Monday, January 30, 2012

Fun With Flax

Sometimes I feel like I'm turning into a weird hippy-version of myself. One day I woke up and decided that I needed to jump on the flax train.

Right around the beginning of high school, I noticed that I just could not make it from breakfast to lunch without feeling like I was starving by 10am. I decided to save breakfast as the last thing to do before I left for school, but even that didn't help. Now, how many years later? I've finally got my solution (yeah maybe my metabolism is a little crazy but this works).

Flax. This simple little seed that makes me feel so full! I love it! And I can't even taste it! After I got my urge to jump on the flax train, I went down to our local (aka next door) health food co-op store and scooped up some flax meal. I started adding it to my bowl o' Vanilla Honey Greek Yogurt with added assorted berries. I couldn't taste it and I made it until lunchtime! So amazing! Yes, I am really excited.

There are lots of other blogs and websites out there where you can read about the benefits of flax. So go do that. I just love that it's high in omega-3s and fiber. Woot!

Once flax became acceptable as a "good food" to me, I couldn't wait to try it out in other things. I found a recipe via Pinterest for different kinds of granola. I'd been buying granola for my yogurt and the good stuff was getting expensive. My mom-in-law made an awesome granola for us for Christmas and it inspired me to try to make my own!

I made an almond vanilla granola which came out... not too tasty (still eating that mistake - I'm too cheap to throw it away!). Then I tried this recipe from Always Order Dessert for Triple Chocolate Quinoa Granola. Holy chocolate granola goodness. It was sooo delicious. I brought some to work and they demanded more. I sent some to my mom for her birthday and she demanded the recipe. I have yet to sit down and eat some myself (remember, eating the first mistake) so I'm pretty excited to get to it! The recipe calls for chia seeds (which are supposedly even BETTER than flax) but I substituted in my amazing flax meal instead. I had some leftover quinoa so I was able to throw that in. The only things I had to buy were the rolled oats and raw cocoa nibs (which my husband recommends you do NOT eat by themselves, haha!). Give this a try! I want to experiment with subbing in coconut oil for the olive oil since I have a lot, maybe throwing in some wheat germ, sunflower seeds, and more chocolate chips? :)

I also had to give a cookie recipe a try. And I saw this in my very first copy (thanks, Mom!) of the Food Network Magazine. This picture pretty much enticed me:

That and the fact that I already had all the ingredients! Love it when that happens.

Let me tell you that these cookies are a match made in heaven for K and I. For some weird reason, he loves crunchy cookies. I love delicious, soft n' chewy cookies! Whenever I make cookies for us I have to do some juggling to make sure we both get our fix.

These cookies are baked perfection, for both of us, all in one go. Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside. Wow! And ya know, "semi-healthy" with the addition of the flax. TRY THEM!

Oatmeal-Flax Choco-Chip Cookies
Adapted from Food Network Magazine
Makes 32 small or 15 big cookies

- 6 oz (12 T) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 c granulated sugar
- 3/4 c packed brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
- 1 c quick cooking oats
- 1/4 c flax meal
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 c (or more!) semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, mix and scrape the bowl.
3. Add the eggs one at a time, letting them incorporate fully.
4. Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and slowly add to the mixer, on low speed.
5. Mix until just combined and fold in chocolate chips.
6. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Let cool on baking sheet for three minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.

Notes: I decided to go against my "small cookie" routine and go BIG! using my cookie scoop. These took a bit longer in the oven (13-16 minutes). Not sure the small cookies will be as chewy but it's worth a shot! I would love to try this recipe with whole wheat flour and maybe bigger chocolate chunks!

These also fit perfectly in my snazzy ant-proof cookie jar (thanks FSIL!!). That chalkboard part is just too much fun!

So, try some flax. And these recipes. Got any more to share? I'm game.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Let's Get Political (Not Really) - Keepin' It Sweet

I was asked to do these last-minute cookies by a friend of my last client. She explained that she was hosting a birthday party and the guest of honor was really into politics. Could I recreate the Democratic Party's logo - the donkey? Instead of "Happy Birthday" she wanted "Vote For Karen" on the cookie. What a great idea!

Of course, I said yes. I am not huge into politics at all. When I registered to vote at age 18, I put "undecided" for the party. I grew up around a lot of Republicans but I wanted to make the choice on my own and figure it out myself.

Well, it's 9 years later and guess what? Haven't done a bit of political soul searching. It's not that I don't care, it's just not my thing. I'm not really interested. When people begin to talk politics, I back out of the discussion mainly because I know I'm not informed. I don't want to put my ignorant views out there. I'm one of those "I'll-figure-out-who-I'm-voting-for-the-day-before-the-election" people. Yes.

I am glad however that there are people out there who are intensely interested. I tend to be more conservative so I probably would be labeled a "Republican", but I am glad there are liberals out there. I live in a pretty liberal state. It provides balance. It's what makes this country great - we can all have our own opinions and not get locked up for saying them out loud. Awesome!

That being said, I couldn't create the donkey, without doing the elephant :) WHEN I get my Etsy shop set up, I will definitely be selling these treats around Election Day. Wouldn't they make a great addition to a party?

My mom-in-law gifted me a wonderful Make Your Own Cookie Cutter kit for Christmas. Would you believe that I have already run out of the aluminum provided in the kit?! I've made four cutters so far and it's harder than you'd think. This cookie was a last minute request, so I headed down to my *favorite* cooking store (note sarcasm - their customer service is awful) and they didn't have it in stock. Went to the hardware store, and they didn't have any aluminum thin enough that I could bend with my hands. So, I had to get creative.

I've seen this on other websites before so I gave it a go. Here's what you'll need to make your own cookie cutter:

-Shape printed out on paper
-Plastic lids big enough to fit your design

Cut out your design, tape it to the lid, trace it and cut it out. Make sure you wash off any pen residue on the plastic. You're done! Lay it on your dough and cut around it with a very sharp knife.

These are really only good if you're making about 10 cookies or less. It gets pretty tedious cutting them out. I was happy to see that the edges still looked clean and not jagged.

Kept these simple, but maybe I'll add the stars next time.

Vote for Karen ('cause she's the birthday girl!)

Who would you vote for?

I had a fun time making these cookies and loved the challenge!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Currently Current

I've let my blog spot go to waste because I have been too busy to sit down and spend time on my computer! The last half of the year is pretty hectic at work, and I'm thankful for that. I'd rather be busy and in over my head than have to scrounge around for things to do.

Usually, January - April is a slower time at work and I don't have any pressing things to do at home so I have more free time. I've resisted the Pinterest fad for a looong time, but finally gave in and I am hooked like so many others! There are some great crafty ideas out there. I've already "pinned" some new recipes to try, some date ideas, and ideas to save for the far off future. It is pretty cool. I also stumbled across a blog post that inspired me to start blogging again! So, enjoy.

current book(s)
I'm on a "re-read everything I own" kick in an effort to save money (and avoid paying my overdue fees at the library...eep!). I just finished re-reading Fahrenheit 451. Next up will be To Kill a Mockingbird. I just love that book and am excited to read it again!

current playlist
Foster the People, the Temper Trap, Iration, The Black Keys, and Tyrone Wells

current color
"natural". I can't have nail polish on at work, but I do paint some on when I have days off! I'm currently on a subtle sparkly gold kick.

current food
fuji apples with a bit of natural peanut butter

current favorite show
none - we don't have cable and I'd rather read!

current #1 blessing
This guy, of course!

current needs
keep cleaning up our apartment! it was clean for new year's but then I started all these organizing/decorating projects and it got a little cluttered again :P

current excitement 
new projects in the works!

current mood

current indulgence
I dropped the Starbucks habit and now make my (cheap!) iced mochas at home with this bad boy:

current triumph(s)
my friend Kristen and I climbed Koko Crater yesterday. It was my first "hard" workout of 2012. Champs!

current bane of my existence

current #1 item on your wishlist
a new water bottle. I bought K one for Christmas and it's so awesome, I want one too!
Hydro Flask Insulated 40 oz.

current new years goals
-get into a healthier lifestyle. we indulged a bit too much last year!
-continue with last year's goal of being more generous with my time, talents and money
-open up my Etsy store by the end of January (look out!)
-be a more thoughtful gift giver
-keep in better touch with my family and friends on the mainland
-do devotions with my husband once a week
-pay off my car early as planned. only a few more months to go!
-grow some edibles in our mini garden. last year I was still figuring things out back there.

Well that was fun!

I've also been doing some "home improvement" stuff lately (mostly organizing) and tons of fun cookie projects, so I'll be posting them... soon!
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