Tuesday, December 29, 2009

'tis the season to eat cookies, fa la la la la la la la la

Mmmm all the ingredients. Oreos, cream cheese, sugar cookie mix, white chocolate chips, and cordial cherry kisses. What more could you want?

Oreo close-up. Drool.

So these are the Cookie Truffles, and they are so so easy. Just mash up 2 rows of Oreos, and mix in 8 oz. of cream cheese. Roll them into balls, and then coat them in chocolate. I made two different kinds: one with vanilla creme sandwich cookies coated in melted chocolate chips and the other with real Oreos coated in white chocolate. They came out really good. I feel like they are "fake" truffles, though, since there's cream cheese in the middle. But they still taste truffle-esque.

Next on the baking to-do list, these Fudge Kiss Cookies. I'm sure most people have seen these made with a peanut butter cookie and a Hershey kiss in the middle, but these give a Christmas-y flair. I made half a batch of these with peppermint kisses and the other half with cherry cordial kisses.

Personally, I think these guys taste better than the cordials.... :)

Mmmm. Also, my dog is super cute, and I love taking pictures of him when I'm home for break!

Yes, that blur of pink would be a tongue in motion.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

end of hiatus, I swear

Behold, I bring tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people....

PATTI HAS FOUND HER CAMERA CHARGER!


Wow....you have no idea how naked I've felt for the past month when I couldn't find my camera charger. Where did I eventually find it? At home-home in the basket of chargers, of course. Sigh. So many baking adventures that were not documented in the past month - especially during the stressful finals-time! Oh well. Fortunately, it is Christmas vacation - WAHOOO - so much baking will be done :)

While no baking has been done yet, here are some Christmas-y pictures for your viewing pleasure. And did I mention that I am BEYOND excited to have my camera back?! It's a Festivus miracle!

Oh, hello, Patti's toes.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

turkey day deliciousness: part 2

From the moment I laid my eyes on these beauties, I knew I would need them in my life at some point. Think....no-bake cookie. Think....fudge. Okay, how about....fudge-like no-bake cookies?! Heck yesssss. Can you drip me this intravenously, please? Mmk, thanks.

It's the bottom layer of these Nanaimo Bars that are no-bake cookie-esque. And, God, are they GOOD OR WHAT. WOW.

Supposedly Nanaimo Bars are all over the place in Canada, eh? Their namesake is the city of Nanaimo, British Colombia, and they find their way into donut and coffee shops. Personally, I think these things need to infiltrate their way into Starbuck's and Espresso Royales across southeastern Michigan, and fast!

The second layer is a mixture of butter, vanilla pudding powder mix (yeah...weird, right?), heavy whipping cream, and powdered sugar. Yum yum yum.

And then layered on top? Melted semi-sweet chocolate. I had issues spreading this evenly over the white topping, so that means that I'll just need to use more chocolate the next time I make these. Never a bad thing.

And the most disappointing thing ever? I take this picture, a terribly fuzzy picture. I cut the perfect square of Nanaimo. I point the camera, I shoot....and the battery dies. FAIL. And my charger is sitting, stuffed in my desk drawer up at school. Lovely, just lovely.

Well, that is just an excuse to make these again, now isn't it? :)

turkey day deliciouness: part 1

The day after Thanksgiving, a bunch of friends and I are getting together for a Turkey Day celebration of our own. I am so excited beyond words to see my two out-of-state girlfriends!! It will definitely be a good time.

I decided to make these Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars along with sweet potatoes for Friday's event. The sweet potatoes are a really good recipe from my Great-Aunt Jane - we've been using her recipe for years now. If you're lucky, maybe there'll be a post about those in the very near future.

Happy Thanksgiving! Gobble, gobble. :)

Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars
Altered from Spiced Apple Caramel Bars

Base and Topping
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups oatmeal
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup coconut, shredded
1 1/2 sticks butter
Chocolate chips

Caramel-y Sauce
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare base and topping: mix dry ingredients together, except chocolate chips. Cut butter into
the mixture until you have a coarse, mealy texture. Pat two thirds of this into an 8x8-inch square baking pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

In saucepan, stir together cinnamon, sugar, and water. Bring to a simmer over medium low heat. Simmer about five minutes. Stir to prevent burning. Stir in vanilla, and pour and spread evenly over base. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over caramel layer, as desired. Crumble remaining mixture over chocolate chips.

Bake for about 20-30 minutes. Devour.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

are you ready for your close-up?

Mmmm, look at that beauty.

SUPER thick honey whole wheat bread, grilled + sliced bananas + creamy peanut butter = heaven.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

HAPPY ONE-HUNDREDTH POST!

Wahooo....this is my one-hundredth post! :) And it's about a stuffed acorn squash. Hmmmm. Too bad it couldn't be about some crazy-decadent cake or something. Oh well.

Anyway, Wednesday was a rough day. Four classes, back to back, 8am-3pm with a two-hour exam from 1-3. Niiiiice. Welcome to grad school. So, of course, I couldn't come home and study after a day like that....even though there was plenty of work to do. Instead, I
proceeded to go on a four hour baking and cooking spree. And was it a good time or what. The bag of apples in the fridge morphed into apple crisp and three mini-loaves of apple bread, and my zucchini and acorn squash turned into that lovely thing pictured above.

I did not plan on making stuffed acorn squash, and I had already begun to roast the zucchini and squash separately in the oven. It was then, my friends, that I had an epiphany. There was barley in the cupboard and a roll of ground Italian "sausage" in the fridge. Sooo, why not mix the barley,
cooked sausage, and zucchini together and stuff them squashes? It was a brilliantly delicious idea.

And this is totally unrelated, but my roommate I just finished up a food science lab: biscuits and chocolate cake:



And, of course, I decided that the chocolate cake needed to be amp-ed up with a smothering of peanut butter and chocolate chips. Mmmm, yay for carbs.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

week of the sandwiches

This is the BEST bread in the entire, entire world. Seriously, people. Go to your local Great Harvest, ask for a loaf of Honey Whole Wheat, pay them the $5, and then run home and make yourself a sandwich. Quick. Do it. NOW!

It might also be the fact that Great Harvest is a little nostalgic for me. Back in the high school days (ahhh....that was nearly FIVE years ago!) my cross country team would make "GHB runs" after practice. This meant that whomever drove us to practice that day would dump off the car-load of girls (ohh, high school memories of packing eight people into a compact....) in front of Great Harvest Bread Co. We would proceed to run into the store, snatch a free sample of fresh bread (and one for the driver, of course), race back outside, into the car, and speed off back to the high school where our coach was waiting for us to do our push-ups and sit-ups. And he had no clue about our GHB runs......yeah, right. ;)

So this week's dinners have been 100% sandwiches made on GHB honey whole wheat. Last night's had olive tapenade, roasted broccoli, and mozzarella. Tonight's? Sliced acorn squash, roasted broccoli, and mozzarella. Doused with spray butter, of course. Only the best. :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

roasting par-tay!

Once again, I have surprised myself....I am cooking real food. And I haven't even finished a full box of cereal yet this year. This time last year, I had probably been through 3-4 boxes already. Seriously, people, I really don't know what is happening to me.

Another thing: I have given up trying to get myself to prepare chicken and other meats for myself. Granted, I am definitely not a vegetarian, nor will I ever be, for that matter. I am simply a lazy person who doesn't feel like dealing with something that grosses me out for the time being: raw meat.

Ew. I don't like it. I like eating it. Cooked, of course. In time, I will have to get over this because when I'm a real person, have a family, etc. I don't want make them eat beans and veggies and barley all the time. But for now, I could eat the same meatless thing every day and couldn't care less. And a dose of something meaty once or twice a week? Sounds good to me. I'm still having dreams of the amazing, beer and onion boiled, cheese-filled brats the boyfriend made for a tailgate a few weeks ago. Damn. That thing was good.

But alas, here we are with lentils. And they are so so good for you! They've got about 8 grams of protein and about the same amount of fiber per serving. All that fiber ought to clean ya out real good, huh? Sounds delicious to me. :)

But how to make them?! I had no clue. My grandpa is King of Bean Soups, and he makes a mean lentil soup. I had definitely eaten them before, but it had never crossed my mind how to actually cook them. So I whipped open Cooking Bible a la Mark Bittman, looked up 'lentils' in the index, and got busy cooking.

One thing I am learning about cooking is that it's pretttty hard to mess up. I guess it's a good thing that I've already mastered baking, as it is harder than cooking, so they say. For instance, if you don't have a certain spice on hand....no worries! Substitute something
else instead! However, if you're lacking baking soda, well, your cake is just gonna flop then, isn't it?

The lentil recipe called for curry...but I didn't have any. Instead, I decided to use a combination of spices that I thought were delicious in last month's Black Bean Vegetable Soup - cumin and chili powder. So into the pot went 2 tsp. of cumin and 1 tsp. chili p
owder instead of the 1 tbsp. curry (1 tbsp. = 3 tsp, by the way ;) They came out really good, but for next time, I think I would use 2 tsp. chili powder and 1 tsp. cumin to amp up the spice factor.

So what can we eat lentils with when they're not in soup-form? Roasted veggies!

Ahhhh, what happened to my hand??!?? Yes, I like playing with the fingerling potatoes. And food in general. Sigh....I suppose I'll never grow up. :)

Say hello to the cute little acorn squash I bought at the farmers market this Saturday. I sliced it up and put it in a pan with some olive oil drizzled over it and with sprinkles of sea salt and pepper.

In another pan went the sliced fingerling potatoes and broccoli, along with olive oil, parsley, basil, oregano, and sea salt. Then, both pans went into an oven preheated at 450 degrees, and I checked on them periodically, occasionally flipping the potatoes and broccoli to make sure they didn't burn.

And why use sea salt? You need less of it to get that salty flavor. And it's just delicious. I really should get my own. Sometimes I borrow Janine's sea salt. Okay, a lot of them time I borrow Janine's sea salt. Sorry, Janine. ;)

Also, I had another a-ha moment....acorn squashes have seeds!!! Here is another food that I definitely had eaten before, but didn't realize something about them. Hmmm, guess they're more pumpkin-y than I thought.

Anyway, today for lunch I ate the lentils and roasted veggies together, and it was really good. I'll definitely be making these two things again.

Split Pea, Mung Beans, or Lentils with Curry
Altered from Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything"

1 1/2 cups split peas, or mung beans, or lentils, washed and picked over
4 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable stop, or water, plus more if needed
Salt and black pepper to taste
3 tbsp. curry - I used 2 tsp. cumin and 1 tsp. chili powder instead

Combine the beans, liquid, curry, salt, and pepper in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn the heat to medium-low, cover partially, and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the beans are soft and beginning to turn to mush, at least 30 minutes. Add additional liquid if necessary. The mixture should be moist but not soupy.

I'm-sick-of-studying-and-it's-only-november bars

Sometimes only crumble and a cookie will solve life's problems. Often when I am craving something, I'll just hone in on what exactly I'm craving (in this case, crumble and bar cookies), survey what is in the kitchen cabinets (M&Ms), and bake something from that. VOILA! M&M crumble bars! Let their buttery goodness take you away....at least for a moment.

I'm-Sick-Of-Studying-And-It's-Only-November Crumble Bars

1 stick butter, softened
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar

1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

M&Ms....as many as you want.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In bowl, prepare crumble: mix together butter, oatmeal, flour, brown, and white sugars. Set aside.

Prepare cookies: mix together dry ingredients - flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together butter, brown, and white sugars until combined. Mix in egg and vanilla. Gradually add dry mixture to wet mixture, and mix until combined.

Spray a 13x9-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour batter into bottom of pan and smooth it out. Crumble crumble mixture evenly over the top. Top with M&Ms.

Bake in preheated oven for 20-ish minutes until brown around the edges. Devour.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

brussels sprouts adventure 2009

Actually, this will probably be the only brussels sprouts adventure I have....at least for awhile. Don't get me wrong they were delicious, despite common brussels sprouts belief.

So how did I come across this monstrosity? The farmers market, of course! And you should've seen my excitement when I came across it, I bet I looked like a little kid on Christmas. And to make it even better, a 15-year old girl was telling me, the older, wiser, maturer 22-year old all about brussels-sprout-growth. Wow. I kinda felt like an idiot.

Me: "These things grow on stalks???"
Girl: "Uhhhh, ch-yeah."

And then I learned all about brussels sprouts harvesting, growing, plucking of the sprouts off the stalk - you name it.

And the best part? The fact that the stalk can be a number of imaginary things....unicorn horn, peg leg, Pinocchio nose, extremely long buck-tooth. Way too many possibilities.

Let the pluckage begin!

An all bare stalk. How sad. :(

So if you are so inclined to make brussels sprouts starting from the stalk, be sure to dunk 'em in a bowl of water to get the dirt off, if there is any. Who knows what's been on those things. I then sauteed them in a pan with a little bit of olive oil and then seasoned them with sea salt and pepper. Garlic would be great with these, too, but they really don't need much. Cook them till they're bright green.

Mmmmm. Okay, so there's only one brussels sprout in this picture, but oh well. I mixed a bunch of random veggies I had sauteed earlier, melted some mozzarella on them, and gobbled them up. It's tastier than you think it may be. I guarantee it. :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

I WANT CAKE. please. :)

It hasn't even been two hours since I've been home, and there is already a cake in the oven. I've been having wicked cake-cravings for the past 48 hours. I really don't know why, but I have a sneaking feeling that the cake I made for Wednesday's dinner triggered it. And this is no CHOCOLATE cake craving, but for something more like....carrot cake. With cream cheese or vanilla frosting. Or maybe I am just craving more of the same cake from Wednesday....which is why I just whipped another one up. :) I also came home to homemade applesauce, so it was clearly meant that this cake be made again!

One of the best parts of being home-home? 72 OUNCE BAGS OF NESTLE CHOCOLATE CHIPS, HECK YES. And I know it might sound weird, but there is a big difference between Kroger and Nestle chocolate chips. Being the poor college student that I am, the cheapest chocolate chips usually win in my book. But Nestle....oh yeeeeah.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

apple sauce + banana bread + chocolate chips + vanilla frosting = cake

So everything is in this cake. Okay, not everything, but a lot of different ingredients that you wouldn't necessarily bake together. Something like....bananas + chocolate chips + homemade cinnamon apple sauce. Sound good? It is.

So I didn't start out making cake...I originally wanted to make homemade apple sauce because I had three apples in the fridge that had been there for about two weeks. Yeah, time to use those puppies up.

Peeled apple. How lovely.

So into this went three apples, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and a little bit of water. But there was way too much brown sugar, so I recommend using about half the amount. I wasn't patient enough to let the apples cook down enough till they were "saucy", but they were cooked decently enough. IMPORTANT NOTE: Water is key to successful applesauce sauciness. Without it, you will burn the apples, and that is not good. So add a little to start, and then keep adding it as need be.

Next up on the baking agenda was a dessert for a dinner with my friends, Raluca and Yvan. I was going to make chocolate chip cookies and then cut them out into out initials (yeah, yeah, cutesy-tootsy, I know), but there wasn't a single sprinkle of white sugar in my house! I know, blasphemy, right?! So the overripe banana in my freezer inspired me to make banana bread, since that uses brown sugar - no white sugar needed. But then....I realized I had no loaf pain. Fail, again. But lo and behold, I had a 13x9 pan. Voila....banana cake.

And wow, was it good. I mean, don't want to toot my own horn or anything, but......yeah. Really good. :)

Applesauce Banana Bread Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups mashed overripe bananas
1/3 cup cinnamon apple sauce
About 1/2 cup chocolate chips

4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
2-4 tbsp. milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13x9-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs, mashed bananas, and applesauce until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 20-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool.

Prepare frosting. In a medium bowl, mix whisk together powdered sugar, butter, milk, and vanilla until frosting consistency. Set aside

Cut cake into two equal parts. Place one part on the bottom of a plate. Cover with half the frosting. Top with remaining cake layer. Frost with remaining frosting. DEVOUR.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

black bean vegetable soup

Look at me go!!!! Making all this real-food and such! My med school friend, Elizabeth, says I am turning into a real-person by making all these foods....maybe she's right, haha. All I know is that I will have to make something realllly unhealthy in the very near future. And I'm thinking it's going to involve the jumbo-size bag of Resee's cups I bought yesterday for an intense studying session with Raluca. So stay tuned for Resee's brownies, or something like that. :)

This recipe came from my mom's food science class that she took last semester. She made it while I was home for the summer and it was SO GOOD! So I thought I'd give it a try. I never realized how easy soup is....you just open some cans, cut up some veggies, onions, and garlic and let it all get happy in the pot. So easy. I think I'll be making soup more often, now. AND it's kind of like cereal - a meal in a bowl! Only two dishes to wash! Brilliant, really.

Black Bean Vegetable Soup

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 carrots, chopped
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
4 cups veggie stock (or chicken or beef, whatever your heart desires)
1 (15 oz.) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (8.75 oz.) can whole kernel corn
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 (14.5 oz.) can stewed tomatoes

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat; cook onion, garlic, and carrots, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes, or until onion is softened. Add chili powder and cumin; cook, stirring for 1 minutes. Add stock, 1 can of beans, corn, and pepper. Bring to boil. Meanwhile, in food processor or blender, puree together tomatoes and remaining can of beans; add to pot. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until carrots are tender.