What’s Up?

So.

I’ve been gone again.

Busy.

Life happened.

I’ve been working.

Doing school.

Helping at home.

Catering my cousin’s bridal shower. (Loose use of the word “catering.”)

Attending my first birth.

Photographing my first birth.

Taking the knife to my closet.  (The old ugly stuff has to go!)

So.

First things first.  I am working at a fun little salon in town two days a week, four hours a day, as a receptionist, and cleaning.  Actually, this is the first week I have worked two days.  Which I am really excited about.  I like it.

School and life it pretty much normal, so not a whole lot to say about that, except that I’m loving school, as usual.

The shower went well.  It was great to see everybody up north.  For the dessert at the shower, I made mint chocolate brownie bites, lemon poppy seed cake, and Mom made coffee punch.  Yum.

Last night, my good friend had her sweet baby, and I was blessed to have been invited to the birth, and it pleased God to have all the circumstances happen exactly right so I could go!  I am so blessed to have gotten to be there, and it was wonderful.  She had asked me and another young lady to take some photos during the birth, which I found quite enjoyable.  What a blessing to record that special moment!

My closet has been getting too full. Not just that, but after doing the Botkin ladies’ beauty webinar, I have really been thinking about what I am wearing, and trying to look nice.  To be honest, some of my old clothes aren’t really nice.  So I have decided to start paring down my closet, then filling it with things that look nice and that will look good on me.  I emptied a whole bunch yesterday morning, which made me surprisingly slightly apprehensive?  anxious?  teary? not quite sure which.  But the first cut is the deepest, right?

So, that’s what’s been going on.  I’ll be hoping to post a full post about the shower tomorrow when I process the pictures, or at least in the very near future.  So look for that.  In the meantime, here are some photos of the closet-cleaning!

 

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The first pile to go

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One side of my closet, after the first clean-out (hopefully not the last)

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Fun new hairstyle I tried, and wore all day, and it didn’t give me a headache!  Which made me SO HAPPY!  (I usually get a headache when I where my hair pulled back, usually at the base or near the base of my head.)  What do you think?

Cousins

On Thursday my aunt and two youngest cousins on my dad’s side came down to spend a few days at our home.  There was lots of jokes, snow ball fights, games, and Nerf gun wars.  And talking.  And eating, of course.  🙂

We also celebrated Noah’s birthday while they were here, since it was last weekend and we didn’t get to celebrate it then.  Happy birthday, Noah!  It’s hard to believe that he is 15 already…

I didn’t take quite as many photos as I would have liked to, since I was still feeling under the weather.  Anyways, here are a few from their stay.

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Drake playing Hannah’s ukulele (he makes me laugh)

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Looking at books

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Getting ready to sing (I really liked how these turned out, so there are several :))

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*blow*

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Drawing for “Cranium

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We had just picked up “Cranium” at a resale shop a few weeks ago, and got to try it out this weekend!

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Smiles

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Hannah really enjoyed getting to snuggle with Lucy

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Ready for the Nerf war (or tag – I think they were playing Nerf tag)

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Their “cool-guy” poses

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These next few are just plain fun with cousins 🙂

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Hannah and Lucy snuggling again

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Thanks for coming!  And come back soon!  ❤

I’m Still Alive

Yes, I am.  Although I am tempted to say just barely.  🙂

This weekend was our annual Men’s Advance.  And it went really well (at least from my view of things it did).  I helped it the kitchen, which was great, as usual.  But it is all very, very exhausting.

Very exhausting.

And on top of that, a cold is going around our church, and I could tell last week that, although I wasn’t sick yet, I was going to be soon.  So I did what I could to ward off that cold, but I had it on Monday.

It is appearing to be a real mean one.  As in it isn’t going to let off easy.

*Sigh*

Well, I had several wonderful grain free things over this weekend, and now I have been wanting to make them, as well as several other things that I have been wanting to make, but just haven’t gotten around to.  So, instead of making a mental list (which I am probably going to forget anyway, since my brain is out of it), I am going to make a list here.

(I know.  Another food list.  But bear with me.  It is hard not to be able to make any of these things, due to no energy, and the fact that I don’t want sugar while I am sick.  So hopefully this will help me let off some steam.)

1. Quiche or egg casserole.  Probably quiche, since it has crust.  I want crust.

2. Grain-free scones.  A dear friend of mine had these at their home when we were there for brunch, and THEY WERE AMAZING.  And I put butter on mine.  ‘Nuf said.

3.  Grain-free chocolate chip biscotti.  Again, another dear friend of mine made these, and I had them while at there home for brunch.  AND THEY WERE REALLY AMAZING.  And I need some again.  I think they had walnuts and raisins in them too.

4.  Grain-free biscuits.  I got a new recipe from a friend, and it is even better that the recipe I had tried.  I need something to slather some butter on.

5.  I need to make an apple crumble.  I tried to make walnut flour, but due to unforeseen circumstances, my walnuts never made flour.  Just a moist crumble-y thing that reminded me of a crumble. 

 

So that’s that.

What are you making/craving/hoping to make soon?

Do you have a cold?

Two Cookies and Two Chilies (and a Kitchen Chore)

Today Drake and I ran several errands together.  We had quite a bit of fun, even though the errands weren’t all that exciting.  Drake’s a lot of fun. 🙂

A few days ago Meiling and I had some kitchen time together.  Mom had purchased 2 bricks of cheese, not realizing that we already had 2 at home.  Meiling and I started our time together with shredding the cheese.  We used the food processor, which, when you shred cheese in it, makes these tasty little cheese balls, which we eat with great satisfaction.  Mmmm…  We don’t usually use the food processor for cheese, since it can be a bit of a pain to clean, but this was a great excuse to pull it out.

We also worked on spaghetti, which was our dinner.  (No photos, so I won’t elaborate.)

Last on our list was to bake cookies.  We made chocolate chip cookies and flourless chocolate fudge cookies.  The chocolate chip cookies I made using our family favorite recipe, altering it to be grain-free and made with coconut sugar.  The flourless chocolate fudge cookies were a recipe was one I found online.  Right after I made it, I didn’t like them, and neither did Drake.  (Noah liked them, though.)  I tried them today, and they were much better.  It’s surprising how much difference a few days can make.

Today I made two chilies – our regular chili recipe, a slow-cooker recipe from ATK’s family cookbook, and a buffalo chicken chili I found on the internet.  It’s in celebration of my dad coming home – he has been out of town.  They (the chilies) are both really, really good.  The buffalo chicken chili is spicy, although that is a bit of a given, isn’t it?

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Bricks of cheese

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Shredded cheese

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Sisters ❤

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Chocolate Chippers

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And the other kind with a really long name

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Today – buffalo chicken chili…

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and our regular chili (BAD picture – but I didn’t feel like trying again)

What I Want to Eat When it’s February (and More!)

Hi!

It’s me, Allison!

(It feels like so long since I have been on here that feel like I need to reintroduce myself.)

I’m still here.

Really.

What’s up?

Not a whole lot exciting or new here.  Just school.  And my midwifery course.  It has been so wonderful!  I love it.  I am wrapping up (or should be – but I am blogging :)) the first nutrition module, and enjoying it heartily.  It’s been great.

A few days ago I came down with a little bit of a cold (this is starting to sound like the story of my life, isn’t it?  It really isn’t, though).  I have a little sore throat and a little congestion, and a LOT of tired.  So this afternoon I ended up taking a nap.  Hopefully it will help me feel better faster.

When I woke up, I glanced at the clock, and it was time to start dinner!  Still rather groggy, I got up to head to the kitchen.

Then Mom came in.  And she basically said, “We have all these leftovers.  I would be so much happier (and I think it would be better) if you didn’t make dinner and we just ate those.”

So I am not making dinner.  Which makes me really happy, since I am still a little groggy.

So I thought I would post.

 

I have been thinking.  (Again, I try to do this once in a while.)  About what I want to eat when I am back to eating “normal-ish” things.  After I introduce the things I haven’t been eating slowly.  And these are some of the things I have been craving/wanting/thinking about.

1.  Brownies.  A whole pan (NOT!).  There is an AWESOME looking recipe in Practical Paleo.  I really want to try it (both making and eating!)

2. Baconaise.  Again, another recipe that is in Practical Paleo.  We went to a friend’s home, and they made an AWESOME broccoli salad with it.  And I want it again.  And it might be fun to try some other things with baconaise. (Tuna salad?  Egg salad? Any suggestions?  It has to be grain-free.)

3.  Egg casserole.  And quiche.  Something different for breakfast.  I’m getting a little tired of leftover meat.

4. Cheese.  Cheese sticks.  I miss it.

5.  Sun-dried tomatoes.  I have a jar in the fridge, and I think they would be good on a salad.

6.  A faux-Chipotle meal.  Keep thinking about it.  And I really want to try to imitate their steak.  I will say it again:  I LOVE CHIPOTLE!  Especially the cheese.  Don’t ask.

7.  Zucchini linguine noodles with tomato sauce.  And cheese!

8.  Cake.  Not sure where this craving is coming from, because I usually am not that big on cake.  Maybe because I want a baked good?

9.  Paleo French toast, like I made 2 days before I started this.  It was good.

10.  Chocolate chip cookies.  Need I say more?

11.  Peanut butter cookies.  Maybe with chocolate chips added in.

12.  A peanut butter spoon.

13.  A large peanut butter spoon with chocolate chips.

14.  Quinoa.  I want it again.  This has been even longer – several months since I had it last.

15.  Cookies, in general.  I haven’t made that many grain-free cookies.  And I need some.  (Yes, I do know the difference between “want” and “need.”  This IS a need.)

16.  Some sort of really good bar thing with a bunch of ooey-gooey toppings.  With caramel.

Well, that is it for right now.

If you have ANY suggestions of things that I should make (and eat!) when I get off this diet, I would LOVE to hear!

Well, off to work on that nutrition module.

Love,

Allison

Frost. Ice. Books.

The theme for yesterday’s 6 Lenses photo was favorite book.  So I took a large stack of books and all the necessary extras out to the-trees-in-the-pasture-across-the-road to take a picture.

Now the distance from the gate to the trees seems quite long when you are hauling a wagon containing 2 bags stuffed with books, a thermos of tea (for the pictures, not to drink), a camera bag, a quilt, and a teacup, with the other hand holding the camera.  Also, the tall grass covered with ice didn’t aid my journey.

Basically, after hauling out there and back, I was tired.  And cold.

So when I was done, I went inside and started a pot of coffee.

Then I went back outside with just my camera and macro lens to take a few pictures before I went in to have my mocha.

 

These past few days have been normal, or as close to normal as my life ever comes.  Just the norms.  School.  Chores.  Dinners.  Nothing all that exciting.

Something a bit more exciting is that the first part of my midwifery correspondence course came last week in the mail.  Mom and I ordered the first group of books that I need for it on Saturday, and I started it today.  I can’t wait for my books to arrive (the earliest I can expect them is the 18th).  Oh, I am SO looking forward to reading and learning!

I am not currently planning any desserts this week – but I am hoping that we will be able to pick up another of my favorite chocolate bars (Lindt 90%).  I finished the one I had today.  It was really good.  And now I want more.

I am planning a few new dinners for later this week, from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.  We’ll see if they make it on here.  I haven’t been posting that many savory things lately – mostly just the sweets.  🙂

Oh.  I just remembered.  I will be making Mom some coffee chocolate chip coconut milk ice cream this week, and I will hopefully make Dad some chocolate peanut butter frozen yogurt.  I also owe my brother Noah a chocolate cake.  (For Christmas, I let both of my brothers choose any recipe they wanted, and I would make it for them.  Noah requested a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.  Drake wanted Brazilian Black Beans.  I think I am going to make Drake’s when I come off this diet, so I can eat it.  I really like Brazilian Black Beans.)  But I probably won’t make his chocolate cake until next week.  (I need to add all three of these things to my schedule.)

Well, that’s all for now, folks!

And now, a few pictures.  (You can never tell beforehand how long this section is going to be.)

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The frozen grass I was trying to plow through

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Frost

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I should have tried to get this shot horizontally, but I guess I forgot.  Plus, this blade of grass was very close to the ground.  And normally I am not very close to the ground.  This made photographing it rather difficult.

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Thistle

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Hate these things.  Vehemently.  I was VERY careful to walk AROUND them.

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This is the photo I posted on 6 Lenses yesterday.  Couldn’t decide if I liked the vertical one…

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…or the horizontal one better.  What do you think?

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(Said with an accent) A spot of tea!

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Throwing out the tea

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Ice is SO FUN to photograph.  It has all the benefits of photographing water, except it stays much more still.  The only downside is that it is cold out.  Freezing cold.

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There is a slight focusing difference between these two photos.  Which one do you like better: 1…

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…or 2?

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SPARKLES!

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Inspired by Lime (With a Bit of Chocolate, Too!)

When I went to the grocery store the other day, I spotted several bags of lemons and limes on manager’s special.  I purchased three two-pound bags of limes.  I was planning to make limeade.

But that afternoon I didn’t feel too well, and after I juiced them, I just refrigerated the juice.  No limeade.

Then I thought.  (I try to do this every once in a while.)  It occurred to me that a nice lime coconut sorbet/ice cream would be quite tasty.  So I searched, and found a recipe.  As usual I just used it as a basic guideline, and changed it a bit.

I ended up with a lovely ice cream.  It’s only fault is that it is just not quite sweet enough.

(I checked out a book on food photography from the library, and looked at it briefly.  It has made me try harder with my food photography.)

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Mom bought several avocados for me the other day, and as usually happens, they all ripened at the same time.  So I decided to make chocolate avocado pudding.

But when I was on Immer Wachsen, I saw a recipe for Key Lime Pie, and the filling was avocado based.  I had seen an avocado-based lime pudding recipe somewhere (I think), and I had wanted to try it.  So I did. I split my avocados and made lime pudding AND chocolate pudding!

The lime pudding was pretty good.  I made it by combining all the filling ingredient recipes (minus the Irish moss).  The coconut oil formed little chunks after I refrigerated it, which I would rather not have had happen, but it is still edible.

The chocolate pudding is better.

What is really good is if you take a small spoonful of lime and a small spoonful of chocolate, and eat them together.  MMmmm!

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Deep, Dark Fudge

So I did end up making fudge.

I had found a recipe, and was meaning to follow it.  But as I was looking at it, I thought that the sugar would be unnecessary.  Chocolate chips are pretty sweet already!  And plus, I like dark chocolate.

Then, when I was stirring the chocolaty mixture, I decided to add some cocoa powder, to make it extra dark.  And it made it extra good!

I am really pleased with how this fudge turned out:  fudgy (a good thing in fudge), deep, dark, and evil (my favorite term for great desserts, especially if they include dark chocolate).  I hope you enjoy!

 

Fudge

1 (13.6 oz.) can coconut milk (I used full fat)
3 c. dark chocolate chips (mine were 60%)
1-2 Tbsp. cocoa powder, or more to taste (optional)
2 tsp. vanilla

Combine the coconut milk and chocolate chips in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir until melted.  Add the cocoa powder, and stir until mixed in.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.  Pour into a 8×8 pan lined with parchment paper, and refrigerate overnight, or until hardened.

Remove from the fridge, and, using the parchment paper, take the fudge out of the pan.  Remove the parchment paper and slice the fudge into small-ish pieces.  Store in the refrigerator.

 

The fudge it a little on the soft side, but everyone loved it.  Meiling kept declaring that it was good, even though she hasn’t had any yet.

Well, That’s Just What Happens

I was hoping/planning to post a great post about the new year, and new stuff in the new year.

But that just isn’t going to happen.

Today, at least.

So you are going to just get this (whatever “this” turns out to be).

After reading a Paleo cookbook, I decided that I should go on a short-term stricter diet.  It consists of this:  no grain, legumes, nuts, seeds, nightshades, and eggs.  Oh, and low sugar.  And good oils.

(And all that jazz.)

I started yesterday.  January 1st, right?  Great time to start these things.

But.

I am craving sweet.

Let me rephrase.

I am REALLY WANTING something chocolaty/sweet.

REALLY BAD.

Well, I was just plain wanting something chocolaty, like a chocolate pudding.  But I don’t have any avocados.  So I was looking online for a coconut milk based chocolate pudding that doesn’t have eggs.

And I looked, and looked.  But I didn’t see one.

So I started scrolling through LOTS of amazing-looking dessert recipes.

Looking at all that dessert (and thinking about it, too) made me want it even MORE.

That’s how I ended up at the above state.  (REALLY WANTING something sugary/chocolaty.)

That’s what I get for looking at all those dessert pictures and recipes.

I guess that’s just what happens.

And the only thing that I found that is semi-fast, is all of the above free, and that I have the ingredients for, is chocolate fudge.

(My brother Drake just went over to get a drink, and picked up the tall orange cup that is often his.  He asked whose it was, but no one answered that it was theirs.  Right after he had taken a mouthful, Noah pipes up.

“Oh.  That one’s mine.”

Drake immediately spat the water out and dumped the cup,  and then grabbed his own.

It was really funny.  Truly.  You would have had to been here, though.)

So I want to make chocolate fudge.  And I want to eat it, too.

But the chocolate chips that I have aren’t exactly paleo.  Basically, they are not great.  They have whey.

BUT I REALLY WANT SOME CHOCOLATE!  And not plain chocolate.  A CHOCOLATE DESSERT!

And now let’s mix in complication #2.

My family has been passing around the flu.

Drake just got over it, Noah has it now, and two others may be coming down with it (not including me).

And I should be trying to NOT get it.

I am still thinking about bending the rules on my diet to take some Master Tonic (it has peppers – nightshades).  And I know that the sugar will weaken my immune response.  And I am still fighting to get over a cold.

Life can be a bit difficult, and crazy.

 

I think I am going to go make me some fudge.

 

Love,
Allison

Last-Minute Munchies, Milky Way Bars, and Ramblings

I had a bad case of last-minute munchies this evening (actually, I am still dealing with that, since my satisfaction is still in the oven).  I had made some grain-filled chocolate cookies the other day for a party we were going to, and we came home with quite a few left over.  The rest of my family have been eating them, and I wanted a cookie, but didn’t want to subject myself (or my family) to me, post-grain consumption.  It’s not pretty.

(I have been cheating a bit lately, having grain here, sugar there.  This is probably the reason for the bad cravings I have been dealing with.  I need to be better and stick with my grain-free and low-sugar stuff.)

So I wanted a cookie.  An easy cookie, that I could throw together in a few minutes and eat a few minutes later.  I pulled up this recipe that I had seen a few days ago, and decided to give it a spin.  I used butter instead of macadamia nut oil, and honey.  We’ll see how they turn out.  They have been baking for at least 10 minutes (quite a bit longer than the recipe directs).

I know I said I would post about the Milky Way Bars, but due to some unforeseen circumstances, I was unable to start the bars until almost dinner time on Thursday, so I didn’t post, since they were only 2/3rds of the way done.

Here’s the run down of what I did:

I found this recipe for “Silky Way Bars,” just a homemade version of Milky Ways.  I used it as my basis for creating the bars.  I then found this recipe for marshmallows and marshmallow cream.  I made it according to the directions, except that I used coconut sugar instead of stevia, and I didn’t use marshmallow flavoring oil. (I also forgot to add the vanilla, but I would definitely add that next time.  This is a common occurrence with me.)  Once it was whipped, I added the 12 oz. of melted chocolate chips.  I then poured this mixture into a well-greased 8×8 pan (next time I will just line the pan with parchment paper – this will make the removal of the bars just that much easier).  Then I put it into the fridge until it was solid.

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All hardened, and ready for the next layer

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They are quite firm, and very fun to poke

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It seemed to pull away from the sides quite easily

Meanwhile, I whipped up a half-batch of the same caramel that I used for the Twix bars (leave a comment if you need the recipe).  Actually, I whipped up two half-batches because I burned the first batch.  I only cooked it until it registered 238*F, instead of 248*F, because it heat up too fast after that.  This resulted in runnier caramel, but not that bad.  Again, add this to your pan of marshmallow/chocolate mixture, and put back into the fridge until hardened (for me, this was overnight). 

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With the hardened caramel

The next day I sliced the bars, then stuck them back into the fridge to harden for awhile. 

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All sliced

Later in the day, I melted and tempered some chocolate. (Tempering is awesome, as it makes the finished product not as prone to melt.  Usually home-dipped chocolate things melt as soon as you touch them.  If you temper the chocolate, they don’t melt as easily.  It isn’t that difficult to do, but does require patience and a good food thermometer.)  The next step was eating all the melted chocolate with a spoon dipping the bars and sticking them in the freezer to cool.  Ta da!

(Again, I didn’t take a picture of the finished product.  They looked basically the same as the Twix bars, and you can see a picture of them here.)

My review:  I thought they were pretty good, but the marshmallow part was way too rubbery for my taste.  If I make them again, I will only use 2 packages of plain gelatin in the marshmallow cream instead of 3.  I took them to church, and a whole bunch of people tried them, and they all liked them.  So whatever you want – just the way they are, they are about the consistency of a regular marshmallow, maybe a bit firmer.  If you want them a bit softer, try only 2 packages of gelatin – and let me know how it turns out!

 

As for the chocolate chip cookies that I just made – I am not impressed.  I baked them for about 13 minutes or so, but they were still raw in the center.  They have an almond-flour flavor, which may not bother everyone, but it does bother me.  I’ll have to figure out a good chocolate chip cookie recipe.  (We have an AMAZING regular chocolate chip cookie recipe, if I do say so myself, which we got from ATK, which I should be able to make to being grain-free.)

 

I need to take a break from making desserts – I have been getting a bit crazy with them lately.  I am going to try to make more savory dishes (basically, anything that isn’t dessert).  Mom picked up a few paleo cookbooks for me at the library, and I am looking forward to trying some of the recipes.  Wow, some of the recipes are SO creative! 

 

On a completely different note: I am so happy – our Cowgirl Dirt order came today (well, most of it did – one thing was backordered).  I chose a few new eye shadow samples, and I am enjoying one right now, and looking forward to the others.  I also just tried their mascara, and I LOVE IT.

Have a lovely evening!

~Allison