Current Obsessions and Farmer Ben

Hi Friends!

Hope you’re having a great December! I wanted to stop in with some randomness today….

I have a lot of obsessions. Does that mean I have an addictive personality? Probably.

Here are some (mostly food related) things I’m too into right now.

1. Homemade Vanilla. I took a cue from Joy the Baker and starting making my own (the first batch was bourbon vanilla). A while back, we had picked up a bottle of fancy-schmancy bourbon vanilla at Homegoods or TJ Maxx…last night, I happened to glance at the price tag-$12 and the normal price was $17 for an 8 oz bottle! Gah! I just started a batch of Jameson Vanilla… the whole bottle of Jameson is somewhere around $25 and vanilla beans are around $1 a piece. Plus, if you get cute little bottles, these would make perfect presents for the foodie in your life (Note: there is a 6 week infusion period, so if you start a batch now, it would be perfect for Valentine’s Day!)

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Freshly bottled

2. Maple Syrup. Yes, I live in Upstate NY, so I’ve always appreciated (real) maple syrup…but lately, I have really taken the plunge. I’ve been using it as a replacement for regular sugars in recipes (like these carrot muffins) and adding it in my coffee smoothies or hot tea.

3.  Ninja Blender… Farmer Ben and I got a Ninja Blender as a Christmas/house-warming present (did I mention that we moved in November?) and I cannot tell you how much I love it. We’ve had it just over a week and I have used it almost every day. I’ve made two kinds of nut butter, pumpkin smoothies, carrot muffins… the possibilities are endless!

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Finished coconut peanut butter

4.  Healthy Skoop products. Remember when I did that review for their B-Strong protein powder? Well, I liked to so much that I decided to become a skoop retailer. Did you know that for every serving of Skoop sold, a serving of fruit and veggies is donated to a school lunch program? Pretty awesome, right? You can check out my shop here. AND, if you use the code cheers25 you can get 25% off your entire order from now until January 4.

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5.  Homemade deodorant…I sweat a lot… And a lot of natural deodorants don’t really work. But, I’m determined to find one that does. I used this recipe (is that the right word when applied to deodorant making?) I’ve only been using it for a couple of days, so I will keep you posted on the pit situation. To date, no crazy rashes or burning, and Farmer Ben doesn’t mind sitting next to me, so that’s a good sign!

Speaking of Farmer Ben, he turns 32 today! Happy birthday Darlin’, I love you!

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Ragnar ADK 2014

Your turn: What are you obsessed with (eating) lately?! 


Whiskey Cookies? Whoa.

I know what you’re thinking. I spent yesterday’s post talking about how I was so sick of cookies and how much I love veggies and how I was getting back on track…and now I am going to tell you about another cookie?! What kind of sick person am I?! Awkwaaaard.

But in all seriousness, I need to tell you about these. They are…in my opinion, the perfect cookie. Chewy but not crunchy, soft but not mushy, with just a hint of healthy. Oh, and did I mention the whiskey-chocolate-pecan combination? Yum.

Check out that texture.

Also…I made these on Monday. So… that makes it okay.

I got the original recipe from the Serious Eats 2010 Cookie Swap but have made a few changes. It’s a pretty basic recipe. The whole wheat flour and the flax seed meal add a nutty texture and instead of being uniformly flat like most cookies, they are a bit puffed up…I love this, it gives them major character. When I make these, I usually use Red Stag, which gives a lovely cherry tone but this time I used some sort of Jack Daniels Black Label Specialty… whatever you have on hand.

Whiskey Cookies: 

*adapted from Rachel Heise Bolten via Serious Eats*

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I use the unbleached stuff)
  • 1 cup stone ground whole wheat flour (Bob’s Red Mill is my favorite brand)
  • 2 tbsp. ground flax seed meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks butter, room temp.
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 oz. (Or about half a bag) bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans *I’m lazy, so I usually just break the pecans up in my hand before I throw them in)

Preheat oven to 375.

In a small mixing bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix butter, sugar, vanilla and bourbon until creamy. I use my trusty pastry blender to do it by hand, but you can also use the paddle attachment on your KitchenAid.

Add your eggs in one at a time. Mix until combined.

Add your dry ingredients to the butter mixture. I added half, mixed and then added the rest.

Once your dry and wet ingredients are nicely combined, stir in your chocolate chips and pecans with a spatula.

*The original recipe calls for letting the dough sit in your refrigerator for at least three days, because I significantly increased the amount of whiskey, I don’t believe this is necessary. However, if you’re looking for a bit more whiskey flavor, stick it in the fridge for a couple of hours.* 

Drop cookie dough by the (large) spoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet-use parchment paper for super easy cleanup.

Bake until edges are golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.


Mini Mental Break…

Can I just say that the last place I wanted to be today was at work? Is that wrong? Probably. I much rather be driving around blasting country music and singing along at the top of my lungs… Or at home with Benjamin, baking up something fabulous, maybe enjoying a PBR… Or out running and getting lost in the thick fog that seems to have taken over the North Country.

I don’t know if it’s this time of year or if it’s just been a crazy week, but I am mentally checking out. The to-do stack on my desk is getting pretty big, and seems to double whenever I move something to the “Completed” stack. And there is no sign of it slowing down.

This morning was a bit rough and the day seems to be dragging on…but that is probably because I have some pretty awesome plans for later…no big deal. The hubs and I had our usual Wednesday lunch date and now I am anxiously watching the clock to make sure everything goes off without a hitch… it’s torture.

Besides the evening plans, there are a few other things on my mind.

  • Lentils. I absolutely love lentils. Especially when topped with a fried egg, Parmesan cheese and a few slices of avocado. They rock my world. Dinner tomorrow. It’s happening.
  • This macaroni and cheese. I am making this for some friends of mine. So easy to make and absolute heaven. I used Cabot/McAdam Jack & Cheddar. Only the best.
  • Sweet Potato Fudge. I usually am NOT a fan of white chocolate, but the sweet potato aspect is really grabbing my attention, I may need to substitute some dark chocolate…
  • Chocolate Beer Cupcakes with Irish Whiskey Buttercream . This looks awesome. I am a huge fan of beer flavored chocolate cakes. I definitely need to make these sometime. It looks like they can also be made gluten-free! I may have to make it this way and  then try it with regular butter and milk, just for fun, either way, these are going to happen in my kitchen.
  • Quinoa Patties. These are so easy to make and so good. Please try them.
  • My husband’s birthday. Ben is turning 29 this weekend. I know he’s working all day, but I am so excited to celebrate as a married couple. So corny, I know. I am currently try to come up with something good. He snooped through the box that contained his present… accidentally-the stinker!  Now I am scheming for some sort of surprise. More on that later.
  • Christmas. I never used to like Christmas but the last few years have really opened me up to it. I’ve been very blessed and I love to share that with the people I love. The major lack of snow is a bit weird for this time of year, but I am soaking up all the merriment, regardless  (If you still have shopping to do, check out my previous post for an awesome gift idea!).
  • Measuring Spoons. Okay, maybe it’s only hilarious to me, but Ben and I always put the measuring spoons back in different drawers. It drives me absolutely batty.
  • The stack on my desk that’s not disappearing….

… Time to go! Until next time!