Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Double-Chocolate-Chip-Swirl-Cookies- from Sally's Baking Addiction Blog

Double-Chocolate-Chip-Swirl-Cookies- from Sally’s Baking Addiction Blog

Let’s Play Pretend

You’re a nutritionist.

You’re a nutritionist that’s advising clients about how to choose healthy and healthier foods when they’re out and they have very limited options. You teach them about basic ingredients; whole ingredients and whole foods; which ingredients are all right when refined and which aren’t; which ingredients to always avoid; how to read ingredient labels; how to prepare meal plans and meals. How to shop for groceries.

Your client knows that fruits and veggies are the best choices. Include them in as many meals as possible. Find fats and oils from as many natural sources as possible. Avoid low-fat and low-calorie labels. Avoid sugar-free labels and artificial sweeteners. Avoid artificial dyes and high fructose corn syrup. 100% whole grains. Real ingredients. Real food. As much as possible.

All in preparation for how to be able to choose between poor options, and when to refrain from any options at all; and when it’s not healthy to refrain from making a choice.

The Day Comes

One day they’re at a party and there’s a cookie table. Let’s say it’s a political party. An election, even. At the back of the table, the fruit and veggie trays are out of reach and wrapped up and not an option. Apparently the best options are for later.

There’s a plate of cookies that are simple sugar cookie. They look fabulous.

There’s one plate of cookies that are sugar cookies with caramel in the middle. Also pretty delicious looking.

There’s another plate of cookies that appear homemade, and they have some chocolate chips; in fact, these cookies have chocolate chips on one half of the cookie and white chips on the other half, but your client dislikes chocolate chips. He thinks they’re disgusting. They also have some sprinkles on top. The sprinkles aren’t completely natural or healthy, but that’s ok. It’s just sprinkles. You can flick those off if needed.

There’s another plate of cookies, but they’re clearly not homemade. They’re supposed to be pumpkin cookies with white chips, but they’re so bright orange they had to be pumped full of dye. There are fire-hot cinnamon chips in them, so hot they’ll make you gag, and Lemon War Heads and Jawbreakers on top. Clearly these cookies are vile, and not worth another look because every ingredient will make your client sick. There’s nothing natural at all in them. They’re completely toxic.

Your client walks away for a while to see what’s happening at the party, but when he comes back he notices that the cookies he really, really wanted, the sugar cookies and caramel cookies, have been completely eaten up. He was too late. All he’s left with are the chocolate-white-chocolate chip cookies and the pumpkin-nasty-ass cookies. He knows the pumpkin cookies will make him incredibly ill, and even have far too many ingredients in them that will make him sick and even have ingredients he’s allergic to… but he desperately hates chocolate chips.

So he eats the whole plate of fake pumpkin cookies stuffed with nastiness, just to avoid the chocolate chips in the chocolate chip half of the cookies.

And he’s so violently ill, he’s vomiting orange for four years and regrets every damned bite wishing he had eaten the half and half cookies.

I completely understand that cookies, on principle, are not healthy. That’s entirely the point I’m trying to make in what I hope is an obvious parallel. And I must note on a personal level that Sally’s Baking Addiction has the most bang-up amazingly awesome cookies you’ll ever bake whether you have a nutritionist or not. You’ll bake your own just so you have an awesome choice at a political party.


Read Full Post »

I don’t get paid to write this blog. I’m not good enough. So take me at my word when I say, as a very hyper-critical caramel-in-coffee-but-I-love-it coffee drinker that this is THEBEST salted caramel… nay, caramel creamer for your coffee. 

I say this, admittedly, as someone who already enjoys Natural Bliss. It’s the only one besides pure organic cream that I can drink in my coffee without contributing to pain issues and migraines.

I was skeptical about the flavor before buying because so many caramel creamers leave a weird aftertaste. No worries. I’m not buying any other caramel creamer brands now.
COFFEE-MATE Natural Bliss Salted Caramel Creamer 

Read Full Post »

English: Common signs and symptoms of fibromya...

English: Common signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia. References (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I finally got my doctor to test my thyroid properly.  She did all six panels after the nurse practitioner explained to her why she should.  That’s a whole ‘nother post, but I’ll spare you.  I got the results and it came back as “normal.”  I also had her check for a systemic candida overgrowth, but that came back as “normal” too.  That means that neither of those things are causing any Fibromyalgia symptoms.

A full thyroid panel would be: TSH, T4, T3, Free T4 ,  Free T3, Reverse T3.


The results are discouraging since they’re not what I was expecting, but I also realize that it helps narrow things down.  I’m starting to feel more and more pushed towards having to figure out if I’m sensitive to gluten or not.  A gluten sensitivity can exacerbate my Fibro symptoms, so it’s looking like it’s time to try an elimination diet regarding gluten.  I had success eliminating meat and becoming vegetarian and that that should be encouraging, right?

Here’s another interesting tidbit… I’ve always been aware of this, but a gluten sensitivity can make Autism worse or mimic symptoms of Autism.  When Gracie was very small we tried an elimination diet of gluten that didn’t seem to work but if I’m going to attempt to go gluten-free then I’m going to try to get her to go gluten-free as well.  She gets the so-called chicken skin on the backs of her arms and it bothers her a lot because she thinks it’s ugly.  Then she tries to scrape the bumps off and there’s a scab.

I brought up the idea to my daughters.  Gracie acted as if I said nothing, so there’s nothing new there.  She just wants cake.  As long as she can have cake that tastes like cake I think she’ll be fine.  Juliana thinks it means she’ll never be able to socialize at school lunch or have sandwiches that taste good ever again.  She’s also worried about pasta.  And crackers.  I’d like for her to try it willingly due to her ADHD, but she’s almost 13.  I need her cooperation.  Anna? She thinks it’s unhealthy since we have whole-wheat-everything.  I tried to explain that there are alternatives that are healthy.  I might have to get sneaky and creative.  🙂  That’s sort of the definition of cooking as a parent, though, so now I just have to learn the language of gluten ingredients in the ingredient labels and find some tasty recipes for special occasions.

I have to give it a minimum of three to six months.  Longer if possible.  I’ve read that it can take months to years to rid the body of gluten.  I don’t consume a lot of it in the first place, but that’s a little disconcerting.  I don’t know a lot about going completely gluten-free yet.  I do know that it can be very involved.  Crossing my fingers.

I’m nervous.

[EDITED:  Not gonna do it.  Gluten free just isn’t really an option, at least not right now.  I don’t think I buy into the whole thing for either myself or my daughter/s anyway since we don’t show true symptoms of gluten intolerance or insensitivity.

And also, for what it’s worth, I’m not 100% certain that my doctor was 100% truthful about the Candida results or thyroid results so when I see my rheumatologist for my first appointment at the end of September I’ll be sure to ask her to go over those tests.]

Read Full Post »

Last night I made two Easy Chocolate Chip Cheesecakes (click here for recipe).  They’re beautiful, although they did crack a little bit.  If I were entering them in a show (which I’m not) it would matter that they cracked but they’ll still be delicious.  I promise.  It’s my most requested recipe to bring to parties.

Today I’m planning to make my Easy Homemade Italian Bread.  It’s so good and homey and Italian-y.  It’s not the crusty, rock-hard rustic bread that you have to dip into soup or sauce to soften in order to eat but the nice big fluffy one that you can still put your teeth into without triggering TMJ.  Don’t let the written appearance fool you… it really is very easy.

On Christmas morning every year I make cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  It’s one of our favorite traditions.  I originally got this recipe from Allison M. Dickson, a friend and wonderful fictional writer that you really MUST look up on Amazon.  She writes some fantastic short stories.  This Cinnamon Bun recipe is what inspired my Snickerdoodle Cookie recipe.  I love snickerdoodles, but I needed one that was chewy enough and cinnamon-y enough… and what I really wanted was for them to taste like mini cinnamon buns.  I usually make snickerdoodles for Christmas but lost track of the time this year.  I’ll have to make them on the 26th.

I’m sharing the recipes of course, but I don’t have nutrition information.  If you go to I think you can plug recipes in there and it will give you nutrition information for individual servings.  It’s been a while since I’ve been over there.

Easy Italian Bread:

  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. or 2 pkg. (1/2 oz.) active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water, 95 to 110*F
  • 1 Tbsp. very soft butter, or olive oil
  • 6 cups of all purpose, unbleached flour
  • 1 egg white, beaten with 1 Tbsp. of water


  1. Warm oven to 200* for five minutes, then turn it off.  You will need the oven to have a warm and non-drafty place to rise and rest the dough.

  2. In large bowl, stir together sugar, salt, yeast, and water. Allow the yeast to proof (produce bubbles and bloom).

  3. Add in the butter or olive oil.

  4.  Add flour by the half cup, turning it with a fork, just until there’s enough flour for the dough to be soft and kneaded by hand.

  5. Turn dough out of medium-large bowl onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 minutes, adding more flour as you go if the bread becomes sticky.  Bread should become smooth and pliable.

  6. Put the dough into a medium sized bowl that’s been greased with vegetable oil and turn the dough until all of it has been greased.

  7. Cover the bowl with a clean, slightly damp (warm) kitchen towel and let set for 30 minutes in a warm, draft-free place.

  8. If you’re using a baking sheet, grease it lightly.  Sprinkle baking sheet with cornmeal, if desired. If you’re using a flat baking stone, do not grease it but simply put cornmeal on it if desired.

  9. Remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured table and cut into equal halves.

  10. Roll each dough half into a 15/16 X 9-inch rectangle, tucking dough from the long sides tightly under the bottom.  Be sure to pinch from underneath to the ends or the dough will open up during baking and flatten out the loaf.

  11. When folding and pinching is done, the loaves should similar to footballs.

  12. Allow the dough to rise in the still-warm oven for 15-20 more minutes, then remove from the oven.

  13. Heat the oven to 425*F.

  14. On top of each loaf, using a non-serated knifed, cut three diagonal slits.

  15. Using a pastry brush,

  16. Tightly roll dough along the 15-inch side. Pinch seams and taper the ends of each loaf. Place loaves on baking sheet. Cover and let rise in warm, draft-free place for only 20 minutes.

  17. Preheat oven 425 degrees F. Make 3 deep diagonal slashes on each loaf. Using a pastry brush, lightly but firmly baste the tops of the loaves with the egg wash.

  18.  Bake bread for 25 minutes, or until bread is browned and makes a hollow thumping sound when tapped firmly.

Cinnamon-y Snickerdoodles:
makes 4-5 dozen

1 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 2/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 cup sugar
1/8 cup cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400.
In a small bowl, combine 1/8 C sugar and 1/8 C cinnamon, blend well, then set aside.
Beat together shortening and 1 1/2 cups of sugar.
Beat in vanilla.
Incorporate eggs separately.
Combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.
Beat dry mixture into egg mixture.
Taking about 1 tablespoon of dough per cookie, roll the dough into balls, then roll each ball into the cinnamon sugar, coating completely.
Set onto an ungreased cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. You should be able to fit 12 balls of dough on the cookie sheet.
Bake for 8-10 minutes.
Allow to cool on cookie sheet for a minute or two, then remove cookies to a sheet of wax paper on the counter OR a cooling rack.
Store tightly covered.

Cinnamon Buns Popped Out From Spring Form Pan via Jessica’s Kitchen

Quick and Easy Cinnamon Buns:
(Allison Dickson)To make things more convenient, melt all 8 tablespoons of butter for the recipe at once and measure out as needed.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, for pan

Cinnamon-Sugar Filling
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Cinnamon Bun from the middle

Biscuit Dough
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional flour for work surface
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
11/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (Jessica’s note: I clabber lactose-free milk with some white vinegar)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened (Jessica’s note: I don’t use cream cheese and don’t have a lactose-free substitute, so I just use enough clabbered lactose-free milk and confectioner’s sugar to act as a glaze, mixed with about a teaspoon of vanilla extract)
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners’ sugar

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Pour 1 tablespoon melted butter in 9-inch nonstick cake pan; brush to coat pan. Spray wire rack with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

2. To make cinnamon-sugar filling: Combine sugars, spices, and salt in small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon melted butter and stir with fork or fingers until mixture resembles wet sand; set filling mixture aside.

3. To make biscuit dough: Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Whisk buttermilk and 2 tablespoons melted butter in measuring cup or small bowl. Add liquid to dry ingredients and stir with wooden spoon until liquid is absorbed (dough will look very shaggy), about 30 seconds. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead until just smooth and no longer shaggy.

4. Pat dough with hands into 12X 9-inch rectangle. Spread filling over, roll lengthwise, and cut into 8 even pieces, and arrange buns in buttered cake pan. Brush with 2 tablespoons remaining melted butter. Bake until edges are golden brown, 23 to 25 minutes. Use offset metal spatula to loosen buns from pan; without separating, slide buns out of pan onto greased cooling rack. Cool about 5 minutes before icing.

5. To make icing and finish buns: While buns are cooling, set rack with buns over baking sheet. Whisk cream cheese and buttermilk in large nonreactive bowl until thick and smooth (mixture will look like cottage cheese at first). Sift confectioners’ sugar over; whisk until smooth glaze forms, about 30 seconds. Spoon glaze evenly over buns; serve immediately.

Read Full Post »

Don’t let the prettiness fool you… this is failed cooked caramel icing.

Notice the lovely “whipped” texture?

Oh wait… no, it’s not.  It shattered.

Shattered Failed Cooked Caramel Icing

It did taste good, as long as it wasn’t too thick to bite into.  The birthday girl was ecstatic and the girls (including a guest) thought it was delicious.  The Mister wouldn’t try it, though.  He probably didn’t want to break a tooth.

I should have used my Lactose Free Soft Caramel recipe that I blogged a while back.  That would have been lovely and soft drizzled all over the cake.  Ah well.  I’ll know for next time.  To never have a next time when it comes to cooking icing ever again.

Read Full Post »

I’ve come to the disastrous, disappointing, but self-reflective conclusion that I will simply never, ever, ever, ever, EVER turn out a proper cooked icing recipe.  Ever.

Not cooked caramel.

Not cooked confectioner’s sugar.

Not cooked white sugar.

Not cooked brown sugar.

Not cooked vanilla.

None.  Nada.  Zip.  Zilch.  They’re a failure in my kitchen.  It’s not my fault, really.  I follow the directions, I use the appropriate utensils and equipment, and I simply don’t get the desired results in the claimed time frame.  Eff that, I don’t get the desired results in ANY time frame.  I’ve gotten scorched, overcooked, crumbly, drippy, soupy, watery, crusty, oily, flat… really anything other than fluffy and/or spreadable or dip-able.

I’ve tried the same recipe twice now in less than a week because today is Gracie’s tenth birthday and the girl loves caramel.  She wants caramel cake.  The cake part, well, I have that down pat.  But the icing? Yeah.  NO.  It looks lovely, but no where near fluffy after following all of the directions.  It cooled before it could get anywhere near “fluffy.”  So I heated it up again.  Same results, so this time I just poured it over the cake.

Now I have caramel candy topping the cake.  Whatevs, dudes.  I choose to believe that cooked icings exist in the same realm as Bigfoot, Atlantis, mermaids, and fairies.  I’m not thrilled about a candy topped cake because now I can’t put candles in her cake now.  I’m not even sure I can cut it.

I should say that Gracie is THRILLED that there are little chunks of drizzled caramel candy around the cake, and big chunks that I scraped off of the spoon I used for stirring after it cooled.  She doesn’t even care that it’s crunching.  It’s CARAMEL.  I hope she enjoys the cake as much.

This is the icing recipe I used.  I’ll leave the link, but I did NOT use the caramel cake recipe where the link leads.

Caramel Icing
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into a few chunks
1/4 teaspoon salt, generous
1/4 cup milk (Jessica used lactose-free milk)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Put the dark brown sugar, butter and salt in a medium saucepan, and melt them together over medium heat, stirring often. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the milk and vanilla. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Dump in the confectioners’ sugar all at once and beat with a wooden spoon until the icing is thickened and smooth. Quickly ice the cupcakes by holding each by the base and dipping the tops in the hot icing, rolling them slightly to coat evenly. Turn them quickly upright so the icing will even out while it’s still warm and will set smoothly. Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Read more at:

Read Full Post »


Cappuccino (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Oh my gosh, there is just not enough coffee in the world today.  Not to wake up, not to warm up.  Speaking of… we’re not even supposed to get more than a dusting of snow today.  Maybe a total of two inches, and the further north in the state you get the less snow there should be if you listen to NBC Connecticut AND YET there are schools dismissing early and evening activities canceling.

Come ON people! This is Connecticut! NEW ENGLAND! We have been in New England dealing with harsh winter weather, well… harsher weather than this… for hundreds of years.  I’m a horrible New Englander and I’m not even phased by this.  So far my town hasn’t released school early and I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed.

Granted, I’m home from work today because our heater bit the dust and we’re waiting for a part to come in to repair it and the temperatures are just not fun to deal with.  But the roads are a different matter.  It’s FLURRIES.  Not snow, not ice, not sleet or even freezing rain.  Flurries and clouds.

The most today needs is not early school dismissal or evening activity cancellation until you have heating issues, but a shit-ton of coffee, tea, cocoa, and other hot potables like soup.  In fact, today would be a good day to dig up my Ode to Coffee post.

Luckily I’m in happy stock of coffee, which I’ll be polishing off shortly.  I have a fresh, full box of fully caffeinated green tea.  I also have decaf green tea.  Of course, I have green tea with super fruit flavors like cranberry and blueberry.  There’s also chamomile tea.  I cracked open a new box of vanilla chai tea a night or two ago and expect to whip that out shortly.  When the girls get home from school, whenever that is, I have some recently made homemade hot chocolate mix.

O’hai, you want to know how to make homemade hot chocolate mix? It’s lactose-free, which makes it even better.  You need a medium sized Tupperware container.  You need an entire container of unsweetened powdered cocoa like Hershey Cocoa Powder.  Put it into the container with two cups of white sugar and one tablespoon of fine salt.  Cover with a tight lid and shake.  Heat milk in a mug in the microwave and add the mix per tablespoon into the mug and stir well, or heat the milk in a pan on the stove and stir it so that it doesn’t scald and then add the cocoa mix to taste and stir until it’s melted in.  Then serve in mugs.

We love hot drinks in this house.  Can you tell? When my girls are sick, they love hot drinks the way I do.  My eldest and youngest ask for hot chicken broth in a mug, so I always keep bouillon cubes in the pantry.  My middle daughter loves to have hot tea when she’s not feeling well, so I keep chamomile for her although she’ll drink almost any tea.  Her favorite seems to be vanilla chai, and in the summer she likes it iced.  A runner up is iced caramel tea, which is made from a black tea, blended up just the same way we make chai.  Delish.  I love the caramel tea hot, too.  Lipton has an interesting caramel truffle tea, but it’s not as good as vanilla caramel in the other brand… um… Bigelow.  I get the vanilla chai from Bigelow too.

I still make my coffee using a French press.  Every now and then I use my electric coffee maker, but I’m out of those coffee grounds.  I’d love to have one of those new KeurigMr.Coffee hybrids for Christmas, though, for the mornings I need a mug of coffee before work but don’t have time to press some coffee.  I never have time to press coffee on work mornings.  It would also be great on mornings when I want to ask The Mister or one of the girls to “make” me some coffee and the response is, “I can’t run to Dunkin Donuts right now, sorry.”  🙂  Of course I saw those cute little reusable Keurig k-cups that you can put your own coffee grounds into.  Those are brilliant.

Speaking of Christmas, I know I’m not the only one who hasn’t even started gift shopping.  But that could be a whole ‘nother post.  🙂

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: