Cauliflower Cravings

Have you ever had a craving so intense, so fervent, that all you could do was think about said craving until that hankering was satisfied? Or maybe it’s just a former fat kid thing…

Lately for me, that has been pizza. Pizza. Ooey-gooey, cheesy, melty, toppings piled high, aromatic deliciousness. (See? I told you I’ve been obsessed)

And then reality sets in. Carbs. Like crazy. And since I’ve been doing so well lately following a low/no-carb lifestyle, I really didn’t want to undo all my progress with a stupid piece of pizza.

Cue our culinary hero – cauliflower

Cauliflower substitutes for things like mashed “potatoes” and pizza crusts have been filling my Pinterest and Facebook foodie feeds. What better way to satisfy my pizza craving than with a cauliflower crust low-carb alternative? Problem solved.

I would also like to note that this pizza craving was so intense that I made said pizza on a Sunday morning. At 8am. After making a quick grocery run post-workout. Yeah. It was that bad.

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But DANG it was delicious. Thanks to Katie Lee from The Kitchen for this tasty recipe. For my toppings, I had cheese (Wisconsin roots really show through here), Italian sausage, pepperoni, and bacon. Yes, bacon – who doesn’t love bacon?!

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It was a protein-packed, low-carb delight. Definitely a keeper. S’mores even approved!

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Snow Day Sweets: Heath Cupcakes

Mother Nature heard my snow day plea! Winter storm Kayla hit Mankato with a vengeance last Tuesday. School was actually called off the night before, so that meant:

Alarm = off. Sweatpants = on. Showering = optional. Oven = on

There is no better way to spend a snow day than in the kitchen. I had a bag of Heath baking chips leftover from some Christmas baking and after a little Pinterest perusing, I decided to make these beauties:

heath cupcakrs

Mmm. Oh yes. Chocolate fudge with Heath cupcakes, rolled in chocolate ganache and more Heath, topped with caramel frosting.

Drool.

I saw a bunch of recipes with homemade cakes, but I was feeling a bit lazy. After looking at a few recipes, I decided to wing it. They were surprisingly easy. I used a box cake mix with a heaping 1/2 cup of Heath bits stirred in the mix.

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For the ganache, I used this recipe here. It was a bit thick, so I added a little milk to thin it out. This was a crazy easy recipe – it’s called one minute frosting for a reason. In the recipe picture, they show it glazing a cake. Judging by the picture, it would make for a beautiful cake! Next snow day…

Roll the edges (or whole top – I won’t judge) in Heath chunks and tada!

They looked ridiculously delicious just like that.

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But it’s cupcakes – go big or go home. No better way to top this than with a nice heaping scoop of caramel frosting.

Cue sugar coma….

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Cheater Cheesecake

Sometimes, you just have to press the easy button. And this recipe was definitely easy. Like, did it on a Monday after a 6:00 kindergarten program and having a doggy play date.

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I felt a little guilty since almost all of it was pre-made. But then I remembered it’s Monday. The weather has been beautiful. And I’m a teacher nearing the end of the school year and the kids are NUTS.

Not so guilty anymore.

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All recipes came to the rescue with this Chocolate Berry No Bake Cheesecake. One bowl, no oven, easy peasy deliciousness with a no-egg batter that you can lick right off the spoon without any guilt.

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Take that, Monday!

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Love and Cookies

Woah.

It’s been a while! But for good reason! My dating has stopped. Well, not really stopped I guess. I’m doing plenty of dating – but it’s just one guy. I’ve settled on one dessert! S’mores is quite wonderful. He gave me permission to post his pictures (but I’m keeping his name a secret. Plus I just love calling him S’mores…)

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Aren’t we cute?!

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Call me crazy, but I’m going to marry this guy. Mark my words, internet world!

A few weeks ago, I made S’mores some bacon bourbon chocolate chip cookies.

Bacon bourbon

He approved

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I’m not a huge bourbon fan, but they were certainly yummy! They actually smelled of bourbon more than they tasted like it. The saltiness of the bacon is the perfect combo with the sweet but tiny bit bitter dark chocolate

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New Year, Third Wheel

Happy New Year!

In true Claire style, I rang in the new year just like last year – third wheeling it. Actually, I’ve only had 1 holiday ever with a significant other – sugar cookie and I were dating during Valentine’s Day last year. So being single for the holidays isn’t anything new. And it wasn’t that bad. I hang out with this couple quite a bit (they’re pretty awesome) and last year they invited me to see a local band in Cumberland. It was great! But I had one too many long islands and too much cheap champagne. Combine that with a round about on the way home – not pretty. This year was much better – no long islands and slightly tastier cheap champagne. I’d say that’s a win!

Of course, I had to make something to bring to their house. Perfect excuse to use my new Christmas present

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Isn’t she beautiful?! You know you’re old and lame when kitchen appliances make you happy…

But this recipe was a first. It’s a Claire original! I’ve been trying to think of a fun, exciting name, but nothing is coming to mind (I’m open for suggestions). It’s egg-less peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough sandwiched between two Nilla wafers, dipped in melted chocolate and peanut butter.

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Oh yes. How can you even put a name to that deliciousness?!

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I followed this recipe for edible peanut butter cookie dough and just added a mess of chocolate chips. Scoop up some of that yummy-ness and squish it between two Nilla wafers. Dip half in melted chocolate (I added a spoonful of peanut butter too. Because you can never have enough peanut butter) and BAM. Chocolatey peanut buttery goodness.

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And of course the holidays wouldn’t be complete without some lonely guys. Woke up to a text message this morning from turtle cheesecake (haven’t heard from him since September) – a picture of the two of us from his phone and the caption “good times.” Sorry sir, you blew it.

I’ve also received a couple (lame/creepy/weird/boring) messages on both POF and OkCupid, but this one is by far my favorite from Plenty of Fish. It needs no explanation…

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Here’s to a year filled with dates, desserts, and chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate

Buttermilk Grapefruit Donuts

Tis the season for baking (and eating). I’ve definitely had more than my fair share of sweets the last week…or two…or three.

We were invited to a family friend’s house for Christmas Eve brunch. Along with beer candied bacon (this time made with seasonal Leine’s Cranberry Ginger Shandy – so good!) I decided to make buttermilk grapefruit donuts.

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Tasty!! They’re baked, not fried, and the tangy grapefruit zest makes these donuts much lighter than what you typically think when you think donuts.

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Then you don’t feel so bad about eating one…or two…

Baking Bonanza!

I may have gone a little overboard this weekend…

My high schoolers had their concert Sunday (which went very well) and I always bake treats for the next day. There is no better choir recruitment/retainment tactic for high schoolers than food! I also wanted to give some Christmas goodies to my accompanist (because she is AMAZING and saves my sorry terrible piano playing butt). To top it all off, I had the house to myself Saturday and Sunday. What better way to occupy some time than baking?

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I got so carried away I even forgot to take pictures of a lot of them. But that 6 hours spent dancing and cooking in the kitchen with my Pandora shuffle blasting was pretty fantastic.

Here’s the rundown

Salted caramel pretzel bark

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So tasty. And SO EASY!

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Oreo truffles – I bought the family size package of Oreos because I wasn’t sure how many I wanted to make. And you always have to leave some room for eating – I mean, error….

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Gingerbread cookies (I didn’t get a picture!)

Chocolate crinkle cookies

crinkle cookie collage

These were super tasty but a little time consuming since I had to let the dough chill. And let me tell you, you HAVE to let the dough chill. If you don’t, there’s no way you’ll actually get a ball of dough. More like a sloppy sticky mess.

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Last but certainly not least, Grandma’s sugar cookies and frosting.

sugar cookies

These are pretty stinking delicious. And the frosting is SO yummy! The recipe is direct from grandma’s email (yeah, she’s pretty hip…)

Cookies

1 1/4 c butter
2 c sugar
2 eggs
5 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 c milk
1 tsp almond or vanilla extract or 1/2 tsp each
cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs, beat until fluffy. Stir dry ingredients together. Add alternately to creamed mixture with milk. If its too sticky add a little flour so it is easy to roll out.
bake at 375 for about 8 minutes
Frosting
1/2 c crisco
1/2 c butter
1 tsp vanilla
4 c powder sugar (1 lb )
2 tbs milk
Cream butter and crisco. Add vanilla. Add sugar 1 c at a time. It will look dry. Add milk.If it doesn’t spread nice add a little more milk. Beat at med speed