Monthly Archives: July 2012

Gooey Cookie Butter Funfetti Mash-Up Bars

I love sprinkles. Sometimes I love sprinkles so darn much, I think it might be an addiction. You know, like something might be wrong with me that can be actually diagnosed by one of those white-coated people carrying around apples and their (too-)high-minded(-for-Ala) intelligence who look at you through their sleek prescription lenses. One of my med student friends told me that half or more in the profession wear fake glasses because it makes you look like you know what you’re doing even when you don’t–and apparently, the “don’t” part is a pretty frequent thing, especially for new residents. My trust level for doctors has plummeted exponentially since I learned this little fact.

Huh. I wonder why.

Anyway, sometimes my sprinkles addiction gets almost as bad as my stuffed animal addiction, and then it turns into something like this:

I still want to finish watching that movie, by the way. My family had the good grace to turn it off 15 minutes before the end because we had a Thanksgiving meal to carve into. Like, seriously? What do we have to be thankful for if we can’t find out what happens to the cutest girl and fluffiest unicorn in the world?!

Only kidding. I love my family. But I also love sprinkles and stuffed animals, to a possibly indecent extent.

And there’s just so many of them!! Okay, so I’ll admit that I went a little crazy. I went a lot crazy. In fact, if you aren’t starting to get the nagging feeling that something about this post is uncharacteristically Wolfe-ian stream-of-consciousness, you probably need to wake yourself up with a bite of these amazing, scrumptious, gooey, deathly-sweet, it’s-so-sprinkly!!! funfetti cookie butter bars. Because that’s definitely what my nerves are strung up on at the moment, and let me tell you–it’s feeling pretty darn good for a sugar rush.… Read more

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Bars

Won’t Stop Snackin’ White Chocolate Snack Mix

Do you ever:

1) Need a snack for on the go?

2) Want to be known as that parent who packs the best school lunches, and whose child every other kid asks to swap snacks with?

3) Run out of time?

4) Crave a delicious dessert that takes less than 10 minutes, start to finish?

5) Care about somebody and want to show them? Seriously. Like, ever?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions…well then, my friend, this snack mix is for you!

“Can’t stop, won’t stop,” is one of my friend’s favorite mottoes–but once you try even the tiniest taste of this addicting snack mix, you’ll find that you not only can’t or won’t want to stop–you won’t want to be able to stop.

Your fingers will reach for a second, third, and fourth fistful before you know it.

All willpower will fly out the window like a plague of forgotten locusts that are trapped inside your house for I know not what reason.

It will be like setting an entire chocolate-ganache fudge-swirl ice cream cake in front of you and your dangerously-thin wallet, and telling you that anything you can finish in the first 3.257 minutes is free.

You will no longer want to stop eating this food of the gods. In fact, you will find yourself wondering as you chew thoughtfully whether or not you’ve died and gone to heaven. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s a perfectly normal response. It’s just your taste buds talking–so keep chewing.

You’ll suddenly realize how the name of this delicious snack came about, pause for a moment…then shrug your shoulders and throw back another handful as your mind goes blissfully blank.

And that’s good, because you can make as much of this as you want or need–say, a pound to lure away your nosy hubby and gleeful kids, and a pound for yourself–to keep everyone happy.… Read more

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Did You Know? August is National Eat Dessert First Month!

…And I’m hosting a theme challenge in honor of it!

So in America, we apparently have something called “National Eat Dessert First” month. These are the 31 blissful days during the year when the sugar on all the grocery store shelves suddenly vanish and national happiness levels skyrocket. Each day in August has a different themed dessert–the month kicks off with national raspberry cream pie day, followed by national ice cream day, and so on and so forth. Are we seeing a completely delicious, delectable idea brewing here? I hope so!

My idea is to muster up as many forces as I can from all around baking and cooking communities to help me accomplish this challenge. The goal: Find at least one participant–either another or myself–to make a recipe featuring each themed dessert day in August. 

Yes, you read that right, and you know what that means–I NEED YOUR HELP!

I will be featuring a different theme recipe every day for the month of August on this blog. Proper credits and links will definitely be set up, and nothing will be used without your permission. But what better way to create a community and cook up a storm while we’re at it? Plus, you’ll have another outlet for readers to learn about your cooking skills every time you’re in the spotlight. Pretty nifty, eh?

HOW TO PARTICIPATE:

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, National Eat Dessert First Month

Tofu Vegetarian Spring Rolls with Honey Peanut Dipping Sauce

I still remember my cousin telling me a while back about how I would go trumpeting around when I was younger on my high horse, informing anyone and everyone in the family house that I was not going to eat animals when I “grew up”–because going vegetarian, obviously, was not something one simply did as a kid. It was a big deal. It was a responsibility. It was a way of stalling on something that I knew even at the tender age of nine and a half would mean lots of personal sacrifices. What can I say? I’m a natural procrastinator–born, bred, raised. My parents deny that they have anything to do with it, but of course you always have to take what they say with a grain of salt: for example, when I accused my mom of this incurable procrastinatory disease last week, she vehemently denied it–as she played a round of Mah-Jong matching tiles instead of doing her work.

So about three years ago, when I started seriously considering for the first time going “all-out vegetarian,” the prospect frankly frightened me a little bit. Located in the heart of good ol’ liberal Berkeley, I had been in a prime place for the slow food movement, and it wouldn’t be a typical day without receiving a polemic-laden flier on animal cruelty and the current state of factory farms, not to mention the abhorrent sorts of “regulations” that govern what makes it to our plates.

I was also reading Michael Pollan for the first time around then. He’s a prolific journalist and writer who has done some of the best investigative journalism–not to mention amazing reporting in general–about the current state of American attitudes towards food, the love-hate relationship we have with it today, and why we should care. I could go on and on about his profound work, but I feel like it’s more fair to let him speak for himself.… Read more

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Filed under Lunch & Dinner, Vegetarian

White Chocolate Cranberry Coconut Granola Bars and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bar Cookies

To me, hiking was always something that people did when they didn’t feel like doing real sports. You know, sort of like ping pong, or chess. Not to say that any of these are illegitimate pastimes, but something about the idea of meandering up a hill at a glacial pace over a stretch of several hours seemed, well, anti-climactic.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I went “real hiking” for the first time this summer back home with a friend. By the end of the first quarter mile up what I had previously dubbed a “little hill,” my legs were screaming (although thankfully I was out of breath enough not to muster up a vocal scream myself–one of the few perks of being completely unused to hill work) and I felt muscles working in my glutes that I never knew I had before.

Now, I’m by no means out of shape, but it was a real shock when–4000 feet in altitude and nearly 3 miles later–we reached the top, and I realized that I had had to fight my way up, caveman-versus-saber-tooth style. Think fire and sharpened sticks. It was a true battle.

In fact, every time I go hiking, it feels a bit like this (no joke):

Since then, I’ve given hikers a bit more credit than they’re due to make up for my previous lack of admiration. Heck, I’m even thinking about climbing Half Dome with my friends this summer, if you can believe it.

Of course, every good hiker needs a snack in her pack, so that’s where these granola bars kick in. They’re good for everything from the day-long hike to just a snack-on-the-go for those busy teaching days, or even a great light meal sub if you’re looking for that sort of thing. There’s no limit to the places you can take this bar, and what’s even better, you can fiddle around with the recipe to suit your own tastes.… Read more

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Nut Brittle

Do you ever stop to think about how weird some words sound? My friend and I were having this conversation on the tram at Disneyland on Friday, and–

Oh, what’s that? You’re asking where I was when we were having this conversation?

Let me back up and try again…

I was at Disneyland!!!

The happiest place on earth, filled with happy kids, unhappy kids, super grumpy kids, frumpy kids, scowling kids, and howling kids. And then there was my friend and me with our double-scoop dipped waffle cone ice creams from Gibson Girl’s ice cream parlor, laughing at equally grumpy, frumpy, scowling, howling parents who had paid exorbitant amounts of money to get in and have their share of “fun…” Sigh. What great times.

At any rate–phew! Now that I’ve got that out of my system, I can focus. And can I just say, without any further distractions…

Did I mention I was at Disneyland, the happiest place on earth?

(So sue me. I’ve never been much of a girl for cue cards, anyway.

And isn’t that beautiful nut brittle? Apparently I’m not much of a girl for a prolonged attention span, either…)

Anyway–words. Right. So my friend and I were having this conversation at only-the-happiest-place-on-the-freakin’-globe when we started discussing the sounds of words, and how weird some of them can be. For example, think about the word moist. Got that in your head? Now look at it on the screen really, really hard while saying it out loud (or under your breath, if you’re in a public space that’s unconducive to muttering to yourself in a slightly mad fashion).

Moist.

Moist.

Moist.

After a while, I start feeling icky just typing it. “Moist” is one of those words that almost sounds and reads like it connotes. You know the moist feeling of someone’s sweaty arm pressed up against yours on a crowded bus on a Sahara desert-esque afternoon?… Read more

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Strawberry Oatmeal Smoothie, A la Wallflower

It’s my philosophy that all good wallflowers need to have a good wallflower drink–you know, the kind you can clutch onto desperately at a party when you find that your ability to hold a conversation that is both intelligent and lively in the gesticulation quarter is limited. It’s my crutch, and I’m about to make it yours, too. Unfortunately, like any socially-awkward wallflower, I tend to shy away from the alcoholic beverages. Juices, preferably with a label like Capri-Sun or Hi-C emblazoned on them, are my drink of choice. Of course, even I know that hosting a party featuring only drinks with target consumer base ages two to 7.5 years old is a big no-no, so I had to come up with a solution that would please on all levels. My first thought was that it had to be serve-able in a glass. Glass means class, right? Hmm. My second observation was that it needed color. Something that would suggest, Hey! I’m flirty and fun! but minus, you know, the real flirtiness. Fun, though, I can do. My third thought was that it should be a mix. A blend of sorts. That way, I could say it’s a “mixed drink” as I hand it out without actually telling a lie. Sneaky, huh? Finally, it had to be something delicious. Something that would knock people off their stilettos (why are they wearing these to my dingy apartment, anyway?) and have them saying, in their best un-drunk voices, “I want more!” I thought. I looked around the kitchen, scuffed my toes on the linoleum, and thought some more. I reached for the strawberries in the fridge to aid my thinking. My hand was actually closing around a fresh strawberry leaf. And then it hit me. Bingo. And that’s how the strawberry oatmeal smoothie, a la wallflower, was born.… Read more

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Panda (Devil) Bread

It’s like a Rorschach test–quick! What do you see?

Yup, it’s a panda all right! I knew you’d guess it.

…Okay, I admit–it does look sort of possessed. But at least it’s a possessed panda, right? That could potentially still be cute. Its pet name is Frankie the Panda (Devil) Bread loaf.

How did this Shelley-esque nightmare come into being? Let me tell you…

Our story begins on a cold, stormy winter night, when the wrath of the oven gods decided to wreak their havoc and get revenge on the mortals below…so they sent…

PANDA DEVIL BREAD!! Muahahaha!

The end.

Good story, no?

This bread actually emerged from a skewed desire to make something unbearably cuddly and cute for our weekly book club. I’m hosting this week, and so setting aside for a moment the slightly bizarre inclination to eat the face of an endangered animal for lunch, I decided to make this recipe.

Did it turn out the way I wanted? Probably not. But I still think it makes an adorably possessed panda, don’t you think? I’m having my second slice for lunch today with hummus and Greek yogurt, and I’m so looking forward to it. Plus, it’s (surprisingly) one of the best white (or green) bread sandwich loaf I’ve ever made. Soft, airy, slightly chewy, and just a tad of that nice firmness on that outer crust.

Unlike some food bloggers who put out only the very best of their work–we all know those beautiful, amazing photos of jaw-dropping cakes and who-knows-what-went-into-that-cream-puff–I don’t mind sharing, not recipes for disaster, per se, but my own disastrous encounters with good recipes. In fact, I think it’s more fun that way. Possessed panda bread instead of cute, cuddly panda bread–why not, right?

And if you’re still in doubt as to Frankie’s devilishness, take a look at this snapshot from the center of his loaf:

Hehe, that’s my favorite one.… Read more

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Raspberry Cheesecake-Filled Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Over dinner on Friday night, my friend made a well-meant but snarky comment about how blogging about lesson plans that are related to baking is essentially useless. Needless to say, the only things he got to eat after that were his words–none of these delicious, to-die-for raspberry cheesecake-filled chocolate truffle cookies for him!

(Plus, after he heard how many people said they were borrowing the lesson plan for their own use from my chunky cheesecake brownies post, he probably lost his appetite anyway…which was all the better for me, since we had ordered an entire plate of dulce de leche churros that absolutely fantastic.)

They say that when you don’t have an excuse for something–say, for example, to bake an entire batch of chocolate truffle cookies–you’ll be surprised at how readily you invent a real, plausible excuse–say, hypothetically speaking, the need to fill your sample blog with more posts to show your students when you start teaching class next week. Fortunately, I didn’t have to make up an excuse; I had a solid, set-in-stone reason. I, er, needed to fill my sample blog with more posts to show my students. Obviously.

Reason or not, I am so, so, so glad I made these. Not only are they perfectly festive for the summer and berry season–I didn’t get to cut one open to take a photo, but they’re filled with a light pink raspberry cheesecake filling–they’re also possibly the best chocolate cookies I have ever had/tasted/made:

Every good recipe also comes with a story or words of some kind. They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but having a picture with a thousand words to go along with it sometimes makes the picture even more palatable.

My contribution for today is dedicated to my memes lesson plan for the new media class, which I have been working on for over 4 hours on this godforsaken day of days.… Read more

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Cookie Balls

You know those times when you do something disastrously wrong, and everything turns out miraculously right?

Welcome to my world! My kitchen, to be more precise. These cookie balls are the offspring of precisely that odd, paradoxical paradigm:

I literally could not keep these safe from all the grabby hands.

I passed out about a quarter of them at our book club yesterday with my fingers crossed and they were instantly gobbled up. Just vanished. Even Harry’s Invisibility Cloak would have been jealous of just how vanished they were.

At that point, I was thinking to myself that could have been a blip. After all, these were a mistake recipe, right? I’d make them up on the fly because I had dried-out blondies (story to follow!) and nothing to do with them except sit, close my eyes, and pray that they wouldn’t fatally injure somebody if they were thrown (they were, at this point, pretty near rock hard).

When I passed them out this morning, though, it became clear pretty quickly that I hadn’t been mistaken. Am I not making myself intelligible? Let’s see how I can put it:

It was sort of like being in the middle of the battledome from The Hunger Games.

The kids ate them so fast I barely had time to blink and then lunged at the leftovers. It took nothing less than all the prowess, effort, and cunning of a brand new middle-school instructor–which is, I have to admit, more than I ever thought it would be!–to fend them off from the two cookie balls that happened to be left over. I was pleased. Scared, yes, but pleased nonetheless. And all this over a perfectly innocent “mistake.” I don’t think I’ve ever had such a, well, strong reaction  to my baking before!

So what’s the deal behind these cookie balls anyway, you ask?… Read more

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Brownies & Chocolates, Cookies