Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Crumbly THM (Shortcake) Cookies

Today I set out to create a THM-friendly biscotti recipe. (If you don't know what THM is, check out Gwen's review here and the Trim Healthy Mama book on Amazon.)

I love biscotti. Hard-enough-to-break-a-tooth biscotti. Alas, my recipe turned out delicious but very crumbly.. almost like shortcake, really. It's not biscotti.. not the rock-hard biscotti I had dreamed of dipping into a cup of espresso tomorrow morning.

Oh well, I still have a plate of delicious S cookies to devour guilt-free over the next few days.

This is a pretty simple almond flour-based recipe. I added orange extract to it for a subtle flavoring, but you can easily leave it out or, if you're more of a purist, sub it for fresh zest from an organic orange. 1/4 cup of chopped dark chocolate would make for a delicious addition to the orange flavor, too. Just play around with it and make it as simple or as complex as you would like!

If you divide the dough into 32 pieces like I did (I like the idea of eating 2-3 small cookies better than eating one big cookie), each cookie has 7.9 grams of fat and 1 gram net carbs. A definite S dessert or snack! If you're not nursing a seemingly insatiable 17-pound-three-month-old like me, you should probably not polish off an entire plate of these cookies. Even a small one is 85 calories. If you want more nutrition info, check below.

Prep a cookie sheet with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 350 F.

To start out, I beat two eggs foamy, about 2-3 minutes.

Add liquid stevia or your choice of sweetener. I used 30 drops of Sweet Leaf liquid stevia and this made the cookies just slightly sweet. If you prefer your cookies more sweet, add 40 drops.

A bit of sea salt, a stick of melted butter or 1/2 cup coconut oil, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and a teaspoon of orange extract (optional). Mix 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder either into the almond flour, or throw it directly into the liquid ingredients if you like to take shortcuts like me.

Now slowly add the almond flour as you continue mixing the dough. When you're done, you should have a very soft but non-sticky dough. Add a handful of sliced almonds and/or chopped dark chocolate by hand, if you like.

Now, if you're shooting for something that resembles biscotti, shape your dough into a flat log on your cookie sheet. If you just want cookies, you can probably just roll out balls of dough and flatten them on your sheet; HOWEVER I have not tried this and don't know if the results would be exactly the same.

Bake for 22-25 minutes at 350 F, until your cookies are very lightly browned. Take them out to cool for at least 10 minutes, and cut them into strips if you formed a log.

Turn your oven down to 325 F, and when the cookies are quite cool, turn them on their sides and toast them for 20 more minutes. For the ultimate crunch, leave the oven door closed after they finish baking, and let them cool in there several hours.

Crumbly THM (Shortcake) Cookies - S [Printable Recipe]

  • 2 eggs
  • Stevia or other plan-approved sweetener
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 3 cups almond flour
Optional ingredients
  • Orange extract or zest
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds or other nuts
  • 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate

1. Beat eggs foamy, 2-3 minutes. 
2. Add 30-40 drops of liquid stevia or other sweetener.
3. Mix in sea salt, melted butter or coconut oil, vanilla extract and optional orange extract.
4. Stir baking powder into almond flour and slowly add to liquid ingredients; mix well.
5. Knead optional sliced almonds and chocolate in by hand.
6. Shape dough into a flat log on a lined cookie sheet.
7. Bake at 350 F for 22-25 minutes.
8. Cool at least 10 minutes, cut into slices, and turn cookies on side.
9. Bake for 20 more minutes at 325 F and leave in closed oven to cool for ultimate crumbliness.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 23 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
Total Carbohydrates
Dietary Fiber
Vitamin A 2%Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 4%Iron 2%

* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

Friday, May 17, 2013

Stevia Freezer Jam

This post is completely off-topic for this blog, but I couldn't keep from sharing this wonderful low-carb recipe for freezer jam which my mom and I discovered today. I recently bought the book "Trim Healthy Mama" by Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett at the recommendation of a friend. To read a detailed review of this book, I suggest reading Gwen's review of it. Trim Healthy Mama (aka THM) is packed to the brim with valuable, life-changing information. Seriously, this book is worth its weight in gold (and it's heavy!) Essentially, the most important fact is summed up in one sentence:

"Never include large amounts of both fats and carbs in the same meal unless you are trying to gain or maintain weight." - Trim Healthy Mama, page 64

But like I said, read Gwen's review to learn more. I'm just here to give you my recipe for delicious low-carb freezer jam made with stevia. I didn't find much to go by online, except for this post at Fragile Fantasies which involves cooking the fruit for a few minutes, something we were trying to avoid. We wanted our strawberries as fresh as possible-- plus, some stevia is known for developing that bitter after-taste during cooking. We didn't want to take that chance. So, instead of using Ball's special low-sugar pectin, we just used the regular ol' instant pectin.
But anyway, let's jump right in!

For five 8 oz jars of jam, you're going to need:

Wash, hull, and dice the strawberries into a large bowl (we tripled the recipe to make a large batch).

Use a potato masher (we're using the nifty little Pampered Chef "Mix 'N Chop" tool) to mash the strawberries down to your desired consistency. Add the packet of Instant Fruit Pectin and as much or as little stevia as you would like. We used one teaspoon of SweetLeaf liquid stevia per 4 cups. You could use Truvia or any other powdered stevia, but you're on your own for those measurements. Just go slow, taste it, and add more as needed.

Now give your arms a bit of a work out and stir, stir, stir that jam for 3 minutes. It should thicken up as you're stirring, but it won't set fully until 30 minutes later. Fill your jars (you don't have to wait for it to set), and voila-- delicious, yummy strawberry jam without any guilt at all!

This will keep 3 months in the fridge, 1 year in the freezer!

You could pair this with a bowl of 0% Greek yogurt for a refreshing FP (Fuel Pull) snack if you are on the THM plan.

 Or a slice of warm, toasted Ezekiel bread with Greek yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese topped with sweet strawberry goodness for an E breakfast. One of life's best things. Seriously.

Yummy (Slimming!) Peanut Butter Cup Iced Coffee

Another THM recipe! Sorry ;-) I'm really enjoying trying new recipes though, and it's so much fun to take pictures and share them with the world :)

I got this recipe from Nicole at Blissfully Blessed. I tweaked it just a little, but all credit for this amazing idea definitely goes to her! I have a hard time enjoying "healthy" shakes and drinks most of the time.. but this one is so good I could guzzle it all day!

How I Made It: (tweak to your taste)

  • Two handfuls of ice (I like it icy.. you can do less)
  • 1.5 cups of unsweetened almond milk
  • 1.5 tablespoons of peanut butter 
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa
  • 1/2 cup of leftover, cold coffee
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil 
  • Stevia to taste (I used NuNaturals)

I like to blend my ice to powder before adding the other ingredients.. no chunks of ice for me ;-)

You can definitely reduce the amount of peanut butter and leave the coconut oil out completely. I'm nursing a 7-week-old and am having a hard time eating enough for both of us.. I'm staaarving all day long, so I like the extra fat snuck in this way. Plus, you can never have too much peanut butter ;-)

The coffee isn't required, either.. I loved the nutty mocha flavor this had. Definitely rivals anything at Starbucks! :) 

This makes a lot-- about 3 cups.. but I can finish that off in no time at all! It doesn't get very thick-- it's really more like an iced coffee, so you can keep it in the fridge to enjoy throughout the day.  

If you follow the Trim Healthy Mama plan, this would be an S. Use defatted peanut butter flour and leave the coconut oil out to make it a fuel pull (FP)!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I Dare You... To Paint Your Curtains

The Boy and I built our house this past summer with help from my parents and a few friends. When it was all done, I had a vision for our living room: horizontally striped, teal curtains. Problem was-- I have 9 foot ceilings. Do you know how hard it is to find 108-inch curtains?! I searched local stores, I searched the Internet high and low... And can you believe it? For once, even the vast resources available online didn't turn up a single curtain which matched the vision I had. I almost gave up... almost. Then, I decided to dare to try something I had found.. you guessed it.. on Pinterest!

Painting curtains. eek.

Nervously, timidly.. I set out to my local Home Depot for 4 painter's drop cloths. Drop cloths as curtains were quite the thing around the blog world a while ago, so there was plenty of information available, through which I learned that Home Depot carries drop cloths without seams, which was what I needed. Four packs of canvas drop cloth.

Next stop: Michael's, for textile medium. I had a bit of a hard time finding this.. apparently it's not too common. The one I ended up getting was by Delta, in case anybody else needs help with this.

I had a gallon of teal paint at home, which I had bought a few months earlier for $4 in the oops section at Sherwin Williams.

I washed and dried the drop cloths to get rid of some of the stiffness and allow them to shrink. I don't think I will ever dare to wash my curtains, though, so if you aren't planning to, either, you probably don't need to wash them. As much as they shrunk in the dryer, they almost got to be too short!

I used Stitch Witchery to make a pocket for a curtain rod. I was planning on using PVC pipes for my rods, so I made sure to make the pocket wide enough. Not too wide, though.. since.. like I said, my ceilings are 9 feet tall, and the drop cloths had already shrunk in the dryer.

Now here comes the fun part, you think..., no. Now that I was all ready to go, I had to measure my lines. It's boring, but not as hard as one might think. I decided to make my stripes 7 inches wide and mark them off with masking tape. I ran out of masking tape half-way through (stupid me for not buying a new roll), so I actually reused some of my tape 3 times. Sounds impossible.. but it worked. So, no need to worry about paint leaking through if you attach it well. I just measured 7 inches down on each side, and then stretched the tape across and got straight lines that way. Not very careful, I know.. but I'm not known for being careful.

When taping off, make sure to account for the width of the tape. In other words- the unpainted stripes will look smaller when taped off.

I mixed a bottle of texture medium into about a quart of paint (not what the directions say.. but.. I don't do well with following directions).. and now, finally, it was time to start painting!

..which was exciting for a grand total of about 5 minutes. Then it kinda became a drag. But I couldn't quit.. because the drop cloths soaked up so much of the paint, that it took me 30 minutes for EACH stripe.

I made four curtains, with eleven stripes each. Do the math.
I was 8 months pregnant at this point, too.. so all that standing and painting was enough to drive me mad. But I wanted my striped curtains, so I just kept going. Two seasons of I Love Lucy kept me entertained, at least.

Then I ironed them all backwards. 

To be honest.. I'm not sure if I would do this again, just because it took sooo long. But was it worth it? You bet! I have the exact curtains I had envisioned.. and I still love them 5 months later!

Total price? Hmm.. I think I paid about $30 for the drop cloths.. $10 for the two bottles of texture medium (used coupons).. and $4 for my gallon of oops paint (which I only used half of). That makes $44 for all four... or $11 per curtain panel. Yeah? Yeah! That's how I roll.. haha. I don't think I have a single item of decor in my house which I paid full price for!

I'm linking this up to:
The Southern Product Queen
Chatty Chics

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Transfer Pictures to Wood!

My 12-week-old is my parents' first grandchild. They are nuts over him. Especially my mom. She is just the nuttiest grandma you can imagine-- all goo goo and gah gah, if you know what I mean. It's cute.. I love watching her with my Little Bear :)

So, for Christmas, I knew I had to give her a large picture of the little guy. Getting photos printed on canvas isn't expensive these days, but when I saw this tutorial for transferring pictures to a wood block on Pinterest, I knew I had to try it. I wasn't quite sure how it would turn out-- but I can't resist a cheap DIY project!

The tutorial is great, but for whatever reason, I just prefer written instructions rather than videos. Plus, I thought I'd share my experience and write this up in detail.

First, here's what you need:

A block of wood. I used a few pieces of pine wood I had left over from when we were building our house. My dad laughed at me for being a hoarder.. but he ain't laughing now! I found great use for my wood pieces! ;-)

A picture printed with a laser printer. Mirrored, if you want it to look like the original when you're done. Ditzy me forgot about this when I first got these printed.. and it was a bit of a long hassle after that to get it right. Long story short-- I ended up going to the print shop 3 times in one day.

Gel medium. I had no idea what this was, and went to the craft store rather hesitantly, unsure where to look for this. I found it in the oil and acrylic paint section. You know, for painting pictures, not walls. I had a 50% off coupon to Michael's, so I scored this for $7. Woot!

So take your wood block, and apply the gel medium with a paintbrush or something similar. The key here is to try applying it as evenly as possible... Not too much (makes for lots of obvious bubbles and folds) and not too little (keeps the picture from transferring completely). I didn't always do this, and here's the result:

This can make for a cool effect at the picture's edges-- but it wasn't exactly what I was going for on my baby's face.

When it's all fairly even, stick the picture, face down, onto the wood.

Here comes the crucial part. Even out the bubbles as best you can. The paper gets rather wet and starts to tear if you rub too hard, so this isn't exactly fool-proof.. But I most of mine turned out fine, so I'm sure y'all can do it too. ;-)

Now ya gotta be patient and let this dry overnight (or until it's completely dry.. took mine about 5-6 hours). It's a good thing I made these exactly 2 days before Christmas, and had plenty of other things to keep me busy. I'm not too good with the whole patience thing.

After all that waiting, here comes the reward: you get to see your artwork! Not before putting some elbow grease in there, though. Grab a wet sponge or rag, and soak your paper. You can probably hold it under running water. I did, but only for a couple of minutes, before I freaked out, and wondered if I was ruining the picture. It looked completely fine to me, But I did not have time on my side, so I couldn't risk ruining these.

Rub alllll the pretty paper off with your sponge. It'll take a while. Even when it looks like it's perfectly clean and glossy-- after it dries, you'll see lots of little white specks all over the picture. It took me several rounds of rubbing and cleaning to get it right.

Resist the urge to grab a scouring pad. It will scratch your picture. Not that I tried it or anything (who, me?!)

All that hard work pays off, though-- in the end, you get to admire your amazing creation. The best part about DIY, isn't it??

If you'd like, you can finish these off with Mod Podge or maybe a wood sealer. I wanted to-- but I was short on time, so I decided to leave them the way they were. I figured they'd be used for decoration, anyway. I don't normally spend much time touching the pictures on my wall. If you do, you should probably give these a durable finish ;-)

So here you are.. Simple, pretty, and cheap! My little can of gel medium was enough for about 8-10 8x10 pictures. The wood was free. That makes.. hmm... $0.70 per 8x10?? Hecks yeah! My kinda project! :-D

I'm linking this up to:

Rae Gun Ramblings
Today's Creative Blog
Robin's Creative Cottage
Home Stories A to Z
Tip Junkie
Southern Product Queen
The Shabby Creek Cottage
Blue Cricket Design

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cheap, Easy, and Fast.. What's Not to Like?!

It's 1:17 AM, and the hubs and baby have been sweetly (or not so sweetly) sleeping for a while now, while I'm stuck in blog land. And to be honest, I'm too tired and lazy to get up off the couch, brush my teeth, wash my face, put some PJs on.. etc.. ever feel that way? Too tired to go to bed? Yeah.
I'll just quickly share a very easy, cheap, and fast little project I did a few days ago. If you need a Christmas present for your kids' grandparents still, you can make these in 20 minutes, I promise! (plus baking time)


I found inspiration for these hand print/foot print Christmas tree ornaments through Pinterest. Lesley at Homemade Grits did a version of these, and I decided to tweak them to fit my own style. They are soo simple. The hardest part is getting the print just right. Little Bear didn't want to cooperate right away.. but with a little patience, I got him to unclench his hands just long enough to get three separate prints. The feet are easy-peasy, for obvious reasons.

Let me add-- this works best with babies and toddlers. Unless you like your ornaments to be the size of a dinner plate. Ha.

I didn't take pictures of the process.. but I promise it isn't hard to figure out.

First, the recipe:

1 cup salt
4 cups flour

Just add half a cup of water at a time, being very careful not to make it too soggy. You want a very firm dough. This recipe yielded enough dough to make 3 hand prints and 3 foot prints for my 11-week-old.. and two large hand prints for my school-age sisters.. plus quite a bit left over. The point is, you could easily half this recipe and still have plenty.

I used the dough hook on my stand mixer to get this mixed real well.. but you could do it by hand if you have the patience. Which I don't.

Take a handful of dough, and roll it out, being careful not to get it too thin. You want it about half an inch thick, so you can get a nice print.

Here comes the hard part now-- getting those chubby little hands to unclench and making a print worthy of keeping on your tree for years to come. I suggest getting another person to help you with this, although I successfully managed to do two of these on my own.

Get a cup or bowl to cut the ornament out.. and remember to make a hole in the top for threading a ribbon through later! I used a straw for this.

You can now either let it dry for a couple of days.. or let it bake in the oven for several hours at 200 F. I did 1 hour at 170 F, and they were still pretty soft. I went ahead and painted them anyway. My impatience will probably cost me, though. Watch these mold before Easter.

I used a can of metallic gold 97-cent Walmart spray paint to paint several layers on these, and then looped glittery blue ribbon I got 50% off at Michael's through the top. All in all, I probably spent $3 tops on all six ornaments. Score!

I'm linking this up to:

The Shabby Creek Cottage
Alicia's Homemaking: Try New Adventures Thursday

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Beginning

Hello world! My name is Rebecca, and I absolutely love decorating and prettifying (somehow my made-up word only looks like horrifying) things on the cheap. And yes, I do mean cheap. Doling those little dollars out for things which don’t seem absolutely necessary physically hurts me. It does. I remember how frustrated I used to be with my mom for being so freakin’ cheap. But you know what they say. Now my husband makes fun of me for not letting him spend money on anything.

I hope I never told anyone to slap me if I ever turn into my mom.

It’s been years since I’ve done any blogging, and I thought I would give it a try once again. Now that we have our own house, I have found myself trying so many different decorating ideas which I found in blog world in the past few months. I often tweak projects to suit my own needs.. and sometimes I even come up with my own things, which I would love to share with those of you who might find it useful!

Between my 11-week-old son, messy husband, and now also a cat to take care of, I don’t know how frequent my posts will be– but here’s hoping I will find the time!