See It All: A Guide to Exploring Maui, Hawaii

So you’re ready to go to Hawaii, and you’ve managed to decide on an island, even- Maui. It’s nicknamed “The Gathering Place”, and it has everything from you need. You just have to know where to find it all. Now that I’ve been able to explore the island three times, I can tell you what an outsider has learned about this slice of paradise. Budgets of any kind can afford an amazing Hawaiian adventure on this gorgeous island. I’ve been there 3 times, and I’ve loved every minute I’ve been able to spend there.
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Cookies That Nourish

Michael and I try to eat fairly healthy. We moved to Wisconsin last year, and apparently all the delicious cheese is blamed for raising people’s cholesterol. I think it’s more likely the deep-fried, smothered-in-gravy, food that’s absent of fresh vegetables, but what do I know?
We had been eating our usual diet plus some mozzarella sticks and fried curds because they’re amazing. However, we did a biometric screening and found out that both of us had high cholesterol levels- lame. Michael’s side of the family has a history of heart health problems, so we took action. He’s now exercising for 30 minutes every day, I adjusted my baking to include more good fats and less sugar, and he doesn’t eat any fried food or drink any pop (there’s a cherry soda here called Sprecher’s and it’s amazing, so yes I drink it occasionally- and I don’t even like regular pop!). We’re not going crazy and cutting out carbs or anything, just trying to work in more fruits, veggies, beans, and nuts.

These cookies were one of my baking experiments to make cookies with benefits. They have walnuts and flax meal for omega-3’s, coconut oil instead of butter to reduce inflammation, oats for fiber, and blueberries, maple syrup, and dark chocolate chips for the antioxidants.

*Makes 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
1 c. coconut oil, melted
1/2 c. maple syrup
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
2 c. quick-rolled oats
1 t. baking soda
1 c. flour
1/2 c. flax meal
1 c. fresh blueberries
1 c. chopped walnuts
1 c. dark chocolate chips

Directions:
In bowl of stand mixer, blend coconut oil and maple syrup until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add oats, baking soda, flour, and flax and blend until combined. Stir in blueberries, walnuts, and chocolate chips.  Scoop large tablespoons (I use an ice cream scoop) onto a parchment -or silpat-lined baking sheet. Flatten dough balls slightly as they will not spread much in the oven. Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown on the edge. Let cool on sheet for 5 minutes before placing on wire rack to cool completely.

*An Anna Original*

The Science of Lemon Meringue Pie {Crust}

I’ve been working as an Associate Scientist for a year now. My passion is still in product development, which I’ve been able to focus on for the past five months. Food science is still a strange word, and negative associations abound (what are you doing to my food??), but it’s ultimately about understanding food ingredients and how they interact with each other and the environment. To increase the common hobby baker to some of the science behind traditional recipes, I’m starting a new series about ingredient interaction and troubleshooting tips along the way. What better place to start than the simple-seeming, overly-complicated lemon meringue pie? This is the first in a series of 3 posts, one for each component of the pie.
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Espresso Cupcakes


I’ve become pretty addicted to (good) coffee. I can never drink it in excess since the caffeine will make me jittery, but I drink a cup every morning now. That made me want to go back and take another look at this recipe, which never got the love it deserves from me.

I re-made them and focused on getting a good coffee flavor with plenty of chocolate notes. After reading about bacteria for my Food Fermentation class, this was a welcome distraction! I now have 11 credits for my Masters done, with 19 to go. And then, who knows, why not get a PhD?
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Banana Muffins

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My husband, Michael, and I are looking into buying a house. We got pre-approved and started shopping online and then with a realtor. There are dozens of available homes online, but many of the ones we were interested in were already spoken for. We had to learn to let go, and know that if it’s meant to be, it’ll happen. We may not live here in Wisconsin forever, but we’re getting tired of renting and we’re ready for our own place. We’ve been renters for 6 years now!
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Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

Do you ever find yourself kind of WANTING baked goodies, but no real energy to make them? Thanks a lot, winter.

One of my resolutions this year was to blog monthly. Some months I can get so many recipes created and others, I feel completely buried in work and school that I just can’t find the time or energy to bake. The gloomy winter days make me sleepy, and a recent change at work has me a little stressed.
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Perfect Cookies: Shortbread

ccHow is Christmas next week?? I don’t understand it. I decorate for Christmas (well, I decorate the tree while my husband does everything else), I make cocoa and fudge and drink eggnog, but Christmas just never hits me until it’s here, but it’s okay, I still soak it all in. Michael and I get each other lots of presents because we’re really just large children, and we always wait until after his birthday (the 19th) to open them. After our celebration, we’ll head down to our parents’ houses in Iowa. They only live 20 minutes apart, so that’s pretty handy, and we usually split our time between the 2 houses. This year, both our families are having Christmas on New Year’s weekend, so we’re mainly going to relax on Christmas weekend, other than some grandparent visits. I get a lot of time off work and Michael’s done with school for the semester, so it should be a nice Christmas vacation! I do a treasure hunt for the kiddos on my side, and we always decorate Christmas cookies.
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Perfect Cookies: Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip

I just got my eyes lasered on Wednesday, but I made these on Thursday. If my bleary eyes can do it, so can you!
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Laser surgery is super traumatic. I wasn’t expecting to be so stressed out. They made it sound like 40 seconds of being uncomfortable, but it was more like 10 minutes of someone messing with your eyes while you try not to hit them and run away. My stress meter was maxed out by the time they were done, and my eyes were on fire. The numbing drops weren’t very effective. I had a coworker who had it done 16 years ago, when they gave people Valium before doing it…basically, the good ol’ days!
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Perfect Cookies: No Bake Cookies

nb-cookOkay, yes, there a million recipes of this out there and they all look the same. But this one turns out soft, fudgy, not sticky, and is completely perfect in every way. And they’re even better the next day!

I had to run to the grocery store before making these tonight. Worth the effort! They’re full of fairly healthy ingredients, so don’t worry when you end up eating them in excess….
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Perfect Cookies: Chocolate Chip Cookies

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They’re uncomplicated. They’re buttery. They taste fantastic freshly baked AND a few days later. Introducing…the chocolate chip cookies of your dreams! Crispy edges give way to soft centers. No cakey textures allowed- these melt in your mouth.

It’s Thanksgiving weekend, and what better way to enjoy the time off work than to make some cookies? I just spent an entire morning baking- pumpkin pies, chocolate pecan bars, mini pumpkin cheesecakes, and fresh whipped cream are all done! I also made a batch of these to live up to my promise of weekly, amazing cookies.
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