Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Snickerdoodle Swig Cookies

I was at a church activity the other night when I walked by the dessert table and saw these bad boys sitting on the table.  I grabbed one, then two, then three and finally just had to go home to stop myself from eating them....holy cow they were so good!  I am a cookie lover to the fullest and these were an amazing twist on the swig sugar cookie recipe.  Thank you to my friend Sarah for sharing her secrets!

This recipe calls for cinnamon chips.  I buy them at my local Walmart but you can also find them at any bosch store or online too.  During Christmas time they are a lot easier to hunt down at your local store so now would be a good time to look!

Now onto the recipe.  This recipe makes a lot of dough.  If you want, you may half it, freeze 1/2 the dough or cookies, or what I like to do...make them all and give them to my friends.  The friends you feed are friends for life.  :)  Since it makes a lot of dough, use a big bowl for mixing.  Learn from my mistakes below: 

Meet my best friend.  I use this cookie scoop for everything.  It holds about 3 Tbsp so it makes nice, big cookies.  I always justify to myself that if I make big cookies I will only eat one big cookie instead of a bunch of little ones.  Sometimes this logic works...  If you enjoy making food, this is a must get item.  These scoops are so useful I would probably run back into my house and grab them if it was on fire.

 Enough writing and here is the recipe!

Snickerdoodle Swig Cookies
Makes roughly 40 large cookies

1 C butter - room temperature
3/4 C vegetable oil
1 1/4 C sugar
3/4 C powdered sugar
2 T water
2 large eggs
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t cream of tartar
1 t salt
5 C flour
1 bag cinnamon baking chips
optional: a dash of cinnamon in the dough for extra flavor!

Equal parts cinnamon and sugar to roll cookies in

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter, oil, sugars, water, and eggs.

Combine dry ingredients and add them to wet mixture.

Mix until well combined and add 1 C.(about 1/2 bag) to 1 2/3 C (full bag) chips.

Scoop out cookies and roll into ball.  Roll in cinnamon and sugar mixture and place on cookie sheet.

Dip the bottom of a cup in the cinnamon and sugar and smash each cookie down until it looks like the below cookies.  Bake at 350 degrees for 7-8 minutes.  Let cool and devour!

This is what they look like before they are cooked.  They puff up while in the oven.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Oatstraw Tea is Amaaazing!

I have had a ton of people asking me about oatstraw tea so I decided to write about it!  The first two weeks of post pregnancy are the hardest for me.  I went to the Dr. and got a prescription for some pills but wasn't feeling very good about them.  I had my husband give me a priesthood blessing and felt like I needed to look around for other options.  My mom mentioned this tea to me so I started it ASAP.  (Note: I am NOT against pills.  I just felt like I needed to try natural remedies first.)

I drank the tea twice a day for almost 6 months straight.  There were days I skipped or forgot to take it but I was pretty consistent.  The first time I started taking it, within a few days I could feel a difference.  My anxiety was manageable and I felt more in control.  My overall health also seemed to improve....google "what does oatstraw tea do" if you don't believe all the amazing things it can do.  It helps during pregnancy, with anxiety, metabolism boost, etc.

I ran into a problem where I would have a few really good days so I would stop making the tea. The tea seems to take a few days to get out of my system so after awhile of being tea free I would start feeling the anxiety creep back in and I would have to start all over again.  When my anxiety isn't as intense, the tea tends to kick in faster.  

The tea takes about 30 minutes to make.  I make 2-4 batches of tea at a time and then put it in cups and store it in the fridge so I don't have to spend as much time making it each day.  You can add a little honey to it and it tastes super good but most of the time I would just drink it plain.  Depending on how much your water cooks down you drink around 1/2 cup to 1 cup each time.  It tastes like watery oatmeal and really not bad.   

I haven't found the tea local anywhere yet but there are plenty of kinds to buy online.  Here is where I normally buy the tea.  I buy 6 boxes at a time to make it worth it and it stores great.  Make sure to follow the medicinal recipe on the box for it to be nice and potent!

It works and fast!
Tastes good
Helps the whole body in addition to anxiety and depression
It is cheap
It stores in the fridge for a few days so you can make a big batch at once
Did I mention it really works!!

Can't find local
Tastes gross cold
Time consuming if you make one batch at a time

This stuff really is amazing.  The biggest trick....actually making and drinking it regularly to see the results.  So try this awesome stuff and let me know what you think!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Rustic Lentil Soup

This recipe tastes like fall.  It is filling, warm and rich.  You can cut the bacon and sausage out to make it veggie style or embrace the meat.  Either way, it is awesome.  If you like lentils you should try this...tonight!

Quick Glance
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 1 H, 45 M
Serves 8
·         3-5 strips bacon
·        1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
·        2 carrots, chopped
·        2 celery stalks, chopped
·        1/2 onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
·        1 can diced tomatoes
·        6-7 cups chicken broth
·        bay leaves
·        1 teaspoon salt
·        1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
·        teaspoon dried oregano 
1     1/4 teaspoon chili powder
·        1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
·        1 1/2-2 cups green lentils, rinsed and drained
·        4-5 russet potato, diced
·        1 lb sausage (I like sage flavored sausage but any type is great)

·        1. In a large stockpot, add bacon and cook until the bacon is crisp, about 7 minutes. Remove bacon and crumble, set aside.  Add the garlic and cook until the garlic has softened, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, and onions and cook until the vegetables are tender and lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes.
·        2. Add 6-7 cups chicken stock to the pot and then stir in the tomatoes, bay leaves, salt, thyme, oregano, and black pepper. Add the lentils and potatoes and increase the heat to medium-high, and bring the soup to a boil. Partially cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the soup for about 45 minutes. Add more chicken stock if the soup becomes too thick.
·        3. Meanwhile, in a small nonstick sauté pan over medium heat, cook the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, for 4 to 5 minutes or until it is nicely browned.

·        6. Add the sausage and bacon to the soup. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Taste the soup and add salt if necessary. Remove the bay leaves and serve.

R    recipe adapted from http://leitesculinaria.com/1350/recipes-rustic-lentil-soup.html

Monday, October 6, 2014

How to Lose Weight while still being friends with Cookies

Since having Sage I have lost 50 pounds and I wanted to document how I did it and why I did it so next time I have a baby I can look back and realize I can do hard things.  Because it has been hard; mentally, spiritually and physical! I have debated about publishing this post for a while.  If you choose to read this novel (it's long!) I hope it gives you courage, ideas and hope.

After having Sage, I was 175 pounds.  I worked so hard to stay fit during her pregnancy but somehow managed to gain 5 more pounds with her than I did Crew….how is that fair?!?!  (In reality, I still had 5 or so extra pounds from Crew’s pregnancy I never got rid of so I started at a higher weight..ugh…guess I can’t really blame anyone but me for that….I digress…) I always lose about 20 lbs of water weight within the first few days which left me with 30 lbs I had to lose on my own.  I felt gross, hated taking pictures, and had 2 shirts that fit.  Postpartum kicked in, I couldn't work out until I healed and used food as a comfort and distraction. 

One month after having Sage (don’t I have the cutest family ever!!)

Every day I would say, “I will eat better tomorrow” or “I already ate one bad thing, might as well just make a day out of it”.  The list goes on of excuses.  My biggest one was “I deserve this”.  It had been a hard day or I was so tired or on and on….I ate what I thought I deserved and ironically when I was done felt more undeserving and worse about myself then before eating my “prize”.  For months I did this until I finally realized that for me, FOOD SHOULD NEVER BE USED AS A REWARD.  I had food up on a pedestal, something that would make me happy and something I deserved.  When I heard people say, “Food is fuel” I would just look at them and think, you really need to live a little and enjoy life and food.  Food was my coping mechanism for depression and stress and it wasn’t helping me.  6 months flew by and although I was working out again, I had only lost 5 more lbs.  After feeling gross for so long, motivation finally kicked in. I knew I needed to change.  So here is what I did in a nutshell:
I worked out and watched what I ate.  I didn’t go on a diet, I didn't stop eating certain things, I just made little steps towards being healthier. 

January 2014 - 6 months mark

I continued running and starting doing yoga and kickboxing again for cross trainer.  Working out is a big therapy for me so I worked hard not to miss my work outs and signed up for a half marathon to have something to work towards.  Having a race made me feel accountability.  I couldn’t skip my work outs or the race would be misery. I also found having someone to run with made a huge difference.  Working out on my own meant no willpower but when I went with someone I couldn’t just stop because I was bored.  It made a HUGE difference.  I will forever be grateful for all the ladies who are willing to run with me despite rain, heat, grumpiness, or cold!
I control my sugar intake.  No one needs 3 desserts or treats in a day.  You don’t really need one every day.  Treats are just that now…treats, special things for special occasions.  Not something I just eat because I am bored.  I normally try to eat treats on birthdays, get togethers, or holidays only; however, if we are watching a movie and I really want a cookie I eat one….ONE.  Not 5 or 10.  (I once ate so many cookies in high school I threw up, okay you didn’t need to know that)  Eric and I also don’t eat after 9 PM at night.  We were eating so much junk at night and then going to bed so it could all turn into fat.  I started sleeping better and feeling better once we cut off food at 9.  I also don’t buy treats.  If we want a treat, we either make it or go out together and buy it. 
I buy less processed foods.  Cheetos used to be another one of my favorite foods.  Once I stopped buying so much processed food though I no longer love them.  It is amazing what your body adjusts to.  When I eat greasy gross food, healthy doesn’t sound good.  But when I eat healthy, unhealthy food loses its appeal.  I pay attention to chemicals in my food and therefore don’t buy low fat or fat free.  We eat normal full fat food.  Full fat food does not mean McDonalds or fast food.  I really like to know the ingredients in my food so I make most of what we eat for our meals.  Notice, I didn’t say we don’t buy process foods at all.  We do it in moderation.  Sometimes I throw a digornio stuffed crust pizza in the oven and serve it with a salad for dinner….I am human!  J 
Meal planning is a must.  I always go to the grocery store with 7-15 dinner meals on my list and we snack on fruits, veggies, nuts or cheese instead of cookies, chips, or whatever else.  I try to only eat 3 meals a day…that’s what works for me.  Snacks are what expanded my waistline most. I put on my plate a regular sized dinner…not one for a starving teenager and eat until I am full.  With this said, we still go out to eat and I eat whatever I want (I don’t ever get drinks or desserts but that is personal preference.)  Eating out is a special occasion to me since we don’t do it very often.  If you eat out more often, don’t treat it like that.
Drink a lot of water.  I tried to have water be my family’s primary drink.  When I drink carbonation it feels like my bones are being sucked dry and my teeth feel sugary and gross.  Juice isn’t taboo but I like to limit it too since they it is high in natural sugars. 
Go to sleep and fake it til you make it.  I once heard someone say put on your workout clothes before you decide if you are going to work out.  I don’t recall every finishing a healthy meal or a run and thinking, “that was a waste of my life”.  I have sooo many times thought, “I really wish I didn’t eat that or why did I stay up so late?”  It took me two months before I liked running.  It was kind of like death until that point…..DON’T YOU DARE GIVE UP!!  Healthy habits are just that…habits.  Do habits form over night?  Never.  But they do form as you keep trying.  Get enough sleep so you can function and be rational. 
Pray for help and talk about your goals with people.  I told everyone about the Oatstraw tea I found for my depression, I share recipes I find that are healthy and good, if I was discouraged I would call my mom or talk to my sister or a friend.  The insight and advice I got helped me keep going.  When I finally lost my weight, in my head I still felt chubby.  It took a lot of positivity and support from Heavenly Father and my loved ones to feel good inside too.  Every time I thought, “this is just the way I am, or this is just a trial I have to deal with” I realized that was Satan telling me to give up.  I will not let him win.  I prayed and fasted for help and I got it.  Never forget you control your life and choices and there are so many people willing to cheer you on and help you succeed.
So that is how I did it.  A little after Sage turned 1 I reached my weight goal.  I felt good, food didn’t control me, and the whole food is fuel thing makes a little more sense.  What I eat is how I feel.  I don’t really want to feel like a soggy French fry or a giant chocolate cake.  I would rather feel like a strong carrot  J  (that was a joke) In all reality, I would rather feel like me. I will probably never be super skinny but that is okay.  My perfect balance lets me keep my cookies aka happiness and stay healthy at the same time.  So go find your perfect balance and never be afraid to ask for help.   In the end, my journey taught me how to be healthy and happy not at a certain weight but with the choices and decisions I was making about my health.  I will keep learning, keep starting over (everyone has those days) and moving forward.  I am so grateful for my health and that I can keep up with my kids, feel the Spirit, and make a difference in the world because I am okay with me. 

September right before lotoja – 15 months after I had Sage

Breakfast Ideas:
Bolthouse smoothies are awesome.  I buy the big ones and drink about 8 oz when I am rushing out the door a lot of mornings.  They fill me up and keep me going until lunch. 
Oatmeal is really filling, (I like oatmeal with raisins or apples and cinnamon)
Eggs with cheese

Leftovers, salad, or whatever my kids are eating.  I do not eat their leftover food though.  I don’t need 3 lunches! 

Whatever I want….I just eat a normal meal size and don’t have dessert most nights.  Dessert is not a requirement!  I cook with heavy whipping cream too… gasp!  Mmm….I mix up our menus a lot which some people say is a no no for losing weight but I love cooking and variety.  I pick 3-4 heavier meals for the month and try to stick to healthier options the other nights. 


If you are dying of hunger…then stop already!  Fruit, veggies, nuts, cheese are our go tos….real foods….not packaged stuff.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Hibachi Chicken and Veggies

Have you ever been to Benihana?  I love everything about the restaurant; especially the onion volcano.  I always wondered how such a simple meal could taste so good.  I saw this recipe on Supper for a steal  and knew I had to try it.  It is so good, easy, and flavorful!  Perfect combination!  This is also a great way to use up all your summer squash so save this recipe for when zucchini and squash are coming out your ears in a few months!
Feel free to substitute any vegetables out or in.  You can also take the chicken out completely (if you do, add a little lemon juice to the veggies.)  
Ugh...I just realized the picture I took didn't actually take so you are getting a picture from supper for a steal instead.  Photography just isn't in my blood....

For the chicken
  • 2-3 chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt & pepper to taste

For the veggies
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 large white onion, halved then sliced
  • 3-4 zucchini, cut into sticks
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • salt & pepper to taste
Directions - you will use a large electric skillet or a big pot
  1. Heat up skillet to medium heat.  Add vegetable and sesame oil to skillet.  In a small bowl combine soy sauce, butter, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Toss chicken in the skillet and drizzle sauce over.  Sauté 6-8 minutes until chicken is no longer pink.
  2. Combine the butter, soy sauce, and salt and pepper in bowl. Add both oils for veggies, all the veggies, and sauce in with the chicken.  Cook until vegetables are tender. *Note:  If you don't cook the vegetables all the way they don't soak up the sauce as well.  You don't want soggy zucchini but let them cook a little bit for the best flavor!
  3. Serve over rice and enjoy a relatively guilt free meal!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Gouda Mac and Cheese - Fancy Style

My husband and I discovered Pizzeria 712 recently.  They have a Gouda mac and cheese that is to die for.  They also use fresh, local ingredients including produce from the farm I work for La Nay Ferme.  (Shameless plug for La Nay Ferme....if you aren't a CSA member yet, you should join today!)  Anyway, I have been craving their mac and cheese everyday so I decided to recreate it Laci-style.  I hope you enjoy my version on Gouda mac and cheese!

(Both these pictures are pre-bake....so image this gooey, golden, and baked to perfection...mmm)

Fancy Gouda Mac and Cheese

1 box any shape pasta you like
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
1 1/2 C. milk
8 oz Gouda cheese
8 oz mushrooms
1/4 C. to 1/2 C. bacon, crumbled
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
Bread crumbs - panko
1 T. olive oil

Cook pasta, drain and set aside.  Cook mushrooms, and bacon in skillet.  Add asparagus for last 2-3 minutes, drain, and set aside.  Combine flour and butter in saucepan and stir for 1 minute.  Add milk and let it come to a boil.  Add cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add vegetables, chicken, and cheese to noodles and stir to combine.  Pour into 9x13 pan.  Combine oil and bread crumbs in bowl and top pasta.  Bake at 350 for 15-25 minutes or until golden and bubbly.  Enjoy!!

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies in the Universe

Chocolate chip cookies are one of my favorite foods.  Kind of ironic for a girl who shouldn't eat sugar.  Every holiday I am allowed to "cheat" and eat sugar so I make a batch of cookies for every holiday.  (No, I do not make up holidays when I am craving my cookies.  :))  This recipe is my go to recipe and I have yet to find one that taste better.  Any type of chocolate goes well inside.  Last time I added a Symphony candy bar with some milk chocolate chips....dangerously good.  Please note I finally took my own pictures of the food and you can see why I don't like to...I'm not good at it.  Oh well, try these and you will never use another recipe again.

Oversized Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Worldwide ward cookbook Secret Recipes)

2 C flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 C butter, slightly melted or softened
1 C brown sugar
1/2 C sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extra
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 C. chocolate chips (any kind or any candy!)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Mix flour, baking soda, and salt together; set aside.  Mix softened butter, brown sugar, and sugar until well blended.  Add vanilla, egg, and egg yolk and mix until light and fluffy.  Add flour mixture and stir until just blended.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Drop cookie dough 1/4 C. at a time (or use big cookie scoop) onto cookie sheet.  Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.  Makes about 32 cookies.  Do not overcook!!  I usually pull them out before they look all the way done.