Failing at Kitchen: Earthquake Cake

I like messy stuff.  I like messy food.  I’m basically a pig with opposable thumbs.

So when I saw the recipe for Earthquake Cake over at The First Year, I knew I had to make the attempt.  The attempt at duplicating this delicious looking cake.  And gotta admit it wasn’t too difficult.  Even for my bakery-challenged self.

For folks like me who understand how hyperlinks work but are too lazy to use them (go us!), here’s the recipe, along with my modifications [they’ll be in red, because festive]:

1 box German Chocolate Cake Mix (PREPARE WITH OIL, EGG AND WATER AMOUNTS LISTED HERE) [I used regular-ol’ chocolate cake mix.]
1/3 cup oil
3 eggs [I used 2 whole eggs, and one egg white.]
1 and 1/3 cup water
2/3 cup shredded coconut
2/3 cup chocolate chips [I used a full cup.  Because chocolate.]
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup butter [I used margarine.  A “butter-like” type.]
8 oz cream cheese [I used light cream cheese.  I don’t think fat free would cut it, but I may try next go-round.]
[Dash of vanilla]
1 pound powdered sugar (3 and 3/4 cups)

Here’s the play-by-play: Continue reading “Failing at Kitchen: Earthquake Cake”

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Failing at Kitchen: Polenta!

I see you, tubes of polenta.  Winking at me at the Trader Joe’s.  Beckoning me at World Market.  Looking so fly in the “gourmet” section of the ol’ supermarket.  I see you, yet I’ve never attempted to work with you.  Me?  I figured if I opened you, you’d ‘splode, and then I’d have to spend several hours cleaning up after your Dead Alive cosplay.

But then I researched.  Apparently there are two types/styles of polenta: the creamy kind that looks like grits, and the sturdy planks…that look like firm grits.  A friend said “polenta is a fancy Italian word for grits”, and she’s not wrong.  Same stuff, different day.  Okay, polenta typically uses fancy-schmancy corn meal especially ground for the purpose.  Grits uses corn meal.  Then I saw this article at Serious Eats, which said that regular ol’ corn meal is just fine for polenta, and it’s all about the liquid/meal ratio.  So I jumped in.  And polenta happened!

Here’s my step-by-step (cribbed from Daniel Gritzer over at Serious Eats): Continue reading “Failing at Kitchen: Polenta!”

Because Science: “Your charcoal doesn’t work.”

I’m typically not the kind of person who decides to prove someone wrong. I’m typically the kind of person who shrugs and doesn’t care enough to try to prove someone wrong.

But I do want to nail down the whole Grill Thing. Go beyond the instalight stuff and really get to the nitty-gritty. Why? S’mores. You can’t properly s’more after quickie charcoal. It’s already three ashes to the wind. Luckily, I have charcoal.

Charcoal that apparently doesn’t coal. Or char. Or something. At least according to a friend who tried.

I have a plan though. And it requires a chimney. I have one of those too. I MAKE FIRE.

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My “trick”? Stuffing old newspaper on the bottom and the top. Poof! Grey edges achieved.

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Then I took “my” Lime Cilantro Chicken, and popped it onto the grill.

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Before I knew it, it was done. Plated with peaches, and my first cucumber of the season, made into a salad (sesame oil, rice vinegar, sugar in the raw).

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Bonus? Grilling solo = MOAR LEFTOVERS!

Update: s’mores achieved! Yes, they’re made with leftover Easter marshmallows. Because I don’t judge you, y’all. (And yes part 2, that’s my tired 4th of July manicure. Classy!)
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Laissez les snow temps rouler?

Happy Fat Tuesday! It’s snowy and bitter cold here, so thoughts of New Orleans and warmth are definitely on my mind. But shovelling snow doesn’t quite hit the spot.

I cheated last month and bought packets of dirty rice and gumbo mix, figuring I’d tweak them on the day. But the gumbo requires 2 pounds of meat, and apparently I can’t read directions beforehand. So that’ll another day. I’m thinking chicken and scallops. What could go wrong? Don’t answer that.

Instead, I tweaked the dirty rice by adding turkey ham & assorted veg (corn, green beans, baby carrots and asparagus). Cajuns everywhere are weeping.

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Looks like "Cooking With Bae", but actually tastes pretty good. Surprise!

Then, full of myself from my success with add water and stir “cooking”, I decided to tweak a chocolate cherry cake mix. I’m going full Sandra Lee y’all!   Bundt pan, whipped cream vodka added, and the usual booze glaze (confectioners sugar, said vodka, vanilla extract). Tada!

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Unfortunately, I ran out of mini-chips. Dangit.

Next time I hit the oven, I’ll from-scratch that puppy. But after today’s snow escapades, I’m just glad I’m not aching. Seems that taking it easy is helping to lessen the pain of that re-herniated disc. Fingers crossed that in 3 months I’ll find it’s better!

Failing at Kitchen: tweaked oatmeal cookies

NOT twerked. Had to get that out there. But hey, do you.

I ran out of butter (okay, margarine) the day of the Superbowl. As I was trying to come up with a cookie idea, that was a bummer. Then I figured – the Internet! It knows everything!

One search on “oatmeal cookie recipe no oil”, and I found one I liked. Problem? Of course, this is me, remember? I noticed, as I was half through the recipe, that the author mentions applesauce in her notes at the bottom of the page. But it’s not a listed ingredient. Nor was it in the instructions. Also, no sign of vanilla, or any leavening. *da DUM*

So I did what I always do. I decided to wing it. I slopped in more oil – I say slopped because that’s exactly what happens when you try to pour “a little” oil with one hand while running a hand mixer in the other – added baking powder, pecans and cranberries. Phew!

They actually turned out okay. Surprisingly.

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Yeah, they’re not supermodels, but they could have been worse. The pic actually doesn’t do these little lumps justice. And that’s thanks to a friend cluing me into the best thing ever: a cookie dough scoop. It’s awesome! And all these years I thought drop cookies were a hassle because they all ended up like Return Of The Blob.

Anyway, here’s my fudged recipe. I may make em again. Oatmeal! Healthy!

My Tweaked Oatmeal Cookies 

1 & 1/4 cup flour (I used half “regular” & half whole wheat)
1/2 Tsp cinnamon
1/8 Tsp nutmeg
 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar (or just a heaping quarter cup)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 Tsp baking powder
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp rolled oats (or just a scant cup)
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup milk (I added 2 more Tbsp, after it didn’t bind at the start.)
 2 egg yolk or 1 egg (I used an egg white)
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp canola oil (I used 1/2 – added another 1/4 cup because they didn’t bind at first. It slopped in because who measures? Oops. But you can start with the recipe levels & add more)
1 Tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 325˚F (I baked at 350. Oops.)
2. In a bowl combine flours, spices, sugars, powder, and oats. Stir in pecans & cranberries.
3. In a separate bowl mix together milk, egg yolks, and oil. Stir in flour mixture. 
4. Spoon tablespoons of dough on to a parchment or silpat lined cookie sheet (I just greased the sheet, and used a cookie dough scoop. Win!)
5. Bake for 14 minutes, or until golden brown (I baked for 11 minutes, at 350.)

Failing at Kitchen: Sinless Cookies

This recipe has been making the rounds on Facebook, especially with gluten-free folks. I’m not gluten sensitive (except for the fact that I seem to love it), but the recipe looked so easy that I decided to give it a try.

Recipe:
(unsure as to the proper attribution, so if you know fill me in!)

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Don’t those cookies look adorable? Whose a widdle ball of yummy? You are!

Unfortunately, mine didn’t turn out quite as cute…

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*bah bummmm*

Ah well. They have personality, right? Or something.

The quick oats do absorb all the moisture from the bananas, and give the cookie a nice, if very banana-y, flavor.

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Looks cookiefied!

What I like best is that even if I eat half a batch, it’s still only equal to a banana, half a cup of oatmeal, and a bit of peanut butter and chocolate.

I find that these ugly little blobs are perfect for pre-gym munching. I can grab some on my way out the door.

So, even though they’re not pretty, I’ll make em again. I may double up on the peanut butter next time, so the banana flavor is a bit more balanced.

#FedUpChallenge: Day 2

sugar names eek Okay, one down, 9 to go. Let’s do this!

8:20 am:

* what is “malted barley extracts”? Tweet @fedupmovie and ask. Because I’m too lazy to Google, apparently. (UPDATE: it’s just sugar in a fancy tutu.)

* Sriracha has added sugar? NOOOOO! #hipsternightmare

* skipping the jello sugar free. Opting for unsweetened applesauce packs. Later? I’ll try brownies baked with the ‘sauce.

8:35 am: picking a checkout lane at the supermarket with no candy. Seems best. Off to the gym!

10:15 am: smoothie time, but how to do it without my beloved peanut butter & vanilla soy milk?  Decided to try adding apple in — thank you to one of my guy besties for that suggestion!  Here’s my recipe:

IMG_20140513_094615#FedUpChallenge Smoothie
Serves 1

1 frozen banana, chopped & peeled
1/2 c plain nonfat yoghurt
1/4 c peanuts (I used unsalted, raw redskin peanuts that I had on hand)
1 individual serving of applesauce (approx 1/3 cup)
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 c water

* put peanuts, then yoghurt, in blender.  Pulse til smooth-ish.
* add in everything else.  Pulse.  Add more water if you like it less thick.
* Enjoy!

11:17 am: happily smoothie stuffed.  Off for a doggie-walk with my neighbor.  Sugar?  Whodat?

2:56 pm: Lunch was sweet potato chips and strawberries.  I was still kinda full from the smoothie.  Or, rather, half the smoothie — I saved the other half for later.  Which could be now?  It’s crazy hot in here, and I’m thinking about turning on the a/c.  But when it’s hot, I’m not as hungry!  And, I’m happy with fruit.  Because refreshing.  Still, I’m reminded; being lazy, preoccupied, or “too busy” to make anything healthy leaves me to fall back on sugary, processed…stuff.  I need to start keeping instant/quickie healthy stuff around here too.  Hello, crockpot….

3:30 pm:  Bored Now.  Sure, there’s a ton of stuff I could do.  But it’s hot, and I’m in the post-lunch nap zone.  Usually, I’d just grab a few cookies or a hunk of candy and soldier on.  But today, I think I may exercise.  The horror!

3:55 pm: Post-lumbar discectomy MRI yesterday. Neurosurgeon’s office calls; can I come in Friday? He wants to talk to me. Um, of course. BEER AND LOTS OF IT.

5 pm: But where have the sweet potato chips gone?

6:30 pm: Easy dinner; corn on the cob, strawberries and carrot sticks. Decided to pass on making brownies, as the recipe calls for a cup and a half of sugar. That’s probably too much applesauce for any baked good.

9 pm: Really jonesing for something sweet. But for some reason, I can tell it’s just for comfort after the doc’s call. So I dodge it. #eatingmyfeelings

Wrapup: Easier and harder – wherefore art thou, peanut butter? – made rough with bad news. Let’s hope the rest of the week is better. At least I stuck with it!