Wednesday, December 31, 2008

In which I whine like a child myself.

Two days after Christmas, The Husband and I found ourselves out and about, shopping running important errands.

On Christmas day, I cooked. A lot. What does this mean? Leftovers. We have a ton of them. And since I've quit eating for good this time (she says after consuming her eleventh oatmeal cookie), it's up to The Husband to finish what's left before it goes bad.

So, again, it's two days after Christmas and we're sitting in the car, on our way home.

"I think I want to order pizza tonight," he says to me. Randomly.

"Huh? Pizza? But we have tons of leftovers at home."

"But I'm not in the mood for those right now."

Okay, let me just stop here. You're not IN THE MOOD? Well, what are you in the mood for, buddy? Are you in the mood to flush all our money down the drain? The money we spent on the perfectly good and delicious food that is sitting in the refrigerator just waiting for some nice man to come along and pop it in the microwave for a toasty two-minute spin?

Because here's how I see this playing out. You order a $20 pizza. You have a few slices and put the rest in the fridge (MORE LEFTOVERS). Now, the next time you're hungry, what are you going to choose? The leftover Christmas dinner? Or the pizza? The pizza, of course. It requires less work which means you can get back to your football, poker, whatever that much faster. (Which is the ultimate goal here, right?)

So, now you're eating pizza and the Christmas dinner is slowly going bad and crying a soggy mess in the stuffing. Before you know it, I'll have to throw out said leftovers and then you'll stand there frowning at me like you do every time you watch me throw away what was once perfectly edible and tasty food.

Then I'll get laid off. We won't have any more money OR FOOD or internet access for that matter. We'll have to sell your precious TV on which you're able to watch every game available and then you'll wish you had a plate of leftover green bean casserole.

Of course, when I say "no" to pizza, what do I get in return?

"Don't treat me like a child."


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

(Insert clever title here because I can't think of one.)

Is anyone else tired of seeing this guy's mug on the home page of Flickr?

Tell me something. Are you a fan of the chin butt?

Me? Not so much. I realize a lot of girls dig it, but there's only one man who I think can get away with the chin butt and that's my next husband.


You know, I'm not a band-wagoner. I don't tend to cheer for teams just because they're winning. Nor do I root for the underdog. Sorry, but Detroit Lions fans? I feel bad for you. If I were a Detroit Lions fan, I would become a aband-wagoner. Get it?

Sometimes I make myself laugh. The Husband is amazing at keeping a straight face. I say something funny, get the giggles before I even finish my sentence, and he maintains a blank stare and then tells me, "It's not funny if you laugh at your own joke."

And then I call him Debbie Downer. And I tell him not to get his panties in a twist. For some reason, this makes me laugh uncontrollably.

Speaking of future husbands.

I'd almost be embarrassed to admit this. I am so completely infatuated with Alton Brown right now I don't know what to do with myself. In a book of his that I just recently paid full price for acquired, he says about his blueberry something-or-other recipe... "Sometimes I overindulge to the point of making myself ill... and I'm okay with that." And that's when I thought, we are so meant to be.

Besides, he can help me bake perfect cookies every time.

Ahh, cookies. Don't get me started. Last night I wanted to bake cookies so bad. And for no good reason except I wanted to use my new mixer, dang it. And my new-found baking knowledge that Alton has taught me from reading his book. Check it out if you want to learn how an egg can make or break your cookies or what happens when you whip cream. It's fascinating.

Another question. Do you prefer homemade whip cream? Or store bought? Or Cool Whip?

I prefer homemade when I'm being naughty.

Cool Whip is my nemesis. Seriously. Can't open a tub of the stuff without eating the entire thing. And the sad truth about it? I don't even like it that much.

However, several months ago I found this recipe on this much better blog and I made it and I was in love. It tastes just like Key Lime Pie, except I haven't had Key Lime Pie in forever, so I could be wrong, but it's really freaking delicious. I made it for my birthday back in September, when it was all hot out. This pie was so tart and sweet and cool and refreshing. And.

I totally can't find the recipe now. I think it goes like this: mix together a large tub of Cool whip, a can of frozen lime-aid, and a can of sweetened condensed milk. (I let everything defrost on the counter, but I don't think I was supposed to. It was easier to mix and still came out perfectly, so I recommend doing the same.)

Pour mixture into two graham cracker crusts (which I could totally eat plain) and freeze. Then eat a whole one buy yourself to make me feel better for doing the same not too long ago.

This totally made me laugh when I saw it over at Fussy's.


You've probably already seen it. I am always the last to see everything. It's sad.

And, oh yes, you, too, will have that song stuck in your head for hours on end. Just like me. Except, for some unexplainable reason, every time I start singing it to myself (I'm alone a lot), I say "chocolate" instead of "popcorn." I don't do it intentionally. It just... comes out that way.

Eventually, I will poop chocolate.

I know, what a way to end a post.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The choices are endless.

These three glorious books found their way into my stocking on Christmas (with The Husband's Santa's help). Okay, it was actually a Barnes & Noble gift card that made it's way into my stocking, but who's counting?

What's really great about these books is I found all but one on the bargain shelf. Tell me that's not the best thing ever.

I picked out the Good Housekeeping Illustrated Book of Desserts because, well, I like pictures. Lots of them. And this book has them in abundance.

Each recipe contains several pictures of tips and techniques and ingredients, plus in depth instructions. I need instructions. Otherwise things go very, very badly.

I found the Hershey's Classic Recipes cookbook on the bargain shelf. It has fantastic, simple recipes using my all time favorite chocolate. Hershey's.

Can I tell you a secret? As kids, my parents used to buy us those giant Hershey's Kisses for Christmas. I would put mine in the oven and bake it for a few minutes. For no good reason except I think the taste of almost burnt Hershey's chocolate is to die for. Seriously.

I also found The Great American Cookie Cookbook on the bargain shelf. I already know this is where I'll spend most of my time.

The thing is... I like to bake for baking's sake. Don't get me wrong, I also love to taste (a lot), but it's the baking that I love. It probably has something to do with my hyper-organized personality, but who cares, right? It's just so much fun.

However, like I said, I do love to taste (a lot) so I need to be able to send the baked goods off with The Husband. (Before the baked goods stick permanently to my bottom.)

Cookies and cookie bars are easily packed up and sent away. Cakes and pies with pieces missing (not to mention the fork marks where someone just couldn't resist one more bite) don't go over too well.

Now it's a matter of deciding on a recipe. I want to try recipes that I've never tried in the past and would normally shy away from.

Do I start with the Delightful Peanut Butter Marshmallow Cookie Bars? Or The Orange Pecan Gems? (I have a bunch of leftover pecans in the cupboard, but if I put nuts in the cookies, The Husband might divorce me.)

Okay, how about the Elvis Would Have Loved These Peanut Butter Cookies that are drizzled with a frosting made of butter, peanut butter, and marshmallows then sprinkled with peanut butter chips.

This is going to be a touch decision.

And can someone please tell me why I'm leaning towards the combo of peanut butter and marshmallows?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Candy Cane Cookies and a poem.

"I Ate My Best Friend"
Written especially for me for this blog for you, by J.

7:50a.m., I’m walking out the door to school and smelling something good
Thinking about checking it out, decide I probably should
Now in front of a counter, I can’t believe my eyes
Millions of cookies and suddenly I’m hypnotized

No, just kidding, there’s only fifteen
A “Do Not Touch” sign lies in between
The double-chocolate chip one and the frosted sugar cookie
These cookies look just great, I think that I’ll play hookie

Going for a swim in melted white chocolate. I'm jealous

8:15a.m., and I’ve only eaten three
Three isn’t many, but if you only knew me
You’d be confused too, thinking I’d have eaten them all by now
But these cookies aren’t normal, they’re giant so I don’t know how

A sprinkling of crushed candy canes.

9 a.m., and I wish I never learned how to eat at all
Too full to move, accidentally ran into a wall and fell down in the hall
I didn’t know what a “food coma” was before, now I definitely do
And since there’s no one around to ask “Why’d you let me eat them all?”
Cookies, I blame you

Feeling bad for whoever decided to bake, because they don’t have a clue
No, Cookie, they don’t have a clue that I ate all of you
And now you’re all gone, crumbs all over the place
Whoever made you, Cookie, I’m definitely afraid to face

(The recipe for these cookies was found here. I made them bite-sized and drowned them in white chocolate. Everything should be drowned in white chocolate, don'cha think?)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

It's Christmas! (In case you live under a rock.)

If you look really closely, you can see me. And most of my apartment. Well... not most, but some. You can definitely see the long row of furniture that we had to push together to fit the enormous so-not-Charlie-Brown Christmas tree.

Someone was spoiled this year and by "someone" I mean me.

I'm totally going to make love to this thing all day year long.

I didn't cook a big meal, just a few things that I knew The Husband and I and The Mother-in-Law would enjoy.

I think this was the only meal I've ever prepared that was actually timed perfectly and by "timed perfectly" I mean all the food was hot AT THE SAME TIME.

The verdict is still out on the pie. But we'll take care of that soon enough.

Now? It's a lot of this...

And later, a movie. And probably a second helping. And tomorrow? I quit eating.

Merry Christmas, Internet!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The weatherman totally lied.

Yeah, I know. Where are the Christmas posts, right? It's Winter, not Summer. Enough of the ocean!

Well, I'm on vacation this week which means I'm just sitting around eating cookies doing absolutely nothing and when The Husband says there's supposed to be a great sunset tonight according to the weatherman (she says with disdain), I think why the hell not?

Unfortunately, the sun never did break through. But I wasn't the only one to be disappointed.

When we got there, we were walking along the pier, looked over and saw... this.

At first, I only saw the crop circles. (And, yes, I realize they are not crop circles, but that's how I'm going to refer to them in this post.)

Then I noticed the people.

The real live people photographers.

Anyone for a swim?

J and I went to the beach last night. She wanted to jump off things and I said, "I'll get my camera!"

No, seriously. She's been asking me to take pictures of her jumping off swings. I don't know why. She's fourteen. Is that normal?

I told her I would, but we keep getting sidetracked. So, when we decided to run down to the beach, she said I could take a picture of her jumping off the lifeguard station and I said, "Oh, how gracious of you." (She's odd.)

Unfortunately, it was just dark enough to prevent us from getting nice, sharp images. That doesn't stop me from loving this one.

Such a turkey.

I seriously thought she was taking off her shoes to test the water. I waited, holding my breath, to see if she would really do it.

Now, I know there are several of you out there enduring blizzards and more snow than you know what to do with and you guys are cold. I get that.

But, for those of us raised here in southern California, Land of Sunshine, it was cold down by the ocean. It was windy and my teeth chattered. Loudly.

I could only imagine how cold that water was. I'm getting the chills just thinking about it.

She never did stick her toes in. The coward.

It'd be nice to have a great wide angle lens to capture the enormity of the ocean, but standing my little sister there in front of the waves does the trick as far as I'm concerned.

One day, I think The Husband and I will probably move out of state. As much as I try to deny it, leaving the beaches will be difficult.

Monday, December 22, 2008

This is what I do.

If things had gone the way I had planned, you'd be reading about my fascinating (she said sarcastically) day instead of how I locked myself out of my apartment.

I was going to add lots of pictures and it would be entitled "A Day in the Life of Stephanie on Vacation."

Catchy, huh?

I had pictures of The Husband and I playing the Wii this morning, pictures of cleaning out our pantry, pictures of J and I at Target, at the beach, the sunset that didn't do as we hoped.

But then it was seven o'clock and I had heartburn. At least, I think it was heartburn. I don't think I've ever felt heartburn before, but I've asked plenty of people what it feels like and I'd say they were pretty spot on. If this is heartburn.

Then The Husband left for Los Angeles airport (his dad is flying to the Philippines for Christmas, and I know what you're thinking, who does that?!) and I grabbed my purse to run to the drug store. I have cookies to bake here, people! I can't let a little heartburn slow me down.

And why is it that as soon as the door closes and locks behind you, you realize you don't have your keys? And you do know. Without a doubt. That you don't have your keys.

I did the obligatory dumping of the purse contents, but I already knew what I'd find. And it wasn't a set of keys.

I called The Husband, hoping maybe, just maybe, he hadn't gotten too far and they'd be able to turn around. My call went straight to voicemail. Go figure.

I left a message and placed my next call.

"Hi, mommy," I said into the phone. "Are you busy?"

Fifteen minutes later, I was sitting warm in her car, on the way to her office. Unfortunately, I'm at her mercy for the next three hours until The Husband can pick me up.

Fortunately, she has a spare laptop with internet access.

And we have chocolate.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

So, I decided to flock the rest of my furniture.

A month ago I convinced The Husband to get rid of our old, artificial Christmas tree and let's get a real one this year!!

Ol' Artificial was just that. Old. And artificial. And starting to fall apart. And I was just plain sick of storing the massive box in one of very few storage spaces in our overflowing-with-random-crap apartment.

And Ol' Artificial was too big. We'd put it in the same spot year after year and, for a month, I'd have to climb over various obstacles to get to my desk.

Pain in the ass, I tell ya.

So, out with the old and artificial and off we went in search of a real, live Christmas tree. I love real trees. I only wish we could trek through a snowy forest to cut down our own. Now that would be fun. At least, until I got cold and started whining.

It's pretty slim pickin's five days before Christmas. I wanted a flocked tree and there were only two of those left. (And yes, I just learned that "flock" is the technical term for it. It makes me sound smart, right?)

After expressing my outrage over the cost when come on! who's gonna buy a tree now at that price??? (other than us, that is), we paid what is cost and carried the tree home. And for the whole block and a half, I told J and The Husband to pretend like we were trudging through snow like this! And then I proceeded to show them exactly how'd I walk were I trudging through a snow-blanketed forest and not down Harbor Boulevard on a sunny Sunday afternoon in southern California.

Um. The tree doesn't fit. I mentioned there were only two flocked trees left, right? Well, the one we came home with is nearly ten feet tall and fat. It didn't fit in the normal place beside my desk.

We had to completely rearrange the furniture in our living room. And I still can't get to my desk.

Look, twinkly lights and "snow."

My favorite ornament.

And, just for kicks, my favorite scene from Nightmare Before Christmas.

(By the way, I realize the above photos don't do justice in portraying the tree's size. I'm workin' on that.)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Holiday Movies

At the risk of sounding like a Scrooge, I'll admit that I'm not all about the classic Christmas movies. I've never seen It's a Wonderful Life (I know!) and every year TBS plays Christmas Story eighty-three gazillion times and I could happily go the rest of my life without seeing it again. I'm sorry, those are the facts.

There's only one movie that I can't go through Christmas without watching and that's How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I love the Grinch. And I'm talking about the 30-minute classic Grinch, not Jim Carrey. (Although Jim does a pretty decent job of it, too.)

With having said all that, there have been a handful of movies to come out in the last few years, during the holidays, that have become my absolute watch-again-and-again-until-my-eyes-bleed favorites. Watching these movies (and I watch them all the time) totally puts me in the Christmas spirit. So much that I want to re-hang our Christmas lights and open more presents... even in July. (I, of course, will open more presents any time.)

Love Actually is a total chick flick, which works because I am, in fact, a chick. Will The Husband ever watch this movie in a million years?

Have you met my husband? Do I really need to answer this question?

This is one of my favorite scenes. And I don't care what anybody else thinks. Aside from being a bit too skinny (the wench), I think Keira Knightly is adorable.

(Sorry, video has been removed and I can't remember what clip it was anyway.)

The movie shows bits and pieces of various people's lives until, at the end, you realize just how closely related they really are to one another. Kind of like Crash or Grand Canyon... but more romantic and sweet and sad and funny.

Moving on.

I could have sworn The Holiday was a remake of another classic movie, but after spending eighteen hours on the internet, I can't find even a reference to that fact anywhere. So, if you know something, spill it!

I didn't expect to like this movie, but I couldn't help myself. It's wonderful.

The clip is kind of long, but every time I hear Jude Law say "I love you" my tongue gets too big for my mouth and I want to start blubbering all over myself. Or something like that.

(Note to self: think of more accurate ways to describe your feelings in the future.)

I was trying to find a clip of The Family Stone, but YouTube has failed me for the first time ever. I did find some clips elsewhere and you view them here. That is, if you're interested.

I love, love, love the cast in this movie (almost more than the movie itself). Sarah Jessica Parker, Luke Wilson, Dermot Mulroney, Rachel McAdams, and Diane Keaton are fucking amazing. (And, yes, I felt it deserved the F word.) I have loved them each individually for so long that seeing them all together in one movie was almost too much to take in. Like staring into the sun. I couldn't have hated this movie if I tried.

Speaking of the gorgeous Dermot Mulroney, the moment I thought of his name, I thought of this clip from My Best Friend's Wedding. (I'm totally getting off topic here, but try to stay with me.)

Watch the first couple minutes and then tell me you don't wish that that was your finger.

(Sorry, this one has also been lost forever. Sigh.)

I could seriously sit here all day long and browse sweet, romantic clips from my favorite holiday (and non-holiday) movies all day long, but that's just going to prevent me from getting home and starting my vacation. I did mention I'm off ALL NEXT WEEK, didn't I?

Come the end of December and you're going to be mighty sick of me. I can't wait!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gingerbread Cookies

Alternate title: Too many cookies, too little time.

It was this past Sunday when time officially began running away from me. Maybe I took on too many projects or maybe I've started moving in super slow motion and everything is taking three times longer than normal... whatever it is, I'm starting to feel the pressure.

The creamiest icing ever.

This, of course, didn't stop me from making gingerbread cookies. Halloween and Thanksgiving were all about The Pumpkin. I couldn't get enough pumpkin flavored goodness into my diet. Now Christmas? Christmas is all about the peppermint and gingerbread.

These cookies are one of the "projects" I took on on Sunday. My sister, J, and I made a recipe that I saw while watching the Food Network (which I plan on marrying at the first chance I get). (Seriously. You want me to shut up and leave you alone for a few minutes or A YEAR? Sit me down in front of the the TV and flip on the Food Network.)

Gingerbread men on gingerbread cookies. That's just too stinkin' cute.Come on, these totally look like Christmas lights!

We used half the batch to make cutouts, which we later ate (hey, I'm just being honest). The other half stayed in the fridge until last night when I got the crazy harebrained idea to bake and frost them at 9:30pm. Who cares if they'll take two hours to bake, pipe and decorate? I've got time!

Oh, wait. No I don't. I have to go to bed. So I can get up for work in the morning and not be late again due to the rain that has decided to make up for lost time and send southern California UNDER WATER. (Mother Nature, you seem to have a nasty case of PMS lately. Take some Midol for cryin' out loud!)

Speaking of Christmas (I know, we weren't), did you know it's only a week away (give or take a few 24 hours)? A WEEK AWAY. Internet, I'm not ready. Sure, most of the shopping is done, but I'm just. not. ready. Other than the unnecessary amounts of wreaths hanging in our hotel lobby and the ridiculous Christmas country music they insist on playing on my radio station, it doesn't even feel like Christmas. I haven't watched any of my favorite movies. We haven't strolled through houses admiring Christmas lights while sipping hot chocolate Starbucks. And the really sad fact? We haven't gotten our tree yet.

That's right. No tree. A week before Christmas.

Yeah, we still haven't gotten one of these for ourselves yet.

Actually, this kind of reminds me of The Husband's and my first Christmas together, when we moved up to Monterey and into our apartment just four days before Christmas. Getting a tree probably wasn't the smartest decision to make as we stood amidst all the boxes and yet-to-be-put-away furniture, but I couldn't see going through the holiday without one. We picked out an enormous tree that only cost twenty dollars (because it was already dead) and nearly all the needles fell off before we got it through the door. Memories.

Now, If I could just squeeze a few more hours out of each day, I'd be golden. You can bet that when my vacation starts this Saturday, I'll be cramming in more than my fair share of holiday activities.

In case you're wondering why all my cookies are egg-shaped, it's because I cannot stand rolling out dough. I'm sorry, I just don't want to do that ever again for the rest of my life so there.

I rolled the chilled dough into a log and cut slices from it, only the dough gave a little too much under the pressure of the knife and, well... egg shapes.

I piped on the icing because I'm a horrible perfectionist and applying it with a knife would have left too many imperfections. (Somebody please save me from myself.)

Now, these cookies came out soft and chewy, which I love. And, apparently, so do my co-workers as they've been inhaling them since I got here. I'm honestly not sure if they were supposed to come out crunchy or crispy, like most gingerbread cookies I've tried. It's possible (although highly unlikely) that I screwed something up in the doubling of the batch (math? so not my thing), but if it was an error, well, I hope I continue to make it in the future 'cause these cookies were really delicious.

You can find the complete recipe here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The chocolate cake*

Need I say more?

This cake was... amazing. That's all there is to it. And I had to punch myself in the face exactly eighty-two times for not making it sooner. (I won't make that mistake again.)

The original recipe was for a sheet cake. Obviously, I turned it into a round three-layer cake. I made the third layer after the first two came out on the thin side. Bigger is always better, especially when it comes to chocolate. Am I right, or am I right, or am I right? (Name that movie.)

In between each layer? Frosting, or course. Smooth, rich, decadent chocolate frosting. I was so happy that this cake turned out the way it did. I wanted to pour warm frosting over the top layer and let is drip down the sides and I was incredibly pleased to see it do exactly as I imagined.

Of course, my own personality got the better of me and I had one (small) glitch.

After it came out so beautifully (seriously so beautiful I almost couldn't eat it) (yeah, right!), I called The Husband over and made him 'ooh' and 'ahh' over it for a minute. As he walked away, I continued to rotate and admire each and every glorious angle.

That's when I noticed a tiny spot that could have used a bit more cascading chocolate. I spooned a little frosting on the edge and, sure enough, it began to perfectly drizzle down the side.

However, the top edge was now slightly uneven. No problem, I thought as I grabbed my knife. I'll just smooth it out a bit.

Well, easier said than done. The original top layer of frosting had already had a few minutes to set, and running the flat side of my knife across it caused the frosting to texturize. (Is that a word?) I thought I could salvage it, but it wasn't meant to be.

I wasn't meant to bring a beautiful, perfect-in-every-way cake. That's, apparently, not my style.

Oh, well. I'll just have to make another one to prove to myself that it can be perfect. And, this time, I won't have to share.

*The author cannot be held responsible for drool-related keyboard malfunctions.

Friday, December 12, 2008

It pains me to do this.

I love comments. (Who doesn't?)

When I jumped aboard this train to Crazy Town started this blog, I began using Haloscan to host my comments. I liked them better than Blogger. (Please don't tell Blogger.) (Blogger, in case you're reading, I love you!)

And Haloscan did right by me. Haloscan and I were homies. BFFs, if you will. Brothers from another mother.

Okay, I apologize. It's late and I'm tired and have worries of cake on the brain.

Recently, Haloscan was bought out or killed off (I'm not really sure which) by another company. What I do know? This new server, some new guy by the name of JS-Kit (whoever he is, she said with disgust), has taken over and, well, it has to be said. He sucks. I don't like him. He and I? Nowhere near homies.

I've tried to adjust, but finally, on this cold and lonely night (morning?), I've decided I can stand no more.

I've switched back to good ol' trustworthy Blogger.

What this means, though... what has me in tears... all my old comments? No longer visible.

Sure, I can log into stupid JS-Kiss-my-ass and read them, play with them, roll around on the floor with them, but it's not the same. I miss my comments. I want to cry.

I'll go to bed with a bowl of ice cream instead, but please know this:

I love you and your comments.

Speaking of comments, go balls to the wall (or something like that) and check this out.

Too stressed out to think of an adequate title.

I'm not sure if I've sufficiently conveyed just how anal I actually am, but if I haven't, this post should do the trick.

Tomorrow night, The Husband and I have been invited to a friend's house for a casual holiday dinner. It'll be a small gathering; just The Husband and I, his two best friends, their wives and children.

My poor husband is the last man standing without kids. Well, maybe he shoulda thunk twice before marrying someone eleven years younger. Hmph.

But I digress. They're doing it potluck style and we volunteered to bring (what else?) the dessert. I immediately wanted to bake a cake. A cake is a far cry from the normal holiday pies that everyone's been consuming since Thanksgiving and, I thought, a welcome change.

At first I chose to do a chocolate cake with peppermint frosting. See? I'm still keeping with the theme. But then I made a sample cake for The Husband to take to work. I wanted to see what the reactions were. And... they were good.

But the cake? It wasn't very pretty. I don't bake and frost a lot of cakes and I was perturbed by all the little imperfections that come from doing so. It just wasn't... perfect.

So, then I thought cupcakes. I can still use the same flavors, but I can frost cupcakes perfectly and use mini candy canes or other chocolates to decorate and it would be totally cute and festive. Not to mention kid/clean-up friendly.

But would cupcakes be too... I don't know... birthday-ish?

This is when I started obsessing. What if cupcakes are too childish? What if nobody likes peppermint? What if they don't like chocolate!? What if, what if, what if.

Last night I finally cracked. "Can't I just go buy a fucking cake from a bakery and pass it off as my own?!" I asked The Husband.

He replied, "Honey, you can do whatever you want." He then proceeded to rattle off some sports stats and I threw a fit because YOU'RE NOT LISTENING TO ME.

"Yes, I am," he said, still staring at his computer screen. "I heard everything you said."

"But you didn't listen. I AM SURROUNDED BY BAD LISTENERS!"

And I stormed off to my laptop in hopes that the internet would be able to provide the answer to all life's problems.

Now it's Friday and the dinner is tomorrow. I have this vision in my head of showing up with a cake that nobody wants and we'll sit around staring at it as it sits on the table missing two pieces; the one I cut for myself because I'm normal and love chocolate and the giant piece I'll cut for The Husband because WHEN YOU SAID "I DO" IT MEANT YOU'D EAT A HUGE PORTION OF ANYTHING I BAKE JUST TO MAKE ME FEEL BETTER.

As I've perused the internet today, I thought of making this chocolate sheet cake, except turning into a round two-layer cake and drizzling the middle and top with chocolate frosting so it kind of cascades down the sides in a pretty little waterfall of chocolate (I'm starting to feel better)... Only, I've never made this cake before and that, for me, usually spells disaster.

Any ideas?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My favorite things: Vitalicious VitaMuffins

Yeah, try saying that five times fast.

One thing I love about blogging is being able to share my favorite things with others. That's also one of the reasons I read so many blogs. You never know when or where you might find a great recipe, an amazing photography tip, etc.

So, with that being said, I share The VitaMuffins.

Oh, sorry. I forgot to mention they come in a box. Because NONE OF MY STORES CARRY THEM.

I heard about this company, Vitalicious, on a message board a couple years ago. Have I ever told you I used to be fat? Yeah, it was a Weight Watchers message board.

Intrigued, I checked out their website and eventually placed an order. Since then, I've placed many an order for their Deep Chocolate VitaTops. They're the perfect snack and played a major part in me getting to my goal weight. How, you ask?

They're only a hundred calories! They're also all natural, preservative free, low in fat, high in fiber, full of vitamins and other nutritious stuff and, hello?? They're chocolate! (I also realize that, at this point, I sound like an infomercial, but I can't help myself. I've lost all control.)

There is one downfall. Since they're not carried in any of my grocery stores, I have to order them online. Okay, no problem. Except, since I have to order them online and they're free of preservatives and therefore need to be kept frozen, the shipping charges to get them to you quickly are a little, well... high. And suddenly, what used to be somewhat reasonable in price, is now... not.

And then Bossy had to go and throw a Poverty Party and, well, I had to come up with a solution.

That's when I realized they also sell VitaMuffin mix. Nonperishable VitaMuffin mix. Yep, I can make these muffins right at home in my very own oven and for nearly half the cost. (And, if you order in the next ten minutes, we'll double your order! Ugh. Someone please punch me in the face.)

Sure, making them yourself is not quite as convenient as receiving each one individually wrapped and ready to eat, but the cost outweighs the convenience in this case. (At least, that's what The Husband tells me.)

No, seriously, they're great. The first time I made these myself, I baked them, as directed, in little paper cups. Well, I'm not sure if I did something wrong (not likely! I am, after all, perfect), but my muffins stuck to the paper and each time I tried to unwrap one, half the muffin would tear away as well. Then I'd be standing over the trash trying to gnaw off as much chocolate as I could before The Husband walked in and gave me that look again. You know, the one that says I SHOULD PROBABLY CALL SOMEONE NOW.

The second time around, I bit the bullet and greased and floured my baking pan. I used a very minuscule amount of Crisco in each cup, trying to avoid adding any unnecessary calories and they turned out much better.

And what's great? You can use any flavor chocolate chip that you'd like. In this batch, I used butterscotch, which normally I'd find slightly too sweet, but in these muffins, which aren't overly sweet at all, they were fantastic. (And if that's not a run-on sentence, I don't know what is.)

I store them in the freezer and let me just say this. They're great on a hot day right out of the freezer or, in the winter (like right now), warmed up in the microwave or even slightly toasted.

Now, if only I could convince Vitalicious to pay me for the endorsement.