Friday, May 30, 2008

Best of Comments Vol. 1, With Cookies

Sometimes, the best part of this blog is found in the words left by visitors, where comments can be profound, hysterical, evocative, and validating. I just want to personally thank EACH and EVERY person who has ever taken the time to leave a comment here - because they LIGHT UP MY DAY. Fellow bloggers out there, you know what I mean - comments are so very much appreciated. Blogging takes time, a helluva lot of effort on some days, plus a certain amount of vulnerability - so yeah - when I receive comments, I sometimes feel I may as well be sitting on George Clooney's lap while receiving a temple rub from Brad Pitt while Halle Berry is signing the papers to donate her body to me. It's that GOOD.

So, over some milk and cookies, I thought I'd share some snippets from some great comments. And wow - I
seriously could've typed ALL of them here, because they're all fantastico - but I feel like you'd probably break up with me over that level of overdoingitness. I think I'll continue this little feature from time-to-time - with cookies, of course - so you'll have to let me know what you think. With no further ado....

Nicisme from Cherrapeno commented, regarding my idea of farting at a baby shower: I think you could get away with a lot more than farting if you serve up brownies like these. [Oh, the ideas are brewing even now...]

Laura from Hungry and Frozen regarding the same farting, commented: But are you saying the essence of you is...gas? If so, I salute you. [Could I ask for a better comment? I think not!]

Lacy from Razor Family Farms, regarding the Miracle Berry, had a genius comment: So, you will be marketing it as "inlaws coming to dinner survival kit" eh? [Untapped market here!]

Sarah B., following some of my value-adding prowess, confessed: My goals for this week are to Drink the Alphabet, call someone a Microphallus, Throw Breadcrumbs to a Helicopter, and get into a Shituation. [Can't beat that with a stick!]

Firefly546, regarding those flirty little tarlets proclaimed: Looking at these darling tartlets, however, makes me think we're all going to have an orgy! I think you can do that in Vegas, too. [Saucy minx!]

Kspin from KSpinning, regarding the same tartlets, and my food creations overall, aptly stated: The thought of working at your office is appealing yet dangerous... [Think my co-workers love me and want to poison me too.]

Diva from The Sugar Bar had poignant advice regarding my inability to quit YA GOTTA DO WHAT YA GOTTA DO. [Plus, awesome use of cuss words in the unedited version - she even 'scused her French]

Tootsie from Vintage Thirty regarding the ____ who parked her cart behind me: WOW. I can't even imagine being that much of a bitch. [I know! Right?]

NV from This Damn House clearly understands frosting: I might as well slather that icing all over my hips and eliminate the middle woman! [With this frosting, she'd end up licking it off her hips, though.]

Jennifer H. from Thursday Drive gave great advice regarding my phone revulsions: You should try this trick...hang up while YOU'RE talking. [Brilliant...unless anyone who knows me has now read this.]

Lisa from Chocolate And had the greatest closing line from the same post above: Love your posts and recipes and OCD - have a great weekend! [I think I was just diagnosed! And I love her for it!]

Kate, regarding the same post of Reasons To Not Be Me expanded on reasons we may not want to be her: I've often found it far easier to just stop at the store and buy new underwear, instead of going out to the laundromat to wash those I have already in a pile on my bathroom floor. [I publicly love her right now for this.]

Readers, commenters - ALL - you're simply THE BEST. Thanks for making my day.

Now, how 'bout some rockin' cookies? Read ON...

Black and White Cookies

Well, I'm a little frustrated with Martha. Yes, that Martha. Having now used more than a few of her recipes, I've found they're - well - often lacking in some vital information. As in, this dough could also be used as a substitute for super glue. GOOD to know ahead of time, no? I know! Step 14: slather yourself in silicone before proceeding with dough - FINE - just keep me informed. I'm not asking much here - just um...instructions Shocker! Well, what I thought looked like an EXtremely simple little sugar cookie nearly had me calling my husband to hotly vent into the phone, for absolutely nothing that had to do with him. Poor fella. I elected instead to bring this dough to its knees - or its...dough...knees, whatev. I battled through, cussing out Martha and every kitchen tool I tried along the way - and somehow all that cussing worked - because the end result was a rather fetching little cookie that tasted quite lovely. So it was good and bad. These cookies both chapped my ass and made me happy. I guess that explains the Black and White. I'm BRILLIANT that way.

1 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
6 T unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 large egg
3/4 t vanilla
1/3 c. buttermilk
2 c. powdered sugar
1 T + 1 t light corn syrup
2 1/2 t fresh lemon juice
1 T cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt - set aside. Using a mixer, cream the butter - about 2 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and beat until fluffy and light, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and 1/2 t vanilla, mix until combined. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk, alternating in 3 batches.

HERE, I want to provide some alternatives. You may hand-roll the dough into about 4 dozen, tablespoon size balls; KEEP coating your fingers in flour (detail left out by Martha, roll eyes here). Place balls on cookie sheet and, I'd suggest flattening the ball with the bottom of a glass that has been dipped in flour (Martha's recipe simply says to place balls on pan, I think the cookies are better if flattened a bit). Place cookies about 2 inches a part. The other option is to just flour a surface, roll out the dough, and cut out the cookie, using a 1 1/2 round (or whatever suits you).

Bake until bottoms turn golden, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and cool.

Icing: whisk powdered sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, remaining 1/4 t. vanilla, and 1 T water in a small bowl until smooth. Add more water if needed (consistency should be a bit thicker than honey). Transfer half of mixture to another bowl. Stir in cocoa; add water if necessary. Spread white icing on half of each cookie's flattest side and cocoa on the other side; allow to set for about 30 minutes. ENJOY!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Berry Causing Foodies To Lose Their Sh...

Well, I am just beside myself after learning of a berry that is akin to, possibly, food crack. This gorgeous, bulbous, voluptuous berry could unleash more power than the discovery of calorie free frosting. Well, maybe not, but still. I have GOT to get my paws on this berry. If I go missing, you may well find me in some back alley, gnawing on my last Miracle Berry - selling my womanly wiles to obtain more. What is this berry, you ask?

It's some wacked out berry,
featured in this NY Times article, and found in West Africa (probably right next to the hoodia plant!) that makes anything taste CRAZY good - as in, it can make beer taste like chocolate, Tabasco sauce taste like doughnut glaze! Apparently, it changes the way our palate perceives flavors - and folks are now having Berry Parties to experience and relish this little berry's delights. So, basically - I could make brownies of, say, Spam - and they'd taste like an Alice Medrich masterpiece? How joyously insane is that? Am I the only one who is positively crazy-gaga, with the drool-of-a-thousand-sleepers, to try this?

I'm reeling with possibilities over here - I fear insomnia is going to set in again, with just this one discovery, as I contemplate what I could do with this berry: cookies made of beans, a tartlet made of hominy, a layer cake made of lima beans - OH the psychological warfare I could play with myself using my own food revulsions. Your own food nightmares would taste heavenly! MOMS, consider the vegetables you could get those darn kids to EAT and LOVE!

I just can't think of a better experiential gizmo for partying away your Friday night. Jello shots? Forget it. Gather your neighbors, pop some berries, eat some gross food - and glorify in all the weird and wonderful tastes. I MUST order some of these little buggers and, at a later date, share what unfolds. I feel like I just discovered bubbles or something.

*Thanks to someone from YT for the tip and to Wikipedia for the picture.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Forgive Me As I Obsess Right In Front Of You

Okay - you may notice I've been tinkering with my header - sounds kinky doesn't it? Well, it's not. It's enough to make a girl crazy - tinkering with the little thang above - the big block that you see when you arrive here that says "Velvet Lava etc.". Well, I've been fiddling and fussing and designing and re-designing and obsessing and re-obsessing and uploading and un-uploading. And, well - I'm trying this one out for a bit to see if it blows my hair back. So, while y'all are probably used to seeing the chocolate colored loveliness up-top - I simply just could not get this new one out of my mind - I keep coming back to it in my design program and fiddling. So, clearly - I MUST try it out before total insanity ensues and I run down the block naked or something. And of course, don't be surprised if by tomorrow - there is a new header with puppies all over it. It's my "normal" to change unexpectedly and I'm okay with it. At least that's what *they* tell me.

So, whadya think? New header or old header? Or, back to the fiddling board?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Five Reasons To Not Be Me, Plus Pie

Around the blogosphere, I run across all these "tags" and whatnots - similar to the chain emails where you have to fill out things such as "your 4 favorite movies" or "4 places you'd rather be right now" and then you pass the email on - you get the's the same with blog tags. Now, all of these are quite good natured as far as I can tell - and I just feel that natural pull to mix it up a little bit, naturally. Because sometimes when I read those "getting to know me" tags/emails, I find myself pondering oh their life sounds so perfect, I think I want their perfect life, when in all reality - it's all a bunch of imperfect perfectness. So, I thought I'd just go ahead and embrace it all in a gloriously-imperfect-sort-of-way and do a straight-shooting list called....

Reasons You Wouldn't Want To Be Me

1) I abhor the phone. I mean, it's like picking up a spider and putting it to my ear. Now, it's not that I don't want to talk to people (non-sales people, specifically) - it's just that, I can't tell people that I have to go now. Even worse, if I do work up to telling them I have to go, and then they sort of ignore it - and keep on talking - there will be absolutely NO way on the planet that I will be able to say it again. No. I may as well filet them open, remove their organs and sell them on the black market right then and there - that's how subversive it would feel in comparison to trying to get off the phone again. I'm that sensitive to thinking that it might hurt them to say I have to go yet again. So email? Blessing and a curse.

2) I adore the word hubris. J'adore it. I love that word, and have for years, but rarely have a chance to use it properly. Plus, when I do use it - people usually just look at me blankly or with a bit of shock and go - did you just say PUBIS?

3) I eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch every single day. The only variation is, at times, on the weekends when we go out to eat. Weird, I know. But mostly, it's just laziness. I don't want to think about breakfast - I just want to make it and cover all the nutritional bases, get out the door; and, I actually *love* my breakfast - it's like dessert to me. And lunch? I make it, bring it with, it's simple and nutritious - but it's got to be one of the goofiest lunches ever. It's a dumb lunch. I want to eat it in a dark closet, it's so dumb.

4) I don't like making plans, like ever. I like total flexibility at all times. I like all plans to be soft. How annoying is that? I mean, if friends ask in the beginning of the week to go to dinner on the weekend - instead of just being all, SURE, my mind may go into a tailspin thinking howIamsupposedtoknowifI'llfeellikegoingtodinnerthisweekendwhenit'sonlyMondaynow!
And a dentist or doctor appointment? I'll cancel about 4-6 times before I'll actually GO to the appointment, because it just all feels too inflexible to me. Why can't I just show up when it works for ME? Sometimes, I want to cup my hand around the phone when I'm calling to reschedule the appointment, just to disguise my voice and pretend I'm calling FOR ANN. How many readers did I just lose?

5) I'm an over-confirmer. For example, I can ask Tony if he likes, say, a piece of wood. And, here is how the conversation would go:

Ann: "Do you like that piece of wood?"
Tony: "I do like it"
Ann: "But do you really like it?"
Tony: "Yeah, I really do like it."
Ann: "Are you sure you like it, I mean really?"
Tony: "I really do."
Ann: "You're not just saying it because, say, I like it."
Tony: "No, I noticed it right away and liked it."
Ann: "So, you truly, actually, and genuinely like it?"
Tony: "I REALLY DO like it."
8 HOURS LATER...Ann: "So, you really
did like the piece of wood from today, are you sure?"

It's a miracle I'm married. And for those of you wondering - YES, I'm emailing this list to my shrink as soon as I'm finished with it, not that she is in need of any new material, obviously.

Now, there is one reason I can think of that you might want to be me for an hour - perhaps so that you could make and then eat this chocolate pie.....

(And, if you want to play along - feel free to leave a comment with A Reason I Wouldn't Want To Be You, the self effacement is actually quite refreshing!)

Chocolate Pie

I don't know why, but I was really hesitant in making a chocolate pie. For some reason, I just didn't think it could possibly taste good enough or chocolate-y enough - or anything-enough, frankly. But, Tony kept requesting it - so I caved. I figured if Nicole at Baking Bites recommended this silky little pie, who am I to argue? So, with Nicole as my sensei - I made my first chocolate pie - and, needless to say, it won't be the last. The texture is smooth, soft, creamy - and the taste is rich, deep, and definitely more chocolate-y than I was expecting. We loved it, it really was divine!

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbs. sugar
6 tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/4 c. cold vegetable shortening, cubed
1/8 c. cold vodka
1/8 c. cold water

In a food processor (or using pastry cutter), combine 2/3 c. flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter and shortening and combine until dough clumps into size of small peas. Add remaining flour and combine until dough has broken up; transfer dough to medium bowl. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. Using rubber spatula, fold the mixture and press down on dough until it is tacky and sticks together. Form into a ball, flatten into a 4-inch disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

Next, par-bake the crust. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the dough on a flour-dusted surface, about 1.5 inches wider than the width of your pie pan. Transfer dough to your pie pan, gently laying it into the pan, without stretching the dough; prick bottom of dough with fork in a few spots. Trim excess dough off top of pie pan, and crimp edges with fingers. Line the dough with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or with dried beans. Bake 10-12 minutes or until beginning to set. Remove foil with weights and bake 15-18 minutes or until golden. If shell puffs during baking, press down with back of spoon. Cool on wire rack.

Sinful Chocolate Filling
1/2 c. butter, room temperature
3/4 c. sugar
1 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs, room temperature

In large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in chocolate and vanilla until combined. Add 1 egg and beat for 5 minutes (yes, FIVE minutes!). Add second egg, and beat for 5 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Filling should be smooth and creamy. Taste to confirm - and just to revel in the gloriousness of it all. Pour mixture into pie shell and smooth with spatula. Refrigerate for at least two hours, or until firm. Serve with whipped cream, dark chocolate curls or shavings. Enjoy! Adapted from Nicole at Baking Bites and Cooks Illustrated.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I Can't Quit You

Well, this is not about food today. It's about my freakish ability to linger in indecision. Those of you who know me, nod your heads - and then shake them in disdain and "over-it-ness". I am so over myself right now. I am quite possibly the most indecisive insect (how I'm categorizing myself at the moment) on the planet. Do you know how annoying that is for me? Not to mention others forced to deal with me? Others: my deepest sympathies. Self: you need to hire a professional bitch-slapper, like yesterday. Not only that, but when I finally DO make a decision - I agonize over its correctness for days and weeks on end.

So, do you know who my indecision is the perfect match for? Well, that'd be a certain service where you can buy and print your stamps online. I decided, after paying about $20 a month for 3 months of service and using $0 per month in stamps, that it really didn't serve a purpose in the household. Make sense? Yes, perfect. So, I call them up and try to quit them. Well, dang if I'm not treated to every pleasantry known to woman - and before I know it, I've been credited all service fees, given 3 months of free service and $20 worth of free postage credited to my account - SURE I'll stay.

Couple days later, I'm all - what was I thinking? So, I print my free postage, get all puffed up, decide to call them up, and state again that I truly just don't need the service. Once again, I'm given 3 more months of free service, they knock me down to the "less expensive" monthly plan, send me some complimentary net-stamps, and credit my account with $20 more of free postage....."just call us back by July 30th to cancel - just give us a try until then". And I, completely entranced or perhaps drugged by that point, replied breathlessly "oooookkkaaayyyy, Kimberlyyyyyy". And hung up. And now I'm wondering if there is a subliminal message playing over the phone line, forcing me to stay - because I am never this obtuse. I can't quit them.

Remember the episode of Friends when Ross can't quit his gym membership? So then he asks Chandler, I think? And Chandler can't do it either? So, then - what happens - do they ask Monica - is that it, and she finally takes care of it?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Polygamy With A Tartlet

Well, I think I'm going to commit adultery. Worse yet, I think I'm going to commit polygamy. By the way, is committing to polygamy an oxymoron of sorts? Doesn't one dabble in polygamy to avoid commitment, per se? Just asking. I don't like to split hairs or anything [denial].

Anyway, I think I'm going to marry this tartlet. I need it in my life from this day forward, 'til death do us part. I'm going to take this tartlet to Vegas. I'm going to whisk it off to a fancy dinner, make eyes at it, tell it what it wants to hear, talk dirty to it, get it stinking drunk, propose, buy it a cheap piece of jewelry, bring it to the drive-through wedding chapel, and marry the little harlot. DONE. And then we'll move to Texas.

White Chocolate Mousse Phyllo Tartlets

These are gorgeous to gaze upon, great for a party - but when you're talking marriage, you need a tartlet with more fulfilling qualities, and this little minx has it all. Sweet, soft, creamy, fluffy, crunchy, buttery. The white chocolate mousse tastes almost perfectly sweet - not too much or too little - the chocolate hazelnut dollop along the bottom of the tartlet provides another layer of chocolate deliciousness. And the texture of the phyllo tartlet? Light, buttery, flaky - with just a bit of crunch. These elicited some raves at the office - and I'll definitely be making these again and again. Heavenly.

8 frozen phyllo pastry sheets, thawed
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
6 oz. white chocolate chips (or chopped bars) - use white chocolate w/ cocoa butter
1/4 heavy whipping cream for melt
1 1/4 c. heavy whipping cream for whipped cream
1/3 c. almonds, finely chopped
1/3+ c. chocolate hazelnut spread (Nutella)
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, grated, for garnish - optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Equipment: mini-muffin tin, ungreased (makes 20 tartlets).

Place 1 phyllo sheet on work surface and brush with melted butter. Place another sheet on top and brush with butter; repeat with 2 additional phyllo sheets. Cut the stacked phyllo in 3-inch squares. Each stack will yield 8 3-inch squares and 4 irregular left-over rectangles; take 2 left over rectangles and overlap them, creating a "square", repeat with other rectangles - this way, each stack yields a total of 10 tartlets - no waste of dough. After cutting the stack, line each muffin tin with a cut stack - the edges will ruffle, fold, and extend above the rim. Repeat process with remaining 4 sheets of phyllo dough. Bake until golden brown, about 7-9 minutes. Place on cooling rack and cool completely.

Stir the chocolate and 1/4 cup cream in a small saucepan over low heat, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Pour into a large bowl and cool to lukewarm. Stir in the almonds. With an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1 1/4 cups cream in another bowl until medium-firm peaks form. Fold 1/2 the cream into the white chocolate mixture until gently combined, then add the remaining cream and fold in. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.

Spoon a small dollop of the Nutella into each phyllo cup. Spoon the white chocolate mousse into the cups, creating small mound. Garnish with grated chocolate, if desired. Keep refrigerated. Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis. Enjoy!

GAZE UPON the inside - she's a trophy tartlet. Get a pre-nup for this hussie.

Don't you want to marry it?
Plus, a threesome is every man's dream is it not? So, I just see winners all around me. Win win win.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Focus Pocus, Drink More Mochas

Normally, part of my Saturday morning routine is a Target run to pick up all the requisite supplies - and I actually sort of enjoy this part of my weekend. Being an insomniac, I'm usually up between 4-5:00am - so I'm insanely grateful that Target opens its doors at 8:00am because, by that time, I am bouncing off the walls for something to do. Tony is usually still asleep, despite all the non-ambient noise I've attempted - and, by this time, I've had enough of his show-boating his sleeping mojo. So, my little excursions are a bit of a haven. Except...recently...

I was exiting after acquiring the needed provisions and I looked toward my car - to pre-strategize whether the provisions should go in the cargo area or side door. I noticed a woman putting her stuff away in her cargo area - she finished, then proceeded to very intentionally place her shopping cart - now that she was done with it - directly behind my car, as in - directly! Now, at first, I made sure I was awake - and indeed I was. Next, I quickly glanced around to look for hidden cameras or whatever - maybe that show "Boiling Point" was about to nail me big time. Nope.

Keep in mind, the cart keeper (place where you put your cart once you're finished) is literally 10 feet away. SO, as I'm now within speaking distance, I say "Um, are you planning on leaving that cart behind my car?" as I'm now laughing a bit - from sheer disbelief. And she looks at me with disdain, looks at the cart, and says "Yes, I am". So, I put my stuff away, put my cart away, and wait for her to get in her Mercedes, and start her car. Then I go to move HER cart. GUESS WHERE I MOVED IT?

Well, needless to say, that little ninnyhammer really chapped my ass - and sometimes, I let incidences like that ruin my whole day - because then I begin to lose faith in the entire human race BECAUSE OF A SHOPPING CART, PEOPLE. My entire focus can move from satisfying-provisional-shopping-experience to catastrophic-suspicion-of-permanent-loss-of-any-trace-of-humanity, all due to a shift of cart. Little did I know a cart was such an equalizer.

So, what did I do? Well, I fought fire with fire, of course - I found a worthy equalizer. I went immediately to the nearest Starbucks and ordered a Mocha, heavy chocolate. The chocolate changed my focus on contact and no one cut in line, it was like I was at Saintbucks. Ahhhhh. All was right in my world again.

Plus, I could grab a whole bunch of FREE sugar packets on my way out - which I could then pour into a certain gas tank. Oh, the humanity!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Filling The Air With My Essence

So, I'm headed to a baby shower this weekend with 30 women - and I know exactly ONE of them, the one with the soon-to-be-born baby. Let me set the stage here:
I didn't attend my own college graduation, I didn't have a wedding shower, I didn't have a wedding registry - and the only attendant at our wedding was our dog, Wylie. To the chagrin of all, there was not a microsecond when I wanted a "real" wedding. To be honest, I never understood events like showers, reunions, and other seemingly obligatory events. I like to breeze past Christmas, for crap's sake, so getting me to a shower is nothing short of the immaculate conception itself.

I don't know what it is. I suppose I'm partly - fine, gigantically - bugged by the requisite games we gals are often forced to play at showers. Literally, the games could be Pin The Tail On The Baby, Baby Crossword Puzzle or, my favorite, Yikes The Water Broke. Figuratively, the games could be more subtle.
Case in point: the last bridal shower I went to, I wore black (is that a sin?) - and, as I passed two friendly girls, one of them muttered under her breath "God, she looks like she's going to a funeral". So friendly! Punks. Frankly, I stink at both types of games.

Luckily, my friend is incredibly down to earth (my kind of girl), so I'm hopeful the rest of these kittens will be equally earthbound and cool. But here in Statusdale - one just never knows about down-to-earthness, one just hopes. So, like a lamb to the slaughter, I could be heading into an episode of the Real Housewives of Orange County. Then again, maybe they're all going to be just as cool as she is, can you imagine? A girl function where everyone is just chill, where the mix is perfect? Like, if I could make my ideal mixed-drink of girl energy, here's what I think I'd toss in: some Debbie Harry, a bit of Gabrielle Reece, a dash of Aung San Suu Kyi, Exene Cervenka, Talitha Getty, Billie Jean King, Meryl Streep, Julia Child, Mother Teresa, Lynn Hill, Anne Frank - SOMEONE PLEASE STOP ME. [you realize I'll be up all night editing this perfect list in my head, I now wish I'd never thought of it...]

Anyhow, like a soldier going off to battle - I know not what I face on the 'morrow. Or, what gear I should arm myself with. Don't think I'll wear black though.

What I would really love to do though, as a crowd tester - is to pass some gas. To take an opportune moment and just suddenly announce: "Oh my god, so sorry - I just totally farted!". Not only would it be a staggeringly beautiful example of uncomfortable woman-silence, but I think it would also really serve an essential larger purpose.

With that one efficient move
, I could both clear the air about who I really am while also filling the air with the essence of who I am. Good idea?

Bow To Me Brownies

Now, these are really incredible. Did you hear that? INCREDIBLE. I've really been wanting to find a great brownie recipe - but every time I'd ask Tony if he wanted brownies, he was all "nah, brownies are just blah, just kinda boring". Well, OKAY then. Like I was born yesterday and couldn't smell the stench of reverse psychology all over THAT statement. Or, he was just a man making a statement. In any case, I was up for the challenge - real or imagined. And I triumphed and it was glorious and Tony literally got down, bowed to me, and kissed my feet. Well, okay, I imagined that last part, but they were glorious - there were tiny molten pockets inside; they were a tad gooey, a tad fudgy, a tad crumbly, moist. Oh, how we loved them, people at work loved them - it was love, love, love! I don't know how I'll ever bake any other brownie.

1/2 lb. unsalted butter
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips for melt
2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips, unmelted
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
3 extra large eggs
1 tbsp. + 1 heaping tsp. instant espresso powder (or instant coffee powder)
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. flour for batter
1/8 c. flour for coating unmelted chocolate chips
1 heaping tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 x 9 pan. Alternatively, grease pan, then line pan with aluminum foil (leaving overhang), and grease aluminum foil; after baking and cooling, use foil overhang to lift bars out of pan for cutting.

Melt the butter, chocolate chips and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler. Allow to cool slightly. Stir eggs, instant espresso powder, vanilla, and sugar. Add and stir in the chocolate mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.

In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to chocolate mixture and combine. Toss the chocolate chips with the 1/8th cup flour, making sure chips are coated. Add chips to the batter and combine until distributed evenly throughout batter. Pour batter into pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Do not overbake. Cool, and cut into squares.
Once again, adapted from Ina, that Mensa. ENJOY!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Because I'm A Value-Adding Machine

First, that tool in the pic above - it's the cheapest whisk I ever purchased, of several - and it's the one I use the most. I'm just sayin'. A bit more on that later.

Well, I've run across some wonderful absurdities lately and I just could not be more pleased. Tickled would be more apt. I really abhor sounding like a broken record, but again, it really is the little things in life [you remember the spoons] that make me squirm. And squeal. Sometimes, I'll be upstairs - online - and I'll let out a little squeal - and not because I'm in some adult chat room participating in a toe fetish circle. No, it's usually because I've just discovered something so amusing that a physical reaction just bubbled over - and I hear hub downstairs mutter "oh god, what now" - because he knows he'll soon hear the riveting blow-by-blow about the new discovery, and the how-did-I-live-without-it-previously description. Good times.

Anyhow, must share and add some value!

1) Found a list called "The Top 30 Highs Of Life"
Now, I think my favorite Top Highs, of the 30 - are probably New Pants and Drinking the Alphabet - merely because of my surprise that the former actually made the cut and I was just so intrigued by the latter - that I now want to find a way to actually make it happen, just to feel the high (what do you think, alphabet soup or ?). As for the pants though - as a chick, I will say that the right pair of jeans - when they happen - can almost give a good-hair-day a run for its money.

2) Brilliant: "10 Insulting Words You Should Know"
This resulted in a ginormous squeal. I mean, I am literally salivating for a situation (oh, hold on - I actually have a replacement word for situation, just hold on) where I can whip out the word Microphallus, after which I really think my opponent would prove speechless. And, Bescumber? Well, this is a food blog - so I won't describe it here, but let's just say for the eternally immature - which I am - it's a classic missive that I also look forward to whipping out during just the right moment.

3) Ironic: "The 10 Best Ways to Win an Argument"
Now, what's compelling about this little nugget is that its author is sort of a professional mediator/life coach/work coach. So, personally - I'd just love to have this whippersnapper come into my office and teach us #1 from her list on How To Win an Argument, which starts with: Call them names. Particularly those that start with A, B, C and F. Now, THAT is MY kind of A,B,C and F-in mediation, man! Love her!

4) Simply GENIUS: "Canonical List of Fulldeckisms"
(As in, "He's Not Playing With a Full Deck")
This is a list of one thousand four hundred and eighty eight insultisms, at last count. If you like snark, this may be your home page - your resting place. Favorites? Pick one. Has delusions of adequacy. Has been seen throwing bread crumbs to helicopters. As worn out as a cucumber in a convent. All Preparation, No H. Uplifting!

5) Love it: "Urban Dictionary"
I mean, I could spend hours milling about on this site, honing my vocabulary. And, "situation", who needs it? Instead, I give you shituation. Infinitely more satisfying. And, how 'bout "for shnitzel my knitzel" - well, little did you know, it translates to: "of course I will knit with you my friend of the opposite sex who is not my race." You're SO welcome!

6) Snark incarnate: "Stuff White People Like"
I just want give this blog a wet willy or a big old wedgie or something. So far, my favorite entry is probably the one about bottled water, where it starts off "Water seems like a fairly simple concept. You turn on the tap, put glass underneath, and drink. Sadly, it is not this simple for white people." Oh, and don't miss his rant on Kitchen Gadgets - although my coveted $1.99 whisk is the subject's antithesis, omg I'm so taupe! The reader comments alone are sheer entertainment - because the writer is equal parts exalted and reviled.
He's like the equivalent of a human Twinkie.

So, yeah, clearly I've been busy. What can I say? This stuff just finds me - and since it made me giggle and brightened my day, well, I thought it might make you chuckle too. Then again, perhaps you'll want to bescumber me for being such a ninnyhammer. In which case, I'll just think you're a microphallus and I'll just remove myself from the shituation.

...and later this week...stay tuned for Bow To Me Brownies - at least, I think that's what I'm naming these little jezebels, whom we've been worshiping, and gloriously inhaling, all week. is a teaser....

[And, thanks to DW for links to #2 & 5 :)]

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Kick Me In The Shin, Insomnia

I know heading into my fifth month of insomnia is inevitably making me more vapid than previously suspected. And, while clarity has never proven my strong suit - I can sometimes arrive within its vicinity after endless annoying exercises in deduction. I'm a cloudy soul. And insomnia really doesn't help clear the air - it makes me dumb, irritated, pinch-faced, and suspicious that melatonin is really just this year's Airborne cold-remedy lawsuit fiasco. Who can I sue for my sleep deprivation anyway?

So, a dear friend and co-worker queried via email "what is your idea of perfect happiness?" - and - after letting that cement-block question root around in my sleepless brain for awhile, with various contenders rising to the surface for consideration, the answer that eventually won out was "the absence of desire". WHAT? Who am I, Buddha? This, after years of therapy? The equivalent of an "off switch" was the best I could come up with? So, I found the sharp corner of my desk and banged my shin on it and then bit my lip. Felt better.

I mean really - I was so freakin' tired yesterday at work, here were my thoughts almost in their entirety: "I want my pillow, I want my sofa, I want to be home, I want my eyes closed, I want to be horizontal, I want no people talking, I want want want want..." - want! So, hindsight informs me where the desire for the absence of desire was coming from, I suppose. Because truly, all I've ever really wanted in life is clarity about what I want in life. So, given the question has haunted me and my shin ever since - I would now like to revise my answer before it lends itself to exponential insomnia.

My idea of perfect happiness is clarity about that which fulfills me - plus - I fully believe that desserts should be damn free of all damn calories. PERFECTION.

In the meantime, feast your eyes on some calorie free food porn...
(it's always free to look, folks....)

Shortbread Tartlets with Mocha Frosting

Well, this was indeed a pesky little project. I initially decided to go off the reservation and try a new recipe for the tartlet - I mean, I like to live on the edge over here. So, I baked the tartlet and was colossally disappointed (yet, this crust had great online reviews, grr). Why isn't Snopes all over this one? So, I then decided (knowing I had to also consider the waning photo-shoot light) to go with a shortbread I already trusted, from the one-and-only saucy little minx - Ina Garten. Then, I wanted to top these suckers with truffle - that's right - just plain old homemade truffle. So I did. And, I liked it - but, I wasn't hot and bothered about it. Though, I definitely would make that combo again for a party
(let me know if you want the truffle recipe). BUT *finally*, I made a mocha frosting - and we were all "oh...oh, yeah baby". And this dang recipe was done.

10 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. sugar
1 egg
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 1/8 cup flour
1/8 tsp. baking powder
pinch salt

2 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1 oz. espresso or coffee (or, espresso powder)
1/3 c. butter
1 tbsp. milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Equipment needed: mini-muffin pan, ungreased.

Tartlets: beat the butter and granulated sugar until light, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, mix well. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix dry ingredients into butter mixture until just combined. Dough will be sticky, have bowl of flour nearby to coat fingers while working with dough. Form 3/4-inch balls of dough and press into muffin tins and up the sides. The perfect piece of equipment I found for this was a mini-liquor bottle dipped in flour, perfect size! Don't be tempted to make the balls larger or the end result will be tartlets that are too puffy and large. Be sure that the bottom of the tartlet is quite thin. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until edges just start to turn golden. Cool on rack. Any leftover dough freezes wonderfully. I made 24 and still had a bit of leftover dough.

Frosting: Beat ingredients in medium bowl with electric mixer on low until frosting is smooth. Use immediately or place in refrigerator if stiffening is needed. Frost shortbread with knife, spoon, or use pastry bag. Enjoy.

Shouldn't these be calorie free? I just really think so.