Comfort Food

FYI: This took a month to write…sorry for infrequent posting.

Often times we think of comfort food as a food we fondly remember eating as a child or a special dish we religiously make for a holiday. Grandpa’s ‘German’ potato salad at amBBQ…drool.

Sometimes it’s a dish a loved one makes you when you’re sick with a cold.

Or maybe a hot meal you share with your love on a snowy night.

But what role should food play when you’re going through something sad? I’m not going to lie, it’s been a really rough time for me lately. And one of the few things that has given me a ‘little’ bit of happiness in a very dark place has been food.

I have managed to continue to eat healthy much through the holidays and into the winter. But in a sad time, sometimes you just need ‘a glass of coca cola.’ Or some mac and cheese. Or some chocolate.

So yes, I’ve taken ‘comfort’ in some foods that aren’t the best for me. And yes, the scale has reflected that. But it was needed. And appreciated. And calming. And distracting. But this week I’m ‘back in the saddle again.’ And surprisingly it has been pretty easy, and ‘comforting,’ to eat the healthy way again.

Regardless, we all deal with pain differently. However, it isn’t safe to continue that pattern. I’m glad my brain has been rewired to acknowledge the difference.

Bigger and better places… 🙂

15 Days of Christmas Cookies- Day 1

Last year I did this and it was quite a hit. So of course, I must deliver and bake 15 batches of cookies before the big day!!!! Some will be new, some will be old, but either way my Kitchenaid Mixer has been training all year for this event!!!! I will admit that I’ve already started…

This year is a little different though. I’ve made some lifestyle changes, and can honestly say I probably won’t be eating any of these cookies- although the biscotti gets me every time!!!! I know many of my followers are health conscious, so along with each cookie post, I will also add a health tip keep us all in check this holiday-eating season. I know that for people that struggle with weight and dieting despise this time of year…I’m one of them! However, there are so many GOOD choices we can make each day to at the very least MAINTAIN our weight during this time.

Today is the first real snow of the season. School’s closed, and I’m going to bake my little heart out. There is nothing I love more than sipping coffee with a biscotti and watching the snow from the couch. The tree is lit, the Yankee Candles are burning. You can’t get more Christmas than this…

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So to kick this countdown off, I’m going to start with the biscotti. This year I’m making my usual Pistachio Cranberry and a new one- Chocolate Malted Milk Biscotti. Last year I didn’t care for the gingerbread as much and I found it lingered in the house for a while. The new ones are definitely not sticking around!!!!!

Chocolate Malted Milk Biscotti

(as seen in Better Homes and Gardens 2012 Christmas Cookie Magazine)

1 3/4 C Flour

3/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 C malted milk poweder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

3 eggs

1/4 C butter, melted

1 C sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1 C coarsely chopped malted milk balls

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl stir together flour, cocoa powder, malted milk powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, melted butter, sugar and vanilla. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir until the dough starts to form a ball. Stir in malted milk balls and chocolate chips (dough will be crumbly). Knead the dough until it comes together.

3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half and shape each half into a 10 inch log. Place the logs onto the parchment paper and flatten the logs so they are 2″ wide. The logs should be 3″ apart from each other.

4. Bake for 25 minted. Cool on cookie sheet on a wire rock for at least an hour.

5. Transfer flattened rolls to a cutting board and slice rolls diagonally about 1/2 inch thick. Place slices cut side down back onto parchment paper and bake for 8 minutes. Take out of oven, flip, and bake for another 8 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool. Biscotti will crisp as they cool.

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

( As seen in Christmas Cookies: 50 Recipes to Treasure for the Holiday Season by Lisa Zwirn)

3 cups flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt

8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 tbsp. finely grated orange zest (from 1 orange)

1 1/4 cup shelled pistachios (do not chop)

1 cup dried cranberries ( I use Cherry Craisins)

1. preheat the oven to 350F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper

2. In a medium bowl whisk the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking powder together.

3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter in a large bowl until creamy. Add the sugar and brown sugar and beat until fully blended. Beat in eggs, the vanilla and orange zest. On low speed, mix the flour mixture just until the dough starts to clump together. Mix in the pistachios and cranberries. Using your hands or rubber spatula, gather the dough into a ball and divide in half.

4. With lightly floured hands, form each half of dough in to a log that is 13″ by 2.5.” Make sure each log is 3 inches apart.

5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating the sheet from front to back (I never do this! :P) halfway through baking, or until the loaves are golden and the top feels firm when gently pressed. Transfer the sheet to a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Reduce the temp of the oven to 325F.

6. Peel the loaves off the parchment and slice them diagonally on a cutting board. Be sure to use a SHARP serrated knife, as the loaves are crumbly. Slice the cookies 3/4 inch thick. Place them back on the cookie sheet, cut sides up. Put back into oven for 10 minutes. Flip cookies to other side and bake for another 10 minutes.

7. Take out and transfer to wire cooling rack. Cool for about 20 minutes. They keep for 2 weeks. If they get a little soft, you can perk them up in a 350F toaster oven for 5 minutes.

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***Healthy Tip

If you’re GOING to eat a cookie, or two, or three…be sure to take a brisk walk- around 30 minutes. Or maybe clean a room. You will burn off what you just ate.

Christmas Cookie Countdown Day 11- Chocolate Cherry Macaroons

I’m not a super huge fan of macaroons. These have chocolate and cherry (or cherry flavored craisins!), so now I’m a fan! Fairly easy recipe, but you need two days in order to enjoy them. I also would double the recipe if you plan to give these out to people as gifts because they only make 20. This recipe comes from Fine Cooking Cookie Magazine 2012.

Chocolate Cherry Coconut Macaroons

1 3/4 cups sweetened shredded coconut

2/3 cup cream of coconut, such as Coco Lopez (not coconut milk!)

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 large egg whites

1 tsp. vanilla extract

pinch of salt

3 oz. (1/2 cup) dried cherries, coarsely chopped (I used cherry flavored craisins)

1. Heat oven to 325F. Spread coconut on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring around frequently until some of the shreds turn golden brown, appr. 8-10 minutes. You’re not toasting the coconut as more as you’re drying it out. Let cool and turn off oven.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the cream of coconut, cocoa, egg whites, vanilla and salt until well combined. Stir in the cherries and then the coconut. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly firm, a minimum of 2 hours up to overnight.

3. About 20 minutes before you plan to bake the macaroons, position the oven rack to the center and preheat the oven to 325F. Line a heavy cookie sheet with parchment. With damp hands, shape heaping tablespoons of the batter into balls. Place on the parchment about 2 inches apart. Top each macaroon with some of the left over coconut. Bake until the sides are no longer sticky and the top still feels soft, about 20 minutes.

4. Let the macaroons cool on the sheet for about 3 minutes before transferring them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.


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Christmas Cookie Countdown Day 10- Mexican Chocolate Snicker Doodles


I love the combination of chocolate and cayenne. I think it’s a brilliant marriage, and have always wanted to incorporate into my Christmas Baking. This recipe allows me to do that. It’s not you conventional christmas cookie, but because it’s a snicker doodle, it’s allowed! Once again this comes from 2012’s Better Homes and Garden’s Special Christmas Cookie Edition magazine.

1/2 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp. cream of tarter

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (they say it’s optional, but that’s what makes it ‘mexican!!!!!’)

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

1. In a mixer, beat the butter for 30 seconds on medium until creamy. Beat in the sugar and brown sugar, cream of tarter, baking soda, salt, and cayenne until combined. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Beat in cocoa powder, scraping the sides occasionally. Add in as much of the flour you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Cover and chill dough for 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 350F. In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon together. Shape dough into 1 1/4 inch balls and roll in sugar mixture. Place dough 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

3. Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are set and tops are cracked. Transfer to cooling rack and let cool. Makes 30 cookies or so.

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Christmas Cookie Countdown Day 7- Choco Loco Thumbprints

This is the first year I’m trying this gem. It’s actually the same as yesterday’s Festive Thumbprints, only a few changes have been made.

Please read up on yesterday’s post for the original recipe. To make the choco loco cookies, replace 1/4 cup flour for 1/4 cup of cocoa powder. Dip the balls of dough into egg whites and them roll them in jimmies. I used colored ones, but the recipe calls for the chocolate kind. After baking them, add a caramel filled Hershey Kiss to the center and put back in oven for one minute.

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Christmas Cookie Countdown Day 6- Festive Thumb Prints!

I ABSOULTELY, hands down, love this cookie! I think it’s my favorite of all the cookies. I love the flavor, but more importantly I love the way they turn a bunch of cookies into a holiday masterpiece with the red and green. Of course, you can make these year round with any colors. I got this recipe from Better Homes and Gardens a few years ago.

Festive Thumbprint Cookies

2/3 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

2 egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cup flour

3 dozen or so candy melts.

1. In a mixer, cream the butter for 30 seconds. Add sugar and cream together.

2. Add egg yolks and vanilla, scraping sides from time to time.

3. Add flour.

4. Chill dough for 1 hour.

5. Preheat oven to 375F. Roll dough into 1 inch balls. Roll dough balls into colored sugar and place on a greased cookie sheet.

6. Push thumb into dough to flatten and bake for 10-12 minutes.

7. Take out of oven and place colored candy melt into center. Put back in oven for 1 minute. 

8. Use a toothpick to swirl melted chocolate.

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