Hey folks!  Today we’ve got a whole wheat waffle recipe courtesy of my new heart healthy lifestyle.  As I wrote in my previous blog, my high blood pressure followed me home from the hospital after giving birth to my daughter.  In this blog, I share my blood pressure journey, imperative information everyone should know before getting their blood pressure checked and some heart healthy deliciousness.  Hope you enjoy!

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Before leaving the hospital, the doctors warned us about the potential that my blood pressure was going to get higher.  At that point we were entirely exhausted and frustrated, and knew we would feel better being in our own beds.  Those conversations, however, shook me a bit.  They sternly warned me about the risks of postpartum preeclampsia and chronic hypertension.  High readings could lead to blood clots and stroke.  I didn’t know if I felt wonky because of high blood pressure, c-section recovery or being on meds, but these warnings got in my head.  While I was grateful we left the hospital when we did, I was also happy to have a follow-up visit with my midwife.  Having heard all of my shenanigans, she wanted to check my blood pressure while I was there.  It was in the high 130’s.  “Borderline,” she said, based on my history.  At her suggestion, we got a blood pressure cuff to monitor everything while home. 

My anxiety was pretty high.  On one hand, I had a newborn that I just couldn’t believe was ours.  She was just such absolute joy, I miss how small she was already!  But at the same time, there was this shadow side of my health that terrified and exhausted me. Seeing the cuff everyday was a uneasy reminder of the lurking unknown. 

The cuff itself was difficult to master. I felt like I could never properly get the cuff on right by myself and the readings were a bit all over the place, sometimes in the 150’s and low 160’s. That was terrifying to me. With the most helpless and pathetic gift of a little newborn now under my care for life, I couldn’t fathom anything happening to me. For her sake and my own paralyzing fear, I got an appointment immediately at our local clinic.

The General Practitioner there said my blood pressure was too high, put me on metroprolol and had me do an EKG and a lab test.  She mentioned to have blood pressure this high is very dangerous.  She didn’t sound nonchalant. She made me feel like if I didn’t make changes now, I would have major complications pretty quickly. Having heard the blood clot/stroke spiel from the doctors where we delivered, as much as I tried to trust the universe with healing and peace, my anxiety was through the roof.  

From that point, every time I went up the stairs holding Ruby I was terrified I was going to have a stroke.  Pain in my upper thigh, I was sure was a blood clot and it was only a matter of time before it moved to my lungs.  If I ate something I didn’t realize was high in sodium, I could feel my arteries clogging.  

To my readers, maybe this fear seems a bit far out and unnecessary, but when you feel in a fog recovering from surgery and taking care of a newborn, and when you don’t feel entirely well regardless, it’s very easy to believe there is something wrong with you. We also live at a fairly high altitude and this effects me sometimes as well. Those doctors really got in my head and with Lliam at work, holding down everything for us, my fear was a conversation I really could only have with myself. 

I immediately began eating insanely heart healthy.  I researched what to do, which foods to eat and which would be bad for me.  My daily intake now consisted of things like spinach, nuts, whole grains, oats, fruit and veggies– like nobody’s business.  I removed all salt, sugar, red meat and fat as best I could.  A few days later, I went down the mountain for my first OBGYN visit.  My blood pressure had stabilized in the lower 120’s.  Oh, the relief.  While still shaky and nervous, because I was still scared I had a blood clot, I had a little validation that the medication was working. 

I got a phone call from my local clinic for a follow up appointment.  They said the General Practitioner really wanted me to talk to a midwife nurse practitioner that came in sometimes.  I was told this nurse knew more about postpartum health situations.  I arrived waddling, just barely into my c-section recovery, carrying my daughter in her heavy ass car seat.  

They took my blood pressure and it was in the 150’s.  I couldn’t believe it.  I had been so relieved and now it was back up again!  I explained to the nurse that I definitely had ‘white coat syndrome,’ was probably panicked from everything we’d been through during our hospital stay and I asked her to take it again.  She did and it was even higher.  “See, now I’m even more anxious! I really think I’m fine.  I just need to calm down and, like,  get zen.”  

She said she would wait a few minutes and take it again.  “This is the time to get zen,” she said, “because otherwise, I really want you to head back down to the other hospital.”  (Our local clinic has no OBGYN). They asked whether or not my husband was at work, if he could come pick me up and take me if needed, etc. I was so in my head.  

They left and my heart was racing.  I could not ‘get zen,’ I was overwhelmed with anxiety.  I looked at my little girl and had no idea what was going to happen.  Lliam was working as a temp for the county at the time.  He was trying to get in good with them to win a permanent position.  The last thing we needed was a consistently sick wife taking him away from work.  Not to mention, with a newborn and being strapped for cash,  to be working less was hardly ideal.  They came back in and took it again.  They didn’t tell me what the reading was, they just said, “We need to get you to the ER.  Call your husband. This is a ‘leave work now’ situation.”

I couldn’t believe what was happening. In just a matter of days, I had gone from partially relieved to being hospitalized.  I called Lliam and he came over as soon as he could.  They hooked me up to a blood pressure monitor and gave me labetalol. It wasn’t working. I looked at Ruby, still in her car seat.  I didn’t bring enough formula for her.  I didn’t expect this. This wasn’t supposed to happen.  Lliam eventually went home to stock up on diapers and bottles.  They upped my dosage of labetalol.

The hospital smelled like an old folks home. The poor guy next to me couldn’t stop vomiting.  I had barely a thing to eat all day and the drugs were making me feel even worse.  It was like another surreal nightmare.  I was soooo grateful Lliam was there but how long would I be in the hospital? Would I have to be monitored for days? What would we do with Ruby while Lliam was at work?  If he took time off, how would we survive financially?  So many thoughts… 

The ER doctor looked a little out of his league with my situation so I wasn’t surprised when he eventually called down to my birth hospital and talked to an OBGYN there.  They said to put me on procardia, and if my blood pressure went down below 140, I was okay to leave.  The procardia worked!  After six hours, I was ECSTATIC to be going home.  I had a new prescription… and about 120,000 new fears.  

About a week later, I had another follow up with my OBGYN. My blood pressure was taken and it was in the low 140’s. While wary, they didn’t seem too concerned.  I was relieved!  After being hospitalized I was terrified it was going to be sky high again. From where it had been, and my nagging feelings of death looming, that number felt low and I was grateful.  

Later that week, I had a follow up with the local clinic to go over my lab results. I was feeling really good, healing well and I was excited for this to be my last appointment there.  However, things took a turn pretty quickly.  The labs showed that I had really high cholesterol and that my EKG showed a couple of anomalies.  She also mentioned a Vitamin D deficiency but that’s pretty common.  I could tell by the stern look on her face I was being judged.  “This isn’t good! Really unhealthy! Very dangerous!”

F*******ck!!!  Again I thought I was out of the woods and now I was REALLY terrified about strokes and blood clots.  Anomalies on an EKG?  I was being referred to a cardiologist at 39 years old? What… the H!!!

Quick sidetone: What I DID find hilarious, however, was that of all the years I have worked professionally as a baker or managed bakeries, the one thing I did NOT have was diabetes. Everyone and their grandmothers have always told me I was going to end up diabetic but alas, suckas!  You gotta find your humor (and minor win) somewhere, right? Ha! I kid…

But back to our story… At another follow up with the OBGYN– Yes, Holy Doctor Appointments, Batman!– I showed her my lab results.  Her verdict on my cholesterol, “Yeah… that’s really high.”  She explained that eating healthy wasn’t going to cut it and that exercise would be important for me.   Neither the hospital nor my local clinic wanted to put me on medication for cholesterol because I was partially breastfeeding but she also said they would continue to monitor my blood pressure closely. 

I felt really helpless so I reached out to my stepmom who is a nurse.  She was excited like only a nurse can be– obviously, not for my fear but for having  a fun conundrum to figure out.   Thankfully, she relieved me a bit by giving me ideas and not making me feel like I was going to die. She suggested I get my own General Practitioner, a doctor that I could see regularly and follow up with about my blood pressure when the OBGYN appointments were over. 

Since leaving the hospital after Ruby’s birth, I had been seeing a doctor and going to various appointments– whether for me or my daughter– 2-3 times a week. Every appointment we had was 45 minutes away and the winding road down the mountain leading to those appointments drops 4,000 feet in elevation in thirty minutes.  To be out for hours with Ruby was a challenge. I would lug her around in her car seat, holding her away from my body as best I could so as not to knock her against my knees.  I was relying solely on my arm strength (which was pretty nil after leaving the bakery and those 50 pound bags of flour).  I had no core strength due to the cesarean… it was an exhausting work-out.

She was struggling to breastfeed and latch properly, so the hours away from home unable to pump decreased my milk supply. Breastfeeding is a nightmare in itself and everywhere you go there is such judgement. “You know, you really want to be exclusively breastfeeding.” Uh-huh. And I’d really like for you to have a clue about what I’ve been going through before you say REALLY STUPID THINGS…. ahem.  Obviously, I was stressed…

Aside from these appointments, I was also taking care of the animals, cleaning the house, washing the dishes, doing laundry, pumping, changing/burping/snuggling/breastfeed-attempting, and cooking healthy constantly because gone were the days of a quick hot dog. Thank you GOD, I have a supportive husband and we have a pretty agreeable baby. *knocks on wood*

Finally, I went to a General Practitioner down the mountain.  He might have been 12 and looked like a young Ryan Gosling, but he actually listened to me.  He went over my labs with me piece by piece and the weight of the world came off my shoulders. “Is this cholesterol high?  Yes.  But is it high enough for me to even put you on medication?  Not at all.  This is fixable.”  

WHAAAAAAAAT????  I was BLOWN AWAY!!!  Everyone had me believing my cholesterol was through the roof.  “400’s or 500’s is through he roof.” My cholesterol was 293. He also told me diet is more important than exercise because if you eat a box of donuts, running a mile isn’t going to make a difference.  (Personally, I think it’s a mix of diet and exercise but what woman in her right mind is going to fight with a guy who will one day grow up to be Ryan Gosling?) 

He put me on a higher dose of Vitamin D because “the one you’re on is too low and this dose is totally useless.”  He said the EKG was “unimpressive” and looked like a “cover your butt” situation.  And mostly… he was really excited for me.  I told him what I had been eating and the changes I had been making and he was grateful because many patients spend a good deal of time in denial about their health issues.  He even had the Attending Physician come in and talk with me to ease my mind.  

Together, they agreed the cholesterol wasn’t that big of an issue but that the blood pressure was the big concern with my history. They wanted to up my procardia a smidgen because my reading that day was in the 140’s.  I began to panic again.  No, no, no!! I felt okay and I had been eating super healthy. I know it’s always a little high at first.  He said the meds were part of the journey for a short time but that if I continued on this path, I wouldn’t need them forever.  Being off the meds completely was our goal.  I agreed to take the extra bump but also asked them to take my blood pressure again at the end.  It was now in the 120’s.  WHO’S HEALING WHO HERE, PEOPLE?! (I should totes have been a doctor…) 😉

They told me to follow up in two weeks. I went to schedule my appointment with Dr. Baby Ryan and found out he would be on vacation for two months.  NOOOOO!!!!

Finally, the appointment with the cardiologist came around.  There, my blood pressure was 118/76.  I was PSYCHED.  That’s the lowest it had been.  They took their own EKG and while they also saw the same anomalies, they agreed the referral was a ‘cover your butt’ situation.  

And come to find out, anomalies aren’t fact.  They’re curiosities– like going to a dermatologist for a weird mole but knowing just because it’s weird doesn’t mean it’s cancerous.  To be on the super, super, super safe side, they scheduled a stress test and an ultrasound of my heart for later this month.  They said I was doing beautifully with my life changes and I left feeling on top of the world.

Last week, I went to another follow up appointment with a General Practitioner.  My blood pressure was 144.  Again, this was a new doctor who didn’t know me at all.  Based off of this reading and my supposed history, he said we needed to consider putting me on additional medication at this point.  I just… I couldn’t.  I felt so much better, I was READY to be healthy and I just couldn’t believe my blood pressure was high. AGAIN, it always goes down after a bit!!!  It lowered to the low 120’s last time! But did Dr. Baby Sexypants put that in my notes?  No! They always and only include the first reading. Ahhhh!!  From the condescending nod, I know Dr. NOT Ryan Gosling doesn’t believe me. 

He’s beginning to make assumptions about who I am and the thought of that is so frustrating, I begin crying.  (The worst possible timing, OF COURSE I DO).  He asks why I’m crying but where on earth do I begin? It’s also difficult to formulate cohesive sentences due to ‘mom brain’ without sounding pathetic and unstable. He then starts asking me how I’m doing at home with the baby because now he thinks I have postpartum depression.  “No, I’m HAPPY at home! I love my baby! My husband is awesome!”  He tells me it’s okay to be overwhelmed with a baby. “I’m not overwhelmed with my baby– THIS! THIS is what stresses me out!”  He asks what am I doing for my anxiety.  “Typically I mediate! But I haven’t been because–” He tells me there are counselors I can talk to at the hospital.  “It can be really helpful if you’re feeling overwhelmed.” My skin is crawling.

I’m not sure what I said but my stubbornness won.  If I wasn’t going to go on extra meds, he pointedly suggested I get a blood pressure cuff at home.  (We returned the one I had previously because I don’t feel like I ever got it to work properly).  This way, it would help me, help them, treat me correctly.  He totally didn’t believe me. I left feeling defeated, like I had taken 100 steps back.  

I was zero percent enthused about spending a chunk of money we didn’t have on something I wasn’t sure would work properly, but I went to Target and looked around.  They had a wrist monitor!!  The best decision I could have made for my history. I’ve named her Betty. She is totally loyal and I love her so much.  She takes my blood pressure and my pulse.  She does averages.  And the best part? I never have to were a STUPID FROGGIN CUFF.  (Ahem)…  I trust her readings.

What I have learned from Betty is incredibly eye opening.  The first reading I took was in the mid 140’s.  But in the span of five minutes, it went from the high 140’s to the low 120’s.  If I am moving and have just set down my daughter, it’s in the 150’s.  If I take a minute to sit and do some deep breathing, it’s in the 130’s.  If I take another minute, it’s in the 120’s or lower.  If I take five minutes to relax, as the directions suggest, it is always in the low 120’s. 

With readings all over the board, you can imagine my frustration and fear. Which reading was the correct one?!  If I really did have high blood pressure, I wanted to know! I began to do some research and my jaw dropped.  According to this Berkley Wellness website, blood pressure is often taken incorrectly and myriads of people are probably put on medication unnecessarily.  

Did you know that to get a correct reading ideally, you should:

  • wait five minutes in a quiet room before being tested
  • there should be no talking during the test
  • you should be sitting on a chair, back supported with feet on the floor 
  • forearm supported at heart level by your nurse
  • wear an appropriate cuff size
  • readings should be done on both arms, one five minutes after the other

I couldn’t believe it.  I still can’t!  EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. my blood pressure has been taken, it has been as soon as I walk in the door, typically only a minute after lugging around Ruby when my heart is racing and I’m out of breath.  The nurse talks to me through the process. Sometimes, they’ve taken my reading while I’m seated on the examination table, feet dangling.  And it took hours of asking for them to give me an appropriate cuff size at the hospital. They would never take it manually. And for sure, they’ve never tried both arms. To do or not do these things, for me, is literally a change of 20+ points!!

How can something so important to diagnosis and prescription, be taken so mistakenly in the medical field? Again, the last doctor I saw wanted to put me on additional medication because one reading is always taken as law.  Can you imagine???! None of these guidelines or my anxiety or mental state have ever been considered or believed.  It is incredibly scary to think of the amount of people potentially misdiagnosed. Am I grateful to have a healthy daughter and to be feeling healthier?  Of course!  But can we do better?  Abso-froggin’-lutley! 

In hindsight, this whole experience has been pretty eye-opening.  I consider myself pretty ‘zen’ for the most part; when I get anxious, I know to mediate.  During my second trimester, when my blood pressure was in the 110’s, I was meditating 20 minutes daily.  I felt relaxed, connected, present and peaceful.  In my third and ‘fourth trimester,’ as they say, I haven’t kept up the practice as much.  It’s especially hard to find alone time with a newborn.  However, to see readings differ significantly based on whether or not I’m relaxed, or after a minute or two of deep breathing, it is a pretty affirming reminder.  In my head, I’ve always had the answers but whether or not I follow through with them in life is a whole other story. 

While this experience has been frustrating and scary, I really am grateful that it happened. I’ve learned so much about the power and magnitude of my fear, and what a huge factor it can play in my health. I learned a lot about speaking my mind and sticking up for myself, trusting my intuition and what I know about my body.  And I’m even grateful that I was so petrified because I’m not sure if anything less would have scared me into a healthier lifestyle.

While my blood pressure has stabilized, I haven’t forgotten or ignored that it has stabilized while still under the influence of medication. Going off medication, would it sky rocket?  I have no idea.  So, I’ve made no plans to throw caution to the wind with my lifestyle.  If anything, I feel more committed to stay on this life path for as long as I’m blessed with one.  If I’ve estimated my pregnancy weight properly, I’ve lost almost 50 pounds.  Two weeks postpartum, at my first follow up clinic, I was weighed and for sure I’ve lost 22 pounds without counting baby weight.  And truly, it’s not about weight.  I stagnated for a week and a half pounds-wise and while it was frustrating, I felt more energetic, felt a bit stronger, my clothes still fit well, etc.  In my heart I knew it wasn’t about numbers and I’ve NEVER felt that way before!

Mostly, it has occurred to me that if I want Ruby to grow up healthy, confident, smart, funny, fearless, strong, loving and excited about this world… who do I need to be to help get her there? If I want to teach her to put herself in the way of beauty in this world, she requires a mother that is truly beautiful.  Gone are the days of low self-esteem and anxiety. I want to be who she needs me to be.  There is a note on my mirror to remind myself of this daily.  

Introducing her to healthy food as delicious and nourishing (rather than making it about weight) is one way I can encourage her wellbeing. And like an episode of ‘Chopped,’ I have personally been given a challenge to make food heart healthy and it excites me!  So today, I’m sharing a waffle recipe I adapted that makes this treat at breakfast delicious but also good for you.  Rather than use all purpose flour, I substituted whole white wheat.  In place of oil, I use unsweetened apple sauce.  I added oats, ground flaxseed meal and a bit of cinnamon– all great ingredients that help to lower blood pressure.  I replaced full fat milk with non-fat and rather than use sugar I use honey.  (Honey is totally sugar but at least it’s got some proven health benefits). 

And the kicker?  (Because I’m NEVER gonna be a ‘4 oz. of plain chicken and steamed broccoli’ girl).  They’re super yummy!  I love the nuttiness of various whole grain flours and oats in baking so I love these waffles!  I don’t feel like I’m missing out on ‘the real deal,’ because they aren’t processed and don’t taste like fat free crap.  They’re just yummy waffles!  

Well, that blog took forever- ha!  Thank you soooo much for reading all of this– and I hope next time you go to the doctor you ask for a few minutes of peace before any vitals are taken.  You owe it to yourself to be properly cared for!  Health & happiness, y’all!  This is really exciting.  🙂  

Heart Healthier Waffle Recipe
Yields 6
Light and fluffy whole wheat waffles with heart healthy ingredients. They still feel like a treat but it's an amazing way to start your day!
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Prep Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/3 c. whole wheat flour (I use whole wheat white)
  2. 1/2 c. rolled oats
  3. 2 T ground flaxseed meal
  4. 1 T baking powder
  5. 1 tsp cinnamon
  6. 1/2 tsp salt
  7. 1 3/4 c. non-fat or almond milk
  8. 1 T good quality honey
  9. 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
  10. 2 eggs, separated
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, flaxseed meal, cinnamon, baking powder and salt.
  2. Separate the eggs. (See note below)
  3. Mix milk, applesauce, egg yolks and honey to dry ingredients.
  4. Beat egg whites to stiff peaks and fold into the batter.
  5. Ladle mixture onto hot waffle iron and bake until golden brown & crispy.
  6. Top with sugar-free jam, fruit compotes or a light drizzle of the real maple syrup or honey.
  7. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. *In a time crunch, I have completely skipped the separation of the eggs, added whole to the batter instead, and these waffles still turn out great!
Adapted from Genius Kitchen
Adapted from Genius Kitchen
MandiCrocker https://mandicrocker.com/

I haven’t posted a recipe in soooo long!!! What’s up with that!??  I’ve actually been sitting on this recipe since last summer.  But when I launched MC in October, it wasn’t really strawberry season. I adapted the recipe from Izy Hossack.  I swapped out the filling and added a burst of gorgonzola.  I hope you all enjoy!  xoxo

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I love summer here.  The fruit available to us, when in season, is just so yummy, juicy and sweet.  It almost feels like you’re eating pie.  And after a winter of dehydration and feeling blah-heavy on carbs and starches, my body is craaaaaving water and fruit!  

Cue:  Straaaawberries!

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In probably just a week or two it will be the peak of the season.  I couldn’t be more excited!!!  There’s nothing worse than buying a 2 for $5 pack of hard, flavorless strawberries in the dead of winter. They taste like poodley oodley.  I always do it, though, dreaming of summer berries.  Do you do this???  Why do we do this???

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The way the berries are loaded on top, it’s almost like a dessert bruschetta.  🙂
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So when it’s peak strawburry season in your town, go pickin till you come back with a nice haul.  Then, try this recipe!! It’s super fresh, light and delicious.  🙂

untitled-7911Summer is just around the corner… Are you ready???  🙂  🙂  🙂

Ready For Summer Strawberry Tart
A buttery shortbread crust with a cream cheese whipped topping and covered in delicious seasonal strawberries.
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For the crust
  1. 1 1/3 c. dark rye flour
  2. 1 1/3 c. all purpose flour
  3. 1 T. + 1 tsp granulated sugar
  4. 1 tsp salt
  5. 1 c. + 2 T. unsalted butter, very cold, cubed
  6. 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  7. 6-10 tbsp ice water
  8. 1 egg (for eggwash)
Filling
  1. 8 oz. cream cheese
  2. 2 T. Grand Marnier
  3. 1/2 c. gorgonzola
  4. 1/3 c. powdered sugar
  5. 1 1/2 c. heavy cream
  6. 1/3 c. apricot jam
  7. 2 T. water
  8. 2-3 pounds of strawberries
For the crust
  1. Put the flours, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. With a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the chunks of butter are the size of small peas. Rub the mixture with your fingertips until it has the texture of damp chunky sand.
  2. In a separate cup, pour the apple cider vinegar into 10 tbsp of ice water.
  3. Drizzle a bit of the water mixture over the dry ingredients in the bowl and gently stir together with your hands until the dough starts to come together. Add more water as needed to form into a rough ball. Saran wrap the ball and chill for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400F.
  5. Cut a piece of baking paper to fit the size of your half sheet tray. Place the baking paper onto a work surface and roll the dough out on it into a rough rectangle.
  6. When its about the size of the half sheet tray, gently slide it onto the tray. Dock the dough with a fork and brush with beaten egg.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until dark golden all over. If there are air bubbles, flatten them with a spatula. Let the pastry cool completely.
For the filling
  1. Slice the strawberries and toss with Grand Marnier in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Heat the jam on low with 2 T. of water in a small saucepan. Pour the glaze into the berries.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat the heavy cream until there are soft peaks. Set aside in different bowl.
  4. In the mixing bowl you just used, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar until soft.
  5. Fold in the whipped cream.
  6. Once the crust is cooled, frost it with the cream cheese whipped mixture and dot it with the gorgonzola. Cover the tart with the sliced berries. The more the merrier! Cut and serve immediately!
Adapted from Izy Hossack
Adapted from Izy Hossack
MandiCrocker https://mandicrocker.com/

We are getting totally SOCKED IN.  I love it!!!  There is nothing more peaceful than waking up to a quiet, relentless snowfall…

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I spend a majority of my mornings like this.. roaring fire, cats, writing in my warm ‘flippies’.  I LOVE MY MORNINGS!!!

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Little Tilla gets it… hanging out in the window sill… It’s just so peaceful.  *swoon*

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Which brings me to our treat of the day.  Hummingbird Cake!   

A buddy I work with is from one of the islands in Guam and he LOVES banana. Our breakfast guys make a banana bread french toast and he’s always taking a nibble here and there. “Oh God, Mendi, this is soooo good. Do you make a banana cake?” 

“Oh yeah, honey. I make a Hummingbird Cake!”

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“What’s that?”- asks EVERYONE.  Poor Hummingbird Cake, always the bridesmaid. 

Hummingbird Cake is a cake made with banana, pineapple, pecans and coconut.  A southern staple, it would probably place third as a contestant in a Cakes of The South beauty pageant. What makes this cake perfect for winter is that it is dense and hearty like a carrot cake, putting meat on your bones after a good ski, but it’s also tropical and will feel like a much needed vacation from the cold!

But hold onto to your ski poles… Because while Hummingbird Cake is a southern staple, it actually has its roots in Jamaica-mon!  It was a cake named after Jamaica’s national bird, the ‘Doctor Bird,’ and according to Wikipedia, was exported off of the island in 1979 “with other local Jamaican recipes in media press kits sent to the USA. The marketing was aimed at American consumers to get them to come to the island. As printed in the March 29, 1979 issue of the Kingston Daily Gleaner.”  THANK YOU JAMAICA!

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The first recipe was printed by Southern Living (sorry Better Homes & Gardens, they got the jump on ya) and won the Kentucky ‘Best Cake Award’ at the state fair that year.  Who can blame them?! The best part?  It is an oil based cake so you pretty much get to throw all of the ingredients into a bowl and whisk them together!  Easy peasy!

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The recipe I have always used, I found in Saveur.  However, the old recipe was replaced with a newer version to include coconut.  So my adaptation is a cross between both recipes.  Also, knowing that it has a history of being tropical, rather than Southern, I include a little lime juice and rum in my cream cheese frosting now. Hee hee hee… 

Enjoy!!! “Stay warm and tropical, my friends”… xoxo

 

Hummingbird Cake
Serves 10
A moist tropical cake with banana, pineapple, coconut and pecans, covered in a fluffy key lime, rum cream cheese frosting.
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INGREDIENTS
  1. 3 c. + 3 T. flour
  2. 1 T. cinnamon
  3. 1 tsp baking soda
  4. 1 tsp salt
  5. 1 c. chopped pecans
  6. 1 c. sugar
  7. 1 c. packed dark brown sugar
  8. 3 eggs, beaten
  9. 8 oz. crushed pineapple
  10. 6 overly ripe mashed bananas (about 2 3/4 c.)
  11. 1 1/4 c. oil
  12. 2 tsp vanilla
  13. 1 c. sweetened coconut
  14. 1/2 tsp almond extract
INGREDIENTS FOR FROSTING
  1. 2- 8oz. pkgs cream cheese
  2. 8 T. unsalted butter
  3. 6 c. powdered sugar
  4. 1 tsp vanilla
  5. 2 T. dark rum (to taste)
  6. 1 T. key lime juice (to taste)
FOR GARNISH (optional)
  1. toasted unsweetened coconut flakes
  2. 1 c. toasted pecans.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease 3- 9 inch cake pans (10 inch pans work too)
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add wet ingredients and combine thoroughly.
  3. Distribute evenly into 3 pans and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  4. Allow to cool completely.
TO MAKE FROSTING
  1. Cream together cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Slowly add in powdered sugar. Add vanilla extract and mix thoroughly. Add rum and key lime juice to taste.
Notes
  1. **If you have extra banana or pineapple left over in your can, feel free to use it between layers!
  2. **Add powdered sugar to cream cheese and butter slowly or your kitchen will look like a cocaine factory.
  3. **Have extra rum on hand because #Thursday
Adapted from Saveur
Adapted from Saveur
MandiCrocker https://mandicrocker.com/

I had a very limited fruit experience growing up as a kid in upstate New York.  We always ate apples, oranges and bananas.  Strawberries and blueberries were typically ‘too expensive’ and if we got plums, nectarines or peaches they were always tasteless and rock hard.  Mangos or pineapple were also too expensive and “too much work.”  As for pomegranates?  Forget about it.  I think my first experience with pomegranate was in a martini (ha!) and later on a fruit tart we sold at the bakery where I worked. 

When they were on sale at our local grocery 2 for $5, I couldn’t resist.  I was going to make something with pomegranate, dang it!  It was a flavor I thoroughly enjoyed and who says a salad has to be boring?! It was time for this love affair to begin!

Luckily for me, my honey even mentioned a video about how to de-seed a pomegranate from a regular visitor to our valley and kick ass video blogger named ‘The Fresh Princess.’  Meet Corinne! She’s a doll… 

 

You should also know that I have a love/hate relationship with salad.  I LOVE TO EAT SALAD.  I HATE TO MAKE SALAD.  However, this kale salad is quick AND super delicious.  Not only is it incredibly healthy but because kale is such a hearty green, it doesn’t pertain to salad pet peeve #2.  You can toss it in dressing and let it sit for  a few days without it getting mushy or gross in the fridge.  YAY!!!  The pomegranates, pumpkin seeds and sliced almonds add a great crunchy texture and a ton of flavor!

Kale Pomegranate Salad

Notice the bottles of alcohol in the background? I was totally ready for something healthy after the holidays, feeling totally maxed out on sugar and alcohol.  This was supposed to be a ‘Detox from New Year’s’ blog… And here it is January 19th.  How does time move so quickly!?  Smart asses, don’t answer that… 

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Anyway, if you’re in a winter stew slump, this light and refreshing salad will do just the trick! I was going to make it again but alas, there are no more pomegranates to be found at our grocery until next Christmas.  Oh, mountain life… You big city dwellers, hug your year round pomegranates tight tonight.  😉

What healthy meals are you cooking up?  Please share any ideas in the comments below. I always love new recipes!  xoxo

 

 

Kale Pomegranate Salad
A seeded kale and pomegranate salad covered in a tangy, refreshing dressing! Super healthy and easy!
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FOR THE SALAD
  1. 1 bunch of kale
  2. 1 pomegranate, seeded
  3. 1/4 c. pumpkin seeds
  4. 1/4 c. sliced almonds, toasted
FOR THE DRESSING
  1. 3 T. extra virgin olive oil
  2. 2 T. apple cider vinegar
  3. 1 T. dijon mustard
  4. 1 T + 1 tsp. honey
  5. 1/4 tsp. salt
  6. 1/8 tsp. pepper
Instructions
  1. 1. De-vein your kale. Massage the leaves for a couple of minutes.
  2. 2. Throw the kale into a bowl with pomegranate, seeds and nuts.
  3. 3. Whisk all of your dressing ingredients together and pour over salad. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. Massaging kale leaves helps to reduce its toughness and bitterness!
MandiCrocker https://mandicrocker.com/

 

 

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Banana Cream Pie is probably my favorite pie of all time.  Not the cloyingly sweet, straight from the big tub of fake pudding, with little pathetic slices of banana you get at an all night diner… But rather a big ol’ slice of pie from scratch stuffed to the gills with banana and fresh whip… ooooh, dawgie!  Today I’m sharing one of my babies… Loaded Banana Cream Pie.

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The reason Thomas (above) finds this pie so special is because Thomas loves food, Thomas thinks he is starving and Thomas eats everything.  Sophie’s lucky to get her head in the bowl half the time!  I find myself saying things to these cats my mom used to say to us kids, “You can’t possibly be hungry, I just fed you,”  “Let your sister have some!” or “You’re not hungry, you’re just bored.”  Little Tilla (below), on the other hand, loves mommy’s pie because of the walnut crust, the rum cinnamon nutmeg filling and the bourbon whipped cream.  Such a sophisticated palate, our little Sophie!  😉

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The first thing you’re going to do is make your pie crust.  Here is a painfully hideous, poorly produced little video I did to describe how I make my walnut crust using my cuisinart and how I roll it out.

 

Once the pie crust is rolled out, I freeze it for at least an hour (usually overnight) and then par bake it for about 40-50 minutes.  I usually make my pastry cream and ganache the day before.  To assemble, I put a schmear of chocolate ganache on the bottom. Susina, a bakery where I used to work did this.  Not only is it super delicious but it seals the bottom crust so it doesn’t get soggy after adding the pastry cream.

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Then I do a thin layer of bananas right on top of that ganache.

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Then a layer of pastry cream on top of the bananas until they’re just barely covered.  

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Another layer of sliced bananas. Then cream.  Rinse.  Repeat.  Until you reach the very top!  NINE BANANAS WORTH PEOPLE!  Granted, I have a pretty thick pie plate so maybe seven bananas for the non-insane.  *Megan in Bridesmaids* “I took nine…

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Then you whip your heavy whipping cream, add a little powdered sugar and some bourbon.  Spread that onto your mound of banana pastry cream, top with chocolate shavings and BOOM… MandiCrocker’s Loaded Banana Cream Pie.  Try it out!! You can do it and you won’t even be a little sorry!  🙂

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If you’re enjoying these posts, don’t forget to subscribe to MandiCrocker so you don’t miss anything!  Tell your friends and if you try out a recipe, be sure to tag MandiCrocker on Instagram.  It’s always fun to see re-creations!  Happy Holidays, everyone!!! 

Mandi

Oh, look… one more just for me.  🙂

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Totally Loaded Banana Cream Pie
A walnut crust, smeared with chocolate and stuffed to the gills with banana pastry cream and topped with a bourbon whip!
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PIE CRUST
  1. 1 c. toasted walnuts
  2. 1 1/2 c. flour
  3. 1 tsp salt
  4. 1 tsp cinnamon
  5. 2 tsp sugar
  6. 1 c. cold butter, cut in chunks
  7. 1/2 c. milk
  8. more flour for dusting
EGG WASH
  1. 1 Egg yolk
  2. A few tablespoons of buttermilk or water
PASTRY CREAM
  1. 3 c. milk
  2. 1 tsp vanilla
  3. 9 egg yolks
  4. 3/4 c. sugar
  5. 1/2 c. cornstarch
  6. 1/2 tsp. salt
  7. 5 T. butter
  8. 1 tsp. cinnamon
  9. 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  10. 1 T. dark rum
  11. 9 ripe bananas, sliced
GANACHE
  1. 1/4 c. heavy cream
  2. 1/2 c. bittersweet chips
WHIPPED CREAM
  1. 2 c. heavy cream
  2. 3-4 T. powdered sugar (to taste)
  3. 2 T. bourbon
  4. chocolate shavings (to decorate, optional)
To make crust (video available)
  1. Preheat oven to 425
  2. Pulse walnuts in a cuisinart until finely ground. Add dry ingredients and pulse to mix.
  3. Dump in cold butter and pulse 2-3 times just until the butter is covered by the flour.
  4. With the cuisinart on, pour in your milk. Pulse until just blended and the butter is the size of peas.
  5. Roll out pie crust and freeze for one hour.
  6. Brush the crimped edges of cold pie crust with egg wash. Place parchment and pie weights inside.
  7. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes. Lower temp to 350 for another 20-25 minutes. (The crust should caramelize a bit and be a light golden brown).
  8. When the pie crust has cooled completely, remove the parchement and pie weights.
To make pastry cream
  1. Scald the heavy cream in a large saucepan.
  2. In a separate bowl whisk together the sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch and salt.
  3. When the cream has scalded, turn off the heat. Take out about a 1/4 cup of the cream and whisk very quickly into the egg yolk mixture. Do it again.
  4. Once the egg yolk mixture is a bit runny and warm, add the entire bowl to the cream on the stove.
  5. Turn the heat back on and cook on medium heat until thickened, whisking the entire time. Remove from heat. Add rum, vanilla, salt and butter. Stir until everything has melted in.
  6. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
To make the ganache
  1. Scald the heavy cream and add the chips.
  2. Let rest for five minutes, whisk together and let cool to room temperature.
To make whipped cream
  1. With the mixer on high, whip the cold heavy cream until thickened. Add the powdered sugar and bourbon (to taste) and whip until spreadable consistency.
To assemble
  1. Smear ganache onto the bottom of the pie crust. Layer with a row of sliced bananas. Cover with pastry cream. Repeat steps until full.
  2. Spread on your whipped cream over the pie. Cover with chocolate shavings.
  3. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Even better the next day!
Adapted from Doris Greenspan's Pastry Cream
Adapted from Doris Greenspan's Pastry Cream
MandiCrocker https://mandicrocker.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a baker, you get a lot of requests!  From vegan to gluten-free, sugar free to no-nuts, there is always a special request.  And aside from folks with legitimate concerns, we all have that ‘special friend,’ don’t we?  For me, it’s my hilarious friend Millie. She lives on her own island, an island with one TV that only plays re-runs of ‘I Love Lucy’ and Yankees games.  For HER, I’ll say I’m making pumpkin cheesecake bars…

Millie:  “I love pumpkin cheesecake bars!!! Mandi J!  Can you make me some but without the bourbon white chocolate drizzle?  And none of the pumpkin? But add peanut butter.  Can you do  bittersweet chocolate? So much better for you.  Subtract the graham cracker crust. And if you could work in fava beans, you would be my FAVORITE Mandi J.  Not that you aren’t already.”

Mandi J:  “That means there’s no crust, Mills Vanills…

Millie:  “Does it need one?”

Mandi J:  “YES.” 

She cracks me up!!!  Totally one of my favorite people as she lives on the kind of island I want to visit. So I’m always trying to do my best with requests because I want everyone to be happy!!! BUT, if I’m going to agree to the bells and whistles it has to taste good.  Also, if it is naturally gluten free, vegan, etc.?  Even better!  

 

Insanely moist vegan chocolate cake covered with ganache and a gooey coconut filling.

Today’s recipe, is a SUPER yummy, SUPER decadent vegan german chocolate cake that you wouldn’t even know is vegan!  If you love rich and ooey gooey, this recipe is totally for you!  I came up with this cake combo for my hubby’s best friend’s birthday. For the cake, I adapted a cake recipe from The Minimalist Baker that I made into three layers.  I adapted a filling from Alice’s Tea Cup and used my go-to ganache recipe that I substituted.  The combo is truly decadent… 

I would also like to mention that writing happy birthday on a german chocolate cake is always a challenge.  😉

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And seriously, DON’T worry about calories.

“Eeeeeat, EAT!!!!  Nobody likes a skinny Santa…”  🙂

Mandi

 

Vegan German Chocolate Cake
Serves 8
An insanely delicious and moist vegan chocolate cake, covered with ganache and gooey coconut filling.
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Total Time
2 hr 40 min
Total Time
2 hr 40 min
For the cake
  1. 2 1/4 c. almond milk
  2. 1 T apple cider vinegar
  3. 2 c. unsweetened applesauce
  4. 3/4 c. strong brewed coffee
  5. 1 c. melted coconut oil
  6. 1 T vanilla
  7. 3 c. + 3 T. flour
  8. 2 c. sugar
  9. 1 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa
  10. 1 T baking soda
  11. 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  12. 1/2 tsp salt
For german chocolate filling
  1. 1/2 c. almond milk
  2. 1/4 c. cornstarch
  3. 1 pinch kosher salt
  4. 2 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
  5. 1 1/2 c. coconut milk
  6. 2 tsp vanilla
  7. 3 c. sweetened shredded coconut
  8. 1 c. lightly toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
  9. 20-25 full-size toasted pecans for decorating (optional)
For ganache
  1. 1 1/2 c bittersweet vegan chocolate
  2. 1 c. almond milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line three 9 inch cake pans with parchment and grease with oil or vegan friendly spray.
For the cake
  1. Throw all of the ingredients into a large bowl and whisk the heck out of it! Disperse evenly into your three cake pans and bake for 20 minutes.
  2. Rotate pans and bake for about another 8 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
For the filling
  1. Whisk together the almond milk, cornstarch and salt in a bowl
  2. In a saucepan, dissolve the brown sugar in the coconut milk over med-high heat. Whisk until the mixture comes to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to low and simmer for five minutes, or until slightly thickened.
  4. Pour the almond milk mixture into the saucepan and mix over low heat until the mixture is thick and smooth.
  5. Remove from heat and mix in vanilla, sweetened coconut and pecans. Let cool.
For ganache
  1. Heat the almond milk and bittersweet chips on low until glossy and smooth. Let cool to spreading consistency. (Or don't! I used it while it was still a bit warm & let it drizzle out the sides).
For assembly
  1. Shave the tops of the cakes off with a serrated knife so that the cakes are flat when you stack them.
  2. Carefully flip over your cake pans and put one cake circle on your plate. Spread with a third of the ganache. Then spread with a third of the german chocolate filling.
  3. Stack another cake on top of the german chocolate filling and repeat with ganache & more filling.
  4. Finally, stack your last cake on top. (It will be smoother if you flip over the last layer so the crumbly side is facing down). Cover with ganache & german chocolate filling. If you'd like, decorate the top of the cake with a circle of toasted unchopped pecans.
Notes
  1. To toast pecans: Place single layer on a baking sheet and toast at 350 for about 8 minutes, until lightly toasted and fragrant.
Adapted from Minimalist Baker, Alice's Tea Cup & My Own Whimsy
Adapted from Minimalist Baker, Alice's Tea Cup & My Own Whimsy
MandiCrocker https://mandicrocker.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

I grew up in a small town in upstate New York.  It is a quaint little place when the economy is good, but aside from my most favorite ‘grinder’ sandwiches from our local Italian restaurant, you could hardly call it a ‘culinary draw’ to any real food enthusiast.  In my youth, we grew up on chicken tenders and frozen pizza from the Schwann Man, and pretty much streamlined Diet Coke and sugar drinks.

I started baking because of my sisters.  They would always bake for their boyfriends, and like the perfect kid sister, I would annoy them until they let me help.  Needless to say, we didn’t have cookbooks from any culinary greats.  There was no internet for research or Amazon to check reviews.  Instead, we had Betty Crocker cookie collections that my mom probably got from my grandmother.  

Any chance I got, I poured through them.  Any ‘candy making’ pamphlet I came across, I saved.  Even as a kid, I didn’t just want to make cookies for fun.  I wanted to produce cookies, candies and cakes. I wanted them to be bakery quality and I couldn’t wrap my brain around the who/what/when/where/why to make that happen.

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I’m also my father’s daughter, a total people pleaser.  So when I packaged my first set of cookies for a friend and they loved the gesture, it became a global crusade to get EVERYONE cookies.  It became a personal tradition, the night of Thanksgiving, that I would go to the 24 hour grocery store and load up on $200 worth of baking ingredients.  I would bake all through the weekend and ship out boxes to loved ones that Monday morning. It became an obsession. Why make one person’s day when you can make the day of 15 friends!? 30 friends!?  A college campus of friends!?After college it escalated further. One Christmas, I worked in a call center at our local phone company and brought in ginormous cookie platters enough to feed 200 people!  NUTS. 

When I moved to LA for acting and comedy after college, I would always bring treats to class. One cookie in particular was a hit with everyone, but especially my friend Jacole. It came from one of these old school books that was actually called The Favorite Brand Name Cookie Collection.  These cookies were called Peanut Butter Secrets.  MAGICAL.  

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Why were they special?  Why were they a secret??? Because not only were they a peanut butter cookie with chocolate on top… but they had peanut butter cups INSIDE!!!  I KNOW!!!

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Well, the initial recipe called for Butter Flavor Crisco and we already know how I feel about man made or chemical products in baking.  So I updated it and made a more ‘from scratch’ and dare I say, a bit more ‘gourmet’ version.  It’s one of my all time favorite cookies!  

Tip:  I use an ice cream or cookie scoop to get out the dough. Then I push a peanut butter cup into the scoop and cover the rest with what has squished out.  Much faster.  🙂

 

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CHOCOLATE!  PEANUT BUTTER!  SEA SALT!  I think the secret to these adapted cookies was in finding a decent peanut butter cookie recipe and using quality peanut butter cups. The sprinkle of salt, doesn’t hurt either. 😉

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Anyway, for my JacoleyPoo, my honey and for countless other lovers of peanut butter and chocolate… This one’s for you. xoxo

Mandi

 

INGREDIENTS:

For Cookies:

1 c. butter

1 c. dark brown sugar

1/2 c. white sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 c. peanut butter 

2 tsp vanilla

2 1/2 c. flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

36-44 high quality peanut butter cups

1/2 c. salted nuts, chopped  (for sprinkling)

1 T sea salt flakes (for sprinkling)

For ganache:

3/4 c. heavy cream

1- 11 oz. package of bittersweet chocolate chips

1 T honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

DIRECTIONS:

For cookies:

Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

With a mixer, beat together butter and both sugars.

Add eggs and vanilla.  

Add peanut butter.  Beat well.

Add dry ingredients.

When mixed thoroughly, scoop out a tablespoon of dough and wrap around each peanut butter cup.

Place on baking tray with parchment and bake for 8-12 minutes.  (These cookies continue to bake and set on the tray, so as soon as you see a whiff of brown on top, take them out immediately.  Or even a little bit sooner!)

To make ganache:

On medium heat, scald the cream in a small saucepan. Add the chips and let sit for five minutes.  Whisk together.  (If there are any lumps still in the chocolate, turn the saucepan on low and whisk continuously until the mixture is smooth). 

Stir in honey and allow to cool 15 minutes.

FOR ASSEMBLY:

Frost each cookie with ganache by dipping tops in chocolate or using a spatula.  Sprinkle with chopped nuts and sea salt.  

TIPS:

*If you can’t find dark brown sugar, you can use a cup of light brown sugar and 2 T of molasses.

*I use Skippy or Jiff peanut butter.  Organic Trade Joe’s ‘almond butter’ style peanut butter cannot be substituted in recipes.

*I use Ghirardelli bittersweet chips and LOVE Maldon Sea Salt Flakes.

*If you can’t find specialty peanut butter cups, Reeses are fine, too!

CHRISTMAS!!!!  🙂  🙂  🙂

My family had lots of Christmas traditions growing up as a kid:  eating cookies, eating chex mix, eating fried dough on Christmas Eve, etc.  One of these traditions (prior to the eating) has always been frosting sugar cookies!  We used my ‘Aunt Sheila’s’ kick ass recipe every year, a quickie almond glaze for decorating and sprinkles, shredded coconut & nuts galore! Sugar cookies are one of the first things that come to mind when I think of Christmas because it really is fun at any age.  You could be a mom with small kids that is just hoping any of the icing ends up on the cookie or a baker that is dying to try out their new cookie cutter.  IT SHOULD BE FUN!!!

Whatever you do, don’t listen to THIS lady…  😉

This haggard old recipe has as many miles as Santa’s sleigh!  *snort*

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Now… deep breath…  I need you organic crunchy types to look at me. It’s going to be as hard for me as it is for you. Personally?  I’m not a fan of Crisco or any processed chemically things. GROSS!!! In fact, this is the only recipe I used that has Crisco in it. These cookies, however?  They need Crisco.  And, sadly, not the organic stuff.  Substituting butter makes these cookies delicious but crispy.  (I don’t believe in crispy sugar cookies). Substituting organic Crisco also makes them crispy– just not the same fat content. So if you don’t want these cookies to melt in your mouth with a satisfying chew and you’re going to substitute, go with the butter! But really, just use the dang Crisco.

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Sugar cookies can be a little daunting due to the need for a rolling pin, but trust me… YOU GOT THIS. First things first, set your oven to 375 and clean your countertop where you’ll be rolling out dough. I throw my flour and salt into a big bowl.  I then combine all of my wet ingredients (evaporated milk, eggs and vanilla) in a separate bowl.

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I use a measuring cup because it all fits in there and who doesn’t like less dishes!?  

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Then, I throw my butter and Crisco into my dry ingredients,  and with this fancy pie cutter, I cut all of the fat up until I get little bitty pea-sized pieces of butter.  You can also use a cuisinart instead!  Just pulse lightly until you get the desired pea size consistency. 

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Like these guys.  🙂

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Then, throw your sugar in there and give it a mix. 

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Make a well in the dry ingredients and fill it with the wet ingredients. 20161127-dsc_4342

 

Give it a light mix until everything is barely moistened. 20161127-dsc_4346  

Flour your countertop and dump out the goods. 20161127-dsc_4351

 

And then begin to knead it a bit and squeeze, adding the remaining crumbs along the way…

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Until it comes together into a ball!  It will be flaky.  🙂

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I always cut my dough in half just because it’s easier to roll out.  Always lightly flour on both sides so nothing sticks to the countertop or the rolling pin every time you flip, move or spin the dough. 

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You want to continue to roll out until its about a 1/4 inch.  20161127-dsc_4366

 

Then the fun part… Use those cutters!  🙂

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Lay them out on a cookie tray.  They can be fairly close as they don’t spread much.  Then, bake for 8-12 minutes depending on the size of your cookie.  If you see brown around the edges, you’ve gone too long.  I’ll actually lift a cookie up above my head with a spatula to see what it looks like on the bottom.  

Also, I believe in Christmas lobsters and Christmas martini glasses… 

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And then decorate!  Okay, maybe this is the most fun part.  🙂  For the icing, you just sift the powdered sugar into a bowl.  Add a little melted butter, a whiff of almond extract and a teaspoon of milk at a time until you get the desired spreading consistency. Separate the icing into separate bowls and add food gel to make various colors. 

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And remember… YOU CAN’T SCREW UP A SUGAR COOKIE.  JUST FROST IT AND EAT IT.  “Or I’ll pull up quick to retrieve it!”  😉20161127-dsc_4416

Kisses!

Mandi

Sugar Cookies
Buttery, melt in your mouth sugar cookies that retain their shape beautifully for icing!
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Prep Time
30 min
Total Time
2 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Total Time
2 hr
For cookies
  1. 4 c. flour
  2. 3/4 c. butter
  3. 1/4 c. crisco
  4. 1 1/2 c. sugar
  5. 2 eggs
  6. 5 T evaportated milk
  7. 1 tsp salt
  8. 1 tsp vanilla
For icing
  1. 4 c. powdered sugar
  2. 1 drop of almond extract
  3. 2 T. melted butter
  4. Milk to desired consistency
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk your flour and salt together. Cut in butter and crisco with a pastry cutter until chunks resemble the size of small peas. Mix in sugar.
  2. In a sepeate bowl, whisk together the eggs, evaporated milk and vanilla.
  3. Create a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the middle. Mix until barely moistened.
  4. On a floured surface, dump out the dough and knead until it forms a ball. Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out cookies with cutters.
  5. Lay cookies out on a tray with parchment and bake for 8-12 minutes, depending on size.
For icing
  1. Sift powdered sugar in a bowl. Add extract and melted butter. Whisk together and add milk until a teaspoon of milk at a time until desired consistency.
Notes
  1. Sugar cookie dough is like pie crust dough. It will be flaky! Be careful not to overwork.
  2. Check the bottoms of cookies to check doneness. If the edges have browned, you've gone too far.
MandiCrocker https://mandicrocker.com/