Happy (Late) Holiday

>> Tuesday, December 27, 2011

We hope everyone had a great holiday (and that the fun continues well into the week). We've been busy opening presents, entertaining guests, eating cookies, and changing diapers. And today we're going to brave the mall.

Wish us luck!


X-mas with a baby is incredibly fun. I'm sure it'll only get more exciting as she gets older.


I've eaten so much sugar/bread this past week (especially peanut butter blossoms) that I'm going to post a new detox series starting in January.


Stephen is now a Moby-wearing pro. Watch out hot guy who filmed himself wearing a baby sling.


I'm officially back and running 20 miles a week. I even ran a "long" run of 5.5 miles. 10K series, here I come. It feels great! Can't wait to get back to exercise posts.


Ada helped brew her first batch of beer! A nut brown. In 2 months it'll be ready to try. And in 2 months, Ada will be so much bigger. She's growing like a weed!

3 other things:
  1. One of the presents we received this year: Ice cream maker with a vegan ice cream book. NOM.
  2. We had also bought a gift for ourselves -- a Popsicle-maker. Looks like we'll be enjoying lots of frosty treats in 2012.
  3. My first present of the year was a jury summons. So, I need to get on the phone to deal with that.
If you've been following baby-related posts, check out Ada's life at 5 weeks. We try to do some fun stuff, and it's all on (never home)maker, baby!

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Improved Peanut Butter Blossoms

>> Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Like I said in yesterday's post, I'm not really into holiday baking. But that doesn't mean I don't have a favorite Christmas cookie. I most certainly do! And I love it so much, I make it year-round. I made it this weekend and will likely make more today.

Yeah. You caught that. It's Tuesday and the entire batch is history.

This year, I've tweaked the classic recipe to (never home)maker-perfection. If you haven't caught on yet, I'm really into using oat flour and maple syrup. The inclusion of these ingredients in this recipe yields a heartier, healthier holiday treat.


PEANUT BUTTER BLOSSOMS

What you'll need . . .
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance or butter
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer (plus 2 tablespoons water) or 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats processed into flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Extra sugar for rolling
  • 1 bag candy kisses, unwrapped
Method . . .
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cream together the butter, peanut butter, maple syrup, sugar, egg replacer (and water), and vanilla extract. About 5 minutes, until super fluffy.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the whole wheat flour, processed rolled oats, baking soda, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and mix until well combined. If dough is really wet, add a bit more flour -- 1 tablespoon at a time.
  4. Scoop out tablespoon-sized rounds and roll them in the sugar (I put my extra sugar on a plate). Place on the cookie sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart.
  5. Bake for between 10 and 12 minutes, until golden. Then top each with a chocolate kiss.
  6. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Recipe makes about 2 sheet of cookies.
What's your favorite holiday cookie? And if you posted a recipe to it on your blog, feel free to share in the comments section! I'm always looking for new recipes to try.

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Mint Chocolate Baileys Chippers

>> Monday, December 19, 2011

I bake cookies and other bars one or twice each week. So, it may be be strange for you all to learn that I'm not huge into holiday baking. I guess it's because I keep the celebration going all year. Whatever it is, there aren't many x-mas cookies in my baking repertoire.

So, when we we tasked with baking a cheery treat for this year's x-mas lights run after-party, I didn't know exactly what to make. I struggled last year as well and banged out some Fudge-Topped Chai Bars with only minutes to spare.

After much deliberation (and -- OK -- admission that we had, like, ZERO ingredients), I decided to get boozy. We've had this bottle of mint-chocolate Baileys in the fridge since before I became pregnant. It's been begging to be consumed in one way or another.


MINT-CHOCOLATE BAILEYS CHIPPERS

What you'll need . . .
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup mint chocolate Baileys
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Method . . .
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. With your paddle attachment on high, mix together the brown sugar and oil until well incorporated. Add egg, Baileys, and vanilla extract. Mix well.
  3. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and stir until everything is moistened.
  4. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  5. Scoop tablespoon-sized dallops onto your cookie sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart.
  6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes -- until golden. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

The run went great. Three miles in all, but -- no matter the distance -- I missed participating in all the events our runners club puts on. I'm looking forward to the 10K freeze series and some super cold weather running in January.


The night of the run almost marked Ada's 1 month birthday. If you want to hear her favorite Christmas song (seriously, it works WONDERS when she's crying!), head over to (never home)maker, baby!

Oh, and if you like boozy desserts, check out last year's Nightcap Fudge recipe.

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

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Blueberry Cornmeal Scones

>> Friday, December 16, 2011

These days, it's hard to get to the grocery store. It's even harder to make our way through the aisles without tons of well-meaning strangers stopping us to sneak a peek of Ada. Our refrigerator shelves have never been so bare!

I spy mostly condiments. How about you? Thank goodness we picked up our CSA farm share last night. At least our freezer is stocked with tasty produce.


Harder yet is finding time to make meals during the day and then actually finding time to eat them. Despite Ada's incredible crankiness yesterday, I made scones. Baking as therapy, I suppose. Bonus is that this morning I could just grab my breakfast. You know, change a dirty diaper with one hand and eat with the other.

It's getting that bad. (But I'm being dramatic. Overall, she's a fantastic baby. And she turns 1 month today!)


BLUEBERRY CORNMEAL SCONES

What you'll need . . .
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup fine grain cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup Earth Balance (or butter)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup almond milk (or regular/soy/etc. milk)
  • 1 Ener-G egg replacer plus 2 tablespoons water (or egg/other substitute)
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Method . . .
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a food processor, pulse together the flour, cornmeal, maple syrup, Earth Balance, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cloves. Mixture will be crumbly.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the almond milk and egg replacer (with water). Add the dry-ish ingredients to the wet and mix until just moistened. Do not over mix or you risk the scones being tough.
  4. In another bowl, toss the frozen blueberries with the cornstarch. Fold them into the scone batter.
  5. Using a 1/4 cup measure, scoop heaping mounds (10 to 12) onto your cookie sheet.
  6. Place in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Until golden brown on edges.

And that reminds me. We still haven't done our Christmas shopping. This weekend should be interesting as we make our way to all the stores. I was thinking we could skip it. Maybe I could just frame this abstract art the scones left behind on the parchment?

If you've been following our family happenings, today on (never home)maker, baby! I've written all about week 4 postpartum. I'm feeling much more like my old self again, despite some scary sleep happenings.

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

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Run Outdoors This Winter!

>> Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I know plenty of runners who skip running outdoors in the cold weather months. There's no shame in it. I definitely enjoyed several years training in the gym as well, favoring a monotonous slog on the treadmill to a frosty jaunt atop ice-covered sidewalks. In my own experience, when I kept up my outdoor routine, I maintained better running fitness and was much better prepared for spring races. I also felt much happier and mentally sane.

Still, running outside can be gross, absolutely frigid, and -- at times -- dangerous.


I'm planning to write a post about the benefits of retreating to the gym -- because there are many. But today, I want to offer up some tips for those of you who want to venture out this winter season. I'm dealing with my own troubled return to running and cold temperatures, too.


Follow a Plan. (And -- no. After having a baby, this isn't my current training plan.) This is almost always my first tip with anything related to running. Obviously, there aren't tons of races in winter if you live where it's chilly. But that doesn't mean you can't follow some sort of training plan or make some sort of goal for yourself. Think short-range. Month to month. That way, when you hear the ice hitting your windowpanes, you'll still feel motivated to cross that workout off your to-do list.

For me, this year's goal is to get back into running after my pregnancy. I've signed up for a half marathon in May -- but my immediate winter goal is to get comfortable running for an hour to hour and fifteen minutes. After that, I plan to incorporate some not-so demanding speed sessions to get back closer to my pre-pregnancy running times.


Run with the Sun. It's not always possible -- especially if you work a 9 to 5 -- but if you can head out for your runs in daylight, it helps tremendously with the transition from fall to winter. It'll actually BE warmer, too. If you just can't swing it during the week, attempt to get in two good weekend workouts in the sun. Or if you live somewhere as cloudy as we do, when it's still at least semi light outside.

This year, I've got it relatively easy. I can run basically whenever Ada's feeding schedule allows (and I have someone to watch her). I've noticed a huge difference in how I feel if I'm able to run before the sun sets. The added bonus of seeing other runners out and about is fantastic as well.


Make it Social. When all else fails, grab a friend or your significant other, bundle up, and log your miles. Gossip has a great way of helping to melt off the frost that accumulates on your eyebrows. And misery loves company. Use your chat time to complain about the weather. Chances are you'll get in your miles without even realizing it.

In our area, our runners club stays active when it's below zero. From the annual Christmas Lights Run to the crazy Freeze 10K series, there's always something going on to help coax us outdoors. Check for similar events in your own area.


Plan Sweet Rewards. (Image Credit) Sometimes you might need some extra incentive to get your butt out the door. As Tom Haverford would say: "TREAT YO-SELF!" Plan to take a long bath when you return from the cold. Sip a gigantic mug of hot chocolate. Slip on your Forever Lazy or Snuggie early that night. Anything that warms you up and makes you feel good.

I'm a shower gal. I love taking super luxurious showers, though I know it's not exactly the most sustainable thing to do. Still, when it's particularly frigid, I hop up to our bathroom, strip off my ice-clad clothes, and steam up the bathroom for a good 20 minutes. Then I take my time blow-drying my hair. Sounds silly, but it works for me.


Compromise. There are some of us (and it can change year to year) who just can't jump on the winter running wagon. To keep up the training benefits, aim to get outdoors for at least two quality workouts. That way, you won't lose all touch with outdoor reality. You also will benefit from breathing in open air.

In the years I would rather be in the gym, I'd try to get in my long run and a speed workout outdoors each week. The junk miles, those run when I could completely zone out, were delegated to the treadmill. After a while, I usually find myself logging more and more miles outdoors as the season rolls on.

For more winter running tips, check out these posts:

How to Train in the Cold Months
How to Suit Up to Set Out
Seasonal De-Motivation


And if you'd like to see what Ada is up to in her third week of life, check out (never home)maker, baby!

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

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Chocolate Frosted Doughnuts

>> Friday, December 9, 2011

At week 15 of my pregnancy (by the time my morning sickness had faded), it was clear to everyone that I had a penchant for doughnuts. In fact, after most of my midwife appointments, I would swing by the store to grab one (or two) as a treat. Of course, toward the end, my appointments were weekly. That's a lot of doughnuts.

I enjoy all kinds, but chocolate glazed and chocolate frosted hold a special place in my heart.


Had I figured out this recipe sooner, I may have completely given up on regular food. I tend to do that. Get obsessed with a certain ANYTHING. And right now, that THING is these doughnuts. If you missed version one, Baked Chocolate Doughnuts, you'll want to check out that recipe as well.

Version two, in my opinion, is far superior. Plus, I increased the yield to make 6 treats this time. (But that doesn't mean they lasted any longer than the first batch.)


CHOCOLATE FROSTED DOUGHNUTS

What you'll need . . .
  • 1-1/2 cups rolled oats (processed into flour)
  • 1/4 cup wheat bran
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • Energ-G egg replacer for 1 egg (plus the 2 tablespoons water)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch salt

Method . . .
  1. Preheat to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a mini bundt pan (or doughnut pan, if you have one).
  2. Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  3. Pour into the six bundts.
  4. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until slightly firm. Let cool in pan and then turn over to pop out.

To frost, I used -- again -- one of Ashley's chocolate frosting recipes. This time, I used the paddle attachment on our food processor -- on high -- to blend together:
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Now that we're out, I'm going to need to make more. Oh, well. I'm still astounded that they taste so great without eggs, oil, butter, etc!

If you're following baby-related posts, I wrote all about my life three weeks postpartum on (never home)maker, baby! I still can't believe Ada is nearly a month old. Yesterday we decorated her first Christmas tree!


Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

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Baked Chocolate Doughnuts -- Oops!

>> Thursday, December 8, 2011

I tried my best to knock out another Richard Simmons Dazzling Desserts recipe yesterday afternoon. For those of you new to the blog, I found the cookbook at a store in my hometown a couple years ago. It's ridiculous -- full of silly photos and cheesy writing -- so, naturally, we're slowly baking our way through the entire thing.


The recipe I originally followed was for a basic bundt cake. But I made so many modifications and substitutions, it didn't turn out at all like I expected it would. It was way, way better.

You see, my mix yielded tasty and insanely healthy (just you wait -- I can't believe how healthy they are!) doughnuts.


BAKED CHOCOLATE DOUGHNUTS

What you'll need . . .
  • 1 cup rolled oats, processed into flour
  • 1/4 cup pecans (processed with oats)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Ener-G egg replacer (plus required water) for one egg (or egg/other substitute)

Method . . .
  1. Preheat to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a mini bundt pan (or doughnut pan, if you have one).
  2. Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  3. Pour into five of the six bundts (I need to rework the recipe to make more -- trust me, it's so good, I'm making more today).
  4. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until slightly firm. Let cool in pan and then turn over to pop out.

They're good naked, but I highly recommend frosting them.


I riffed off one of Ashley's chocolate frosting recipes to make this tasty chocolate-peanut butter topping.

Just use a fork to mix everything together in a small bowl:
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons almond milk
Like I said, I will be making these again. Today, if I get a chance. We ate them all yesterday afternoon. This time around, I'll be omitting the pecans because I don't have any left. I'll be increasing the amount of batter to make that sixth doughnut . . . and I'll be tweaking the frosting.

If you'd like to check out other Richard Simmons-inspired desserts, visit the links below.
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Veggie Pizza and Sacrifices

>> Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I knew having a child would mean sacrifice in many areas of my life. I quit drinking beer and enjoying my champagne-baking Sunday afternoons for nine months (and beyond). Now, I'm heading to bed around 8:30 PM and waking several times a night to screaming and crying. Going to the mall has become an ordeal involving an hour of preparation and then maybe two hours out -- tops. I'm scarfing down my meals -- in thirty seconds flat -- in order to give my baby the food she needs.

And worst of all -- I've had to cut out dairy because it isn't agreeing with her delicate digestive system. Sigh . . .

Whenever I've had to cut something out of my diet (or life, in general), I feel like it's all I can focus on. All. I. Want. Is. CHEESE. You all know we frequently eat pizza or garlic knots for dinner. I'm unwilling to give that up.

What to do?


(Another sacrifice is of my time snapping food photos. As in -- this photo and the one below are embarrassingly bad and I refuse to apologize. The pizza? Ridiculously good. Use your imagination, please.)

VEGGIE PIZZA SANS CHEESE

The toppings below are mere suggestions. The point is: Get wild with it. If you can't have cheese or simply choose not to, top pizza with as much tastiness as possible.

For us, this has meant piling on the following . . .
  • Sweet potato fries
  • Avocado
  • Mushrooms
  • Corn kernels
  • Leeks
  • Sliced tomato
  • Wheat germ

When the cheese is missing, the bread is the key. Stephen has yet again tweaked his favorite crust recipe!

CARROT-INFUSED PIZZA DOUGH
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 cup carrot puree
  • 2-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • pinch of salt
Method . . .
  1. Combine warm water and yeast. Let sit until frothy -- five minutes.
  2. Stir in carrot puree (just steam carrots and process until smooth). Or another type of vegetable puree would work fine.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the flours and salt. Make a divot in the flour and pour in the wet ingredients.
  4. Mix well and knead. Dough will be moist and slightly sticky.
  5. Place dough in well oiled bowl. Let rise for 2 hours in a warm spot.
Note from Stephen: Each recipe yields two large pizzas. Second-day crust is always better (crispier). Dough works equally well as a garlic knot base.

To put it all together, just preheat your oven to 430 degrees F. If you have a pizza stone, use it. If not, a regular cookie sheet works fine. Flatten and work your dough into a round. Pre-bake for 5 minutes. Then flip over and pile on the toppings. Return to oven for 12 to 14 minutes -- until golden brown. If you've decided to add sweet potato fries, you'll want to bake those ahead of time and add them in the last couple minutes of baking.

Enjoy! And if you can eat real pizza -- please scarf down a piece for me. (Though, this veggie-crazy version is quickly becoming a new favorite.) If you'd like to read about more sacrifices we've made so far as parents, check out our current sleep situation on (never home)maker, baby!

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

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Even Better Pecan Chocolate Chippers

>> Monday, December 5, 2011

We've been dealing with a cranky baby this past week -- which has meant little time for posting, unfortunately. But in order to stay sane, I snuck in some baking time. Thing is, I'm also trying to reduce the dairy and wheat in my diet to help with some breastfeeding issues that we're having.

Good news, though. As a result, I improved on my favorite cookie recipe.


EVEN BETTER PECAN CHOCOLATE CHIPPERS!

What you'll need . . .
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance (I used the soy-free kind)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup natural sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer with 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups rolled oats, processed into flour*
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup diced pecans (or walnuts)
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips (I used Sunspire)

*To process rolled oats into flour -- put them in your food processor for 3 to 5 minutes -- until they are pulverized, flour-y. That's all you have to do.

To bake, just follow the method on the Pecan Chocolate Chippers recipe page.

They turn out even better than the original . . . and are wheat free, dairy free.


Now back to soothing our crying two week old. Tonight we're making some pretty amazing vegan pizza. So, keep an eye out for that recipe -- coming soon!

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

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