Friday, February 16, 2018

Stuffed Pistachio Pizzelles

"Courtney, you are so extra."

I married into an Italian family. Pizzelles are, simply put, a holiday/celebration/snack staple. It's like bread and oil. If I don't have bread and oil within the first 15 minutes of a meal... I get nervous. Likewise, if there are no pizzelles on the cookie table, somethings up, and we should have a family discussion. And while most pizzelles are served flat and crispy, you can get all "bad-n-boujee" and fill them with just a tad more effort. I promise that these little show stoppers are the easiest and most delicious things to make, provided that you own a pizzelle press. It's even easier if you get your cream, eggs, and butter delivered right to your door.  If you happen to live in the PNW, use Smith Brothers Farm products. Quality ingredients make the difference. Shout out to Smith Bros and our milk man, Brandon, for making our busy milk-loving-family-lives much, much easier.

Basic Pizzelle Recipe:
Makes 25-30 

  • 3 eggs 
  • 2 tsp pistachio extract (Feel free to experiment with whatever extract you want. Traditional Italian pizzelles use anise extract or seed)  
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean* optional (but boy does it taste amazing)  
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour 
  • 2 tsp baking powder 
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted 
  • 3/4 cup sugar 

Melt your butter and set aside to cool.  Sift flour and baking powder. In a large bowl, beat eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla and pistachio extract, then add the melted butter. Your butter should be lukewarm to avoid scrambled egg pizzelles. Add the flour to the egg mixture and stir. Your batter will be stiff and should be dropped by teaspoonfuls in the center of a preheated press. 

Depending on how "done" you like yours, they'll take 1-2 minutes to brown. I recommend troubleshooting your first batch. You can set a timer, but, most modern presses have a built-in timer, much like a waffle iron. Take the pizzelles out with tongs and place on a cookie rack. 

For a little more spunk, add powdered sugar once they have fully cooled and serve. 

Quick tips: 
  • Use spray oil to keep the mixture from sticking. 
  • Use an actual teaspoon to drop batter.
  • Batter can be refrigerated up to 3 days. 
  • You can add food coloring. 
  • Be sure to firmly squeeze the press handle for perfectly thin and crisp pizzelles. 
  • Store them in an air tight container. 
  • If you wish to stuff them, carefully take the hot pizzelles out and roll them IMMEDIATELY into cylinders. I just use my fingers and I have my 10-year-old kitchen assistant hold them in place for a second. The pizzelles will be hot and you must work quickly. You won't be able to shape them if they cool even a little bit. Luckily, they keep their shape within seconds of rolling them. 

Pizzelle Filling: 

1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened 
1tsp vanilla extract
1/2 can of sweetened condensed milk 
8oz of Cool Whip or Freshly Whipped Cream 

Whip cream cheese, vanilla, and condensed milk together until smooth. Carefully fold in the Cool Whip or your fresh whipped cream. Add to piping bag (a ziplock bag works too) and fill your pizzelle cylinders. Top with powdered sugar, crushed pistachios, berries... you name it.  Keep them refrigerated until it's time to serve. 

Friday, February 2, 2018

Where's the Beef?

My oldest has watched one too many Youtubes on the horrors of our meat farming industry and decided to go vegetarian, cold turkey. No pun intended. Me being me, I'm up for the culinary challenge and will be troubleshooting this lifestyle with her. I did the paleo thing. I can do the Portlandia thing too, right? I also like to pickle things in repurposed Ball jars. I'm one step away from hipster. 

 Let's start off with an easy recipe that you can make a ton of, and, tastes pretty damn good IF you prepare it like this. The Mexican chiles give it this excellent smoky depth and perfect heat. Top it with a enough tortilla chips, cilantro, avocados, cheese, and sour cream and you almost can't tell there's no meat.


Recipe. Serves 4-6 

1/2 package veggie crumblers (yes, they make these)
1 dried Ancho chile
2 dried Guajillo chiles
1 tsp Mexican Oregano
2 tsp smoked paprika
3 cloves garlic
1/2 roasted red pepper (from a jar)
2 tsp chili powder
1 can black beans
1 can pinto chili beans
1  lemon
1/2 cup water
1 bay leaf
1 medium onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1/2 cup frozen yellow corn
Handful of mixed greens
S&P to taste
Olive oil

Soak your chiles in hot water for 10-15 minutes. Place them in a bowl, boil water in the kettle and pour the water over them. Use something heavy to keep the peppers from floating to the top. You want them good and hydrated.

While they are soaking, add oil and sauté the celery, onions, and bayleaf in a pot on medium heat. After a few minutes, when they have softened, add the veggie crumblers, paprika, and chili powder. Turn the temp down to low heat.

In a food processor (my NutriBullet works brilliantly for this) blend the soaked chiles, garlic, oregano and red pepper. If it's too thick, add some water.

Crank your range temp to medium-high heat and add beans, green peppers, greens, corn, water, 1/2 lemon and the blended chiles to the crumblers. Taste it. See if it needs some S&P love. Transfer that to a small crock pot and let it it stew on a low setting for a few hours. When it's time to serve, fish out the bayleaf, add the other half of the lemon juice, and more S&P, if needed.

Try it and let me know what yinz think!

I reckon the crumblers would be good in my marinara, too? 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Dieting During the Dot: Supplements for PMS

Hormones. They are capable of making you look and feel like an irresistible, youthful, selfie-taking runway goddess of power and poise.

They are also notorious for transforming you into a hairy, half-starved, Viking Cow of Despair.

Now that I am in my mid thirties, I notice these "symptoms" far more than I ever did in my twenties. Trying to stay on the nutritional track when we are preparing to surf the crimson tide, well, that's when you can (and will) succumb to the powers of ass-sitting, wine, and Doritos. And while it's true that our bodies burn extra calories during PMS, it's not enough to compensate for those Pop Tarts you just crammed down your throat after work.

Lucky for you, I have found a few supplements and products that help me calm the Half-Starved Viking Cow... and they may just help you calm yours? I've been taking supplements BEFORE Dr. Oz made the main stream. 

Click the picture for a link to the Pinterest pin with over 6.5k pins

This is the part where I tell you that I am not a licensed nutritional anything, and you must use your best judgement when testing these products. I'm just the Guinea Pig. Always give the family practitioner a heads-up about your supplement experimentation. Tell her I said, "Hi." Remember: Supplements take time to work. It's not magic. Give them a few weeks. Likewise, what works for my inner Half Starved Viking Cow, may not work for yours.  

I decided to stop taking these supplements all together for two months. My husband, who happens to be Cpt. Pessimism about things holistically related, said he didn't think it was plausible for these to be doing anything; Which is code for, 
"You're still a bitch, Kert. Stop kidding yourself." 
Okay. Maybe I'm imagining all of this "relief?" Game on. 
I stopped taking them. All of them. And it was hell. Easily had the worst PMS/ periods in my life. He retracted his argument after this experiment was all over and done with. Trust me. 
These supplements DO help. Now... if this heifer could get a salt lick loaded with estrogen, that would be terrific. Until then, I do this: 

Flaxseed- Tame the Hungry Beast 
Flax is a phytoestrogen, or, a dietary estrogen. They aren't the real biological thing, but, phytoestrogens are comprised of plant compounds that our endocrine system accepts. Long story short: The consumption of flaxseed, especially during the dot, influences estrogen metabolism.

Lemme break it down for you: Much like a Donald Trump polygraph test, our estrogen levels are all over the damn place during PMS. When estrogen production plummets, that's when ovulation is over, and our period starts to kick-in. You probably notice that by the first day of your period, you start to feel better? The 7-14 days in-between can be rough... that's where Flaxseed comes into play.

Flax helps to fool your system into thinking it has the estrogen it needs to soothe the savage beast and relax the food cravings. I like to incorporate as much whole flaxseed as I can- Food and smoothies. Flaxseed also happens to be a plant-based protein with antioxidants that slow the aging process. Win/win. Feel free to google it. Can't go wrong with this stuff. Want a great recipe that curbs craving as has a good amount of flax? Try my Whey Protein nuggets: No added sugar, 240 calories per serving, 5g of protein, and loaded with dietary estrogen.

Magnesium, Magnesium, MAGNESIUM!!! "Soothe your Swole, bruh."

I cannot stress this particular supplement enough. Magnesium is arguably the most underutilized mineral in the human body.  I take one erry-damn-day. During the dot... I take two. Why? Glad you asked.

My red blood cell levels are extremely low during this time. In fact, most practitioners agree that just about all PMS-ers red blood cell levels are low. Our bodies go through a lot during this period-thing. Don't down play it. We have a reason to be bitchy. The drop in cell production means cramps, back aches, bloating... you get the picture. Magnesium is a tried-and-true muscle relaxer and mood enhancer. It "soothes my swole" and my racing brain. Likewise, it helps me sleep and helps digest the food in lieu of being stored as fat. That's right, magnesium is a natural fat blocker. Particularly belly fat. And chances are pretty high that you aren't getting enough. Magnesium is ranked as one of those minerals that most adults are not getting enough of. Mind you, not all Magnesiums are made the same. I've narrowed it down to the two that help with dieting and strength building.

Magnesium Chelate: Higher absorption rate for active individuals.


Magnesium Citrate: A digestion support super star.

I tried the higher absorption mag and found that, while it helps me fall asleep and relax faster,  it gives me a stiff neck and a headache when I wake up. Feel free to be your own guinea pig on this'n. Again, my body is different than yours.

Before the dot, I take 650mg (two 250mg pills + my multi vitamin) every day leading up to the first sight of spotting. When my period starts, I go back to my normal dose of 400mg. According to my doc, if you are below a 6 on the red blood cell test, you are deficient. If you don't want to go through all of the blood testing, ask yourself: Are you tired, angry and sore? Do you eat a metric shit-ton of super green things a few times a day? If you answered yes and no... get some magnesium.

Likewise, after a serious workout, our muscles are drained. You may want to consider a magnesium soak. Get yourself a bag of Dr. Teal's epsom salt, run a nice hot bath, put a cup or so in... and relax. The body soaks up the magnesium and that hormonal backache will thank you for it! You will sleep better than ever. If your estrogen levels are heavier than a Sam Smith ballad, I have another thing to try.

Melatonin's cure for the sleep deprived PMS-er. 

I have one hell of a time sleeping when I'm PMSing. This stuff is gold when it comes to helping relieve my IBS: Irritable Bitch Syndrome.

In addition to magnesium, I use extended release melatonin during my PMS insomnia. I have tried the regular stuff- not the same. I wake up by 2am.

Extended release is the way to go!

When I toss and turn and don't get enough sleep... my PMS symptoms are off the chain. Naturally occurring melatonin levels are, you guessed it, super low during PMS. Once again, menstruation takes a lot out of the female body. All this hormonal stuff takes a toll on us that only gets agitated with age. Melatonin is an excellent example of an aging hormone, as it decreases in production as we get older. What exactly is melatonin and just who the hell figures this stuff out?

Melatonin is a brain hormone/antioxidant that is... well... fueled by light. Crazy right?

Stay with me.

Humans have this thing called a circadian rhythm. It is your inner clock. Exposing yourself to too much bright light at night, or not enough during the day, drops your melatonin levels. As we discussed earlier, red blood cell counts are low during PMS and those red blood cells help that melatonin flow. Low red blood cells + low melatonin = no sleep for Kertney.  That's where a melatonin supplement comes in handy.

Sleep is also a key component to successful weight management. When you are well rested, you can accomplish so much more and you are more apt to stick to the script. I do, however, end up feeling a tad groggy the following morning when the alarm sounds, but, it wears right off.  Sleep is a CRUCIAL element for maintaining a healthy disposition. Insomnia is a key contributor to depression and anxiety. Two things that those PMS hormones love clinging to.

St. Johns Wort Cures the CrayCray. 

I'm a transparent broad. I will tell you how I feel and I will always give it to you straight-up with a
touch of sarcasm. Before the dot, however, there is no humor. Only despair. I am an emotional PM Mess. I am angry. I am sad. I am forgetful. I am anxious. I am quiet. I am loud. I am all over the goddamn place.

Seven days before the dot, I will straight-up overanalyze all of the conversations I have had that day, the day before, years past,  and scrutinize all of things that I have absolutely no control over. Social media becomes a judgmental outlet of contempt for yours truly and I will twiddle my thumbs about shit that I would never care about post period. I am a mess. And if any of my crazy sounds like your crazy... This is where Natural Xanex comes into play. And boy does it help.

St. Johns Wort is something that I take ONLY during PMS.You are probably wondering why I didn't just get evaluated for BCP or antidepressants?

I have taken birth control pills for PMS. I have taken antidepressants for PMS. They make me tired and fat. I gained 10lbs after less than two months of antidepressants. I did not have the will to do anything. Didn't care. And that's not good. We should all have a good, healthy dose of self awareness. I take one in the evening, only during PMS. Antidepressants can be a game changer- both good and bad. St Johns Wort is my natural mood enhancer. I use something else, too...

Synthetic Progesterone

As previously stated: I no longer need birth control. I do not like birth control. And however much it soothes my savage beast, it turns me into a hunched over TWD character, thus killing Kertney, and her libido... much like Negan is gonna kill Maggie. (Yeah, I called it) No bueno. If you have taken other roads to prevent pregnancy, and the pill is no longer beneficial, try some pretend estrogen cream. It really, really does help. A bat named Lucille may do the trick, too. (Oh no she did'n)

Natural progestin is, once again, a plant based hormone. A synthetic hormone. It helps to ease mood, cramps, water retention, headaches,  sleep, anxiety, menstrual cycle regularity and hot flashes... it's the holy grail of Hormone Replacement Therapy. And no, all HRT isn't bad. It all depends on the hormone. And this one happens to be fake. But the body can't tell.

Hormone replacement therapy got a bad rap back in the early 2000's with breast cancer dogma. Like I said before, synthetic progesterone is different. All hormones are not created equally. This plant oil cream regulates the thyroid gland, balances out estrogen, and is safe to use, especially if you aren't into swallowing supplements. I slather this stuff on after a shower and ONLY during the week(s) leading up to my period. If you have a smart phone, get yourself a free ovulation/ period tracker app. Yes. There's an app for even that. There's the ever popular "cervical mucus" calculator, so... you can... uh... I got nothing. I'm sure it's a baby-making-thing.  nyway, get yourself one of these apps and it will track your periods for you, so you can prepare for your PMS fueled pantry pillage and when to use your PMS cream. Better yet, make your significant other get the app so there's no excuse for them to question your... um... behavioral influx.

How do you know if you need it? Estrogen dominance has all of the tell tale symptoms: bloating, tender breasts, mood swings, cramps, backache... you name it. And if you are nodding your head to all of this right now, shaking your fist to the ceiling, while crying into your chardonnay, licking the Cheetos fuzz off of your fingers... this is the lotion for you.

Sweat the Bitch Out

Last but not least... EXERCISE!! Seriously. I want you to bitch all the way around the block, in the car on the way to the gym, or cuss me out during Mixxedfit or in the squat rack.  I guarantee that you will feel better once you release those serotonin hormones during some cardio. Sweat that hairy, viking cow right on out of your body. Be sure to drink a ton of water and watch your sodium intake. You will bloat like crazy if you don't. If you just don't have the energy to do so, try a few of my tricks to get you up off of the couch. 

 Trust me on this viking-thing. My sis did a DNA test. Turns out my Viking rage is inherited.  So, I am a natural expert. In the meantime, I'm going to eat a few phytoestrogen laden banana nuggets and pluck some hairs off of my chin... or I'll braid them? Either way.

Cheers, hons!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Roasted Red Pepper Crockpot Marinara

The thing about store bought marinara is that most varieties are loaded with bullshit: sugar, preservatives, salt, salt and more salt.

Make my marinara. It is clean, fresh, vegetarian, and it tastes amazing. Add the remaining sauce to some glass jars and stick them in the freezer until you need them again. You'll never need store bought again. You won't want it. I got all of my ingredients at Trader Joes. Cost me all of $6 to make at least 3 jars of organic (yes, I used that word) marinara.

  • 1 large 12oz can of whole tomatoes 
  • 1 Small can of tomato paste
  • 1/2 jar of roasted red peppers
  • 1/2 can of water (use the tomato can)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 heaping tbsp raw sugar or 2 tsp Agave Syrup 
  • 4-5 cloves of freshly peeled garlic (whole clove, not pressed) 
  • 10 fresh basil leaves
  • Pinch of Fennel seed *optional, but it gives the sauce a beautiful flavor*
  • 3 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp sea salt
Crockpot meals aren't rocket surgery... and that's why I love them with every fiver of my being.

It's pretty simple really. Add all of the above ingredients into a crock pot. You can do the next step one of two ways:

**1) If you are preparing this before work- let it crock on low heat until you get home. 
**2) Or, if you please, let it crock on high heat for 3 hours and low heat for 1 hour. 

Up to you. It's a "set-it-and-forget-it" sauce. Nothing to get worked up about time-wise when it's on low all day.  It all depends on what time you serve dinner. The trick to a fantastic sauce is minimal, fresh ingredients.... and letting those flavors slow cook. 

Once it's happy and warm, add the crocked marinara, in small 
batches, to a blender or food processor. 

Can't emphasize the "small batch" part enough. It will get all over the damn place. I have ruined too many cute frocks the hard way. Jussayin.

Blend/pulse the mixture well and add your "Sunday Gravy" to some mason jars for later storage.

Aged sourdough baguettes. Yeah, I can make bread and stuff.
Get some pasta going, rip off a hunk of bread,  and presto! Dinner is served, baby. 

If you are looking to preserve this with, say, the 'maters in your garden, check out my Jarring101 page AICC2 on Pinterest

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Cold Curried CousCous

No intro. Let's just get the damn recipe already.
-Fine, sheesh.

If you want something OTHER than the norm at a pot luck, make this. 
Does not disappoint and it's easy.

Serves 4-6 people 
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup Agave or Honey
  • 3 tsp Sweet Curry powder, reserve 1 tsp for later
  • 1tsp Turmeric
  • 1/3 cup diced carrots
  • 3 Green onions, sliced 
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2/3 cup Dried Cranberries
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 diced english cucumber 
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro 
  • 1/2 cup coconut shavings- unsweetened 

Make the couscous per package instructions, but instead of water, use vegetable stock. When it's boiling, add your carrots, agave or honey, curry powder and turmeric. Next add the couscous. Take it off the heat. Cover. Let it sit for 10 minutes.  

Transfer the couscous to a large bowl and "fork it around" until it loosens up. Haha... "Fork it around." God, I'm a dork.

Add your red onion and dried cranberries and another 1 tsp of curry powder. Refrigerate it for a few hours. Overnight is better. 

When it's cold, add all of the fresh ingredients: green onions, lemon juice, bell pepper, cucumber, coconut and cilantro. Fork it around some more and serve it up! 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Sweet & Tangy Edamame

Super quick healthy-ish recipe time!! 
This edamame is irresistibly sweet, tangy, and somewhat spicy... You won't be able to stop eating them. Even my kids were chowing down. 

  • 1 bag o' frozen Edamame 
  • 2 cups Canola Oil
  • 1/4 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1/4 tsp powdered garlic
  • 1 tbsp raw sugar
  • 1/4 tsp tajin
  • Pinch o' salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne or hot chili peppers
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil

Put your oil in medium sized pot and get it hot. 

While you are waiting, add all of the above dry ingredients into a separate bowl and mix them together.  If you haven't ever used Tajin before, you are missing out my friends. It is a staple in my household for all things that need flavor- chicken, rice, corn, chips, popcorn, broccoli, avocados... you name it, Tajin is delicious on it. Here are a few other recipes where Tajin is used: 

Tomatillo Hummus recipe
Zesty Avocado Turkey Sammy 

Edamame pods do NOT take long to fry:  60-90 seconds tops! Once your oil is hot and ready, fry them in handfuls for 1 minute. 

Transfer them to a few paper towels (remove some of the oil) and then into a large bowl. Add your sesame oil and your dry rub, and coat your fried edamame.  


Want a recipe that is amazing with this edamame? Try my super simple Bulgogi-style Korean beef.  Awesome stuff! 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

340 Calorie Beef: Bulgogi-style

Not gonna lie: I crave this recipe. It's so simple and cost friendly to make... and it hits the healthy spot every, single, time. This recipe is low in saturated fat and loaded with lean protein and vegetables. My sister and I get Bulgogi just about every time we go to the Korean market's restaurant side. It is sweet, smoky, and spicy...  I recommend getting all of your ingredients at the Asian Market. Excellent prices on all of your produce, sauces and beef. 

Shout-out to Paldo World in Tacoma, Washington. Love you! 

This recipe takes a whole 20 minutes to prepare and that's because you are waiting for the rice to steam

Prep time: 20 minutes
Serves: 2-4 

  • 1 pkg thinly sliced beef.  4oz- Sliced in strips. 
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered 
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chunked 
  • 1/2 tsp Salt  
  • 2 large garlic pods, crushed
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas *optional
  • 1-2 tbsp Gochujang depending on how spicy you want it (WTF is this? Chick here)

1. Start your rice. Need a recipe for that? Try my magical rice trick. It's a perfect pot of steamed rice without any measuring instruments whatsoever. Don't start the wok process until the rice is just about steamed. You want your bulgogi to be fresh and the vegetables crunchy. 

2. Rub the garlic, salt, and ginger into your sliced beef and set your wok on high heat. Work the salt, garlic and ginger into the meat like you were a masseuse. Remember to buy the thinnest beef you can buy. You will save yourself a ton of trouble by buying it pre-sliced. 

3. Once the wok is über hot, add the oil and beef. Remember Martin Yan's credo: Hot pan. Cold oil. Food won't e'stick. Sound advice. Completely cook the beef before introducing the vegetables. 

4. Brown your beef in the oil- 3-5 minutes. Add peas. You should have some brown, crispy edges to the beef. Nom, nom...

Here be the nutrition facts.
5. Next add your peppers, white onions and Gochujang- sauté well for a minute or two. We want the peppers and onions to be coated in all of the flavor... but still have that crunch. Mushy veggies are no bueno. Note: Only add 1tbsp of the Gochujang and taste it. Need more? Add it. Make this recipe according to YOUR tastebuds, not mine. If I'm coming over for dinner, please add two tablespoons. This stuff is no joke rich and spicy.

6. Garnish with sliced green onions and edamame. Serve over seamed rice. Check out my recipe for OUTSTANDING fried edamame. It has this dry rub that is as addicting as this dish. True dat.