Light ‘n’ Easy Almond Eggnog (Dairy Free!)

I know, I know. I’m pretty much the worst blogger ever now. But hey, blame it on my job or the sequel that I’m still pumping out or the fact that right now it’s holiday everything or… well, whatever you want to blame it on, really. And then rest assured that I am indeed alive, just not quite the blogging fiend that I was at this time last year, for the moment. I always bounce back to you wonderful folks though, and I’m sure that eventually I’ll be back in full blogging swing — just not right now, le sigh.

Which honestly is kind of a shame, because blogging about the holidays always just served to contribute additional warm fuzzies. I mean, you guys already know how much I EFFING LOVE CHRISTMAS, and getting to share that through pics of decorations and sweater-clad schnauzers and whatnot was always a lot of fun. Buuuut, as all of you well know, life priorities are constantly shifting, and blogging has never been, nor likely will it ever be, a full-time job for me, and thus is probably never going to be at the tippity top of my priority list. But that doesn’t mean I can’t miss it!

Aaanyway, back to the matter at hand. Though I may not be taking unrelenting photos of it all, I am indeed still whiling away in the kitchen every now and again. And since the holidays are one of my favorite times to try my hand at lightening up old recipes so that I can indulge in all the fun (with half the guilt), I’ve been doing a lot of holiday recipe experimentation lately! So thanks to my friends at Almond Breeze, who are constantly pushing me to be creative with my, er, creation of recipes, I now bring you a light and creamy (not to mention incredibly easy!) homemade eggnog recipe that won’t set my tummy a-rumblin’ because it is dairy-free! Huzzah!

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Light ‘n’ Easy Almond Eggnog
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk (I used Almond Breeze Vanilla)
4 egg yolks (separate out the whites and keep them to make an egg white scramble or use in your royal icing or something!)
1 dash ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp sugar (or sweetener of choice)

Instructions:

1. Combine almond milk, egg yolks, and sugar in a saucepan. Heat on medium-low heat, constantly stirring, until mixture begins steaming, about 5 minutes.
2. Add spices and extracts, combining gently and continuing to stir for an additional 2 – 3 minutes. Mixture should begin thickening slightly.
3. If you like a thicker ‘nog, allow to cool before consuming. You can do this quickly by immersing the pot in cold water, or by simply allowing it to come to room temperature naturally. Garnish with additional nutmeg and a cinnamon stick, if desired!

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Yup, easy as that! And I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet, which is that the grand total of calories for this decadent treat comes to… 100 calories! Ta-daaaaa! Plus the fact that it’s cream-free definitely helps those of us who are lactose-challenged (something for which my digestive track is eternally thankful!)

I hope you’re all having the most wonderful of holidays, and I certainly am going to try my best to get back into the swing of regular blogging (how many times have I said that now? Ha…!) in the New Year. After all, I’m certainly not immune to those New Year’s resolutions… and I’m sure I’ll need all the help I can get!

almondbreezelogoThe above post was sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze, but all content is 100% my own.

Winner, and Still Champion!

So in yesterday’s awesome, bubbleriffic excitement over my book release, I totally spaced on the fact that I was also supposed to pick the winners for the Blue Diamond Almonds special seasonal flavors giveaway! Sorry!

So, without further adieu, here are the winners!

winners

Congratulations Heather and Sarah!

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winner 2

Email me at [email protected] with your mailing addresses, and I’ll ensure the goods get sent your way!

Have an awesome Vampire Diaries Day Thursday, everyone! And don’t forget to pick up your copy of Terra, hehe. 😉

Get Your Good Going (Giveaway!)

GOOD MORNING! Er, I mean, good afternoon. Ha! I got a little behind on my posting schedule today, but I promise that I’ll make it up to you because I’ve got an AWEXOME (yes, it’s so awesome that the S has been replaced by an X) giveaway for you all!

Now, this probably bears discussing in more detail later, but the reason for my tardiness is because I spent the morning at the orthodontist. Yep, I am considering joining the adult braces club. I had braces when I was 12 – 13, but my teeth have still shifted a ton since I got them off way back when (much to my parents’ chagrin). So, I went in for a consultation.

What came out of this consultation, you ask? Why, the knowledge that braces are HOLY CRAP SO EXPENSIVE OMG. But I got a few different options, with different prices attached to those options, so I basically just need to decide how much my vanity is really worth. But given how many self-portrait photos I post to this here blog, I’m gonna guess it’s probably worth a lot. Hahahahaha.

Hokay. So. With the holidays approaching, and all the changes going on in my life right now (my book, a new position at my (day)job, exciting changes in my family, all that stuff!) I’ve got a lot of good going on right now. But keeping all the good stuff in the forefront of my mind when it’s cold and dreary and our heating bills are skyrocketing and my weight loss efforts are going turtle-slow… it’s not always the easiest thing.

Which is why it’s extra important for me to ensure I’m doing all that I can to make those not-as-good things better. There’s not much I can do about the weather, but I can certainly combat the cold with my fuzzy sweaters, Santa hat, and miniature schnauzer bedwarmers. In terms of my weight loss, well, it’s the holidays, and I’ve already admitted that maintenance–not loss–is my main priority right now. But that doesn’t mean I want to lapse out of control completely (I don’t want a repeat of last year’s 10-pound holiday gain!).

Doing things like ensuring I’ve got appropriate foods to eat in between cookie exchanges and holiday parties is a pretty important part of that process. Lucky for me, I’ve got that covered right now, too. I was contacted by Blue Diamond Almonds a couple of weeks ago to see if I was interested in doing a sponsored post and giveaway! Naturally, as someone who is already a huge fan of their products (Blue Diamond Coconut Almondmilk FTW!!!!!) I gave them a RESOUNDING yes! Their current campaign is all about “Get Your Good Going,” and, well, here we are!

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They sent me a can each of their brand new flavors: Rosemary & Black Pepper, and TOASTED COCONUT. Firstoff, let me just say that these are literally like crack almonds. Like, almonds that are equivolent to crack cocaine. (Granted, I’ve never actually done cocaine, but I imagine that it evokes a similar feeling… and addiction.) I have always been a huge proponent of nuts (haaaaaaaaahahahaha, please never take that line out of context, bahaha) as a healthy snack component. They are SO good for you, SUPER filling, and, um, oh yeah, delicious. These two flavors are certainly no exception.

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You get 28 almonds for 160/170 calories (depending on which flavor), which is actually a lot of nuts (yes, I’m laughing again, and yes, I’m a 14-year-old boy). The pic above depicts 28 if you combine both flavors… unless I can’t count. Which might be possible. Both of new flavors are sold exclusively at Target, and I swear. They are just, urrrrrgh, so good. SO GOOD! And in order to help get YOUR good going, too, we have a fun giveaway! Huzzah!

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Two (yes, two!) of you will receive one can each of the Rosemary & Black Pepper AND Toasted Coconut almonds. To enter, simply leave a comment saying how you get your good going during the winter months!

As always, you get extra entries for liking my blog on Facebook, following me on Twitter, and tweeting/posting/blogging about this giveaway.

And hey, since we’re in book-release-countdown-mode too, you get an additional entry if you go like my author page on Facebook as well!

Entries for all! Make sure you come leave separate comments on this post for each thing you do, cause that’s how the giveaway selector plugin thing I use determines who wins. Two random winners will be selected on Wednesday, December 12th (book release day!)

The above post was sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds, but the photos, words, and, most importantly, opinions are all my own.

One last thing: since we’re in the season of giving and all, I wanted to throw out a quick mention: reader Nicole recently reached out to me with a request that I think is really wonderful. Nicole’s friend, Rhonda, has a grandmother who was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. The doctor says that this Christmas will be her last, and so Rhonda is asking for people to send holiday cards to her grandparents for Christmas. I thought this was a really sweet, touching thing, and wanted to spread the word. If you’re interested in sending a Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanza/Christmahanukwanzakkah card to Rhonda’s grandparents, the address is here. Mine went in the mail yesterday!

Almond Tea Cookies

The Christmas countdown continues!

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To celebrate the fact that there are a mere FIVE days before the best holiday evarrrr, I baked!

Have a cuppa

I started with something simple, easy, and delicate. These almond tea cookies were inspired by ones that I had the last time I was at Natalia’s, and are the perfect compliment to a cup of Christmas cheer tea.

Delectable

As I’ve alluded to many times, I LOVE the flavor of almond extract, so these cookies are pretty much the best thing ever to me. They’re not as sweet as a typical cookie either, which, given the nonstop sugar rush I’ve been riding since December 1st, is actually a welcome change.

Mixed

I did learn a few valuable lessons with the creation of this recipe. Namely, if you put these cookies on a baking sheet in haphazard, shapeless lumps…

Mish-mash

… you end up with haphazard, shapeless cookies.

Hot Mess

Food presentation fail.

Shapeless

Not to worry. though! A little rolling and some fork-scoring, and all was well with the world.

Rounded

Look how cute!

Almond Tea Cookies

Doubleplusbonus? They’re superduper tiny, so you don’t have to feel guilty about eating a lot of them, hehe. Well, okay, that might be wishful thinking on my part. I mean, they’re still like 40 calories per cookie for being such tiny little things. But still! Make them!

Ingredientastic

Almond Tea Cookies
Print this recipe!

Makes ~40 mini cookies.

These adorable miniature cookies are light and airy, soft but crisp, and simply delightful! Feel free to decrease the amount of almond extract if you aren’t as obsessed with it as I am, but don’t skimp on the lemon zest — it adds a clean and bright flavor and makes these little cookies addictive!

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons almond extract
2 teaspoons almond milk
½ cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
1 heaping cup flour

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a standing mixer (or with a hand mixer), combine butter, extract, and milk. Add sugar and cream together on medium-low speed. Mix in lemon zest.

2. With the mixing speed on low, add flour in small batches until dough is fully combined. It should have a somewhat sticky consistency, so if you find it is too dry, add a tiny splash more milk.

3. Roll into half-inch balls and place on a nonstick cookie sheet. Flatten slightly and score with a fork. Bake for 12 minutes, or until edges are crisp.

4. Let cool, then dust with powdered sugar if you like. Enjoy!

Nutritional info per cookie: 42 calories, 2 g fat, 5 g carbs, 0.4 g protein. WW Points+: 1.

Stacked

With such a short bake time and the fact that you essentially a million of them at once, these would make a great edible gift. Stack them inside a teacup, wrap in cellophane and pair with a box of teabags — but don’t forget to save a few for yourself!