Toblerone Meringue Cookies

I have had one meringue cookie in my entire life, I’ve never sat in the kitchen or peered over a shoulder while they were being made in the kitchen, in all honesty I have never seen meringue be made before, I did not understand what a “soft peak” or a “stiff peak” even looked like. I also dislike using a hand mixer or even a stand mixer because I prefer to use recipes that I can mix together on my own. So it was risk for me to make the decision that I wanted to make a meringue cookie for the first time with only a few hours to go until my family was to leave to celebrate our family Thanksgiving.

I am very proud to say that these cookies turned out perfectly, which I will be honest I was surprised, I did end up over beating my eggs when I was supposed to end up with stiff peaks, I only ended up with soft peaks, but they still ended up being an airy, cloud like cookie that everyone enjoyed and I myself sneak a cookie when my daughter is not looking because I really do not want to share such a delicious cookie!

Toblerone Meringue Cookiesimg_2121 

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tarter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 bars (100 g. each) Toblerone, chopped
  • 3 tbsp flour
  1. Heat oven to 300 F
  2. Beat eggs whites and cream of tarter in large bowl with mixer on high speed, 3-5 minutes or until soft peaks form. Beat in granulated sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, until stiff peaks form.
  3. Mix the chocolate and flour, gently pour into the egg mixture and gently fold in (do not over stir!)
  4. Drop tablespoonfuls of egg white mixture, 1 inch apart, onto 2 parchment paper covered baking sheets.
  5. Bake in top and bottom thirds of oven 20-25 minutes or until light golden brown. Transfer to wire racks, cool completely and enjoy! img_2117img_2120

Big Mac Casserole

This is one recipe that I want all of my readers to try and make this week. The Big Mac casserole is a quick and delicious family recipe that I can guarantee all of your family is going to be asking for again and again. 

In my family we try to have a “ground meat night” where we can use up the ground meat packages that we get with a discount and throw into our freezer each grocery haul. Most nights though ground meat ends up in meatloaf or tacos, of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with a really good fresh taco, but having the same meals week after can get you into a dinner slump, so I set out to find something new and exciting to make on ground meat night and came up with this perfect casserole that everybody loves and even looks forward to in my family.

Big Mac Casserole 

  • 1 1/2lb lean ground beef
  • 1 tbsp Worcester sauce
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped dill pickles
  • 8 slices 2% cheese slices
  • 1 pkg crescent rolls (ex. Pillsbury)
  • Sesame seeds for garnish
  • Thousand island dressing
  1. In a large skillet brown the beef and drain the excess grease
  2. Add the Worcester sauce, chopped onion and pickles. Cook for a few minutes until onions are soft
  3. Pour the mixture into a 9×13 baking dish
  4. Layer the cheese slices over the beef mixture.
  5. Unroll the crescent rolls, do not separate and lay over top of the cheese slices
  6. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top for garnish
  7. Bake at 375 in oven for 25 minutes. 
  8. Serve with salad and use thousand island dressing as your Bic mac sauce

A 3rd Birthday and Birthday Cake Pancakes

On the fifteenth of September was my special little girls third birthday! I can not believe that it has been three whole years since my beautiful, and strong daughter was born, it seems like just yesterday I was changing her diaper for the first time, rocking her to sleep in the wee hours of the morning, feeding her, her first spoonful of purred sweet potato and teaching her how to take her first steps. Lily has grown into a fast, daredevil of a child, that enjoys dinosaurs, fixing things with her play tools, helping me in the kitchen with cooking, coloring, and reading her stories. img_2072

I wanted to do something special for her birthday breakfast, and also something special so that she could blow out a candle on her birthday, without having to make two cakes seeing as her birthday party was to be the following saturday, so I thought hard, and searched through my Pinterest feed and found a great idea, funfetti birthday cake pancakes…because every little girl deserves sprinkles in her pancakes for her birthday breakfast! perfect for stacking up a few pancakes and putting a candle on top so that she can have her chance to make a wish on her special day!

Birthday Cake Pancakes img_2076

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup funfetti cake mix
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp sprinkles
  1. Heat a griddle or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the flour, cake mix, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt; set aside.
  2. In a separate medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a whisk. Add the milks, butter and vanilla and whisk to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until fully mixed. Fold in the sprinkles.
  3. Scoop portions of  1/3 cup batter onto the griddle, leaving room for the batter to spread into larger rounds. When the pancakes begin to bubble, flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cover with a kitchen towel to keep warm until serving. Serve with syrup or eat by themselves (which also tastes delicious!)

*Makes approximately 12 pancakes

* If there are to many and you wish to freeze them cool the pancakes completely, then transfer to a freezer bag. Store in the freezer for up to 2 months. Reheat in the microwave for about 30 seconds, or until hot.29253939973_d864982f34_k

Proving Yourself; To Yourself

As human beings we spend so much time in our lives trying to prove to other people that we are capable of doing things, things such as proving we are smart enough by getting a certain grade, proving that we are tough by going through things and not asking others for help, proving to people that we can be beautiful by crash dieting and wearing the perfect clothes and the perfect makeup. We as a society are constantly in a competition of proving ourselves and how much were capable of doing, take the simple but often heard variation of “I only had four hours of sleep last night, and I’ve needed six cups of coffee to get through the day but look at how much work I accomplished doing today!” We take everything we are put in front of as a competition and the end result is proving to others that we are good enough, we are strong enough, we are worthy of there praise.

One thing I learned this past year, one thing I will be honest I am still struggling to accept as a life lesson and continue to follow in my own life is; We do not need to prove ourselves to other people, we need to prove ourselves to ourselves. Its an odd concept to grasp our minds around I understand that I have personally spent countless nights giving myself a debate on how proving myself to myself is not as motivating in life then trying to prove ourselves to others but take a moment to think it through in its entirety.

“We do not need to prove ourselves to other people, we need to prove ourselves to ourselves”

Lets make a scenario, you have failed your grade 10 English class, which means you have to repeat that course again the next semester, but unlucky you, you get the same teacher for the same class that you just failed a few months earlier, so you now definitively have to prove yourself to your high school teacher that you are capable of actually accomplishing there course, prove to them that you are not a bad student. Know that is the way you yourself would  look at that situation right? but is it the best way to look at the situation? You are now trying to prove yourself to someone that hasn’t even forced you to prove yourself. You are creating a personal competition on yourself when no one else is making it a competition.

Your thinking now “well that student is then going to try harder in class now at the very least, there going to take it more seriously and will end up not failing the class again though” But what happens when they mess up again? what happens when they do not understand some deeper meaning in a certain phrase in Shakespeare’s Macbeth that a homework question is asking for them to explain in “more detail? That student is possibly not going to be going to the best option they have for help in understanding, there teacher, though passing this class is now a competition and the teacher is there competitor, that student will be trying to figure it out on there own and they will struggle and they might not have anyone else that will be capable of helping them learn there course. At the other end the student might learn there course, they might read through all the required texts, they might answer all the questions but when they get that passing grade they will not be happy that they were able to learn and grow there mind, there going to be happy that they proved themselves to there teacher.

If that student came to the class that first day and told themselves that this time around they are going to do the best they can do, that they are going to prove to themselves that they can do it,  they are going to make sure they pass this class for there own benefit, they believe in themselves that they can do it, so they are going to do anything they can to make that happen. That student will then ask for help from there teacher when they need it, they will put more time into understanding everything deeper then just at face value, and they will put more time into there work then before because they understand they were probably not giving themselves enough time to not only do there work but actually grasp what they were learning. 212175

When we try to prove ourselves to others we loose out on so much. We loose out on having help when we need it so that we can learn and grow because we have to prove we can do it on our own,we loose out on the perfect person that could help us accomplish our work because we see them as the competition, we loose out on enjoying the fact that we are able to accomplish something and that we finally have learned how to do it, we look at it as we “won.” When we begin to try to prove ourselves to ourselves we make things easier on us, we accept ourselves for who we are and all of our short comings, we learn to work as hard as we are capable of doing instead of pressuring ourselves to exhaustion.

So I ask you to take some time today or tomorrow to sit down and think about this concept of proving yourself, to yourself instead of proving yourself to all those around you and please let me know how you feel about this idea.

 

Chicken & Broccoli Ranch Rollup’s

Someday’s we just really need a quick dinner, one that will give us the comfort of a home cooked meal that has taken hours to prepare, one of those meals that you need when your upset, or had a long day, or just need a little more to your dinner because you had not eaten much during the day. I love those meals, for me that is dinner. I rarely eat a lot during the day, I try to eat a small lunch and do not even tend to snack much during the day so I need a hearty dinner, one that will fill me up not only physically but emotionally because it just tastes so good that it boosts my mood.

After finding a roll of crescent rolls that I had left over after grocery store sale, and a bit of broccoli left over in the fridge after I made my classic pasta salad I decided to try to throw something quick, but new together for dinner. Something that had ingredients that not only I tend to have on hand but what other people my have on hand, like chicken, salad dressing, and pre-made crescent or biscuit mix.

So heres my take on a perfect quick dinner on a rushed night when you need something that just tastes to good to ignore.

Chicken And Broccoli Ranch Rollup’s img_1923

  • 2 cups shredded deli rotisserie chicken
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheese (I used mozzarella)
  • 1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury™ refrigerated crescent dough sheet
  • 1 cup broccoli florets (bite size)

    img_1916 img_1920

  1. Heat oven to 400°F. Spray 9-inch round pan with cooking spray.
  2. In medium bowl, mix chicken, ranch dressing cheese and broccoli. 
  3. On large cutting board, unroll dough sheet; spread chicken mixture evenly over dough, leaving about 1/2 inch on 1 long side uncovered.
  4. From the one long side that is covered in the mixture start rolling from one side until you reach the side that is uncovered, then wrap fully and pinch to seal it tightly
  5. Once you have one long log use a sharp knife to cut 8 equal slices. Place those 8 slices in the prepared round pan
  6. Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until dough is deep golden brown and baked through.

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Please let me know in the comments how this recipe turns out for you!

So What’s New?

In one entire year plenty of things can change, people grow older, children are born, new people are met, love can blossom, accepting yourself as who you are inside and not what others see you as, new adventures, new friends, loss of old friends that only brought you negativity all of that and more happened to me this past year. 

Only a few month after I began my hiatus my sweet nephew was born on the tenth of July last year, I was definitely emotional because not that long before was I on that same floor of the hospital giving birth to my own daughter. My sister and her husband did an amazing job though, they have a handsome son who just turned one a couple months ago, he’s walking on his own now and has a big smile, a good appetite and the cutest laugh.28583796103_97a6cf6a44_c

Only a couple of weeks after I helped greet my nephew into the world, I greeted someone new into my world, I met a creative, fun, adventurous and caring man name Devon. We quickly became friends and which quickly led into a relationship that has been going strong for over a year, and after six months of dating he was introduced to my daughter Lily and I am so lucky to have a daughter that loves the man I love, and a man that loves me and my daughter as a package deal. Devon and I love trying new foods together, watching and discussing zombie films, staying up late having deep discussions and laying outside staring up at the stars.

Also this past year Lily has turned two (and will be turning 3 on the 15th of September) and has experienced a lot of firsts, her first haircut, her first time sledding down a hill, her first time really playing in snow, her first time finger painting, first time riding a bike (which she did surprisingly well!) first time trying to skateboard which Devon tried teaching her how to do, first time playing with a glow sticks, and of course her continuing the food related Halloween costume tradition and going out as a cupcake this past year. 

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One big thing that has happened to me this year is me finding myself. I have spent so much time in my life trying to be what I think other people want me to be, and finally this past year I have decided to take a step back and try to find out who I am as a person, who do I want to be, what do I really like? what music interests me, what books, what hobbies really make me happy? What type of person do I want to be portrayed as while walking down the street, and what it really important to me?

I found myself being someone that enjoys creativity, I enjoy painting and writing, and sketching things even if I’m not that great at it…but the thing I do love most is photography, its the best way I like to be creative. I have learned that I am interested in the paranormal, urban legends, zombies, ghost stories and scary films. I’m someone that has learned about myself that I prefer to be baking things then cooking a dinner, which is why I’ve changed my plan to be working in a restaurant to my plan of working at a bakery, I enjoy baking bread and muffins and being creative with cakes. This year I changed the way I look by getting my nose piercing re-done and finally getting my recovery tattoo (which I will talk more about in a later post) I’ve become comfortable with dying my hair red on a normal basis because I feel it fits me more then my natural brownish red hair, and I’ve learned to experiment with my clothing choices and wearing things I like rather then worrying what others might think of my outfits. 12705157_953642384731451_4833027180451395122_n

There are things I have to be forgetting, but i’m trying to rush this post because I have mom things I’ve got to do! I hope everyone’s past year has been amazing, and I am sorry I have not been here to experience your life along with you but i’m back and ready to stay!

The Hiatus Is Over!

Well over a year ago I took an unexpected hiatus that I never explained or mentioned to anyone in the blogosphere, I never intended it to take this long to return to blogging but I am finally returning with a smile on my face and plans for an amazing blog.

Last year I spent plenty of time being a perfectionist when it came to my blog, overthinking the name, the placement of photos, the wording in every blog post and blog biography. I criticized myself on every improper use of grammar or punctuation (which is something I always struggle doing correctly) I hated almost every photo I took to be posted on the blog even. I was becoming obsessed with something that once upon a time brought me joy but had ended up causing me more stress in my everyday life.

I began to only do things if I had my camera with me, and if I did not have my camera then the idea of doing an activity seemed pointless…if I couldn’t show proof and pretty photos of my outing then I could not possibly make a good post on my blog, and if I could not make a blog post about it, was it really worth it? Sad to say but some days my blog won out over having an experience without taking a billion photos, which is when I decided to take a break from blogging.

My hiatus was intended to be used for me experiencing life, doing things even if there was no expensive camera, or even a cell phone camera, going out to dinner or a few drinks with friends and not getting angry because there wouldn’t be enough light to take a good photo of my blue lagoon drink and its perfect maraschino cherry. I wanted to get back to doing things because I enjoyed them, not because it would make a good post..which meant plenty of unhealthy food to treat myself, messing up in the kitchen while trying new things, lying on the couch in ugly pajamas reading a book I would never normally read, wearing a princess crown and a rainbow tutu so that I can play dress up with my daughter, painting trees that did not turn out as beautiful I had imagined them to, and climbing into a toddler pool with my daughter and splashing around because it was just to dang hot oI will be restarting this blog with the plan that it will include my recipes, recaps of me teaching myself baking techniques every pastry chef needs in the kitchen to prepare myself for my dream that I hope to reach this time next year as a pastry chef. I will be including my nature photography, fun crafts and adventures I go on with my daughter, books that I read that keep me wrapped up in there story telling, and I plan on also including my personal realizations that I have been having a lot of lately.

Spiced Doughnut Muffins

Who does not enjoy biting into a flavorful doughnut every once in awhile? The different varieties are endless, one could be filled with custard, jams or even hazelnut spreads; they can be topped with chocolate glaze, sprinkles, or simply dipped into a glaze. The one issue with doughnuts is that they are not always the easiest to make from home, of course I set out to try and change that with making a spiced doughnut muffin. Lightly flavored reminiscent of the autumn months filled with spiced everything and a moist and spongy texture of a doughnut, and a healthier alternative to frying with even more health benefits added in through a bit of wheat germ. So dig into these perfectly compact versions of a perfectly spiced doughnut!2015 spring 302

Spiced Doughnut Muffins

  • 6 oz butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp wheat germ
  1. Grease a deep 12 cup muffin pan. In a large bowl, mix the butter and sugar together until creamy. Add the eggs, mixing between additions.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and spice mix together. Add half the creamed mixture to the flour mixture, mix and add other half. Incorporate the wheat germ into the mixture.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin pan, filling each to two thirds full.
  4. Baking in preheated oven at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until muffins are lightly brown and firm to touch. 2015 spring 307

A Bakery Dream

If asked which I would prefer, I would pick half a dozen croissants over half a dozen red roses any day; roses just sit there on one’s table day after day bringing a pop of color to the room but not much else, half a dozen croissants? Bring a perfect buttery texture, a quick breakfast or indulgent snack it brings a mental picture of a moment of one sitting on the patio of a little café in France; roses bring a smile for a fleeting moment, a perfectly prepared croissant invokes a moment of pure food bliss.

With this opinion on a baked good it could be obvious the person is a perfect candidate to become a baker (Or live in France if they had the money) and until recently I didn’t quite realize that myself. Of course I didn’t make a change in my future career plans simply because of a croissant (I wouldn’t hold it against anyone if they did, I mean they are perfection) but because if one looks at my day to day life and the schedule I will have to work with, it could be the perfect fit. If it’s still unknown what I’m getting at I’m trying to put into writing I have found my passion and the perfect fit for my life and will be pursuing a career in baking and pastry arts.

Strawberry cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
Strawberry cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

The decision I made in December to pursue the culinary arts was finally accepting a dream I have hidden away since childhood when I began pursuing child development and psychology believing it would be a more reliable field of study. Psychology is still a passion for me, I still currently read textbooks in my free time and enjoy reading medical journals on the subject but my true passion is in the kitchen trying new recipes, creating my own and testing new products. Struggling with the decision though the past few months due to the hours I would half to keep as a chef while being a single mother. This past month and a half though I have made another realization, baking is my true passion.

Maple Apple Pie
Maple Apple Pie

Baking is one of the perfect ways for me to elevate stress, feel accomplished, and create a sense of pride in myself. Creating the perfect crust on a loaf of bread, preparing a baked good that tastes indulgent but in reality is filled with nutrients and healthy alternatives, the scent of yeast that engulfs your senses as you check to see if your dough has risen are the ultimate positives of my day.

My future dreams are filled with fresh baked breads, sweet and savory scones, muffins all in a row, soft pretzels, baked doughnuts and of course the perfect prepared buttery croissant.

Strawberry Green Smoothie

I began this month with the goal of bringing nutrient dense smoothies into my daily life. Where I have not had a smoothie every day I am falling in love with the drink that you can pack so many health benefits into. I have found a few quick recipes for smoothies that I have tried and a few I have yet to try, but I would like to share my go-to smoothie seeing as most of the ingredients I always have on hand. 2015 spring 141 2015 spring 142 2015 spring 143

Strawberry Green Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of vanilla flax milk
  • 1 cup of spinach
  • 1 (or 2) cups of strawberries
  • 1 cup of strawberry yogurt
  • 1 tsp of instant coffee

Directions 

  1. Chop or rip the spinach into smaller pieces, and slice up the strawberries into smaller pieces (to make it easier to blend)
  2. Mix the instant coffee into the flax milk
  3. Add all ingredients into the blender and blend.
  4. Enjoy the smoothie!

    My favorite cup that says
    My favorite cup that says “Raise a glass to planet Earth”