Archive for August, 2010

Happy.

August 30, 2010

I had an amazing weekend!  A brief breakdown:  It involved fam and friends, train rides, car rides, and farmers markets…

bubblegum plums (tiny!), witnessing the marriage of a really sweet couple at a boat wedding, and a lovely Lake Geneva B&B…

getting thrown around at the Iggy & The Stooges concert, nighttime walks, popsicles, and cookies!

Finally.  I was super stoked to make this recipe ever since the Pioneer Woman posted it a few months ago.  I love chocolate malts, and this cookie, especially with the milk chocolate chips, really captures the flavor of that classic dessert drink.  I split the dough and tried half with these milk chocolate chips, and half with semi sweet.  Go with the milk chocolate for sure.  You won’t be disappointed.  Note, HIGHLY addictive.

Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies


from the Pioneer Woman

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup, rounded, malted milk powder
  • 12 ounces milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

Cream butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, vanilla, and malt powder until just combined.  Gradually mix in flour mixture.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop dough by the teaspoon or 1/2 tablespoon onto a cookie sheet.  Be sure to leave a couple inches between each cookie as they spread and will completely flatten out.  I used about a 1/2 tablespoon of dough for each cookie and I ended up with 4-5 dozen.

Bake 7-8 minutes, but start checking them at minute 5!  Because they are so thin, these cookies burn VERY quickly.  As you watch them in the oven, you will see them first puff up and then fall.  You will want to remove them as soon as they fall, maybe even when the middles are still puffed on a couple of the cookies on the sheet.  The cookies will be a medium brown, see above pics.

Cool on baking sheet for five minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.  Enjoy!

Boulevard Beer, or KC Love Part II

August 27, 2010

My darling of a roommate gave me a ride to work today. Thank goodness, as I didn’t want to be lugging the above on the el. I normally walk around with a lot of stuff as it is… cans of soup (lunch), books, gyms shoes, etc., etc.. I thought I would scale back when I switched to a smaller handbag, but that didn’t really happen. Now I just carry bagS, and my once adorable chic-ish purse is now a bulging, unzippable, nightmare blob. Hang a coffee thermos from my strap, throw a 12-pack in my arms and you got my Friday morning, teetering-into-work look.

But about that beer. Boulevard Brewing Company is based in Kansas City and seems to be most beloved for its unfiltered wheat beer. If that’s not your thing, they have a billion other brew varieties. Yes, a billion. If you are ever in the KC area, you should visit for a tour and tasting (info on their site here). Our group was partial to the Bully! Porter. As far I know Boulevard is not distributed in Chicago (sadness), but I have found it in other Midwest cities like Minneapolis. This sampler was purchased on my most recent KC trip for my sometimes beer-brewing, often beer-drinking, baby brother.

Um, my baby brother is 22. And moving away. To study bioengineering (what the heck?!) like a smartypants. Or maybe just to escape his crazy family which includes THREE nutty older sisters. Even I can admit, that’s a lot of nutty. Happy escaping, Miguel–Cheers!

P.S. Due to kitchen “issues” that involved bailing water with plastic beer steins across the hall and into our toilet, baking has been on hold for the past couple days. All is well now though, so cookies soon!

Why I Love Chicago

August 24, 2010

Reason No. 728

Last night Clare & The Reasons played a FREE concert in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park. Clare, her French hubby Olivier, and the rest of the band were completely precious. The music was dreamy, the weather was perfect, AND I was with two of my besties… truly a gorgeous Chicago evening.

Plus, we picnicked! Lizzie brought us food from Ba Le. If you have never been, you must must go to their location in Uptown (5014 N Broadway) immediately. Ba Le is a French-inspired Vietnamese bakery and cafe with super fresh sandwiches (Banh mi), yummy bubble tea, and ridiculously cheap prices. They offer quite a bit of variety with their Banh mi, from tofu to pork to pâté. A sandwich loaded with meat, pickled veggies like cabbage & carrots, cilantro, and jalapenos will cost you $4 or less! My personal fave is the BBQ Pork.

Oh! And also for Banh mi, Roomie L recommends Nhu Lan (2612 W Lawrence). Give ’em a whirl.

For a list of events at Millenium Park, you can visit their site here.

I hope to get a cookie recipe up here in the next couple days.  Ta til then!

A list, because it’s Monday.

August 23, 2010

This past weekend I…

  • went to Whole Foods.  Twice.
  • consumed cantaloupe gelato.
  • celebrated Mego’s birthday at Bull & Bear.  Go drink their Dirty Money cocktail… vodka lime ginger goodness… served in a copper mug… do it.
  • made an edible pasta dinner in 12 minutes.
  • bought two pairs of shoes.
  • decided I spend too much money, made plans to return the shoes.
  • contemplated getting a second, part-time job to pay for things like gelato and shoes.
  • got sick of thinking of things like money and played Beatles Rock Band.  A lot.
  • wanted to make/eat  marshmallow pies.
  • decided to be economical, and ate this sorbet, made with the last of my orchard peaches instead…

Peach Basil Sorbet


Adapted from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop.

I didn’t like any of the pictures I took of the sorbet.  Ah well.  I think this recipe turned out pretty good–even a certain picky boy liked it.  Next time I will try a lemon basil flavor… maybe as a gelato.  I love fresh basil,  mmm.  Taste the sorbet mixture before freezing to see if you need any additional sugar.  I used 4 white and 3 yellow fleshed peaches, so either work.

7 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted & cubed
1/2 – 3/4 cup sugar (depending on the sweetness of your peaches)
2/3 cup water
5-7 fresh basil leaves, minced
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

In a medium saucepan, heat peaches and water, covered, over medium heat for 10 minutes, until peaches are cooked through.  Stir in 1/2 cup of sugar and remove from heat.  Cool to room temperature.

Add basil and lemon juice to peaches.  Puree mixture in a blender until smooth.  Chill in fridge for 2 hours.

Remove from fridge.  Taste mixture and add more sugar if desired.  Freeze mixture with an ice cream maker, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

How was your weekend?

In Celebration!

August 20, 2010

In celebration of Meagan’s birthday…

Vanilla Caramel Fudge Cupcakes from Sugar Bliss. Yum. It’s their flavor of the week, get there before this Sunday to enjoy! Next week’s flavor? Mint Chocolate Chip. Now you know!

Happy Birthday Meagan! All the best this year. You’re the most wunderest True Blood/sometimes-gym buddy a girl can ask for.

XOXO

What Zucchini?

August 19, 2010

It doesn’t look like it. But that above loaf has a cup of zucchini, which makes it a perfectly acceptable breakfast food. Veggies, they’re important. Chocolate, that’s important too. Dessert disguised as breakfast makes mornings tolerable. You’ll hardly notice your clogged tub not draining as you shower, or your leaning tower of dirty laundry while you frantically search search search for anything that’s “clean” and “work appropriate.” Really! Bake this bread… it’s magic!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Adapted from AllRecipes.com, makes one 9” x 5” loaf

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips, plus more for the top of your loaf
1 (1 ounce) square of unsweetened chocolate
2 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup grated and drained zucchini (drain in colander, pressing with a spoon to eliminate any excess water)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350° F and grease a 9″ x 5″ bread pan.

Combine the flours, baking soda, salt and 1/3 cup of the chocolate chips in a bowl. Set aside.

Melt the square of chocolate in the microwave on low power, checking every 30 seconds to stir.

Whisk together eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla, and chocolate. Add zucchini and melted chocolate. Fold in the dry ingredients until just combined.

Pour batter in your prepped pan. If you would like to amp up the chocolate a bit more, sprinkle the top with a few more chocolate chips. Bake 60 minutes. A tooth pick inserted in the center will come out dry and crumb free. Cool for 10 minutes and transfer to a wire rack.

Eat for breakfast, then later, eat for dessert. Versatility–important.

Today I Felt Crazy

August 19, 2010

Today I felt crazy.  Maybe because it’s Wednesday.  Maybe because I AM crazy.  I dunno.  I felt tired but antsy and weird and unbalanced.  I felt crazy at work and crazy while I was talking to people and crazy on the train and when I got home I felt crazy still.  I started baking and cooking dinner and making my lunch for tomorrow and DOING DISHES…

what the?  Dishes?  I know, I totally lost myself.  Don’t worry, at some point the crazy stopped.  I stopped.  There’s a crumby bread pan and bbq’d casserole dish sitting in the kitchen sink to prove it.  I hung out with Roomie L and went to Misiu’s art show at the bowling alley.  The world was right again.

That zucchini, however… there was something unsettling and not right about the size of that thing.  It was gifted by a friend.  Andrea was out of town for a week, and when she returned Mammoth Zucchini had turned mammoth, scaring all the other garden vegetables.  She very kindly turned it over to me.  Since yesterday I’ve used two recipes with the thing, and I still have about half left.

The first go was with a basic zucchini bread, with a bit of cornmeal to switch up the flavor.  It was a tad like corn bread, and had more of a crumbly texture than most zucchini breads I’ve tried.  I liked it plain, but you could also serve with a bit of butter.  Zucchini, Take I…

Zucchini Bread with Cornmeal

Adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything (buy it already, seriously).

When using super mammoth zucchini, make sure you drain the shredded veggie to get rid of excess water.  I used a colander, pressing the zucchini shreds along the bottom with a spatula.  Recipe makes one 9” x 5” bread loaf.

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2 eggs
1 cup drained, shredded zucchini
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter, plus some for greasing loaf pan
1 1/4 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350° F and grease your loaf pan.

Mix the dry ingredients (first 8 on list) together in a medium bowl and set aside.

Whisk the two eggs with the zucchini, brown sugar, melted butter, milk and vanilla.  Fold in the flour mixture until just combined.

Pour batter into greased loaf pan and bake for 6o minutes.  A toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf should come out clean and crumb free.  Cool for ten minutes and transfer to a wire rack.

The Mammoth Zucchini

August 18, 2010

To be continued…

Did you know…

August 16, 2010

they grow peaches in Michigan? Neither did I. But they do! At places like Fruit Acres Farm in Coloma. So my sister J and I drove up yesterday to pick peaches and shop at farmers markets and drink peach tea. It was a bit of a hike but the drive goes pretty fast when you talk about boys and online dating. Poor J… there really are some weirdos out there.

Not like us. We’re totally normal.

So we picked a ton of white and yellow fleshed peaches.  What do you do with a bunch of peaches when it’s too hot to bake?  Maybe one day soon I’ll be able to turn on my oven. People want peach cobbler. I want peach cobbler. In the mean time though, I made a batch of peach lemonade.  I fed it to my friend Liz while she talked about her fear of contracting exotic diseases.  She’s a nurse, and also totally normal.  I think she liked the lemonade.  It’s tart and summery, and so so simple.  Go juice some lemons…

Peach Lemonade

1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
flesh of 2 peaches, pureed
3 cups water
1/3 – 1/2 cup sugar or sugar syrup (I used my extra rum syrup from The Cupcakes), depending on your taste and the sweetness of the peaches

Mix all your ingredients together and serve over ice. Ta Da!  Summer in a glass.

P.S. Have you watched Austin & Santino on Lifetime? Yes, Lifetime. No? Please do so. While sitting in an air-conditioned room, drinking Peach Lemonade.

The Cupcakes

August 7, 2010

Sooooooooo.

90° Kansas City weather and vanilla rum buttercream just don’t mix. Things get a bit drippy. Melty. Runny. But still delicious. I brought these cupcakes for my bestie Jennie’s bachelorette party in KC. I talked about my super fun/fattening visit in my last entry. Did you read it? You should. I have adorable friends.

Anywho, these cupcakes were transported from house to hotel to restaurant. It was hot, I was worried. For a bit, anyways. Then at some point I forgot about them. I think it had something to do with our tequila-only margaritas at dinner, but I wasn’t complaining. Then Roomie L (who can hold her margaritas by the way), was like, “Cupcakes! Let’s pass them out!” or something. And so she did. And they were pretty dang good. Then I danced like a loon to Prince in 4” heels. Recipe now:

The Lime Rum Cupcakes

Adapted from Martha Stewart & a bunch of other recipes. There’s quite a bit of adjusting you can do with instructions below. The coconut is very subtle, so if you’re interested in having more of a Coconut Lime flavor you could toss in some coconut extract or shredded coconut. I loved the recipe as is… I think it’s my new favorite.  Note, the glaze recipe as listed below makes enough for 2 batches or 48 cupcakes. You can save the syrup for up to a month in your fridge though, or feel free to halve the recipe.  The cake recipes makes 24 cupcakes.  I had a little extra batter for a mini cake mold.

The CAKE
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup light coconut milk (not sweetened)
3 teaspoons lime juice
1 1/2 Tablespoons lime zest

The GLAZE
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons spiced rum

The FROSTING
1/2 – 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 1/2 – 4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup spiced rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the cupcakes, preheat your oven to 350° and prep your muffin tins with liners. Stir together the first three ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

With an electric stand or hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until combined and fluffy. Slowly add the vegetable oil, coconut milk, and lime juice.  Add the dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in lime zest.

Pour batter into muffin tins and bake in preheated oven 18-20 minutes. Cupcakes will be very lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle will come out clean when done. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water for the glaze over medium-high heat, until the sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring, and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and add the rum. Let the syrup cool completely.

While the cupcakes and glaze are cooling, whip up your buttercream. Start with 1/2 cup butter and add a cup of powdered sugar. Beat with an electric mixer until combined and fluffy. Continue to add powdered sugar, a bit at a time, up to 3 1/2 cups.  Add your rum and vanilla extract. Take a taste. Add rum, powdered sugar, salt or butter until you reach the desired sweetness and consistency. I ended up using 4 full cups of the powdered sugar, but adding an extra dash of salt and an extra Tablespoon or so of butter as it was a bit sweet for me.

Time to assemble the cupcakes.  With a pastry brush, slowly dab on the rum glaze. Allow time for the cake to absorb it as you brush. Frost with your AMAZING buttercream, then zest a lime directly onto the frosted cupcakes. This gives the frosting an additional tang. Enjoy! I love citrus. And I love zesting.

The end.