowl, mix the hot drumsticks with the buffalo sauce and cover completely.

After placing drumsticks in oven, peel and slice sweet potatoes into desired fry size. Place in a bowl and add oil and toss well to cover completely.  Place on baking sheet and put in oven for last half hour.  Serve fries with the mayo and Tabasco blended to desired hotness.

Oprah's Chicken Whole 30-ized

Way back in the early 90's, Oprah had a chef named Rosie Daley who published her recipes that Oprah ate.  They are lowfat, which Whole30 rather debunks, as does my favorite Dr. Hyman.  But one recipe in this book was a family favorite using yogurt and panko.  I changed it about for Whole30 and it is delicious!

Desired chicken pieces, bone in (my preference) or bone out, whatever you''l eat and maybe tomorrow's lunch
1/2 Canned coconut milk
1/2 cup almond meal
Italian Seasoning (see recipe above)
Olive oil or Coconut oil

Place coconut milk in shallow dish.
Mix almond meal and seasonings in separate shallow bowl.
Dip or rub chicken pieces in coconut milk (it is rather firm when it's chilled)
then roll in seasoned almond meal.  Place on greased sheet pan and bake at 350º for about 45 -60 minutes.  Cooking time is dependent on bones, skin and size.  They shouldn't be bloody.

Looks like KFC right?

So, what are you waiting for?  Whole30 yourself and get in there and cook!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

It's Tomato Season!

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My favorite snack with a glass of wine.
Summer in the South. I know, many areas of the country are still thinking about 90° days, we are living them. My garden is bursting, I have already picked hot banana peppers, snipped off bunches of basil, cilantro and parsley, and my first plum tomato is reddening as we type with about 5 friends a week or so behind. I generally do not have the patience for tomatoes, but I found these Patio Tomatoes and decided to give them a try. They seem to be okay thus far, although they are a little scorched. We have had such incredible rains followed by intense heat, it makes a sauna out of the plants and tomatoes are especially prone to suffer. I suspect if they were planted in the ground it wouldn't be an issue. But the garden thrives.

I still frequent the farmer's markets for additional produce, and the Ripley Tomatoes are the best summer delight. Ripley is a town in Tennessee famous for their tomatoes, and sadly I don't think anyone else is lucky enough to get them, I am certain they are a West Tennessee phenomenon. The Ripley Tomato Festival is in early July, but if I'm close to getting tomatoes, they must be too. The huge ones I bought at the Farmer's Market came from Hardeman County, just East of Memphis, but it won't be long and all you will see is Ripley (heck, a Ripley sign is a sure fire way to sell tomatoes).

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and let them sit a little bit.
Then comes the question of how to eat them. This question in the South can stir up as many arguments as asking dressing or stuffing, Hellman's or Duke's, wet ribs or dry. Southerner's love their tomato sandwich. The white bread is a non-negotiable, a slice or two of tomato, and mayo. Here you go, Duke's or Hellman's? A little salt and pepper too.

The bread must be grilled.  Don't turn on the toaster oven!

Delicious I'm sure, but not my kind of food. I like the way we eat tomatoes in the South of Italy. A slice of bread, preferable artisan like a ciabatta or baguette, grilled dry on a cast iron grill until toasty, nice dark grill marks. Then top it with chopped tomatoes seasoned with salt and pepper and fresh basil. From the garden please. Believe it or not, a little sea salt and fresh pepper can make grocery store tomatoes from another state or another country perk right up. And before you dare take a bite, drizzle with a fruity extra virgin olive oil. In the summer time, paper plate and lots of napkins, in the winter, china and a nice chianti. Now that's what I'm talking about. Last Sunday we rushed off to church and never had breakfast, so when we got home we were famished. A little tomato bruschetta was perfect and we crumbled a little bacon on top for an Italian BLT. Molto Deliciozo!

Bacon?  Why not!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Super Oatmeal Chip Spring Cleaning Cookies

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Clean it all out!!!

Chewy, hearty and delicious!

I am super organized.  I keep everything in canning and working glass, I tape labels to it all, but I still seem to accumulate an assortment of baking supplies.  So as my spring cleaning headed to the kitchen, I decided to pull it all out and see what we could do with it.  There was coconut, butterscotch chips, a variety of chocolate chips, including white and even some christmas M&Ms!  

I love the surprise of a butterscotch chip

I also added oatmeal, my secret fiber ingredient. (Don't tell Mr. Preppy!) These cookies can handle about anything.  I made dozens, about 9 dozen, and froze them on trays and then tossed the balls in a freezer container.  So when the kids came home, or we needed a sweet, or I wanted to take a small, sweet happy to a friend, there were amazing cookies just minutes away from being ready. 

Freeze on a tray
Then fill a freezer container.  Try not to eat one!
Super Oatmeal Chip Spring Cleaning Cookies

2 cup butter, room temp
2 2/3 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
3  teaspoons vanilla
3 cups  flour
3 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
4 1/2 cups of stuff...raisins, chocolate chips, dried fruit, coconut, nuts, anything

A heavy duty mixer is a must!

Cream butter and sugar in electric mixer bowl until fluffy and no brown sugar lumps are visible.  Add the eggs and mix just until incorporated.  Add all dry ingredients up to the oats and mix well.  Fold in the oats and stuff.  Cover and chill the dough an hour or overnight.  It is easier to handle cold and the cookies won't spread as much.

Preheat oven to 340F on convection, 350F regular.  Make uniform mounds on Silpat or parchment lined pans and bake about 12 minutes, but check at 8 minutes.  The colder the dough the closer to 12 minutes, later batches will bake faster.  Rotate halfway through cooking time.  Cool on pan, then rack, when they are firm enough to move.  Make coffee and give me a ring...

Monday, April 18, 2016

Sugar Cookies For Everyone!

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There's been a whole lot of baking going on! Here's a little peek at some of my cookies.

A baby boy shower, she wanted elephants and chevrons....check!

If you read my blog, you know I am addicted to Pure Barre.  I have made cookies a number of times, but these were special.  My back barre buddy tucked off her 1000th class.  That's a lot of Pure Barre.  25 hours in plank and 38 days (24 hrs a day) of class!  Any way you slice it, it's an accomplishment to impress.

A one year old's birthday party favors.  I even made my own sprinkle mixture, that was fun!

So my Facebook friend had a birthday and someone posted this cool cupcake, so I whipped out some icing and made this cookie on the fly. I need to do another one, maybe more detail, and make it my FB signature pic for a birthday.

These are for the local children's hospital, LeBonheur.  They're special.

 An unconventional baby name, but some fun baby cookies for a shower.

A bridal shower in Tiffany Blue.  I saved a Tiffany box especially for this kind of request.  It matches!  Sweet Sugarbelle was my lifesaver.  Again.  Her bows are so dang perfect!
That's all for now.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Vegetarian Lasagna

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Good time to clean out the crisper!

Lots of layers and meat.

Meat is a side dish around here, and often, I am sneaking a meal in with no meat at all.  This lasagna is hearty and delicious and no one will say, "Gosh, I wish there had been meat in there!"  I promise.  I am using jarred pasta sauce, it just didn't justify homemade sauce.  This meal needed to be prepped ahead, quick and easy.

The day you plan on baking the lasagna, or perhaps a day early is the best for making.  I like the herbs and garlic to introduce themselves before baking.  It also freezes beautifully, just make sure your baking dish can handle going from freezer to oven.

Vegetarian Lasagna

1 box no boil lasagna noodles (or your preference, you won't use them all)
1 jar pasta sauce (no meat if that's your goal)
1 8 oz container whole milk ricotta (you can use skim, but yuck)
1 package frozen, chopped spinach
1 clove garlic, minced
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon dried Italian seasoning (I like Penzey's Tuscan Sunset)
1 8 oz bag shredded mozzarella
1 zucchini, sliced thin
1 8oz package mushrooms, sliced thin
1/2  of a 6.7 oz jar of prepared pesto

After a side by side taste of skim and whole milk ricotta, whole milk won!

Lasagna should be easy!
Thaw spinach in a colander under running water and squeeze dry.  Add the spinach, garlic, eggs and seasoning to the ricotta cheese.  Mix well and set aside.

The spinach mixture covered by thin sliced zucchini.

No cook noodles need lots of sauce!

Coat bottom of 8X8 pan with some pasta sauce to cover.  Cover with a layer of noodles, half the ricotta/spinach mixture, half the zucchini, half the mushrooms, 1/2 cup mozzarella, and sauce to cover. Next, another layer of noodles, ricotta/spinach, zucchini, mushrooms, 1/2 cup mozzarella and then top with another layer of noodles.  On the top cover with the remaining pasta sauce, the pesto and the remaining mozzarella cheese.

The pesto on top adds flavor, aroma and zip!

Spray a sheet of foil with nonstick spray, or smear olive oil all over it before covering the lasagna.
Can be frozen at this point,  or chill until about 2 hours prior to serving time.

Ready to mingle...

About 45 minutes prior to baking, remove from fridge and preheat oven to 350º.  Bake the lasagna for about 40 minutes covered, and remove foil for the last 20 minutes until the top is browned and bubbly.  Let it rest about 15 minutes before cutting.  Serves 6