Keto Chocolate Chip Cookies

A low carb, high fat diet doesn’t have to be void of desserts, there’s just a different cast of characters ingredient-wise. The family gave a two thumbs up on these cookies and I’ve since made them a few times. I’ve learned a few things along the way: first and foremost, you can make these cookies as big as you want, but unlike standard chocolate chip cookies, you cannot eat them straight out of the oven, or even slightly cooled because they will literally fall apart in your hands. It seems that when baking with almond flour, the trick is to let it cool completely. When it comes to freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, I don’t know many people who have that kind of patience, least of all me. So, the first time I made these, I made 6 big cookies right off the bat and learned the hard way. With the remaining dough, I used my small cookie dough scoop and these held up much better in terms of consuming while still warm. What I also discovered is that these cookies do just fine hanging out on the kitchen counter because after I made a batch, let them cool completely, and stored them in an air tight container, the result the following day was a damp-like cookie.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 8 tbsp. salted butter
  • 3/4 cup Erythritol
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp xantham gum
  • 3/4 cup sugar free chocolate chips

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 355 degrees. Heat the butter for 30 seconds in the microwave and transfer to a mixing bowl and beat in the Erythritol. Add the vanilla and egg and mix on low for 15 seconds exactly.

Add the almond flour, xantham gum, baking soda and salt. Mix until well combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Roll the dough into balls, big or small, and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Transfer to a baking sheet and allow to cool completely.

Source: https://www.fatforweightloss.com.au/recipe/keto-chocolate-chip-cookies/

Notes:

*I use a silicone baking mat, but the original recipe doesn’t request it so I don’t think the cookies stick to the baking sheet.

*I never buy salted butter; therefore, never use it, even when listed on ingredients. The added salt suffices.

*I used 1/2 cup Erythritol and 1/4 cup Truvia brown sugar blend

*The above pictures doesn’t have sugar free chocolate chips in it, but because I had Ghirardelli 60% Cacao bittersweet baking chips, that is what I used.

 

 

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Goulash

Goulash

There’s something to be said about the types of food we eat given the weather outside. I’ve always been one who appreciates all four seasons; in part, because different food appeals to me at different times of the year. Take Goulash, for instance. I suppose you could make it in the summertime; it would still taste as good, but I imagine you’d be left feeling heavy & hot. Whereas in the wintertime, it’s warming, nourishing, and full on comfort food.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 15oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2 15oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 tbsps. Italian seasoning
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • freshly ground S&P, to taste
  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni

Preparation:

In a Dutch oven, cook & crumble ground beef over medium-high heat until browned. Drain the grease. Stir in the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Add the water, tomato sauce, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, bay leaves, garlic powder, and S&P; stir well & allow to cook for 15 minutes. Stir in the elbow macaroni, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaves and allow mixture to rest 5-10 minutes before serving.

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Pumpkin Cookies with Browned Butter Frosting

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I know, I know. All things pumpkin were a few months back, and that’s when I made these, but maybe, just maybe you’re interested in a little something sweet to offset the New Year’s Resolution of more kale and greens. These cookies are so soft they’re almost like little sweet pumpkin pillows.

Ingredients:

for the cookies:

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 15oz can of pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

for the frosting:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 – 4 tbsps. milk
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, beat sugars, butter, and vanilla until well blended. Beat in pumpkin and eggs until well mixed. Add in the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt and blend together.

Drop by heaping tablespoons on ungreased cookie sheets. These don’t spread very much so it’s okay to place them closer together. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until almost no indentation remains when touched in center. Transfer to cooling racks and allow to cool completely before frosting.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, stirring constantly until the butter turns a golden amber color. Be careful to not burn. In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and spice. Add the vanilla extract, 3 tbsps. of milk, and browned butter stirring to incorporate together. If needed, add another tbsp. of milk to reach desired consistency. Spread frosting on cookies and enjoy!

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Books of 2017 & My Top Three

I’ve always been an avid reader and ever since I decided to read a book a week back in 2014, I’ve kept a list of the books I’ve read for each year. For 2017, I mostly read what was available on Prime First or Prime Reading. It was easier, I was lazy, and mostly, I was not very intentional in my choices. Never mind the ever growing list of books I want to read or that have been recommended, and as a result, there were few books this past year that moved me. Also, I’ve learned that sometimes, for me, it’s best not to reread a book that I considered life altering in my younger years e.g., Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl, simply was more profound at the age of 20 than it was at 42.

  1. Three Wishes, Liane Moriarty
  2. The Special Power of Restoring Lost Things, Courtney Elizabeth Mauk
  3. The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland, Rebekah Crane
  4. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters In The End, Atul Gawande
  5. The Danish Girl, David Ebershoff
  6. Man’s Search For Meaning, Victor Frankl
  7. Sisters One, Two, Three, Nancy Star
  8. Never Again So Close, Claudia Serrano
  9. The Marvelous Misadventures of Ingrid Winter, J.S. Drangsholt
  10. All The Lies We Tell, Megan Hart
  11. One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd, Jim Fergus
  12. One Last Thing Before I Go, Jonathan Tropper
  13. Mrs. Saint & the Defectives, Julie Lawson Trimmer
  14. Stillhouse Lake, Rachel Caine
  15. The First Word, Isley Robinson
  16. PS From France, Marc Levy
  17. The Dark Lure, Loreth Anne White
  18. What Remains True, Janis Thomas
  19. Milk And Honey, Rupi Kaur
  20. Coming Clean, Kimberly Rae Miller
  21. Love & Respect, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

As I review the list, it’s predominantly fiction, and as I select my top 3 as must reads, I’m not surprised to find, I consider non-fiction and memoirs more impressive to me.

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In late 2016, I began working in hospice and this book presented as a necessity to read. It’s a peculiar thing, the relationship we have with death and dying. People not in the field always seem so mortified when I tell them I love my job. They moan, “Ugh, I couldn’t imagine dealing with death every day.” They’re mostly surprised when I tell them I don’t deal with it every day and sometimes people who know their time is limited, live more than those living day by day.

“People with serious illness have priorities besides simply prolonging their lives. Surveys find that their top concerns include avoiding suffering, strengthening relationships with family and friends, being mentally aware, not being a burden on others, and achieving a sense that their life is complete.”

 

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I learned a long time ago, true life is much more fascinating than fiction and this memoir sheds light on growing up with parents who are hoarders. It’s surreal and eye opening.

“In my reading I found that many hoarders have similar stories to my dad. Maybe they weren’t the children of abusive alcoholics, but they were emotionally neglected at some point in their development. One of the more popular theories behind the triggers for hoarding indicates that people who are neglected emotionally as children learn to form attachments to objects instead of people. When they do connect with others, they then keep any object that reminds them of that person as a way of holding onto those attachments.”

 

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While I really value and enjoy my work in hospice, one of my other favorite positions I held was in a grant funded marriage education program in which I worked one on one with couples for a year who participated in a 12 week group education program. Couples learned communication and conflict resolution skills, as well as understanding  expectations and how each person shows and receives love. We revisited these topics in our visits together, allowing them the opportunity to put what they learned to practice, and review their couple specific marital inventory that highlighted their strengths and growth areas. This book touches on the differences men and women tend to have in showing and giving love.

“That a husband values respect more than love is very difficult for many women to grasp. God has made you to love, and you see life through pink lenses that are focused on love. You give love, you want love, and you may not quite understand why your husband does not operate the same way. When I say a husband values respect more than love, do I mean that your husband does not value love at all? Of course he values your love – more than words can describe – but he spells love R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”

Reading for 2018 is well under way. I’ve decided to put more thought and selection into my choices and no longer feel obligated to finish a book simply because I’ve started it. I’ve already abandoned two. Time is precious so I might as well spend it pursuing something worthwhile. Happy Reading!

 

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Chicken Tetrazzini

chicken tetrazzini

Most week days the moment I walk in the door from work, the first words I hear are, “Mom, what’s for dinner? I’m hungry.” 85% of the time I’m prepared or have delegated dinner to Chris or the girls. The other 15% is a complete gamble. The other day it was going to be a toss up when late in the afternoon the idea of chicken tetrazzini came out of nowhere. I have had chicken tetrazzini once in my life about 4 years ago and I’ve never made it, but I remember liking it & figured, when in doubt, the internet’s got my back. I opted to downsize the recipe because while I knew I would like it, I wasn’t sure about the others. Bri was the only one who didn’t care for it. It was too creamy for her liking so she fended for herself, but otherwise it was a success and actually, the downsized version worked perfectly – side salad and all.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. linguini
  • 1/4 butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups chicken, cooked & shredded
  • 1 can cream of chicken
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 10 -15 cranks of fresh ground pepper, per taste
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup Colby jack cheese, shredded

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the linguini according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, spray a 9×9 ceramic baking dish with nonstick spray; set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, soup, sour cream, S&P, garlic powder, & chicken broth. Stir in the chicken and noodles when ready; mix well and pour into pan. Sprinkle cheese on the top and bake for 35 – 40 minutes.

Adapted slightly from:  https://lilluna.com/chicken-tetrazzini/

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Recipe Redux: Carrabba’s Copycat – Mama Mandola’s Chicken Soup

Soup

There are some recipes in which I never deviate and then there are others that as I make them a few times, such as this soup, I modify and adjust just enough that it warrants an update to the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsps. butter
  • 5 celery ribs, chopped small, approximately 1 1/2 cups
  • 3 big carrots, peeled & sliced, approximately 2 cups
  • 3 medium size russet potatoes, diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped (I used white)
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 10 cups water
  • 3 tbsps. Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed & deboned, shredded in large chunks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 15oz can of diced tomatoes, do not drain liquid (I used fire roasted)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup ditalini pasta, cooked in boiling water for 6 minutes, less than al dente*
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 tsps. (or more, as needed) each of Litehouse poultry seasoning, oregano & basil

Spices

Preparation:

In a large stock pot, melt the butter over medium-hi heat. Add the onions, celery, carrots, potatoes, onion, and garlic. Season with 1 1/2 tsp of Kosher salt, stir to incorporate, cover, and saute for 10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes.

Add the 10 cups of water, stir in the chicken base, add the can of tomatoes and included liquid, and stir in the white pepper, bay leaf, basil, oregano, poultry seasoning, thyme, and shredded chicken. In a separate small pot, cook the pasta in boiling water for 6 minutes. It is less than al dente, but will continue to cook in the soup, and often expands the longer it sits in the soup. Drain and add to the soup.  Season with extra Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, per taste.

Note: This makes a lot of soup! It’s perfect for a party or to take to a potluck or if you don’t mind having soup for days. Add some freshly grated parmesan cheese just prior to serving, if desired.

 

 

 

 

 

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Chocolate Chip Date Cake

Chocolate Chip Date Cake

This is another recipe pulled from the archives of my mother’s trusty recipe box. Like most recipes from mom, this one stems from my childhood. I’d never made it myself until this past summer when my parents were returning from a trip to Illinois around my dad’s birthday. I asked him what I could make for him and he selected this one, only because I didn’t have the recipe for the Burnt Coconut Cake he likes. So, this one was a second runner up, but by no means is it a runner up.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 12oz. package of chocolate chips, reserving 1/2 cup
  • 1 1/2 cups dates, chopped
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease & lightly flour a 9×13 pan; set aside. Pour boiling water over dates to soften & allow to cool. In a large bowl, beat together the egg, butter and granulated sugar until creamy. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt & add alternately with cooled dates (and water used to soften them) to creamed mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips. Pour batter into the pan. In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar and chopped nuts. Sprinkle over the top of the cake. Bake for 27 – 30 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips on top of the cake after removing from the oven.

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