Cooking doesn’t excite me. I’ve always felt like it is a lot of work that leads to a lot of dishes, and more often than not it seems that the cooking takes more time than the eating. I suppose that is why I’ve always enjoyed eating at restaurants so much. One, someone else cooks the food, and two, someone else does the dishes. Plus, I like the socialization of being at a restaurant!
Despite not enjoying cooking, there is one thing I love to do in the kitchen: bake! I suppose it goes back to baking “scratch” biscuits when I would spend the night with my grandma (see my grandma blog). Those experiences were always fun! Now, I just enjoy the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with baking! Throughout the year, I get my baking fill with cookies mainly and perhaps the occasional bread, muffin, or brownie. (Sidebar: I love cupcakes, but with so many cupcake stores popping up it is easier just to go buy them.) The holidays are my time to really go hog wild!
My desire to bake during the holidays can be pinpointed to November 2008. This was the year that I had my gall bladder removed, and I had to take two weeks off of work to recover. I quickly became bored, and I decided I wanted to learn how to make pumpkin bread. So, I did! Once I started baking the pumpkin bread, I realized that I enjoyed baking it more than I liked eating it. This led to me baking it for other people and the realization that I enjoy making other people happy with food.
Making others happy with food has always been a challenge in my family due to the number of diabetics, but I’ve found that with a little creativity and ingredient substitutions I can make No Sugar Added (I don’t like to say sugar free because ingredients like fruit make it so natural sugars are present, and Splenda For Baking actually has some real sugar in it). One of my favorite diabetic friendly recipes is my no sugar added peanut butter pie. My aunt gave me the initial recipe, but I tweaked it to not involve cream cheese (YUCK!). Are you ready? This is the most simple peanut butter pie ever: graham cracker pie crust, sugar-free chocolate pudding cups, natural peanut butter, and light whip cream. I use the light whip cream instead of the sugar free whip cream because of the immense fat content in the sugar free. The light is low enough in sugar that many diabetics can have a tiny bit of it. All you do is mix the pudding, peanut butter, and whip cream together and put it in the pie crust. Ta da…no sugar added peanut butter pie! This pie made my Thanksgiving table this year!
This past Christmas I had the brilliant idea of making everyone their favorite desserts as part of their Christmas presents. The first dessert was one that I’ve made for several years for my dad. It is a sugar free pecan pie. To get the recipe, I just Googled “sugar free pecan pie recipe” and found a great one on http://www.tablespoon.com. I’ve made it several times now, and while the ingredients can be costly depending on the current nut prices, the end product is worth it!
My mom’s favorite has always been Black Forest cake. I’ve looked at several Black Forest cake recipes over the years, attempted one that was a TOTAL disaster, and finally came up with a compromise to her favorite desert that I was okay with presenting to her. This past Christmas, I took a Sugar Free Pilsbury Cake Mix and baked it per the instructions on the box. I’m not sure if I used the Sugar Free Chocolate or Sugar Free Devils’s Food off the top of my head. Once it had cooled, I took the corer that I’d never used before and punched a bunch of holes in the cake. Each hole was then filled with a canned cherry (no sugar added!) or two and just before serving, I covered it in whipped topping. My mom was satisfied with it, but I’m still open to an actual EASY Black Forest cake recipe if one exists!
For my aunt, I baked brownies. Since it was Christmas, I went with the good stuff! Well…the good stuff if you like brownies. Have I mentioned that I don’t really like chocolate? In fact, I don’t eat a lot of things I bake…I just like to bake! So what is the good stuff? Ghiradelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix! Find it in a Wal-Mart near you! Sorry, but this one is not No Sugar Added.
The best thing from this last Christmas was that I finally learned how to make Mr. Kisby’s favorite: buttery spritz cookies. For years I’ve ate the spritz cookies that his mom made, and I never wanted to try them because I was sure that it would be complicated. Determined to give it a try due to my pregnancy and wanting to be able to make LilKsby spritz cookies one day, I finally broke down and learned how to make them. Once again, I turned to Google to find the recipe and then Mr. Kisby’s mom to verify that the recipe I found seemed accurate. This time I used a Taste of Home recipe that was easy and delicious (not No Sugar Added)! My only negative part of this baking experience was the cheap cookie press. Somethings you really should spend more than a $1.50 on.
With the arrival of LilKsby, my baking time is kind of limited. I hope by the holidays I’ll be back to a point where I can bake for everyone again. Until then, I’m a Nestle Toll House gal! You know…those fancy cookies made by Phoebe Buffay’s French relatives!
The Great Kaysby