Category Archives: Baked Goods and Desserts

Thick, Puffy Ginger Molasses Sugar Cookies

{a year in Facebook statuses} 

Every once in a while, I stop spamming my feed with #bakerproblems and share something meaningful. Today I’m spreading the holiday joy with these warm, puffy, thick, ginger molasses sugar cookies and a glimpse back at where this year has taken us…

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{December} 

Sitting at Starbucks, I bought a large coffee for a homeless man who was asking for any type of help people could give. As I continued working, I watched him, fascinated, as he limped around outside, cup out but constantly in motion. Then I realized that he was taking napkins and wiping the outside tables dry so people could sit there after the rain; he was also picking up cigarette butts and pieces of trash from the ground all around the coffee shop and throwing them away. There are people sitting outside now at the tables he dried, and there are people walking past his proffered cup on the sidewalk that he cleaned. The things we normally ignore when we’re rushing past with our heads down and our defenses up–try not to take them for granted. You never know what beauty you might miss.

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{December}

There’s a special spot in heaven for bus drivers who wait for you when they see you running to catch your transfer, instead of closing the door in your face and rolling with painstaking slowness away from the curb. Or if there isn’t, there should be. A salute to all nice public transit operators who have ever made life easier for us!

{November}

Instead of becoming a batty old cat lady, I have decided to be that token girl who bakes apple pie cheesecake donuts at 4 AM after watching the world’s worst rom-com on the couch with her stuffed whale and has nobody to share them with except herself. Read more

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Caramelized Banana Upside-Down Rum Cake for #SundaySupper

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BREAKING NEWS: GOOD PEOPLE DO EXIST.

Last Thursday, apparently I lost my wallet. I did not know I lost my wallet. In fact, if I hadn’t received the email from the police department the following afternoon, I probably would not have noticed until I was late for an important meeting and could not find my wallet anywhere. 

But I did not know. So the email was all like, Surprise! We gotz yer wallet! Come an’ get it. Humdiddlydum, Police Guys. 

And I was all: ……….Oh.

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So after somehow muddling on my boots and feeling pretty nervous, I mucked down to the police station where they had my wallet. It’s actually a simple process–thankfully for my mental well-being–and the first thought I had when I got my wallet and opened it up was, Thank GOD, good people DO exist!

Everything was still in it, exactly as I’d left it. The police had taken out my cash and ID to put in a little plastic baggy ostentatiously labeled “EVIDENCE,” but aside from that, all was well with the world. Or at least with my wallet. I almost kissed the police officer in happiness, but I hurried away before I could give in to the impulse and be arrested for unmeditated assault.

Before I left, I asked where and when they had found it, and the officer told me it had been around one of the streets near Trader Joe’s. Somebody had turned it in about 5 minutes after I passed that spot the night before.

I thought back.

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The last place I could remember pulling out my wallet to use was at TJ’s, when I decided to stop by to grab groceries after a nighttime gym run. It was almost closing time, so I was the second-to-last customer in line for the express lane.… Read more

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Mini Peanut Butter Jelly Parfaits {+ My Bakers Box Giveaway!}

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What is your resting face? Do you wear a worried frown or a mild smile or a cheeky grin or–dare I say it–the classic resting bitch face? (No offense meant–some people just have it! And if you’re one of them, it’s totally okay. Seriously.)

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I ask because I like to play something called the Resting Face Game when I’m walking around the town, traveling, en route, etc. It’s the sort of zany social/mind game only somebody like me would play, but the goal is simple: break as many “resting faces” as possible. Is someone frowning? Make them smile! Is that passerby already smiling? Make them grin! Usually this involves making eye contact and doing something silly….like acknowledging the existence of a fellow human being. Sigh. I really am hopeless, aren’t I?

I was walking back home today and counted 4 cases of eye contact + smiles–but I also walked past 3 people who actively stared me down and glared at me, which seems a bit intense, even if it IS finals week (jeepers!). My friend and I compared notes a few weeks ago and we have an average success rate of about 1 in 35 people. What do you do when people pass you by?

As you might easily guess, my resting face is pretty chipper, though as the school year wears on and a bunch of random emotional stuff has come up, I find myself making an increasing effort to keep it up. So that’s the second game I play when I’m too tired to break resting faces (that sounds kind of violent, doesn’t it? Sorry). It’s called the Let’s Smile Because I’m Alive game, and you’d be surprised how many people need to be playing it right at this very moment. Do you?

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If that’s the case, let me help give you a reason to smile!… Read more

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Coconut Oil White Chocolate + Chocolate Chip Cookies

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There are two types of people in this world who can afford to wait around for miracles to change their lives.

Immortals, and dead people.

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I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t spend the better part of my many daydreams sighing after a miracle to sweep me off my feet. Usually this miracle saunters up in the guise of a tall, gorgeous man with a charming smile and perfectly manicured fingers sweeping through wind-tossed dark bangs, but sometimes it’s a publishing contract for my new YA novel or–if I’ve been watching one too many interviews of The Hunger Games that night–an accidental bumping-into Josh Hutcherson on a local sidestreet.

Most miracles nowadays, however, are manufactured. I always feel like I’m cheating fate when I make my own miracles, sort of like how technology ruins romance for a 21st-century couple that yearns for destiny to bring them back together. Because let’s face it: Serendipity (2001) would never have happened had it taken place 10 years later, because John Cusack would have already Facebook stalked the bejeezus out of Kate Beckinsale’s character before Googling her employment history, contact info, and relationship status. Who needs phone numbers written on dollar bills when you have the internet?

In short, most modern-day miracles suck the fun out of romance. And don’t sit there shaking your head knowingly at me, because even as you read these words you’re secretly toggling to the browser tab that contains every Facebook picture that guy (or girl) you just met yesterday at the airport has ever uploaded. And if you aren’t doing it now, you have done it, or will be doing it, or both. And it’s probably not your first time, either.

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I hold my own pretty well–better in some cases than in others. Just this Thanksgiving, I was at the airport along with hundreds of other straggling holiday travelers and finally snagged a seat at a crowded table full of disheveled but friendly-looking guys.… Read more

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Krispies Oreo Brownies (Vegan) + PB&Co. Giveaway

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Fact: Everyone else’s life looks cooler than yours.

Did you just get a promotion at your accounting firm? Congratulations! Your former classmate just got bumped up to CEO of a high-profile tech company that makes life-saving microchip nanobots.

Also, that dorky kid whom you all made fun of in high school is now happily married with a newborn on the way and wedding pictures that make you want to drown your face in your toilet bowl. Meanwhile you are blasting Hunter Hayes’ “Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me” on repeat and devouring a tub of cookie dough ice cream like your life depends on it.

If you’re me, you’re also watching that wonderful 1999 movie “Never Been Kissed” featuring 25-year old journalist Josie Gellar (played by Drew Barrymore opposite the extremely dreamy Michael Vartan) and wondering vaguely to yourself if you’ll feel quite so warmly about this movie when you’ve gotten beyond 25 and are, alas, still very much a chronically romance-challenged Josie Grossie.

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Fact: You are 99.9% convinced everyone else’s life IS cooler than yours.

Fortunately, this “fact” confirms one thing for you: you’re certainly not alone in this feeling. While you’re busy hovering jealously over your friend’s newly published YA novel, somebody else is contemplating whether or not to Like your recent post about your new blog. Maybe they do decide to Like it, and you would never know the full 10 minutes of internal struggle that went into that seemingly simple choice.

Would it seem creepy to Like this, considering I haven’t actually spoken to them in four years? your brain asks in torment. Do I want to endorse their coolness? Would doing so make me feel worse about myself in comparison?

The wonderful Nancy from Gotta Get Baked, for whom I have immense respect and love (she is one amazing cookie), called my attention not too long ago to an article on this very topic.… Read more

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Deep-Dish Tiramisu Pie with Coffee Crunch Crumble

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Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy…

But here’s my pie–follow me maybe?

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I love food festivals for many many good reasons, the best of which are 1) food, 2) eating, and 3) more food. In close fourth comes the company: there’s something oddly liberating about connecting with new people through the miracle of face-stuffing, ith delicious globs of cream dribbling down the side of your face as you and the stranger standing next to you rave over the ah-MAY-zing pie you both just tried.

Do you love coffee too? you ask. Cream pies are the best, right? he responds. What about that coffee crunch though? Isn’t it amazing? Are you going to finish that slice?

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A few weeks ago, my friend sent me info on a pie contest that a local radio station was going to host. Of course, I was 110% excited, because I love pies. Eating an entire cake sounds like a terrible idea, but there is nothing more comforting on an autumn evening than snuggling up in your loveseat, inviting an entire Costco-sized pumpkin pie onto your lap,  and eating the whole thing right up after a long swim meet.

Topped with a general scoop of homemade Biscoff meringue ice cream, if you fancy like dat.

After tons of debating and wiffle-waffling and probably more anxiety than necessary, I finally decided to adapt one of my favorite dessert recipes and create this Deep-Dish Tiramisu Pie with Coffee Crunch Crumbles. I slapped in a vegan shortbread chocolate chip crust, whipped up some rummy tiramisu filling, layered it with store-bought ladyfingers, dusted the top with cocoa powder, then topped the whole shebang off with this tricky but mind-blowing coffee crunch crumble, which was inspired by this famous Blum’s Coffee Crunch Cake copycat recipe.

GOOD IDEA, ALA.… Read more

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The Best Blondies for #SundaySupper

Quick Etsy shop announcement: this month’s new featured item is my Coconut Rum White Chocolate Blondie: perfect for pre-holiday season gifting! If you’re looking for other thoughtful gifts, you can browse my whole selection and learn more about the shop’s history here!

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It’s clear what kind of a spinster I will be: not an old batty cat lady (I’m allergic to cats), but a decrepit little woman who bakes Coconut Rum Blondies at 4 AM after finishing a terrible Ginnifer Goodwin rom-com alone on my couch.

On the bright side, there are worse things. For example, I could be an old hag who runs around on her neighbor’s lawns scattering apple tree seeds and shouting at the top of my voice: “The British are coming! The British are coming!

Or I could be without these blondies, and that’d be a crying shame, don’t you think?

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Thankfully, a few nights ago I was chatting with one of my best friends and unofficial psychotherapist H, who finally talked me out of my three-week shlump. To celebrate my release from the fetters of romantic comedy films, I decided to start a dedicated Me-Time journal for the next 21 days, where I can write my scattered thoughts about the day’s events. However, it’s only Day 1 and I’ve already filled 8 pages with musings on life! Who knew anything actually buzzed in this tiny brain of mine, right?

One thing I realized over the course of those eight pages was that a) I’ve actually had a really amazing week, and b) I love the feeling of meeting and keeping in touch with new people. There’s something incredibly liberating about getting to know someone who has no preconceptions about who you are except what you show them while you’re chatting–in the past 3 days alone, I’ve met & become (at least Facebook) friends with 2 folks in Starbucks, 2 guys from an international siblings program, and at least a handful of really wonderful people from my friend J’s recent PhD graduation party.… Read more

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Rocky Road Brownies for #SundaySupper

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These brownies aren’t the only crazy thing happening around here this week, though they are insanely fudgy and I made boxes of these for friends who loved them and I’m selling them online here so if you want them without so much as stepping a toe into your kitchen, I can make that happen now.

Crazy? I love crazy.

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Just about 45 minutes ago, I got off an epic long late-night phone call (yes, it’s 3 AM and I manually pressed the Publish button on this post) with my friend. I’ve been prone to lots of anxiety and high-stress nights lately for seemingly no reason, so catching up with her (instead of spending the evening wringing my wrists to a pulp) was a pleasant change of pace.

At one point, she mentioned rereading this blog post I published back in June about defining self-worth–if you haven’t read it yet, I spill a whole bunch of juicy confessions in it about my life and insecurities that are interesting and probably mildly entertaining. From there, we started talking about just about everything: about the difficulty of living up to expectations, feeling burnt out from Life, piecing together bits of our life through expert stalking social media surfing, the recent guys in my idiosyncratic love life, and, oh yeah: my recent tendency to eat my feelingz.

Mostly because #school. And maybe some of the aforementioned guys stuff. (Thankfully none of them think big-picture enough to actually read my blog #middleschoolalloveragain)

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With these brownies just schlumming around the house all the time now and getting wrapped up for Etsy orders, I shouldn’t be surprised I’m eating my weight in feelings these days. Thick, fudgy, gooey, crunchy feelings.

However, one of the best reminders to come up in our conversation was the importance of taking time to reflect on our own lives.… Read more

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Inverted Graham Cracker Cheesecake Bars

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As students trundle to their first classes of the quarter, laden with heavy backpacks filled with books they will probably never finish, for classes they will soon find no time to attend;

as school swings back into high gear with the sound of familiar chimes ringing from the campus bell tower, tolling its stolen set of pipes recorded from another university tower;

as I lug my brick of a laptop to my office under the unnaturally blazing October sun, I think vaguely to myself that if I chance to encounter a mad Sasquatch on my unlikely path to school, at least I carry a dense projectile with which to defend myself, my expenses spreadsheets be damned.

New beginnings are always an adventure, and Fall is a beautiful thing…

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This–the late start of a new school year–is when the sun sets at an abysmally early hour and all the poetic heebie-jeebies jittering around my body just want to leap off onto the page illuminated by burning midnight oil. Call it my inner Donne or just an English grad student’s whimsy; but this is also the season of  warm, comforting flavors of cinnamon-infused graham crackers in my treats, which must all be baked now that the temperature has dropped below 90F: and there’s something special about graham crackers that makes me ask them in their lurid blue cardboard box, blithely, What the heck is a “graham” anyway? Why didn’t we reunite earlier than this?

On that rude self-interruption: I don’t know what a graham is. The phrase “graham cracker” reminds me oddly of the joke that goes, “If olive oil is made of olives, then what is baby powder made of?” Enigma central. I could probably Wiki this in a second but Bruno Mars’s “Lazy Song” just came up on my Spotify and I am not one to argue with divine intervention.… Read more

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Raw Salted Chocolate Chip Oat Healthy Bars for #SundaySupper

I dare you to tell me this is “just another healthy oat bar” recipe. I triple dog dare you, and if you lose, I will bite the head off a hapless gingerbread man (is it almost that time of the year already? Sigh).

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Apart from the mumbled ooh’s and aah’s these bars received when I brought them to my friends’ houses, this healthy snack alternative just knocked my socks off. I was messing around with the food processor last week because it’s been a solid 98 degrees all week here. Living in perpetual beautiful summertime may not sound like a problem, but it is indeed a problem.

A big, fat Californian first-world problem. Try hashtagging that. 

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I expected “good,” I expected “delicious”–but I did not expect these.

I anticipated “love ‘em!”, I anticipated “yum!”–but I did not anticipate this.

I did not know there would be violent voices in my head screaming at me after I tasted these, “EAT THEM ALL BEFORE THE REDCOATS COME OR WE WILL KEEL YOU.”

And really, who am I to disobey?

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The most gorgeous thing about these bars (if one could pick) is that they taste like honest-to-goodness no other oat cookie/granola bar I’ve ever made before. The oat base is slightly salty and leaves this unexpected coconutty taste (from the coconut oil) in your mouth that makes you suspect they’ve started flavoring crack with essence of coconut these days. The bars are studded with chunks of dark chocolate (always a good move) and a great salty balance of pretzel chunks, which add awesome texture to the bars. And they’re vegan, GF, raw, and completely date-sweetened, which means

the fact that I gobbled up an entire pan in one sitting

is also like a merit or something.

Almost.

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I’m thinking granola bowl, served with vanilla soy milk or–better yet–sweetened coconut milk.… Read more

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