July 16, 2013

Bad habit

I came home one Saturday morning after a particularly late night out to find that my roommate had, what I assume was mere moments prior to passing out on the couch the night before, decided to put a turkey burger on the stove to cook. It was 3am and she was hungry. She was apparently also tired because she left it cooking the entire night.

The first two occurrences of this, I laughed it off. The house smelled terrible, of burnt plastic and charred processed meat, but what an idiot! I was proud of her for accomplishing such a task an admirable four years after graduating college.

The third time wasn't as funny and neither was the fourth.

More than anything else, I was just really tired of that smell. Sure, it was also a massive fire hazard. Yeah that too.

There was need for an intervention. We had pep talks. You can do this! We had coaching lessons. Ok, pretend you're hammered drunk, so you basically have the brain of a small child with a slight mental handicap. You're hungry. What do you do? We thought about hanging signs all over the kitchen with friendly reminders Don't leave the stove on when you're drunk or maybe don't cook at all but resolved that would be too embarrassing when guests were over.

I had accepted my fate, was okay with it even, when one day my roommate realized cooking her turkey burgers Friday after work, prior to going anywhere, was the answer to everything. To deflect the fact that it took us a ridiculous amount of time to drum up this solution I'm going to share a side story with you: Once in college my friend turned on the oven to make pizza bites and then promptly placed them in the microwave in an attempt to cook them and then fell asleep to Antique Roadshow, so that's pretty awesome.

Baking tip: Turn on the oven, put food items in the oven, take food items out of oven, turn off the oven.

Want to know how to make cinnamon mocha biscottis? Somehow my almond biscotti post gets more hits than any other post on this blog, so I've put peanut butter on hold for a second to bring you another biscotti recipe that's equally as good.

Cinnamon Mocha Biscottis
Adapted from Food.com

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbl. instant espresso
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of cayenne pepper - optional but adds some
1 cup toasted almonds
1 cup dark chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet or white chocolate chips for topping

1. Preheat oven to 325F.

2. Combine butter, sugars and espresso in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

4. Add vanilla and mix briefly.

5. Add flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cayenne pepper and mix until well blended. Fold in almonds and chocolate chips.

6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop dough out onto paper and form into a large rectangle, about 3/4-inch thick.

7. Bake 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes.

8. Use a serrated knife to cut the dough into 1/2-inch thick slices.

9. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and return to the oven for 8 minutes.

10. Turn and bake 8 more minutes.

11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

12. Put semi-sweet or white chocolate chips in a ziploc bag and melt in the microwave for about a minute and a half at 20-second intervals. Are you scared this is going to give you cancer? It probably is. When smooth, cut a hole at the end, pipe the chocolate on top of each biscotti and spread with a knife.

If you haven't made biscotti before, I suggest checking out this post for some very inspirational photo instructions being performed by my mother.

June 17, 2013

Ignorance = bliss

I used to revel in the fact that I was smarter than my brothers.

I remember, very clearly, laughing to myself while upstairs in my room reading, because my older brother was downstairs filling his brain with nonsense video games. Me, just upstairs getting all knowledgeable and shit. This brought great joy into my life.

I was also brought a bit of sorrow when I thought about how I would probably have to support him financially and/or spiritually as we got older. Me probably working two jobs as a result of my smart brain, and him creating his 800th Sims mansion most likely.

Well, as it turns out, my older brother is in fact a super genius and it also turns out the internet and technology is kind of a big thing, and those countless hours of Counterstrike and years of LAN parties (what the fuck you guys) set him up for a great deal of success in his adult life.

However, one thing that I will be able to hang over his head until the end of time is the instance where we set my bed on fire (gypsy role playing accident) and I was the one with enough wits about me to inform the adults that my beloved kitten duvet cover was being engulfed in flames. He, at the time, stood there stuttering because he was too polite and too scared to interrupt my parents who were in the middle of a conversation. He also had a mullet. So what I think we can take away from this is the fact that in that moment in time I was smart and he was dumb and I basically saved all of our lives that evening.

As for my younger, well I was just smarter than him by default. Because that's how that works right? Just kidding Brenty. You're a fucking genius with Instagram. Seriously though, he has hundreds of followers.

Want to know how to make sugar cookies? I'm a wiz at transitioning topics.

This is the only sugar cookie recipe I use because it was created by angels in heaven. That is a slight exaggeration but I am not exaggerating when I tell you the dough MUST be refrigerated overnight. As a Grade A procrastinator, you should know that I have tried to get around this many times only to fail miserably, get pissed, and immediately go turn on the TV where I take out my anger on an innocent Real Housewife.

You probably will not notice that the amount of baking powder is slightly less than most other recipes, and this is because it helps maintain the shape of the cookies once they've been cut.  I also try to put the baking sheet in the fridge for 5 to 10 minutes before going into the oven because it helps them keep their shape and I also like to draw out this process as long as possible apparently.

My Favorite Sugar Cookies
Adapted from AllRecipes
Makes 24 cookies

3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 24 hours <-- important

2. Preheat oven to 400F. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. Cut into shapes with cookie cutter. Place cookies 1-inch apart on parchment-lined sheet.

3. Bake 5 to 6 minutes. Cool completely.

May 15, 2013

This is what networking looks like.

I would like to interrupt my daily program of posting nothing to present you with my roommate's new blog, Neon Doves. Click through for a healthy dose of debauchery, fashion, and real talk. She is master of the abbrev lang and excels at the art of pairing apparel.

My baking addiction is comparable to her clothing addiction. One of these addictions is much healthier for the general appearance of one's self, while the other is much better for the bank account.

Anywho, go check her out. Feel inspired by her clothing. Feel exhilarated at the way she puts together her outfits. Feel bad about yourself because nothing you have in your own closet is remotely as cute as what is featured on her blog. Just make sure to come back, ok?


April 14, 2013

pb&j for the people.

Why do I do this to myself?

Why do I bake things that I know only I will consume for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? And snack. And snack #2. And snack at 3am on Saturday night. And also why do I continually swallow the stickers that come on apples?  Which just now happened for like the fourth time this week.

A coworker of mine brought a bar like this into work the other day and I flipped because why in the hell haven't I thought of that before? Pb&j's are my JAM, literally. I immediately asked google how to make these and found a recipe that combines the perfect ratio of peanut butter: jam. While looking, I was really enjoying the comments I came across about how easy it is to get kids to eat these bars and how they were a hit at my son's daycare! Well, obviously they were a hit. They are made of butter and sugar. Did you serve them with mountain dew as well?

Ah, I know. I have no idea how hard it is to take care of children and get them to consume nutritious food, let alone any food at all sometimes. But until I do have kids I am going to continue living in a dreamland where I believe I will only serve them fresh, local vegetables in their BPA-free glass food containers that never go anywhere near the microwave. They will also eat organic carrot sticks instead of French fries and will fold the laundry for me with their little baby hands and won't ever have snot running out of their nose. What?

On the real though, plastic tupperware really isn't chill. Whenever I heat something up I can taste the plastic that has leached into my food, which scares me but apparently not enough to get me to stop using shitty food containers. Kind of like how my doctor tells me to I shouldn't drink vodka and redbull because my heart is going to explode and how if I don't stop taking Advil on an empty stomach I'm going to thoroughly destroy my stomach lining <--- two things that continue to happen on the reg. One of which is a product of the other and therefore can't be controlled.

Back to the issue at hand. And really, they are an issue because you are looking at a dense, peanut butter base, sweet strawberry jam, and crumbles of peanut butter with salted peanuts on top. You're welcome and I'm sorry.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars

2 sticks butter, softened
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups jam (I used strawberry...grape would also be bomb)
1 cup peanuts

Preheat oven to 350F.

Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan.

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and peanut butter until combined, about 2 minutes. Whisk together dry ingredients, adding to the butter mixture until just combined. Add vanilla.

Transfer two-thirds of the mixture into the baking dish, spreading evenly. Top with jam and spread to coat peanut butter mixture. Crumble remaining peanut butter mix on top. Sprinkle peanuts on top.

Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Allow to cool for a few hours before cutting.

February 16, 2013

Confessions like Usher

Confession 1: I watch Judge Judy. I am a Judge Judy fan through and through and I will never deny it nor will I ever turn my back on her. Nor will I ever watch it without sitting, eating dinner in the dark in true white trash form. It wouldn't be implausible to think I tune in to get my fix of run-of-the-mill drug scandals or perhaps for some good old fashioned domestic disputes, but in reality it's because I take great enjoyment in listening to Americans butcher the English language. Favorite line to date: "I borrowed him the money."

I heard Judge Judy makes some ridiculous amount of money, like $50 million dollars a year, which makes me a little mad and also a little happy.

Confession 2: To me, Catfish on MTV is the ultimate. I have yet to decide if my enjoyment stems from Nev's face or the fact that I feel smarter than 100% 95% of the people on the show. I am very good at predicting what is going to happen and, in my humble opinion, excel at giving them advice from my couch.

"No! Don't knock on the door! I can promise you it's not going to be that hot chick you've been talking to, it's going to be a man! Oh my god it's a man."

Confession 3: Please know that I agonized whether or not to broadcast this on the internet. However, I pushed all better judgement aside because it's really just too good. You're welcome.

A couple weekends ago, in an attempt to do something honorable and philanthropic, I donated some cookies to my friend's nonprofit organization that helps children in Narobi, Kenya, for a fundraiser. But instead of, I don't know, doing a quick Google search for the flag of Narobi, I decided instead to just tap into my trusty memory, which resulted in me decorating them to look like the South African flag. I then proceeded to send them on their merry little way to the fundraiser so the entire world could get a good laugh at my expense. Gooooo team South Africa?

Also, I just now remember that while in Thailand my roommate and I met some very nice South Africans, one of which gave her some unrecognizable pills to help with cramps after he claimed to be a doctor. We were in a really rundown apartment near the bathrooms at the full moon party. This should probably be confession #4 because it's one of the stupider things we did in Thailand (sike). But I feel ok talking about it because she didn't die.

Mom if you're reading this I'm totes just kidding?

January 25, 2013

Things from my brain.

1. I walked out of Target the other day without having bought anything I didn't truly need, and I challenge anyone to come up with a bigger accomplishment than that.

2. You know when you're so hungover you literally can't stand up straight? And sometimes you can't see? That's the worst.

3. Nights out are super fun. But what's even more fun than the night out is the next morning with your girlfriends when you're talking about the night. And maybe jamming to some Backstreet Boys while you uncover forgotten pictures on your phone of you and your roommate shoving doughnuts in your face at 7-Eleven with a 3am timestamp. I'm pretty sure that's technically stealing but at a certain point it's like, are you really gonna arrest the disabled?

4. Yesterday I put my phone in the freezer and it was a good 10 minutes before I realized what I had done.

5. If I could bring anything back, it would be an excruciating decision between the show Are You Afraid of the Dark? and The Oregon Trail on those super old school Apple computers.

6. You know those people that are magical at convincing you the most idiotic things are the best idea in the world somehow? Like they could probably get you to cut off your own arm if they really wanted you to. My older brother is one of those. And it is to him I owe all of the weekday hangovers I have suffered.

7. I've come to the conclusion that the American language sucks. In the UK they get to say things like lovely, and mate, and holiday instead of vacation. But wait! my British friend said. You guys get to say stoked, douchebag, and gee whiz. Sweet.

8. Yesterday was National Peanut Butter Day. Ummmmm shut up.

To be honest, I wasn't planning to ever share this recipe on here. It's my favorite, and I feel it's my claim to fame, if ever I had a claim to fame. But I feel I wasn't truly prepared for a holiday as massively important as this one so I need to make up for my wrongdoings somehow. Therefore, you are about to be graced with a recipe for the chewiest, most flavorful, BEST cookies in the world. I could go on and on about these but I'm almost getting depressed thinking about them right now because I don't have any.

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies
Makes 44 sandwich cookies

1 cup butter-flavored shortening
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
5 to 6 tbl. milk

Preheat oven to 375F.

1. In a large bowl, cream the shortening, peanut butter, and sugars until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; add to creamed mixture and mix well.

2. Shape into balls and place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet. Flatten to 3/8-inch thickness with fork. Bake at 375F for 7 minutes or until golden. Place on wire rack to cool.

3. For filling, in a large bowl, beat the peanut butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and enough milk to achieve spreading consistency. Spread on half of the cookies and top each with another cookie.

A not-so-secret secret: I use a melon scoop to measure out the dough for these so that each side is even. Without symmetry you have nothing! I just made that up.

January 15, 2013

Sometimes you just gotta say phuket and go to Thailand.

You know that really depressing feeling that washes over you the day after Christmas? There is such a buildup to the holidays, and then on the 26th you're sitting at your desk thinking how did that happen? Kind of like when you make out with a 22-year old in the middle of the bar and in the morning you're like how did that happen? Only different.

A couple friends and I decided we didn't want to feel those sad feelings this year, so we went to Thailand. Seemed reasonable.

So what happens when you and two girlfriends go on a three-week hiatus in a foreign country?

Well, for one, an insane amount of warm-weather lounging happens. Late-night parties in the jungle followed by mornings on the beach to watch the sun rise happen. Awesome people with accents in your general vicinity happen. Dangerous taxi rides happen.

An appalling amount of food happens. Food so cheap that you get in the habit of ordering ohhh, 3 entrees each just because you feel like eating phad thai, coconut curry, and spaghetti with coco pops on the side.

Hour-long massages for $10 also happen every morning, and buckets filled with vodka and red bull happen every night. Red bull that may or may not contain amphetamines because it's not regulated. Jk. Not.

The yearn to travel more happens, and that's when you have to look at your bank account to get your head right again.

Also, jet lag happens. A lot of it. I like to think of myself as someone that's really good at sleep, like it's kind of a skill of mine. I pride myself on my ability to fall asleep almost immediately without the use of Ambien or C-SPAN, so these past few days have really been the opposite of cool. I found myself organizing one of the drawers in the kitchen at 4am the other morning and that's when I put the can opener down and slowly walked back to my bed, ashamed. My roommate is also having difficulty acclimating, so we've been hanging out a lot in the middle of the night. You know, eating yogurt parfaits and stuff.

Yogurt parfaits and the occasional cookie. I meant to post these raspberry cookies before Christmas because they are incredibly festive, but I got caught up with the holidays. Translation: I got caught up with hot toddies and beer and out-of-towner friends at the bar.

But I just love these guys and you should too.

 A coworker of mine declared them as her favorite thing I've ever made.

What about my peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, though? I asked her.

No, I like these better.

But don't you like my peanut butter stuffed fudge cupcakes more than these? 

No, these are my favorite. 

ok. I will humbly take this as a reminder that others don't have the same dependency issues with peanut butter as I do. Which reminds me ---> NO PEANUT BUTTER IN THAILAND. What in the actual fuck?

White Chocolate Raspberry Slice Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup raspberry jam
6 oz. white chocolate chips, melted

Preheat oven to 350F.

Beat butter and sugar in mixer until smooth. Add vanilla and mix. Add flour and beat until dough comes together.

Divide dough into three pieces and roll each piece into a 9''-long rope.  Place ropes 3 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheet.

Press your finger into dough at 1'' intervals to make 1/2''-wide indentations. Spoon 1/4 tsp. jam into each indentation (sometimes I fill a ziploc with the jam and squeeze into each indentation to speed up the process).

Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet.

Drizzle with white chocolate. Once cool, cut ropes diagonally into slices.