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Archive for the ‘Sweets’ Category

Vexed

Y’all, I think the internet is ruining my life.

I just spent a disgusting amount of time typing out a completely self absorbed pile of dribble. I should not be allowed to feel so many feelings.  I wonder, why the hell do I think I am entitled to this platform? Someone, please stop me.

Also, the twitter. I fought it for so long, knowing that I am an inherently voyeuristic person. I caved and now I know every time a friend uses the bathroom, has too much to drink, or dines on a particularly tasty burrito. There is no power in this knowledge.  Of course, I share just about as much as anyone…I shock even myself with my narcissism  But you kinda care what I think about “I Love You, Man”, right?  RIGHT?

Facebook haunts me. One of my tormentors from high school now lives in the house I grew up in; I looked at pictures of her/my home the other day from the safety of my desk in DC.  Sure, I know we are grown and one could say I have won, that I actually left my small town, but does she really have to be using my bedroom as her nursery? And dear heavens…it keeps on suggesting that I “may know” my own father. Yes, I know him. I have done quite a good job at avoiding him for over 10 years. Facebook, you are upsetting the balance of the Universe.

Finally, it has made men from days gone by almost impossible to escape. Sure, I want to keep in touch with some of them, but most?  I would be perfectly happy to see most fade in to the ether.  The internet makes this impossible.  There they are on your gchat list, yet you cannot block them, because hey, that would be an act of aggression and why would you do that because you are a mature adult and totally over it. Emails, Evites….there they are, EVERYWHERE. It makes it very hard for me to pretend they have gone the way of old Yeller that, in fact, they are quite alive.

Is this what Al Gore was envisioning when he invented the internet? I think he imagined a place of knowledge and ideas, a tool for education.  Instead, it has become a dark, endless well of self involvement and torture. Sugar and spice and everything nice? This is not what the internet it made of.

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Um, basically this was freaking awesome. Sugar and spice biscuits made with decadent cream? Check.  Sweet fruit filling? Uh huh.  Rich whipped cream? Yep.  Is there anything wrong with this? Nada.  Make this.  It is not hard, but insanely good.

Sugar and Spice Shortcake with Peaches and Berries

Sugar and Spice Biscuits (adapted from Simply Recipes)

3 cups all purpose flour
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Splash Milk/Cream
1 egg
3 Tbsp sugar
Dash nutmeg
A few shakes of cinnamon

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Toss with a fork to combine. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or a fork until the largest pieces of butter are the size of peas. (Or pulse several times in a food processor.) Combine the cream and vanilla in a liquid measure. Make a well in the center of the flour and and pour the cream mixture into the well. Mix with a fork until the dough is evenly moistened and just combined; it should look shaggy and still feel a little dry. Gently knead by hand five or six times to create a loose ball.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat it into an 8-inch square, 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment or silpat, cover with plastic and chill for 20 minutes in the refrigerator. Heat the oven to 425ºF. Remove the dough from refrigerator. Cut the dough into 9 even squares and spread them about 2 inches apart from each other on the baking sheet, or, like me, use a biscuit cutter to make round shortcakes.

Beat together egg and milk/cream. Brush on top of each biscuit. Mix together sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon and sprinkle on top of shortcakes.

Bake until the biscuits are medium golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes.

Peach Berry Filling

1 bag frozen mixed berries
1 bag frozen peaches
2 Tbsp sugar

Thaw out berries and peaches. In large stock pot simmer with sugar for about 30 minutes, until berries start breaking down.

Whipped Cream

2 cups heavy whipping cream
3 Tbsp powdered sugar
Splash vanilla extract

Whip together to desired consistency.

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Burn Out

dscn0564The Oscars are over and I know the world was talking about it yesterday but it is only today that I can summon the personal strength and inner courage to discuss it.

I cannot believe Mickey Rourke lost to Sean Penn.  Look, I know Mr. Rourke should just be happy to finally have work again, that he should be basking in his critical acclaim.  Also, as my friend Waspy Wasperson astutely observed on Sunday night, he already had a comeback a few years back with “Sin City”…but pointing that out kinda of ruins the Comeback Kid element of “The Wrestler”.  I was wicked pissed, though. I really thought “Milk” was a disappointment.  Sure, Penn was decent, but he couldn’t touch Rourke with a ten foot pole. I promised Irish Lebowski and Waspy that I wouldn’t burn their apartment down if he lost, but I did manage to knock my soda over in protest.

There was some good, happy, fuzzy feelings during the Oscars despite the Academy’s attempts to break me. Some of these feeling can even be attributed to the show, not the full box of Tagalongs in front of me as I sat on the couch. I loved Marisa Tomei’s whole look.  I found Tina Fey smoking hot in that silver dress; I am glad she finally tried another color other than black and also proved, once again that funny women can also be sexy as hell.  I was charmed by a few of the acceptance speeches.  Even though I found the opening montage a bit much, I could not help but smile every time Wolverine came on screen.

dscn0570The one thing I didn’t really “get” was the “Pineapple Express” spoof for the comedy package.  Though I can admit I chuckled a bit, I just really did not like the movie.  I mean, sure, it is not the epically bad “Milk Money“, but I just was not entertained.  The last scene seemed to last an eternity and the humor just didn’t resonate with me.  They weren’t lovable losers, they were just…losers. Why didn’t I get this?  We all know I can have the humor of a  14-year-old boy.  Is it because I don’t smoke/like pot?   Seriously, someone try to make me get this movie in a way that doesn’t end with me smoking a joint.  (A doobie? A roach? What are you kids calling it?)

The only thing I “get” about pot is it gives you an excuse to eat some really crappy/delicious foods.  I have a friend who would pick all the marshmallows out of a box of Lucky Charms when high.  This is something I can get behind but I don’t think I need to partake in illicit substances to eat total garbage.  I mean, I made a cake in a mug in the microwave, people.  Oh, yeah…and I liked it.  I would never serve this to guests or even eat this on the regular, but this was way better than it had any business being.  It was moist and the chocolate flavor was pretty decent.  I made this when I had a friend over and we happily smothered it in whipped cream and berries and had at it.

Yes, I know this is wrong, but so is “Pineapple Express”.  We all have our vices.  Leave me alone.

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Burnout Cake
From Dizzy Dee

4 Tablespoons cake flour
4 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons cocoa
1 Egg
3 Tablespoons milk
3 Tablespoons oil
1 Mug

Instructions:

Mix flour, sugar and cocoa in the mug. Crack in egg and add milk and oil. Microwave for three minutes. Let set and pop out of mug.

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Road Trip

About a year and a half ago I was at a bar and a patron, decked out in madras shorts and a navy blue blazer with gold buttons, informed his friend he was “about to take that chick down to Poundtown”.

Now this poor girl, drenched in sweat, mascara running down her face, and clearly in need of about a gallon of water, looked to be heading for a trip to Vomitville, but who am I to shatter the dreams of a young man?

I’ve spent a lot of time imagining the landscape of Poundtown.  While it is a place we all love to visit–full of carnal desires, hairpulling, ass slaps, and rugburns–I cannot imagine it a place I would like to take up permanent residence.  I doubt the inhabitants of Poundtown care what anyone thinks or has to say.  Real conversations do not occur and feeling are not felt.  It is a land where post coital cuddling does not occur. There is no illusion of emotions.

I’m imagining latex lined streets and pharmacies stocked exclusively with KY, Trojans and RU-486.  The populace is relegated to wearing leather and lace and required reading is “The Story of O”.  Children read “Fear of Flying” in elementary school, chuckling at the simplistic views preached within.  It’s always midnight, cold, and a bit dreary.

And since a race of people cannot survive on flesh alone, I’m imaging a steady diet of champagne, chocolate, caviar, and, of course….pound cake.

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(This pound cake was afforded a nice tang thanks to the buttermilk and it had a great crumb. Health food it is not, but we cannot be good all the time, can we?)

Buttermilk Poundcake

Slightly adapted from Cooks.com

1 c. softened butter
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
3 c. flour
1/2 tsp. soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream butter and sugar. Blend well. Add eggs one at a time and blend well. Combine flour, soda, salt. Add to creamed mixture alternating with buttermilk. Stir in flavorings. Pour into greased and floured tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

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Distant Memory

You have probably noticed (or maybe you haven’t, it is a bit egotistical of me to think you notice these things) that I haven’t mentioned my Thanksgiving. Well, it was lovely. Quite lovely in fact. What I remember of it, that is.

Yes, I know. Another tale of me possibly drinking a bit too much. This is nothing new. But it was a holiday! You really cannot blame a girl.

The food was amazing and the company was great. The turkey moist, the squash tasty, the stuffing flavorful…I even adored the homemade cranberry sauce. Of course I had to eat some of my beloved canned jelly, but the cranberries with port and shallots gave my Ocean Spray a run for it’s money.

Cindarella and I passed out at AuntLifesaver’s house at 2 am after 12 solid hours of eating and drinking. The next morning, we counted 9 bottles of wine…pretty respectable for 6 people. This holiday I was thankful for Advil and the Wendy’s drive-thru the next morning. (Helpful tip: Wendy’s breakfast sandwiches are square and disgusting.)

We were pretty well sauced by the time desert rolled around . Luckily, this pumpkin bread pudding was so moist, it held up to the extra 15 minutes it spent reheating in the oven. (We may have forgot it…) Served with amaretto whipped cream, it was a perfect combination of a spicy pumpkin pie and the ooey-gooeiness of custardy bread pudding. I probably read about 15 pumpkin bread pudding recipes and this was what I came up with…I was more than satisfied with the end result. It was over the top good and a nice little twist on the traditional pumpkin pie. If you are feeling crazy over the top (and really, you should ALWAYS feel that way), you could even serve this at a brunch.

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Pumpkin Bread Pudding

10 cups (about 10 ozs) challah bread, cubed
1/2 stick melted butter
1 1/2 cup 1% milk
1/2 cup half and half
1 can pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat oven to 350°F. Toss cubed bread in meted butter. Whisk milk, half and half, pumpkin, dark brown sugar, eggs, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and vanilla extract in large bowl to blend. Add bread to an 11×7-inch glass baking dish or a round casserole dish and pour pumpkin mixture over bread. Let stand AT LEAST 20 minutes. Bake pumpkin bread pudding until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

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Mystery

Yesterday afternoon, I found myself watching the finale of “The Pick Up Artist”, or as I affectionately refer to it, “The Vagina Whisperer”.

And when I say “I found myself watching” this trainwreck, I mean “I actually kind of love this show and it makes me judge myself harshly, but I cannot stop”.

As I chatted with EJ while I watched, this painful admission came to light:

Me: Um, Mystery is kinda hot…if he ditched all the douche gear
EJ: ew, really?i can’t look beyond the douche gear
Me: EJ, I am sure this comes from a place of self loathing

I don’t like myself for this attraction, but I cannot tell a lie. Underneath the soul patch and the ridiculous hats and velor, Mystery gives me the tiniest of tingles. He is kind of tall and I am down with the long hair, and OH MY GOD, I JUST STABBED MYSELF. Someone stop me, please.

Thankfully, I have done enough the past few months to keep the Universe in tact. The world will not come tumbling down around me. I may have a teeny, tiny crush on Mystery but I am still a good person. I give to charity.  I eat my leftovers.  Hell, I give away baked goods on the internet.

To right the balance of the world, I sent these chocolate pistachio biscotti to Ava V a few weeks back.  They took over a week to get there even though I send them priority, so I am quite glad I chose biscotti as her treat. With the holidays upon us, these would be the perfect gift to ship off to loved ones.  I’d recommend making these in to two logs to make shorter biscotti; some of them were very long and are prone to cracking.  Also, buy more pistachios than you think you need; I grabbed what I was sure would equal a cup and I came up short. Ava loved these, and how couldn’t she? Loads of chocolate and pistachios all ready to dunk on some coffee or cocoa is pretty perfect.

Now if only these could scrub the visions of Mystery out of my head.

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Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti
From Martha Stewart

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for baking sheet
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for baking sheet
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup shelled pistachio nuts
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a baking sheet; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs; beat until well combined, scraping down sides of bowl if necessary. Add flour mixture, and stir to form a stiff dough. Stir in pistachios and chocolate chips.

Transfer dough to prepared baking sheet; form into a slightly flattened log, about 12 by 4 inches. Bake until slightly firm, about 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for about 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.

On a cutting board, using a sharp serrated knife, cut biscotti diagonally into 1-inch-thick slices. Arrange biscotti, cut sides down, on baking sheet, and bake until crisp but still slightly soft in the center, about 8 minutes.

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On Overkill

My junior year of college I bought my roommate E Weezer’s “Pinkerton“. I had no idea at the time that it would go down as one of the more ill-advised decisions of my life.

In junior high school, I had enjoyed “The Sweater Song” just as much as the next girl and couldn’t help but love the retro video for “Buddy Holly”. Truth be told, I still have “Say It Ain’t So” on my iPod. Despite his deliberately foppish hair and self imposed celibacy, I even found Rivers Cuomo a touch charming. E and I had geeked out over Weezer on multiple occasions so it seemed a perfect gift for her. And while the gift was for E, it was carefully chosen. I accepted that it would come part of my life and knowing E’s slightly obsessive tendencies, I knew I would be subjected to repeated listenings. It seemed an album I could live with.

I could never have anticipated the painful torture E would rain down on me when I handed her that CD.  It looked so innocent, that thin plastic disk. Little did I know that it would become my arch nemesis. E listened to that  album on an endless loop for nearly four months.  I would come home to a dorm room drowning in emo and inner turmoil.  Every night I fell asleep to songs about lesbians and feelings and girls and the unbearable burden of being white, talented and rich. One night, as I drifted off as E played “Pink Triangle” for the fifth time in a row, I mumbled, “If I have to hear this fucking song one more time, there will be bloodshed”.  That solved that problem.

Now it’s not that I don’t love overkill; hell, it is practically my middle name.  It is just sometimes there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.  I worried about this as I threw together these 3×3 brownies, frankly.  I decided to go balls out and just start dumping things in to this basic brownie batter and see what happened; it looked promising but you never know. Three kinds of chocolate and three kinds of nuts?  Could it be too much?  Turns out the answer is a definitive no.  No there is nothing wrong a with a brownie full of cocoa, bittersweet, and semi-sweet chocolate.  Yes, if one kind of nut is good then three kinds will make it even better.  I rushed these a bit as I was short on time and didn’t allow them to fully cool; as a result some of them crumbled a bit, but it didn’t make a lick of difference.  Even the brownie shrapnel tasted delicious.  These were super ooey, gooey brownies studded with the perfect amount of nuts.  Once you make these you will not even think of using a mix ever again.

Trust me; it isn’t too much.  It is just the right amount of overkill.

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3×3 Brownies

Adapted from Taste of Home

1 cup butter, melted
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cup chopped nuts, toasted (I used hazelnuts, walnuts and pecans)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used a mix of semi-sweet and bittersweet)

In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually add to butter mixture. Fold in nuts and chocolate chips.

Spread into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. (I like to line with parchment to prevent any sticking and then grease the parchment.) Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

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On Routine

For such a “free spirit“, I can be shockingly rigid.  I like certain things a certain way and that is that.  My coffee has to be just so (red eye with splenda and 2% milk), I will move hell and high water to avoid a phone conversation (gchat and I are well acquainted), and I have a very specific MO when I travel (there is a meltdown if I get there less than an hour before the flight takes off).

Yet, the one ridiculously structured ritual I undertake every day is my morning routine.  I will spare you the details, but know this: I do the same exact thing in the same exact order every single damn weekday.  If something goes wrong–I am out of coffee, I break a glass or I realize I skipped a step and have to go back and apply my perfume AFTER my deodorant–I am screwed for the day. I never said I wasn’t a freak.

The weekends are different, though.  They are lazy and lovely.  I sleep in, make calls and scratch myself up something to eat.  Normally it is something somewhat healthy, but if I have guests, all caution is thrown to the wind.

This weekend, the beautiful and lovely KassyK came for a visit to go attend VK‘s birthday celebration.  Fun times were definitately had by all.  There were shots, there was dancing…there were more shots.  OH DEAR GOD, I AM NOT 21 ANYMORE…PLEASE NO MORE SHOTS! I am not saying that Kass and I wrecked through some bagels at 4 am, but I am not saying we didn’t.  All I know is we woke up (sorry kids, didn’t spoon her this time) and we needed food.

Knowing Kass loves challah french toast, I threw this together.  This was some good stuff–the french toast especially tasted great.  I love the pillowy softness of the challah bread contrasted with the eggy outer layer.  Truth be told, I think the bananas could have been better, though.  Next time I will use brown sugar and cook them for a tad less amount of time…they were just a bit mushy, but still super tasty.

It was, indeed, a glorious morning routine with a wonderful friend.

Challah French Toast with Bananas Foster

For French Toast

6 slices challah bread

3 eggs

1 tbs sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup milk

For Bananas Foster

2 bananas, sliced

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 tbs sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tbs butter

Splash water

For toast: Beat together eggs and cinnamon.  Ad milk, sugar and vanilla.  Dip slices of challah in egg mixture and place preheated nonstick skillet (spray with Pam or add a pat of butter to pan) and cook on eatch side until golden brown.

For bananas foster: Slice bananas and add sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.   Add butter to pan and add bananas.  Stir for about a minute and add a splash of water.  Serve over french toast and sprinkel with powdered sugar if desired.

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