Archive | December, 2011

Better Late than Never!

23 Dec

We all have our strengths, and our weaknesses.  I am terrible at getting Christmas cards out.  I’m good at picking them out and ordering them.  It’s the addressing, stamping and mailing part that challenges me.

Just to illustrate, my husband and I were married in October of 1995.  I had the cutest cards made with our wedding picture and the words “Marry Christmas”. Get it, “Marry” instead of “Merry”?

Anyway, I must have had 150 of these lovelies made up.  I wrote little thank you notes for our wedding in them, addressed them, and stamped them.  Well…about 10 years later, I found a box full of them!  Stamped, addressed, everything!  What happened?

I know some people got them, because they felt it necessary to inform me that I misspelled “Merry”. Urgh!

I ALMOST put them in the mail and blamed it on the post office.  I was so embarrassed that so many people didn’t get a thank you note from our wedding.  Oh well, I moved on.

That brings me to Christmas 2010.  We had the cutest pictures taken in October (plenty of time), ordered Christmas cards, and never got them out.

Fast forward to this year.  I just couldn’t justify ordering more cards after my failure to follow through last year.  So, it’s last years card you get!

Yes, I am mailing out last years card.  I wonder how many people will even notice?  I don’t think I would.  I would be too busy admiring those cute kids!

Just to update things a bit, I included a picture from our daughter’s wedding in October of 2011.  Isn’t she beautiful?

My only expense was $13 for the copies of the pictures and postage.  Not bad.

They are all addressed and ready to go to the post office today.  Hope I don’t find them is some box in ten years:)

Merry Christmas!

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Cinnamon Pecan Coconut Pancakes (Gluten-Free)

14 Dec

I am in love with coconut pancakes.  No, really.  I LOVE them.

I discovered these little delicacies after I lost a bunch of weight and needed to find some low-carb recipes to help me maintain my new weight.

These pancakes are a bit like crepes, which I also love.  I don’t think they taste at all like coconut, but I may be biased because I love coconut.  Notice a trend here?

First, make sure you have a helper.  This is Justice.  He loves to be my “kitchen helper”.  Look at that face!

Next, you need a few ingredients.  I will list them at the end for your convenience.

My husband and I own a small health food store, so  I am a big believer in quality ingredients.  We use organic milk, eggs and coconut flour as well as stevia and sea salt.  I buy really good cinnamon in bulk because I use it often.

Blend together eggs, coconut oil, milk, stevia (or sugar) and salt in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine coconut flour, cinnamon and baking powder.  Add the dry ingredients into the wet batter.

You may need to heat your coconut oil over a very low flame for a minute or two in the winter.  Coconut oil solidifies below 76 degrees.  Or you can use butter. Don’t worry if your batter is a bit lumpy.  By the way, coconut oil speeds up your metabolism, which is always a good thing!

Melt butter on a hot skillet and use a small measuring cup to drop batter onto skillet.  This is when you can add chopped pecans and/or cranberries to take it over the top! I’ve added blueberries to this recipe, too (without the cinnamon, of course).

Don’t they look delish?  My kids gobbled them up!

To keep them low carb, I leave out the cranberries for mine.

This was my breakfast.  Doesn’t look like diet food, does it?  I use Nature’s Hollow Sugar Free Maple Syrup (sweetened with Xylitol) and a good quality butter.  When you avoid starches and sugars, you can have plenty of fats.  I use butter and an organic Grade B maple syrup for the kids.  Grade B syrup is better than Grade A because it has more minerals.  When I make my pancakes plain, I use butter and some sugar free jam.  Makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

Here’s the recipe:

Cinnamon Pecan Coconut Pancakes

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 T stevia, Xylitol or sugar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup pecans (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)

Enjoy!

Staying Slim Through the Holidays

6 Dec

After posting several comport food recipes, I thought I would share a secret with you…I don’t eat like that on a regular basis.

You see, I love anything with butter, sugar and flour; cookies, cake, scones, shortbread, you name it.  In fact, I am known as the birthday cake baker in my family.  Problem is, the combination of butter, flour and sugar does not like me.  It makes me fat…quickly.

After losing 45 pounds a year and a half ago on the Hcg diet, I determined NEVER to let myself gain the weight back.  After years of yo-yo dieting, I have finally learned how to maintain my weight-loss and still enjoy the foods I love.

The secret is…moderation!  Wow, I know, that was easy.  But is it really easy?  Not for me.  I love food.  I now allow myself to indulge in starchy foods here and there only if I am below my top weight.  For me, that’s 130 pounds.  Once I hit 130, I cut ALL sugars and starches out of my diet until I get back to 125 (my happy weight).

For example, two weeks before Thanksgiving, I went on a date with my King to The Urge Gastropub, a restaurant known for their amazing burgers and local beers on tap.  Well, I LOVE a good burger and I LOVE a good beer.

This was the barbecue bacon burger I had, and yes, I ate the whole thing.  Next time we go, my hubby and I will split a burger and I’ll eat mine sans the bun.  I may still have some of the sweet potato fries because life is short.

This is Stone Brewery’s Vanilla Bean Porter.  Did you hear me?  VANILLA BEAN BEER!  My new favorite!

Throw-in some deep-fried macaroni and cheese bites with house-made beer cheese sauce (have mercy!).

See how I get carried away???

Needless to say, I was up over my 130 limit.  Not to panic, I spent the next week and a half eating mostly protein and almost no starch or sugar.  I was down to 125 just in time for Thanksgiving!

The best scenario is to practice moderation during your meal, but if that doesn’t work out so well, then you need to have moderation in you daily life.  Basically, if you have a bad day, you need to have a good day (or two, or a week, in my case) to balance it out.

This time of year is especially hard with all of the treats and parties.  I know.  I’m sure people like me are no help either.  I will be posting some ridiculously sinful recipes for your holiday celebrations this month.

Back to my point: I went to a women’s brunch at my church last weekend and, of course, I had to try one of everything.  Gracious, it was embarrassing how huge my plate of food was.  Everything was delicious!  Then I had a small dinner and will be eating low-carb all week in preparation for Cookie Day!

For example, this morning I made Cinnamon Pecan Coconut Pancakes with sugar-free maple syrup and butter.  I’ll probably have some eggs for lunch and a sirloin tip with blue cheese for dinner.  I’ll be down a pound by tomorrow.

I promise to post the recipe for my pancakes soon.

Enjoy (in moderation)!

My First Givaway! (Winner Announced!)

5 Dec

Drum-roll please!  And the winner is…

#6 Amanda Pullen

Congratulations, Amanda!  Please contact me at thequeendishes@gmail.com to claim your mug.

Thank you to everyone who re-posted and shared this contest. I got lots of new followers:)

****

I am so excited!  I couldn’t wait to post about this super cute mug!

Is it me, or what?

I thought it was so cute, I bought two;  One for me and one for you!

Check-out the definitions on the back:

I especially like #4 under Mother (or muther):  “most knowledgeable and always right”.  I think I will have my kids memorize that.

No, not really.  Well, maybe.

If you are not a mother, you can certainly give it as a gift.

Perhaps someday I can give away $400 boots like Pioneer Woman, but for now, a super cute mug will have to do.

Here’s how to enter:

1)  Follow my blog:)  Leave me a comment below that you are following my blog.

You’re free to unsubscribe at any time.

Already following? Comment below — it still counts as an entry!

2)  Blog about this giveaway and link back to this page on your blog. Comment below with the link. (1 extra entry)

3)  Share this post on Facebook. Leave a comment telling me that you shared. (1 extra entry)

4)  Email 5 friends about the giveaway, with a link to the page. Leave a comment below telling me that you did. (1 extra entry)

There are a total of 4 possible entries.

This contest will end Sunday, December 4th at 11:59 PM PST. The winner will be chosen via random.org.

Cookie Day is Coming!

4 Dec

Every year, my very best girlfriends, whom I have known since I was five, get together along with our families and decorate Christmas cookies.  My friends are four sisters who have adopted me into their “sisterhood” since I have no sisters of my own (boo hoo).

Sadly, they all live about two hours away and every year my family drives up to one of their houses and we don’t get home until after midnight.  So this year, they are all coming to my house for a “Cookie Day Slumber Party”!

It’s going to be so fun!  It’s a good thing I got the house in order for Thanksgiving.

Thankfully, all of their kids are getting older now, because one year I hosted cookie day and had colored frosting from one end of my newly carpeted house to the other.  I forgave them, because all five of my kids have grown-up with this tradition and have, undoubtedly done the same.

I remember my Sarah last year just sitting at the decorating table eating a mound of frosting.  It wasn’t pretty.  In fact, I think she had more green sprinkles than frosting.  It makes my teeth hurt just thinking about it.

Each family brings a load of sugar cookies that we have already baked and then we can all just chose any of the cookies on the table to decorate.  It’s fun that way because every gets a greater variety of shapes.

We used to try to bake the cookies the same day, but I always seemed to burn mine because I would get distracted chatting.  So now I just burn my own at home:)

I’ve been thinking about how to get prepared for cookie day and remembered the most amazing cookie blog ever, Bake at 350.  I found it last year and suggested to my friends that we take our cookie decorating to the next level.  I even emailed a link to the blog to them and none of them even looked at it.

So, it was tubs of nasty frosting with food coloring and powdered sugar and milk with food coloring for the 30th year.

Well, this year, it’s at MY house!  We are going to kick it up a notch!

Take a look at these babies:

Did I mention that my friends and I get pretty “into” our decorating.  I won’t call us competitive, but…ok, we can get a bit competitive.  Unfortunately, I am definitely not the best cookie decorator.  I think that honor probably goes to one our daughters.

I love these trees, too!  Aren’t the dots so cute?

The trick, according to Bridget at Bake at 350, is to outline, then fill, then flood with frosting.  We will be expanding our frosting repertoire this year to include outlining, filling, and flooding.  I can’t wait!

Are feeling inspired?  Are you getting hungry?

Here are some tips from Bake at 350 to help you get organized and will make your cookie baking more enjoyable:

First…take a look at your supplies.  You’re going to need:

If you are planning on mailing your cookies or giving as gifts, you will need:

OK….next.  Start early.  Cookie decorating is really more fun if you break it up into chunks.   
Do one of the following to make life easier:

  • make the dough ahead and freeze (thaw in the fridge overnight)
  • bake the cookies and freeze (thaw at room temperature for a few hours)
  • bake the cookies the day before decorating
  • make the icing a day (or so) before decorating (if you are doing fine detail work, you’ll want to make this the same day you are using)

I think I’ll be baking the cookies a few days in advance so I can use my time to get ready for company.

Here is the recipe that I used last year and the cookies were awesome.  I love how they held-up and they tasted better than the others (sorry girls!).  Notice that it calls for sugar with vanilla beans.  I’ve been storing vanilla beans in my sugar ever since I read about it last year.

Vanilla-Almond Sugar Cookies (from Bake at 350)

3 c unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 c sugar (I use sugar that I’ve stored vanilla beans in)
2 sticks (salted) butter, cold
1 egg
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the flour and baking powder, set aside. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom.

The dough will be crumbly, so knead it together with your hands as you scoop it out of the bowl for rolling (video on University of Cookie).

Roll onto a floured surface and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets (I recommend freezing the cut out shape on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before baking) and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Enjoy and have fun!

My First Givaway!

1 Dec

I am so excited!  I couldn’t wait to post about this super cute mug!

Is it me, or what?

I thought it was so cute, I bought two;  One for me and one for you!

Check-out the definitions on the back:

I especially like #4 under Mother (or muther):  “most knowledgeable and always right”.  I think I will have my kids memorize that.

No, not really.  Well, maybe.

If you are not a mother, you can certainly give it as a gift.

Perhaps someday I can give away $400 boots like Pioneer Woman, but for now, a super cute mug will have to do.

Here’s how to enter:

1)  Follow my blog:)  Leave me a comment below that you are following my blog.

You’re free to unsubscribe at any time.

Already following? Comment below — it still counts as an entry!

2)  Blog about this giveaway and link back to this page on your blog. Comment below with the link. (1 extra entry)

3)  Share this post on Facebook. Leave a comment telling me that you shared. (1 extra entry)

4)  Email 5 friends about the giveaway, with a link to the page. Leave a comment below telling me that you did. (1 extra entry)

There are a total of 4 possible entries.

This contest will end Sunday, December 4th at 11:59 PM PST. The winner will be chosen via random.org.