Aloha Friday: Indulge Me

It’s time for another Aloha Friday, the day that you take it easy and look forward to the weekend, in Hawaii and blog land anyway. As you should know by now, over at An Island Life, Kailani decided that on Fridays she would take it easy on posting and ask a simple question for you to answer. Nothing that requires a lengthy response.

If you’d like to participate, just post your own question on your blog and leave your link at An Island Life’s blog. Don’t forget to visit the other participants! It’s a great way to make new bloggy friends!

I’m pretty sure you will probably see a dozen or more questions about the 4th of July today which is cool but seeing as we’re all 1,000 miles away from everyone we know and don’t like crowds of strangers, we’re not planning anything typical for our 4th this year (well that’s not true – we’re planning a picnic bbq of sorts at some local park or beach where hopefully nobody else will be). So anyway, whatev – as much as I’m looking forward to the 4th of July, I’ll be honest, I’m mostly just looking forward to the FOOD. I’m going to make lemon bars – there will also be homemade beef teriyaki, bratwurst, deviled eggs, pasta salad, celery with peanut butter and maybe some popcorn. Seriously – just for the 3 1/2 of us.

But the thing is – this doesn’t even begin to satiate all the cravings I’m having lately. I dealt with foodie desires REALLY well for most of my pregnancy, counting my calories away like a good little preggo. But for the past week or so, or maybe more, it’s getting harder. Like all I want to do is throw away the rules and just INDULGE for all I’m worth in all things sweet and salty and delicious and not count a single bite. But I also don’t want to gain 80 pounds in the last three weeks of my pregnancy. So I’m trying to behave and getting in a few indulgences where I can…

Anyway for Aloha Friday, tell me…

If you could indulge in one thing right now, what would it be?

t13: Thirteen Sweet Recipes I’m Coveting

Between being hugely pregnant and prone to craving sweet treats and having access to Food Network again for the first time in like two years, my sweet tooth coveting tendencies have been kicked into overdrive lately. Here are thirteen desserts and assorted sweet treats that I have a hankering to make right now and the people responsible.

  1. Wanted: Chocolate Ricotta PiePerson To Blame: Giada De Laurentiis – The first thing that struck me about this recipe was, “holy cow I want a food processor.” Watching her make it had me drooling for her appliances just as much as the dessert, which I mean – what’s not to love about chocolate pie?
  2. Wanted: Key Lime PiePerson to Blame: The Pioneer Woman – I’m not sure if she knows this but right now lemons and limes are like my favorite thing in the world, which is weird because before pregnancy they were kind of a take it or leave it thing with me. I’m guessing this little baby of mine is a citrus fiend, and I’m anxious to make something along these lines soon.
  3. Wanted: Hazelnut & Chocolate Pie w/ Vanilla Whipped CreamPerson To Blame: Giada De Laurentiis – This just looks decadent – she compared it to flourless chocolate cake which is one of my other new favorite things and um yeah, me wants it.
  4. Wanted: Lemon BarsPerson To Blame: Bakerella – Again with the lemon and me obsessively craving it – these bars look absolutely delicious and her pictures weren’t helping matters (see left). She even cooked these with her kids which had me feeling all, “I should be a super mommy and cook with my son, too,” but the truth is I just really want to eat a lemon bar.
  5. Wanted: Earl Grey Shortbread CookiesPerson To Blame: Claire Robinson – Claire hosts a show on Food Network called 5 Ingredient Fix – I love the idea of the show and her food looks really good. Some of her recipes I think I’d add a couple more things to and spice them up but I like the idea of keeping it simple and letting a few stellar ingredients really stand out and shine in a recipe. And I like cookies.
  6. Wanted: Biscotti Gelato Sandwiches and EspressoPerson To Blame: Giada De Laurentiis – I’m not the biggest fan of biscotti but I love ice cream cookies and espresso and I’m supremely tempted to give this “recipe” a try – Giada certainly made it look delicious, but then she does that, doesn’t she?
  7. Wanted: Chocolate Peanut Butter PiePerson To Blame: The Pioneer Woman – I love chocolate peanut butter pie but I’ve only had it a couple times and I’ve been on the hunt for a good recipe for it – this looks like the recipe – it’s perfect and I plan to make this in the near future or at least by Thanksgiving.
  8. Wanted: French Toast with Strawberries and CreamPerson To Blame: Claire Robinson – Another thing I recently discovered that I like is French Toast. I know – these are things normal people learn at like infancy or something – but I swear I never liked it until a couple weekends ago when Dan made some and I suddenly wanted them, too. And they were delicious. Claire’s recipe is of course super easy and the strawberries on top are genius. I’ve actually made this one already and will definitely make it again.
  9. Wanted: Limoncello Cheesecake Squares – Person To Blame: Giada De Laurentiis – As soon as I pop this baby out and I’m either not nursing or can take a couple hours off from nursing, I want to try some Limoncello (a lemon liquor) or some equivalent thereof. And I want to make these cheesecake squares for sure – they look delicious and you might have noticed that I’m infatuated with all things lemon, so yeah. This one needs to be made for sure.
  10. Wanted: Cream Puffs With Lemon Mousse and Blueberry SaucePerson To Blame: Martha Stewart – I’m not sure how Martha Stewart ended up on my list – I don’t watch her show, at least not normally – but this looks fantastic and I definitely want to try it sometime.
  11. Wanted: Strawberry Peach DipPerson To Blame: My Wooden Spoon – Honestly it was the picture (see left) that made me start craving this recipe. It sounds (and looks) perfect for the summer – what could be better than a tray full of fresh fruits and a delicious dip to eat with them? I’m thinking nothing unless I can have that and the other twelve desserts on this list also. That might be better. Also – can I have her serving dishes because they are adorable (speaking of coveting).
  12. Wanted: Individual Orange and Chocolate CheesecakesPerson To Blame: Giada De Laurentiis – These look so cute and I love the idea of making individual servings – with such a small family somehow this feels like less of a waste of baking because they are so grab and go and I bet you could freeze half of them or something. Or just eat like five at a time.
  13. Wanted: White Chocolate MoussePerson To Blame: Claire Robinson – This sounds so easy to make and delicious. I’d love to make this when my mother-in-law comes to visit as she’s allergic to chocolate and the blackberries to go with it? Heavenly.

Check out the new home of Thursday 13 for more Thursday 13 participants!

It's Time For a Change

I have conflicting views on this notion called “dieting” – I think it’s important to eat what you love, but I also think it’s important to live a healthy lifestyle. In general, my eating habits throughout the day are pretty good – today I even had some tomatoes in my cold cut sandwhich people. But there are some changes that need to be made in my diet and life. Things that could use some improvement include:

  • Breakfast: Namely, I should start eating it. I have my issues with eggs and cooking in the morning and try as I might, I’m not a cereal person – there are few yogurts I like and I get bored of routine quickly where breakfast is concerned. But I need more than coffee to keep me going throughout the day. And I think I put too much sugar in that morning coffee, but the truth is, it doesn’t taste good without that sugar. Do I give up coffee? Then I’m eating nothing and drinking nothing…
  • Exercise: Ugh, it’s practically a dirty word in my vocabulary but the truth is, it’s consistency – I’m not good about keeping up with these things. My husband and I were in spitting distance of creating a good routine only a few short weeks ago – what happened? And now I have my period and will likely cop out for that reason for the rest of the week…
  • Night Time Snacking: The kid goes to bed for the night and so does my need to set a good example. I plant myself in front of the tv with cheese puffs (admittedly mildly healthy Trader Joes puffs), cookies, candy and ice cream with a soda for good measure far too often.

THIS is the area of my life that is about to get an overhaul – the one that’s really really bad and I KNOW it. But I don’t know if I’m willing to go cold turkey. I think instead I’m going to try portion control and not 10 different small portions as is my usual attempt. No more than 3 items a night kind of control. It’ll be tough. I have no idea what foods I’ll subsitute. I’m open to suggestion but warn that I’m mildly picky and peculiar where food is concerned. I’ll try anything unless I already don’t like it…

It’s time for a change – snack food gets the first hit, then I’m kicking myself back into my walking routine… then… then… I’ll probably relapse and forget all about this until the next time I feel way, way too fat.

How To: Create Chocolate Chip Perfection

My husband thinks my chocolate chip cookies are pretty much heaven on earth – if I were a good wife, I’d make them all the time for him, right? Well, here’s the problem – one, we’d be humongous if I did that because they really are delicious; and two, making these cookies is a little bit of work with a KitchenAid mixer (or some equivalent thereof) – without the mixer? Well you can just forget it mister! Regardless, here’s my recipe, as interpreted from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook:

Chocolate Chip Cookies : The Honest Recipe
(cause I won’t lie to you about something as serious as a cookie)

Prep: 25 minutes
Bake: 8 minutes per batch

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter (chilled)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 12-ounce package (2 cups) semisweet chocolate pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts (optional)

Directions

In a large mixing bowl beat shortening and butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed, stopping periodically to scoop out the mixture from between the blades of the wire whips or whatever you call them. Grumble to yourself a good long time about the need for the butter to be chilled and question whether or not you actually know what you are doing. After a long, long time, the butter will soften naturally, thus improving the strain of mixing until eventually you have a suitable “mixture” rather than a pile of jerky goop. Pat yourself on the back. You’re good at this!

Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, and baking soda. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Isn’t this easy? You should make these cookies more often! It’s really not that hard at all!

Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Cough and sputter as a big poof of flour smacks you in the face, while shouting in an Russian accent for no apparent reason (as flour cannot talk and is not likely Russian in it’s origin), “You fool! You sssink you can seeeempleee MIX me in? I vwill doughmeenate chu!” Using a wooden spoon, beat down the floury mixture with all your might until it whimpers and then add in the rest of the flour, and beat that down, too – show that stuff who’s boss, lady (or sir – baking cookies is a totally non-gender biased mission people).

Now once you have thoroughly beaten your cookie mix into submission and your Russian flour has seemingly disappeared (chickens always run away from the battle) you can feel free to stir in chocolate pieces and, if desired, nuts (but really why ruin a good thing?). From here on out it’s easy sailing and you’re feeling pretty good – you’ve outwitted the chilled butter and defeated a Russian Villian, and soon you’ll be eating chocolate chip cookies – what could be better?

Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Okay, seriously? Scoop out some dough into a reasonable size and shape that resembles your appetite, then roll it into a ball shape – yes really, don’t just plop it on there like you don’t care – you’ve invested this much time into cookie baking, show a little love for your once chilled Russian enemy and go the extra step – you’ll thank me when you have perfectly shaped cookies that look award winningly package worthy, instead of a pile of chocolately chippety stuff that tastes like a cookie but looks like a god knows what.

You will unlikely create the 60 cookies promised by the recipe if you are anything like me – I don’t know what kind of midget cookies those people eat, but I like a cookie larger than a quarter, so I tend to get about 24 cookies at most. But really, is 24 pieces of perfection anything to scoff at? I didn’t think so.

Bake in a 375 degrees F oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until you can smell the perfect cookie from another room – honestly, this usually works for me and I don’t know why – maybe I have a cookie baking super power and other people can’t do this, but 9 times out of 10, if it smells done it’s ready. They say the edges will be lightly browned and that seems good to me, too. They will probably look underdone in the oven, but take them out and give them a few minutes to cool on the cookie sheet or they will fall apart into cookie crumbles, and nobody likes that even if they make cliched sayings out of just such a phenomenon.

(BTW: My cookies have a strange phenomenon of never being too crispy or too burnt, rather they almost appear underdone, but are in fact cooked through – they will be first day soft for at least a month if you have strange people in your home who require that much time to finish a couple dozen cookies – lord knows I’ve never met anyone so strange, but you know, whatever, I’m not judging.)

When you are confident you can do it right, transfer cookies to a wire rack and let them finish cooling, but secretly sneak a hot gooey one out for yourself – there were probably actually an odd number of cookies like 27 or something retarted like that, so grab two for you and one for your favorite person in the house (yes, you’ll have to choose now, don’t tell me you don’t play favorites, I know you know who is getting that cookie and who isn’t) and tell everyone else they will only taste good in an hour, and that no you don’t have chocolate stains on your mouth and clothing, it’s probably poop. Really. Go away. Tell them you are le tired from baking cookies all day and then sneak another one upstairs to eat in peace before taking a nap – you’ve earned it!

For a serious take on this recipe, check out the BHG website (the recipe I use is from their cookbook and looks pretty much exactly like this, so it’s a pretty reputable source).

Thanks to An Island Life for creating this Group Writing Project.