Mr. Cookie Monster

Hello, my name is Dani & I am definitely addicted to baking. Does bakers anonymous exist? If so, I might need to start attending meetings immediately, but I’m not ready to admit I have a baking problem yet. I’ll just miss the smell of delicious cookies, cakes, or breads permeating the air too much. The funniest part of my baking addiction is that I do not enjoy eating my baked goods as much as I enjoy making them. Nothing beats the feeling of being able to mix a few ingredients together and create something delicious that other people can enjoy with a smile!

So, yesterday, someone asked me if I had any cookies in the apartment. And, low and behold, I actually DIDN’T! I felt so guilty that I went to the store just to buy some chocolate chips and brown sugar (I got guittard milk chocolate chips because they are amazing. period. the end). I made some everything cookies filled with oats, peanut butter, and chocolate chips.

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Goodness

I also made some Mrs. Field’s Chocolate Chip cookies. Sadly, we didn’t have any butttah, so I used crisco instead, which made the cookies a bit more crumbly. Lesson learned Paula Deen: I won’t mess with buttah. When a recipe calls for buttttaaaah, I am adding me some butttaaaah. But they did look purrrdy:

They Call Me Mr. Chocolate

I need to bake something tasty for a bake sale to raise money for Relay for Life on Wednesday. If anyone has any recommendations, they would be greatly appreciated.

Happy Baking! Hope everyone has a restful and relaxing Sunday funday.
Dani

Cookie Conundrum

Hellllloooo,
So I made a self promise to limit my baking for a bit. I lasted about a week, but I was tempted by an enticing bag of chocolate chips. I swear, for some reason, chocolate chips just disappear in my apartment! I feel like I keep buying chips, but they somehow get eaten before I manage to use them. Anyways, I had about a third of a bag of chocolate chips left, so I wanted to put them to good use, and make chocolate chip cookies that look like actual cookies. As some of you know, I have a bit of a problem with baking cookies. Truth be told, cookies and I have a love/hate relationship: I love to make them & they hate to look like actual cookies. They never flatten out, and instead look like little balls of dough. Not too appetizing at all. So I was on the hunt for a good chocolate chip cookie recipe that would result in something that looked like a legitimate cookie.

And success was mine! After following the recipe to a tee (well besides halving the recipe because of missing chocolate chips), I had proper chocolate chip cookies! I had a tiny bit of leftover dough, so I made 4 extra cookies and put them on a different baking sheet. I baked the cookies for the same exact time, but low and behold, these 4 sad little cookies looked nothing like cookies. Instead, they looked burnt & didn’t spread at all. Weird, no? Clearly, my oven has an attitude problem and refuses to cooperate for more than one cookie sheet in a given day. Hence my cookie conundrum:

Can You Spot the Difference?

Question: Has anything similar happened to you?

Culinary adventures never cease to amaze me! Hopefully, yours turn out like my first round. ;)

Happy Baking!
Dani

Collectables

Sorry for not posting about a recipe or two for a while. I’m actually at home for a couple of days, and my mom is on a health kick, so I am trying to limit the amount I am baking. Currently, my lunches seem to be consisting of cranberry walnut bread, and delicious cheeses. Dinners are salads with fish & turkey. Nothing too exciting. Now, on to more important things…

I think I may be a not so secret hoarder. But wait, before you completely judge me, it’s not like I hoard everything. No, I only hoard some things. Actually, I don’t know if that makes it any better or worse, so feel free to continue judging me. I don’t think I will end up on that Hoarding show anytime soon, and you can see the floor in my apartment, which I consider a solid non-hoarding sign, right? Then again, maybe all hoarders all say that…. Ugh, now I am really starting to worry about myself. Oh well, my mom did always tell me I was a special kid. ;)

So when I was younger, and a bit to this day, I used to hoard office supplies. I never was really into Barbies or dolls as a kid. Instead, I really really really loved office supplies. How weird is that? I can’t explain it at all, but for some reason, whenever I got a new set of post-its, I just wanted to save them! For some reason, if the world is crashing & all we need are post–its to survive, I will be set & will help save you too, I promise! Somewhere inside the depths of my parents’ garage, I am sure you will find a huge plastic storage container filled with various notebooks and more post-its than a normal human being will ever go through in a lifetime, or two. If it counts for anything, I am able to admit that I have a problem. I’m trying to get better & not buy any more office supplies.

Recently, I’ve really been into collecting Starbucks mugs from different cities! They look something like this, and are perfect for drinks (both hot and cold), oatmeal, and other great treats. Because I have been busy with work and school and what not, I have not had much time to travel recently. Thankfully, I have amazing friends and family who have been picking me up a mug when they travel. My dad has gone out of the country on business, and he tries to pick me up a mug or two from various places in Europe and Asia. Although Starbucks is not in every country (much to my surprise because I see one on every second corner in California), these mugs serve as a little collection of travels and the memories associated with those. I never realized how expensive those little mugs can be in different parts of the world, so I am really appreciative of every single person who has thought of me when they were traveling and brought one back!

The most ironic part of my new “habit” is that I am not an avid coffee drinker at all! Although I enjoy a nice cup of coffee or cappuccino now and then, I really cannot stand the aftertaste of coffee. Instead, I prefer tea. Oooh, or Starbucks makes the most amazing iced-tea lemonades! Seriously, if you haven’t had one yet, go try one on a nice warm day. They really hit the spot. All their different tea varieties are delicious, but I prefer a half black/half hibiscus with a pump or two of sugar (I don’t like mine too sweet). Anyways, yesterday I decided to start keeping a list of the mugs I have. I’m writing down where the mug is from, when I got it, and who gave it to me. Since my memory is so shot, I figured this would be a good way to remember everything if the collection ever gets to be too big. So, if you’re ever off traveling anywhere, and would like to bring me back a Starbucks mug from that city or country, it would be greatly appreciated. ;)

 

Question: Now that I’ve shared my dirty little habits, are you a secret hoarder? Do you collect any items? Please share!

P.S. It’s raining pretty hard here, & my dog hates walking/being out in the rain. We took him out for a couple seconds, so he could do his business, and he is now drenched. He’s running around like a mad man dog trying to dry himself off. I wish he could stay still long enough, so I could take a picture!

Monkalicious

It’s the weekend! Woooo hoooo! After a verrrrrry long night, I was looking forward to a nice relaxing day. What better way to destress and get over a headache than baking? So today, I decided to make one of my go-to recipes: monkey bread muffins! Although I cannot in the least bit claim responsibility for this recipe, I do have it memorized from making at one too many times. The base recipe is incredibly versatile: use it from anything ranging to breads to sweeter desserts. Making the dessert in the muffin tins means less waiting for baking & much easier to divide. So without further ado…….

I'm Saucey ;)

Filled with cinammon & sugar

glazed & ready to go

The recipe can be found here.

Happy Baking!
Dani

What’s Your Vice?

Hey there,
Today is turning into one of those lazy afternoons. It’s nice and cloudy outside. With the fog rolling in, I did not feel like doing much of anything, but I convinced myself to go to the store (pjs & all). I was fresh out of fruits and veggies, and planned on coming back with lots of healthy and delicious treats. Instead, sadly, I got stuck in the snack aisle, and ended up bringing these bad boys home:

Why am I so addictive?

Cheez-its. My vice. Ah, how I should not be allowed to shop by myself, or go to the market hungry. I just love these little squares of salty and cheesy goodness. And of course, the problem is that I can never have only one. Alas, only thirty minutes after returning from the store, I have a measly amount left.  (I did have a little help from friends, but seriously, who eats that many Cheez-its besides me?)

Oops. And then there was none...

So, partially in order to make myself feel a little bit better, and because I am quite the curious person, I must ask: What is your food vice? The one (or two) thing(s) you try your hardest to resist, but indulge in a moment of weakness? Maybe we can trade… ;)

Happy St. Patty’s Day! Stay safe & have fun.
Dani

A Pound for a Pound

Hi everyone!
So this morning, I woke up super pumped to do my workout. Actually, that isn’t the case at all. I am not a morning person at all, so I had to drag my half awake butt out of bed to start my day. However, I was relatively excited to work out because a couple of friends were joining me for a mid-morning workout followed by a quick lunch and walk to the beach.

For lunch, I knew we would be having pasta with tomato sauce I made yesterday. I also made some cheese breadsticks (well, supposed to be breadsticks but turned out more like biscuits/cookies — hence, no picture). For dessert, I decided to make lemon pound cake. But, since I did not have much time to make the pound cake, and it takes a little under an hour to bake, I decided to put it in the oven as we started our workout and take it out when we finished. Of course, nothing ever goes that well. My friends came late, and I had naively put the pound cake in the oven, so I was running over to the oven mid-workout covered in sweat to check on my pound cake  (now does the blog title make sense? I was proud of my own creativity. I’ll give myself a light pack on the back…). I can only imagine the not-so-pleasant mix of sweat, tomato sauce, and pound cake that permeated our apartment. Sorry neighbors!

Now, back to pound cake. Seriously, one of the easiest desserts to make. I’ve made it several times (with both milk & buttermilk), and have yet to receive a complaint. The texture from the milk/buttermilk makes the pound cake taste heavenly without being too rich & making you feel guilty.  My friend managed to polish off about 1/2 of the pound cake after our workout, and hopefully yours will too! We were too quick to gobble up the pound cake, so I forgot to take pictures (sorry :(), but I will see if I can attempt to snap a picture of some of the crumbs when I am back at my apartment. If not, I guess it’s just an excuse to make another one!

Ingredients (recipe lightly adapted from here except I halved it, cut down the sugar, and increased the lemon zest)
Wet:
1/2 cup of butter or one stick melted (I tend to use just slightly less because in my head I feel healthier — so much for precision with baking)
1 cup of sugar
3 eggs
1 tblspn vanilla
zest of 1 lemon & juice from said lemon (if you want a regular pound cake, simply omit the lemon zest. still delicious!)
1/2 c buttermilk or milk* (to convert milk into buttermilk, simply pour the milk into a cup, measuring bowl, whatever & add a tablespoon of lemon juice. let sit while you are mixing your ingredients)

Dry:
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
pinch of baking soda
smaller pinch of salt (seriously, who is going to measure out 1/8 of a teaspoon. if you do, i applaud you)

Recipe
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a loaf pan.
2. Add sugar to your melted butter. Mix until creamy. Add eggs one at a time and continue mixing until all blended. Add in vanilla.
3. Alternate between adding your buttermilk/milk mixture and dry ingredients until well blended.
4. Pour batter into the loaf pan. If you’re baking without someone you like, be nice and let them like the bowl ;). Let bake for 50-55 mins or until a toothpick easily slides through the middle of the loaf. (Although I am lacking a picture, the loaf should be very slightly browned on the top).
5. Let cool in the loaf pan for 5-10 mins before sliding it out. The sides and bottom will be nicely browned. Cool, slice, enjoy.

Happy Baking!
Dani

Tomato Tuesday

Happy Tuesday!

It’s such a beautiful day outside, and I’m trying to think of something witty to say, but it seems like my mind has decided to take a mini-vacation, so please excuse the lack of wittiness. I hope I am forgiven. ;)

Anyways, I was in the mood to make something delicious for dessert because I have milk that is about to expire (like yesterday). But I was out of eggs, and could not bring myself to get my butt off the couch and to the store. I’m still planning to make a lemon pound cake with the milk, but until I manage to hunt down some eggs…. I decided to make homemade pasta sauce!!!

I had about ten tomatoes that were way past ripe, so I figured there is nothing easier or better to make than homemade marinara sauce. Seriously, all it takes it a bit of chopping, stirring, and voila, homemade sauce! I have friends coming over for lunch tomorrow, so this is also such a great recipe to make for a large group of people. Just boil some pasta, throw together a salad, brown some beef or turkey, and lunch is served. I’ll update tomorrow with the final product. :)

Don't I look tasty? And I was soooo easy to make.

Ingredients:
10 ripe (or overripe) tomatoes
1 1/2 chopped tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic
onion and garlic powder to taste
1 tblspn salt
1 tspn pepper
basil to garnish

Recipe:
1. In a large saute pan set on medium high, chop the onions & saute. I sprayed the pan with olive oil cooking spray, so the onions wouldn’t stick.
2. Once onions brown, add chopped garlic.
3. Chop tomatoes (notice a pattern with the chopping)
4. Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan. Set on high & let bubble for an hour.
5. Set heat on low & let the tomatoes simmer for as long as you can stand it. The longer, the better!
6. Enjoy.

Happy cooking!
Dani

Green Spring Fever!

Hi,

Within the past couple of weeks, I have easily been averaging 2 baked desserts/day. Healthy or not, baking is my way of de-stressing & taking a breather. Some desserts were successful & others fell short, but friends soon began complaining that I was baking too much & their waist lines were feeling it. (Note to self: Remember what you learned in your high school photography class, so you can take pictures to properly document your “special” baking habit). So, I made a promise to myself to stop baking. Guess how long that lasted? Barely 24 hours, but hey, at least that was 24 hours when the kitchen looked the most presentable it has looked in months.

However, because I have a not so healthy & definitely not so secret addiction to the Food Network, my will not bake slowly but surely deteriorated. I had about half of a bag of Mint Guittard chips left (good timing with St. Patty’s day next week, no?). For those of you who have not heard or tried Guittard, I fully recommend them. Nothing like the taste of premium chocolate melting in your mouth…. Please pause for a moment while I day dream & drool about Guittard.

Ah, now where was I? Oh yes, BROWNIES! What’s a better way to get ready for St. Patty’s day than combining decadent chocolate chips with gooey, rich brownies?

They're begging for a taste!

Ingredients!

Wet:
1/2 c vegetable or canola oil (I used a combination)
3/4 c granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-3 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk

Dry:
1/3 c unsweeted cocoa powder
2/3 c white all purpose flour
large pinch of baking powder
pinch of salt (like the preciseness?)

Other Ingredients:
1/2 bag Mint Guittard Chocolate (or more to taste—you can never go wrong with too much chocolate :))

Ze Recipe

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8 by 8 square baking dish.

2. Mix all the wet ingredients together (starting with the oil & sugar. Then add the eggs individually followed by the vanilla & heavy whipping cream)

3. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. (I used a large measuring cup to mix them all together– less cleanup, no?)

4. Slowly add in the dry ingredients to the wet mixture.

5. Fold in the Guittard Chips.

6. Pour into pre-sprayed 8 by 8 baking dish. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the top sets & a tooth pick can easily slide through the center of the brownie. Let cool for as long as you can stand it. Cut & serve with a cup of milk, or any other special beverage for St. Patty’s Day.

Happy Baking!
Dani

Midterm Study Break: Baking at its Finest

Good morning/day/night (depending on when you’re reading this). Well, hopefully someone is reading this. Besides myself.

Anyways, instead of studying for midterms, I decided to once again start browsing food blogs. Over the year, I have been reading my friends blogs who are studying abroad. Although I am currently not abroad and probably will not be in the near future, I figured I can add my eating/cooking/baking expeditions to the blogging world, so here goes my first “real” entry!

For some reason (consciously or not), I was determined to use all the flour in my apartment today, and all of the eggs in various recipes. I succeeded in using all the flour while only spilling a minimal amount, but still have a sad egg left over. My baking expeditions involved running to the store for various ingredients (loading up on extra butter, sugar and milk never hurts, right Paula Deen ;)).

For my first recipe, I decided to make Cranberry Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Surprise Cookies. Lengthy title, but relatively easy to make!

The recipe:

1 1/2 c sugar (I used regular granulated sugar because I ran out of brown sugar)

3/4 c butter (melted — microwaved for 30 seconds)

2 eggs (beaten)

1 tspn vanilla

1 tspn baking soda

1 tspn baking powder

1 tspn salt

3 1/2 c flour

1/2 c dried cranberries (or any other dried fruit you desire)

12-15 chocolate cooking disks (I used the ones from Trader Joes…picture to come)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Mix all the wet ingredients together (butter and sugar first, followed by eggs and vanilla). Fold in dried cranberries.

2. Add in dry ingredients

3. The trick: take a chocolate disk and wrap the dough around it, so the chocolate disk is covered.

3. Bake for 12-15 minutes until browned at the edges. Cool & enjoy.

As a novice blogger, I did not think to take pictures along the way, but here is the final result!

Happy baking!

So you had a bad day? Join the pity party.

Today, was awful. Not in a dramatic my period is due tomorrow way, but in a life questioning way. The day starting off great: I had to get up incredibly early for my first day of work this week, and I am not a morning person to say the least. After barely dragging my half dead body out of bed, I thought that today would go swell. But, boy, was I wrong. After venting about doing poorly on a very important exam to everyone who would listen and even those who would not, I did what any self respecting female would do, and I ate my feelings. Perfectly toasted open face tuna melt with melted provolone cheese on a hearty slice of Whole Foods whole wheat. Delish, and relatively healthy. After properly washing away my feelings with a nice cold tonic water, I proceeded to browse food blogs. The delectable pictures and witty banter always cheer me up, and then I figured, why not start my own blog? I love to eat more than any normal human being, and I can more or less string a coherent sentence together, so why shouldn’t I, write a blog? So here I am, sitting at my computer, attempting to navigate what should be an easy internet site with the technological savvy of a bed ridden great grandmother. I invite you to join me as I share my overly hyped and vaguely boring daily tribulations as I attempt to navigate life, moving back home for law school, and getting back in shape while never giving up my first true loves: cooking and eating.