Monthly Archives: January 2014

Snowed in With Cookies – Brown Butter Chocolate Chip

There’s approximately 800 feet of snow outside right now. It’s also somewhere around -49 degrees.

I had to park 9 miles (more or less) away from my apartment because there was a parking ban on the street I live on due to the snow.*

Normally, this would bother me.  But the snow and cold have passed so far beyond the point of annoyance that I feel i have no other choice but to embrace it.  You want to mess with me snow? I have 3 blankets on my bed (one of them made out of llama wool!), Netflix streaming on my tv, a dog to cuddle with, and a full bottle of wine. Bring it on.

This afternoon, I ordered Chinese food for dinner. I ordered two appetizers and two full entrees. Just for me.

After stuffing myself, reading my fortune cookie (ok, fine, fortune cookies – the restaurant apparently thought my meal was meant for 3 people), and watching two episodes of Dexter on Netflix (season 4 finale – I don’t even have words…), I decided it was time to go to bed.  Then, as I was changing into my pjs, I realized it was 7:30 pm.

It’s been a fantastic weekend.

Oh, and did I mention that I had cookies for breakfast? Don’t judge me. You would too if you had these hanging around:

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

* While the figures at the beginning of this post might be moderately exaggerated, my comments regarding the amount of Chinese food I ordered/ate are unfortunately entirely accurate. 

 

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Joy the Baker

Ingredients:

2 1/4 c. Flour
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 sticks plus 1 Tbsp unsalted butter – at room temperature
1 c. white sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. molasses
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 c. bittersweet chocolate discs

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside

In a medium, heavy bottomed sauce pan, melt 1 stick plus 1 Tbsp butter until browned. Just let it melt over medium heat stirring occasionally until it begins to turn an amber-brown color and brown bits begin to form. It will also start to smell rich and nutty. Transfer to a glass bowl and let cool.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix the other stick of butter and the white sugar on medium speed for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy.

Add the vanilla and the molasses until just combined. Once the brown butter has cooled, combine with the other butter mixture and mix for another 2 minutes.  Add the egg and the egg yolk and beat for another minute.

Add the flour mixture – all at once and beat on low until just combined. Use a wooden spoon to mix in the chocolate pieces.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop dough by tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets and bake for 12 minutes or until just lightly browned around the edges.  Let cool for 3-5 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container for 3-5 days.

 

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

 

 

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Sisters, Happiness, and Homemade Cracker Jack

This blog started mostly based on my habit of baking when I was feeling down, and more than a couple of people expressed concern that my baking might go down hill if things ever started going right in my life.

Tonight, I was afraid that might be true. This has been one of the happiest weeks I’ve had in a long time, and also for the first time in a long time I screwed up making caramel. I was dancing around the kitchen (I’ve done a lot of dancing tonight) and took my eyes away from the caramel for just a couple seconds, but it was enough to make a difference. I thought at first that it was ruined, and I was legitimately worried that I had lost my mojo. But, I rallied, the caramel wasn’t beyond saving, and my homemade cracker jack turned out alright after all. So did the ginger snaps I made immediately following the caramel incident to make sure I still had it. Turns out my happy feelings are at least just as good as my sad feelings!

Things have been looking up for me lately.

Most of that has to do with the fact that my little sister — out of the country for 11 months — is finally home!

I’ve spent most of the week anticipating her return, and it has definitely lived up to my expectations. All 4 of us – my brother, me, and my parents – went together to the airport late last night to meet her plane.  Although we’ve spent the last year emailing, video chatting and keeping up with each other through our blogs (check out her great account of teaching English in South Korea here) there is just nothing like face to face conversation. I was almost seven when she was born, and I remember being annoyed that I got a baby sister instead of a brother (I wanted to be the only girl), but man am I happy that I got a sister. I don’t want to get too sappy here, but there’s just something about having a sister. She’s only been home for less than 24 hours, but it took us about 2 seconds to fall into our normal, comfortable sisterly routine.  This morning, we were sitting on the couch in our pajamas, drinking coffee, talking about nothing, and I thought, “This. This right here is what I’ve been missing.”

Having my sister home is great, being here with my entire family is great, having almost a whole week off work is glorious, and it just feels so nice to be happy.

Here is me being happy while wearing my new South Korean clothes, drinking coffee, and doing a happy dance:

Happy Dance

Also adding to my happiness is the fact that I went on a date last week and it actually went well!

You know what’s good to snack on while sitting around laughing with your family? Popcorn. And popcorn with caramel and peanuts is even better.

Homemade Cracker Jack

Adapted (sort of barely hardly at all) from Brown Eyed Baker

Ingredients

10 cups of popcorn (plain)
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
6 Tbsp unsalted butter – melted
2 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup lightly salted peanuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 250 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper

Pop the popcorn. I always make mine on the stove top, but you can use an air popper or even microwave popcorn, but it shouldn’t have any butter or other flavoring on it.  Place the popcorn in a large bowl and set aside.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, and water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Let it simmer, stirring often, until it reaches 250 degrees F.

Turn off the heat and immediately whisk in the baking soda and vanilla. Pour it over the popcorn right away and use a rubber spatula to coat it evenly. Moving quickly (you don’t want the caramel to harden too fast) mix in the peanuts.

homemade cracker jack

Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet (use two if you need to) and bake for an hour, stirring every twenty minutes.

Break into chunks if needed once it is done baking and serve immediately. It will also keep in an air tight container for a few days.

 

homemade cracker jack

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2013 Year in Review

So this is the new year, and I don’t feel any different.

That’s not entirely true. I do feel a lot colder than I ever did in 2013. Come on 2014, get it together! You are not off to a good start.

I have pretty mixed feelings about 2013.  In order to sort them out, I decided the best thing to do was to give it an end of year performance review.

1) Willingness to take on additional responsibilities:  Highly Effective

2013 took on additional responsibilities like a champ. If anything, I would say that 2013 was too eager to take on new responsibilities. Let’s just say it did not shy away from the tough stuff.

2) Reliability:  Inconsistent

2013 was not very reliable. Just when you thought you know what to expect,  it threw something else at you.

3) Ability to work cooperatively with supervision or as part of a team: Unsatisfactory

2013 went way rogue. It could have benefited from some supervision

4) Helps employees to see the potential for developing their skills; assists them in eliminating barriers to their development: Inconsistent

2013 gave hope that skills could be developed and barriers eliminated, but did not follow through.

 

Overall, I’m giving 2013 a solid Did Not Meet Expectations

It was an interesting year… it really wasn’t at all what I expected, and not at all what I had hoped for, but it wasn’t entirely bad either. Here are some of the highs and lows from my year (ending with the good):

Lowlights

– That whole tumor thing
– The time I went on a blind date and discovered he had lied about having never been married and not having any kids and then told me that he had actually brought his kid with him on the date.
– the fact that nothing significant enough to mention on my taxes happened
– The Steelers had a bad season
– My sister moved to South Korea

Highlights

– That whole tumor thing could’ve been way worse
– I started this blog!
– I didn’t spend Valentine’s day alone
– I joined a soccer team and really enjoyed it
– I was constantly reminded of how awesome my friends and family are, and what a great support system I have
– After surgery, I lost a pants size

So, that was my year in a nutshell. In 2014 I’m looking forward to learning how to juggle, visiting South Korea, and keeping up on this whole blogging thing.

This is how Stella feels about 2013:

Stellasleepy

She’s so embarrassed!

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American Gladiators and Peanut Butter Pantry Cookies

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an American Gladiator. Ok, fine, I still want to be an American Gladiator. I even dressed up as one for Halloween 4 years ago:

Gladiator

But, that’s not the first time I dressed up as a Gladiator.  When I was about 6 or 7, I got out a bunch of bandanas and wrapped them around myself strategically. I made an obstacle course out of pillows and couches and ran that obstacle course like a champ. As soon as my mother saw me dressed up like that, she made me change. But it was fun while it lasted.

Also, when I was little I would wear my bathing suit and tights and “skate” around on the hardwood floors.

When I got a little older, I would wear a pink training bra with lace on it, a denim jacket, spandex pants and create dance routines to my Amy Grant cassette tape.

After that, my outfits got a little more boring. But I remember them. I have this weird knack for remember outfits. I might not remember what exactly was said, or what the date was, or who was there, but I could tell you exactly what I was wearing.

When I was nine, my brother accidentally hit me in the face with a golf club. I spent the whole afternoon in the ER, needed stitches, and still have a scar on my cheek, but what I was mostly upset about was that my yellow shirt with a bunny rabbit on it was completely ruined. My striped yellow and blue shorts were only sort of ruined.

On my 13th birthday, I wore an old man’s golf hat that I bought at a thrift store. I thought it was cool.

On the first day of 8th grade, I wore a black ADIDAS shirt and baggy jeans. I thought I was cool.

At my first “grown up” boy/girl party, I wore a pair of wide-leg jeans and a blue and white striped polo shirt. The party was really lame, and the boy I liked ignored me. Its okay though because he asked me out the following Monday at school.

When I had my first kiss I was wearing a green sweater and flare leg jeans.

When I got in my first real fight with my first real boyfriend, I had on a white shirt and I wore a blue scarf in my hair. It had little silver stars on it. I thought I was cool.

On my first date with my college boyfriend, I wore a grey and pink sweater and corduroy pants.

Currently, I’m wearing yellow socks, neon colored flowered pajama pants, and an Ohio State t-shirt. I’m still cool.

When I made these cookies, I wore an apron with red peppers all over it. I should clarify, I wore an apron with pictures of red peppers all over it. I should also clarify that I had clothes on underneath the apron.

These are some of my favorite cookies to make because once you make the base, you can pretty much add whatever you want to them. They’re basically modified monster cookies, but I like to call them pantry cookies.

 

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Peanut Butter Pantry Cookies:

Adapted from Recipe Girl

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups chunky peanut butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups Old Fashioned Oats
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the peanut butter, butter, and sugars on medium speed until well combined and fluffy.  Mix in eggs and vanilla for another minute. Mix in oats and baking soda until well combined. Then stir in chocolate and butterscotch chips with a wooden spoon.  Drop the cookies by tablespoon onto a prepared cookie sheet (spray them with cooking spray or line the sheets with parchment paper).  Bake 10 -12 minutes. Cool cookies for 5 minutes on baking sheets and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an air tight container.

1211132321a

 

 

 

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