Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Chocolate Pecan Toffee Bars

Let me just start by saying one thing. There is no lemon anywhere in this recipe. Just pure decadent chocolatey melt-in-your-mouth goodness that might just bring you to tears. They're that good.

I was bored and browsing blogs yesterday when I stumbled upon this one. And the third recipe down? These amazing Chocolate Pecan Toffee Bars. So, what did I do besides drool all over my keyboard? Well, I bolted from work early and ran home to make these little morsels of sin.

And, despite the fact that THEY HAVE NUTS (oh, the horror!), The Husband still ate nine of them. Okay, more like three, but still. He's not a sweets guy, so that's saying a lot.

The directions for this recipe really confused me. Granted, most directions confuse me, so I'm sure a normal person would have no problem, but... I got confused. I'm sure I did something wrong (I found the dough hard to handle) (much like me) (ha), but they came out so rich and gooey and delicious that I just don't care. But, I thought I should warn you in case you can't control yourself either and run off to make these immediately.

Just don't be like me and eat so many you make yourself ill afterwards. Ahh, what the hell. Do it. They're totally worth it.

Now tell me this... Nuts? Or no nuts?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I Heart Faces: week three

Any minute now, my phone is going to start ringing and there, on the other end, will be an angry older sister. And she's going to yell at me for posting these photos. But don't worry. I don't answer my phone anyway, so I'm totally in the clear.

I took these two pictures on my mom's fiftieth birthday. My sister, her husband, and their EIGHTEEN KIDS drove down from Utah to celebrate. By the way, eighteen is an exaggeration. It's really only five. Which happens to be a magical number in our family. My grandmother, my mother, and my sister all have five children. It's like these people have nothing better to do.

These photos were taken only six months ago. But, in six months, I've learned a lot. Now I can't help but think if only I'd known then what I know now. I would have done a lot differently.

However, with that being said, this is one of my absolute favorite pictures of my older sister. She just looks so incredibly happy and beautiful. When she saw it, she wasn't thrilled. All she saw were wrinkles. On the one hand, I wish we could all stop being our own worst critic. On the other hand, I want to vomit every time someone takes my picture, so I kinda get it.

Let's get on with the show.

My adult entry.

And my kids entry.
A or B
This goober is my niece, but please don't ask me which one 'cause she's one half of a pair and I can't tell them apart. At least, not in this photo. I know. Bad aunt. Okay, I'll take a guess and say it's B and let the older sister tell me if I'm right or wrong.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Lemon Cranberry Bars

Alternate title: Somebody Stop Me!

Hi, my name is Stephanie and I am addicted to lemons. I love their color. I love their smell. I love their TASTE. I freaking love lemon. And I desperately need some sort of help.

I blame her for my addiction. Ever since the scones, I've been drawn to every recipe that calls for lemon. And if it includes cranberries? I'm a goner. I can't resist.

Salt. Because... just because.Maybe I like to use cranberries 'cause they're just so dang pretty.Lemon peel. God, I love this scent.Lemonade concentrate. As if you couldn't see that for yourself.Egg, butter, sugar. The usual suspects.

When I flipped to this page in my cookbook, I knew it was pointless trying to fight. I gave in and waved my white flag. And by "white flag" I, of course, mean tissue because my nose is still running like an irritating leaky faucet that makes you want to kill yourself.

Wait. Where am I?

If you're wondering if I may have overdone it with the cranberries, why, yes! Yes, I did. In fact, I doubled the amount called for. Thank you for noticing. It could be the reason the bars were kind of, well... falling apart? It's okay. I just put them in my mouth so I wouldn't lose the crumbs.

I admit it. I made a couple of minor mistakes with these. Next time I'll use a little less sugar, my lemonade won't be so cold, and I'll make sure my butter mixes in properly... but they were really good and, oh yes, there will be a next time. Here is the complete recipe.

So, I spent Sunday slaving over a hot stove for an ungrateful husband cooking and baking. Along with these bars, I made another batch of cookies (which I'll share a little later), macaroni and cheese from scratch, mashed potatoes and this chicken.

How did you spend the day?

Friday, January 23, 2009

I need your help. Part two.

I've spent most of my day obsessing and I desperately need your help.

I've been invited to attend the bridal shower of a co-worker.

Said co-worker and I have become friends in the nine months we've worked together. We have, on few occasions, spent time outside of work. This usually occurs when we realize we're done at the same time and decide to go for drinks.

I really like this co-worker and I'm excited to attend her wedding.

I am not excited to attend the shower.

Hi, have you met me? I'm totally shy and anti-social. I loathe gathering with groups of strangers. This certainly won't be an event for the co-worker and I to socialize as she'll be busy BEING THE BRIDE.

I've RSVP'd and now (I realize this makes me a complete toad) I want to cancel. I want to make up an excuse for why I suddenly can't attend. I don't want to force myself to be miserable.

In other words, I don't wanna.

Am I allowed to cancel? Or would it be completely unforgivable?

I was called into work earlier this evening and I agreed to come in based on the fact that the co-worker would be working as well and I knew we'd have fun together. I love talking to her and just plain being around her.

When I arrived, I had already rationalized my plans to cancel. Now that we've spent the last five hours laughing, I feel equal parts guilt and JUST GET THE HELL OVER IT AND GO!

But then the realization sinks in that I will not know another single person there. Not a one.

Did I mention I suffer social anxiety?

I'm a mess.

Please tell me what to do.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong state.

That's it. When I see this girl tomorrow I am so not taking her picture. She is much too photogenic and, well, cute. I just can't take it anymore.

On the one hand, I love the way these photos are turning out.

On the other hand? It's just not fair. I have about this much photogenic quality (squeezing thumb and forefinger together to imply that I, in fact, have none). It's like my face has an allergic reaction whenever a camera is pointed my way. I break out in ugly.

Anyway, I spent an hour downloading music tonight. It got me thinking about how our tastes change over the years. Or, at least, how mine do. Or did. From horrible Pop to Hip Hop to Country. Oh my.

I bought my first CD when I was thirteen and it remains one of my favorites today. It was Bone Thugs 'N' Harmony's E 1999 Eternal and it had explicit lyrics and my mom promptly took it away from me when she heard the word "nigger." Or maybe it was "motherfucker." Or both. Who knows.

She put the CD on top of the fridge where she apparently thought it'd be invisible to teenage eyes. I took it back the next day and happily went on listening to explicit lyrics for several years.

In fact, I papered the walls of my bedroom with so many black people that my dad used to say, "Steph, look in the mirror. You're white." He said this in the least racist way possible, I assure you.

Then I was sixteen and I fell in love with a boy. And the boy said I just had to hear this song. The song was Amazed by Lonestar. Within a month, my taste in music had completely changed. It was all country. All the time. And my parents still don't understand it.

Now? Hearing Richie McDonald's whiny voice sing that song is like listening to nails down a chalkboard. Seriously painful. But I still love country music.

My current favorites?

Now I need to know. What song could you listen to over and over and over again??

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Not really in the Christmas spirit, but I could sure go for some presents.

Yesterday, since I had the whole afternoon free (which may be the one and only perk of working at stupid six a.m.) I decided then was as good a time as any to clean out the ol' hard drive. It's something I do every couple of months and I usually come across a bunch of pictures I'd forgotten about. I get a little excited and fondle them for a minute in Photoshop. And I thought, these poor photos need to be shared.

I had a whole blog post planned around them.

Unfortunately, I took a lot of really boring photos in December and January. The only one I found worth sharing was this:

And, really? It's not even worth sharing. Except I really do love popcorn that much. And this specific popcorn came from Popcornopolis and if you have a location near you, you need to go immediately. Because, holy shit, this was the best popcorn ever.

Speaking of Christmas. (I know, we weren't. But the popcorn reminded me.) May I just say it passed much too quickly for me? It seems I was surrounded with people who couldn't wait for the holiday to be over, didn't want to deal with the stress and chaos (which I totally get). But I could have happily celebrated for another month or two. Of course, I feel that way every year. And it certainly doesn't help that the temperature here in southern California has been in the 80s for two weeks and it doesn't even feel like winter.

I know, some of you are drowning in snow (I've seen the pictures), and I should be grateful. Well, screw being grateful. I want some rain, damn it. I want some cold. I want to go home and curl up with a blanket. I want Mother Nature to get her shit together and Global Warming? Take a fucking vacation already.

The Husband and I thought about moving to Portland once, but he always said he'd go insane living somewhere that was overcast 90% of the time. He needs sunshine and warm weather. I'm his total opposite. I feel at my best, my most productive, my most creative, my most happiest, when it's cold and overcast. I need it to survive.

Last night, I was eating popcorn (I told you I had a problem) and The Husband looked over and asked, "Are you going to eat the whole bag?"

And then I killed him. I'm sure you ladies understand.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

As long as he's hosting...

We should totally do this again tomorrow.

That's all.

Somewhere along the way, this turned into a totally different animal.

While everyone else is watching The Inauguration, I am standing here, alone, looking out into a vast and empty lobby. Hello, Economy? We get it.

I don't have much to say today and whatever I do say will most likely bore you to tears, but hey, I'm still leaking from the face so it's only fair that you are, too. (Or something like that.)

Speaking of things that bother me (I know, we weren't), I really can't stand it when people say "I wish I had a nice camera like that" as if the camera does all the work. Yes, a good camera can do wonders for quality, but the camera itself can't do crap about composition, exposure, etc. without someone who knows what they're doing choosing the right settings.

Just to clarify, I am not "someone who knows what they're doing."

I received my first camera, a Canon point and shoot, for Christmas when I was sixteen. God, I loved that camera. Still do, but it broke the night before our wedding. If ever there was a sign of things to come... JUST KIDDING.

That camera took great pictures and I'd love to share some of them with you, but film, scanning, blah blah boring.

It's funny, looking back, to think how did I not realize it then? Photography, as a profession, just never occurred to me. But, boy, it should have. It should have occurred to someone! I took a ton of pictures, even back then. It's a good thing photography went digital, otherwise I'd hate to see how many boxes of pictures I'd have to store.

After the Canon's unfortunate demise, The Husband and I purchased THE WORST CAMERA EVER. If you're in the market for a camera, please purchase one from a company that specializes in cameras, not computers or printers or anything like that. And if you already went that route, like I did with the horrible HP, I'm sorry. That's all I can say. And maybe it's working out for you, and that's great, truly. And if not? Well, again, I'm sorry. I feel your pain. 'Cause, dang, I hated that thing.

Buying my Nikon back in 2007 was probably the most difficult purchase I've made in a very long time. I don't think I put that much thought or effort into purchasing my last car. And I'm pretty meh about our future house (but that's probably just 'cause it doesn't feel real yet).

I spent a month researching cameras. I had my heart set on a Canon, but the Nikon felt so much better. But then it all about what kind of Nikon? Did I need the D80 or would a less-expensive D40 fulfill my needs?

And then I was all what if, what if, what if??? for a really long time. Like a month. And everyone at work was all shut up already! And so was The Husband and anyone else who had made the mistake of lending an ear.

And once I finally made the decision to go with the D80? Just thinking about what I went through trying to figure out where to buy stresses me out today. I looked online at various "companies" whose means of acquiring said cameras were much too questionable (but holy crap, were they cheap). I looked at eBay. I looked until I went blind and then, finally, in a fit of buyer's rage, went to my local Samy's and made a purchase.

And I never looked back.

The end. (But not really on "the end" part.)

Seriously, I don't know what I'd be doing with myself and all the time I'd have on my hands if not for photography. I'd probably be reading, which I used to do a lot of until the madness of photography, Photoshop, and blogging entered my life.

Did you know I started my first blog back in 2004? But it's lunch time now, so goodbye forever.

But not really of the "forever" part.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The thirteen hour post.

I arrived to work this morning, on time (miracle), at six a.m. At seven a.m., I started writing. At seven p.m., I scrapped the whole thing and decided to start over.

I was going to start with a lengthy description of my runny nose and tell you how I spent the entire weekend with a tissue jammed up each nostril while The Jerk Husband gave me shit for being sick and cranky, but then I thought... for a Monday? That might be a little, um, heavy.

So, how about some photos of a fourteen-year-old girl and a cookie recipe instead?

Yesterday, despite my dripping snot, I got in some shots of J for this week's I Heart Faces contest. Here's the photo I decided to submit:

And here are some runner-ups. Just for fun.

I couldn't get happy with the colors in this one (they just seemed off), which is why I eventually went the black and white route. I refused to give up on this photo because I'm waving at you in her eyes. See me?

And speaking of eyes. Hello gorgeous. (Is there a plural for "gorgeous?")

I made these cookies last week.

I made them at the same time as The Lemon Bars and I never thought I'd say this, but, of the two, it's not the cookies I can't stop thinking about.

Although, they were delicious and are definitely worth the effort. But don't make the same mistake I did. I used a bag of pre-chopped toffee pieces. Go through the extra trouble of buying the chocolate-covered toffee bars and chop them up yourself. Mine were good, but that extra step would have sent them over the edge. (Here's the complete recipe.)

I didn't get a chance to make anything this past weekend in between blowing my nose, trying to get some sleep, and watching 48-hours of nonstop Food Network. Which is totally my idea of a good time, minus the sick part.

And can someone please explain why it's okay for a man to be cranky when he's sick, but not for a woman? No, when a woman is not feeling well and wants to be left alone to sleep, that, according to The Husband, means she hates him and wants a divorce. (Well, I will if you don't let me get some effing sleep.)

No, a divorce right now certainly wouldn't do. Did I mention we were recently approved for a home load? I mean, home loan. (I thought about backspacing, but I thought "home load" seemed kind of fitting.) The Husband and I have the money, now all we need is the house. Which we'll begin looking for just as soon as I can step foot outside my front door without having to worry about a chapped nose and leaking snot.

(You're welcome for that image.)

Friday, January 16, 2009

My nose and I are thrilled!

When I entered this photo at I Heart Faces, I honestly never thought I'd win or even come close, 'cause dang are there some talented people out there! But I like the competition. It makes me strive to learn and practice and (hopefully) improve.

And holy shit, I took third place. I didn't even think they'd share the top ten. But there they were and there was this photo. In third place. And I just couldn't be more thrilled.

And, yes, I'm feeling under the weather today which makes me even more emotional than normal (that's hard to do), but I gotta say that this (and all of your amazing comments) makes those occasional days of feeling like a talentless loser totally worth while.

I love you guys.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I need your help.

This past Saturday, in a fit of restlessness, I did the unthinkable. I drove up to LA. I wouldn't normally cross the orange curtain unless it's absolutely unavoidable, but, again, I was bored. And The Husband was watching football. And the store I wanted to visit has only one location near me and that's in Los Angeles.

So, north I traveled. I was going to Kitchen Collection, a store that carries nearly every kitchen doo-hickey and gadget known to man.

I looked at everything from new mixing bowls to salt and pepper shakers, from ramekins to cake decorating kits, from cast iron skillets to tomato slicers.

And after over an hour, I came home with one medium-sized and very basic mixing bowl and a set of round baking cut-outs.

I just couldn't make a decision. If I had an unlimited supply of cash, I would've come home with everything I set eyes on, but... I don't.

So, I wandered slowly through the store, carefully examining each item. I picked up new mixing spoons only to set them down five minutes later after asking myself do I really need these? and deciding that no, I don't. I did the exact same thing with the juicer, the apple slicer, the bundt pan, the spatulas, the single egg skillet (why I want one of these as bad as I do, I have no idea)... all to be put down a few minutes later because I couldn't let myself buy something that I didn't absolutely need.

Internet, help me. What do I need?

What is one item in your kitchen that you absolutely cannot go without???

I'll tell you mine. It's my digital food scale. I bought it two years ago, right after I started Weight Watchers, and I sincerely believe it played the most important role in reaching my goal because Internet? If I had to use and wash one more freaking measuring cup or spoon, I was going to kill someone and then eat a whole pie by myself.

The scale saved me. And since then, I've been using it for everything! Especially for baking. I set my bowl on the scale and turn it on. I weigh my first ingredient (I weigh everything to be precise) and then I zero it out and weigh my next ingredient.

It has incredibly reduced the number of bowls, measuring cups and spoons I use each day and if it ever dies, I will shed a tear as I sprint out the door to buy a new one. I can't live without it.

I need to know. What can't you live without?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Kisa's Lemon Bars To Die For

"Kisa's Lemon Bars To Die For" totally don't do these justice. I know, you'd think it would, but really? They should be called Kisa's holymotherofGOD Lemon Bars To Die For, because they're really freaking good. And I'm embarrassed to admit how many I ate. So, I'm not going to.

After the cookies, I didn't expect to make another lemon recipe anytime soon, but I've never made these before and, well, I love lemon. Got it?

I may not have made them before, but I have inhaled delicately nibbled on one or two thousand here and there.

Actually, I best remember lemon bars from when I was sixteen. My stepsister and I used to go to the movies and across from the theater was a bakery that had the most delicious lemon bars. We'd buy a couple and sneak them in. Not the wisest choice as using a fork in a dark theater can be, um, difficult... but they were too good to resist.

I think these were better. Yes, it's been a few years since I last had a lemon bar in a dark movie theater, but these were just fantastic. And easy!

And I totally regret taking the extras to work now, but, well... after eating half the pan myself, it was necessary.

Please go check out the recipe. These are too good not to make yourself.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

You should also know I have a slight obsession with all things Disney.

J and I went to Disneyland this past weekend. Twice. Once on Friday night and again on Sunday morning... while we were supposed to be at Church. Please don't tell God. (That's supposed to be a joke.) (Oh, forget it.)

Anyway. They don't let you bring tripods into the park (people might trip over them blah blah, liabilities blah blah blah) so it was rather difficult to get any good shots on Friday night except for those I captured while balancing my camera on a trash can and my cell phone. (The camera has been disinfected since then, I promise.)

This one is especially creepy (I'm sorry it's so dark) because it's supposed to look like this...

But they're in the process of renovating Disney's California Adventure.

That drained lake is spooky.

On Sunday morning, it was all about capturing a shot of J. See, I've been determined to find the best light, the best surroundings, and nail my exposure. For crying out loud, that's not an easy thing to do. Well, it isn't for me.

But I think I'm finally getting close.

It figures that my favorite shot would be one of the first I took. We stopped at a spot just inside the entrance, in front of these gorgeous flowers, in the shade of a tree, facing north. (Supposedly north is the way to face, but I need a compass or something because I always have to ask The Husband and he insists on giving me a freaking geography lesson every time! Can't you just POINT NORTH?)

I think my favorite thing about this photos is her eyes. Yes, my focus on the right one is a little soft, but please ignore that. There is such incredible detail in the eyes that when I first opened the photo, I thought what the hell is that??? and had to zoom in close before I realized that I was seeing the reflection of the sky, me, and the flowers around us. I love that.

I love the bokeh in the background. I realize some might find the bright colors a bit distracting, but I love it. To me, it gives the photo a fun, playful feel.

And I especially love that editing was so minor. A little contrast, a little sharpening and I was done. That's my personal goal, to do as little editing as possible. Don't get me wrong, I love Photoshop, but ultimately I want to capture the image in the camera, not create it in Photoshop.

In case you live under a rock, you may not have heard about this great new website. (And I don't know why I think everyone lives under a rock, except maybe because I do and I miss out on everything and am always the last to know anything.) It has been too much fun browsing through everyone's photos and has given me some really great ideas. Definitely go check it out.

I'm going to include this picture of J. Not because I think it'll win, but because I really want to be part of the cool crowd, okay?

Monday, January 12, 2009

To avoid any further confusion.

On Saturday night, someone complimented me on this here blog o' mine. Well, sorta. It went somewhere along the lines of "I really like your blog. I'm not really sure what it's about yet... but I really like it." (Thanks, Mom.)

I didn't think it was a big mystery. This is where I come to write about LIFE so that when I'm old and my tits are in my shoes* I'll be able to look back and remember where the hell I spent my time.

I like having a place to express myself in a way that doesn't come naturally in "real life." See, what you get here? It's the "real me." I'm just not good at sharing the "real me" around "real people." (And I feel the need to use unnecessary "quotation" marks throughout the rest of this "post.")

I'm very reserved and quiet and, to be honest, nervous (until I get to know you). I'm fairly certain I suffer from some sort of social anxiety which I should probably be seeing some sort of therapist for, but I'm happy and since it doesn't prevent me from leaving my house and doing things I love, I don't feel a need to shell out the dough I should be saving for when I get laid off (knock on wood).

And speaking of things I love? I have discovered the most incredible passion for photography and baking within the last couple of years and that's the direction this blog will take most of the time. So, if cookies and photographs (of just about anything that will hold still long enough) (and sometimes of things that won't) isn't your cup of tea? Then it may just be time to move along. Because life is too short to spend time doing reading things that you're not totally into.

And because I'm paranoid of anybody thinking so (I admit it, I care what people think)... No, I am not trying to be her or her or any of the other fantastic people that happen to be doing the same thing. I'm just doing what I want and sharing the outcome and if someone happens to get any sort of enjoyment from it, awesome. And if not? Well, there are plenty of other fish blogs in the sea WWW.

And by the way? I like to use the F word from time to time. Just thought I should throw that out there now while I'm telling the truth.

*Eight million dollars to the first person to name that television show. (But not really on the "eight million dollars" part.)

Edited to add: For those still wondering, the quote came from an episode of Sex and the City, in which Samantha declares that she's having nude photos taken of herself so that when "she's old and her tits are in her shoes," she can look at the pictures and remember how hot she was.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Oatmeal Cookies

I made these cookies a couple weeks ago. I'm not sure why I haven't shared them yet, but the pictures have been staring me in the face, waiting to see the light of day, and since I found these cookies so freaking good, I thought I better tell you about them.

These were the very first cookies I made using the new mixer. (Have a mentioned how much I love that thing?) I got the recipe from Alton's book and they are fantastic.

I know everyone has an oatmeal cookie recipe and maybe everyone but me already knows this, but the recipe called for cinnamon. I have never made oatmeal cookies with cinnamon. Now? I'm a believer.

Although, I will say this. The absolute best thing about these cookies were the bottoms.

They were golden brown and buttery and slightly crispy and each bite started with that amazing flavor before leading into the sweetness. I want to eat these cookies for breakfast. I mean, they're oatmeal. So, what's the problem? (Other than my expanding waistline?) (Which I don't want to talk about.)

On a side note, I promised myself that I will only bake once a week from now on. (Because of that thing I don't want to talk about.) This puts me in a tough spot as far as making a decision about what to bake. There are just way too many options.

Here is the complete recipe. Also, since I've become a firm believer in Alton's baking methods, I'm sharing the following YouTube clips with you. These two clips make up an entire Good Eats episode in which Alton explains his "creaming method." He uses this method while making nearly all his cookies and now I do the same, even if some recipes suggest otherwise.

Eventually, I want to try all three and hold a taste test. Any volunteers?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Fog

I had to work at six a.m. this morning, which makes me want to cry even though it's over and done with. The thing that bothered me the most was missing out on The Snooze. I am an expert snoozer and I snooze my alarm no less than eight times each morning. Don't worry, The Husband finds it infuriating charming.

But, on the rare occasion that I have to wake up at four in the stinkin' morning, I fear oversleeping so much that I jump out of bed, disoriented but awake. And even though I don't mind bothering The Husband with my snooze-fest each morning at a normal time, there's something about four in the morning that makes the repeated snoozing seem almost... I don't know... cruel?

Snoozing is a vicious cycle. I usually wake up fairly well to my alarm, but just sleepy enough to give in to the "ten more minutes." Except, then the alarm sounds for a second time, and now I feel almost painfully tired and am forced to snooze again. This continues until I have ten minutes to get ready for work and rush out the door.

I should really let me boss read this so he'd finally understand why I'm late Every. Single. Day.

Not really, but... close.

So, there I was. At work. At six in the morning. Desperately sucking down a Grande Skinny Caramel Latte from Starbucks and Thank God for the Starbucks inside our hotel.

It was a beautiful morning, both inside and out. Most people seemed to sleep in late, which left us blessedly free to get other important things done (like gossip) and outside the morning was looking crisp and clear.

Then the random fog rolled in. At nine a.m. It seemed to completely strangle embrace Anaheim. This is odd for us. Normally, we wake up to fog and it burns off late in the morning. It didn't stick around for long, but seemed to hover just at the edges all day.

This is probably what affected our guests. Because, along with the fog, in came The Crazies. Those guests you can't help but stare at and wonder if this is the first time they've ever stepped foot outside their front door because surely they would've learned how to communicate with people if they'd done so before.

By the way? This post has no meaning whatsoever. Just thought I should clear that up.

Finally, I was on my way home. The sun was making it's descent behind the huge, thick wall of marine layer, which sometimes becomes so huge and dark and ominous that it looks like it's taking over the city. I inevitably start thinking of this really awful movie that The Husband had flipped on one night, aptly titled The Fog.

It was about (wait for it) fog. And how the fog was trying to kill everyone. Or there were ghosts living in the fog trying to kill everybody? Whatever. The Fog was awful.

But, even though I remember it's awfulness, I also remember that it scared me just a little bit.

Because I am a scairdy cat. And this morning? I hated walking out to my car alone. At five-thirty in the morning. In the dark. And cold.

I am also terrified of bugs and scared of earthquakes. Tonight we had an earthquake (albeit a small one) and then a bug fell down The Husband's shirt sleeve as he was trying to save me from it and remove it from the ceiling above our bed.

The end.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Canned Peanut Butter Candy Cookies

Something has got to give. I can't go on making all these cookies! Because who eats them all? I do. The Husband will only consume so many and that's only if they have chocolate and/or peanut butter in them. He is not a fan of fruit or vegetables. Not that any of my cookies have vegetables in them, but you never know. If my pants keep getting tighter, I might just have to come up with some sort of cookie made entirely of cauliflower. Just like my mashed potatoes. That's right. My "faux" mashed potatoes are made of cauliflower. And you know what? They're delicious.

I think the extra weight is making me cranky.

I have no idea why these are called Canned Peanut Butter Candy Cookies, except that maybe you're supposed to store them in cute little cans or something, but who do you think this is? Certainly not someone who keeps cookies around long enough to store them in cutesy containers. Although I do have a thing for cookie jars. They all inevitably turn into dust collectors. But they're stinkin' cute.

If you like Reese's peanut butter cups, peanut butter all by itself, chocolate (who doesn't???), or cookies in general, these are for you. Just don't do what I did to the first batch and overcook them. Because they go from moist and delicious to damn I need a dentist and delicious in no time. Watch them and take them out before you think they're done. I'm trying to get better at following this same advice.

¾ cup chunky peanut butter (I used smooth)
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
1 ¼ cups AP flour
2 cups miniature peanut butter cups, quartered
1/3 cup milk chocolate chips (for drizzle)

Cream together butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar.

Add egg and mix until well blended. Mix in vanilla.

Sift together flour, baking powder and baking soda. Beat into butter mixture on low speed until just mixed.

Stir in peanut butter cups. (Try not to eat them all beforehand.)

Cover and chill for 1 hour or until firm.

Now, I will share these very specific instructions and then I will tell you I didn't follow them at all.

Preheat oven to 375. For test cookie, measure inside diameter of container. Form 1/3 cup dough into 1/4-inch-thick disc, about 2 inches in diameter less than the diameter of container. (HUH?) (One-third cup dough patted into 4-inch disc yields 5-inch cookie. Measure amount of dough used and diameter of cookie before and after baking. Make adjustments before making remaining cookies.) Place dough on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks and cool completely.

Now, I don't know about you, but that made little sense to me. And, according to the recipe, this makes nine 5-inch cookies. I wanted to make more than that, so I made them smaller. This definitely affected my baking time and is directly responsible for overcooking the first few.

Basically, you want to make sure all your cookies are the same size, but that's true of any cookie. As long as they're all the same size, they'll all cook in the same amount of time. Just know that if you make them smaller or larger, your baking time will vary. So, the whole "test cookie" idea might not be a bad one.

Your call.

For the icing, just melt the chocolate chips and drizzle over the cookies. You can do so in a microwaveable plastic bag, snip the end off and pipe away. Or you can melt them in a cup and use a spoon or fork like I did. It's much easier to eat the leftover chocolate if you do it my way. It's hard to lick all the chocolate out of the plastic bag without making a mess. Trust me.

I still have some of the dough in my freezer, along with dough from the other three types of cookies I've made in the last week. It's a problem I tell you.

Now, go forth and make these cookies. They're delicious. And the cookie dough? Holy crap.

I'm sorry there aren't more photos but I was really disappointed with the way these ones turned out. The photos, not the cookies. The cookies were delicious.

Oh, I already said that, didn't I?

(Edited to add: Here's the complete straight-out-of-the-book recipe.)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My life is full of randomness and so my blog should be. Or something.

For those of you unfamiliar, that's my sister, J. She's a turkey. I'm sure she'll hate me for eight years (or until she wants me to take her driving again) when she realizes I posted that photo of her, but I don't care. I like it. She's not posing, she's not acting coy. Maybe 'cause she didn't realize I was going to snap another photo. She's just herself. A turkey.

And yes, I let my sister drive my car. Far, far away from people, children, animals, and police officers. She's fourteen and it keeps me in her good graces. That's right, I said it. I'm not afraid to admit I buy my sister's love.

These are our "kids." Luke, on the left, drinks toilet water. And he's the cutest cat to ever walk the earth. You can take my word on that. Now, there's quite a debate going on in our house. See, we came by our two kids sort of by accident. Well, Luke was by choice (I wanted a kitten), but Mercedes we took in when her owners were relocated to Hawaii (what a bummer). She was just over a year old. The Husband says they've come to think of each other as brother and sister. I say they're in love. I want everyone to be in love.

But then, I'm a hopelessly retarded romantic. What do you think?

J and I made these cookies over the weekend. The Husband, not a fan of the Double Lemon Delights (which is fine, 'cause more for me), insisted that I make something with chocolate and peanut butter (his favorite sweet combo). So, I did. And he ate twenty-three of them in one sitting. And then showed off his food baby. And I really hate it when people use the phrase "food baby." And.

I will share this recipe as soon as I can. Because it's delicious and you shouldn't deprive yourself.

Thank you. The end.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Double Lemon Delights

I know, I know. I said I wanted to get more adventurous with my cookies and try recipes that normally I'd shy away from. I know!

But I couldn't help myself. I kept coming back to this recipe and, finally, I just had to try them.

I love lemon.

And these cookies were amazing on their own. Soft, sweet, just slightly tart. These are the kind of cookie that you could easily eat a dozen of and not realize it.

Trust me. I know.

But isn't everything better drizzled with icing? And this was lemon icing. (Sigh.) I may have added a bit too much lemon juice, but, again, I love lemon.

I have a serious problem with lemon-flavored pastries. I'm addicted. I love lemon in my scones, my cookies, my cakes, etc. (But lemon-flavored Skittles and Starbursts I could go without.)

The Recipe.

Sift together:
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Set aside.

Cream together:
1 cup softened butter
3/4 cup sugar

1 egg
1 tablespoon lemon peel
1 teaspoon vanilla

Then beat in flour mixture on low speed until blended.

The book says to drop by 1/4 cupfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes until edges are golden brown. However, I did about half that size and baked for, well, half that time. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then move to wire racks and cool completely.

For the icing, mix together:
1 cup powdered sugar
4-5 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon peel

Drizzle over cookies and allow icing to set.

Then eat a dozen. It's okay! They have fruit in them. Which makes them healthy, right?

(Edited to add: Here's the complete straight-out-of-the-book recipe.)