Thursday, August 26, 2010
No matter how early you have to get up, knowing a Sea Salt Brownie is packed in your lunch is sure to make you smile! Sea Salt? You ask. Trust me, I say. The salty and sweet combination won't let you down.
*Highlight of the day is at the end of the post...a little trick to get you to the end. Just keep on scrolling.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
I woke up Tuesday morning and the first words out of my mouth were, "We need to start couch to 5k." Bradley's first words were, "Did you have a dream about it or something?"
I do have a logical train of thought for this one. You see school is starting (or at this point has started) and I've heard that exercise gives you more energy. The couch does not give you more energy. Reading the dictionary does not give you more energy (huh? you say. What type of a nerd are you? The answer, a big one. But we'll get to that). But, running and being active does give you more energy...or so the rumor has it...It better not be a lie!
So we planned to run in the evening. You see, I couldn't during the day because we had last minute errands to run, and I had to make a big batch of end of the summer/meet my neighbor cupcakes. Hey, I didn't say just because I may be getting off the couch doesn't mean I'd stop making cupcakes.
These cupcakes are crazy. As in crazy crazy. Crazy like that person you see talking to himself and he's not on a blue tooth (one reason I won't wear a blue tooth, I don't want people to accidentally think I'm crazy). Crazy like the process of making cotton candy. Crazy like the ginormous Dictionary of Later New Testament that I need a dictionary to read. Amalgamate. Raise your hand if you know that word. Anyone? Anyone? One person. Good for you. Combine. That's what it means. Combine. Are you kidding me?! You could have just said that, but you said "amalgamate." Show off.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes
from Baking Junkie
1 box Devil’s Food Cake Mix
Follow the directions on the box. That should go without saying.
4 Tbsp salted butter, at room
6 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup + 2 Tbsp flour
7 oz (1/2 can) sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
Amalgamate butter and sugar, cream for approximately 2 minutes. Add vanilla, flour and sweetened condensed milk. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about an hour to let the filling firm.
3 sticks salted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup flour
3/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp milk
2 1/2 tsp vanilla
Sprinkle with chocolate chips to decorate.
We took these cupcakes to meet our new neighbor. Who wouldn't want to be our friend when we come bearing cookie dough cupcakes? Maybe if I dropped the word "amalgamate" they wouldn't.
And the first day of running went well. I bought a sport watch for $7 that made me feel hard core. A runner with a watch means business. Get out of my way. I'll run you down. Unless my 60 seconds is up and its time to walk again.
Goodbye summer. Hello school year.
Monday, August 23, 2010
So I said, "excuse me, has anyone ever told you that you look like a movie star." I had forgotten Hugh Jackman's name so I wanted to know if he got this a lot.
"Yes they have." Hugh answered.
"Well, you look JUST like this actor, but I just can't remember his name...Hugh, or Hugo or something like that, do you know what I'm talking about?" I pressed on.
"No...I usually get Billy Bob Thorton." (poor guy)
"No, not him...It will come to me, I'll think about it." I said, completely distracted trying to think of all the movies that this guy was in. We were taking a tour of the campus, and right after we got a tour of the President's office (yeah, it's a big deal) it came to me!
"Victor Hugo! That's who you look like! From Kate and Leopold and Prestige!"Luckily this guy had an iPhone and corrected me. I think even he could tell he didn't look like Victor Hugo.
"Hugh Jackman!" I tried again.
He isn't taking my word for it and goes back to looking it up on his iPhone.
"Much better than Billy Bob." He says.
"I'm sorry, What's your name again? I keep wanting to call you Hugh."
I make friends quickly. It's a gift.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
When I think of pretzels I don't think of the fair, I think of Auntie Anne's. There was one located at the mall in Knoxville, after a hard day of shopping there is nothing better than a giant cinnamon sugar pretzel with a diet coke (again with the diet coke... once a friend told me that diet coke was addictive because it had cocaine it, thus the name "coke" evidently the evil ploy by Coca Cola to hook consumers).
Are you ready for this? If you can make a pretzel there is nothing stopping you from bagels, and bagels you can eat every day. Blueberry bagels, sesame bagels, chocolate chip bagels, one for every mood, delicious bagels covered in all kinds of cream cheese, the chance to be creative with bagels makes me giddy! I L-O-V-E bagels! I heart them too. No, I don't love everything even though it may seem that way. I actually HATE some things. One thing in particular.
That is all I can say. I hate it. I cannot talk about it. If I talk about bacon in the same post as pretzels it could quite possibly ruin the pretzels.
So, back to pretzels. I'll save my love of bagels and my hate of bacon for another day.
From Joy the Baker
1 tablespoon sugar
1 (1/4-oz) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
3 3/4 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg, lightly beaten
First combine sugar, yeast and 1.5 cups of warm water. Let this stand for about 5-10 minutes until foamy (if it doesn't foam do it again with another packet of yeast).
Then mix together 3.5 cups flour and 1 tablespoon of salt. Add yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until it becomes dough. Dust work surface with flour and knead the dough for 8 minutes. Keep adding flour as the dough is very sticky and you want the dough to be smooth. In the end you still want it sticky, but you want to be able to work with it too. Place dough back in the bowl and cover tightly with saran wrap to let it rise for 45 minutes. Should double in size.
Divide your dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll dough into a long 24 inch rope.
Twist dough into pretzel shape. If dough is sticking to your hands dust with flour. Dough will retract slightly when you pull it.
Place pretzels on an oiled baking sheet about an 1.5 inches apart. Set aside uncovered for 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425. Make sure the oven rack is in the upper third of the oven. Start boiling a pot of water. Add heaping tablespoon of baking soda to the boiling water.
Carefully add 2-3 pretzels to the boiling water. Turn over once with tongs. Keep in the water about 3 minutes or until puffy and the shape is set. Transfer pretzels to a rack to cool.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper and oil paper. Like up your pretzels and brush with egg. Sprinkle your desired toppings. I sprinkled 4 with sea salt and 4 with cinnamon-sugar mixture.
Bake until golden brown and lightly crusty. About 25 minutes.
Let cool for about 15 and serve warm. Oh my goodness. I ate 2 pretzels within 10 minutes.
I realized I had to get rid of them because I would eat all 8. I immediately took them out of the house and gave them away to fun friends.
I can't wait to make them again. They were delicious. I just need people to give them too...
Friday, August 20, 2010
Santa Fe Shredded Chicken
From Skinny Taste
- 24 oz (1 1/2) lbs chicken breast
- 14.4 oz can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies
- 15 oz can black beans
- 8 oz frozen corn
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 14.4 oz can fat free chicken broth
- 3 scallions, chopped
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- salt to taste
Serve over rice with some cheese and sour cream. I really like it served over brown rice but I personally like brown rice more than white rice. If you want to kick your rice up a notch try cilantro-lime rice!
- 1 cup long-grain rice
- 2 cups water
- 2 green onions, diced
- 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Now, for those of you who after reading this are actually nervous for me (but especially for Bradley), don't worry! We only have one class together this semester. :)
Hey look! Those are all my books that came in today! It pretty much was like Christmas! And then I became slightly overwhelmed, then excited again, and then a little nauseous. I can do this! Right??
I am really excited about starting these books! I just finished Kristin Lavransdatter, and I highly recommend it. It has captivating depiction of 14th century Norway with character development that will be sure to suck you in. The themes of sin, guilt and forgiveness make it an amazing work. A little warning, it is over 1,000 pages. But it's a trilogy all in one, so it's not that bad. You won't be able to put it down. That's the truth.
I'm looking forward to starting these three books. I want to get them read before school gets in full swing. I'm excited about The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao that sounds like it has a really unique and engaging plot line. I'm also looking forward to the Gilead, which I read took Marilynne Robinson 20 years to write. I'm fascinated to read the novel she spent so much time on and won her the Pulitzer. Fatelessness... I am a little nervous about reading. It's about a young fourteen year old who was in Auschwitz...should be gripping. I'm looking forward to these books. I'll let you know how they turn out.
Looks like my next few months are going to be filled with a lot of reading. What have you been reading?
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Yes, I'm obsessed. You know that, you have read (possibly read, maybe just skimmed) multiple blog posts on my love for their chocolate cake...dun dun dun (dramatic sound affect)..The GREAT Wall of Chocolate! But since I've already blogged about it I'll spare you and continue on with my Minced Chicken Lettuce Wraps.
Moral of the story is, lettuce wraps are delicious. P.F. Changs is delicious. My lettuce wraps, although not P.F. Changs Lettuce wraps, are still delicious. Therefore, go and try them.
Minced Chicken Lettuce Wraps
-4 green onions
Note: You can mince your chicken but using your food processor. You want it really fine.
That's Chinese for enjoy! At least I think it's enjoy. Yes, I googled it. Google is amazing! Almost as amazing as P.F. Changs...ok, I'll stop now...
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Don't you love this song? And the music video? I should have lived in the 70s, big hair and disco, count me in! We've been wearing this song out at our home. Bradley likes it because of the chord progression in the verses (whatever that means) and I like it because it makes me wanna dance like a crazy person. It makes cooking dinner way more fun!
So what have I been cooking when I'm rocking out to Josh Turner? I've been pounding some chicken with a mallet and the results are amazing! Chicken stuffed with swiss cheese and broccoli is now the preferred version of chicken in my home.
This picture is horrible, please excuse it. I had already started scarfing down my dinner before I realized I needed a picture, and then it was too dark and I was too hungry to care that much what it looked like. Now, unfortunately this picture may be what prevents you from trying this chicken and I must beg you to reconsider! Make this for dinner tonight. Thank you.
Swiss-Broccoli Stuffed Chicken
-Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
-Olive oil cooking spray
- Cut your chicken breast either in thirds or halves and flatten with a mallet (this is the fun part).
- Take each flattened chicken breast half and place swiss cheese (1/2 or more depending on the amount of cheese you want) and a few broccoli pieces in the middle of the chicken slice.
- Then take the ends of the chicken and wrap or fold together using the toothpicks to keep it in place.
- Dip in egg and roll in breadcrumbs and then place on a baking sheet greased with olive oil cooking spray. .
- Spray tops of chicken with olive oil cooking spray
- Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes
- Remove toothpicks before serving.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
I think the main reason our trip had so many....ahem...adventures...was due largely to the lack of a plan. We traveled Europe not knowing half the time where we were going or where we were staying that night. We got kicked of a train once. That was awkward. We also booked what we thought was a 7 hour ferry ride, but was actually 30 hours. Yeah, that was great because we slept on the deck. This is an example of not having a plan...This is a camper that we stayed at for 2 nights. We decided to hop off the train and stay at Innsbruck, Austria spur of the moment, which resulted in this lovely housing arrangement.
But, no matter what went wrong, it was still a blast
Yes, yes, I know, I'm such a tourist. I stood out like a sore thumb. And yes, it did take a while to get this picture right...I mean, it had to look like I was holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa... So embarrassing...
Now that I am living safely in the United States of America, (safer than 2 girls traveling across Europe sleeping in hostels, campers, trains or ferries) I think fondly of my European adventures, and have a strong desire for a shortbread cookie covered in chocolate-y hazelnut goodness (nutella) every now and then. So to quench that desire...I made Nutella Cupcakes!
For the actual cupcake I (sorta) used this.
-3/4 cup butter
-1/2 cup nutella
-1 tsp vanilla
-2 cups powder sugar
-1 tbs milk (or to get desired consistency)
God Bless America!
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Have you ever tried a meringue puff? They are quite interesting to eat...you may have had meringue before and really liked it. But, when I eat meringue I feel like I am in a space ship floating around the moon. Odd? Perhaps, but eating meringue is like wearing your 4 inch stillettos, you don't love wearing such high uncomfortable shoes, but you do, just because it's pretty.
Please note the following, gorgeous, but painful examples.
Fuschia Peep-Toe Pumps: I don't think my bridesmaids will ever forgive me for making them walk down the grassy aisle in these babies.
Pointy toe: Gotta have a pair that's covered in sequins. Now, these are only appropriate for a New Years' Eve Party. Pointy toe, can you say painful?
Champagne Peep Toe Pumps: Now these lil' darlings were suppose to be my wedding shoes...but, alas, they were too high for my wedding dress. But that turned into a blessing, because these heels are the most uncomfortable pair of heels I own!
Black death: I'm just scared of these monsters.
Silver Peep Toe Pumps: Now, these chics are my favorite! I thought I had them mastered, I thought they were my friends, but that goes to show you, you can never trust a heel.
So, back to the meringue, we've got vanilla, chocolate and peppermint. You can make them almond or raspberry or whatever fits your style!
Adapted from Joy the Baker
- 3 large egg whites
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
To make meringues: Put egg whites and sugar in the heatproof bowl. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water, and stir gently until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch, 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer bowl to an electric mixer. Mix on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. It takes a very long time!
Divide egg whites between three clean bowls. In one bowl mix in vanilla extract. In second bowl mix in cocoa powder. In third bowl mix in peppermint extract. Stir all until well combined.
Fill each bag with separate meringue flavors. Pipe small star shapes or round shapes onto prepared baking sheets.
Bake meringue puffs until crisp but not brown, about 1 hour 40 minutes. Turn the oven off and let the meringues cool in the oven. Transfer from pans to an airtight container for storage.
Monday, August 2, 2010
I forgot to take a "first day of school" pic, I'll get that tomorrow...second day of school pic is just as good! This is the "first day of studying after a year off" pic.
In order to fuel Bradley's little brain (I don't mean little as in small or dumb, but little as in cute, it's meant to be endearing) I decided to make something with spinach. Actually, that's not true. I decided to make minestrone soup, then found out it called for spinach, and congratulated myself on picking a supercharged brain food for dinner.
The best thing about this? You can bust out your crock pot! How I love any meal that calls for a crock pot.
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 cup carrots, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (15 oz) can white beans, drained, rinsed (cannellini or navy)
- 3 cups fat free chicken broth
- 1 fresh rosemary sprig
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
- salt and fresh pepper
- 1 medium zucchini, chopped
- 2 cups chopped fresh or frozen (defrosted) spinach
- 2 cups cooked small pasta like ditalini
- extra Parmesan cheese to top
Forty minutes before the soup is done cooking, add zucchini and spinach. Cover and cook 30 more minutes. Add cooked pasta, cook 10 minutes more. Remove bay leaves, rosemary sprig, and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and top with extra parmesan cheese.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Now, I'm back to reality. My sunburn is peeling so I'll take that as a sign to get off the beach. It's time for me to start cooking again. *sigh* But, since I've been on vacation, and I don't start work until tomorrow morning, I thought I'd bring a fun easy dessert to this blog. We'll start the boring stuff next week.
-2 (8 ounce) packages of Cream Cheese, room temperature
-3/4 cup sugar
-1 Tablespoon lemon juice
-1 Tablespoon Vanilla
Mix all ingredients together. Line a baking sheet with cupcake liners and place a vanilla wafer or a half of an oreo cookie at the bottom of each liner. If you want the vanilla wafer to fit perfectly find 2" cupcake liners. If you are not attempting to achieve perfectection you can use a standard cupcake liner. *the oreo fits almost perfectly in the standard cupcake liner.
Plain Cheesecake: pour batter over vanilla wafer and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Let cool and Refrigerate. Slice a strawberry on top before serving or cherry pie filling.
Turtle cheesecake: Place oreo at the bottom of the liner. Melt caramel and drizzle over top of oreo. Sprinkle a few crushed pecans. Pour batter over top bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Let cool and refrigerate. Before serving drizzle milk chocolate and caramel over top with a few crushed pecans.
Optional Crusts and Toppings
-Cherry pie filling
-oreo cookie half
-graham cracker crust
Delicious! You can almost imagine you're still on vacation. Yum!