Gingerdead Men & Book Review

Gingerbread men for Halloween

Happy Fall Everyone!  We have been busy baking for Halloween and ready to share the creation.  Sometimes we make Halloween items all week long or tag this for next year!  It is the same gingerbread recipe I make every year.  The key is to always keep the dough cold.  I put it in the freezer and fridge multiple times while cutting which keeps everything chilled.  The bonus?  No need for all the extra flour that makes cookies tough and gingerbread not so rich-looking.

But first a book review!  This book is Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil.  Yes, the book is as clever as the title!  It was difficult at first to begin since surveillance and big data are not generally topics I would pick to read about.  This book is NOT a math book but about large corporations using our data.  The author was a mathematician turned data scientist for stocks/bonds turned whistle blower.   All of her information is relevant to any of us and I think more people should really pay attention to how all the data out there is being used.

One example if of a young man trying to get a job.  He is perfectly capable and was even a student at Cornell University.  However, due to some poor judgement on some financial decisions his credit score went south.  As a result, he couldn’t even get a job at a place like Mc’Donalds because of his credit score.  Big data is being used to create massive amounts of inequality on a larger scale with no one to stop it.

Another example is of a young woman who was a well liked teacher in the school.  Since she didn’t score high on an algorithm, she was fired despite her being a good teacher.  There is about half of a chapter on grading teachers based on an algorithm.  But since they never explain the algorithm there is no recourse for getting better, trying to find the cause or any feedback into the fact:  is the school getting better because of this algorithm?

I would recommend it for anyone looking for a good read.  If you like conspiracy theories, then this might also be the book for you!

The recipe!

For these cookies I used my tried and true recipe from  Gingerbread Men.  I do not recommend using the food processor to make the dough.  A stand mixer works much better.

You will also want to use the small batch of icing.  I still have leftovers, but this will give you one piping bag worth to do all of the cookies.  I used a #2 Wilton tip to make the bones.  After doing a few skull faces, I was tired and each face came out differently.  This isn’t a bad thing – but I had 24 cookies more to go.  SO, I made eyes and a mouth instead.  They still taste good, so who cares?  🙂

Join me if you like on my other blog/website: www.mrsrileysclass.com

Happy Halloween!!!!!

Chewy Molasses Ginger Chocolate Chip Bars

Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Bars on Whisk Together-4572

Book:  What if we all had tags like at the greenhouse nurseries?  Or what if our actions and deeds had tags as well?  How different would life be?

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I was walking early in the morning at Home Depot because they had advertised half off roses, trees and bushes.  They are pretty good prices overall anyway and half off is quite a deal.  Even Lowes had some perennials for $1, but I didn’t have room in my car.  So, I head over there early knowing generally what I wanted: some bushes for the full sun part of the house, something for the shady side of the house.

The tags help a lot because I don’t know more than hostas like shade.  That’s pretty much it.  So, I go look at the pretty crape myrtle trees.  Full sun, great.  Pretty blooms, awesome.  Grows to 15-25 feet tall and spreads to 6-15 feet!  Yikes!  Not something I want for along side of my house.  But, it’s so cute and pretty.  It has such nice blooms and pretty colors!

I leave them alone and go find the knock out roses which I know would work in the front landscaping instead.

Without that tag, I never would have known what I was getting myself into.  Without that tag, I never would have known that little pretty tree would grow into a great big tree with blooms and probably wonderful planted in another part of the yard.

What if our action of talking to our friend on the phone had a tag?  A ten minute phone call had an impact of one week of happiness?  Or a meal brought to a friend’s house allowed her to take care of her child better and made a better decision that impacted the rest of their year?  Or a friend that flies across the country to stay the week and help her grieving friend who just lost her child?  It could impact how she sees the world forever.

 

Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Bars on Whisk Together-4578

 

Recipe:  These bars are a quick and easy version of my favorite Fall/Winter cookie of all time.  The Chewy Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cookie.  Yum!  It is FULL of flavor with molasses, ginger and chocolate.   You wouldn’t think that ginger and chocolate would go together…. but they do.  These bars are great because they are fast and easy with some standard winter baking ingredients.

I must warn you they have similar to the cookie in that they taste 20 times better the next day.  I am always disappointed and think I did something wrong when I try them.  Then, they sit overnight and magic happen and they taste fantastic.  So, with a little planning just try to make these at least 1 day ahead of time.  Or freeze them for weeks down the road.  That works too.

Why I like this recipe:
-Lots of flavor
-one bowl to mix
-not your standard every day bar
-fast cooking time with just throwing all the dough in a pan instead of rotating cookies

Chewy Molasses Ginger Chocolate Chip Bars
 
:
Ingredients
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup, 4 ounces) butter, melted (or sub ¼ cup Greek yogurt and ¼ cup butter)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup molasses (not black strap. Grandma's or Briar is fine)
  • 1 Tb. vanilla
  • 3 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • pinch salt
  • 1 and ¼ cup flour
  • 1 and ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray a 8x8 or 9x9 pan with cooking spray or baking spray. For easy removal, line the pan with parchment or non-stick foil. That way you can lift the whole thing out of the pan after cooling.
  3. In a great big microwave safe bowl, melt the butter. If substituting half Greek yogurt and half butter, still just melt the butter only.
  4. Let that cool for just a few minutes so it isn't too hot and won't scramble the egg.
  5. Add the egg and Greek yogurt if using. Stir well.
  6. Add the brown sugar, molasses, vanilla, and spices. Stir well.
  7. Now, fold in the flour until the batter just comes together. Leaving a few streaks of flour is fine.
  8. Fold in 1 and ¼ cup of the chocolate chips. Leave a handful (1/4 cup) off to the side.
  9. Pour the batter into the pan. Sprinkle the rest of the chips on top.
  10. Bake 32-34 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting. I advise eating them the next day for more flavor.
Notes
Recipe from Averie Cooks

 

Orange Carrot Soup

Orange Carrot Soup: Whisk Together

Exercise/Diet Update:  How I lost 5 pounds this week.

I know many readers here have subscribed or came from my “How I lost 33 Pounds…”  blog post that went live on Money Saving Mom last year in July..

It’s been a strange year to say the least.   I gained 5 pounds – which I know I know isn’t TERRIBLE.  But when it is enough weight that you can’t put your pants on, then might as well lose the weigh.  Lose 5 pounds or pay $100 for all new pants.  We’ll just lose the stinking 5 pounds.  Here’s how I did it this week:

1.  I started the Total 10 Diet by Dr. Oz.  I printed out the plan which gives you 3 smoothies to choose from, vegetable broth is unlimited, un-starchy vegetables are unlimited, 12 oz. of protein (poultry, eggs and fish), 1/2 cup quinoa and snack options.  I used the snack options on exercise days.  I really liked how he told you WHAT to eat.  It’s much simpler rather than a list of things not to eat.  Once you get into diet and exercise, it seems to me that limits and rules are actually much less stressful than “what am I going to have for dinner??”

2.  So, the vegetable broth is kinda gross.  It’s something to consume I guess.  But after all the hassle, I gave up on it after day 2.  Personally, I think it is included because after drinking it… you pretty much lose your appetite.  If I had to lose more than 5 pounds, I would have stuck to this part more I think.

3.  The “no wheat” rule went out the window on day 3.  I ate my 35 calories piece of toast, and I liked it!  And still lost weight.  Call me Wheat Belly.

4.  I followed the no eating rule between 8am-8pm.  Brush your teeth after dinner – it makes it easier.

5.  I lost weight fast because I did this diet in conjunction with several workouts including a 1000 calorie workout, 45 minutes on the elliptical, walking more and continuing to workout 5 days per week.  Eating 1300-1500 calories per day and burning 200-500 calories per day created a large deficit.

6.  If you can’t workout for an hour and 20 minutes, then don’t. Just workout for 20-30 minutes.  The weight will come off slower, but that’s okay.

7.  Breakfast:  I used ground flaxseeds instead of flaxseed oil in the recipes.  I loved them all and surprised how good the pumpkin one tasted.

8.  Lunch:  This was a lean protein and some salad of spinach and tomatoes.  Or Greek Yogurt.  The diet plan says to eat it plain Greek yogurt, but that’s just gross too.  So, I ate the Chobani all natural Greek yogurts with fruit.  And more tomatoes.  I hard boiled a bunch of eggs for lunches as well.

9.  Dinner:  Pretty much what we normally eat:  protein and veggies.  I made BBQ Turkey Chili in the slow cooker which is heavy on the tomato and light on everything else.  I had salmon, chicken, pork tenderloin and more eggs.  For sides, I had more salad or broccoli with some quinoa.  We ate out once at Ruby Tuesday – that is a great place to find lower calorie options with chicken, fish or steak and lots of tasty vegetables.  You can definitely taste that they do not heavily butter their vegetables or at least not the green beans and broccoli.  They taste steamed and the squash looks roasted.

Lots of green tea, coffee and lemon water!

I weigh myself after I wake up.  It’s fun to weigh yourself before and after a good workout, too (before drinking water).  Why?  Because after a good workout, I weigh less!  Why?  Because fat does NOT exit the body as fat.  Fat exits the body through about 80% carbon dioxide (breathing) and 20% water (peeing or sweat).  Which is why you can weigh less after a workout.  The 80%/20% comes from using stoichiometry – which hurts my head remembering high school Chemistry.

Orange Carrot Soup-2480 on Whisk Together

Recipe:  Well… this recipe is not on the Total 10 diet because of the carrots and oranges… But…. this soup was velvety, flavorful low calorie and zippy.   I have never had oranges in my soup!  Packed with Vitamin C and fiber from the oranges and Vitamin A from the carrots, this soup would be perfect for a summer day or good for the immune system if you are feeling like you might be getting sick.

Using 8 serving sizes as a guide, this soup has 99 calories, 452 mg of potassium, 2.2 grams of fat, 70% Vitamin C, and 193% Vitamin A.

We made this soup on the stovetop for the most part.  But, we also made a tomato basil soup cooked in the Vitamix blender that was delicious and will post that as well.  Crazy how hot it gets on the soup!

Orange Carrot Soup-2475 on Whisk Together

If you ever have questioned whether you want to invest in a Vitamix machine, do it.  I wish I had years ago.  Green smoothies here at our local coffee shop are $5.99 each.  I can make them for about 50 cents of leftover fruits and vegetables.  After a month, it’s paid for itself!  **Vitamix didn’t pay or endorse me to say this.  Though that would be nice 🙂 **

Note:  When I ate this the next day, the soup gelatinizes (is that a word?) and becomes much thicker.   Thin with broth and reheat, or eat as is.

 

Orange Carrot Soup
 
:
Ingredients
  • 1 Tb. butter
  • 1 pound carrots, finely chopped (shred in food processor or use knife)
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1-2 teaspoons ground ginger or 1" cube ginger root in ¼" pieces
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 3 oranges, peel and halve (blender) or juice (1/2 cup juice for stovetop)
  • ¼" square of orange peel (blender) or 2 tsp. orange zest (stovetop)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. For both methods: Heat up a large skillet with butter over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion and ginger. Cook until soft - about 6-8 minutes.
  2. For Vitamix blender: Add 2 cups broth and simmer until tender - about 10-20 minutes. (Depends on how small the carrots are.) For Stovetop method: Add 4 cups of broth and orange zest and simmer until tender - about 10-20 minutes.
  3. For Vitamix blender method: Add the hot vegetable mixture, oranges and orange peel to the blender. Turn it to Variable 1. Then, to maximum 10/high and blend for 45 seconds. Add 2 cups of more broth until it is as thick or thin as you like. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. For Stovetop Method: Puree in a blender, food processor or use an immersion blender. Stir in the ½ cup orange juice. Heat through over medium heat - about 2-3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Notes
Recipe adapted by Vitamix

 

Hoisin Sauce Pork Tenderlon

Hoisin Pork Tenderloin_4 on Whisk Together

Soooo… I’m thinking of starting an Etsy shop!  I will post some fun things soon.  I usually post my crafts on my personal Facebook page, but I wanted to start a shop which would make it easier for me to handle sales taxes.  “Whisk Together” is very high on Google searches and I’m trying to decide whether I should use this blog to point to the shop or not.  The products won’t be food but custom vinyl items.  St. Charles county government prevents me from selling to the public anything I cook or bake 🙁

Hoisin Pork Tenderloin_3 on Whisk Together

Recipe:  We love pork tenderloin around here for its relatively low price, easy to cook and ability to take on many flavors like chicken does.  This recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen’s “Slow Cooker Revolution 2”.  I like this book for 2 reasons:  America’s Test Kitchen treats the slow cooker as another cooking device and tries to get the best dish from the slow cooker.  Many slow cooker recipes leave a recipe dried out or burned.  Or like this book’s predecessor, the recipe takes an hour to prep when what you really wanted to do was save time in the first place.

Tired of the same old BBQ, we cooked this with hoisin sauce and toasted sesame oil.  They are very common Asian food products in most grocery stores under “Mexican/Asian” section.

Note:  If you don’t want to make this in the crockpot because of the time frame, please don’t abandon hope (all ye who enter here  ha ha)!  Simply oil your skillet (cast iron works GREAT) and sear the sides of the meat.  Throw it into the oven at 400 degrees for about 20-30 minutes or until it reaches 140 degrees internally.  We used the same method on our lemon rosemary tenderloin as well!

Hoisin Pork Tenderloin_1 on Whisk Together

Hoisin Sauce Pork Tenderlon

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 4 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 (14-16 oz.) pork tenderloins, trimmed of fat and silver skin
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 T toasted sesame oil
  • 1-2 tsp sriracha Asian chili (we omitted so it would not be spicy hot)
  • 2 scallions, chopped

Instructions

  1. In the slow cooker, dump the chicken broth and 1 tablespoon of the ginger. Stir around
  2. Add the pork tenderloin and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook on LOW for 1-2 hours.
  3. Remove tenderloin and tent under some foil.
  4. In the slow cooker or microwave, heat the hoisin sauce, sesame oil and sriracha until hot.
  5. Drizzle the sauce onto the pork. Sprinkle with chopped scallions.
http://www.whisktogether.com/2015/01/13/hoisin-sauce-pork-tenderlon/

Slow Cooker Hoisin Sauce Pork Tenderloin
serves 4-6

1/4 cup chicken broth
4 tsp grated ginger
2 (14-16 oz.) pork tenderloins, trimmed of fat and silver skin
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1 T toasted sesame oil
1-2 tsp sriracha Asian chili (we omitted so it would not be spicy hot)
2 scallions, chopped

In the slow cooker, dump the chicken broth and 1 tablespoon of the ginger.  Stir around
Add the pork tenderloin and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook on LOW for 1-2 hours.
Remove tenderloin and tent under some foil.
In the slow cooker or microwave, heat the hoisin sauce, sesame oil and sriracha until hot.
Drizzle the sauce onto the pork.  Sprinkle with chopped scallions.

Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen “Slow Cooker Revolution 2”.

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