Category Archives: Baked Goods and Desserts

Guest Post from Neighbor Food: S’more Cake Pops

It’s only Tuesday, but T.G.I.C.: Thank goodness it’s Courtney from Neighbor Food!

This girl is a lifesend and a lifesaver, period. It has been nearly one–count it, one–full month since I’ve last had a chance to bake. Cue brief flickers of bloggy unease, followed by a 9.6-magnitude shock of panic, immediately assuaged by the soothing tones of Courtney’s calm, smiling (I imagine) assurance that she could write this guest post for me.

You’ll see why I love her, her blog, her recipes, and just everything about her so much once you read on! Plus, since I haven’t had time to do baking of my own, I had my face plastered to the screen as I attempted to lick the pixels clean off while writing a coherent introduction. The results are disappointing, but that’s why I’m handing this space over to Courtney, who has her stuff together way better than I do today.

So without further ado–here’s Courtney!

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Hey Wallflour friends! I’m so excited to be visiting today from my little cozy Internet home, Neighborfood. The World Wide Web can be a royal World Wide Pain at times, but it’s things like this that make me incredibly thankful for its existence. Thanks to Ala for inviting me to share this virtual space with all of you today!

S'more Cake Pops- An easy bite-sized treat!

Let’s talk about cake pops. Are they out of style? I seem to always be about 8.5 months behind the food trend curve. I’m just now getting into donuts, and I feel like everyone’s already moved on to ice cream sandwiches. Don’t mind me. I’ll just be the one raving about the cronut two years from now, when I’m sure some other bizarre hybrid food (pizztacos? waffleburgers?) will have taken the blogosphere by storm.

Frankly, the reason I never got into cake pops is because I simply didn’t like them. I always thought they were sickly sweet and required way more work than their taste was worth. But sometimes you bake too much cake, and as much as I’m not a fan of cake pops, I’m even less a fan of wasting cake. So there I was with a big ol’ bowl of yellow cake crumbs and nothing to do but craft a cake pop.

s'more-cake-pops-7

Friends, I’m happy to tell you I’ve had a change of heart. These cake pops are different. Easy to make. Not overly sweet, and covered in chocolate. They’ve got a lot going from them.

Let’s start with the cake itself. The typical cake pop is made with a combination of crumbled cake crumbs and canned frosting. Until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t questioned this formula, but since I don’t normally stock canned frosting, I found myself scrambling for another option. They say necessity is the mother of invention, and I’ve found this to be absolutely true in my kitchen endeavors. It’s amazing the creative juices I can work up when it means I can avoid an extra trip to the store.

A little pantry searching led me to a half opened jar of marshmallow creme just begging for its time to shine. I snatched it up and added it to the cake crumbs until they adhered to each other and could be rolled into balls.

S'More Cake Pops

Of course, the moment the marshmallow creme hit the crumbs, these cake pops were destined for smoredom. After being rolled into balls and frozen so they stayed together, the balls got dipped into melted chocolate then rolled into crushed honey grahams. Of course, you can use regular graham crackers as well, but the honey grahams stayed crunchier, which I liked.

Now this is a cake pop I can’t resist. The marshmallow creme and chocolate keep these from becoming overly sweet, and the grahams add a nice unexpected texture I appreciated. These disappeared at my work, and when coworkers requested the recipe I was happy to tell them it was only 5 ingredients and easy peasy.

S'more Cake Pops

If you’ve never made cake pops before, here are my suggestions. Cake pops are made more on feel than precision. What I mean is, don’t get caught up too much in specific amounts, especially when it comes to the crumbs and the marshmallow creme. You can easily adjust this based on the amount of crumbs you have. The important thing is to add just enough creme to get everything to stick together.

My second tip? Always, always freeze the balls before dipping. I usually put the sticks in them then freeze for at least a half an hour. A little shortening in the melted chocolate will help keep it nice and smooth and make it easier to dip.

And finally, I find the easiest way to store these is to punch the sticks through an empty egg carton once they’re dipped. They’ll be able to dry without touching. Recycling is awesome isn’t it?

S'mores on a stick!

I really hope you’ll give these summery treats a try! And if you’re not a cake pop lover, I think a change of heart might be in your future.

S’more Cake Pops
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 20
Ingredients
  • 4 cups yellow cake crumbs
  • 1/4-1/2 cup marshmallow creme
  • 12 ounces milk or semi sweet chocolate
  • 2 Tablespoons shortening
  • 1 cup honey graham cereal, crushed
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine the cake crumbs and marshmallow creme. Add just enough marshmallow creme to get the mixture to stick together. You should be able to roll it into a ball without it falling apart.
  2. Roll the mixture into 1-2 inch sized balls and place on a baking sheet. Place the popsicle sticks three quarters of the way through the balls then freeze for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate and shortening together in the microwave (in 30 second increments) or in a double boiler. Place in a deep bowl for dipping. Place the graham cracker crumbs in another bowl.
  4. When the balls are frozen, dip them into the chocolate, making sure it overlaps the stick slightly. You can use a toothpick to get rid of excess dripping chocolate. Immediately roll the balls in the crushed graham crackers then place right side up in an egg carton or foam core board to dry. Store in a cool, dry place.
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I am 11005% behind Courtney on this one–I’m not usually a cake ball fan either, but with this killer s’mores combo, how could anyone resist? My choco-graham-mallow senses have been set ablaze with the fire of a really big flaming star called da Sun. And luckily, this s’mores-inspired recipe doesn’t require a single flame in this godforsaken hot weather. Win-win? I think so!
Thank you, Court, for guest posting today–ISN’T SHE LOVELY FOLKS?

Loving what you read today? Connect with Courtney!

Blog: http://www.neighborfoodblog.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NeighborFoodie

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Neighborfoodblog

Instagram: http://instagram.com/neighborfoodie

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/neighborfood/

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Filed under Cakes & Cupcakes

Guest Post from Blahnik Baker: Hazelnut Macarons with Chocolate Ganache

Folks, I haven’t felt this excited since I heard that these brand spankin’ new episodes of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon would be hitting the screen after nearly a decade of muffled silence. I told Zainab I’ve been crazy busy lately doing Grown-Up World things–like maniacally hurling homemade spiky shells at my fellow street-sharers on a FIVE-hour commute–but really I’d rather just lock myself in my dust-infested closet with my laptop and gorge on unhealthy amounts of Sailor Moon.

And maybe try like the moron I am to eat the pixels right off these gorgeous macaron photos Zainab sent me.

Have you met the stunning Zainab from Blahnik Baker? She’s the grad student baker blogger who knows what’s up. As a crazy Legilimency expert As a crazy someone who read Zainab’s post before posting it (duh), I know what she’s going to say about me and would like to add that I say the same about her, except times about a bazillion and forty. I admire her work, her dedication, and most of all her ability to excel as a fellow grad student while somehow managing to keep her marbles all where they belong: in her brilliant noggin of Nogginness.

So before I get carried away by my effusive praises (which are, by the way, super deserved), I’m turning over the floor to the lovely lady herself!

Hazelnut Macarons with Chocolate Ganache via Blahnik Baker_3

Hello everyone!! My name is Zainab and I am so excited to be here today. I am a HUGE fan of Wallflour Girl and she is one of my favorite blogs to read. I’m sure she is one of yours too because you are here :) I blog over at Blahnik Baker where I love sharing easy but creative desserts.

Hazelnut Macarons with Chocolate Ganache via Blahnik Baker_1

I just recently met this wonderful lady through a guest post she did over on Nancy’s blog. That post resonated so much with me that I spent all morning checking out her blog, writing and recipes!! Only to discover she is a PhD student like me and a passionate, honest and intelligent lady!! On her guest post, she wrote about her “Wall of Smiles” and I’m in love with her idea. I struggle very much with finding the happy moments in my daily life being a graduate student (it’s really hard) but ever since I read her post, I’ve been trying hard every day to pause and notice the little things. And at the end of every night, I think of one thing, event or person that made me smile and write it down in a notebook (or make a mental note if I am really tired and in bed already. I really need to move that notepad to my nightstand).

Thank you Ala! You inspire me daily :)

Hazelnut Macarons with Chocolate Chambord  Ganache

Anyway enough small talk, on to the sweets now. Macarons!!! I love making macarons and have fallen madly in love with these French delicacies. I make them just for fun most times and I experiment a lot with flavors, texture and fillings.

Funny thing, when the husband walks in and I am making macarons, he can almost assume I had a long hard day at work and just need some peaceful baking time. And macarons do that for me. I know people think they are temperamental and hard to make, but to be honest they are actually very easy cookies to make.

Hazelnut Macarons with Chocolate Chambord  Ganache

These hazelnut macarons were an attempt to make macarons with hazelnut flour instead of the traditional almond flour. The macaron shells are pillow-y soft and are filled with a sweet chocolate ganache spiked with Chambord.

I hope you enjoy these macarons! And thank you for having me today. Let’s all take a page from Ala’s book and enjoy the small things and moments in life. (Including these cookies!!)

Hazelnut Macarons with Chocolate Ganache via Blahnik Baker_5

Hazelnut Macarons with Chocolate Chambord Ganache

Ingredients

    For Macarons
  • 125g hazelnut flour
  • 175g powdered sugar
  • 105g egg whites
  • 75g sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • For Chocolate Chambord Ganache
  • 1⁄2 cup bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream (plus more if needed)
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons Chambord (raspberry liqueur)

Instructions

  1. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. I used a 11⁄2-inch round cookie cutter to draw circles on the parchment paper and flip over the paper (drawing side down). Prepare a pastry bag with a round tip. I used Wilton 2A.
  2. Using a food processor, pulse the powdered sugar and hazelnut flour into fine powder. Sift several times until there is less than 2 tablespoons of hazelnut bits left. Add these to the mixture.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, combine the egg whites and sugar. Whip on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the meringue and fold with a rubber spatula. Gently fold to deflate the meringue by pressing against the side of bowl and scooping from bottom until batter is smooth and shiny; about 20-25 folds. To check consistency, drop a spoonful of batter and it should have a peak that quickly relaxes back into the batter. Start checking the batter after 20 folds.
  5. Transfer batter into pastry bag and pipe the batter into the pre-traced circles on the baking sheet. Tap baking sheet hard on counter to release any air bubbles trapped in the batter. Let shells sit on counter for 20-30 minutes to dry, until a slight skin forms.
  6. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until shells hard, rotating cookie sheets halfway through baking time. You should be able to peel off the macaron from the parchment. Cool completely on cookie sheets before peeling from the parchment.
  7. For the Ganache:
  8. Combine the chocolate and heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30-45 seconds and stir until chocolate melts. Remove from microwave and stir in butter until melted and chocolate is smooth. Whisk in Chambord with butter. Match same size cookies; pipe a little mound of buttercream onto flat side of one cookie and top with another. Store refrigerated for at least 24 hours before serving.
http://www.wallflourgirl.com/2014/07/07/guest-post-blahnik-baker-hazelnut-macarons-chocolate-ganache/

I’ve never made a macaron in my life–commitment issues are the least of my problems–but you can bet your holy eggbeaters that I’m going to make this recipe ASAP. Thank you, you wonderful lady!

As if we needed more proof that Zainab is Wonder Woman in civilian disguise, I’ve taken a leaf out of her book by recruiting quite a few lovely guest posters for July and some of August. With life spinning out of control faster than a Mario Kart hit by ten red shells in succession, I’m up to my nose in sleepless work and am incredibly grateful for this wonderful crew that will be helping me survive. Look forward to meeting them all over the next few weeks–you’re going to love them all!

Oh, and for the record: Zainab, you totally made my Wall of Smiles today. Just FYI. ;)

Loving what you read today? Connect with Zainab!

Blog: www.blahnikbaker.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/blahnikbaker

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BlahnikBaker

Instagram: http://instagram.com/blahnikbaker

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/zmansaray/

25 Comments

Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cookies

Hot Fudge Chocolate Brownie with a Killer Choco Frosting (V, GF, Raw, No Added Sugar)–And the Importance of Meeting Strangers

My earliest memory of talking to a stranger goes back to Ala at age 6, standing in a ballet class, chatting happily and obliviously in her pink tutu to one of the nice ladies sitting near the side of the room.

Hot Fudge Larabar with Killer Choco Frosting 8--062914

“My mom told me not to talk to strangers,” I confidentially informed the lady, whom I remember now as friendly-faced and quite tall. “I’m Ala,” I continued, holding out my hand and solemnly shaking her, which was proffered with a smile. Then I added, just in case she didn’t understand, “Now we aren’t strangers anymore.”

And then I went right on chatting.

Hot Chocolate Larabar 2--051614

My mom still laughs about this incident now, but in many ways it foreshadowed my later affinity for striking up random conversations  in the most unexpected places. Some of my closest friends or most interesting memories today have emerged from chance encounters of the Love Actually sort: getting a ride with another grad student to a surprise banquet, sitting down at a conference table with a Disney Imagineer, chatting with the night shuttle officer on my way back from school, catching public transportation and whiling away the time with surprisingly fun conversation.

Hot Fudge Larabar with Killer Choco Frosting 5--062914

Though I don’t consider myself particularly confident (blog name, anyone?), I still love love love to meet random people. One of my best grad school friends is a bright, energetic gal I met in a Zumba class my first year: we spent the entire quarter beaming at each other in the mirror as we grooved and moved and body rolled with as much grace as flopping fish–and when we both arrived on the “last day of class” only to realize that the last day had been last week, we ended up jamming to our own tunes by setting up an improv class with her friends. Anytime anyone asks us how we met, we turn and positively grin at each other before launching into one of our favorite stories.

Hot Fudge Chocolate Brownie gif

Meeting strangers isn’t only an exciting way to make new friends–it’s good for you, too. Friends frequently ask me how I manage to stay so friendly and open to meeting new folks all. The. Time.  Well, a) I am not friendly and positive and open all the time. Just this week I had a total meltdown at 1 AM and practically shook my parents with my not-too-generous hysteria over the phone for 90 minutes. (Thank you, Mom!) b) When I am friendly, though, and that’s most of the time–it pays off. And it’s addicting. This month alone, I’ve met three people while standing in lines for things and actually managed to stay in touch with them. And most of the time, if they’re willing to engage in a random conversation with you, chances are that they’re lots of fun to be around, too.

Hot Fudge Larabar with Killer Choco Frosting 12--062914

Like any book-crazy kid, I distinctly remember reading this book about the Berenstain Bears and stranger danger. I’m not advocating dumb, reckless danger-seeking encounters with sketchy people–I’m talking about putting away your cell phone as you wait for the cashier to ring you up and asking them if they still have a long day ahead of them. 95% of the time that’s where the conversation ends, but trust me: for the tiny amount of effort it takes on your part, other people sure notice it a lot.

Recently, a friend asked me where I get my endless stream of conversation starters from. How do I keep a conversation going organically? My answer was first, nervousness–I’m really not a “casual silence” kind of person, so if I sense the end of a conversation coming up, chances are I’ll already be thinking ahead to the next tangentially related thread. Second: questions. I once attended a keynote about the art of communication, and the speaker made a point that has resonated with me ever since. Do you ever notice how nervous we get when we get up to speak in public, but how comfortable we are listening?

Well, the same goes with conversations. If you’re nervous, ask a question and make the other person do the talking. They’ll feel like you’re genuinely interested in their lives (and hopefully, you are), and you’ll feel much more at ease for having got the ball rolling. You may brush off your hands and congratulate yourself on a job well-done now!

Hot Fudge Larabar with Killer Choco Frosting 14--062914 It takes some time to adjust, but as I’ve grown more comfortable reaching out to more and more strangers, I’ve found myself encountering an incredible new circle of acquaintances and–I’m proud to say–even friends. For 30 minutes every morning this month, I chatted with a bus driver named David, who turned out to be one of the most intelligent, gracious, and knowledgable people I have ever had the privilege of meeting. Forget my preconceptions about what bus drivers do–this man, who has an oldest daughter my age–even gave me some of the best advice for dealing with rambunctious neighbors that I have ever received. He transferred bus lines recently, but it’s still amazing to think that our paths still have every chance of crossing again in the future, and in the most unexpected circumstances.

More recently, I got to know a guy on the airport shuttle and we got dinner while talking about our PhD programs, vegetarianism, and cooking. I befriended so many children’s literature conference folks that I probably wouldn’t have met had I mummed up and kept to myself during the breakfast lines. I met another vegan friend while waiting to get airbrush tattoos drawn at a festival. I met yet another acquaintance while lining up for cake at an event.

And yes, I’ve kept in touch with all these people that I have met in the past 30 days: people who may end up flitting in and out of my life eventually, but are for the present moment at least such important, fun players in my daily excitement. You never know if the next person you meet may be your future employer, a great friend, a romantic interest, or just a plain pleasant person to chat with.

Hot Fudge Larabar with Killer Choco Frosting 17--062914

While I’ve singing all these preachy praises about de-dangering strangers, however, you’ve probably been wondering about these brownies–these wonderful, gorgeous, delectable little bites (or huge hunks) of raw brownie. Many folks I know think that “raw,” “vegan,” and “gluten-free” are crazy fad words accompanied by terrible food. If you haven’t met raw bars like these before though (and I’m betting you haven’t, though you may have seen similar versions like my recipes for this and this)–keep an open mind and try them out. They’re sweet but only naturally so–they satisfy all those processed-sugar cravings you’ve been getting and trying to deny–and they’re actually insanely delicious. They taste more like chocolatey larabars than brownies, but the raw chocolate frosting sends these bars over the top.

In short, these are probably the best strangers you’ll ever meet in the food spectrum. Make them! And don’t forget–every person (and recipe) you pass could be the next connection you’ve been waiting to meet!

Ala

Hot Fudge Larabar with Killer Choco Frosting 10--062914

This week, I challenge you to put aside your phone, book, distractions, whatever–and to meet one stranger. Try striking up conversation in the supermarket or ask them a question about the book they’re reading, and then report back here. What was your experience like? Was it a positive, negative, or neutral one? How did you feel afterwards?

Hot Fudge Chocolate Brownie (V, GF, Raw, No Added Sugar)

The perfect chocolate fix without any of the guilt--a refined sugar-free, no-bake, 3-minute recipe that my friends have been requesting left and right. Perfect for the vegans, chocolate-lovers, or general human beings in your left!

Ingredients

    Raw Brownie Recipe:
  • 35 pitted dates, any variety (I used pitted deglet noor dates)
  • 1 1/4 cup almonds (or your preferred nut)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • Chocolate Frosting Recipe
  • 15 dates
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Instructions

    For the Brownies:
  1. Throw everything in the food processor and pulse until dough comes together.
  2. Pour dough into aluminum foil, smushing dough until it forms a rectangle about 2/3-inch thick. Pour or spread chocolate frosting (recipe below) evenly on top. Chill in fridge until ready to cut into bars.
  3. For the Frosting.
  4. Blend dates in food processor until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Add coconut milk and cocoa powder; continue blending until completely smooth, to a thick liquid state. Pour evenly over brownies.
http://www.wallflourgirl.com/2014/07/02/hot-fudge-chocolate-brownie-v-gf-raw-added-sugar/

16 Comments

Filed under Bars, Brownies & Chocolates

Classic Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I am sorely tempted to write about one of the most wonderful, exciting days of my life, which happened just two days ago–but that will have to wait for my Tuesday post (mostly because it’s going to take a lot more pictures and I’m dead on my feet from this 4-day conference).

Instead, I’m writing a short piece about the perks of meeting cute people in random places under crazy bizarre circumstances. Yes, I’m meeting cute boys and getting their numbers all over the place these days. Cat got yer attention yet?

Classic Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies 8--061814

Over the past few months, armed with a newfound confidence that seemed to spring from my post-exam europhia in alarming abundance, I’ve grown dead comfortable in my own shoes and frankly love meeting everyone and anyone. I strike up conversations with people waiting in line for coffee, I allow the person asking for the time follow up with questions about the copy of Dr. Seuss I’m reading, and I hardly bat an eye anymore when that handsome waiter comes over bringing trays of appetizers “on the house,” “just ’cause.” I’ve noticed that freebies tend to be a side perk of being friendly, and as a wallet-scrunching grad student, I’ll take what I get.

Possibly my favorite part about staying open-minded about random encounters, though, is the potential for hilarious stories to tell all your friends afterwards. Most recently, I walked into a Starbucks and spotted a really good-looking guy about my age sitting at one of the counters with a laptop. On a scale of 1 to 10, he was a 9.5–Zac Efron meets Orlando Bloom and bonus points for the clean shave.

After about 5 minutes of fiddling with my bike outside debating whether or not I should leave (as I had planned), I finally made the decision: I bolted my bike lock, strode determinedly back to the door (slapping on my ‘Hi my name is Ala and I’m friendly not psychotically over-deliberative’ face in the process), and plopped myself onto a stool next to his friend, where we struck up conversation about who knows what–and frankly, I didn’t really care what. It might have been about his college’s finals or something. Anyway, about a minute into this conversation, he looked up from the other side of his friend, caught my eye, and smiled at me.

Classic Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies 5--061814

Ignoring the impending swoon that threatened to keel me over like a dehydrated dandelion, I smiled back and asked him if he, too, was a student. This sent us spiraling into a whole other conversation (he was a business student, he lived not too far away, and we both loved coffee shops) and before I knew it, we had been chatting for near ten minutes. It was about this time, however, that we hit our first lovely bump.

Him: Sooo, your last name–what is it, Chinese?

Me: Yeah, it is.

Him: Oh, very cool. (beat. Then, proudly) I’m half Japanese, too.

(silence)

Me: …Oh. Uhhh. Really, is that so?

Him: Yeah, I am.

Me: Um, cool.

Him: So we have a connection there.

Call me crazy, but last I checked, Japan and China were two entirely different political, cultural, socioeconomic creatures, bro.

Classic Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies 4--061814

Strike 2 came pretty soon after–and like the aftershock of an earthquake, it came in with some pretty hefty speed behind bump #1.

His friend (to me) : “So like, you don’t look Chinese.”

Me: “Oh?”

Him: “Nah, you look like–”

Friend: “Filipino!”

Him: “Yeah, or Hawaiian or something. Definitely not Chinese.”

Friend: “Nope.”

Me: (laughs–probably torn between amusement and doubt)

Him: “You look too dark to be Chinese, y’know? (beat) I thought maybe you were half or something. Yeahh, that’s it. You look half. Kinda like me. I’m half Japanese.”

Me: “Oh.”

Joy?

Classic Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies 1--061814

Anyway, the takeaway from this short anecdote is that people really do say just the strangest things. However, if you never take the chance and open up to new meetings with strangers (cute or not), you’ll never know what funny, strange, wonderful conversations you might have missed as a result. My friends and I got a good laugh out of it for a whole day afterwards, so if nothing else it made for a good story!

Speaking of keeping open-minded, I thought I’d experiment with a technique called “painting by light” and photographed my favorite spiced oatmeal cookie recipe today in complete darkness. I used an LED flashlight to “paint” the cookies with short bursts of light that would illuminate them in certain ways and strategically cast shadows. I was mostly playing around, but hey–these are still darned good cookies! How do you like ‘em? Are they intriguing? Fun? Half-Japanese? ;)

Regardless, make them! More substantive conference shenanigans to come on Wednesday!

Ala

Classic Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Yield: 18 cookies

The chewiest, classic spiced oatmeal raisin cookie recipe you'll find out there! The wonderful combination of subtle warm spices and sweet plump raisins will make you melt in your shoes!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup margarine or butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, and white sugar.
  3. Beat in egg and vanilla extract.
  4. Gently mix in flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt until just incorporated.
  5. Fold in oats and raisins.
  6. Scoop out cookies into 1-inch balls and drop 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, until outside has set and turned golden brown (but not overly hard). Allow to cool completely on sheet (on stovetop) before transferring to a separate plate.
http://www.wallflourgirl.com/2014/06/21/classic-spiced-oatmeal-raisin-cookies/

14 Comments

Filed under Cookies

Simple Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Abstract: To show how my dad–through his humbly-led life and unwavering, silent support of all we do–has kept my faith in family, dreams, and life alive. This one is for my dad: my biggest, silent fan.

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For the record: I wanted this to be a super elaborate, praise-to-the-heavens post to celebrate Father’s Day, much like I did with my Mother’s Day Post last month. However, my dad (summed up in 3 words) is a real practical man and dislikes reading anything that is longer than a page. So here’s me suppressing all my natural instincts and writing to the point for you, Dad.

Also, sorry in advance for already making this post too long, but you’d better be reading more than just the abstract (which I included anyway for you, just in case you don’t read beyond it).

Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting 5--061414

When I was 7 or 8, I went to a Father’s Day dance at the local YMCA and danced with my dad to Bob Carlisle’s “Butterfly Kisses.” My dad told me that letting go of his hand instead of holding on tightly was the easiest way to make sure my hand didn’t get all twisted up while he was spinning me around.

When I was 10, I got out of the car for summer camp one day and said I didn’t want to kiss him goodbye because my friends might see.

When I was 13, I told him that I couldn’t wait to grow up and do big people things, like driving a car. He told me to wait.

When I was 15, a close friend was critically hospitalized following an incident at home. I debated whether or not to visit the hospital that night and my dad told me quietly that I should. I did. We attended her memorial a few days later.

When I was 22, my dad introduced me to this song, Cats in the Cradle.

When I was in the cafe writing this post yesterday afternoon, I cried and had to get up to go to the bathroom so my friend wouldn’t see.

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My dad–like most human beings–is not a perfect person. He is an amazing man, and he is also wonderfully, delightfully flawed. I love him just the way he is.

He can be grumpy, yes. We joke about his grumpiness all the time, and though he can be even more so now that I’m no longer around, I wouldn’t change him for the world, any more than I would change my mom or my brother or anyone else dear to me.

If I had to be stuck on a desert island with one other person, it would probably be my dad. He’s innovative and fearless–he once fought off a guy in a huge wolf costume who was scaring my brother and me at the Universal Studios House of Horrors….at least, until the worker supervising the area said to him a loud voice, “Sir, PLEASE DON’T TOUCH THE ACTORS.”

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My dad is the world’s most incredible sideline supporter. More importantly, almost nobody knows or appreciates this fact because he doesn’t tell anybody about it. He never complains, even when he has to drive an hour-and-a-half home and back to bring the case of cupcakes I had left behind on my last day of work.

So this is my declaration to the world that thinks my dad is just your average, matter-of-fact, serious, tech industry guy: my dad happens to rock, thank you very much.

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When I told him I had gotten into my English grad school program, all he said was, “Well, good job.” No fanfare, no streamers, nothing that would have made you think he was saying anything more exciting than, “I’ll have the Peking duck.”

But if you know anything about my dad, there’s a little inflection to his tone that makes you feel as warm inside as if he had shouted his felicitations off the roof of the Empire State Building for the city to hear. My dad is proud of us, but he’s not a bragger, and I learned early on in life that that was one quality towards which I would always aspire.

I’ve mostly fallen short–I still like talking a lot about my achievements with friends and family–but there he is, always: unwavering, silent, strong, and a supporter to beat all the rest.

Vanilla Cupcake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

My dad is an extreme pragmatist, but I would also call him a positivist. Even though the two terms don’t always go together, he always emphasizes the importance of living for the moment–as long as you know that your choices won’t leave you or your family without bread on the table at the end of the day. My dad may be in the tech industry, and like all Asian parents he’s a realist when it comes to getting a solid job. Oddly enough, though, I felt comfortable enough pursuing my PhD in English because he never questioned me about my motives–he accepted that I would need to explore on my own (though he entertained his share of private concerns, I’m sure) and simply let me do the things I had always wanted to try.

I am 110% grateful for his ability not to grow hysterical when I am, his knack for listening without saying a word in a way that I would never be patient enough to do, and–probably most of all–his willingness to put everything down at the most trivial phone call from us and drive right over.

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The world deserves to hear everything about him, but I know I can’t write everything–anyway, he wouldn’t want to read it. But this is the man who will wait for 4 hours outside after driving me to meet up with a friend without once complaining; in fact, he’ll joke about being my “personal chauffeur” (our shared, extremely DRY sense of humor is another topic for another time, but we are so related). In many ways, he lives for his family, and I can’t ever, ever thank him enough for teaching us that.

So I’ll end this already beyond-the-limit post by just saying this as I finish up:

Dad, I don’t care if you never share this post with anyone, because you probably won’t. But there’s one thing you should know.

I may not be silent. I may not be patient. And sometimes it may feel like I need your support more than you need mine.

But I am also–and always–your very biggest fan. I love you!

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Even though I don’t think he’d go out of his way to eat these cupcakes (he’s not a big sweets fan), they’re not overly sweet–just simple, fluffy vanilla cupcakes with an easy chocolate buttercream frosting. But this unassuming pairing is one of the most amazing things I have made in a long while, and so it’s the perfect treat to be posting for my dad today. Since I was delivering these cupcakes long-distance, I also created these styrofoam cut-out cupcake holders to protect them from jostling against each other–something I thought my innovative dad might find amusing. All you have to do is cut out the bottom of the cup and slip in a cupcake–and push it up from the bottom when you want to eat it. Neat, huh? I hope you guys love this recipe as much as I do!

Happy Father’s Day, Dad, and to all of the fathers out there who are celebrating today!

Love, your baby dragon and Daddy’s girl.

Ala

Simple Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Yield: 1 dozen cupcakes

The perfectly light, fluffy, and classic vanilla cupcake that makes delicious simple. Perfect with a class chocolate buttercream frosting, too! Original cupcake recipe via Sally[http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/04/20/very-vanilla-cupcakes/}.

Ingredients

    For the vanilla cupcakes
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup vanilla soy milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • For the chocolate buttercream frosting
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon Kahlua (can substitute with vanilla)
  • 1 tablespoon soy milk or milk, as needed

Instructions

    For the vanilla cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin tin cups with cupcake liners.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together melted butter and sugar.
  3. Stir in egg whites, yogurt, and soy milk. Add vanilla extract and mix in.
  4. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Fold in very gently until mixture is just incorporated into wet batter.
  5. Divide batter between 12 liners, filling each liner approximately 2/3 of the way up. Bake for 17-19 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out mostly clean with moist crumbs clinging to it. Allow to cool completely before frosting with chocolate buttercream frosting (instructions below).
  6. For the chocolate buttercream frosting:
  7. In a medium bowl, cream together butter, cocoa, and confectioners' sugar. Add vanilla and Kahlua (if using). To thin out your frosting even more, add milk as needed, up to 1-2 tablespoons.
http://www.wallflourgirl.com/2014/06/15/simple-vanilla-cupcakes-chocolate-buttercream-frosting/

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Filed under Cakes & Cupcakes

Salty and Sweet Compost Cookies–And Defining My Self-Worth

How do you define your self-worth?

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This post has been waiting to be written and published for nearly three years now.

A few weeks ago, I grabbed lunch with a friend at one of my favorite vegan restaurants. We had a great talk, as usual–about our lives, about our romances, about our attitudes toward life more broadly. About halfway through our lunch, though, my friend said something that stopped my breath short and almost made me drop my fork straight into a bed of dressing-drenched iceberg lettuce.

“When I look in the mirror these days,” she said, with a radiant smile, “I see a friend. And I say to that friend, ‘Hey girl, do you want to grab dinner? How about going to watch a movie?”

Then she added: “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.”

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As far as I can remember, I have never said anything like that to myself. Back in the blissful days of high school, when I was utterly content with my life and self-image, and pulling out on top in most aspects of my life, I had no reason to tell myself that I loved me, and wanted to take me out for some awesome treats. I simply did it. Feel like having 3 Haagen Daas bars before dinner? Go for it! Play Final Fantasy for 14 hours today? Sure, why not? You earned it, girl. And even if you haven’t, you do it because you’re your own human being.

The first time I remember being aware of a different feeling was in my junior year of college. That year, I did two things: a) stopped taking great care of myself, body and well-being, and b) became a much harsher critic of my own value as an individual. Though I was never crazy critical of my own body, I was definitely suffering from extreme stress (in my living situation, in my extracurriculars, in my coursework), and a part of me turned instinctively to regulating the only things I felt I could still control: food, and sleep. In short, it was everything about my health and my physical body on which I felt I needed to clamp down.

To be clear: I wasn’t anorexic, I was never underweight, but I was clearly bent on depriving myself of necessities because I hadn’t “earned” them or worked to my full potential yet. Sometimes I would wake up at 6 and wouldn’t let myself leave my room until 4 in the afternoon because, damn it, I wasn’t going anywhere until I had finished writing my entire piece-de-resistance. That year, I wrote a play for a creative writing class that was later performed by students in the theater department for our class. It featured two characters: a boy journalist who was lurking in the girls’ bathroom trying to get a story about eating disorders, and the girl in the stall next door, who used bulimia as a source of maintaining some semblance of control over her life. Looking back at the story several years later, I began to realize the unconscious identification that went into writing that play, even though I didn’t see it at the time. Control was the name of the game; self-destructiveness was, sadly, incidental.

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Think back to the first time you learned that generosity isn’t always reciprocated by those who receive; that perhaps kind people do get the short end of the stick sometimes, because the most deserving person you know in life was suddenly taken away from you; that fairness isn’t a rule for living, it’s a guideline and a hope. You can’t undo the experiences that have opened your eyes, and during that year I grew harshly critical of myself in every way imaginable. I hated feeling like a victim who stayed out all the time because I didn’t want to go home, nothing I did seemed good enough or grand enough to warrant praise, and I certainly did not want to eat or leave to use the bathroom or do anything but throw myself down on my bed and cry during the times when I felt compelled to keep myself locked up in my room because I didn’t want to face my roommate situation.

Life sucked. It was sucky. It all sucked, and I felt completely alone drowning in that suckiness.

I had never defined my self-worth according to my physical image because to be honest, I had always been comfortable with my athletic, petite build. Body types were incidental, not definitive. But when I started slimming down during these months of avoiding the kitchen (because then I’d have to go home) or grabbing dessert instead of real meals to last me the 0whole day because my body craved sugars, I noticed that my build shrank and started resembling something that looked (according to the fashion magazines) kind of appealing. It was at this point that I started thinking, “Huh, maybe if you pull harder on the rein, you’ll actually be able to take control over something for once!” It sounds scary now, but it felt like the only reaction to have at the time.

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The same went for sleep: I began sleeping less and less, which made my body even more fatigued than it already was. I became a work-o-holic with a drive to prove that I could accomplish things. Outcomes I couldn’t control, but sleep I could. It was like somebody had pulled me aside and said to me, “See? You can make yourself do these things, no problem. You’re the head honcho here. You don’t need to do normal people things like sleep.”   What had started as a desperate attempt to regain authority over my own life turned into both a physical and psychological battle. Probably the hardest part was explaining my constant exhaustion and unhappiness to the people in my life who noticed, especially my family and certainly those involved in my living situation. I wanted to scream to the latter, “It’s your fault I’m this way! If you would just stop pigeon-holing me into this spiral of helplessness, maybe I wouldn’t endure this gnawing feeling in my stomach and actually step out of my room into the kitchen again and eat something!”

But one thing I’ve always been known to do is brew. It’s a terrible, and terribly self-destructive, mindset. Sure, I was unhappy as heck. But I would rather have others notice how unhappy I was and maybe do something about it than concede and have people think I was maybe more okay with things than I really was. If you step out of your room and go to the kitchen, my depressed brain told me, you’ve lost. They’ll think you’re fine with it again. Well, maybe if you stay in your room for fourteen hours without coming out once, they’ll notice something’s wrong! Maybe they’ll actually begin to feel BAD. It was not an easy time, and it was not a happy place to be.

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As it turns out, the situation didn’t begin to reverse itself until I moved out two years later and away to grad school. To say that things have healed would be an overstatement–they’ve been bandaged up very well, though, and I’m still working every day to make it work better. But remember what I said about not being able to un-know something? Since that time, the nagging perceptions about my body and my self-worth began snaking their way into my consciousness. Suddenly, I became aware that I had a figure, and it didn’t match ‘pretty.’ It didn’t say, “I’m in control of me.”Even now, as I’ve been able to embrace myself more and more, I have had to fight tooth and nail to do it. I have a lot more trouble sleeping nowadays under stressful periods (no matter how minor) than I used to have.

If I am a person who brews, though, I am also a ferocious fighter. And this past year in particular, after the end of my grueling qualifying exams and what seems like the naissance of a very happy period in my life, I have been fighting like a momma bear defending her cubs, because I only get one life, and my health and well-being are worth that. These were all of the thoughts that raced through my head when my friend said that simple phrase: “When I look in the mirror, I see a friend.” Today, as I write this post, I realize that this is the phrase I have been missing from my life for quite some time now. In addition to my Wall of Smiles, I’m making an effort to tell myself every single day, “Girlfriend, how’s it going? Let’s go sit down and have a meal!”

Though I know some people cope in different ways, I haven’t stood in front of the mirror to tell myself that I’m beautiful as many do as they begin to heal. That’s because deep down, I don’t think my friend–that is, myself–needs to be told that, just like I don’t need my friends in general to tell me what they think of my physical looks in order to have a blast or just relax. Like any friendship, I simply want to take me as I am, move on, and do something fun because I know I deserve it. I want to be concerned for my own health and for my well-being, which both suffered incredibly during those years and are paying the price even now (though hopefully less so), in sicknesses, in anxiety, in a weakened body, in inadvertently damaged relationships.

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But it’s worth noting that today, I really am at one of the happiest and most confident points in my life that I remember being, period. Maybe as great as (or even better than) my happy high school days, which I was lucky enough to experience so positively. I try very hard not to inflict physiological damage on myself by depriving myself of things in favor of being the “best”–I’ll catch those hours of sleep and wake up to keep working again. Sure, I am still prone to lots of anxiety I didn’t feel before my drastic experience, but I think the body image part of the equation has improved significantly since I started thinking of it as an incidental part of my existing lifestyle (as I had in and before college), not a ruling force of self-worth and self-control.

One thing I did notice was that after I bought my own web domain for Wallflour Girl and really began taking over it as my own project, whose every aspect I could tweak and tinker with–and as I began bouncing back from the post-exam haul with more energy than I remember having in a long time–I began feeling liberated. I started getting in touch with a group of beautiful, amazing bloggers from around the world. I began reaching out to companies and earning their recognition–and trust–in return. In spite of the stress and in spite of the uncertainty, I felt great.

I felt, in the words of a spider named Charlotte who wrote about a humble pig: Radiant.

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And that’s where I’m at right now, ironically penning this post into the wee hours of the night (but this time because I wanted to, not because I’m trying to prove a point to myself). I am eternally grateful to my friend for our conversation, which got me thinking in a way I never thought I’d express in my blogging until now. This post only scrapes the very tip of an entire life story and history that (trust me) has many more details and less angelic commentary on my part, but I’m glad to have written it.I’m posting it in the hopes that anyone else reading who feels like their life is out of their hands or lonely or too much to handle can hear what I should have heard a long time ago, and what I’m so happy I’ve learned now: When you look in the mirror, look for a friend.

Thank you, friends and family, for all your support–and thank you, dear readers, for all of your thoughts: please know that I’m doing a silly little thing like beaming at my computer screen as I push the Publish button right now, thinking of you all. <3 Things really have come a long way since then.

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I’m leaving you today with these Salty and Sweet Compost Cookies–filled with the usual sweet things like chocolate chips and Oreos, but some pleasant surprises like potato chips and pretzels–because that’s what life is about; a mix of things the most hodge-podge things that might not seem to belong together. But often you have to take the salty with the sweet, and most of the time, it will turn out beautifully. For all those other times, know that you still have one heck of a batch of cookies waiting in the wings for you, cheering you on one bite at a time.

Love,

Ala

Salty and Sweet Compost Cookies gif 2

PS I contemplated cutting my face out of this gif because I was wearing my grubby, have-not-showered-all-day hair and clothes, but decided it would be against the spirit of this post to do so. So here I am, grubbily shown and all :) I promise I wasn’t trying to look grumpy, I was just concentrating really hard on not getting my lens smattered with bits of flying food.

PPS I ultimately learned the hard way that throwing greasy potato chips at the lens of your expensive camera is not a very bright idea…

Salty and Sweet Compost Cookies

You'll love that moment when your friends sink their teeth in and their eyes go wide--this is not your average chocolate chip cookie! With a perfect balance of salty and sweet, this is my favorite cookie to date, and uses my favorite CCC as a base. Perfect for those who need to change up their cookie repertoire!

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup brown sugar (I used dark--light will also work)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup lightly crushed hard pretzels
  • 1/2 cup lightly crushed potato chips (original flavor)
  • 1/2 cup lightly crushed Oreos (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat your butter on HIGH until it is halfway melted. What this means: half of your butter should be pooled into a buttery liquid, while the other half of your butter should be incredibly soft but not quite melted down. (If you accidentally melt your butter all the way, don't worry! This will also work, but in this case you'll want to make sure to chill your dough extra well.)
  2. Transfer butter into a large mixing bowl. Add both sugars and beat in until combined.
  3. Mix in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla.
  4. Add flour, cornstarch, baking soda, cinnamon (optional), and salt. Stir into wet ingredients until just incorporated.
  5. Gently fold in chocolate chips, pretzels, chips, and Oreos.
  6. Chill your dough in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before baking. Note: I am the world's most impatient person and have made these cookies after chilling the dough in the freezer for 90 minutes. Whenever possible, though, give your dough a chance to chill until completely firm.
  7. After your dough has chilled: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
  8. Scoop out generous rounds of cookie dough (approximately 3-4 tablespoons). Mound them high rather than wide on your cookie sheet so that when they spread, they will remain nice and thick.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, until outside has just set (light golden brown) but centers appear slightly gooey and underbaked.
  10. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on cookie sheet, on the stovetop. They will finish baking up, so make sure you don't skip this step!
  11. Sink your teeth into these a la Dracula. Enjoy with a cup of milk if you wish.
http://www.wallflourgirl.com/2014/06/08/salty-sweet-compost-cookies/

As an exercise after writing this post, I wanted to try reflecting on my own principles about self-worth so I can work on diversifying and really recognizing what matters to me about myself, and I wanted to be completely honest doing it. So here is my honest breakdown, as of June 2014:

My Current Standards for Defining My Self-Worth:

Academic success: 25%

Professional/career-oriented success: 20%

Social and/or extracurricular affirmation: 15%

Writing/Blogging: 15%

Body image: 15%

Relationship status: 5%

Other: 5%

How do you define your self-worth? I’d love to hear your thoughts and your stories in the comments!

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Two-Toned Red Velvet & Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

As I’ve grown older and the weary years have coated my hunched back like a film of unwanted snail slime, I’ve come to the wary conclusion that there are two sides of me: the one that you know, and the one that you wouldn’t want to know for all the holy flying bats in the world–though what you would want to do with a colony of holy flying bats, I haven’t the faintest idea. You tell me.

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Of course, unless you’re my mom and have witnessed the stormy tantrums I still throw all the time used to throw as a kid in the Polly Pocket aisle of Toys R Us, I’m pretty much an “As Seen in Stores” kind of girl. Peppy, extroverted, painfully enthusiastic at times, and totally predictable.

But at rare little moments of extreme environmental stress or unceasing irritation, my trigger–like any normal human being’s–will trip. And boy, you don’t want to be the person standing in front of it when it does. If you’re the one who tripped it up, all the bleaker for you. My judging glare is not something you want to experience from the receiving end. Nor is my adult, I-will-smack-you hands-on-hips gesture when I appear, glowering, in your doorway.

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On the latest battlefront, my neighbors have been demons from the darkest depths of Dante’s nine circles of hell. Zac Efron (who, by the way, visited us for the premiere of Neighbors last month) has got nothing on my. Freakin’. Neighbors. Continue reading

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Filed under Brownies & Chocolates, Cakes & Cupcakes

Guest Post from Gotta Get Baked: Brown Sugar Turtles Cookies

I’m so excited to introduce today’s fantabulously fierce guest blogger today, Nancy from Gotta Get Baked!

Have you guys met Nancy? I can’t believe it’s been a scant 2 months since I first found her amazing, witty, stitch-in-my-side-hilarious blog, but after we had dinner in Vancouver two months ago we both became quickly convinced of our past-life status as clones. With me as the slightly less brilliant and profound clone.

You’ll see what I mean when you read the following guest post–I relished every word of her crisp, clear writing voice, and she’s humorous to boot. So without further ado, folks: here she is!

Update: In her main post, Nancy mentions the Isla Vista shootings and violence–against women, in particular–that relate in some ways to the post below, though she wrote it well before the tragic events on Friday. I’d like to send my prayers to those whose lives have been changed by the tragedy, and plead with you all to remain vigilant, compassionate, and above all, safe. 

****

Hi everyone, I’m Nancy of gotta get baked. Ala ‘n I have been having a little lady love affair lately, singing each other’s praises and appearing (probably far too often) on each other’s blogs. What can I say? I’m a ridiculously easy person to love.

Brown_sugar_turtle_cookies_1

Blogging has made me braver and bolder. I’m a naturally suspicious person, believing that everyone is dastardly and evil until they prove me wrong. I was always “that girl” at the club (back in my clubbing days when I was young and beautiful). My friends would be dancing and having a good time and I’d be the one with my arms crossed, glaring at the men who would dare to start grinding against us in the hopes they’d get lucky because seriously dude, a) don’t fucking touch me cause I don’t know you from Adam and b) don’t even think about going near any of our drinks, you roofie-toting-scumbag! I ride transit with my bag clutched to my chest because everyone is a pickpocket. I don’t want to sell my shit on craigslist because with my luck, I’ll be murdered, dismembered and I STILL wouldn’t have gotten rid of whatever crap I’m trying to sell.

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I’ve gone straight up crazy. When I first started blogging, I didn’t use my real name anywhere. Any photos I’d post of me would have my face hidden behind giant sunglasses, a glass of wine or those computer generated swirls. Fast forward a year and I’ve created a Google+ account using my real name. MY REAL NAME, people! I got business cards printed with my real name on it. I talk about where I live and my profession, meaning it’s damn easy to hunt me down. Continue reading

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Baked Brownies: Guest Post at Gotta Get Baked

These are the quintessential brownies: gorgeously chewy, deeply fudgy, and perfectly crackly on top…and you can read more about them today at my quite awesome friend Nance’s blog, Gotta Get Baked!

And if you’re here visiting for the first time from Nance’s blog–welcome! I’m so honored to have you here. Please stick around and say hello <3

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Nance and I met up two weeks ago when I visited Vancouver for a children’s lit conference. She is the most absolutely lovely person ever–like the dopplegangers we are, she totally blogged about our meeting too–and I am so excited to be posting over at her fantastic blog!

We had been toying with the idea of swapping guest posts for a while before we met, so I was panicking a little about what recipe I wanted to share. Something fancy? Something simple? Something so whimsical and fun it will hurt your brain?

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Well, when I finally met up with Nance, we had a wonderful dinner and she made the very wise decision to get dessert (because what baking bloggers wouldn’t order dessert? Duh). She ordered a fabulous, creamy rich pot de chocolat with chile in it, which was topped off with two large scoops of vanilla ice cream. This was also a very good idea, because that night is when it hit me.

Chocolate.

Gotta get baked.

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Baked brownies. Bingo!

Today’s topic is the Little Things–the smile on your significant other’s face when you get home after a long day battling the coffee machine or the smell of the freshly-mown lawn as you step outside before the rest of the world wakes up. You know, all the things that we are–sadly–sometimes only too willing to overlook in the midst of our crazed, overachieving lives. So go share some blog love and read the post on Nance’s blog now!And don’t forget to say hello to her as well while getting the recipe (and some pretty awesome gifs/photos) for my hands-down FAVORITE brownie!

Only the best for my blogger double.

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Brownies & Chocolates

Mom’s Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie

Do yourself a favor and send your mom this video–I guarantee she’ll love it. I know mine did.

My mom is a saint for many, many reasons.

The biggest reason is the sheer fact that she’s put up with me for over two decades, which is a pretty amazing feat in itself.

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You might recognize this recipe because I’ve posted something very similar here before, but there’s a story behind this necessary redundancy on Mother’s Day!

My mom is very particular about her cookies; you might call her a bit of a CCC connoisseur.  She is the best mom imaginable and unimaginable, but she doesn’t sugarcoat anything, not my life performance and certainly not my baking. Growing up, there was none of that “Oh good job, honey, you did a great job!” some kids heard after their soccer game. No, it was always, “What happened to the last points you missed?” or, to other parents, “I wish my daughter could be more like your daughter–so smart, so responsible!”

My old college roommate was absolutely shocked the first time she heard about this. “What do you mean, your parents don’t praise you for the work you do?” she asked me when I told her, unfazed and laughing, that my dad had just called and said that English majors really are bleak creatures with downright morbid economic futures.

To be fair, I totally agree with him. Us academics are part of a sort of masochistic trade.

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Most recently, the part of my achieving life in which my mom has become most involved has been (unsurprisingly) my baking. Continue reading

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