Sweet Sandy B. Bakes

If we are ever to enjoy life, now is the time. Not tomorrow or next year... Today should always be our most wonderful day...

So, let's eat cake!

Notes on my adventure as a mom and baker and life as Sweet Sandy B...

Monday, March 26, 2012

Reliving my (fat) childhood

Do you remember this?

OK, I don't particularly either, but I remember something CLOSE to this.. More on that in a minute (it's a cheese danish for those that need a hook)

I haven't been baking much for 'sport' lately. I started working at a 'second' job (which would make it my FOURTH* job)
So I haven't been baking anything new or doing much experimenting.

In a truly fat kid moment, I was on the phone with Exactlywatt fantasizing about these delightful cheese danishes that they used to have at McDonalds when I was a kid. Not sure if I've mentioned before but I was such an unfortunate looking child. If it wasn't the frizzy hair it definitely had to be the fact that I was CHUBBY. And chubby with bad hair and two beautiful older sisters.. Forget it.
OK, back on track.
So. 4th grade. McDonalds. Cheese Danishes on Saturday a.m.'s with my dad. De-light-ful.
I wondered aloud if they still had these danishes with all the scrutiny they are under about how awful they are for you- McDonalds, not the Danishes I mean... (which I also believe. McDonalds is bad for you. Bad for your kids. I still go to McDonalds. My kids are known to eat McNuggets in Happy Meals every once in a while. I HAVE FOUR JOBS. give me a break)

Needless to say, they have stuck in my mind since. And this a.m. while Exactlywatt and I were doing our regular a.m. routine he asked when the last time was that I baked for myself. Not at work or not for an order. Um... I made a gluten/dairy free baby shower cake yesterday for one of my jobs? Does that count? Nope... hm.... yeah. can't recall.

So, after the Mooch and I had a Mama and Me morning date which included hot chocolate, hair cuts, manicures (ALL for the Mooch. No manicures for this girl. Kitchen folk are NOT allowed to have 'pretty' nails), I set about re-creating my McDonalds Danish from my fat kid years. It's not a healthier version. It's not even prettier. But it tastes pretty DAMN good.

To follow me down my glutinous road you will need:

crescent dough, jam, sugar, cinnamon, toasted almonds, butter, cream cheese, vanilla, an egg and a 9x13 baking dish. Oven at 350
In a bowl (or your KitchenAid bowl), whip up 12 oz of softened cream cheese, one egg and about 1 teaspoon of vanilla. I used vanilla PASTE because I love the vanilla bean specks.

When its all fluffy, pop open one of the crescent roll SHEETS and spread it on the bottom of the baking dish and get the jam and almonds ready too

Heres what I did, BUT, let me tell you what you probably should do

I spread the cream cheese mix then swirled in the jam and then sprinkled the nuts on top.
The 'swirling' was an afterthought after I was like- DUH, I can't 'spread' the jam on top of the softened cream cheese. Dingbat.
Sigh... YOU should spread the jam on FIRST. Then spread the cream cheese, THEN sprinkle the toasted almonds. Much prettier.
Now you can melt some butter and get another crescent sheet opened. Spread the sheet on top of your mix. And brush on the melted butter and then sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar on top of that

As I was about to sprinkle on the cinnamon then sugar, I remembered that I made cinnamon toast for the kids a couple of weeks ago when we built a GIANT tent in the living room and we camped for a whole day- literally. ate every meal in the tent, built a fire, took a NAP together (glorious) and watched Up. My favorite. I digress. CINNAMON TOAST- another fat kid recipe!! Well, to make the toast more interesting, I used rainbow sprinkles instead of plain sugar. I had some LEFT! see:

And now you can pop this in the 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes. It will get nice and golden brown and look like this

well, minus the 5 year old child lurking in the background wanting a taste...
About this 5 year old... his desire was so strong to have a taste of this mysterious cinnamon toast looking concoction that I caved and cut into the danish before it had cooled all the way. Which resulted in this...

While still delightful and gooey, creamy and melt in your mouth good... it hadn't cooled enough to really set up. You should allow this to cool to room temp before even attempting to cut into it.

Still with me? Here is the recipe
2 cans of Crescent Roll Sheets
12 oz of whipped or softened cream cheese
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 egg
1 cup of jam/jelly/preserves (optional)
1/2 cup of sliced almonds (optional)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
cinnamon and sugar to coat the top- eyeball it.

Oven at 350.
1) Spread 1 crescent sheet on bottom of 9x13 baking dish
2) Mix cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and egg
3) Spread jam on top of crescent sheet, followed by cream cheese mix, then nuts
4) top with second crescent sheet, brush on melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar
5) bake for 30-35 minutes
6) cool to room temp before cutting and serving

NOTES: to adjust some fat/calorie content you could use Neufchatel cheese, omit the egg and the almonds and use splenda or some such nonsense.
If you are trying to be a little dairy conscience, you could use the Earth Balance cream cheese substitute, and instead of brushing on melted butter, you could use an egg wash. But- there is still butter in the crescent...
If you want a plain jane cheese danish- leave out the jam and the nuts. Do whatever makes your little heart sing!

*FOUR jobs. About my four jobs. My first job is being a mom to my kids. 2nd is my restaurant job. 3rd is the business of ME and my dreams, aka Sweet Sandy B and my 4th is my latest. so yeah, I have four jobs. Yes, I'm exhausted.

in case you were wondering, McDonalds definitely doesn't have the cheese danish of my childhood. Apparently phased out circa 2002. BUT, never fear, starting this month McDonalds is starting to sell baked goods. Without preservatives. If that makes you feel any better. lol..
Damn. cheap pastries produced en masse under the golden arches. adios local bake shops.....

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sweet Sandy B can cook?

As a mother, and a single mom at that- I'm constantly thinking of what to make for dinner. I'm lucky though- my kids are easy.

By easy I mean they will ALWAYS eat ANY of the following things. Get ready, this list is gonna change your life.. ahem..:

-Mac n cheese (as long as it comes from the 'favorite' blue box. they aren't fooled by Annie's Organic Blue Box mac n cheese)
-Hot dogs (NOT soy dogs or Turkey dogs. They want the real deal encased meat)
-Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (don't even think about natural peanut butter. it's gotta be Jiff)
-Go-gurts (or any yogurt in a tube really. even stoneyfield. but they appreciate the pandering to their artistic side. as in graphics make it more palatable)
-Cereal. most any kind of cereal. this is where they do me proud. Moochie loves Rice Chex and Owen likes Life. Over Cinnamon Toast Crunch! crazies.
-Chicken nuggets- obviously they prefer those from the golden arches, but they do get down on those I bake in the oven

I'm sure you are thinking- wait wait wait. What about fruit and veggies?
My kids will promptly laugh in your face if you offer them a raw carrot. They aren't swayed by the addition of a dipping sauce or some cute description of calling broccoli "trees" or some such nonsense.

They will however eat watermelon, pineapple and apples (#1) and strawberries, apples and bell peppers- preferably red (Moochie) and both will on occasion, eat a banana

Needless to say they aren't fooled by any of that "Sneaky Chef" nonsense and I can't puree food into other foods to get them to eat it. They can taste the difference.
I've thus been reduced to plain old "Eat it because it's good for you and, hey, look at me, I'M eating it. And you know who else eats ________ (fill in the blank)? Spiderman. Spiderman LOVES _______!"

this works. Trust me! sometimes.

Perhaps you are in the same boat. I try to get in healthy and new things when possible and I do the best I can. They are healthy and not underweight or undersized. Even though Moochie is a tiny little thing, her heft is surprising. Trust me, the girl gets enough to eat.
Maybe there are other moms out there that want some inspiration. So I recorded a couple of how-to quick dinner videos and put them on YouTube.

To wet your whistle:

The other day, #1 shocked everyone and requested TUNA. after I picked up my jaw off the floor I quickly made him a tuna sandwich. And, they did drink those Kefir smoothies the other day... So, MAYBE I'm on the right path here

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Unplanned fun in the kitchen. its called impromptu, right?

Over the past couple of months, I've been playing a bit more in the kitchen at home. I think it's because I'm not getting to play as much as I would like at work but I also blame my new favorite past time.


If you are a member of the Pinterest community, you surely must know how quickly it sucks you and and literally a 5 minute 'peruse' turns into an hour. or more. maybe 2. just two. OK THREE, but THATS IT!
(I don't know if I've ever spent three on there, but I do know I mean to go to bed 'early' and next thing you know....)

There are so many wonderfully creative people in the world. I don't need a website to tell me that, but whenever I check in, I am amazed. Primarily I think, HOW DO THESE PEOPLE LIVE WITH THEIR CREATIVE MINDS?! second, where do they find the time and third, "damn... I wish I was that good...sigh" I especially love the DIY crafty type things because in my own little mind I think I am crafty. Just a tiny bit compared to some of these Martha Stewarts. People also find and 'pin' up these inspirational quotes and motivational pictures. I get down on those too.

But what really gets me are the recipes. Good LORD shut the FRONT door sometimes with these ideas. I drool and think of how I can create some of these things and make them 'my own'. From savory to sweet, quick to 25 step processes, home made from scratch to jazzed up 'box and can' recipes- they all get my attention and I LOVE it. like a love song.

Some ideas are so all consuming I must do them immediately- that's where the 'impromptu' fun comes. Others just sit in the back of my mind and as I'm making lunch for the kids, I'll recall something I saw somewhere.. once... I think... oh yeah, MAYBE PINTEREST? and then I just tweak it a little and there you go.

SO, without further ado, here are some that I would like to contribute and thank Pinterest for....drum roll please!

A "Peanut Butter and Jelly Sammich" in the form of a cookie. Yes I did. And YES, I do sell these on my etsy shop

"Elf Donuts" for Santa's elves on Christmas Eve.

These actually did not come from any sort of Pinterest anything. These are from Exactlywatt. How well does this man KNOW me? He gave me this amazing cookie cutter for Christmas, and all I kept thinking when I opened the package was- gingerbread skeletons?! the options are endless... Halloween! Friday the 13th... and, my favorite idea- wedding favors. For that couple that would rock my socks and would so 'get' the whole "til death do us part". super rad. I'm going to put these up on Etsy too.

Last, my kicked up lunch for the kids. We take our encased meats here very seriously. Hot dogs are a staple menu item and I was looking to bring an unexpected smile to their faces during lunch one day this week. I loved watching them play with their octupi (?) as they bit off one 'tentacle' at a time. It was great!

Anyhow, I can't agree w/ people when they say Pinterest is a waste of time. Because clearly it's inspired me.
I have even done around the house crafty type things- especially w/ Christmas- and it made me happy.

And frankly, that's all a girl can ask for. To be happy, every day.


I'll be adding more cookies in the very near future. My mind races daily!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Kefir Anyone?

do you see this happy child- my PICKY Moochie drinking this smoothie?! It's a Kefir smoothie. More on this in a minute..

Over the past year and a half, I noticed that my stomach had developed its own personality. Quite literally, it would speak. I didn't really notice at first what triggered the 'talking' especially because it didn't hurt. At first it was amusing. Then embarrassing. Especially when people would accuse me of not eating to cause my stomach to growl that loudly.

Case in point. My YouTube video:

Around my birthday I finally brought it up to my dr. It was more because I wanted to get my insurance dollars worth of my visit so I had a list of possible questions/topics we could tackle in the situation that my Dr. wanted to skip out of our check up after 3 minutes.

my list:
-my hair...
-my toes, specifically my big toe
-his son (went to culinary school)
-his wife (how does she put up with living w/ a chef?)
-my loud stomach

I have priorities, ok?

Anyhow. After I gave him a plate of chocolate chip cookies and the shadowing intern kept asking me questions about my eyebrows (not kidding), I said in an offhand way- "So, my stomach is really loud. It is sometimes embarrassing. I'm not sure what the trigger is, except to say it's after I eat. Not before."

In his authoritative dr. way says "it's the dairy. Stop eating cheese, yogurt and drinking milk for two weeks. See what that does for you." He ate a cookie and we spent another 10 minutes talking about them. I tell you these cookies could bring peace to the modern world! BUY SOME from my Etsy shop! (www.etsy.com/shop/sweetsandyb)

I was heartbroken. Or heart bruised at least. I LOVE milk. I'm a pastry person- I put butter in EVERYTHING. and cheese. sweet cheese- brie, blue, munster, aged cheddar, monterrey jack, colby... feta and goat, gruyere and absolutely anything in between. I LOVE cheese. I lamented my break up with dairy and was given a life raft in the form of Natalie Slater.... She suggested I try out some Lifeway products.

New Year, new ideas. Why not, right? I'm taking baby steps into this so I decided to try out a fruit smoothie first. And have my kids go along for the adventure. Plus we were having a playdate and you know how kids are like pack animals. One tries it, they all try it.
Here is what we did:

Helios Organic Gluten Free Kefir in Raspberry (Helios and Lifeway = same), raspberry sorbet (no dairy), Lifeway frozen strawberry Kefir, and frozen strawberries

into the smoothie blender it goes and...

Bottoms UP!

The kids KILLED the smoothies.

Confession. I kept taste testing the smoothie as it was blending and by nature, Kefir is a bit tart and tangy. I really enjoy that. I know my little monsters do not have the tart/tangy thing going on in their little monster palates, yet. So, I added some honey to get some sweetness, without adding pure sugar.

It was the perfect introduction to Kefir- so search some out in your local grocery store. I would say that was my largest issue- hunting down different Lifeway products. Four grocery stores later and who would have THOUGHT, my local smallville grocery store had a few options. Maybe it's not so bad here, after all (try telling that to my boyfriend though....)
Check out their website- www.kefir.com or better yet- like them on Facebook: www.facebook.com/lifewaykefir

while you are at it- you can like MY fan page- www.facebook.com/Sweet-Sandy-B