Thursday, September 8, 2011
Fal lis upon us and for me, that means fresh baked cookies. And what is better than a Chocolate Chip cookie? Little, my friends…very little.
Except maybe a chocolate chip cookie that needs to be dressed up. Because it’s without chocolate chips! So let’s dress it up with some warm chocolate sauce and a little sea salt! Oh, and did I mention that less cookies are less calories than your normal chocolate chip cookies? And that they have a bit of extra fiber? They do! I used only whole-wheat flour and Splenda Essentials asked me to test out their newest product: Splenda Essentials No Calorie Sweetener, 1 Gram of Fiber Granulated. I was able to replace all the granulated sugar in these cookies with Splenda! Almost too good to be true, eh?
And take a look at this little box. My mom’s friend Gail, whom my middle name is named after, gave me this box with a beautiful necklace for my birthday one year. I just love it. It’s the perfect size for a single pair of earrings, a necklace, and even the perfect amount of sea salt for these cookies.
The trick is to have a room temperature cookie, warm chocolate sauce, and just enough sea salt to give it that little something extra. The combination of salty and sweet is almost too much to handle and I confess that I ate a number of these before dinner. But, I had a peace of mind knowing that I used Splenda instead of granulated sugar. So I dug in a little bit more. Wouldn’t you?
I was a little iffy about trying Splenda in baking. I’m a texture eater and I was not sure how they would turn out because I’ve only used Splenda in my coffee or tea. But I pleasantly surprised. The texture of these cookies was spot on, and I could not tell for one bit that they were made with Splenda! My husband, who is not a fan of artificial sweeteners couldn’t either, so that really tells you something. What substitutes do you use in your baking to make it a healthier option?
And, because I had such a wonderful time baking these delicious cookies, Splenda Essentials is giving away a prize package to one of my readers!
What could be sweeter than being rewarded for simply requesting a free sample and sharing your feedback?
Currently, when consumers visit the Splenda Brand Facebook page and click on the new ESSENTIALS tab, they can request a free sample of the new Splenda Essentials product and share with other users what’s ‘essential’ to them. By doing so, consumers will be entered for a chance to win a travel mug with a $25 Dunkin’ Donuts gift card! Three lucky winners will be announced each day— but that’s not all. For every 10,000 sample requests received, the Splenda team will give away a $1,000 Visa gift card!
I hope you’ll consider helping us spread the word about the Splenda Essentials Sweetener Sweepstakes!
The prize package includes:
- One (1) SPLENDA® ESSENTIALSTM No Calorie Sweetener with B Vitamins
- One (1) SPLENDA® ESSENTIALSTM No Calorie Sweetener, 1 gram of Fiber packets
- One (1) SPLENDA® ESSENTIALSTM No Calorie Sweetener, 1 gram of Fiber granulated
- One (1) SPLENDA® ESSENTIALSTM No Calorie Sweetener to-go mug
- One (1) Splenda-yellow blender
- Two (2) Splenda-yellow bowls
- One (1) Splenda-yellow fruit juicer
I sincerely wish that I could enter my own giveaway! All you have to do to enter is “Like” the Splenda Facebook page by clicking here and comment here to tell me how you have used Splenda in your daily life, baking, coffee intake, or anything else!
Giveaway is open until midnight on September 13, 2011. One entry per person. Winner will be chosen at random and announced shortly after! GOOD LUCK!
Above photo only provided by Splenda. All others are property of Bonnie the Baker. Splenda compensated me for participation in this campaign. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
This giveaway has ended
"Dress Me Up" Chocolate Chip Cookies with Splenda Essentials with Fiber
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flower
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup Splenda Essentials No Calorie Sweetener, 1 Gram of Fiber Granulated
1 cup room temperature butter
1 overflowing teaspoon vanilla extract
For the sauce:
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
sea salt for garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, salt, and baking soda in a bowl and set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, Splenda Essentials No Calorie Sweetener, 1 Gram of Fiber, butter and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until combined. Although the Splenda Essentials tastes the same, the texture before baking is a bit different. If batter appears to be a bit less combined, no sweat. It evens out in the oven! Once combined, slowly add the flour, salt, and baking soda. Beat on low until fully combined, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowls so all ingredients are fully combined. Spray dough with non-stick cooking spray and give it a good mix. Place about 1/2 inch apart on a non-stick cooking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the bottoms are turning golden brown. Allow to cool to room temperature completely.
Once cookies are cooled, it is time to prepare the chocolate sauce. Place the chocolate chip and heavy whipping cream into a saucepan over low heat. STir constantly until chocolate is fully melted and combined with the heavy whipping cream. This should take 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat, and let sit for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to serving dish and eat immediately.
Dip your cookie into the warm chocolate sauce, sprinkle with desired amount of sea salt, and enjoy! Repeat as needed until you are satisfied!
Monday, August 29, 2011
We’ve been on vacation for about a month now, and this would explain the many random Instagram photos, tweets, and lack of blog posts.
How have you been? We haven’t talked in awhile, and that makes me sad. Welcome back. Pull up a chair and a cup of coffee and stay awhile.
One of the places we went was Colorado to visit my family and friends. It was such a fun trip, and people always say it, but I’m here to confirm just how wonderful fresh mountain air really is. But, more on that later.
Because right now we have a Black-Bottom Peanut Butter Mousse Pie to worry ourselves with. My mama and I made this pie when I went to Colorado. Well truthfully, she did most of the work, I took pictures and tasted.
But, it’s delicious. It’s a chilled pie, so it really melts in your mouth and the graham cracker crust does wonders to your soul.
And that is how my mama and dad are, too.
See this ring? It used to be on my mom’s hand and now it’s on mine. She is always giving my sister and I jewelry when we go home to visit. And this ring is very special.
You see, before I was born my dad had to have vital surgeries and the possible outcomes were horrific. There was talk of non-recovery because these surgeries involved two vital, vital organs: his brain and heart. The story of how these came to be is for another post, but what you need to know is what that has to do with this ring.
It’s the second surgery and my mom is waiting in the hospital for it be over and for the doctor to come out in his white coat and tell her she can go in and see her husband. And she’s wandering around the hospital gift shop because at a time like this you want to move to keep your mind off the situation at hand, but you dare not travel too far. And so there she was, perusing the gift shop. And her eyes land on this ring. The one that was on her hand and is now on mine.
She bought that ring, the one that was on her hand and is now on mine. While her husband is in open heart surgery. She did so, with a promise that she would wear it everyday and remember these surgeries and remember that God took care of them; saw them through it, and that all was well. All was well when the surgeries were over, and it still is.
And she gave me that ring. The one that she bought when her husband, my dad, was in open heart surgery. Her promise has become mine and her reminders are now mine as well.
My visits home are good for my soul.
Recipe from Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook by Barbara Fairchild
Black-Bottom Peanut Butter Mousse Pie
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
7 whole gram crackers, coarsely broken
1/4 c (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
4 T sugar, divided
1 1/3 c bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips (about 8 oz)
2/3 c plus 1 3/4 c chilled whipping cream, divided
2 T light corn syrup
2 t vanilla extract, divided
6 oz (1 c) peanut butter chips
2 T cream peanut buttter (do not use old-fashioned style or freshly ground)
Preheat over to 350 degress. spray 9" diameter glass pie dish with nonstick spray. blend graham crackers, melted butter and 2 T sugar i food processor until moist clumps form. Press crumb mixture over bottom and up sides of prepared pie dish. Bake crust until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine chocolate chips, 2/3 c cream, corn syrup and 1 t vanilla in micro-wave safe bowl. Microwave on medium heat until chocolate softens, about 3 minutes. whisk until melted and smooth. Spread chocolate mixture over bottom of crust. Freeze 10 minutes.
Microwve peanut butter chips and 1/4 c cream in large microwave-safe bowl on medium heat at 15 second intervals just until chips soften, stirring often. whisk in peanut butter and 1 t vanilla. cool to barely lukewarm Beat remainng 1 c cream and 2 T sugar in medium bown until very thick but not yet holding peaks; fold into peanut butter mixture in 3 additions. Spoon mousse over chocolate layer. chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
I don’t know when it happened, but suddenly my neck feels fatter. Not like my gullet is hanging down, but like my neck is just thicker. But I’m thinking that it’s actually a result of holding up my head and face that is starting to look duck-ish. As in, quack-quack. My features just seem to be sticking out in a “duck” way. My nose seems to be getting longer-ish, and my eyes sort of droopy, like I’m waiting for a piece of bread to be thrown at me while I’m paddling furiously in a lake. When I was in high school I used to go to these weekend camps and my nose always seemed to get swollen. It was like I could not stop looking at how giant it was. And one time, it was red. Like good ol rudolph staring at me in that mirror. And there I was. Seventeen and trying my best to live up my best years and I may as well be jumping from roof to roof with my nose guiding the way.
But I shrugged that off and reminded myself that college were my best years. And now here I am, 26 year old…or maybe 27? I can’t even remember at the moment and I have been married for three years to my best friend, I have the cutest baby boy sleeping in the other room, I live in one of the cutest places in Orange County, CA, I have a Masters in Theology, and still, my face is duck-ish and my neck is getting fatter.
My husband has a brother who just got married to one of the sweetest and prettiest people you may ever meet. I couldn’t go because I am still nursing our little one and we couldn’t take him on the plane because
I might of have a break down from all that crying the flight was too long. And tonight I looked on facebook and they had posted some photos from their honeymoon and they look so young and sprightly. Granted, I’m not that much older, but she was wearing a dress and looked so fresh. It got me thinking about my honeymoon wardrobe and I realized that I don’t think I even brought a dress besides the wedding dress on my back, and I’m wondering if this plays into my face starting to look ducky.
Because it starts with not wearing a dress. Then a few years later you start to wear dresses grudgingly and you only do it because you know you have to. Then you get pregnant and you can’t even really fit into dresses anymore and the ones that you do fit into have a nice “lift” at the ankles only to reveal just how swollen your legs are. And so then you find yourself 8 months postpartum, deciding it’s high time you put on a dress, and you are feeling great that you fit into your clothes, you’ve gotten a fresh hair do, and you think of how proud you are that you have really pulled it together while nursing, working full time, and loosing baby weight….and so you put on your dress and you look proudly in the mirror, only to find your duck-ish face.
And I’m serious here people. I think it’s something that begins to happen in your late twenties, and I’m going to go and say that you can’t do anything about it. It just one of those hormonal things. And lately I’ve been seeing younger, thinner versions of myself out and about and I say things like “she hasn’t had a baby” or “she’s in her early twenties.” I think I’ll start saying, “Her face hasn’t turned duck-ish…yet.” But I’ll be holding my head high. Smiling out of pride and I will strut my stuff. Because in the category of people who have duck-ish faces, I’m doing pretty damn well.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
I have a little treat for you. A guest blog post today over at Jessica from The Novice Chef! We are talking Rosemary Iced Coffee, new cameras, giving new food the side-eye, and the universal recipe for Simple Syrup. So head on over here and get the recipe!
Friday, July 8, 2011
My husband is a lover of all things watermelon. We’ve already purchased two watermelons this week, and while I do love watermelon, I felt the need to change it up a bit. And I feel like you can’t go wrong with the watermelon, sugar, frozen, summer deliciousness combo.
And turns out— you can’t!
It’s been hot here in Orange County. As in it’s reached the 90′s, and I’ve kept my air conditioner on. You know, for the baby. But when I do get outside in the early morning or early evening, and Chip and I go running, my playlist on my ipod is something to envy. I’ve got a little Hanson, Matt Wertz, John Mayer, Michael Jackson, and Tyrone Wells, to name a few. And my power song is nothing other than Justin Beiber.
It’s getting crazy up in ‘errrr!
So make this. And you can use your ice cream maker if you so desire, or you could pour the mixture directly into popsicle molds! This is flaky and more like a shaved ice, and I would recommend putting it over ice cream. Because Watermelon is diverse like that. BBQs, ice cream bowls, popsicles, margaritas…the list goes on!
(Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz)
3 cups watermelon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
pinch of salt
Cut watermelon from rind place in food processor or blender. Puree until there are no more chunks and the watermelon is in a liquid state. We had a large watermelon, about 5 pounds and I used half of it. Put 1/2 cup of the watermelon juice along with the sugar and pinch of salt into pan over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Stir into the other 2 1/2 cups of watermelon juice and add the fresh squeezed lemon juice. Let cool completely and pour into ice cream machine that has been frozen according to manufacturer's instructions. Churn for 25-30 minutes. Place in an airtight container overnight and remove from freezer 5-10 minutes before serving. Or, skip the churning step and pour mixture into popsicle molds! Enjoy!
Sunday, May 29, 2011
My sister is a guru of music. Ever since I can remember she’s had the pulse on good music. It was always quite the difference between me and the Top 40. She introduced me to many artists, including Joni Mitchell. Mitchell must be played to only those who will appreciate her goodness, and played louder in the presence of those who don’t. She walks the line of wanting to keep her tucked away or played as loud as your speakers will allow on repeat until everybody understands the meaning of what it is that she is saying, or you are feeling.
And tonight, is a Joni Mitchell night. It’s been a rough week to put it mildly. To begin, Chip has decided that sleeping through the night is over-rated. He’s done with it. He likes to get up in the middle of the night around 3:00, then scream even though we are rocking him, comforting him etc, finally fall asleep and then get up for good at 5:00. We bring toys in his crib in a vain attempt to keep him occupied until 6:30 when I can finally stumble out of bed and into his room to start the day. And that’s on a good night. So my sleep has been next to nothing, and today I had a mini-melt down of sorts and ended up at Target. The last time I had a melt down like that, I was 8 months pregnant and bought marscapone cheese and ate it for days.
But, despite the sleep, Chip keeps growing and everyday I tell him to stop and that he needs to be a baby forever. But his constant scooting and attempts to crawl tell me that he has other plans. Which is fine, because I will just swaddle him until he goes to college. Regardless of the inches and milestones, I am so amazed by his courage. He tries something new everyday. He plays with a new toy, smiles at everyone we meet. Rolls over for the first time, and is completely trusting that I am not falling asleep at the wheel, that I will feed him, and that what he is doing is working, growing, and moving in the direction that life is taking him. These new things are taking him over, and he has no sense of urge to stop them, to be afraid or to be insecure like it so often happens with many of us. He is carefree, smiles big when he rolls over and gets frustrated that he can’t crawl and follow me out of the room. But all in all, he is brave. Braver than I have been in a long time. I rarely try new things, I give strangers a half smile, and the last time I cracked up and screamed for joy in the middle of the store was way too long ago.
And so all of this hard, this growing up, both watching him and learning to do so as well and this realizing that it’s hard for me to watch him grow up because it’s too fast, and wonder when did I start living my life in slow motion?
But the hardest part about this week was finding out that one of my closest confidants, and dear friends had a stroke. She was only two days past her 50th birthday, and even writing this I have tears streaming down my cheeks, and I can barely make out the keys on my keyboard. She is a beautiful woman, full of life, full of faith, courage, and bravery. I know that she didn’t live her life in slow motion. Her stroke has caused her to lose feeling in part of her body, but she has regained that, praise God. She is supposed to be discharged in a few days, and although I can’t be there to welcome her home because she is in Colorado, I can only imagine the relief that she is feeling. To be in her own bed, without the halls of the hospital must feel like rest for her weary soul. I hear she is doing much better, and for that, I am more than extremely grateful. She will still have to go through lots of rehabilitation still, but the doctors expect a full recovery. And all of this news is, praiseworthy.
But truthfully, I can’t stop crying and thinking about it. Because she still is going through it. She is a speaker, a preacher of the Gospel and she is funny, witty, and loves the written and spoken word. She chooses her words carefully, makes others laugh, and never takes what you say lightly. She listens. But it is her speech that is showing up to be the biggest challenge. And so my middle of the night wake-ups with Chip are actually an interruption of me lying in bed thinking of my dear friend. Wondering if she is ok. If she is scared. If she knows I am praying for her. But she is strong, and she is a fighter. I know she will get through this and is already experiencing so much progress, it’s truly incredible.
But the thing that really gets me about this whole thing is how she is trying something everyday, almost like for the first time. She is learning the basics of speech, of putting words together. She is re-learning lots of things that Chip will learn as his days pass. And here I am, on my couch, in my sweatpants and I am bookended by two people that hold such a dear place in my heart and both of them are living, experiencing, and trying new things. One for the first time, one for the second. But both are being brave, courageous, and fighting for the next step. They are both growing fast. Faster than I expected when Chip was born and faster than the doctors gave a prognosis for. They are beautiful.
A friend of mine once gave me a song by Josh Ritter “Girl in the War” and while I am still figuring these bookends that are waking me up at night, making me witness miracles, and teaching me bravery, this song, after Joni sets the stage, seems appropriate. It walks the line of defending what is yours, being confused, and fighting for what is right, all with a beautiful biblical reference thrown in there.
Girl In The War by Josh Ritter
You listen, and I’m going to stop living in slow motion. I will pretend my feet are on fire.