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Spirited and Then Some has moved! Visit us at http://spiritedandthensome.com where you’ll find the latest recipes, health tips, and how to start a food blog. Below is a snapshot of the latest spirited happenings!

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For example, there is a delectable recipe for creamy paleo fudge. Just yes. Because fudge is always a good idea.

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And then there is the avocado pesto. I cannot even. It’s heaven in a bowl is all I can say about it.

Avocado Pesto Barn Boards 3

Ooh! And lavender sugar scrub. Because who doesn’t want an at-home spa experience every once in a while. And by every once in a while, I mean all the time!

Lavender Sugar Scrub Pink Jar Eye Level

So head on over! We are excited to see you. Oh, and here’s our new address again – http://spiritedandthensome.com.

Spiritedly yours,
Morgan

We are in the midst of potty training Twinkle. And like all things related to parenting, there are countless opinions on the subject. To which I reply, I cannot even. Just let us each do what is right and makes sense for our children and family. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, what makes sense for each family will vary and is not an immediate indication that anyone else is doing it wrong.

But there is one thing perhaps many of us can agree on. The need for a survival kit. Because OH. MY. GOD. And true as toast, may I never have to do this again.

Patience in potty training is a virtue. And I am not very virtuous. But, alas, I have learned to fake patience for the sake of the girls. Here’s how I pull off this incredibly huge lie.

Stock up on rewards. FOR YOURSELF. Seriously. Potty training is just as much a learning curve for the parents as it is for the children. Okay, maybe not exactly equal, but pretty close. I mean, do you stop and try again in a few weeks? A few months? When they are 25 and presumably out of the house? Is Junior Pipsqueak really ready? Were those signs of readiness really readiness or were they misconstrued because you were getting tired of buying diapers? Passing notes in junior high about who likes whom and asking someone out on a date in high school were easier to navigate than understanding if your child is ready to potty train. So many mixed signals to decode. You know this to be true. So stock up on rewards for yourself. Alcohol is clearly a frontrunner, unless alcohol is not a good choice for you. No, I get it. I really do, in which case, maybe something else. Snickers. Sex? Sports? Pick a guilty pleasure and then go with it.

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You were dying to see my mad photography skills again, too, weren’t you? Every time I take a shot, a photographer loses her wings. Perhaps I’ll celebrate Twinkle’s eventual potty-training success by signing myself up for a photography class. Okay, but these are steadily getting better. Or rather, it’s just hit and miss. Remember this one when I tried to photograph orange food? Okay, kids, we are never eating orange again. Ever. We are only just going to eat strawberries.

Also, yes, the Lime-A-Rita is gone. Based on our new diet, no one in our house is technically supposed to drink it. That and 50% of us are under the age of 21. I, however, can technically get away with it. Mother is just another word for martyr, so I took one for the team and finished off the last one. Life is just full of tough decisions. We will rebuild.

Say good-bye to your carpet. Now, if you are a family that gets away with calm potty training in which Junior Pipsqueak goes straight from diapers to pull-ups to underwear, all without an accident, then, well, good for you. I am genuinely happy for you and your carpet. Our children have never quite potty trained that way. There may have been a time Dad was with me while I was potty training Toodle. And it’s possible she had an accident in the dive diner, so I hauled her out to the car while Dad cleaned up the mess, paid the tab, and left a VERY BIG tip. There was also this time, again with Dad, in which Toodle peed right in the middle of a clothing store. So that was good. Suffice it to say, we keep towels, spot cleaner (this is the recipe we use), and a 700-count box of wipes nearby. Also in our car, my purse, and K-Hubs’ fanny pack. Okay, fine, not the fanny pack. But he does still carry one around. Nope, he has just informed that he no longer carries it around. It is stuffed in a drawer somewhere in the basement.

Wipes towels and Cleaner

Wear nothing of value (fanny packs included). The second time around for us has been a little cleaner than the first time. When we started potty-training Toodle, I had no idea just how much I would be peed on. It was nothing in comparison to the newborn weeks when I was getting used to diapers and changing them every 20 minutes, because, yes, I swear that is how often we changed diapers. K-Hubs and I also walked uphill to school both ways. Bottom line? The amount of laundry was overwhelming, and 2/3 of it was ours.

Grant some grace. For yourself and your child. At least when we potty train, it is always a little hit and miss in the beginning. And I am horrible about granting grace. I am so goal-oriented in life, I forget sometimes to sit back and relax, even if, and especially when, I am covered in pee and God only knows what else. A friend who potty trained her children quickly, and while they were young, said that as soon as you are ready to throw in the towel is about the time they’ll turn a corner and everything will click. I typically feel like the afore-photographed spray bottle of carpet cleaner, a little dejected and out of steam. But I will say as far as Toodle was concerned, my friend was absolutely right, and I believe the same will be said for Twinkle. But, holy cow, each child is different, you absolutely know best, and, yes, it’s a total marathon.

Take breaks. This is a must. You have to walk away from it. Let your spouse or significant other take over. And if you are a single parent like Mom was, consider asking a friend or neighbor to come over. One who will willingly follow your lead on how to potty train your child. One who will support what works best for your family. And if none of those is an option, then sneak outside. I, for one, am partial to hiding in the closet.

And how do you measure success? Well, clearly if your child is going to the bathroom ON the potty, it’s a clear sign of success. I also define potty-training success as not throwing the plastic potty out the front door into the yard. So there is that. Go with the one that makes you feel best.

WE HAVE HAIR!!!! Yes, indeedy. 30 days into a new eating plan and Toodle has FULL-ON HAIR.

It is the sweetest, most precious, baby-fine, bleach-blonde peach fuzz I have ever seen. I need more adjectives and hyperbole in that last sentence. But, slow as it is to come in, it is adorable. Her hair looks like newborn hair, soft and delicate. So then I not only get emotional about this major medical development, but I also reminisce about her newborn days. Because motherhood. Gets me every time.

And this is ALL WITHOUT PRESCRIPTIONS. Yes, perhaps the greatest joy I have about this development is we are gaining strides without steroid creams. After extreme hair fall the past four months, her body is turning a corner all on its own. Why and how? Well, this. Hang in there with me.

K-Hubs and I had been losing sleep, as in, literally staying up at night while the girls slept, debating our options for her treatment. Making medical decisions for someone else is an entirely different ball game. And when it’s for a little? Well, let the guilt and cognitive dissonance come flooding in.

We began to feel guilty about putting her on a steroid in the first place. But K-Hubs and I didn’t know any better two years ago. Honestly, no one did. And then I felt bad about considering taking her off the steroid without having an alternative. Never mind that the medicine didn’t actually work as a cure and stopping treatment was a logical option. I couldn’t just quit on her. False security wouldn’t let me. Because motherhood. Gets me every time. Bald is definitely beautiful. But I kept thinking, so, too, is a healthy immune system.

Rare but serious side effects of the steroid treatment include Cushing’s syndrome, a poorly functioning pituitary gland, and a poorly functioning hypothalamus. These are extreme examples, and patients are supposed to go off the medication after something like two weeks. But, omigosh, this kid has been on the medicine for TWO YEARS. So now I get to panic about the damage we’ve already done to her. Because motherhood. Gets me every time.

And then I found Dr. Amy Myers and her book The Autoimmune Solution, a work that promotes more than just autoimmune health. She goes in-depth about inflammation and resulting diseases, covering everything from acne and ear infections to weight issues and fibromyalgia.

The diet and lifestyle are strict. But, the benefits are worth it. One element of the plan includes stopping all nonessential medications. The timing couldn’t have been better. No more sleepless nights. This is what we were looking for. So, out went the clobetasol. And in came more fruits, vegetables, bone broth, and animal protein.

I have come to believe food is medicine. And I do think Toodle’s hair is growing in as a result of this diet. One could argue that not only is food medicine, but when all the unhealthy food is gone, there is nothing left but the good. Inevitably, the body is going to heal itself. Not exactly overnight, but in due time. Rather than feel cautiously optimistic about this, I think it’s apt to say we are feeling patient. From afar, Toodle looks almost completely bald. But upon close inspection, you’ll find the adorable peach fuzz, a common beginning for regrowth in alopecia sufferers. She has both dark brown and bleach blonde fuzz. People pay big bucks for that look.

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Yes, a sweater tunic in 80-degree weather. Because, why wouldn’t you?

The girls, affectionately named Whiney and McBawlerton throughout this process, put up a fight for about two days when we started following The Autoimmune Solution because another part of the plan required us to take out ALL GRAINS. Yes, you are reading this correctly. No grains, cereals, oatmeal, rice, etc. In some autoimmune cases, the body mistakes foods like these for gluten. Because Toodle wasn’t improving to the degree we wanted prior to this diet and she has a wheat allergy, it dawned on us her body may not be able to tell the difference. Out they went, along with sugar, nuts, seeds, legumes, and nightshade vegetables. Thank God we had already given up dairy. Fine, 3/4 of our family has permanently given up dairy. Oh, I’m sorry, do I love cheese? Maybe.

However, something amazing happened. When all the tasty comfort food went out the door, never to return, it was shocking how quickly the Whiney-McBawlertons got on the fruit and vegetable bandwagon. Yeah, avocados aren’t so bad are they, kiddos? Huh, that’s what I thought.

I will admit, though, I have come around to embrace this diet. I might even consider chickens for the backyard (should we build a fence?) and a cow for our back deck (probably I should measure the deck and the cow to ensure spatial compatibility – who wants to go cow shopping with me?). What about pigs? Maybe they could sleep on our front porch. No one would notice, would they? I hear pigs are great for resale value.

I follow the diet 100% at home, but when I’m out with my friends, oh, you know I’m ordering a main dish of gluten with a side of dairy complete with sugar for dessert. Because that’s how I roll.

I told K-Hubs I would give up my beloved oatmeal but I got to keep coffee. As I told him, “I am the ONLY person in this family foursome who does not have an immediate medical reason to eat like this. I think I get wife and mother of the year for this one. Now excuse me while I drive around the neighborhood scarfing down my Jimmy John’s.” Recently, it was a bag of Doritos. I change up my parking locations so as not to appear suspicious. I can just imagine what the conversation would be like if I ever did get stopped by a cop.

COP: We got a call about a suspicious parked car. What are you doing, lady?

ME: Me? What am I doing? Just, um, inhaling a bag of Doritos.

COP: Are you high? Under the influence of anything?

ME: No. It’s not that exciting. My family just can’t have gluten. Or cheese. Or tomatoes. Or sugar. Or grains. Or nuts. Or seeds.

COP: Then what can you have?

ME: Chicken and tree bark, that’s what we can have. Delicious, too. Especially if you season it with organic dirt and all-natural leaves.

Fortunately The Autoimmune Solution comes with delicious, real-world recipes. Organic dirt is entirely optional. Lettuce chicken wraps? Yes, please. Whole chickens? Don’t get me started, but I am an expert on cooking those bad boys now. Breakfast turkey sausage? Where do I sign? Apple crisp? Twinkle Whines and then McBawls whenever we run out. Seriously. She cries in her high chair if it runs out. It doesn’t dawn on her that apple crisp doesn’t grow on trees. Well, the crisp part doesn’t anyway.

And I sleep well at night. I know that K-Hubs and Toodle are feeling the best they have felt in years. I tell myself the new diet will heal them and maybe even undo the effects of having been on medication. Toodle’s hair is growing in slowly, but now I feel confident that if, for some reason, she has another hair fall episode, I can keep searching. There are people out there way smarter than me who have the same questions I do, and they have the labs and resources to find the answers and pass them down to me.

As for Twinkle, I worry less about her getting an autoimmune disease. She is at a much higher risk for it than, say, I am. But with this plan, we are all eating healthy, and I know it has been good for me, too. I confess I feel a little pride in that. But, that coffee? Oh, yes, I still look forward to it every morning.

What if I hit 30 or 40 or 50 or 60 or whatever and I haven’t done THAT BIG THING I’ve always wanted to (and said I’d) do? Because, naturally, I need to achieve everything RIGHT NOW or I will miss ALL THE THINGS.

Not you? Phew! Then I guess it’s just me.

For example, when I was about 12 I decided I was going to become a Hollywood actress, marry Chris O’Donnell, and win my first Oscar by the time I was 24. True as toast. Mom listened to me glom on about my future in California, my desire to skip college, how I was going to pack my car right after high school graduation, and how an introductory career in commercials was going to be my ticket to bigger and better things in Tinseltown.

Allow me to add that I didn’t really give up on that dream until I was 25. I jest. But only partially.

On my 24th birthday, I was working at a wonderful company with really nice people. But it was temp work, which felt like a metaphor for my life and the fact that I had no idea what I was doing. After treating me to a wonderful dinner, it was K-Hubs’ turn to listen to me glom on about how I was 24 and nowhere near the goals I had set for myself 12 years ago. I mean, I had had a whole 12 years to get stuff done, and I hadn’t even achieved a direct, clear goal like marrying Chris O’Donnell. I actually said that to K-Hubs’ face, because nothing says wonderful birthday like comparing your wonderful husband to an unsuspecting celebrity. I recommend it. Try it sometime.

I was so worried that somehow this meant I was incapable of follow-through. If I were just “better” or “more” or tried harder or didn’t watch old episodes of whodunits (Murder, She Wrote, anyone?) and just kept my nose to the grindstone ALL THE FREAKING TIME then my goals wouldn’t be unrealistic. Then I could marry Chris O’Donnell before he had the chance to marry someone else. See? I missed the boat. Big time.

Never mind that Chris O’Donnell and I might not be compatible. I mean, what in the actual what was I really thinking? K-Hubs in all his awesomeness is apparently chopped liver? Never mind that my goals about commercials and acting had changed. Never mind that when I was 24, I was in graduate school. Let’s face it, while I was temp-working my way through college, many of my peers where pretty high up in their organizations. Clearly, in spite of also being students like me, THEY KNEW EVERYTHING AND I KNEW NOTHING. Rationalizing change of direction would be the same as making excuses for myself. And winners don’t make excuses, you know.

Seeing I was in the throes of a quarter-life crisis one year early, K-Hubs reminded me of something game-changing. “Morgan,” he said, “you have your entire life to accomplish whatever you want. And as for those dreams you haven’t achieved yet, well, maybe with some of them you dodged a bullet and others need to wait their turn. Also, let’s not forgot you’re a student right now, which might come in pretty handy down the road when a degree could be helpful.”

Holy cow. Yes. As soon as I wanted to say, “But what if I die in four minutes?” I knew he was right.

Fireworks cluster

After K-Hubs ended the impromptu therapy session, it dawned on me we are all often achieving goals without realizing it. Achieving goals doesn’t happen like a firework, huge, instantaneous moments that quickly come to an end. Rather, many, if not most, goals are a series of next right steps. When we veer off course, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. WE CAN GET BACK ON OUR RESPECTIVE PATHS WITH A NEXT RIGHT STEP. Not the whole answer. Just a next right step.

But it’s hard to bounce back from a misstep or five. And that’s when I start playing a game with myself that I always play when this feeling of having done it wrong creeps in. I imagine a dear friend coming to me with these same concerns. Then I ask myself, “Self, what would you say to this dear friend of yours?” Probably words like “game over,” “big loser,” and “sellout” wouldn’t come to mind because I wouldn’t honestly feel that way about my friend.

My response is always something like this, “Well, my dad always says, ‘what’s the next right step? What’s the next right thing you can do?’” And Dad would be right. In the end, why should we be any less encouraging and kind to ourselves than we would a dear friend?

When I catch myself obsessing over all my fears about scarcity, selling myself short, missing big breaks, and not living up to every ounce of potential I have, I remember that it was that same company where I was a temp that I returned to as a consultant, post-graduate school. It was the place I went into labor with Toodle, where a colleague ran up to the gas station for a Coke and Mr. Goodbar for me because that was all that sounded good (my now recipe for kickstarting labor, by the way). The place where another colleague parked his car out front so he could get me to the hospital on time. He was convinced I should be laboring at home. I was convinced I wasn’t in labor. But I did look out the window, and sure enough, his car was parked front and center, at the ready should I need a fast getaway. This same place where a sister friend left me a good-luck note on my desk as she headed out the door. The place where my boss became our family’s accountant and my entrepreneurial mentor. And the place where my second mom charted my contractions on a sticky note while we worked on benefits packages for the employees. We called the contractions “baby adjustments” because I WAS NOT IN LABOR.

It’s probably just as well that achievement doesn’t happen in one big moment. If it did, in spite of the satisfaction it brings (who’s addicted to checklists?!), we’d really be missing out on some of life’s particularly divine moments that are not only wonderful themselves but are also the ones that lead us to achieve the goals we’re so worried about screwing up.

Image courtesy of iStock Photo

Spirited Face 2 - 2014

She beats to the rhythm of her own patterns.

 

Before kids, K-Hubs and I would stay up late watching reruns of The Virginian on The Hallmark Channel or I Love the 80s on VH1. Because we were down like that.

Then we had kids, and our world was forever changed.

In the same breath I’d find myself saying, “Parenting is so hard” and “I love being a parent.” I couldn’t figure out how something like parenting and a little someone I loved so much could leave me so happy and empty at the same time.

I thought to myself, I need to be more laid back. I need to enjoy this more. I need to love EVERY FREAKING MINUTE OF THIS BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT GOOD, HAPPY PARENTS DO. Total. Crap. I am who I am. Become more laid back? Oh, bless my heart, that’s a good one.

I can no more become laid back and easy-going than K-Hubs can become the extroverted party animal of the evening. It ain’t happening, people. Except, I didn’t know that at the time. And I thought I was maladjusted, which, considering my affection for Murder, She Wrote and cheese, one might have a solid argument. But let us stay on point.

Enter Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, author of Raising Your Spirited Child. I love her. I don’t actually know her. But I do love her. My own mother was a wonderful woman. However, if Sheedy Kurcinka ever wants to adopt her fans and their children, I’m signing us up.

Sheedy Kurcinka’s book saved my faith in myself as a parent.

While reading her book, I realized I DO love being a mom. And parenting IS hard…on the energy bank. Both statements are true. And they don’t have to be at odds with one another.

I’m free to admit I love my children with a fervor reserved only for them.

And I’m free to admit that parenting often leaves my energy bank dry. Flat. Out. Dry.

Admitting both statements doesn’t make me a hypocrite or ungrateful or unloving. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. When the energy runs out, the answer isn’t more love or more gratefulness for the children. Those are already there. The answer lies in refueling the energy bank, something completely separate from the love and gratefulness.

According to Sheedy Kurcinka and Anne Kangas (whose newsletter highlighting Kurcinka’s work is here), much of the dynamics we experience as parents (and in any relationship, for that matter) is derived from temperament. It is born in each of us. Both kids and parents have their own, and we have it the minute we come into the world. This cannot be changed.

There are a lot of ways to analyze temperament. But two common categories are introversion and extroversion. Again, traits that are assigned naturally. “Why can’t you be more like your sibling?” Because, honestly, genetically, she can’t.

Temperament influences how we derive our energy throughout the day as well as how and when we refuel. It also influences how we respond to our environment. This might also explain why and how parents can be so different from one another. Those feelings of comparison are unnecessary. The self pressure undue. We each have our own temperament, our own individuality. That is beautiful. It’s something worth celebrating.

Being a parent isn’t 9 to 5. Kids need us ALL THE TIME FOR ALL THE THINGS. What happens to the energy bank? It depletes and needs to be refueled, often more than once inside of 24 hours. That is totally me, for the record. Lots of daily refueling. There is no guilt in this. It’s natural. It’s human.

According to Sheedy Kurcinka, extroverts, like Toodle and me, fill their energy banks and express themselves through outward interactions with other people. They crave feedback, not because they are insecure, but because the feedback is a source of energy to keep going with whatever physical project they are working on or train of thought they have. They may walk around a lot or talk out loud to themselves. That chatterbox in class? Yep, he may legitimately be processing information. Helping him do so appropriately is a whole different blog post. But Sheedy Kurcinka has you covered. Her book covers all of that and more. Isolation, lack of conversation or feedback, and quiet can drain extroverts of their energy. Being still can be torture.

Introverts, on the other hand, like K-Hubs, fill their energy banks and express themselves from within. They need time to themselves. They often seek breaks from people, not because they are negative but because their energy is drained. Teaching them how to exit a crowd in an appropriate manner is also another blog post. And, yes, Sheedy Kurcinka’s book has you covered on that topic as well. Crowds are overwhelming. Conversations are exhausting. Introverts take weeks to process information. So, if you ask them about their day, they may not have an honest answer yet. Give them two to three weeks, and by then you should know.

The sticky part and why we often think we suck as parents is because our energy banks and those of our children are constantly tapped and in need of refueling. I got it into my head that being tapped was a mothering fail. Having a zapped, drained child was also a failure. I’m ready to do a craft with Toodle, and she wants to hang in her room by herself. She wants to make cookies, and I want to sit in a dark closet with some Coke in a wine glass. She needs help zipping her coat, and I just want to get her to school on time. Our energy banks aren’t always in sync. How can they be? We’re two entirely different people.

It was easy for me to think a good parent just matches his or her energy levels and styles to that of the child. But it is unnatural. Well meant, but unnatural. This post doesn’t do Sheedy Kurcinka’s work any justice. But I can tell you she’s got your back, whether you officially have a spirited child or not. I learned while reading her book that who I am is enough. I can learn new temperament skills and introduce those to my child. But I don’t need to become a new person. I’m not failing. And neither are you. Being drained isn’t failing. It’s being human.

It’s also human to refuel even if our way of refueling is different from those around us. You’re entitled to go out with friends or hang out on your own to watch a movie. No guilt. No shame. It’s needed. It’s healthy.

According to Kangas, when we ask children to be someone other than who they are, we encourage them to create a false sense of self, which creates a host of long-term problems. I will add that the same can be said for parents. If we try to be someone other than who we are, we also run the risk of becoming a false self. And there is no need to be someone other than who we really are. What better way to encourage kids to be themselves than by being ourselves, too?

As a point of reference, my mom was not much of a housekeeper. The Gram, in the context of her generation, infamously told my mom she should have been the boy because she didn’t keep house, cook, sew, or do “girly” things. Mom liked sports, being outdoors, loud clothes, and takeout.

As a single mother she caved to the Pinterest of the day, magazines and their amazing spreads. She decided when I was in elementary school that she was going to be a “good” mother to me and cook meals that required HER to add the ingredients. By golly, we were eating those amazing casseroles on pages 63 and 75, and she was finally going to be a good mother like everyone else around her.

You guys, her cooking sucked. There was one recipe that called for freezing or some such thing. But Mom didn’t know how to defrost it properly. So it burned around the edge and remained frozen solid in the center. We begrudgingly ate edge pieces.

Then there was the taco pizza debacle. I have erased most of that memory, except for when I finally looked at her and said, “Mom, you are a wonderful mother [she was]. You are the best listener. You are so empathetic. You have expectations without judgment. But, for the love of my need to eat, can we please have dinner from a box tonight?”

All of a sudden, she stood erect and came into the moment. Our energy banks were drained (and we were starved). She opened a box of Mac ’n Cheese and never looked back.

The moral of the story is stay away from magazine recipes and you’ll be fine. No, actually, just remember you are special. You don’t need to be a better parent. You don’t need to be like other parents. Your kids don’t need to be better. Feeling energy zaps throughout the day isn’t failing. It’s being human. And you are worth a refuel or 5,000. Chin up because you do not suck as a parent.

 

Almond Coconut Cookies 3 2014

So, first you should probably sit down and catch your breath because this recipe is going to BLOW YOUR MIND. How have I lived my entire life without knowing the awesomeness that is the almond/coconut combination? No, really, please tell me how. Because I cannot get enough.

You are going to make these cookies and then take them to your child’s school and give them to the teacher. And the teacher is going to give your child all As this year because of the almond/coconut combination you just introduced. Any child of a parent who has discovered this combo is worth the grade. You’re welcome.

Wait, you can’t bring foods with nuts in them to school? Dagnavit. All those allergy-prone kids with their 14 food allergies across 7 of the 8 major allergy food groups. Oh, wait….

Well, mail them to the teacher because SOMEONE NEEDS TO KNOW HOW AWESOME YOU ARE AT BAKING THE HELL OUT OF…STUFF.

Okay, so because my child has 14 food allergies, wait, did I already write that? I did? Well, anyway, she has 14 food allergies, so we get creative with our ingredients. And my favorite new ingredient is Earth Balance soy-free buttery spread. OH MY GOD I LOVE IT FOR ALL THE THINGS. I do. I bake with it. I top with it. I sauté with it. I have been known to lick the knife – a table knife, not a sharp one. I’m not that deranged…yet.

You don’t have to bake with this because it costs about $20 for a 15 oz. tub. I might be lying there, but the stuff isn’t cheap. I have used coconut oil before, and for this recipe I just don’t love it. The final product is too dry for me. My cookies need to be just on this side of not containing bacteria. Just baked enough to kill the bad stuff. Dry cookies make me angry. I mean, if they are dry, then why even bother?

Okay, so a buttery spread instead of coconut oil. And then I use a combination of regular sugar and organic sugar, like that is such a major health milestone, bless my heart. But I like to think organic guilty pleasures are not really guilty pleasures because they’re organic. And the teacher thought I wasn’t paying attention in philosophy class. Heh heh heh.

I attempted to make brown sugar one time. Just once. And that was the end of it. So I use regular brown sugar now.

The almond extract or fake almond liquid or whatever it is called makes this cookie come alive. Should you be doing “baker’s quality control testing” throughout this recipe, you might be a little alarmed at this point when you sneak a bite. It gets pretty almond-y. But I assure you, keep going, culinary warrior. You can do this. You will. You must. You will thank yourself later.

Once you start adding in the coconut flour (a little goes a long way) and the gluten-free flour, the recipe will get thicker but should still be soft. Once you add the ground almonds and oatmeal, it will look more like cookie batter.

Bake only as long as absolutely necessary. Dry cookies are the worst. Maybe about 8 minutes. And then I let mine sit out on the baking sheet on top of the stove a while longer to let them set.

Step back to admire them. THEY ARE GORGEOUS. And they’ll become even more gorgeous as they continue to set. YOU ARE AMAZING. You created this all by yourself.

Almond Coconut Cookies 4 2014

What does this recipe yield? Honestly, I have no idea because I just eat the batter as I go. It is the most scientific way to prove along the way that the recipe is working. So, yields? I have no idea. Math is hard.

But that doesn’t matter because you just made this cookie.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter (plus a little extra if you want really soft cookies)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup organic raw sugar (or just 1/2 cup granulated sugar if you don’t have this)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon artificial almond flavor
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds
  • 3/4 cup gluten-free old-fashioned rolled oats

Directions

  1. Blend butter to soften.
  2. Add sugars, baking powder, and baking soda.
  3. Add egg and almond flavor.
  4. Gradually add flours and mix until blended.
  5. Add ground almonds and oats.
  6. Drop dough onto baking sheet.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes.
  8. Let set a few minutes after pulling out of the oven.

 

 

I found this delectable recipe on Pinterest, and I knew I’d have to try it.  Maybe one day Toodlebug or Twinkleberry would want to have a dainty little tea party and I’d serve these cute little Oreo cupcakes to their equally cute friends.

Then I saw I needed two pounds of cream cheese, and I wondered what I was going to do with two pounds of cream cheese.  My luck, they would go straight to my thighs.  Which reminds me of the time I asked Mom why her bum was long.  Incredulous that I could ask such an impertinent question, she informed me as calmly as she knew how that those were her thighs she not-so-affectionately called saddlebags. God heard my comment.  And now I, too, am the proud owner of saddlebags.

Actually, I have one saddlebag.  No, I guess it’s two, except that one is bigger than the other.  For real.  If I start to gain some of that holiday bulge or don’t work out for a while, my pants start pulling in one direction.  Swear to God.  And He would know because He heard my question to Mom all those years back.  I’m paying for it now with pants that pull to the left.

Since K-Hubs and I would be the only ones eating this absolutely mouthwatering recipe, and Toodle and Twinkle have other ideas for how I should spend my time, I thought I’d “modify” the recipe.

Aside from the time I tried to crimp my Barbie’s hair, worst…idea…ever.

Normally when I cook, I don’t buy name-brand stuff.  Unless, of course, I’m working with Miracle Whip.  So I thought I could just buy a no-bake cheesecake, generic brand, and then crush a bunch of Oreo’s into the mix, lining little muffin cups with an Oreo half because K-Hubs and I ate all the others.

Never, under any circumstances, for any reason, under any kind of delusion, with any good intention, should you try this.

Even Toodle tried it and then promptly handed the spoon back to me.  Generic no-bake cheesecake should just be left well enough alone.

Faux Cheesecake Batter

But I kept going.

I lined the muffin cups with Oreo’s.  Knowing they were going to their culinary death, this was one of the hardest things I have ever done.

Lined Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes

Then I crushed the 3 Oreo’s I still had in my possession and added them to the generic-brand mixture of faux cheesecake.

Faux Cheesecake Batter with Oreos

And I kept going.

I let them set up in the fridge for part of the afternoon.  This did not help.

Finished Faux CHeesecake Oreo Cupcakes

I tried to salvage the Oreo halves that were supposed to be the crust.  By then they were soggy and I was forced to accept that I could either eat them and ruin forever my perfect image of Oreo’s.  Or I could throw them out like the sacrificial lambs that they were and preserve my sweet, chocolatey memories.  Painfully, I chose the latter.

Then I thought about consoling myself with some of the unused crust from the package.  A little butter, a little sugar.  A lot of goodness.  Even that was awful.  It was a little less awful once I poured melted butter on it.  But it, too, was so bad I threw it out.  And then I had an unpleasant taste in my mouth.  So I went for a Coke.  Like The Gram, I believe a little Coca Cola can solve anything.  Or at least make you feel a little better when you “adapt” a Pinterest project to your liking and it backfires.

And I know what you cheffies are thinking.  How could I keep going?  Didn’t I know this was going to be a wreck?  I shouldn’t have kept going.  Well, I did.  And it was a disaster.  Clearly the original recipe is superior to my hack-job of a modification. And maybe one day I’ll wake up, put on my big-girl pants with a little extra give in the left leg, learn to bake cream cheese, and try to make the recipe as it was originally intended.  Oooh, I think I just dared myself.  Okay, check back with me in the spring.  I’m totally doing this.

In my experience if a recipe has the word “easy” in it, then I can rest assured it will be a catastrophe in my kitchen.  When I saw this recipe for “Easy Parmesan Knots,” I knew it would be an instant Pinterest challenge.

Easy Parmesan Knots Finished Product

However, I confess, aside from needing to take a class on tying dough into pretty knots, these Easy Parmesan Knots turned out surprisingly well.  Even Toodlebug enjoyed them after they were baked, so you know they have to be good.  When K-Hubs saw me writing this blog and going through photos, he salivated with an, “Oh, you’re writing about that one.  Wow, those were good.”  There you have it, Toodlebug and K-Hubs approved.

Toodle was also ready and willing to help prep the dough.  We stretched the round biscuits much like you would a ball of Play Doh and then did our best to tie them in knots.  Maybe it’s because I’m left-handed, but I had to tie my knots upside down.

Easy Parmesan Knots Stretch Dough

Easy Parmesan Knots Make into Ties

The oregano was strong.  So unless you like a powerful flavor, I wouldn’t go more than what the recipe suggests.

Easy Parmesan Knots Seasonings

I also used shredded parmesan instead of grated, and that worked well, too.  The shredded didn’t stay on the knot as well as the grated would have, so I drizzled the topping on the baked knots and then put them back in the oven for another minute or so, keeping a close eye on them to make sure they didn’t burn.  That did the trick.  The topping stayed in place without becoming burned or the cheese getting mushy.  And here’s the link again in case you get a hankering for a really good, really easy to make recipe.

Easy Parmesan Knots Batch Photo

I think Toodle and I should toot our own horns on this one.  And we might as well; because although we nailed this project, as you’ll see next week, there are a few where I was not so lucky….