Saturday, March 31, 2012

Cray-cray for Nutella: #63 and #64

So, this is more or less a blog I've been "guilt-stricken" into writing, if that makes any sense. My diet hasn't been good, at all. Thankfully, my gym habits have been keeping off the weight (I LOVE FREE WEIGHTS!). I just haven't felt compelled to do anything... pretty much everything in my responsibility has fallen to the wayside, whether it be blogging, correcting papers, or genuinely wanting to be at school. But due to the fact that I realized the end of my one year challenge is drawing upon us (Spring already??), the necessity of this post really kind of smacked me upside the head.

Much like life itself is doing these days. Sigh.

ANYWAYS, long story short, last week I needed to bake. NEEDED TO. And I knew I NEEDED to bake with Nutella. I had found a great Nutella cookie recipe that I hadn't used yet, and I was just chomping at the bit to try it, especially considering the people I was baking for had no known peanut allergies (sorry little A, Auntie Kristen will make it up to you!). Now, the trouble began when I went to the store to pick up the necessary ingredients. Albertson's evidently was having a sale on Nutella, which should be a total *WOOT! SCORE ONE FOR KRISTEN!* kind of moment, but what it really meant was the store was out of the typical sized Nutella jars. What I had to purchase instead? I'd like to introduce you to...

*La avellana grande!*

... which evidently translates to THE BIG HAZELNUT in English, via Google Translator

Actually, this picture DOESN'T do the jar justice. This baby was big. Upon seeing the aforementioned jar, my mother pointed at it and yelled "YOU GET THAT THING AWAY FROM  ME!" because she understands the power of Nutella spread and the damages it can cause to an Ideal Protein Diet. 

Anyways, long story short, I had enough Nutella to feed a small army, so I decided to do what any other normal human being would do with it- bake not ONE, but TWO treats. And here they be:

#63: Peanut Butter and Nutella Swirl Cookies (as found on


1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
Approx. 1/4 cup Nutella


1. Preheat oven to 350° F.

2. Combine butter, peanut butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla. Mix until well blended.

3. Add flour, baking soda and salt. Drizzle Nutella on top of the dough then swirl it through the dough with a butter knife. 

4. Chill dough 15 minutes in the refrigerator. Roll into balls by hand. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Using a fork, press down the balls to flatten slightly. Bake until edges are very lightly browned (about 7 to 10 minutes). 

That's it! Easy, and actually pretty good. Although to be forewarned, working with the Nutella in this batter was kind of a pain in the rear. It didn't want to blend very well with the peanut butter dough, so I ended up making these nice round balls with smears of Nutella almost hanging off of them. Definitely not a pretty cookie, but delicious all the same.

Now, the next cookies were obviously a result of my panicked, "What am I going to do with all of this Nutella?" state of mind. I found this recipe on Pinterest, and the recipe SOUNDED better than it actually was... I tempted to write the owner of that blog to let them know they should rename these cookies "Cowpie cookies," because that's what they look like. 

#64: Nutella Cookies (AKA: Kristen's Cowpies... as found on


1 cup Nutella
½ cups Sugar
1 cup All-purpose Flour
1 whole Egg


1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Blend all ingredients together well. Form into 1″ balls. 

3. Place on a cookie sheet. Press down firmly with the bottom of a glass. Bake 7-8 minutes or until set. Cool.

Okay, I'm sorry, but my cookies, when smushed onto the cookie sheet using the bottom of the glass, didn't turn out like the perfectly round ones shown on the websites picture. Instead, mine literally looked like smashed cow pies... not exactly appetizing. They also had a really gritty texture, so needless to say, I am Nutella-ed out!

What did I tell you? NOT very pretty.

Monday, March 12, 2012

#62... and a little diet update...

Well, I did it. I've managed to hit my lowest weight thus far. I don't know HOW I did it? My diet, again, took a major backseat this week. Having come down with strep throat last weekend, I took a solid 8 days off from my workout regime, and was forced instead to take a truly awful antibiotic that ruined me. TRULY RUINED ME. Evidently, I have a much more sensitive tummy than I thought because that pill tore me up... I literally couldn't 1) swallow solid food, much less liquid for a solid two days thanks to my strep throat and 2) couldn't keep solid food DOWN for the following two days thanks to the vomiting the antibiotic induced (awesome discussion for a food blog, yeah?).

ANYWAYS, long story short, you think with my lack of food I would've LOST a ton of weight, right? WRONG, I actually gained enough to be back up to about 136.6 over the course of being sick, which was cruel and unusual punishment on top of everything else. Thankfully after discovering my issues with the first antibiotic, the doctor put me on something a little less strong, and I celebrated being able to eat like a normal person by not only getting DELICIOUS sushi on Wednesday night with Jenna, but also helping myself to both a pineapple mango smoothie and a sausage McMuffin at McDonald's on Thursday morning before parent/teacher conferences because I deserved it. Conferences are HORRIBLE so I NEEDED a treat, and how often are you up early enough to get McDonald's for breakfast, honestly?

So after all of that... I lost weight. I don't understand my body, I probably never will.

Weight on 12/29/2011- 146.6 pounds
Weight as of 3/10/2012- 133.6 pounds
Total weight loss- 13 pounds
Weight to go until goal #2- 3.6 pounds (if I want to hit 130... gosh, who knows anymore, LOL)

The biggest reason I wanted to write this blog though was because I baked. For no real good reason. Well, maybe there was a reason. I came across the most girly, pink cookies, and I needed to make them. NEEDED TO. I have been doing so much chocolate lately, I needed a little break, plus pink is just so springy, it's exactly what we need on this dreary, rainy, windy Sunday morning in the Tri-Cities. Plus, I am hoping it influences some of my future sister-in-laws to make me some more nieces, because this world needs more adorable little girls... or that's what I've decided after seeing WAY TOO MANY adorable little girl items on Pinterest lately. It wouldn't be too premature for me to create a board on Pinterest for baby items, would it? Yes? Dang...

#62: Strawberry Cake Mix Cookies with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting (as found on


For the cookies:
1/2 cup of butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
One 18.25 oz. box of strawberry cake mix (I used Pillsbury, because I've found it's the cheapest usually, and it makes the fluffiest baked goods. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it)

For the frosting:
1/2 cup of butter, softened
3/4 cup of cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups of powdered sugar


Just a heads up, I improvised a lot because I saw the recipe turning out badly if I followed it verbatim, so if you check the original recipe, you'll see many tweaks!

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease cookie sheet with cooking spray. In a mixing bowl combine the softened butter, eggs, vanilla and stir by hand or with a mixer until combined.  Add the cake mix and stir until smooth.  If the dough seems too wet to be cookie dough, add a bit more cake mix, one tablespoon at a time, until it’s less wet. Conversely, if the dough seems dry and it’s not combining, add a tablespoon or two of water.
     - Blah, blah, blah- yeah, I went ahead and just dumped all the ingredients into a bowl, mixed them with my hand mixer until the batter was nice and smooth. I didn't need to add and additional cake mix or water, promise.
     * PS- love her use of the word "conversely" in a food blog. Big-ups to SAT words!

2. Chill dough in freezer for 15-20 minutes, as chilled dough seems to spread less while baking. 
     - Just do it, trust me.

3. Take the dough out of the freezer, and roll into 1-inch round balls (I just used a tablespoon measure, scooped out my batter, rolled it in my hands, and plopped it on the cookie sheet. BOOM! Perfect). Stick cookies in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the cookies are just turning brown along the edges. They may look a bit loose and jiggly after only 8 to 10 minutes, but they will continue to cook on the sheets after you remove the from the oven and will firm up as they cool.  Do not over bake.  Allow the cookies to cool well (on the cookie sheets is fine) before attempting to move them.
     - I actually kept mine in for 12 minutes, and it worked out beautifully. Check these bad boys out.

So cute, and pink, and tasty!... just don't tell anyone I was eating raw dough again...

4. While the cookies are baking, combine the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla in a bowl. Once this mixture is smooth, add the three cups of powdered sugar until the frosting is smooth and forms stiff peaks.
     - I used a hand mixer for the wet stuff, and then a spoon to mix in the sugar, because if there is one thing I have learned, powdered sugar will fly EVERYWHERE if you let it! Here's my AWESOME stiff peaks. Seriously, this is the best luck I have ever had with homemade frosting.

5. Allow the cookies to cool completely prior to frosting. Cover with sprinkles as desired.
    - And desired I did.

So adorably delicious! I know, I know, I know... I have gotten pretty lazy with the cake mix cookies. I promise the next treat I make will require a little more work, scout's honor!

Monday, March 5, 2012

#60 and #61...

Is it bad my diet has taken a back seat? I still watch what I eat, limit my intake of dairy and grains, and exercise on a very regular basis, but I'm just not letting it control my life anymore. I don't constantly crave the horrible foods I used to miss because I'm not constantly thinking about when my next meal is, nor am I not allowing myself certain foods. I just don't eat a lot of junk, but when I do, I don't feel bad about it because I feel much healthier than I used to.

My weight fluctuates slightly these days: I'm usually hanging in the balance between 134 and 136, which isn't bad. It's actually a weight I hope to maintain until the wedding and then some. What I'm focusing on more or less these days is just my work outs- I want to build muscle, and tone! Plus, going to my gym 3,4,5 times a week is doing WONDERS for my stress levels. I feel MUCH more calm this year than I did last year around this time. My clothes fit much more loosely, I just feel like a happier person.

That is, UNTIL I came down with strep throat this weekend. Which is giving me ample time in bed, and therefore lots of time to blog. Hmph.

Oh well. Here's my last two recipes...

The first came to be because I was finding all of these awesome cake mix cookie recipes that only require like, four to five ingredients each AND they are super easy to whip up. I really wanted an excuse to try one of these recipes, and usually I would unleash them on the Bairds, but since Ava is allergic to peanuts, I've been trying to find other people who'd be willing to try my treats. Who better than my kiddos at school? I'd already done the research- there are NO fourth graders with known peanut allergies, PLUS I had just promised a few groups of them lunch with me one Wednesday since they had earned the most group points for good behavior.

#60: Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cake Mix Cookies (or as I call them "Kiddo Silencers"- honestly, I gave each of the kids who had lunch with me that afternoon two of these, turned on an episode of Scooby Doo, and they were quiet the entire time- as found on


1 (18.25 oz) box chocolate cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 8 oz bag Reese's Minis


1. Preheat oven to 350°. With your mixer, beat together cake mix, oil and eggs until combined. Pour in entire bag of Reese's Minis. Mix on low until Reese's are evenly incorporated.
     - All right, a couple of things to note: I went ahead and mixed up the dough a couple of hours prior to baking it off and kept it in the freezer until AFTER Zumba (priorities people!). On top of that, I couldn't find a bag of the mini Reese's, so I went ahead and bought a 12 oz bag of those Reese's miniature cups that you have to unwrap out of the foil. I just had to slice them in half, and then incorporate them into the batter, and it worked out great.

2. Roll the dough into tablespoon sized balls and place n a parchment lined baking sheet about 2" apart. Cookies will spread. Bake for 8-9 minutes.
      - Naturally, no parchment paper for this girl, so I lightly greased my cookie sheets with a little PAM prior to baking them. Worked out just fine!

These were delicious, and dangerous. Highly addictive. I ate quite a few more than I meant to, SO WORTH IT though!

The next recipe, I devoted hours to really scouring Pinterest for the PERFECT recipe- it was NICHELLE'S birthday! Considering I hadn't spent time with her for about TWO MONTHS prior to this last Friday, I really wanted to bake something fun in honor of her favorite day! It was a toss up between the following recipe, and another one called "Slutty Brownies," because to be honest, I knew Nichelle was one of the only people in my inner circle who could appreciate the names of either of these treats. Instead, I baked something called "Knock You Naked Brownies"... prepare to start a'drooling, peeps.

#61: Knock You Naked Brownies (which could also be called "Knock You Silent Brownies," since they had the same affect, and it might be a little strange if I had kicked off my pants at Nichelle's place, if you know what I mean?- as found on


1 box (18.5 Ounce) German Chocolate Cake Mix (I Used Duncan Hines)
1 cup Finely Chopped Pecans
1/3 cup Evaporated Milk
1/2 cup Evaporated Milk (additional)1/2 cup Butter, Melted
60 whole Caramels, Unwrapped
1/3 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/4 cup Powdered Sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, chopped pecans, 1/3 cup evaporated milk, and melted butter. Stir together until totally combined. Mixture will be very thick
      - They aren't kidding. This mixture was literally like Play-doh. Clay you can EAT!! Oh, and I opted out of using the chopped pecans because Nichelle believes desserts are NO place for nuts. 
2. Press half the mixture into a well-greased 9 x 9 inch square baking pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and set aside.
3. In a double boiler (or a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of boiling water) melt caramels with additional 1/2 cup evaporated milk. When melted and combined, pour over brownie base. Sprinkle chocolate chips as evenly as you can over the caramel.
     - Don't be dumb like me and stick the spoon with scalding caramel immediately into your mouth. You will get a major burn on your tongue. You think I'd learn my lesson- isn't this the third time I've severely burnt my tongue in this blog?
4. Turn out remaining brownie dough on work surface. Use your hands to press it into a large square a little smaller than the pan. Use a spatula to remove it from the surface, then set it on top of the caramel and chocolate chips.
     - I TRIED doing this. I got impatient and instead ended up just spreading the rest of the dough over the top of the caramel and chocolate chip mixture. It ended up becoming like a crumble you might put on top of a cobbler though... delicious, but kind of weird.
5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for several hours. When ready to serve, generously sift powdered sugar over the surface of the brownies. Cut into either nine or twelve helpings, and carefully remove from the pan.
     - Several hours? Try ten minutes, tee hee. Nichelle and I spooned this out (which held up like a crumble, not a brownie) into a bowl, and then topped it with this AWESOME caramel cheesecake ice cream I found on sale at Albertson's. Be forewarned though, this is SUPER rich. We turned on Modern Family, and I couldn't finish the small portion I put into my bowl... it was WAY TOO rich. Good, but holy cow. Make sure you have milk on hand, a lot of it.
Check out these pictures from the Pioneer Woman herself... because I was too busy eating and catching up to take pictures (tee hee).