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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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Bright Ideas

Having a roommate is a very good thing for me. Not only do I have someone to keep track of me (the odds of me one day ending up in a ditch are pretty likely) and split the rent and cable bill with, but it keeps me in line. If it weren’t for the presence of another person in the apartment, I would continually wander around, sans pants, cigarette hanging out of my mouth, while garbage and dishes piled up. You’d see me on Oprah, living in an apartment stacked high with newspapers from 1999 and every issue of Entertainment Weekly since the characters of Melrose Place graced the cover.

How do I know this is a possibility, you ask? Because all hell breaks loose every time my roommate leaves for the weekend. I have the decorum of a frat boy and clearly need other people around to keep me in line.

Yet, I have decided on my own that there shall be no more smoking in the apartment. This decision was made several months ago when, unable to find a book of matches or a lighter, I leaned over the stove to light my cigarette and singed off a lock of hair. Not my hair! It scared the hell out of me and smelled horribly to boot.

Yes, I know I shouldn’t be lighting my cigarette off my stove. In fact, I even know my habit of enjoying the occasional Marlboro Light is a dirty one that makes my clothes smell and increases my risks for lung cancer and wrinkling…but I am a moron.  Yet, if my hair isn’t a reason to change, I don’t know what is.

I tell this story to once again prove how incredibly idiotic I am capable of being…ya know, just in case you forgot. I am, in fact, so stupid that every time I have a great idea, even a decent one, a parade should probably be thrown. They do not happen often and are event worthy.

So, I am just going to say it: this cake deserves a parade of Macy’s proportions. I cobbled it together from multiple carrot cake recipes, using an All Recipes recipe as a point of reference. Instead of using all white sugar, I swapped out a cup of the white stuff for brown sugar. I added raisins and pineapple for extra moisture and flavor. To plump up the raisins, I had (if I do say so) the genius idea of using the reserved pineapple juice for even more flavor. For an added depth, I toasted the pecans before throwing them in to the batter. This cake was crazy moist; so moist that it almost fell apart and stuck to the pans a bit. To avoid crumbling, I added an extra 1/4 cup flour to the recipe and suggest using parchment in the pans. The frosting complemented the cake perfectly and was fantastic. Four days later this thing is still as tasty as when it came out of the oven and not dry at all. My roommate called this “the best carrot cake she has ever had”…and I have to agree. Look people, I know carrot cake. If I cannot get this right, I might as well hang up my shingle and shuffle away in shame. Thankfully, there was no shame in this…

It was pure genius. For such an idiot, I done good.

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It’s Wednesday! Get your hot ass over to So Good and see what (Haloween themed!) treat I am eating this week!

Best Carrot Cake in the Whole Freaking Universe

Heavily Adapted from All Recipes

4 eggs

1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

3 cups grated carrots

1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

2/3 cup raisins (I used golden)

1 – 8 ounce can crushed pineapple, juice reserved

1/2 cup butter, softened

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

4 cups confectioners sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease two 8 inch round cake pans, then line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pans (with the parchment on the bottom).

Shred carrot and let then drain in a colander for 45 minutes. Drain pineapple and heat reserved juice in the microwave for one minute. Dump raisins in juice so they can plump.

In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, white and brown sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in carrots and raisins that have been drained from the pineapple juice. Fold in pecans. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

To Make Frosting: In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Frost the cooled cake.

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Lovin’ It

An inordinate amount of ass smacking took place Saturday night. My hand, in fact, is still sore. Poor LiLu…it was her birthday and she took a lot of abuse.

I figure it all evens out though. She doesn’t remember this–perhaps too much cider?–but earlier in the night she came bounding up to me as I iced a cake. I had used a 8″ chef knife, trying to create a smooth sheen with the liquid velvet icing. LiLu took one look at the knife, dripping in frosting, and attempted to lick it, sharp side first, two times. I am glad I was there to save her from herself, but she had those ass smacks coming after that foolishness.

It was a pity to have to do it, though. LiLu is truly a sparkling little light in every single one of my days. Sometimes I want to send the internet a dozen roses for introducing us. The other day, she referred to us as “secret shame” friends. I would say that is a pretty accurate assessment. If I were to say, “Hey, LiLu, sometimes I watch “Beaches” for two days straight, never changing my underwear, all while surviving on Elio’s pizza, Chubby Hubby and Arbor Mist”, she’d be like “I did that last week…you better invite me next time”. She is a wonderful, hysterical judgment-free zone…with a highly slappable ass.

For such a friend, I had to make a very special birthday treat. (As if saving her tongue from a tragic severing wasn’t enough.) She loves her peanut butter, so I found this recipe for chocolate brownie cookies and made some tweaks. Yes, you read that right. Chocolate Brownie Cookies. I added some peanut butter chips (chocolate chips were an option in the original recipe) and topped them with Reece’s Pieces candy. True to billing, they were chewy and soft like a brownie, but had the crispness on the outer layer like a cookie. These disappeared pretty damn fast and I cannot say I blame the crowd; this is one great cookie.

Nothing is too good for my girl. Happy birthday, you hooker.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Adapted from Joy the Baker


8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (chopped or in chips)

3 Tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) butter

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoons salt

1 cup peanut butter chips

1 box or 2 packets Reece’s Pieces

In the microwave, gently melt together the chocolate and butter. To avoid heating the chocolate too much and possibly burning it, the best method is to heat till the butter is melted and the chocolate has partially melted, then remove from the heat. Stir till all the chocolate melts.

In a separate bowl, beat together the sugar and eggs till they’re thoroughly combined. You don’t need a mixer, just do it in a medium sized bowl with a wooden spoon. Add the hot melted chocolate, then stir in the remaining ingredients. Refrigerate the batter like dough for 1 hour, to make it easier to handle.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets, three if you have them.

Drop the cookie dough by the tablespoonfuls (about the size of a small ping pong ball) onto the prepared baking sheets. Leave about 2″ between the dough balls, as they’ll spread as they bake.

Bake the cookies for 11 to 12 minutes, until their tops are shiny and cracked. They won’t crack until the very end, so keep a close eye on them; when they’re cracked all the way across the top surface, they’re done. Remove the cookies from the oven, and top each with a few Reece’s Pieces. Wait 5 minutes then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.

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A Road Paved

Suddenly, I understood how the “Young Man” felt; she would not stop staring at my God damned feet.

I could not blame her. Frankly, I looked a bit ridiculous. I found myself in my own personal hell, but I had not arrived there without good intentions.

In a pre-coffee stupor that morning, I had thrown together my gym bag. This lead to quite the unfortunate ensemble on the metro ride home: a 1976 Carter-Mondale “Peanut Power” vintage t-shirt, black spandex bike shorts, and sneakers well past their prime. And the socks? Well, I had forgotten gym socks entirely, so I was stuck wearing the fuzzy, snowflake-embellished, bright red slipper-socks that had kept me comfy all day in my knee high boots. For a woman who finds herself tortured when her nailpolish doesn’t match her outfit, I found this ensemble a particularly painful endeavor. Yet, with G-d as my witness, I was working out and no amount of personal humiliation would stop me…even the evil glares of strangers on public transportation.

Something told me when I was throwing the bag together in the morning that I was missing something, but I couldn’t figure out what. So, as I am wont to do, I forged ahead, ignoring the mental whispers that I was overlooking something.

Take, for instance, this cake. While assembling it, I dumped the apples in the pan, then covered with them with batter. I thought something seemed off, but pushed ahead. As I added another layer of apples and poured the remaining batter atop the fruit, I felt a sinking in my stomach. This could not be right…and when I checked the directions again, my suspicion was quickly confirmed. Every single person who I told this story to said the same exact thing: “You didn’t think this was wrong right away? Why didn’t you stop?” BECAUSE THAT WOULD MAKE SENSE. I have no idea how my brain works, I feel thankful daily that I managed to reach another bedtime intact, without somehow managing to stick my tongue in a light socket or fall in a bath tub holding a hairdryer…Sure, I am wearing winter slippers on the metro and yes, the cake looks a little wonky, but it all works out.

So, despite my best effort to mess this cake up, I didn’t… This Jewish Apple Upside Down Cake was just as good as the any other I have had.  Man, this was some tasty stuff.  The cake was incredibly moist and super flavorful, but still had a bit of crumb.  The orange juice helps a ton with the flavor, but does not impart a citrusy taste.  The nuts are optional, but I think they add a nice crunch.  If you want to stay super traditional, leave them out.  Dusted with powdered sugar, this is insanely good and one I will definitely make again.

Right side up…

Jewish Apple Cake
from Smitten Kitchen

6 apples, I used McIntosh apples
1 tablespoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar

2 3/4 cups flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan. Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.

Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples and nuts over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples and nuts on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean.

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