From the Heart

Today, I could not help but want to repost this old Valentine’s day blog. It truly is one of my fondest memories of William. Thinking back on that visit with him always makes me smile. He was the master of fun surprises.

I continue to be inspired by his amazing brave and caring energy which brings me to this weekend’s TEDx talk. Truth be told I wasn’t exactly sure what a TEDx talk was when I accepted the invitation. I just knew it would be one more way to celebrate Will’s life, so of course I said, “yes”.

Little did I know that being invited to do a TEDx talk is kind of a big deal. Little did I know just how terrified I would be as I prepared for it. In between panic attacks over the last several weeks I prepared 7 pages of my thoughts. Too much I fretted, so whittled it down to 4. I attempted to memorize a speech. Practice, practice, practice. It felt like I was jumping out of an airplane without a parachute. It felt all wrong.

Several supportive friends suggested, “just speak from your heart”. I am taking their advice and feeling less anxious. To just simply speak from the heart feels right.

To further ease my anxiety I thought it a good idea to bake cookies for all 300 people in the TEDx audience. Baking cookies is much more therapeutic than public speaking. Just sayin’. I’m bringing the original Sweet William’s Inspired and Spirited Chocolate Chip Cookie and a Salted Chocolate Whiskey Shortbread because I wanted a heart shaped cookie.

The cookie dough for the shortbread contains no salt, so don’t hesitate to generously top each cookie with a good sprinkle of finishing salt. I highly recommend The Spice & Tea Exchange Chocolate Sea Salt for its sweet smokey flavor.

Salted Chocolate Whiskey Shortbread

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon whiskey (Jack Daniel’s recommended)

4 cups all-purpose flour (King Arthur Flour)

1 cup chopped bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate

Chocolate Sea Salt or your favorite finishing salt

In large bowl, beat butter and sugar for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. On low speed, add egg, vanilla and whisky; blend well. Gradually add flour until fully incorporated. Stir in chocolate. Dump dough out onto some plastic wrap. Gather it up into a flat disk. Wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Heat oven to 350F. On a silicone mat or lightly floured surface roll dough to 1/8-1/4-inch thickness. Cut out desired shapes with cookie cutters. Re-roll dough scraps as needed to cut out more cookies. Sprinkle cookies generously with finishing salt. Gently press salt into cookie with your fingertips. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes for 1 1/2-inch size cookies or until edges brown. Cool. I made about 200 cookies with a small heart shaped cutter.

On this Valentine’s Day I hope you are surrounded by those you love most. ❤

The Best Gift For (Wo)Man’s Best Friend

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Raise your hand if you are celebrating the year of the dog. That’s right. 2018 is all about that WOOF. There is nothing like the love of a good pet and I, along with millions of others, love dogs. Looking back 3 years ago I posted a pumpkin dog biscuit recipe here.

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My Deacon loved that recipe, but pumpkin is not always readily available. After watching my daughter’s dog chow down on a few fallen apples in the yard last fall I wondered about using unsweetened applesauce in place of the pumpkin. Turns out that dogs love apples and unsweetened applesauce is safe for dogs to eat.

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So in addition to celebrating your favorite humans this Valentine’s Day consider showing your favorite Fido some love, too. This recipe for grain free dog biscuits is dog approved and with only 5 ingredients super easy to make.

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Honest and loyal, Dogs are the truest friends and most reliable partner. Could you ask for a better Valentine? 

Apple of My Eye Grain Free Dog Treats

3/4 cup buckwheat flour (did you know that buckwheat is actually a fruit seed related to rhubarb—me neither, but it is true)

1/2 cup almond flour

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 egg

1 tablespoon peanut butter

Mix all the ingredients together adding more buckwheat flour if too sticky. Roll out to a 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Bake on a parchment lined cookie sheet at 300F for 30 minutes. Turn each biscuit and bake 5 more minutes. Cool. Makes about 2 dozen.

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Wild Blueberry Frozen Hot Chocolate Smoothie

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By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the Wild Blueberry Association of North America and I am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

What I enjoy most about recipe challenges are the memories they conjure up. That creative process of mixing something new and different comes from a place deep in the heart and brain. It usually hits about 3 am and reminds me that those I love and where I have been inspire my food.

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From the time the kids were small we vacationed in Maine. In summer, we joined friends at Pine Point beach searching for and discovering sand dollars. The wild wonders of Mother Nature enticing the kids to dig deeper into the numbing cold ocean water always did my heart good. Then pre-Christmas shopping in Freeport, Maine enjoying a cozy fire at a quaint B&B and in spring and fall girls’ weekends to Ogunquit and guys’ fishing trips to Rangeley, respectively. Suffice to say lots of wonderful family time was spent in the Pine Tree state.

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William & Caitlin 11/26/1991

If nothing else entering recipe contests brings some good food to the table and a reminder of just how blessed I have been with great memories. It’s been a real pleasure creating this final entry for the #wildyoursmoothie recipe contest which could potentially bring me back to Maine to learn more about wild blueberries. Here is what I already know.

  • wild blueberries have been growing in Maine and Canada for about 10,000 year
  • wild blueberries have 2x the antioxidants of larger cultivated blueberries
  • wild blueberries are part of a heart healthy diet and may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome
  • wild blueberries have a well balanced sweet-tart flavor

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In my latest inspired recipe wild blueberries and dark organic chocolate blend with coconut water to make a powerful antioxidant drink that will energize the day or replenish after a work-out. Freezing the coconut water into ice cubes is a bit of flavorful genius that allows that sweet-tart balance of the wild blueberries to shine through the richness of the chocolate. Share it with someone you love. Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Wild Blueberry Frozen Hot Chocolate Smoothie

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 ½ cups pure coconut water

2 ounces organic dark chocolate (72% cacao or greater), chopped

1 teaspoon dark unsweetened cocoa powder or raw cacao

3 pitted medjool dates

1 cup frozen wild blueberries, plus additional for garnish

2 heart shaped marshmallows, optional

Pour 1 cup of coconut water into an ice cube tray and freeze. Place chocolate and cocoa in a small heatproof 1-cup measure. In a small saucepan bring remaining coconut water to a boil; pour over chocolate and let stand 1 minute. Stir mixture until chocolate is melted. Add dates to hot chocolate and let cool to room temperature. In high-speed blender, combine cooled chocolate-date-coconut water mixture, frozen wild blueberries and frozen coconut water cubes; blend until smooth. Pour into serving glasses. Garnish with marshmallow and wild blueberries, if desired.

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Frozen at harvest to lock in nutrition individually quick frozen (IQF) wild blueberries are available all your round in the frozen food section of the grocery store. Check the package for the word “wild” or feel it for pea-sized wild blueberries to insure you are buying wild and not cultivated blueberries.