Sunday, March 9, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up

So I found out this week that I am not good at working 60+ hours a week. I thought I was going to die or kill myself, one or the other. That being said I didn't quite have enough time to bake. Although I did have time to have a drink when I got home before passing out from utter exhaustion.

Got my first Birchbox this week. I signed up late in the month so this is February's box. It's $10 a month and they send you beauty samples to try.

This box had Beauty Protector - Protect & Oil, Dr. Brandt - Pores No More - Pore Refiner, Joan Vass - L'eau de Cristal, OPI - Sheer Tints in Don't Violet Me Down, and a couple of Harney & Sons Fine Teas.

Haven't gotten a chance to try them out yet, but will let you know if it's something I can't live without.

Every Sunday as the sun starts to go down I start getting that uneasy feeling thinking about how soon my weekend is going to be over, and then I realize that The Walking Dead is about to come on! I am so glad it airs on Sunday night or it wouldn't have anything to keep it from sucking. Maybe it's the thought of facing a zombie apocalypse that makes facing the work week not so bad.

Had a friend come and stay with us this weekend from out of town and got to enjoy some time catching up, drinking, and eating. We ended up making some pulled pork tacos and skillet pizzas and a few cocktails. We made cherry old fashioned cocktails and this moonshine cocktail, where we saw on all places, bar rescue.

One of my girlfriends was sweet enough to send me this cute little cookbook. I can't wait to try out some of the recipes. I think she deserves some cookies for thinking of me.

Hopefully in the coming week I will have a little more free time to bake and experiment. I hope you all have a good week!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up

For the month of February I vowed to get more organized. I wanted to feel better, eat better, exercise more frequently, and for the most part I have been sticking to it. I've been making lists and writing everything down and even created a little inspiration board on Pinterest to look at when I was feeling less motivated. Then the other half went out of town this week and it's like leaving a teenager at home alone. Happy hours and take out are not good for my healthy, organized self.

Digging this beer brewed with dandelion from Magic Hat. I'm also a big fan of their #9.

Been catching up on House of Cards this week. Oh my lawd it's hard to stop. Watched 3 episodes in a row today before making myself turn it off.

I started reading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain and oh man, is he a great story teller. My first job and all through my twenties I was working in the restaurant and bar industry. I love his view on food.

I made these Bloody Hell cocktails from the Beeroness. Blood oranges, bourbon, jalapeƱos, and beer. What?! So good!!

Also made some skillet pizzas. Love this method!! Learned from How Sweet It Is, I made pulled pork and pineapple, but tried the original recipe first, which was brussel sprouts and bacon. Holy yum!

I posted Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cake on the blog this week. I got from an old 70's home town cookbook.

I started running again this week and I want to work on gaining some mileage. Work is going to be extremely stressful this coming week, software upgrade, so I plan on hitting the gym to clear my mind.

Hope you all have a great week!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cake

This cake is simply delicious. Perfect for snacking.

I have this old hometown cookbook from the city I grew up in. I grew up in a really small town in New Mexico and this cookbook is full of recipes from the women there. The cookbook was put together in the 70’s and I have been loving flipping through all the classic recipes. I found it interesting that in reading the directions they really didn’t go into too much detail. It’s more like just mix all this together and the pour it in the pan. It makes me wonder, was this because there was just an understanding that everyone knew the technique to use, or were they just not aware that different techniques would yield different results. Maybe they didn’t care, maybe the recipes were written to just throw it all together. I love the simplicity of it all. Now the recipe that I chose to try I did re-write the directions and added a couple things, but it was still pretty easy. The cake just got better as it sat, it almost got moister, if that's even possible. Very happy with the recipe! More retro recipes to come. :)

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cake
By Jamie Baer

1 3/4 cups hot water
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (all I had on hand were mini's)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a 13 x 9 baking pan. (I used my trusty Bak-klene bakery spray)

2. In a medium bowl, pour hot water over oatmeal, set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment or in a large bowl using a hand mixer cream together butter and both brown and granulated sugars until light and fluffy.

5. Beat in eggs one at a time and vanilla, then stir in cooled oatmeal. Scrape down sides as needed.

6. Beat in flour mixture until just combined (I added mine in three additions), and stir in 1/2 cup white and 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.

7. Pour into prepared baking pan and sprinkle with the rest of the semi-sweet chocolate chips and pecans, and then bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Cappuccino Cookies

This year hasn't started off with a bang for me...more of a fizzle. You see where I live there is this thing they call "cedar fever." Sure we don't have twenty below temperatures or three feet of snow in our front yards but guys, cedar sucks! It's like living with a forever cold, it's totally zapped my energy, but I was craving cookies. Sometimes even if you're a little under the weather you just can't fight a craving! I think they actually did me some good. :)

I had a big bag of cappuccino mix sitting in my pantry that just wasn't getting used and I think I made a good decision throwing some into these cookies. It gives them a great spicy flavor base, and add the cinnamon chips and pecans and you have one great comforting cookie. Now I used a pumpkin spice mix, but if you or not a fan or have a different kind on hand, try a different flavor and play with the mix ins.

Pumpkin Spice Cappuccino Cookies
1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup cappuccino mix (I used pumpkin spice by Douwe Egberts, use your favorite flavor)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups cinnamon chips
1/2 cup pecans (would have added more, but that’s all I had on hand)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat liner.

2.  In a medium size bowl whisk together flour, cappuccino mix, baking soda, and salt; set aside

3.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or in a large bowl using a hand mixer cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

4.  Add in eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract.

5.  Mix in flour mixture, and then stir in oats, cinnamon chips and pecans.

6.  Drop tablespoons of dough on prepared cookie sheet and bake in preheated oven for 9-12 minutes.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Goodbye 2013, Welcome 2014

Whew! That year just flew right by didn't it!?

I had a lot of fun experimenting with new recipes on the blog and can’t wait to try out some new ideas. The year was full of fun, a few new places, and of course a ton of sweets. I was lucky to get to visit and eat and drink my way through New Orleans, Seattle, Portland, Boston, and New York this year. They were all such beautiful and interesting places it would be hard to pick a favorite.

For the upcoming year I hope to travel, write more, pick up a new hobby, and work on my lack of photography skills. :) I really need work on my time management and using each day to its fullest potential. What do you guys want to accomplish in the new year?

Many thanks to those of you that take the time out of your day to read and comment on my posts. It really puts a smile on my face to hear from you.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Taro White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yay! Cookies!! This is my first year participating in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. What's better than receiving 3 dozen cookies from bloggers across the country!? Let me tell ya...nothing! :)

I received a dozen Peanut Butter Chippers from Sara at Sara Ran Away with the Spoon, a dozen Peppermint Mocha Cookies from Lauren at Making Life Sweet, and I received a dozen Hot Fudge Thumbprint Cookies with Caramel Drizzle from Meghan at The Tasty Fork.

So when you guys looked at the photo of my cookies…were you like…why are they purple? Or was the color a clue for some of you?

Have you guys ever heard of taro? What about bubble tea?

I fell in love with the taro flavor by drinking bubble tea. Bubble tea is a drink either iced or blended, available in many different flavors, and include little tapioca pearls (bubbles). Taro is my favorite flavor of bubble tea and it comes in this lovely shade of purple. Taro is actually a root vegetable and has a natural light purple color, to me it’s kind of like a nutty vanilla flavor. Bubble tea was created in Taiwan and it is available in some restaurants, there is a great little Thai place next to my office that has a small bubble tea room in the back, but you can also find it in some coffee houses and cafes.

I used a taro powder that I ordered off the interwebs in my cookies. It’s actually a mix that I can make my own taro bubble tea with. I also have some tapioca pearls and fat straws in case I ever get a craving. This is what the taro powder looks like.

This is not the same brand of taro powder I used, as I can't remember where I ordered it from, but I found a pretty picture to show you from a company (Bossen) that sells it. 

Taro White Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 cups flour
1 cup taro powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees, and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer cream together butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.

3.  Add eggs one at a time and then beat in vanilla and almond extract.

4.  In a large bowl sift together flour, taro powder, baking soda, and salt, then add it to the wet mixture in three additions, then stir in white chocolate chips.

5.  Place about a tablespoon on batter about an inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 8-12 minutes until the edges start to brown. Cool on sheet about 5 minutes before placing on a wire cooling rack until cooled completely.

If you would like to participate in next years cookie swap go here and sign up for notifications. :)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Apple Cinnamon Muffins made with Honeycrisp Apple Wheat

As a kid, fruit desserts were not my favorite. The fruit dessert that ended up showing up the most was apple pie. I would pass it up a lot of time rather than have dessert. Give me chocolate or forget it! I remember apple pie most often at my grandma’s house. My grandmother took care of me during the day as both of my parents worked. If I've said it once I've said it a thousand times, oh how I wish I had developed my love for food and baking while my grandmother was alive. She was such an amazing cook. She was the type that didn't even use a recipe, she had just made it so many times she could do it by memory, by what it looked like, and felt like. She could make anything taste good. She could make fried bologna taste gourmet. I’m sure she could have passed on a lot of knowledge on to me if I was just willing to take it all in. If only…..

As an adult, of course, my palate has changed and I have to come to enjoy a world of different ingredients, apples being one of them. This recipe actually came together when I had purchased a beer that was just a little too sweet for me, but still had a great flavor. Yeah there's beer in there. Would grandma have approved? ;)

I love this time of year! It's so nice and cool outside and I love these warm flavors. Today as I baked these muffins I had all my windows open just airing out the house. The crisp cool air combined with the warm apple cinnamon scent wafting from my oven was just heaven. That in itself just made it a perfect day. I wish I could share a muffin with my grandma. I sometimes wonder what she would think of my baking.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins made with Honeycrisp Apple Wheat

For the muffins
2 cups flour
3/4 cups brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 cups diced apples (I used 3 medium gala, but you can use whatever you have)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 egg, room temperature
1/4 cup butter, room temperature (half stick)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup Shock Top Honeycrisp Apple Wheat, room temperature (I used Shock Top, but if you have a different brand of apple beer, I'm sure it would work here too)
1 tsp vanilla

For the crumb topping
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup oats
1/4 cup chopped pecans

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray a muffin tin with baking spray. (I use Bak-klene ZT no-stick bakery spray, it’s the best, it doesn't leave a sticky residue on my tins)

2.  In a large bowl whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Then toss in apples and pecans to coat.

3.  In a medium bowl whisk together egg, butter, oil, apple wheat, and vanilla.

4.   Add wet ingredients to flour mixture and stir until batter just comes together and the flour mixture absorbs all the wet ingredients, then fill muffin tin 3/4 of the way full and top with a heaping tablespoon of crumb topping mixture.

5.  To make crumb topping mixture just combine all ingredients in small bowl until all are incorporated.

6.  Bake muffins in preheated oven for 15-25 minutes (mine were perfect at 20 minutes), until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, remove from pan and cool on wire rack.


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