cuttin’ out some cookies

I got incredibly ambitious last night.  For awhile now, I’ve wanted to send a box of goodies to a friend of ours’ who is a single dad while his wife is deployed, and I figured I’d send her a box while I was at it.

At this same time, I happened to have been given a recipe for sour cream cut-out cookies from Mrs. Nye (who was very clear about it being the recipe of a childhood neighbor, who actually used to send them overseas as well!), AND I happened to have extra sour cream sitting in my fridge (which NEVER happens).  It was as if the stars had aligned.

I initially thought Andrew and I could tackle the job together, which we both approached with some degree of trepidation.  Let’s just say I haven’t done a good job of sharing my kitchen with others.  Resolution no. 5: don’t be such a Nazi in the kitchen.

Anyway…I invited Adam over to play games with Andrew instead, and I went about my business in the kitchen within earshot–which is just where I like to be.  I love that this kitchen allows me to be part of the action in either the dining room or living room.  (There are other things I DON’T love about the kitchen, which will be a post all its own.  I’ve had a vision!)

ANYWAY….back to cookies.

I SO wanted to make “2013” cut-outs, but I got rid of the giant tub of letters/numbers/seasonal shapes forever ago because I never used it.  So, I was left with cookie cutters in the shape of a pineapple, a Penn State paw print, a giant pumpkin or circle biscuit cutters.  Seeing as I’ve NEVER used the pineapple I’m sure I begged Andrew to buy, I figured now was just the right time.  And my deployed friend–an avid blog reader–would get a kick out of it.  (Hi Heather!)



I mixed and rolled and found it to be much easier than expected.  Cookies aren’t often my dessert of choice; they just seem to be too much work for nothing very impressive.  Not that I don’t have some awesome recipes–I just hate that I have to keep rolling/scooping/cooling and taking sheet pans in and out of the oven.


I decided on royal icing since the cookies were going to be shipped–I didn’t want a sticky mess!  I used Martha’s recipe (from her Baking Handbook) and subbed plain gelatin for meringue powder.  (You can also use egg whites or egg white powder, but I was fresh out!)

I had a ball decorating them–some pineapples, some circles–with tinted frosting, sprinkles and colored sugar.

The cookies turned out well–I hope I didn’t overbake them.  (I’ll find out today; Mrs. Nye and I are taking a field trip to some Amish/Mennonite bulk food store…probably worth a blog post all its own!)  The cookies aren’t overly sweet like a sugar cookie, and neither is the royal icing.  They remind me a lot of those cookies you can get from the bakery at the grocery store that are cake-y and sof and covered with a thick coat of hurt-your-teeth-sweet frosting.  You know the ones–they’re always iced with whatever color frosting is appropriate for the season.  If I weren’t mailing these, I would have slathered on some buttercream! (Because THAT’S what my waistline needs right now…)


As usual, somehow along the way it turned into FOUR boxes of cookies to be shipped, as well as a bunch sent home with Adam, and still others wrapped up to be distributed to friends in the next couple days (hello Ohio readers!).  It’s self-defense, really; if they sit on my counter, I will eat them.  ALL of them.  I left us two circles and two broken pineapples to enjoy.

The aftermath:



And, of course, the dishes in the dishwasher were CLEAN.  A huge, giant, can’t-thank-you-enough hug to Andrew for cleaning up my mess, and taking the dog out, and taking the trash out AND not getting impatient with me while I packed up all the cookies at, oh, 11:30 p.m.


We have three friends who are single dads right now (two whose wives are deployed and one who, well, these things happen sometimes) and it’s been on my heart to show them some love lately.  Andrew stacked the boxes kinda precariously so as not to reveal any addresses…!



I’m in a state of severe lack of motivation to work out…  All I want to do is STAY IN and enjoy my house and morning and GO SLOWLY.  I’m trying not to feel guilty skipping swimming this morning, and I have been running and going to kickboxing every other day.  I think I’m just burned out.  I’ll be in Ohio in TWO DAYS with a great friend who has the same eating and working out goals as I do, so I’m hoping this weekend will be a chance to relax and rediscover my love of healthy eating (um, the sweets have taken over my life lately!) and exercise 🙂

oh hawaiian, how i’ve missed thee

Tonight, I had something I haven’t had in LONG time: pineapple on my pizza.


Per our usual lately, Andrew and I opted for a quick (i.e. take-out) dinner since we spent much of the day toiling away at our various projects (updates to come soon).

We’d just received a mailer for a new place that just opened up–Leo’s–in East Aurora and after Andrew mentioned they had hawaiian on the menu, I was sold.  Neither Pasquale’s, John and Mary’s nor Capelli’s (all our go-to pizza places) even have pineapple on the menu!  SAD.

The good news: I got ham and pineapple on my pizza, and their wings are pretty good.  I still have two slices of my personal-size pizza to eat tomorrow.

The bad news: It really wasn’t that good at all.  Really sub-par crust, if you ask Andrew.

So, we won’t be going back there any time soon, I don’t think.

However, there is hope: Our neighbors have gotten pineapple on their pizza before (is it weird that I know that?), and I don’t think they got it from Leo’s, since it’s so new and all.  Must ask them from where they order their pizza…

Again, LOTS of progress being made all over the place this weekend.  Will post photos as soon as I can 🙂

the mice, they are a-playin’

At least this one has been…  Playing, and school-working, and running and cooking…   I have been a BUSY girl these last few days, filling my extra free time to the max!  So busy, I haven’t even had time to BLOG-gasp!

Let’s see…where did I leave off?

Well, Andrew’s long gone, but I can’t not post about the fantastic dinner we had Wednesday.  Foreign!

I pulled this recipe for Banh Mi sandwiches out of a Food Network magazine back in 2008 or 2009.  It has, literally, been sitting in my “to try” recipe binder (in the fish section), waiting for such a time as this.  Well, the stars aligned last week and I finally made them…

You can see the fish peeking out from under the watercress and carrot.  The seasoning for the fish was super easy and really good–I just sauteed coconut oil (which is solid at room temperature) for a minute or two, added some Thai red curry paste and cooked it a little longer, then slathered it all over the fish before broiling.  It smelled SO GOOD.  I’m keeping the recipe because I think it’s such a unique flavoring, and the asian sauce you make to go with it was a winner, too.

Andrew left Thursday, which was the night I made my hawaiian pizza.  Check out my solo dinner set-up:

Disclaimer: About a minute after I took the photo, I traded the magazines for the laptop and perused my usual: Kath’s blog, Facebook and  I call them my guilty pleasures.

Check out that perfectly browned cheese!  With a good red sauce, hawaiian pizza cannot be beat.  Although I don’t know that I’ll be using fresh mozzarella next time for pizza; it’s best reserved for caprese salad.

Thursday night was also the night I chose to clean the WHOLE house…kind of like a mini-spring cleaning.  I always clean when Andrew leaves…  The way I see it: the earlier I get the place cleaned up, I longer I get to experience a clean house without having to pick up after anyone else!  It’s been glorious…

The next morning, at 6:30 a.m. no less(!), Emily and I did one of our Made to Crave discussion dates over the phone.

Is it bad that I was eating at the same time I was discussing a Bible study about CONTROLLING eating???  I suppose I should fess up and admit I printed out TWO cookie recipes from King Arthur Flour’s ‘best cookie line-up’ just moments before this shot was taken…

Also, note the “cookie-like” object on my plate…  They’re called “Anytime Cookies” and they’re from an online site called Nourished Kitchen.  I made them a day or so before Andrew left and WOW.  Loved them!  Super easy, SUPER healthy (no added sweeteners–just sweet from dried fruit) and the texture was great.  They’re kind of like a mini-muffin more than a cookie.  But at only 127 calories, they’re easier to have as a snack with some fruit or yogurt (or both) than something bigger or heavier.  I’ve shared them with some local loved ones (and Susy in her pre-half-marathon care package–tell me what you think!) and they raved.

Recipe is linked.  They use coconut flour and unsweetened, shredded coconut.  Coconut flour is higher in protein and fiber than regular flour.  Most grocery stores with a ‘natural/organic’ section should have coconut flour there, or in their gluten-free section.  That’s also where you’ll find the unsweetened, shredded coconut–the kind in the baking aisle is (heavily) sweetened.  If you absolutely can’t find the unsweetened kind, use the regular and perhaps decrease some of the fruit.  Or you’ll just have sweeter cookies, which if you’re not used to things like plain yogurt and unsweetened applesauce, might be a good transition for you, anyway.

OK, now that I’ve COMPLETELY digressed from my weekend re-cap…

I made this recipe for sweet potato and coconut soup, the recipe for which has been hanging on the fridge forever…  I knew I’d have leftover fish from the Banh Mi, and I thought a coconut-flavored soup would be perfect. PCC Natural Markets is a ‘chain’ of co-ops in Washington State and a friend from the co-op here sent me a link to the soup awhile ago.  Thanks Mary!

I roasted the sweet potatoes instead of steaming like the recipe called for–check out these babies!  Like dessert, I tell you.

Friday was filled with school-working, since I cleaned all night Thursday…  Chem lab to finish, two Micro labs to finish, Chem practice quizzes to prep for the actual quiz, Stats homework… Not to mention paying bills, random emailing and phone-calling, co-op blogging

Friday night I enjoyed my soup topped with a dollop (I love that word, don’t you?) of plain lowfat yogurt (to sub for sour cream, of course!), cilantro and chopped peanuts, paired with leftover fish, edamame and white wine.  As my friend Regina said when she saw the photo (I sent her a photo of my food–I AM that weird)…”Def not an Andrew meal!”  Nope, not an Andrew meal, although he does eat all of these things (points for him), he does LOVE any of them.

Saturday morning, I read the paper!  What a relaxing pastime…  Now I know why people sit and read the paper on Saturday mornings…  I’m usually up and going early on Saturdays, either the gym or early-morning shopping at Wegmans to beat the crowds (I like shopping so much I’d rather get up EARLY and go to enjoy myself than be rushed and crowded–grocery shopping, to me, is an EVENT).

If you look close enough, you can see yours’ truly’s byline on the front page, ABOVE the fold…(!)

I did hit the gym later that morning and tried a “punk rope” class.  It’s basically a circuit-training class with jump ropes, and while it wasn’t as high-intensity as it could have been, it was a nice change and a great time slot (8:30 to 9:15) for a Saturday morning workout.

I spent the afternoon with Carolyn bridesmaid-dress shopping…

…and we found a winner!  She’s liked this one from the beginning, and was finally ready to declare that this was it.  Ours will be black with a black ribbon, and Abigail’s will be black with a hot pink ribbon.  If you’re reading this and you know Abigail, you know that that is SO her.

I’d made plans with Regina for later that night (when was I supposed to get any of my Chemistry done, you ask?  I was asking myself the same thing…), but we didn’t know if we were going to stay in, or go out, so I decided to have something ready just in case.  Enter Triple Ginger Biscotti.

Yet another recipe that’s been hanging around for awhile… Not even sure who sent it to me…?  Susy, was that you?  They turned out well, but the recipe made A TON.  Should have halved it.

Regina and I stayed in and enjoyed out biscotti and tea after walking Hadrian.  So glad she was up for a walk despite the chilly temps; I’ve been thinking a lot lately (because of Made to Crave) about how EVERYTHING we do (socially, at least) is centered around food–meeting for drinks, dessert, coffee, lunch–the list goes on.  Now that the weather is getting nicer, it will be easier to meet up for more active activities like walks or runs.  Just something I’m trying to start doing to decrease foods’ ever-present status in my life…

(STILL chastising myself for not getting a photo of dear Regina…I’m such a terrible blogger!)

Sunday mornings are normally my run mornings, since it’s easier to run outside around the house than get to and from the gym before church.  Despite my late bedtime Saturday night–Regina and I were talking until at least 10:30–Hadrian got me up at 5:45 and I decided to go with it.  After polishing off some coffee, biscotti, the last Anytime Cookie and a banana, I headed out with Hadrian for our 3.4 mile loop.  I’d decided to do a long run (a.k.a. something in the 9+mile range for me), so after dropping him back off at home, I set out for my 7.4 mile loop around Orchard Park.  The stop at home was perfect; I was able to shed a pair of gloves (I wear two!) and add my sunglasses.  And since no one wants to run 10.8 miles, I added a 3-minute loop near the house, which upped it to more than 11.1.  Not an even number, but at least 11.  I was tired, but satisfied.  I hadn’t run more than 7 miles in a LONG time, so busting this out was good for me.

All that running done by 8:45 a.m.!  Still plenty of time to refuel and meet Andrew’s family for church.  I read my friend, Emily’s blog (a fellow RD-in-training here in Buffalo, not to be confused with the oft-mentioned Emily with whom I’m doing M2C) a couple days ago and she had a ‘toasted marshmallow cheesecake‘ oatmeal that I HAD TO TRY.  I knew it would be perfect post-run.

Yes, that is Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter melting on the top.  Deliciousness, and pure indulgence.  At least with peanut butter one gets a little protein; cookie butter is just dessert, people.  Also, I had to leave out the ‘mallows, I was fresh out!  But, since I’m not a huge marshmallow fan, anyway, (love ‘smores!), it wasn’t a big deal.  SO GOOD, I could have liked the bowl.  In fact, I might have.

After church and lunch at Panera with everyone, Carolyn and Ben and I headed to Target for some errand-running.  So fun to see what they registered for!  I treated myself to some new gym towels–mine were getting pretty ‘tired,’ for lack of a gross-er word–and some other things I needed.

LOOK!  The pineapple in action!

I packaged up every last piece of that biscotti!  Had to get it out of the house for my waistline’s own protection.  Note: this photo was taken at about 4 p.m. Sunday, at which time I had YET to start any Chemistry…  I had completely one practice quiz the night before, but still had two to go.  My procrastination drugs of choice: 1.) baking 2.) cleaning 3.) anything else that needs to be done around the house.  That way, I still feel productive while ‘wasting time.’

Oh, and I also changed out my purses for spring!  Goodbye my lovely green leather (but ridiculously heavy!) bag, hello Paris purse!  The blue striped bag was a Target purchase to corral all my giftcards and coupons, since the red bag is a bottomless pit.  Not a single pocket to be found inside…

Biscotti packed up…now on to Chemistry! I did a practice quiz, followed by leftover sweet potato soup and veggies and hummus for dinner, then another practice quiz.

After taking the dog for a brief, and chilly, walk, I sat down for the real thing.  Deep breaths abounded…

And I was handsomely, and shockingly, rewarded with a 100%!  Holy smokes!!  Seriously, I know I whine and complain about Chemistry, and while I have an A in the class, it’s still super hard and I never quite know what’s really going on with all those electrons and ions and things swimming around in solution…  Anyway, I’ve NEVER gotten a 100% on a quiz in either semester of Chem so far, so this was huge.

Except that it wasn’t.  The quiz took all of 15 minutes since EVERY SINGLE PROBLEM WAS ONE THAT HAD BEEN ON THE PRACTICE QUIZZES.  I repeat: I had the answers in front of me.  Seriously. I mean, on all the past quizzes there have been a handful (maybe 5 or 6) problems that matched up with practice quizzes, but never ALL of them.  My theory?  Dr. Barton rewards those who do the practice quizzes, because that’s the kind of guy he is.  Let’s just say I was in total shock and had to keep checking to make sure I’d taken an ACTUAL quiz and not another practice quiz.  And for fear that you think I exaggerate about how bad Chemistry is, this 100% will allow me to drop the 72% I got on the last quiz…

And it was a HUGE blessing, too!  The extra time I gained by finished the quiz so early allowed me to prep my breakfast:

Pioneer Woman’s Breakfast Bread Pudding.  It’s essentially a ‘breakfast casserole’ but less egg and assembled like a bread pudding.

I order to lighten it up a bit (and it is just me by my lonesome), I halved the amount of sausage.

I am, as I type this, enjoying a bowl of this and a pear for breakfast.  YUM.

Signing off now–whew, this was a long one!