So I Married a Chef

Adventures in Baking Balanced with Exercise and Healthy Meals

Thank You! January 13, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — carly71722 @ 9:33 am

I just wanted to thank everyone for reading my story, and for providing such positive comments. It was hard to tell, but I always feel better when I do!

**Note, the original post has been edited to add in pictures**

 

The Most Honest Post I Have Written – My Story… January 10, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — carly71722 @ 10:21 am

I am a very open and honest person. I tend to share too much on occasion, say things I maybe shouldn’t say, and I am blunt. I am a talker, always have been and always will be. So, for some reason it surprises me that I have never actually shared “My Story” on the blog like most other bloggers do. I’m not sure if it is embarrassment, the fact that I hate facing old demons, or that I don’t like to think about previous bad points in my life because I have moved on so much further than I could have ever felt possible.

However, the other day I was at the gym finishing up my workout when I noticed a girl wearing a gymnastics t-shirt. The gymnastics community is pretty tight knit. Whether we know each other or not, we all feel some kind of connection. It may have been that we all realize the long hours slaved at the gym with no social life during high school, the kind of determination we all had to have to stick with it, or just that it is fun to talk gymnastics with someone 10 years after you retired (i.e. graduated and really had no chance of going on in college because it is just that hard)! Anyway, I said hi to the girl and we ended up chatting for 15 or so minutes about life. We had so many things in common – mainly our struggles with body image, weight, eating, exercise. I shared with her my story – good parts and bad. I didn’t really think much about it until toward the end of the conversation she said to me something along the lines of – You just made my day. You gave me hope that there is another side of this and I can get better. With that said, I took a step back, felt shocked, and realized that I should really share my story. If I can help one girl to feel that she can get through her struggles, I consider my struggles worth the year of horror that I endured.

So, I have set up the background and if you have continued to read this, you are probably like WTF is she talking about!?!? Yes this is going to be a long, heart felt post, but it needs to be shared. This is the story of my struggle with an eating disorder – I know there are a LOT of people that can relate. I just hope that you continue to read, and if you are struggling with some of the same problems – THERE CAN BE A HAPPY ENDING!

Growing Up!
As I said, I was a gymnast growing up. I was decent, didn’t work to my potential, and scared of a lot of tricks. But, floor was my outlet. I was an awesome tumbler, and it gave me such a rush!  I broke my wrist junior year of HS and thought I was done. But, I decided to heal, and get back on the train for senior year. I competed for my high school, and it had been my goal each year to make states. Sophomore and Junior year I was injured, so that couldn’t happen. Senior year was my year. I pushed myself hard, qualified on floor exercise, and had FUN while I competed. Surprisingly, this led me to a 7th place finish – just 0.025 away from earning a medal. Hey, I was just happy to qualify so that was awesome :) I never really worried about weight, or my body. I practiced 16 – 20 hours a week, I was a bundle of muscle, and that was that.

College
I went to Miami University in Ohio – if you know of Miami, you probably think that this is where the ED started. Not the case. College for me was filled with classes (I rarely missed), time with friends, late night eating, and drinking my face off. Oh yeah, and gaining a ton of weight. The weight mainly came my junior year when my best friend and I had both broken up with boyfriends and felt that partying was the outlet that we hadn’t had yet! I graduated in 4 years with a degree in Math Education. The summer after college I lost about 10 lbs (just guessing) just in alcohol detox. I obviously wasn’t going out as often, so it naturally just came off.

Teaching
I was lucky enough to get my first teaching job right out of college. It just so happened that one of the schools I applied at needed a math teacher and a gymnastics coach, and I was the perfect fit. I hated teaching my first year, but stuck it out for a second. During the summer between these two years, one of my colleagues asked me to join the gym with her. She taught me how to use the elliptical, and a minimal amount of weights. It was fun and I got hooked. I lost some more weight that summer, but I got to a healthy weight and that was great. I was working out 3-4 times a week, eating what I wanted, and drinking only on occasion. During my second year of teaching I realized that I wanted to go back for my masters. Since exercise had become so important to
me, I decided to continue my passion by studying Exercise Science. That summer (before school started), I wasn’t exercising nearly as much because I was taking anatomy and physiology, and working full time. Bad excuse, but the truth. Oh, and it was also the summer that I met my husband, Joe :) So, naturally spending time with him took a little bit of a precedence to exercise – oops!

Here are some pics from when I first met my husband. This one is at a wedding. (I used to straighten my hair!)

Here we are visiting in Pittsburgh.


Graduate School
I got a graduate assistantship, which meant helping with research, teaching some classes, and really getting to know the professors. It also meant my tuition was covered :) My first two semesters (out of three) were great. I got back into my fitness regimen, and I learned SO much about exercise physiology that still continues to fascinate me today! I also gained some amazing friendships. My final semester – summer 2007, I had to do an internship and take a few classes. My internship was where all of my problems began. I decided to work with the fitness director of a local, private club. She also happened to be a figure competitor. She preached to me a lot of her body building diet and how I wasn’t getting in enough exercise. She was doing 2 a days of cardio with lifting in the afternoon. I got myself up to 5-7 days a week of cardio with lifting most of these days. When it came to food, I will never forget the phrase that she said that turned my life around. Cookies, brownies, anything with fat was “just not worth it”. She showed me her before and after pictures…. and I became obsessed – with working out, eating “healthy”, and restricting my diet because everything enjoyable was “just not worth it” if I wanted results. Joe moved to Chicago in April, shortly before I started my internship. So, spending time with him now went to exercise. I was planning on moving to Chicago in August when I graduated. At that point in time I was
looking healthy – thin and strong. But mentally I was starting to get very unhealthy. I remember getting my body fat measured with that BodPod and I was at 14% and I weighed in the 120′s. That is on the very thin side for a woman, but I was so proud of my accomplishment.good – thin, healthy, strong….

Here are two pics from graduate school. This is when I was doing a project for my internship, starting to thin out.

This was my final grad school project. I was probably around 120-125 pounds in both of these pics.


Chicago
My time in Chicago was probably the worst time of my life. It should have been the best – great city, I got engaged, I was on my own… but I was so obsessed with myself, eating, working out, etc that I couldn’t even enjoy my time. I often look back and wonder how Joe ever stayed with me. But I thank God that he did because I could honestly be dead without him. We were working opposite schedules, so I had nobody to monitor my unhealthy behavior. When I wasn’t at work I sat at home counting my calories, measuring and counting everything I ate, obsessing about healthy recipes, planning meals down to the calorie, and challenging myself to say “no” to bad foods – i.e. sweets, alcohol, fat, etc. I would go to grocery stores and walk past samples just to prove to myself how easy it was to say no. If I did slip up and eat something bad, I would go on a 5 mile walk to get rid of it. I figured that walk wasn’t a workout because I wasn’t pushing myself to the extreme – severely distorted behavior. I once tried to vomit, but it didn’t work. I just restricted instead. I cut my food up into tiny bites and would eat so slow that I would never feel “full” because if I did feel full then I overate (in my ridiculous mind). I was the meanest person ever. I was horrible to Joe. I lashed out on him, showed him little affection, and I still wonder today why he ever stuck with me. I think it was because he knew what I was like before the ED took over me, and he was confident that I could get there again. I was in a spiral of depression and anxiety. I was constantly on edge. I had an amazing job that I took for granted because my head just wasn’t there.

Here is the fall of 2007. I am wearing an Under Armour shirt that I had to cover up to hide how thin I was. I was probably around 100-105 lbs here.

For Christmas of 2007 I came home to Cleveland. I remember my dad sitting and crying with me as he watched me waste away. He and my brother sat down with me and convinced me to see a psychiatrist to get some anti-anxiety medicine. We have a lot of mental illness in my family and several of my family members have been off and on anti-depressants, so it didn’t surprise me that I needed something. I was well aware that I had a problem, but I was so engrossed in myself that I didn’t know how to let my guard down and fix the problem. In January 2008 I bottomed out at 93 lbs. It doesn’t sound so bad, but I was lifting weights, so I had some muscle. I’ll put it this way – size 00 was sagging on me. I went on Lexapro in January. It really helped me to get my chemical balance back. In January I was at least able to maintain my weight around 100 lbs. Joe became convinced that the only way I was going to get better was to move back to Ohio and clear my mind. So we did….

Here was when I bottomed out… trying on my wedding dress over Christmas 2007. I was probably around 95 lbs. My hair, cheekbones, collar bone, and arms completely disgust me now! My hair was obviously thinning and falling out :(


Back to Cleveland
That summer I got “better”. Joe is the main reason, along with my parents. We moved into my parents’ house for a few months while we planned our wedding and looked for a house. What really helped was the combination of my anti-anxiety meds and Joe eating with me. He put on a lot of weight that summer to help me get healthy. He would eat with me when I was hungry and keep eating with me until I was full. He wasn’t hungry, but he knew that I wouldn’t feel so bad about eating if he did it too. I went back to teaching that fall. I still hated it, but it helped me get through my problems. The consistent schedule was a big part of it, along with a great team of colleagues. I went off of Lexapro shortly after my wedding in October. I coached gymnastics that winter as well, and I truly got better. I put on 40-50 lbs of much needed weight. Joe has since told me that back in Chicago he wasn’t even attracted to me anymore. I just thank my lucky stars that he stood by me and helped me anyway.

Here is me in fall of 2008 when I got married!

Dancing with my man :)

Now
Do I still have lapses? YES! Do I still stress sometimes about what I eat? YES! But do I have the strength and support to get through it? YES! I have nights where I binge and get upset with myself. I had a little lapse this past spring when I was contemplating quitting teaching. It was incredibly stressful, and I found myself back in a size 2. I am a 4-6 when healthy. Once I quit, I let down my guard and gained some weight back. I am a little bigger right now than I’d like to be, I have horrible self control around sweets, but I wake up each morning knowing that I am happier and healthier a little bigger than I’d like to be, than as small as I was. I try to make healthy meal choices, and indulge in sweets when I want. The holidays have gotten me off track – too much sweets and alcohol. I’m still trying to get more consistent. But, the solution now is not to restrict and starve myself. It is to take the harder, longer road of re-incorporating healthy food, reasonable amounts of sweets, and a lot less drinking. Also, consistent exercise. Exercise is a HUGE part of my life!  I just don’t let it become an obsession like it used to be. Rather it is a stress outlet, a way to feel good about myself, and a way that Joe and I have bonded more. I got him on a workout plan a little over a year ago and now it is another hobby and interest that we share :) There are things that I did to my body that I can only hope can be remedied later, but I’m not sure. My body doesn’t ovulate anymore. I am just keeping my fingers crossed that some the amazing doctors in this world can help with that when I’m ready for children. But only time will tell…

A pic from this summer – I don’t take pictures often, so this is the best I’ve got! My hair is a hot mess since this was taken after work where I wear a hat. My weight has probably fluxed a little since then (hello holidays!?!?), but I’m back on track!


Eating disorders are so hard to understand if you have never experienced one. I can’t explain what it feels like to be so obsessed, I just know how it feels. I can only hope that my success story can inspire someone else to know that there is a rich and plentiful life on the other side of it. It isn’t a perfect life, but it is so much happier and more enjoyable than a life devoted to obsession and selfishness. Having my dogs has also helped me a ton. They love me no matter what and have taught me to be a lot less selfish. When I have someone else to care for and take care of, I care less about obsessing about myself.

You don’t need to tell me if you have had similar struggles, because it is hard to share. Share if you want. If you know anyone that is struggling, or you yourself are, read this and realize how much better your life can be. Share this post with someone who is struggling. I never realized how inspirational it could be until yesterday when I simply shared what I had been through with someone who is recovering. Do one thing for yourself today…

Look in the mirror and find something beautiful about yourself. Don’t find a fault! I have great eyes – thanks Dad! 


 

Previously Unreleased…. the BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies :) January 6, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — carly71722 @ 9:19 am

I love creating and revising recipes. I think that’s my favorite part of baking. I typically will only make someone else’s recipe once before I go to town making changes. For example… I LOVED the Oreo Bark that I got from How Sweet Eats. So, this week when I made more to bring to Arizona I made it Peanut  Butter Oreo Bark by mixing some brown sugar and peanut butter into the white chocolate. I was stupid to make it a week before I leave for AZ because at this point I’m not sure it will make it there ;) In addition to the bark, I am bringing those Ginger Molasses Cookies that I made for Christmas – downsized to 2 oz balls for better packing purposes, and my very best Chocolate Chip Cookies that I have shown before but never posted a recipe for!

I often don’t post recipes for the product that I sell. However, I really don’t think that I want to be a professional baker anymore. I love sharing my products, but making the same recipes over and over lost its fun for me. As I said above, I LOVE LOVE LOVE coming up with new recipes. When I’m selling, I don’t have time to create new recipes, and my customers expect the same products. So, with that, I will be posting some of my previously unreleased recipes in posts to come!

When I first worked on my Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, I started with this recipe from My Baking Addiction. I started off with her recipe, and then for batch 2, I made some changes. I love using some dark brown sugar in chocolate chip cookies, so I changed to a combination of light and dark brown sugar, and regular granulated sugar. I also like a little more salt in my cookies, so I increased that a touch as well. Then, I tried to think about something different that would give a little warmth and comfort to the cookies – maple extract. HOLY YUM!  There is something about the touch of maple that just gives the cookie a homey, comforting edge. I also think this addition would lend well to adding some walnuts or pecans. I haven’t tried it yet because my family is anti-nut in cookies (what!?!?), but I need to try that soon as I believe it would be out of this world! So… onto the cookies! Recipe will be at the end of the post.

Ingredients – out and ready!

I started by weighing out my dry ingredients and whisking them together.  Then, I weighed out the chocolate chips and added a spoonful of the dry mixture to coat them. I find this helps the chocolate chips to stay mixed in the final dough instead of sinking to the bottom.

Then, I weighed out the sugars, and added cubed COLD butter to the mix.

Cream it! This takes a while because the butter is cold. Just walk away for a few if you have to.

Add in the eggs, one at a time, and mix well between each.

The eggs will help the dough get fluffy and smooth!

Add in the extracts.

Mix it up!

Then, add in the dry mixture. I do this in about 3 additions, mixing until just combined each time.

Then, mix in those chips – either on low or by hand. Then, wrap the dough in plastic wrap.

I always chill my dough before I bake. I truly think it helps to have cold dough if you want a really doughy cookie! I chill for at least several hours (4-6), and if possible overnight. I was able to chill the dough overnight this time. Then, I roll the dough into 45g dough balls (a little over 1.5 oz). I usually can fit about 8 – 9 on a large baking sheet lined with Silpat.

They usually take 14-16 minutes to bake. They will look caramel colored around the edges and underbaked in the middle.

Cool on the sheet for a few, and then cool completely on a wire rack. Or, you can always sneak one warm ;)

This is a cute pic, but I definitely need better backgrounds than my kitchen!

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (344 g)
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (454 g)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar (110 g)
1 cup light brown sugar (220 g)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (100 g)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, COLD and cubed
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp maple extract

1. Whisk together flour,  salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Add a spoonful to the chocolate chips and stir to coat.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine sugars and butter. Cream for several minutes until well combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition, the mixture will be paler and fluffy. Add in extracts and mix well. In 3 additions, add in the dry mixture. Mix until just combined with each addition. Slowly mix in the chocolate chips on low speed or by hand. Cover and chill for several hours or overnight.
3. Preheat oven to 350*. Line a baking sheet with parchment or silpat. Weigh the dough into 45 g dough balls. Bake for 14-16 minutes until the edges are caramel colored and the center looks slightly underbaked. Cool for about 8-10 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

The edges of the cookies are a crisp, caramel flavor while the center stays chewy, soft, and doughy!!  They are simply the best :)

Coming soon…. a fitness post!

Happy New Year!!!! A little late, but I this is my first post of 2011!

 

Christmas Cookies!!! December 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — carly71722 @ 5:22 pm

Merry Christmas :) I look forward to making Christmas cookies all year. I think about them for weeks ahead of time, planning just the right mix. I haven’t posted anything in a few weeks – honestly because I haven’t made anything post-worthy. My dinners have been boring and quickly thrown together, and I haven’t baked a thing. But this week was a different story.

My Christmas “baking” began on Tuesday night with Oreo Bark from How Sweet it Is. I was impatient and my bark ended up a little marbled, but ridiculously delicious none the less. On Thursday morning I made 3 batches of dough, and baked them off in the afternoon. This year I went with Chocolate Mint Cookies (modified from Amy’s Bread), Ginger Molasses Cookies (which I have FINALLY perfected the recipe for), and Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies (still needs some work on the type/amount of bacon, but the dough is perfect).

LOTS of dough!  I always chill my dough wrapped in plastic wrap for several hours before baking.

Chocolate Mint Cookies….

Ginger Molasses…

Peanut Butter Bacon… Check out the delicious bacon pieces in there!

All of the goods! (well, just one tin of each ;) )

Recipes anyone??? Here goes…

Chocolate Mint Cookies (adapted and modified from The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread)

1 5/8 cups all-purpose flour
3/8 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1 bag (10 oz) andes mint pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350*. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3. Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler or in the microwave (50% power for 3 min). Set aside.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl frequently. Pour in melted chocolate and continue mixing until the batter is uniform in color. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add in the extracts and mix again until just combined.
5. Add the dry ingredients in stages, mixing until just combined with each addition. Stir in the andes pieces on low speed or by hand. Chill dough for several hours.
6. Weigh dough into 2 oz balls (or divide into 23 even cookies). Press down lightly on the top, don’t flatten. Place dough on prepared cookie sheet with several inches between the cookies (I fit about 8 per sheet). Bake for 16-18 minutes. Cool on sheet for 8 minutes and transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Makes 23 cookies.

 

Ginger Molasses Cookies (adapted from several unremember recipes, but changed to make it my own after several tries)

4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
1 tsp vanilla
extra sugar for tops of cookies

1. Preheat oven to 350*. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Mix in the molasses and vanilla until the dough is uniform. Add the dry mixture in stages mixing until just combined with each addition. Chill dough for several hours.
4. Weigh dough into 3 oz balls (or about 16 even cookies). Gently press the top down (don’t flatten), and dip the top of the cookie into sugar. Place on baking sheet with LOTS of room for spreading ( I did about 5-6 per sheet). Bake for 18-20 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Makes 16 cookies

 

Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies (my own created and tweaked peanut butter cookie recipe)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
1 egg
3/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp maple extract
8 pieces of bacon, cooked and crumbled

1. Preheat oven to 350*. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
2. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
3. Using a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in the peanut butter until combined. Add the egg and mix well. Add the extract and mix until combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix until the dough just comes together. Either by hand or low speed, mix in the bacon. Chill dough several hours.
4. Weigh dough into 2 oz. balls (about 15 cookies). Press down into a semi-flat oval, but not completely flattened. Bake on prepared cookie sheet for about 16 minutes. Cool on sheet for 8 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Makes 15 cookies.

 

Have you ever baked with bacon?

What was your favorite cookie this holiday season?

 

Amazing Brownies for a Blogger Cookie Swap December 3, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — carly71722 @ 4:30 pm

If I haven’t said this before, my two favorite baked goods of all time are brownies and cheesecake. These are pretty much the most dangerous foods for me, and therefore don’t make it into my house very often except on special occasions. When they do show up, they don’t last long that’s for sure. Last month I was sent an invite for a Cleveland blogger cookie swap hosted by Alicia of Poise in Parma. Naturally, with my love of baking, I wanted to go all out and come up with something festive, delicious, and sinful. I researched recipes for a while. Finally I decided that a cheesecake brownie was the way to go. But… to make it festive I went with a Peppermint Cheesecake Brownie.

Two Christmas’ ago I made an amazing Peppermint Chip Cheesecake from Mary Crownover’s I Heart Cheesecake book. It was smooth, creamy, rich, and loaded with peppermint flavor. So, for my brownies I basically cut her recipe in half with one small change. For the brownies, I doubled David Lebovitz’s recipe in order to make a 9×13. Finally, I borrowed Angela of Oh She Glows idea to sprinkle crushed candy canes on top for extra flavor and color. I actually had never made cheesecake brownies before, so I was a little nervous for how it would turn out. Let me say… this could possibly be the most dangerous holiday treat of the year. In other words… make it ASAP but be sure to share the wealth before you devour the entire pan on your own ;)

Whenever I work with cream cheese, I like to beat it alone to smooth it out. If cream cheese isn’t softened enough, you can just beat it to death until it becomes smooth.

Then, add in sugar and cream the two together.

Add the eggs, one at a time. Beat well with each addition and scrape the bowl.

Add in cornstarch and sour cream. I love the addition of sour cream to a cheesecake. It’s tartness really balances out the sugar. Mix until well combined.

Next is a combination of peppermint extract (don’t use “mint”), peppermint schnapps, and vanilla extract. Beat until well combined and then set the mixture aside while you make the brownie.

Onto the brownies… start by melting some bittersweet chocolate and butter over a double boiler.

Once melted, add to the sugar and whisk together.

Whisk in your eggs until smooth.

Then add in the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Whisk until just combined.

Gently stir in the vanilla.

Fold in the chocolate chips. If you are considering omitting the chips, DON’T!  They really provide a nice texture to the finished brownie :)

Now, spread about 2/3 of the brownie mixture into a 9×13 pan buttered, lined with parchment, and buttered again.

Then, spread the cheesecake filling evenly over the brownie base.

Then, drop spoonfuls of the remaining brownie batter over the top.

Then, use a knife to gently swirl, not mix, the brownie and cheesecake batters.

Go ahead, lick the knife. It will only make the anticipation of the finished brownies that much worse, but 100% worth the tease.

Finally, sprinkle the crushed candy cane over the top.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the cheesecake is set and the edges pull away from the pan.

Let the brownies cool to room temperature, run a knife around the edges, resist every temptation to cut in (I promise they are better chilled), and chill for several hours or overnight. Then, cut, eat, share, hoard, whatever your choose.

Here is what I brought to the cookie exchange: Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies and Caribbean Crunch Blondies

Gluten-Free Orange Walnut Biscotti

Here is the lovely spread provided by just 4 bloggers that could attend.

And the bloggers – ignore the fact that I came straight from work.

L to R: Katie of Healthy Heddleston , Alicia of Poise in Parma, Kali of Finishing Firsts, and ME! This was my first time meeting Katie and Kali. We all had such a great time chatting and I can’t wait for our next meet up!

Recipe…

Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies

Cheesecake:
16 oz. cream cheese, softened (use full fat, it works best)
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup sour cream (low fat works fine)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. peppermint extract
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp. peppermint schnapps

Brownie:
12 Tbsp. butter
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/3 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
8 candy canes, crushed

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter a 9×13 pan, line with parchment, butter parchment.
2. For the cheesecake: In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add then sugar and cream together. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the cornstarch and sour cream and mix until combined. Add in the extracts and schnapps and mix until combined. Set aside.
3. For the brownie: In a double boiler, melt together the butter and bittersweet chocolate. When melted, transfer to a large bowl and whisk in sugar. Whisk in the eggs until smooth. Add the flour, cocoa, and salt and whisk until just combined. Slowly whisk in the vanilla extract so as not to over mix. Fold in the chocolate chips.
4. To assemble: spread 2/3 of the brownie batter in the prepared pan. Spread the cheesecake evenly over the brownie batter. Spoon the remaining brownie batter over the top, it won’t cover the entire thing. Use a knife to gently swirl together the batters, don’t mix. Sprinkle the top with the crushed candy canes. Bake for 50-60 minutes until the cheesecake is set and barely pulls away from the edges of the pan, and a toothpick inserted comes out almost clean (a few crumbs attached is good). Cool completely in the pan. Chill several hours or overnight before slicing. Makes about 24 brownies (edges cut off) or 28 (edges left on).

What is your favorite holiday treat? Cookies, cakes, cheesecake, and bars included!

Do you hit the gym more over the holiday season to make up for eating a bunch of treats?

 

 

 

 

 

AMAZING Granola November 30, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — carly71722 @ 11:52 am

So, I didn’t really take any pictures of the granola making process. I apologize ahead of time, but here’s the story…

I realized that I was low on granola. I make it every 2-3 weeks and snack on a little each day with yogurt, oats, my hand. Anyway, this morning I topped my oats with a small handful and Joe finished off the rest of the batch. The previous granola was an awesome honey almond one that will be shared later. I was brainstorming what kind to make next while I threw together my Caribbean Crunch Blondies for a blogger cookie exchange this week. These blondies are spiked with rum and have toasted coconut, white chocolate, and macadamia nuts. TO.DIE.FOR! With the smell permeating my kitchen, I used this as an inspiration for my granola. I had no intentions of blogging this, but upon first bite I knew it was a recipe that was to be shared with the blog world. Meet – Coconut Rum Granola.

Coconut Rum Granola

Combine the following dry ingredients in a large bowl:
3 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. flax meal
3 T. brown sugar
2 Tbsp chia seeds
1/4 tsp salt

Combine the following wet ingredients in a small bowl or measuring cup:
1/4 cup agave nectar
3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 Tbsp applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp coconut extract
1 1/2 tsp dark rum

1. Preheat the oven to 350*. Line a sheet pan with silpat or parchment.
2. Mix wet and dry ingredients together (use your hands, it works well). Spread mixture onto prepared baking sheet.
3. Bake for 10-15 minutes, stirring every 3-5 minutes. The mixture will have dried up a little, but will still be moist.

Add and stir in:
1 cup almonds
1/2 cup shredded coconut

4. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes, again stirring every 3-5 minutes. Remove from the oven when the mixture has browned a little, and is still just a tiny bit wet, the edges of the pan will be darker. The granola will crisp up while it cools on the pan.

Add and stir in:
1 cup dried cherries

5. Let cool completely on the cookie sheet. Devour. Lock this up, it is quite dangerous :)

Check it out up close, you can see the little white chia seeds.

This makes about 6 cups. These are each 2 cup Ball jars.

Stay tuned for the cookie exchange. I am bringing three different goods.

What’s your favorite kind of granola? Do you make your own, or buy it?

 

Sausage Spinach Soup November 11, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — carly71722 @ 8:06 pm

Soup season is upon us :) I make at least one soup a week (with plenty of lunch leftovers) during the fall and winter. While many find comfort in cheesy, creamy casseroles, I find soup to be my ultimate comfort food. Lucky for me there are a TON of super healthy, veggie packed soups. One of mine and Joe’s favorites is this Sausage Spinach Soup from Cooking Light. As with most food recipes, I don’t follow the directions or measure anything, but I use it as a guide and taste test to get my final result. What I love about this soup is the spice of the turkey sausage coupled with superfoods like beans and spinach. YUM!

Here is what I started with – I used 12 oz of SPICY turkey sausage (10 oz would be 2 1/2 sausages… seriously?!?!), a full quart of chicken stock and no water, 19 oz of cannellini beans, diced tomatoes (I like them better than stewed), and dry spices.

Start with a large, heated stockpot sprayed with cooking spray. Add in the sausage (out of casing) and brown.

Once browned, add in the garlic and onion. I went with a whole onion and 3 garlic cloves.

And stir it in. Cook for a few minutes – until the onion starts to become translucent.

Then add in the beans, tomatoes, spices (salt, pepper, oregano, garlic), and chicken stock.

I also added a healthy shake of Awesome Antler Rub by Mom’s Gourmet.

Mom’s Gourmet is a local Cleveland company. They make AMAZING spice blends. I was introduced to them this summer at the farmers market. The wonderful grass-fed beef stand right next to me (SandFarm) also sold these rubs. I am addicted to this one and pretty much add it to almost everything I make :) Find it at Whole Foods if you live in Cleveland! Sorry to plug more, but SandFarm beef is great!  They do weekend pickups. Check out their site if you are interested.

Anyway… onto the soup :) Bring everything to a boil.

Then, reduce and simmer for 3 minutes. After, add in the spinach. I just grabbed two HUGE handfuls!  The more the merrier for me when it comes to greens.

Stir it around until the spinach wilts. The final soup will look like this:

I served mine up with some grated parmesan and a piece of toast. Joe made the bread yesterday and it is delish!

Enjoy!

Are you much of a soup person? What is your ultimate comfort food?

Later and thanks for reading :)

 

 
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