These days it seems like there are a million different chronic illnesses that we are battling. Autoimmune diseases, fibromyalgia, lupus, thyroid disease, EDS, Addison's, Arthritis, MS... the list goes on forever. There are two extra sucky things about chronic illness: the long drawn out fight to get diagnosed, coupled with the standard "You don't look sick" refrain.
I myself have fibromyalgia, chronic migraines, and thyroid disease. To be honest, my doctor (and here I count my blessings that I have an excellent, caring, well-informed physician who listens) and I were working on a fourth diagnosis when I asked if we could put some of the testing on hold. I mean, a girl can only take so much bad news, and no one wants to be a human pin cushion, never mind the amount of medications I take on a daily basis just to get through the day.
On a bad day it feels like I've been hit by a truck, or like that one year I decided to skip my flu shot and needed up with the flu, which turned into bronchitis which turned into pneumonia. Hot and cold flashes. Nausea. Headaches. Body aches that no amount of pain meds can touch. Fatigue so bad that I get winded just lifting my arms over my head. Plus the soul-crushing guilt that I'm not the active, outgoing person I used to be. On a good day- drop the kid off at school, run to the gym, go grocery shopping, clean the house (which I've neglected for the past few bad days), cook dinner, bake a million sweets, spend time with the family. And then fall into a coma-like sleep, because I overdid it. It is a vicious cycle, and sadly the bad days have far outweighed the good for the past year. Hence, my disappearing act the past few weeks.
This weekend I had several good days in a row, which means I got to whip up a few new recipes that have been percolating in this brain of mine. And I love to reward my family's patience with a new batch of goodies to try!
I LOVE Monster Cookies! If you're not familiar, allow me to explain. A Monster Cookie is an oatmeal cookie meets peanut butter cookie meets chocolate chip cookie- Genius! Alas, I am allergic to Peanut Butter, so I make mine with Cashew Butter. My Soft and chewy, peanut-free Monster Cookies get tons of compliments, and they always disappear in the blink of an eye.
While these cookies can go right from bowl to oven, I definitely recommend chilling the dough overnight. The flavors mesh better, they won't spread as much, and the texture will be more soft and chewy. So be sure to prep ahead of time.
Like every cookie, start with creaming the softened butter and sugars. Beat in Cashew Butter and Cookie Butter. (I use the Cookie Butter to compensate for the lack of flavor/ sugar in the Cashew Butter. You can also use Almond Butter in place of the Cashew Butter, if you prefer.) Add in your room temperature eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg. Beat in the vanilla. Set this bowl aside. In another bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients- flour, oats, cornstarch, baking soda, and ground cinnamon. (Be sure to use quick oats!)
Well, I hope everyone survived Spring Break, and didn't have too much fun dropping the kids back at school. Personally, I tried my best to hold off on the celebrating until my child was out of earshot but I admit that an ear-piercing WOO HOO may have escaped as I squealed my tires out of the parking lot.
In my defense, I was very worn out from a few days of camping (vacay photos included at the end) and honestly couldn't handle another minute of whining about not being able to play on the iPad. We were in Hana, Maui, surrounded by lush green jungle, crashing ocean waves, and picturesque waterfalls, and every 10 minutes we had to admonish one of the kids for sneaking one of our phones or tablets (brought strictly for work purposes) so they could watch youtube or play games. Thankfully mountains of sugary s'mores and a dozen rounds of Uno helped to distract them.
Alright, let's get to it. Lately I've been on a quest to replace our daily breakfast of pop tarts or Eggo's with something a tad more healthy, but I also had a craving for some Bakery-style muffins. So this week I broke down and whipped up a batch. These muffins are loaded with chocolate, and the buttermilk adds a whole new depth of flavor without being overly sweet. Its a recipe that was easy for me and delicious for the kiddo. Win- win. (I think the hubby and I ate most of these. Two dozen muffins disappeared in just a matter of days. They were seriously that good.)
This recipe is your basic two-bowl recipe. That means your flour, baking soda, and baking powder, and salt get sifted together in one bowl, and your butter, sugar, buttermilk, vanilla, and eggs get beat together in another bowl. TIP- I always add my chocolate chips to the flour mixture and toss them to coat; this keeps them from sinking to the bottom of your muffin during baking. Carefully fold the flour mixture into the buttermilk mixture and mix just until combined. Over-mixing yields a less tender muffin, so don't overdo it. Spoon the batter into prepared muffin tin. Top off with turbinado or raw sugar, which is much more coarse than granulated, for that Bakery-like finish. Bake at 375 for about 13-15 minutes. Turn off oven and let muffins sit in oven with door open for another 3-7 minutes before removing. These took maybe 30 minutes, start to finish. Best served hot with a cold glass of milk.