Fond Flax Memories

As it is nearing the end of January I’m curious to know how many of you made New Year’s Resolutions for 2010 and how many of you have stuck to them.

Ah, yes... New Year’s Resolutions. A tradition that invokes everything from delight to resignation, has a success rate akin to winning the lottery and has the power to launch feelings of guilt, failure, and dark humor in a flash. And yet every year, millions of us are drawn to the ritualistic hope of achieving some magical outcome as if, perhaps, FINALLY, we will triumph over a stubborn habit or fear that has resisted our most sincere efforts in years past.

But, alas, the annoying reality is that the payback for this year’s toil will probably be no different than last, or the one before that (sigh). Research over the years has concluded that about 80% of all New Year’s Resolutions are broken by January 31st. If that resolution had something to do with health and fitness, 90% will be history by January 15th. By the end of the year, less than 5% of us will have persevered with our resolutions intact (mildly depressing!). No wonder there are so many people who don’t take this annual ritual seriously to begin with.

Knowing that I wanted to beat the odds, I wanted to challenge myself with something I knew I could do. As I have recently noted, it is simply impossible for me to stay away from sugar so the idea of giving it up as a means of losing weight was out of the question for me. I was, however, willing to adjust some of my eating to include more nutrients in my diet. Thus, I bought a box of flax seed. That box was going to be the beginning of a new journey for me. That box represented a new year, a new me.

Flax seed is really good for you. “It may be tiny, but it’s mighty: The flax seed carries one of the biggest nutrient payloads on the planet. And while it’s not technically a grain, it has a similar vitamin and mineral profile to grains, while the amount of fiber, antioxidants, and Omega-3 fatty acids in flax leaves grains in the dust. Additionally, flax seed is very low in carbohydrates, making it ideal for people who limit their intake of starches and sugars. And its combination of healthy fat and high fiber content make it a great food for weight loss and maintenance -- many dieters have found that flax seed has been a key to keeping them feeling satisfied.” Perfect! This is something I want in my diet and especially something I want to be apart of my New Year’s Resolution. I had found what I was looking for.

The wonder of flax is that you can add a tablespoon to your oatmeal for breakfast or the batch of muffins you're making for your afternoon tea or a meatloaf for dinner. There won't be a difference in flavor and you'll know that you're getting an abundance of nutrients.

So, determined to be "healthier," one morning I faithfully opened my brand new box of flax seed and added a tablespoon to my typical breakfast of yogurt, cottage cheese and fruit.

To date, that was the worst breakfast I have ever had. I practically had to plug my nose (which reminded me of a horrible cleanse I once did... well, attempted - I don't think it counts if the cleanse only lasted for the morning) while I ate these so called healthy mixed grains and nearly gagged with each bite. I couldn’t drink my coffee quickly enough after each bite reminding myself of the omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamin B and magnesium I was providing for my body. Persevere. Persevere. Persevere. Blah.

Later that day I was explaining my predicament to my mom who’s a huge advocate of flax.

It was determined (thanks to my wonderful mother and Google) that I ate rancid flax seed.


My rancid flax has been tossed and just the thought of it makes me cringe and my arm hairs stand on end. It is most likely that I won’t have a box of flax seed sitting in my pantry anytime soon.

If you’re looking to buy or consume flax in the near future my advice to you is smell it. I’m told it has a gentle nutty aroma and even though I did smell it and it smelled horrible, I ate it. If it smells bad don’t eat it. Save yourself. If you have good flax, store it properly.

So, as another year passes it looks like another one of my New Year’s Resolutions hasn’t made it; I’m in the dreaded 80% and have 11 months to wait until I start this whole process over.

I have a feeling 2011 will hold great things for me as I’ll hopefully be able to eat flax again and maybe bake those cranberry flax muffins I was eyeing.


Zucchini & Cinnamon Loaf

I know, you can't always judge a book by it's cover but I happen to judge recipes by their pictures. It defines them. It's the recipes first impression. It's rare that I would ever bake something without seeing a picture. Alas, here I am. Frustrated. I cannot capture the wonderful moist deliciousness of this loaf to share with you, to show you, to tease you. So if you're anything like me you're going to have to be brave. Take a leap of faith and trust me when I say that this loaf is truly delightful.

I've been skeptical of Zucchini loafs. I mean, who uses vegetables to bake? I've gone to great lengths to find the perfect zucchini loaf recipe and I can confidently say that I have found it. The flavor of zucchini is often described as 'delicate' which means it will add little flavor to a dish, but what it lacks in flavor it more than makes up for with its lovely moist texture. That's why I chose this recipe. The cinnamon sugar crust and the glaze seemed like they would compliment each other and the zucchini wonderfully. They did. It was perfect.

Zucchini & Cinnamon Loaf
Adapted from: sophistimom


1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
3 eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups finely grated zucchini (approximately three small zucchinis)

1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 325°F. Mix together cinnamon and sugar for the crust. Butter 2 medium size loaf pans and sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar mixture, just as you would flour a pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugars and butter. Add in eggs, one at a time, incorporating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla, sour cream and zucchini.

Fold dry ingredients into the zucchini mixture, and divide evenly among pans.

Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let loafs cool completely. Carefully remove from pans.

Mix together confectioner’s sugar, cream, and vanilla, and whisk until smooth. Add more liquid as necessary to make a smooth, runny glaze. Pour over loafs.




What are Snickerdoodles and why had I never heard of them?!

These cookies are unbelievable. If you like soft, doughy, melt in your mouth cookies these are for you.

My husband has been on the receiving end of a lot of baking and he (and his co-workers) have collaboratively agreed that these cookies are a definite favorite.

Snickerdoodles could mistakenly get referred to as sugar cookies. The difference between the two comes from the use of cinnamon, which is balanced with cream of tartar to give the cookies their sweet, spicy flavor.

I must admit, I didn't expect for these cookies to be such a hit. They are so simple yet so delicious.

Consider yourself warned, these Snickerdoodles are extremely addictive!

Adapted from: Make-Ahead Meals


2 & 3/4 c flour
1 & 1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c butter
1/2 c shortening
1 & 1/2 c sugar
2 large eggs
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper, set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt; set aside. In another bowl, cream the butter, shortening and 1 & 1/2 c sugar. Blend in the eggs at low speed. Add the flour mixture, and mix until combined.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining sugar and cinnamon. Roll 1 tbsp of dough into a ball and roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place dough on cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.

Bake for 8-9 minutes. Do not overbake - the centers will be soft, but will set upon cooling.



White Chocolate Cranberry Bars

Cranberries are quickly becoming one of my new favorite Christmas baking ingredients!

Not only do cranberries add a jolt of color and flavor to holiday tables, but these savory ruby jewels are more than seasonal fancy.

A study found that cranberries have more antioxidants than almost any other fruit, offering protection against heart disease, cancer, and the effects of aging (how's that for your daily trivia?!).

I don't know about you but that's enough reason for me to want to bake with cranberries - just think about how good we are being to our bodies!

The tangy cranberries mixed with the white chocolate and cream cheese icing in this recipe makes for a perfect treat - for breakfast, lunch or dinner... or all three ;-)

I froze a bag of cranberries (which I highly recommend doing as we only get fresh cranberries for a short period of time) so that I can make them again in the new year. I know I won't be able to wait until next Christmas to make these again!

White Chocolate Cranberry Bars
Adapted from: fat girl trapped in a skinny body


2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup chopped white chocolate

4 ounces low fat cream cheese
2 tsp butter
1 tsp orange zest
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup white chocolate, melted


Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 7-inch square baking pan.

In a medium size bowl combine flour, ginger, nutmeg, baking powder and salt; set aside. Beat eggs in a medium mixing bowl for 1 minute. Gradually add sugar, beating until thoroughly blended. Stir in dry ingredients and melted butter; blend well. Add cranberries and white chocolate, mixing gently just until combined. Spread evenly in well greased pan.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool before spreading frosting.

Mix all of the frosting ingredients together and spread a thin layer over the cooled cake. Immediately sprinkle with the chopped dried cranberries.

Melt the 1/2 cup white chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave for about 1 minute. Pour the melted chocolate into a sandwich sized ziplock bag (make sure the melted white chocolate is smooth and that there are no small chunks). Cut a small hole on a bottom corner of the bag. Pipe the white chocolate over the frosted bars. Enjoy!

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