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”


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!”

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.


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.

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


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

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

*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.

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.

Failing at Kitchen: peanut butter cup smoothie

I love bananas.  Actually, I love the idea of bananas.  Because every time I buy a bunch, I end up eating one or two, then having the rest go to mush.  Banana bread helps, but after awhile, I give up buying bananas…only to fall in love again and repeat the process.

Not anymore.

Because I finally figured out what I can do with those puppies; I can freeze ’em and then make smoothies!  Yeah, that sounds like something I’d typically say and then forget about, as the pile of frozen bananas grow exponentially in my poor freezer.  But this morning I came up with something that I’m already dying to try again.  Peanut butter cup smoothies!

How?  Well, it started when I read the nutrition info from Sonic.  Their shakes sound absolutely decadent, and they really are.  As in, your heart will probably explode after drinking one.  I say that with all the jealousy my unhealthy bod can muster.  Anyway, after that I decided to grab one of the frozen bananas I had in my freezer from last week’s banana binge.  I decided to raid the fridge to see what I had.

Yoghurt?  Check.

Milk?  Soy, but check.

Peanut butter?  Sure, why not?

And what’s this — Nutella?  Um, okay.  I like chocolate.

I gathered my ingredients, chopped the banana (they’re easy to peel when frozen; the peel comes off in pieces) and grabbed the blender.

Note chunks of banana peel on the cutting board. Because no smoothie wants that.

Next? Hit pulse, baby!

Yeah, it looks a bit like Miralax.

Aaaaaaand, taste. Not bad! In fact, it’s kinda delicious. And it’s thick, but I’m guessing the frozen banana and the yoghurt literally gummed things up. I added more soy milk, but next time? I may just add water ’til it’s not so thick that I need serious lung power to suck it up a straw. That didn’t stop me from making with the festive, though:

Because Cool Whip rocks.

Recipe, as it stands (I may tweak it later, for ease of drinking):

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie

* One single-serve vanilla greek yoghurt (I used Yoplait, but any brand will do. Or about 6 ounces from a larger container.)
* One frozen banana, chopped and peeled
* One teaspoon peanut butter (I used natural, but I’m betting any would suffice.)
* One teaspoon Nutella, or whatever chocolate hazlenut spread turns your crank
* Cup of soy milk, or any type of milk (I may try almond next time.)


– Pitch it all into the blender
– Hit chop, then liquify to your personal favorite consistency
– Pour into a glass, top with whipped topping if you like.

Optional: mini chocolate chips sound really good.

Bon Appetit!

Failing at Kitchen: pasta for The Holiday

Love Christmas movies. My very favorite? The Holiday. It’s crazy, unbelievable, and you have to be insane to believe there’s a happy ever after for these couples. But I believe, and I think it’s perfect. Besides, what woman hasn’t been Kate Winslet’s Iris?

So Christmas Eve – Eve, I watch The Holiday. And eat Christmas Fettuccine. Because this movie talks about Christmas Fettuccine like it’s a real thing, and so? It is.

Herewith, a few pictures of my pasta. Because holidays.

Onions, shrooms, garlic & EVOO while the pasta pastas.
Always have a dump bowl for peels. And the paper towels you'll use when you cut yourself on the herb mincer. Just me?


Salute the gloriousness that is The Holiday!

I usually use imitation crab, but this year I still have turkey from my friend’s roast-a-thon gifting. So yay!

Merry Christmas and happy Holiday!