Three Day Free Day

In an effort to not be too perfectionist about my nutrition, I will usually allow myself a “free” meal or treat once a week.  Usually it’s not too crazy, just something that usually doesn’t really fit into my nutrition plan because it’s really carb-heavy or higher in fat.  That something can be a piece or two of pizza (depending on the size of the piece), a cupcake or two, or a serving of a mayo-based salad.

I’ve learned from doing Body-for-Life in the past that a free day to me is ultimately my downfall.  I could easily undo an entire week’s worth of work in one 24 hour period.

My biggest hurdle in losing weight and keeping a healthy diet is self-control.  It was not unheard of for me to finish off a bag or chips, or eat half a pizza, or plow through a bag of cookies.  Because of this (and sadly my kids have the same tendency) I rarely keep junk food in the house and keep even tortilla chips to a minimum.

Well last weekend I made a sheetcake for my brother-in-law’s party and I had a decent amount of icing left over and I promised the kids I would make cupcakes.

I totally didn’t think that through.  One recipe is 24 cupcakes.  My husband doesn’t eat them so that works out to 8 cupcakes a person.  Now I have to give myself some credit for not just eating all eight in one sitting.  I did manage to spread it out over three days.  But those three days I didn’t track my food and I actually rebelled a bit against even paying attention to what I ate.

You know what?  I didn’t die, gain 20 pounds in three days, or go on a complete food bender.  I had cupcakes for breakfast for three days and then had some salty snacks.  But I’m back.  Sure I can make excuses and blame monthly hormones or something, but you know what?  I actually showed some restraint and I’m going to celebrate that.

Perfectionism has it’s place.  It is not in living a healthy lifestyle.  If all I feel is deprived and suffer intense and intensifying cravings without giving in a little, all I am doing is setting myself up for an epic fail.  The trick to it all is balance, and not throwing in the towel and going on a massive binge all because I ate three cupcakes in one sitting.

And you know what?  I feel focused and motivated again.  These little free meals or days have their purpose.  Part of it is to allow myself to enjoy some treats, but another part is to remind myself what that food does to me and how I feel after eating it.  Honestly, I felt a little bloated and mentally I was foggier, but it’s a fantastic reminder to eat clean and healthy for the majority of the time, and that is what I call success.

 

(EDIT:  I realize this probably seems a little incongruent – or not – following a post about baking a cake!)

Emily’s Tea Party

My daughter Emily turned 12 last week and she’s having a tea party and sleepover today.

Emily's Tea Party

Getting ready for the pre-teen invasion that is currently happening required a little bit of preparation.

First I baked a red velvet cake to make Bakerella’s Red Velvet Cake Balls.  While that was in the oven I made two batches of Rice Krispie candy and pressed it into 10 – 4″ mini cake pans.  Those went in the fridge (along with an 8″x8″ pan of candy for my husband and I).

While the cake was cooling I rolled out the leftover white marshmallow fondant from last week’s cake.  I just put a light skim coat of decorator frosting on the top and flipped them over onto the fondant, where I cut around the cake so there is only a circle of fondant on the top of the rice crispy treats.   They aren’t quite up to my standards but it allowed for the girls to do some custom decorating on their own.

Krispy Treat

I rolled out the blue and purple fondant and my daughters used a flower cookie cutter to cut out shapes.  The rolled some of the white fondant into balls as well.  I showed my oldest how to affix the fondant to itself and let her get to decorating while I cleaned up.

The cake was finally cool enough for me to make cake balls.  I used a heart shaped silicone mold to shape them.

Cake Balls
Of course I sampled one…er, maybe two…..ok, ok it was three!

This morning was spent with putting together finger sandwiches.

My daughter and I decided on four fillings:  Cucumber with dill mayonnaise, prosciutto with mozzarella and basil, bacon and onion cream cheese, and tomato with provolone and basil.  Some I cut into triangles and others into squares.  I was fortunate enough to harvest the dill, basil, and cucumber out of the garden.   All in all I made 96 tiny little finger sandwiches.  They look cute and are tasty too!

Tea Sandwiches

Now it’s time to put my feet up, have a drink, and keep one ear on what is going on in the other room.

Adventures in Fondant

Every year for the past 12 years I have baked and decorated a cake for my eldest daughter (my youngest has had this honor for 9 years).  I have always wanted to try working with fondant but there were a few obstacles to this.  First, the pre-made fondant was pricey, and not always safe for my nut-allergic daughter to eat.  Second, the fondant recipes seemed too fiddly and difficult.  Thirdly, the taste of fondant detracted from the beauty of the finished product.

Some time ago, I was searching for cake ideas and somebody had used what is called marshmallow fondant.  Apparently marshmallow fondant has all the properties of standard fondant, but with a better, sweeter taste and it was easier to make (many people have the ingredients in their cupboard).

Imagine my delight when I not only found a recipe for marshmallow fondant, but an instructional video for making it using the microwave and Kitchen Aid mixer, thus reducing the mess factor.

A few days before the party I mixed up a few batches of fondant then got to work.

For a first-timer entering the realm of fondant cakes, I couldn’t have been more pleased with how easy it was to work with (it’s about the consistency of fresh play-doh) and the finished result.

Fondant Cake

For those of you who haven’t tried fondant for fear that it is too hard, or too messy, try marshmallow fondant.  It was easier than I anticipated and the cleanup was actually easier than working with butter cream.  The finished result looks very professional.  The cake sat out for a few days (you don’t want to refrigerate after covering with fondant, it will sweat, then melt) and it still looked great!

(recipe and video: Marshmallow Fondant).

Kitchen Creativity

My youngest daughter turned 9 years old today and had the best day.  They had a pizza party in class that happened to coincide with her special day.  Daddy is taking her out for a birthday treat shortly and I baked her a cake.

Becca is my ice skater.  She’s been skating for a year now and it’s amazing what she’s learned in that time.  Just today she learned the toe loop.  Don’t ask me what that is, I know it’s a jump but other than that, I can’t really say.

Tomorrow we are having family over and I need to be at the dojang in the morning, so that meant that today I had to make her cake.  Usually I make the icing from scratch but I just cleaned the kitchen and I really didn’t feel like cleaning up powdered sugar for the next two days.  So I bought a couple tubs of icing from Wilton.  Each tub says it can ice 10 single layer cakes, but I call bullshit.  That stuff could cover 10 cakes if they are maybe 6 inches in diameter each.  This cake is made from 2-8″ squares and 2-8″ circles and I used a tub and a half.  Surprisingly it’s very level.  However it is listing ever so slightly to the left.  Still, to date it’s probably the most evenly leveled and iced cake I’ve ever made.  I’d love to say that I made something in it from scratch, but no, I do not have that kind of time, so cake mix it is.    The skater is made from buttercream and sparkle gel.  I made a quickie buttercream transfer (and it shows), and was dismayed to find that the gel never really froze.  Luckily it didn’t make a huge mess and I was able to go back and fix it once I had the transfer on the cake.

For the sides I thought it would be fun to have a “snowball” border with trees and snowflakes on the side.  I decided the trees would look sort of snowflakey.

I am super pleased with how it came out and Becca absolutely loves it.  I even managed to quell the shakes when piping the lettering.

Holiday Baking Complete

The past two days have been a flurry of getting ready for Christmas.  A lot of the time was spent in the kitchen.  I made a few different types of cookies, peppermint bark and cheesecake.  I can’t share more than a picture with you, although I wish I could.  Hope your holidays are wonderful!

2008 Cookies

Peppermint Bark

Food is Love

So….New Year’s is going to be here soon and we are hosting our usual dinner party for our closest friends. There will be about 8 of us (plus kids) and I need to start planning the menu. Last year I made individual beef wellingtons and lemon chicken (for those that did not want the beef). It was a smashing success, and I need to be careful not to set the bar too high. I thought I had that year. People were coming over, and I was still covered in flour from the pastry dough I wrapped the beef wellington in.

Did I mention I’m a rebel and it was the first time I had tried out both those recipes? I’d like to have a meal that is not only tastes phenomenal, but is a feast for the eyes as well. I’m thinking I want something colorful with a great mix of textures.

It’s funny, I don’t like the mundane, day-to-day type of cooking. Give me a challenge and I’m all over it like white on rice.

Egg Noggin’

Curses!  My mom left a half gallon (HALF GALLON!) of Oberweis egg nog.  This stuff has some serious viscosity.  Basically I drink like two ounces cut with 4 ounces of skim milk.

And it’s still heart attack worthy.

I really should find some way to get it back to her.