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December 2018

no bake peanut butter cookie recipe

Tasty? We’ll see! : No Bake Peanut Butter Coconut Cookies

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The weather was finally nice, so naturally we spent a lot of time outside today! And I didn’t feel like slaving away in front of my hot oven. So, the simplicity of this recipe is why it was chosen!

This Keto friendly, low carb recipe is a great twist on classic no bake cookies. I have to admit, No Bake Cookies are probably my favorite! They were the first type of cookie I learned how to bake! I was probably 8 or 9 when my mom taught me the ways of the delicious chocolaty, peanut-buttery, butter and sugar filled gooey mounds.

This recipe also appealed to me because I’m trying to live a healthier lifestyle and not eat as much sugar. Which, I know, is super hard to do as a baker…  but, moderation in all things is the life moto I’m currently going with. This recipe uses natural peanut butter, unsweetened coconut flakes (although all I had on hand was sweetened…oooops?) vanilla, and coconut oil. So easy! You could most definitely add oats and chocolate chips if you wanted to make this more of a treat.

Taste: I didn’t think these were anything special. I mean, it’s basically a spoonful of peanut butter. I found that the peanut butter almost entirely drowned out the coconut and cinnamon that I added. I really wasn’t a fan, and I probably won’t be making them again.

Husband’s review: “Meh.”

2 ingredient chocolate cake

Tasty? We’ll See: 2 Ingredient Chocolate Cake!

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Welcome to the first installment of my Tasty? We’ll See! series. I know I told you about this idea a looooong time ago. So long, in fact, that you probably forgot all about it. Sorry! The only thing I can say is that babies take up a lot of time and I am still getting used to juggling all my responsibilities when most everything gets pushed to a lower priority than snuggling my sweet baby all day. I know, rough life, right? Anyway:

2 Ingredient Chocolate cake?! Say whaaaaaat?

This recipe appealed to me for a few reasons:
1) I had all the ingredients on hand (chocolate chips and eggs)
2) I was exhausted from a crazy bootcamp workout I had just finished a couple hours previous and the lack of steps meant that I wouldn’t have to use my super sore arm muscles for that much stirring
3) It’s basically like eating protein chocolate? So….. I don’t feel like it was counter-productive after my workout.
4) In theory, you could use any kind of chocolate you have on hand, so versatility is a plus. You could obviously spice it up a little with some cinnamon or a little bit of peanut butter

While making this recipe, I was skeptical and not exactly sure how I felt about it. I mean, is it easy? Yes. Is it convenient? Sort of.  Putting it together was easy and weird, but it takes 30 minutes to bake. So, I feel like it would really depend on your reasons behind baking this. If your sugar addiction resembles a heroin addiction, this clearly would take too long to satisfy you. If you are in it for a “cheating clean” benefit or the fact that it’s GF appeals to you, this would be a great little dessert to get you through your miserable Monday. In no way would this cake be stackable, or easy to frost, so using it for anything other than a quick treat would be difficult. It actually fell apart while I was transferring it out of the pan, so definitely not the most stable of cakes.

As far as taste goes, I was pleasantly surprised! It was really rich, satisfying, and it tasted like cheat day. I actually wrote a different review before I tasted it, fully expecting it to be nothing special, and I had to change it! I will actually probably make this again soon! Baking it for exactly 30 minutes made it slightly under baked in my oven which made it melty and perfect!

Husband Review:
“Really good! Surprisingly good! Light and fluffy, as to be expected.”

My final verdict is 4/5 stars! Excuse me while I go eat the rest of it while my husband is distracted playing PUBG.

How to survive the NICU

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So, this is a little different than my typical posts, but I really just feel like if I can help someone make their NICU stay a little better, why not?

Ok. So, as some of you know, I recently had an adorable little baby girl. The birth was so empowering and positive! It was the NICU, though, that traumatized me a little bit. So much so that on the 5th day in the NICU, I had an extreme panic attack where I couldn’t breath and I had the worst pain I had ever felt in my entire life radiate from my chest down my arms. And I mean The. Worst. Pain. That’s saying a lot considering that I did 32 hours of unmedicated labor. I legitimately thought I was dying.  I don’t want you to also have to be awkwardly wheeled down to the ER without a bra on! So, here is what I wish I would have done:

1. SLEEP

I get it. You just spent x number of months growing this little human who you were barely introduced to before your tiny body buddy suddenly had to get separated from you. You were together, now you’re not. You just worked so hard to get that little snugglebug here, and now she got taken from you. Naturally you’re going to want to spend every waking second by that little peanut’s side! How else will she know that you love her? Won’t she miss you? Won’t she know you abandoned her if you aren’t there?

You also now have to start pumping every 2-3 hours, and on top of that, everyone from nurses, to doctors, to cleaning staff will come into your room at any given moment. So, that by itself is really hard to sleep through. But trust me! You need sleep! You and your partner need sleep. You need to heal, and recover. Wether that’s sleeping in your hospital room or in your baby’s room, sleep as much as you can. My husband was often with our daughter while I slept in our room, and when I was with baby, my husband would sleep. I feel like I really slept the bare minimum to keep my body semi-functioning. But no joke, I maybe got 3 hours of sleep per night that first week. So bad! Soooooo bad! That made me even more irrational than all the hormones were already making me.

2. EAT

I think I can count on one hand how many actual meals I ate that week. I was just so worried that I didn’t want to do anything besides stare at my baby and hold her every second that I could.  I just didn’t want to leave her, and food wasn’t allowed in the NICU.

Even if you have to set timers to remind yourself, and even if it’s just snacks, do whatever you can to eat! You need food to heal, and increase your milk supply! An easy way to do this is to ask your visitors to bring you something. People are more than willing to help out. The smart thing would be to let them help you.

3. RELAX

Deep breath. Take bubble baths. Get a massage. Sniff some lavender oil. Meditate. Do stretches. Listen to some calming music. Put makeup on. Whatever helps you calm down, do it! Take some time each day to do some serious self care and relax. Don’t think about how worried you are. You have a lot of hormones coursing through your body, and your body just went through something really  hard! You are exhausted already, a ton of stress on top of that just isn’t going to do you any good.

I took one bubble bath with a Lush bath bomb, and I wish I had taken one every day!

4. SHOWER

I love hospital showers! At least the one that was in my room! It had a seat, and a shower head that detached. I put the water on as hot as it would go, and just sat on my shower seat and relaxed. My mistake was that I only took advantage of that shower once before I got discharged 2 days later.

If I was ever sick growing up, my mom would give me medicine and tell me to take a shower.
“Everything feels better after a shower.” She would say.
I think she was onto something.

5. GO HOME

That first time you leave the hospital without the newest member of your family can be devastating! When it happened to me, I think I cried for an hour (and we only live 5 minutes away). I really only went home a couple times and basically camped in the NICU. I was always surprised that I rarely saw other parents there, even though there were close to 70 babies there at the time. I would always be slightly appalled with these parents. I would think, “Don’t they love their babies?!” Little did I know, it was me who was overdoing it.

I think the worst thing about the NICU is that you just don’t really know how long you are going to be there. Luckily, we were only there for a week. Some people are there for a lot longer. What these parents knew that we didn’t was that a schedule is necessary for your mental health. Towards the end, we worked out that my mom stayed with baby all night, and my husband and I would go home and go back in the early afternoon. Not that I regret being there for my baby, but I think it would have been better for my child if I wasn’t so depressed the first month of her life. I was seriously a wreck, even after we came home. It took me a while to get over the stress of that week.

6. GET A MANTRA

Even if it’s just something as simple as, “Everything will be fine, we will be going home soon.” etc. Just tell yourself that, sniff some lavender oil like you’re the crunchiest granola in the trail mix, and keep repeating it. Everything will be fine. It won’t serve you to think about all the worst case scenarios.

7. TALK ABOUT IT

I found it extremely helpful to talk to my cousin who had also spent a lot of time in the NICU with her babies. It was so nice to be reassured by someone who had actually went through it. You don’t even have to talk to someone who has gone through this, as long as you talk to someone! You need someone outside of the situation to tell you it will be ok. It’s just really comforting to know that people go through it, and then they go home.

 

 

You got this, mama!

The best homemade buttercream frosting recipe

Best Ever Buttercream Frosting

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Frosting. Is there any other reason to eat cake? As a late Christmas present to you all, I am going to share my go-to buttercream recipe. Most of the ingredients are in the name!

2 sticks of unsalted butter (room temp)
4 Cups powdered sugar (sifting optional)
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
1-3 Tablespoons Heavy whipping cream

In a stand mixer using the paddle, cream butter on high speed for 3 min. Add the sugar, and mix on low-med speed until the sugar and butter are a little bit incorporated. Add vanilla and cream and mix on high speed for at least 2 min. If you want to add color, I would do so now. Pipe onto cupcakes, spoon directly into mouth, whatever. I’m not the Frosting Police…

The best thing about this frosting is how versatile it is! Add more cream for a less stiff frosting, add more sugar for stiffer frosting, perfect for decorating! Add 2-4 Tbs of cocoa powder to make it chocolate frosting! Use salted butter to make it less sweet. Whatever! The world is your cake oyster.

Enjoy!

xoxo

Gossip Girl

P.S. Don’t be alarmed, I’m not the real Gossip Girl. I only just finished watching that whole waste of life series. But seriously, is anyone mad about who the real Gossip Girl is besides me?! Drop your comments! Let me know how you feel about it. I don’t know how long it will take me to get over it!

Homemade peanut butter cups

Easy Breezy Peanut Butter Cups

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In case family members haven’t been demanding to know your holiday plans, or you haven’t happened to notice that every sitcom on Hulu are airing their Thanksgiving episodes this week, let this be a warning or reminder or whatever that we are entering holiday season. I know! How did this happen? You finally almost got your Summer Bod ready and now here we are again. On the precipice of eating an entire pumpkin pie by yourself. You might as well just start spraying the whipped cream can directly into your mouth now. Oh, what’s that? A notification on your phone?  You forgot that you have a friendsgiving/ friendsmas/ freindsikah party tonight? You have about 20 min before you are supposed to leave and you have to bring a dessert? Have no fear, my friend! I am here to share with you a recipe so delicious, so devilishly delectable that you will basically lock in all invites to every future soiree. 3 ingredients, super quick, and you can basically use whatever you have in your pantry all ready.

 

Easy Breezy Peanut Butter Cups

Ingredients:
1 Cup Chocolate (any kind)
1/4 C Coconut oil
1/4-1/2 C Peanut Butter (any kind)

Directions:
Using a microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate and coconut oil. Microwave on half power or defrost setting for 30 seconds. Stir, and return to microwave. Continue to microwave and stir on defrost setting in 15 second increments until Chocolate is smooth and melted without any lumps.

Take a muffin tin (Doesn’t matter if it’s regular or mini), and take a tiny amount of coconut oil and rub on the insides of each cup. Or, if you are a no hassle kind of baker, you can just use cupcake tins. Using the first half of the chocolate mixture, divide equally into each muffin tin (about 1/4 full). Shake the tin until the chocolate flattens. Pop into the freezer for about 10 min.

Scoop desired amount of peanut butter into each cup, and use remainder chocolate to cover. Pop back into the freezer for 15 min, and Presto! You are the belle of the Holiday Ball. The only thing left to do is put on pants before scurrying off to your party!

What I like to Use:

For Chocolate, I like to use Blommer’s Dark Chocolate Disks. If you aren’t from Chicago, I also really like Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Melts, they are usually available in the baking aisle. I like this chocolate because you don’t have to temper it when you melt it! That means it will always be beautiful and you don’t have to worry about those pesky white spots that may appear. You can definitely use regular chocolate chips, or baker’s chocolate, or candy bars, or literally whatever you have 🙂 It will all turn out fine.

For PB, I like to use the kind you have to grind yourself at the super market, I think it adds a really great texture.

Let me know what you used and how you liked it in the comments!

Making A Perfect Cookie

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Finding a cookie recipe that works for your family is like finding a religion that speaks to your soul. Growing up, we had a recipe that was our go-to for almost every Sunday. We loved that recipe so much, that my mom printed it in vinyl lettering and stuck it to the wall by our mixer! Every child in my family became a pro at making those cookies! Family bonds were baked and forged as we worked together to make cookies, and sometimes fist fights broke out over who got the last one.  Nothing said “home” to me more when I was at college than opening the front door to my parents’ home and having the smell of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies hit me like a love wall when I visited on some weekends.

I’m not going to share with you my perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe today. I feel like finding your cookie recipe is more like a spiritual journey that one must travel themselves to really come in tune with their baking chakra (located on the tongue, in case you weren’t aware of it’s existence). I know, I know, I’m being a little selfish! But, every tip I share with you today can be applied to virtually any Chocolate Chip (or whatever) Cookie recipe to improve it and help make them a little more perfect! I know because I have tested this process on a few different recipes! Trust me, just like you don’t want your parents arranging a marriage for you, you don’t want me to spoil your journey of finding Mr. Cookie Recipe.

The Tools:

-Standing Mixer with a WISK attachment
-Measuring cups/ spoons
-Metal Cookie Sheet
-Silicone baking mat
-Extra bowl
-Plate/ Large container with a lid
-Cookie or Ice cream scoop

The Process:

1. Combine your flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Mix by hand and set aside

2. Cream your Butter and Shortening on high for 2 min. Add your brown sugar and white sugar into the bowl and mix on high for another 2 min.

3. Add in eggs and vanilla, then mix on high until JUST COMBINED! 

4. Hand mix in your chocolate chips. This will evenly distribute them without over mixing the dough.

5. Add flour mixture and mix until JUST COMBINED!! Only mix to the point where you don’t see anymore flour spots. No more! No less! Just like excessive pestering will flatten a new relationship, over-mixing your dough will flatten your cookies and make them sad.

6. Form dough into round balls. I like to use a cookie scoop for this so that there is minimal dough handling, but you may also use the ice cream scoop method. This tutorial from a random girl on the youtubes is very helpful!

7. Freeze or chill your dough for at least 20 min. This is to trick your dough into thinking you aren’t interested anymore so that you can gain the upper hand. 20 good min in the freezer will remind your dough that you are the one in charge of this relationship!

8. Set your baking rack to the second highest position in the oven.

9. Place chilled dough balls on a cookie sheet that has a silicone baking mat on it. This will help heat distribute evenly, and make your cookies feel that you might actually be into them more than you initially let on. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-11 min.

10. Leave on baking sheet for 3 min before transferring to a cooling rack.

11. Immediately shove all of them into your mouth.

Baking more than one batch at a time:

Like most baked goods, perfect cookies require diva-like attention and demand to be in the oven by themselves. *eye roll emoji* But, If I have to make a ton of cookies, and don’t have a ton of time, I simply put another batch on the second to bottom rack. Once the higher-rack cookies have reached about 10 min, I take those ones out and move the other tray onto the higher rack and let those finish up baking for about 3 min.

When to take your cookies out:

Like making out, the skill of knowing when your cookies are done only comes with practice and self discipline. The ideal time to take them out (in my opinion) is if you are barely seeing golden brown appear. Of course, I like my cookies slightly under baked because I believe that soft, slightly doughy cookies are of the gods.

Once you take them out of the oven, leaving them on the rack for 3 min to ensure that they won’t fall apart when you transfer them!

Dough Consistency:

Your dough should not stick to your fingers when handling, and it shouldn’t crumble or fall apart. If it’s sticky, that means you don’t have enough flour. If it’s crumbly, that means you have too much flour. The Flour/ Fat Ratio is a fine line, my friends!

 

Enjoy your perfect cookies! Try not to burn your mouth as you eat all of them strait out of the oven!