Sunday, February 27, 2011

My life is complete.

This weekend the roommates and I took a little roadtrip up to St. Louis. We did a little shopping, a lot of laughing, some wedding planning, you know, fun stuff. Oh, and I met THE PIONEER WOMAN!!!!!!!!!!! Heavens to Betsy, you guys! It was so fun to meet her, have her sign my book, and find out that a pug card I sent her is sitting on her counter.

Here's what you should know: Ree is incredibly gracious, kind, and as wonderful in person as she seems online. She's also incredibly lovely. She has a great life and it shines through. Her husband, the Marlboro Man, accompanied her. I didn't go up to meet him, but he was kindly giving autographs and taking pictures too.

It's fun to meet someone that inspires you. This is way better than Julie and Julia.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Zebra Cake

A while back I was checking out the blog King Arthur Flour. They made a cake that had zebra stripes. Zebra stripes!!!! Neato mosquito, right? About a week ago, we had a murder mystery dinner party (more on that later) and I decided to make Crazy Cupcakes and a zebra cake. I've made the Crazy Cupcakes before. Delicious. I decided to make the zebra cake with two mixes because of time constraints. I'm happy that I did because when I went back to review the instructions, I saw that reviews of the flavor of the cake were not good.

Guess what? It's easy. I was a bit of a misfit, so my zebra stripes aren't perfect. Here's what you do: take the white cake and pour about 3 Tablespoons into the center of your pan. Then, drop 3 Tablespoons of the chocolate onto the center of the white. Then the white onto the chocolate, then the chocolate onto the white. Does that make sense? Well, my ability to center and such went awry so my stripes shifted a bit. But, the result was still a super fun cake.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cookies, a Confession, and a Mystery

It's been a couple weeks since my last blog. My apologies. I had to trek up to Columbia for a few days since classes are resuming. I would like to take a moment to state that in 6 months I will be finished with school...!!!!!!!! Thank goodness! I'm ready for a break. A break that will be full of reading, resting, baking, recovering, quilting, and other interests.

I just felt very lost thinking about all that free time.

I like the idea of not juggling a full-time career and full-time school, but I don't like the idea of wandering aimlessly. Eh. It'll all work out. If nothing else, I'll spend my time off mailing cards, becoming proficient in Spanish, making quilts, reading tons of books, helping out at The Kitchen Clinic, working out, baking, and hanging out with God.

I do have an actual recipe to share today. Not just ramblings. But first I need to confess. Meat grosses me out when I cook it. If you've read back on my blog a bit, this is not a new fact which keeps it from being a confession. However, my confession is that this week I was taken down by a whole chicken. I was going to make chicken and dumplings, chicken noodle soup, chicken stock. Instead, the chicken beat me. I tried to take it apart after boiling it and I nearly lost it. Not lost it as in almost dropped it, but I was seriously sicked out at the chicken. I couldn't do it. I, a nurse that is not grossed out at the hospital, was undone by a whole chicken. It's true. And I'm not planning on attempting a whole chicken anytime soon. It's sick. Judge me if you must.

I need a husband that isn't grossed out by such things. Honey? Can you please come disassemble the disgusting former bird that's taunting me in the kitchen? Hmmm. This has potential.

Moving on. I currently look like...I don't know what I look like. We're having a murder mystery dinner in a week. It has a 1920's theme and so to pass our time during the weather we've been getting ready. Including trialing the makeup. The women of the 20's wore A LOT of makeup. A LOT. And so I'm wearing more eye makeup than I've ever worn in my life. And I have a flapper dress on order. And I'll be wearing a mink stole. And I just had the realization that sometimes the mink heads are attached. I hope that's not the case with mine. I'll likely pass out.

Alright, let's get down to baking business.

I found this cookie recipe on Orangette. Since I had whole wheat flour on hand, I decided to give it a whirl. They were okay, but I still like my cookies better. And away we go!

3 cups whole wheat flour (see note above)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (cold butter!!)
1 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate (I used milk chocolate because it's my favorite.)

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, and preheat to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. (If you have no parchment, you can butter the sheets.)

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, and whisk to blend.

Put the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, mix just until the butter and sugars are blended, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the bowl, and blend on low speed until the flour is just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the chocolate, and mix on low speed until evenly combined. (If you have no stand mixer, you can do all of this with handheld electric beaters and/or a large, sturdy spoon.) Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and then use your hands to turn and gently massage the dough, making sure all the flour is absorbed.

Scoop mounds of dough about 3 tablespoons in size onto the baking sheets, leaving about 3 inches between each cookie.

Bake the cookies for 16 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through, until the cookies are evenly browned. Transfer the cookies, still on parchment, to a rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough.

Natural light is my best friend when I'm cooking and photographing. The end.