Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Cookies, cookies, cookies

Good to know cookie info and some recipes from WW 
No matter how vigilant you may be about what you eat, it is awfully hard to turn down a chocolate cookie. So there's no sense in not enjoying these wonderful treats — especially when they can fit so easily into your choices for healthy eating. Being able to bake treats with low PointsPlus™ values is just a matter of knowing a few secrets.

  1. Replace half the fat of any cookie recipe with an equivalent amount of unsweetened applesauce or mashed-up, ripe banana. If you do so, always double the amount of vanilla or other spices in the recipe.
  2. Always cream the butter or shortening for at least 2 minutes in the mixer at medium speed. More tender cookies have more air beaten into the batter. But once you add the flour, never beat the batter, only stir with a wooden spoon, just until moistened and incorporated. You don't want the glutens to get stiff.
  3. If a recipe calls for two whole eggs, use 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites; if it calls for 3 whole eggs, use 1 whole egg and 3 egg whites.
  4. Replace walnuts, pecans, and hazelnuts with almonds, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, or unsalted sunflower seeds.
  5. If you replace buttermilk or sour cream with low-fat buttermilk or fat-free sour cream, use cake flour rather than all-purpose flour for more tender cookies.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Brown Butter Banana Cranberry Bread

I'm really getting into recipes all of a sudden.  So today is a good day for baking - it's freezing out, only in the 30s for the first time in ages, but tomorrow it's going back to the 40s and then even almost 60 for Christmas Eve - can you believe?
We were out of banana bread so I thought I would make one with cranberries this time and came across this recipe.  I can't wait to taste it.  The raw batter, I guess you're not supposed to eat that but I always have, was delicious and now that it's baked it smells so good.

This is where I got the recipe from  http://joythebaker.com/2014/12/brown-butter-banana-cranberry-bread/ and I made it as stated except for the topping,  I left that off.   If I was making it for company or to take somewhere I would put it on but for just us, which is really just Larry, we didn't need the extra half stick of butter.  But if you go to the link above, it sure does look good with the topping.

Brown Butter Banana Cranberry Bread

For the Bread
6 ounces unsalted butter, melted and browned to just over 1/2 cup of butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 large eggs
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 1/4 cup mashed banana (from about 3 medium bananas)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 cups whole fresh cranberries

For The Crumble
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×5x3-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment paper leaving about two inches of parchment paper to hang over two sides of the loaf pan. Parchment paper will make the loaf much easier to remove from the pan.
  2. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Butter will begin to foam and crackle as it melts. When the crackling subsides, the butter will begin to brown. Swirl the pan as the butter cooks. When the butter browns and begins to smell nutty, remove the pan from the flame and transfer the butter to a small bowl. Taking the butter out of the hot saucepan will stop the butter from overcooking and burning. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, mashed bananas, vanilla extract, and yogurt. When butter has cooled, whisk in the browned butter.
  5. Add the wet ingredients, all at once to the dry ingredients. Fold together, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to reveal any hidden pockets of flour. Fold together ingredients, but try not to over stir. Fold in the cranberries.
  6. To make the crumble, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until crumbly.
  7. Spoon batter into prepared pan. The pan will be very full. Leave out a spoonful of batter if you're worried about the bread baking over. Make a few muffins with the scooped out batter. Bake the loaf for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to rest in the pan for 15 minutes, before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Bread will last 4 days, well wrapped at room temperature. This loaf also freezes well.

joy the baker http://joythebaker.com/

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


I've made a bunch of socks over the last few years and every time I have to finish it using the grafting stitch I have to look up how to do it.  I finally found a site that has really good instructions with really good pictures so that it was easy to do.  I'm posting the site here so that it will be easy to find again.

I think I'll also look up their instructions for making socks too.  Larry wants me to make a pair for him but they take me forever and his feet are too big!!

This is the pair I just finished.

I also found this pair in my knitting bag, who knows how long they've been there.  They were done except for pulling a couple of ends through.

Here are two more that I made but never posted.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Italian Wedding Soup

I got a bunch of coupons in the mail from Weight Watchers and there was a recipe with the one for Smart Ones for Italian Wedding Soup that used 2 packages of Three Cheese Ziti with Meatballs.  The picture looked really good so I thought I would make it.  When I got to the store I just couldn't bring myself to buy that prepackaged food so I bought a pound of 90% fat free ground beef and made my own meatballs.

Italian Wedding Soup
(serves 6-8)

1 lb ground beef
1/4 cup panko or bread crumbs
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped

Blend egg, milk, onion and garlic in blender
Add to ground beef
Add cheese and panko and combine

Make into small meatballs and put on baking sheet with parchment paper.
Bake in 350℉ oven for 15 minutes

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion minced
2 cups carrots diced into 1/4 inch pieces
2 stalks celery diced into 1/4 inch pieces
2 - 32 oz chicken broth
pasta for soup
escarole or spinach, chopped - as much as you like

Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot and add onions, carrots and celery.  Saute until tender.  Add some of the chicken broth to continue cooking until it is softened. 

In the meantime, cook the pasta in a separate pot. 

Add the remaining broth to the soup pot and bring to a boil.   Add escarole and simmer until wilted.  Add the meatballs (may only want  to make 1/2 pound because you get a lot of meatballs).

Put pasta into a bowl.  Ladle in the soup with all the yummy ingredients and sprinkle with shredded parmesan cheese.

Serve with a warmed crusty bread.  We love Wegmans multigrain baguette

Note:  can also beat an egg and add to soup like egg drop soup

Sunday, December 13, 2015

How to Kill a Day

I had the whole day to myself yesterday. I could have caught up on things I wanted to do after I came home from yoga. Before yoga I started gathering pictures into a folder in iPhoto for a magazine I was thinking of doing. However, sometime during the day I got sidetracked (diverted to distraction??) and thought of getting a picture for a digital Christmas card. Then I started looking for some cute things to do with photoshop and after watching a couple of videos realized I hardly know how to do anything in photoshop.
I tried a bunch of things, still not getting why my text doesn't work right but was able to try some new things. So after staying up until midnight I came up with these, which I'm not that impressed with.
Hopefully I do something a little more worthwhile today like practice the piano or clean up the office.

I made this one using a picture from Friday night but it is much too formal.

This was the original picture of us that I wanted to use.

When I came up with the Holiday "Cheer" I thought I needed a better picture showing cheer and chose this one and got a little more creative with the santa hats.  I like this one the best, a little goofy.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Cranberry Martini

Karen had these at Thanksgiving and I had two. Boy were they good. Later that week when I got the recipe from her she said she gave it to me last year after Thanksgiving too. Sure enough I had it, but this year I made them.

Ina Garten once filmed a Food Network special called Thanksgiving Live to answer viewers’ questions about cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Bobby Flay made a delicious cranberry martini to sip while they worked (what a good idea!). They look so festive and her guests loved them! Infuse the vodka with the orange zest and cranberries at least 2 days ahead.


  • 1 cup (8 oz./250 g) sugar
  • 1 cup (4 oz./125 g) fresh cranberries
  • 6 (1 x 3-inch/2.5 x 7.5-cm) strips of orange zest, plus extra for serving (see note below)
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle good vodka, such as Grey Goose
  • 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) cranberry juice cocktail, preferably tart
  • 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) Triple Sec
  • Ice

Monday, December 7, 2015

Kale Salad

Ann brought this salad to dinner on Friday and it was delicious - who would have thought, considering it was kale.

She sent me the recipe today which is from

Kale Salad with Pecorino and Walnuts
Like I did on a recent ice cream cake, please consider this a tale of two recipes, one that’s bare bones (add the raisins, walnuts and crumbs without the extra prep) and one if you’d like to get a little more depth from each. Both work, but the slightly longer prep (toasting the nuts, the crumbs in olive oil, plumping the raisins, etc.) really makes the salad sing and will not be regretted. You can choose your own adventure, too, doing more for some ingredients and less for others.

1/2 cup (105 grams or 3 3/4 ounces) walnut halves or pieces
1/4 cup (45 grams or 1 1/2 ounces) golden raisins
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup panko (15 grams or 1/2 ounce) or slightly coarse homemade breadcrumbs (from a thin slice of hearty bread)
1 tiny clove garlic, minced or pressed
Coarse or kosher salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch (about 14 ounces or 400 grams) tuscan kale (also known as black or lacinato kale; this is the thinner, flatter leaf variety), washed and patted dry
2 ounces (55 grams) pecorino cheese, grated or ground in a food processor, which makes it delightfully rubbly (1/2 cup total)
Juice of half a lemon
Freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste

Prepare walnuts: Heat oven to 350. Toast walnuts on a baking sheet for 10 minutes, tossing once. Let cool and coarsely chop.

Prepare raisins: In a small saucepan over low heat, simmer white wine vinegar, water and raisins for 5 minutes, until plump and soft. Set aside in liquid.

Prepare crumbs: Toast bread crumbs, garlic and 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in a skillet together with a pinch of salt until golden. Set aside.

Prepare kale: Trim heavy stems off kale and remove ribs. I always find removing the ribs annoying with a knife, because the leaves want to roll in on the knife and make it hard to get a clean cut.

Instead, I’ve taken to tearing the ribs off with my fingers, which is much easier for me. Stack sections of leaves and roll them into a tube, then cut them into very thin ribbons crosswise.

Assemble salad: Put kale in a large bowl. Add pecorino, walnuts and raisins (leaving any leftover vinegar mixture in dish), remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and lemon juice and toss until all the kale ribbons are coated. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt, pepper and some of the reserved vinegar mixture from the raisins, if needed. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving, if you can, as it helps the ingredients come together. Just before serving, toss with breadcrumbs and, if needed, a final 1 teaspoon drizzle of olive oil.

Karen's Cranberry Pie

I have bridge at my house today, in the afternoon for the first time ever in our 47 year history.  I was looking for something to make for dessert and was going to make a cranberry apple dessert and then I remembered Karen's Cranberry Pie and thought that I would make it so we could have it in her memory.  After I had it at her house at bridge I used to make it for Thanksgiving a lot but haven't made it in ages.

Karen we miss you!  Read about Karen here and here.

Cranberry Pie

2 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 c walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup sugar

Butter square pyrex pan or round layer cake pan and spread cranberries, nut and 1/2 cup sugar over the bottom.

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 c melted crisco (I use butter here too)
dash salt

Beat eggs well.  Add sugar gradually.  Add remaining ingredients and beat well.  Pour over cranberries and bake in 300℉ oven for 1 hour.  Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.