• Mixed Berry Crumb Bars

    Sunday night, and I’m still in recovery mood from this weekend’s food coma. My Uncle Jimmy was on the Cape for his annual dinner where he wows us with his latest culinary skills, and has us all testing the physical … Continue reading

  • Browned Butter Salted Rice Krispie Treats

    I’ve been holding out on you. Taunting you with pictures of this on instagram but not actually getting it up on the blog for almost a month. I’ve probably made it about six or seven times in the past month … Continue reading

  • Brown Butter Cinnamon Rolls

    Sunday morning, brown butter and cinnamon buns. Now that is a combo I could get onboard with every weekend. Not to mention this weekend was filled with sunshine + good friends + good food. Another winning combo to kickoff summer. … Continue reading

  • Cape Cod Cranberry Orange Muffins

    I had every intention of writing this blog post much earlier in the day. But Mother Nature graced us with some sunshine and warm weather today. And then crazy eddie was in full pyro-mode next door tonight, so I got … Continue reading

  • Browned Butter Vanilla Bean Blondies

    That’s it. I’ve had it. I’m moving to Florida. Anyone who says they live in New England because they “love the seasons” is absolutely bananas. You can say you love summer and fall, but no one in their right mind … Continue reading

  • Brown Butter Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

    You know that part in Amazing Graze where it says “I once was lost, but now am am found, was blind, but now I see” – that is how I feel today. About brown butter. I have tasted brown butter … Continue reading

Browned Butter Gingersnaps

So this post is an extra-special one, because it’s for the annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. This is my third year participating in the event and it gets better every year. More bloggers, more recipes, more fun! I also love the timing of the event – right around the holidays – which is always when I want to start trying out new recipes because I have lots of chances to try out new experiments on friends + family.

The cookie swap which is organized by two of my favorite bloggers – Love and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen – partners with Cookies for Kids’ Cancer – a national non-profit organization committed to funding new therapies used in the fight against pediatric cancer. Baking cookies for a good cause? That’s a no brainer to me.

The past two years I have done peppermint-flavored cookie experiments for the food swap – Peppermint Doodles in 2012 and Peppermint Dipped Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies in 2013. This year I wanted to channel the holidays but figured I needed to branch out from my peppermint go-to flavor. I’ve made a few molasses cookies in the past that no matter what time of year it is taste like Christmas in a cookie. So while I usually feel very comfortable doing some major experimenting in the cookie world – I haven’t baked enough with molasses to know how to tweak and trick it out in cookie form yet. And given my limited time with this new job lately, I figured I’d mitigate the risk by perusing some of my favorite food blogs to see what different molasses cookies they’ve made. And I stumbled upon these Soft Batch Gingersnaps by The Picky Palate. They looked easy and delicious, which is exactly what I was going for. The only modification I made was adding in some vanilla extract because that’s just a must-have ingredient in all of my recipes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/4 cup softened or melted coconut oil
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar for rolling 

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brown the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Remember to always whisk and after it gets all frothy and turns amber in color, remove from the heat and transfer to a separate bowl to let it cool.

Step 2: Place the cooled butter in your mixer and add coconut oil, brown sugar, molasses, egg, and vanilla extract. Beat on a medium speed until combined. IMG_2002

Step 3: Add the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger slowly on a low speed until combined. The dough will be thick. IMG_2003

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Step 4: Using a small cookie scoop, place even-size balls of dough in granulated sugar and then on a sil pat or parchment lined cookie sheet. IMG_2007

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Step 5: Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Let them cool on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes to ensure they are set before transferring them to a cooling rack. IMG_2039

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Oh yes. Served warm fresh from the oven or chilled later on, these are Christmas in a cookie. One bite and you’ll be fa la la’ing and ho ho ho’ing it up (in a classy way, of course). Even more delicious when you know these are benefitting a good cause! I already made these a second time this season for my holiday party. I have some ideas on how to really leverage this sweetness with maybe some cinnamon ice cream in between two of these for a little holly jolly ginger ice cream sandwich? Hey, watch it. You’re drooling. IMG_2040

So I shipped these bad boys out the week of Thanksgiving. Thanks to my handy-dandy Momma who was able to help me with the shipping of these because the whole Monday morning flying out commute has made some of these regular errands challenging. So when I took the train to CT that weekend before Thanksgiving I dropped these with my mom and she made sure they were shipped out the next day. What a lady.

The three food bloggers I shipped mine to were:

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And you know what is even more fun than gifting cookies across the country? Receiving goodies from other food bloggers! I received all three of my packages over the past few weeks, which made it fun coming home at the end of every work week to a delicious package.

The first package that arrived was from Linda at The Orange Bee. These Orange + Pecan Biscotti were so delicious and refreshing, and she even sent a nice bag of tea to enjoy them with. They came just in time for my Friendsgiving in November so I brought them to share with some of my friends who all enjoyed them as well. IMG_7868

My next package to arrive about a week later was from Ausra at Vaikai ir Vanile. Her blog is written in Lithuanian so I spent some time with Google Translate learning about her. Vaikai ir Vanile means Children and Vanilla. And while I cannot relate on the kids front, she had me at Vanilla. My favorite ingredient in all of my recipes. She sent me these DELICIOUS Tangerine Olive Oil Cookies, which at first I was skeptical in using olive oil as a main ingredient in cookies, but now I’m a believer (Not a trace of doubt in my mind, ba da ba dum). IMG_7940

And my final package arrived last week, after a longggg work week in Philadelphia I was REALLY excited to get these Champagne Sugar Cookies from Coder’s Kitchen. Champagne, Cookies, Technology. Yeah I think Sarah from Coder’s Kitchen and I could be friends for sure.IMG_8046

So that’s it! Another successful and fun cookie swap. I’m already looking forward to next year. And later in the week, all of the submissions from ALL the food bloggers will be posted. I’ll be sure to share that link on my Insta or Twittah so you can check out all the great recipes.

Since I was late with my post last week, not too much to catch you up on this week. Also I’m writing this post on Sunday, but posting it on Monday (per the FBCookieSwap rules) so I’m not that tired, I know what day today is … I think. Just go with it. I was pretty exhausted at the end of this travel week. I’ve continued to lose faith in the human race after dealing with twice a week airplane commutes. Honestly, the way people behave at airports and on airplanes just blows my mind. So Friday night I reconnected with the gym, my couch, my DVR and sweatpants and a long overdue goodnight sleep. Saturday was a great day because I got a bunch of errands done in the morning, and then the long-awaited reunion of the Young Gunz on the tennis courts of the Boston Athletic Club finally arrived. Last year Caitlan and I met during practice after being new joiners to our gym’s tennis team. I used to be a singles player but one practice ended up playing with her and someone said “you guys would be good as a doubles team.” And we were both like “meh, sure why not?” Little did we know that we actually already knew eachother. I was working as a consultant for my client’s Russia and China ecommerce sites … which Caitlan happened to work on the global ecommerce team. So after exchanging business cards to get eachothers phone numbers so we could practice together we had one of those Tia + Tamara Sistah Sistah moments where we were like wait … you’re BECCA from the phone? get outta here … YOU’RE CAITLAN? And the rest is history. We dominated soccer moms across the greater Boston area earning us the nickname “Young Gunz”. This year we both have been traveling a lot for work so the timing hasn’t worked out for us to reunite the dynamic duo. Until Saturday. When we won our match and our opponents thought we were 24. (For the record, we are not 24 but we are VERY happy to be mistaken for 24 year olds). So we celebrated our victory on the dance floors of The Brahmin last night, and then I sweated out that vodka unpleasantly at the gym this morning.

If you live in the Boston area, and you ever want to try out a fabulous day spa I have to recommend Christine’s Day Spa in Newton Center. I’ve been going there for over 8 years and it’s the most relaxing and enjoyable experience ever. When you need a little “me” time (which for me lately seems to be in high demand) there is no place I can get relaxed quite like Christines. They have great email specials, and this morning when I was thinking how gross my airplane dehydrated skin was feeling, an email popped into my inbox for a Sunday facial special. So I headed over to Newton this afternoon, got my skin hydrated, then got a nice manicure next door at Miniluxe. And then picked up my little mini-me Sammi to experience Shake Shack for the first time. I used to babysit Sammi when I was in college and she was 9. Now she’s 20. Which means I am old. But I still can take her out to eat carby food just like I did when she was a little nugget. Don’t worry, that Diet Coke on the left totally negated the strawberry shake, burgers and fries. IMG_8055Most times I think she just validates how uncool I am, but I felt a little cool today when we were eating our burgers and fries and she told me she doesn’t know how people like me do it. I said, do what? She said “You just get shit done. Every damn day.” She has a point.

I think I need to get that printed on a business card. Becca Shaw “I get shit done. Every damn day.”

Synergy.

How to holiday party prep like a pro

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s also the busiest time of the year at work. And most painful for my credit card. And freezing cold. And there are always about 800 items on my to-do list just waiting to get checked off. And absolute worst time to take any sort of public transportation. That’s right. Too much airport commuting this holiday season is turning me into a bit of a Grinch. But fear not, there are just 3 flights between me and Christmas time, so I’m channeling my inner Elf to crank away on a bunch of deliverables and then diving feet first into some sweatpants until the new year. And that’s my list of excuses for why this post is about 5 days late.

Last weekend I threw my annual holiday party. I’m a big proponent of throwing my party the first weekend in December before people’s social calendars get jam packed with multiple engagements in one night. And we all know if you have 4 parties to go to in one night, you’re going to get drunk at the first one and end up passed out on your couch at 9pm watching Love Actually with a pint of Ben + Jerrys. No? That’s just me? Well alright then.

You may remember last year after my holiday party I wrote up a little post on Holiday Party Hostessing. I recapped some of the basics on how to be a good holiday party hostess. So I figured I’d do a recap of this year’s holiday party (a big success) to help show that pretty much anyone (with a mild case of OCD) can throw a successful bash.

So if you’re an avid blog or Instagram follower, or just know me in real life, you know that I am a business consultant slash project manager by profession. Which means nothing gets me going quite like a well organized Excel spreadsheet. The more tabs the better. This year with my new job which involves a weekly commute via airplane, I had to be on my A-game with the party planning in advance because I didn’t have any time during the week to handle any prep. So this year I’m going to walk you through how to party prep like a pro with Excel spreadsheets.

There were 3 tabs to the party plan workbook: Execution Plan, Party Food, and Outstanding Shopping List Items.

The most important tab is the Party Food tab. The key to a successful party is to overfeed your guests, so no one can get too cray cray because they have no room left by the time they are rolled out the door. When I used to go to company parties at my first consulting job, they would always have an open bar and then feed you half a triscuit. And people would get absolutely hammerfaced within 15 minutes because of it. And by people, I mean me.  So I always like to go a little overboard with the food. One tip for making enough food (that will all taste good by party time) is half of the food needs to be able to be prepped the day before. Also, this is not the time to try some fancy new recipe that involves ingredients you can’t find or pronounce, or takes multi-hours to prep.

The table below is the list of what I planned for my party this year. Pepperoni bread, homemade pretzels, turkey kielbasa, and baked brie are my go-to items and have been for years. Crowd pleasers, and I can make them in my sleep. As for desserts, I stick to hand-held desserts that don’t require forks or being refrigerated. (No cheesecakes for a party like this). In the second column you can see Prep Day and then Status. The Status column can be populated with Not yet started, Prepped, or Complete. This helps me make sure I’m not an hour away from party go-live and there’s pretzel dough chilling in the fridge I forgot about. When all status cells read Complete, you know you’re ready for launch. I like to include the recipe link column because even if it is a tried and true recipe, when I’m prepping back to back deliverables, I don’t want to make a rookie mistake like forgetting yeast or baking soda or some key ingredient just because I’m moving quickly.

Appetizers Prep Day Status Recipe Link
Tom, Moz, Basil “skewers” Saturday Complete http://www.kimshealthyeats.com/tomato-mozzarella-skewers/
Proscuitto, goat cheese, fig bruschetta Saturday Complete n/a
Pepperoni bread Saturday Prepped http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Easy-Pepperoni-Bread/
Turkey Kielbasa Friday Prepped n/a
Baked Brie Friday Prepped http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/baked_brie/
Homemade Pretzels Saturday Prepped http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Buttery-Soft-Pretzels/Detail.aspx
Assorted cheese, crackers, and hummus Saturday N/A
Mini Corndogs Saturday Prepped www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/mini-chorizo-corn-dogs.html
Spinach Bites Friday Prepped http://chocolatechocolateandmore.com/2013/12/spinach-dip-bites/?crlt.pid=camp.EXpEkzKBYQ4U
Desserts
Cookie Dough Truffles Friday Complete http://thesaltedcookie.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/chocolate-chip-cookie-dough-truffles/
Browned Butter Blondies Friday Complete http://thesaltedcookie.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/browned-butter-vanilla-bean-blondies/
Mini M&M Cookies Friday Complete http://thesaltedcookie.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/browned-butter-mini-mm-cookies/
Browned Butter Rice Krispie Treats Friday Complete http://thesaltedcookie.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/browned-butter-salted-rice-krispie-treats/
Browned Butter Gingersnaps Friday Complete http://picky-palate.com/2013/11/06/brown-butter-soft-batch-style-gingersnaps/
Nutella Phyllo Cup Recipe Saturday Complete http://kitchenconfidante.com/nutella-greek-yogurt-fillo-cups-recipe

 

To grocery shop for this, I go the weekend before the party and buy all of the non-perishables and frozen items. This takes the stress out of shopping the day of and finding out your ghetto Stop + Shop doesn’t have pizza dough, or it’s frozen, and you’re running all over the city trying to find what you need. I have most of these recipe ingredients memorized so I do one big shop just using what’s in my brain (scary) and then I’ll populate the Shopping List tab with anything that I forgot the first go-around.

The final tab, Execution Plan, is probably the most important. You need a logical order to get everything done. Otherwise you’re going to be sitting around twiddling your thumbs while all your doughs chill or dough is rising. Ain’t nobody got time for dat. Executing workstreams in parallel is key to optimizing party prep time. This will allow for additional day-of timeslots to “get fancy” and even hit the gym. (Sorry I didn’t take the time to figure out how to format a table in wordpress just yet, but I think you get the idea).

Friday

5:00 PM

Rice Krispie Treats

6:00 PM

Browned Butter Blondies

Cookie Dough Truffles

7:00 PM

Browned Butter Gingersnaps

Mini M&M Cookies

8:00 PM

Turkey Kielbasa

Spinach Bites

9:00 PM

Tom, Moz, Basil “skewers”

Phyllo Cup Recipe

10:00 PM

Set up kitchen table with labels/dishes

Pick Kristen up from the train station @ 10:10pm

Saturday

7:00 AM

Pretzel Dough

8:00 AM

Spin Class 8:30-9:30

9:00 AM

Baked Brie

10:00 AM

Pepperoni bread

11:00 AM

Mini Corndogs

12:00 PM

Proscuitto, goat cheese, fig bruschetta

1:00 PM

GET ICE / Remaining items from Grocery Store (Shopping List tab)

2:00 PM

get fancy

3:00 PM

4:00 PM

5:00 PM

Bake Pretzels

6:00 PM

Set up drink station / warm appetizers

7:00 PM

Party begins

 

And yes, it takes that long for me to “get fancy.” No one wants a hostess looking like they are not the mostess. I recommend a little treat-yo-self action the day of your party. Getting my hair blownout is a nice relaxing pre-party treat that has my hair looking damn fine, and reduces any stress over running out of time and being halfway through blow drying your hair when the first guest arrives right on time. Two things you should always keep in mind when trying to organize the execution plan. 1) You do not want to have your oven on when party guests arrive (even int he middle of winter your kitchen is going to get h-o-t). 2) You want to be able to have all of your prep dishes and bowls cleaned and put away, and not have to be trying to speed wash anything last minute. You want to have appetizers that can be served hot, but that don’t require you to constantly be putting them back in the oven. And that’s how you do it. Plan, prep, execute. And then you actually get to spend time socializing with people and enjoy your own party. Everybody wins.

You’d think with such a well-organized plan, this post would be a little more organized, but what can you do.

So let’s just do a nice photo-recap of my party so you can see that in fact it was a well organized success.

IMG_2046The dessert table. The little labels were a nice touch so everyone knew what they were eating. Not that I think that would have stopped my friendsIMG_2048

Now you may notice these brownie bites were not on the original party spreadsheet. That’s a little thing called “Scope Creep.” I was a little ahead of schedule and felt like I wanted to do some experimenting. So whipped up these mini peppermint brownie bites which were a bit hit.IMG_2050Cookie Dough Truffles, made with eggless cookie dough, were the top rated dessert this year.
IMG_2051These cookies will be posted this week! They were made for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap which will I will post the recipe for this week. 
IMG_2052The easiest of all recipe, Browned Butter Salted Rice Krispie Treats, but always a BIG hit … and still taste good at 2am during some Cards Against Humanity.IMG_2054This was a new experiment this year. I mixed Nutella with Greek yogurt and piped them into these phyllo cups. The lesson learned here is that these should have been made the day-of, since the cups got a little soggy overnight. IMG_2055This is a quick adaptation of one of my favorite pizza recipes. Toasted baguette with fig jam, goat cheese and prosciutto. Delish, IMG_2053Browned Butter M&M Cookies. Always good to have a festive basic on the dessert table. IMG_2057Tomato, basil, mozarella skewers topped with olive oil + balsamic vinegar. Super easy, festive, and on the lighter side.IMG_2059Pepperoni Bread is my go-to and always a big hit that goes first. So I attempted an experiment with the second batch of dough Buffalo Chicken style. IMG_2062This Mini Corndog recipe came from my brother who made it a week earlier for a party. Homemade corn muffins with a little sausage in the middle. IMG_2065These Spinach Artichoke bites could not be easier. Just pull-apart biscuit dough, with a homemade spinach and artichoke cream cheese filling. Really tasty and bite-size. IMG_2066This Turkey Kielbasa recipe is probably the best thing I took from my ex-boyfriend (kidding … kind of?) His sister-in-law would make this for the holidays and it’s just Turkey Kielbasa, brown sugar, and whole cranberry sauce, mixed together and baked in the oven for about 45 minutes – served with toothpicks. Really good hot or once it gets to be room temperature as well. IMG_7984And for the pièce de résistance – homemade salted pretzels. I’ve got the dough down to a science now. Then I boil the bites in hot water with baking soda, bake them until golden and brush on some melted butter and top with coarse sea salt. People come to the party early to make sure they don’t miss out on these. Watch out Auntie Anne, I’m coming for you.

The best part of the party is when people were standing over the tables of food trying everything, and then providing real-time feedback on what they liked best. Cookie Dough Truffles won for best dessert, and Homemade Pretzels for best appetizer.

I always forget to take pictures during the party, so not as many this year as I would like, but here are a few. This is what the result of the afternoon timeslot for “get fancy” resulted in – some bounce in my hair, red lips, and smokey eye level 100.

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Molly, Josh and I all started on the same day of my last job, so we are stuck together for life. But let’s take a moment to acknowledge Molly’s Pinterest craftiness for the win with her reindeeer beer decoration — Rudolph the red-nose Reinbeer.

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My forever work-wife Allie who is just one of my all-time favorite people. And who my dog Harry has a weird thing for.
IMG_8014And to finish off the night strong, my FAVORITE party activity of all time – Cards Against Humanity. Just so inappropriate it’s always a good time. #bopitIMG_8011

And that’s it really. I grew up on Excel plans. Since I was 6 I carried around a color-coded Excel itinerary for every Disney vacation that planned out every item on the vacation 120 days in advance of our trip. And I’ve now learned that pretty much everything in life can (and SHOULD) be planned in Excel.

To do a quick “post-mortem” on this party here’s the final status:

  • On time
  • On budget, good margins
  • Minor scope creep
  • High level of client satisfaction

Now if I can only make a career out of Excel spreadsheets, party planning and cookie baking then I’ll be golden.

Holiday M&M Gingersnaps

In case you haven’t noticed, summer’s over. It’s December. Dreaded, dreaded winter is upon us. Remember that Greenday song “Wake me up when September ends?” Well, you can go ahead and wake me up when it’s above 50 degrees consistently and there is a 0% chance of that feared four-letter word starting with S ending in W and having a screaming NO in the middle. I also think being a weatherman is the biggest crock of bananas out there. What other job can you get paid to be wrong all the time but cause insane panic in people? I mean, I guess consulting. But that’s besides the point. I felt like last week the weathermen were just trying to eff with people. IT’S THE BUSIEST TRAVEL DAY OF THE YEAR AND IT’S THAT TIME OF THE MONTH FOR MOTHER NATURE AND OH IS SHE GONNA DUMP RAIN SLEET SNOW AND DEATH UPON YOU. You know what? It rained. It rained and then kind of snowed a little bit in places that know how to handle a little bit of snow in November. I think in the future there is a real opportunity for personalized weather reports based on your personality and lifestyle. For example, for myself, the neurotic anxious frequent business traveler who feeds into all weather hype I would prefer “Hey Rebecca, you have wicked travel anxiety and get on a plane twice a week? Okay, no hype for you, let me give you some forecast options based on real science and weather data.” That’s a weather reporting system I can get behind that won’t require a Xanax prescription.

Anyways, I digress. Last week was Thanksgiving which meant no airplanes – just two train rides to get to Philly for work and back to Connecticut for Thanksgiving with the fam. My mom mailed out my cookies for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap on Monday for me, which was helpful because this whole getting on an airplane at 7am on Mondays makes it hard to get cookies to people who need to eat them. I’ll be able to post that recipe in two weeks, so be on the lookout for that. I feel like December should be dedicated to holiday cookie baking. I am a big fan of all things gingerbread flavored. And I had a bag of holiday mini-M&Ms. And because I was suffering from a wicked case of Sunday scaries last night, I needed to make a cookie that was simple and delicious. I also didn’t want to take them on the plane this morning (a little boarding zone 5 anxiety) so I wrapped them up nicely and left them for my cleaning guy this week as a holiday treat. Hopefully he likes them, because I got some flack at work this week for showing up empty-cookie-handed. If you’re looking for an easy, flavorful and delicious holiday cookie, definitely add these to your list this holiday season.

Ingredients:

  • 10 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups mini M&M candies

Step 1: Cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Slowly mix in the molasses and vanilla extract and mix on a medium speed until incorporated.IMG_2023

Step 2: Add in the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, baking powder and baking soda. Mix on a low speed, stopping to scrape the side of the bowl down.IMG_2024

Step 3: Add in the mini-M&Ms on a low speed until evenly distributed, but don’t overmix and crush them. Chill the dough for at least an hour before baking.IMG_2025

Step 4: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On a sil-pat or parchment-lined baking sheet, use a medium cookie scoop to place even-size balls of dough at least an inch apart. Press down lightly with your fingertips to flatten slightly. If you want these to look really good, place a few extra M&Ms on top of the cookie. That helps them photograph well. IMG_2026

Step 5: Bake at 350 degrees for about 11-13 minutes, until lightly firm. It’s hard to tell when these are done because of the color, but when they are finished leave them on the cookie sheet for a few minutes on top of the oven to set before transferring them to a wire rack to cool. IMG_2027

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Oh yeah, these are Christmas in a cookie. If you lack patience, like me, I think these are a good alternative to an actual gingerbread man. You get the crunch of the M&Ms with the delicious ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves flavor of a gingerbread cookie. Although, you won’t be able to shout “NOT MY GUMDROP BUTTONS” like I assume pretty much everyone does when they take a bite out of a real gingerbread man. No? Just me? Okay, moving on.

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So I think I’m going to need to change my cadence of blog posts. With airplane Monday mornings, the Sunday scaries are more severe so I am not in the blogging mood late Sunday nights anymore since I need to pack for the week. Maybe I’ll bake earlier in the weekend so I can also get the baked goods to some other people to eat. #cookiebloggerprobz

It’s late, and I’m in Philly, so I’m going to give you a mostly photo-recap of the past week and all the Thanksgiving goodness.

As much as I hate on Connecticut, it is always nice to go home for the holidays. I felt like I was in college again when my parents picked me up from the train station in New Haven on Tuesday night. And I ate a Duchess chicken sandwich in the back of the car like I was competing on the Hunger Games. Not much has changed since college.

This was the beginning of our Thanksgiving table. The sausage stuffing is my number one favorite staple. I’ve introduced brussel sprouts into the veggie holiday routine which are welcomed with wide arms by some and despised by others.

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My job at the holidays is probably the most important. I am in charge of picking up/dropping off Grandpa who lives a town over. Good thing he has me as a chauffeur because we were in turkey food comas after dinner.

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I came back to Boston early on Friday morning because I feel like I had been gone for along time and needed to get some decorating and organizing done. I am throwing my annual holiday party this weekend which means lots of over-planning and excel spreadsheets. Because that’s how I party. I decorated my fake tree which I was not thrilled about originally because I love a fresh tree, but I have too much going on this month to take care of a real tree. But for $30, this 6-foot pre-lit tree from Target took all the stress out of transporting a tree home from Home Depot. I kept with my BC maroon and gold theme this year.

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Friday night Colleen and I had a date night at the movies to see The Hunger Games. The assigned seating at the Assembly Row movie theater is perfect for people like me who have anxiety over getting good seats. I also realize I have mentioned anxiety at least 5 times so far, which is giving me anxiety that you will now think I have wicked anxietyIMG_7941Saturday night we tore up the dance floor at Lucky’s (which doesn’t exist, until we get there of course). Which meant Sunday was a bit of a struggle. But I did get through 54 holiday cards. I invested in some hilarious ones this year, so if you’re on my list you’re in for some laughs. IMG_7962That’s it for this week. I’m also thinking of starting to incorporate some non-cookie recipes, so if that’s something you’re interested in let me know. I have some really good go-to party appetizers that will likely debut on the blog soon. Maybe I will even share my neurotic excel party-planning spreadsheets. My secret sauce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Another Sunday night, another last minute blog post amidst a wicked case of the Sunday scaries. My current strategy to combat the scaries is watching this 80s aerobics video that was dubbed over with Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off … with my parents. This comes after I spent two and a half hours this afternoon listening to 1989 on repeat driving from Bahhston down to the ghetto hood of Connecticut that I like to call home sweet home. Because I would rather rub jalapenos in my eyeballs than get on a plane to travel during Thanksgiving week. So I’m back in the hood tonight, and then taking the Amtrak to lovely downtown Philly tomorrow morning. Because nothing says “I’m a super grown up business professional” like having your dad drop you off at the train station to go to work in the morning.

So this week I came home from Philly late Thursday night, wahoo. And have not stopped doing things since I got up at 6am on Friday morning. Needless to say, I am hashtag exhausted right now. But it was a good weekend. More details and photo documentation of the fun-filled weekend at the end of this post. Last night my friend Sarah hosted her second annual Friendsgiving in the burbs. I was in charge of stuffing and, of course, the dessert. Last year I brought my slutty cheesecake bars which were a huge hit, so I already set the  bar high. Plus, all of the dinner attendees last night were my former Sapient coworkers so they have been in cookie withdrawal for a few weeks. So I knew I was basically walking into a scene from Twilight where the vampires could smell the sugar as soon as I walked in. First I made some browned butter rice krispie treats, because those are always a hit and my friend George goes bananas over rice krispie treats. So I started thinking back to some of my old go-to Thanksgiving time recipes and I remembered I used to always make these easy Pumpkin cheesecake bars that people would always go bananas over. And since I have yet to post that recipe on my blog, I figure no time like the present.

These bars are great to make a day in advance or the morning of an event because they need some time in the fridge to really set. I was also doing eight hundred other things while making these yesterday, so apologies for the lack of creative photos tonight.

Ingredients:

Crust

  • 1 (16 ounce) package pound cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Cheesecake

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1(8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Glaze

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Directions

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 13×9 glass baking dish with non-stick spray. I also recommend lining it first with parchment paper, which makes these easier to come out when you’re cutting them at the end.

Step 2: In a large mixing bowl, on low speed, combine cake mix, 1 egg, melted butter, and 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice until crumbly. Press onto the bottom of the prepared baking dish and set aside.IMG_1994

Step 3: In another large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually mix in the sweetened condensed milk, two eggs, pumpkin, vanilla extract, and 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice. Mix well until there are no lumps. Sometimes if the cream cheese isn’t soft enough, you will need to strain the mixture to get out any of the lumps, which I had to do because I am impatient.

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Step 4: Pour the mixture over the crust and bake at 350 degrees for about 30-35 minutes until set. Let these cool in the fridge for a few hours until they are set and ready to cut. IMG_2005

Step 5: To make the optional cream cheese glaze, beat together the softened butter, cream cheese, milk, vanilla extract and SLOWLY add in the confectioners’ sugar (or prepare to get a face full of sugar dust). Beat on a high speed until smooth and there are no lumps. Once the pumpkin bars are cooled, drizzle this over top with a fork. I got lazy and just poured it over, which made them a little messy, but #yolo. You’ll have some leftover that you can store in a Tupperware in the fridge for other recipes. (or midnight snack sessions).

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So while I did not do the best job photographing these last night, I am happy to report back that they were a huge hit at Friendsgiving. Big hit. We were all leaning back on the couch loosening up the ol’ belts after a big feast and then some of these pumpkin cheesecake bars to finish off the carb-fest … which was just preparing our bodies for this coming Thursday’s family feast.IMG_2015

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A few highlights from Friendsgiving:

I was in charge of the stuffing this year. Which was great because I have always wanted to make my Grandma’s sausage stuffing, which has been one of my favorite dishes at the holidays since I was a little kid. So my mom emailed me her interpretation of the recipe which involved a lot of measurements like “3/4 of a handful.” This is a meaty stuffing with lots of ground pork and Italian sausage and fennel and deliciousness all around. I think Grandma would be proud of how this turned out. IMG_7872

This is Luna, also affectionately known as Pancake to me. IMG_7874Our trusty hostess with the mostess carving her prize bird. Living up to her nickname of Turkey Monster.IMG_7873The whole crew (plus me in the reflection).

IMG_7876And the night ended with lots of laughs with some Cards against Humanity. IMG_7893Such a nice night with good friends. And while I did not want to get up this morning for a 9am spin class, the dinner last night was totally worth the early morning wakeup call. My friend Jacqui and I tried out the Handle Bar spin studio in Southie which was an intense wakeup call this morning with lots of sweating and loud music and spinning. I probably burned off at least half of the pumpkin cheesecake I ate last night. Not to mention, Jacqui and I spent yesterday afternoon absolutely dominating a tennis match. Which was strange at the end when our opponents asked us why we think they lost? You lost because we got more points than you. 15 minutes earlier we’re yelling at eachother over a bad line call (by them) and now you want to get all chummy with me talking about the match? Get outta here. Take a browned butter rice krispie treat and hit the road lady. Womens tennis, jeesh.

Alright I need to wrap this up because Skip and I have to hit the road at 6am tomorrow.  This was my Monday morning commute view last week, and will be for most Mondays in the near future. It’s funny how it looks so peaceful in this picture, but meanwhile the plane is bouncing around like we’re on a trampoline. Ah the joys of consulting life. IMG_7837

Needless to say I was really happy to have this view on Friday working out of the Boston office. What a pretty city. IMG_7858So that’s it. I am sure I did more things last week, but I can’t remember at this point. So HAPPY THANKSGIVING. I for one am really looking forward to my post-turkey nap on Thursday afternoon.

 

 

 

Browned Butter Pecan Chip Cookies

Freezing cold. Bad weather forecast for tomorrow. Lingering headache from a pinot-filled Saturday night. 4am alarm set. 5am cab. 6:20am flight to Philly. Now that’s a recipe for a wicked case of the Sunday scaries. There needs to be a socially acceptable human-version of hibernating for the winter like bears do. I could put on some comfy sweats, crawl into a dark hole and watch Netflix until Summer arrives. Winter is coming. And unlike Elsa, the cold bothers me. All the time.

So I survived the first two weeks at my new job. Hooray. Both weeks involved Mon-Fri travel, which meant when I landed at 7:30 Friday night and came home, I was passed out hard on the couch by 9:00. For my current project, I’ll be working in downtown Philly which is kind of interesting since I’ve never really been to Philly. Last time I worked there for 4 months I was way out in the burbs about an hour outside the city. But being downtown is kind of nice because it will be easier to get into my regular city-living routine quickly. So I was able to get one very important key takeaway about my new project team last week: they like cookies. Praise Jesus. Because if there is one thing I know how to do, it’s bake cookies to get people at work to like me. Now the tricky part is going to be getting the cookies from Boston to Philly on Monday mornings so that by the time they get to work they aren’t all smushed. And there’s not tons of space available in my carry-on for extra things, so I have them currently in my laptop bag and we’ll see how that goes tomorrow morning.

So I got to thinking last week. First impressions are everything. My team already knows that I am sarcastic and filled with one liners. That took all of about 3 minutes to establish that baseline. So for the cookie first impression. It has to be a good one. Mind blowing. But also needs to be able to easily be easily transported 300 miles. Clearly, browned butter is always a crowd pleaser with me. And the cookie needed to be salted, of course. So because I am a really experienced technology consultant who is an expert at the internet, I googled “the best browned butter cookie.” And voila. I get this recipe from Joy The Baker. Bam. Solid choice. And my friend Molly had two of them last night and gave them a rave review, so fingers crossed my new coworkers feel the same.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • Coarse sea salt, to sprinkle on top

Step 1: Place half of the butter (one stick) in a medium saucepan and brown it. Remember to keep whisking until after it gets foamy, and as soon as it turns amber and you see the brown bits, turn the heat off and transfer to a separate bowl and let it cool to room temperature (or stick it in the fridge for 15 minutes).

Step 2: Beat the remaining stick of softened butter with the brown sugar for about 3 minutes until the mixture is very smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract and molasses. A trick for measuring molasses is to spray the measuring spoon with nonstick spray so that it glides right off. IMG_1973

Step 3: Pour the cooled browned butter into the mixing bowl along with the granulated sugar, and beat on a high speed for about 2 minutes until smooth. The mixture should be fluffy. (Perfectly acceptable at this point to scream ITS SO FLUFFY). Add in the egg and egg yolk and beat for another minute.

Step 4: Sift together the dry ingredients – flour, salt, baking soda – and slowly add to the mixer on a low speed until everything is incorporated.

Step 5: Fold in the chocolate chips and pecans until evenly distributed. Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. You have to do this step because of the melted butter, and this will help your cookies maintain a better shape and not get all flat when you bake them. IMG_1975

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Step 6: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On a sil-pat or parchment-lined baking sheet, use a small cookie scoop to place even-size balls of dough at least an inch apart. Press down lightly with your fingertips and top with a dash of coarse sea salt. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-14 minutes, until they are golden brown. Let them sit on the tray on top of the stove to set for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. IMG_1979

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I completely support Joy the Baker’s naming of these cookies that they are BEST browned butter chocolate chip cookie. The browned butter and regular butter combo makes these cookies really soft and chewy. I also think beating everything for longer durations of time so it gets fluffy really helps the consistency too. And the bittersweet chocolate and pecan combo? Well, forgettaboutit. Let’s hope my new coworkers feel the same about the sweet and salty combo tomorrow morning. IMG_1984

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So let’s see. How to recap last week quickly, because it’s 9:30pm and I need to get up early and I think there’s still a little pinot in my body that I didn’t fully sweat out this morning making my head a little foggy. So I’m back at the consulting thing. George Clooney “up in the air” style, all the way. Becoming a pro at packing a carry-on, hotel living and trying to get as many points as humanly possible because that’s a status symbol in the consulting world. I already hit Gold status with SPG last week. I’m still in a hate-hate relationship with US and American Airlines. Because it’s going to take forever to get status with them, which means twice-weekly anxiety attacks over being in boarding zone 5 and not getting my bag in the overhead.

Here are two views I am becoming very familiar with. First, this is the view from the office I am working in right now. Not too bad. You can see New Jersey. I even ventured to “south Jersey” last week because the hotels were sold out in Philly for a Kidney convention. Yep.

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And this is my twice-weekly view. The Philadelphia airport is legitimately one of the worst clusters I’ve ever experienced. But consistently. Consistency is the only thing PHL has going for it. If you’re delayed for under an hour, than you’re on time. IMG_7809Last night Colleen and Molly came over for dinner. After eating out every meal the past two weeks, the last thing I wanted to do was go to a restaurant. So I made chicken parm and zucchini noodles and we drank all the red wine. And then went to Lucky’s for more red wine and dancing. Almost all of my best nights in Boston have been spontaneous Saturday nights that end at Lucky’s. The highlight of the night was our Uber cab driver over to Lucky’s, where Molly engaged in a riveting conversation with the driver over her infatuation with Somali Pirates. I’d try to explain it, but it was definitely one of those ‘you-had-to-be-there’ moments to fully appreciate it.

IMG_7817This morning I painfully sweated out all of the red wine with an early morning spin class. And then had a great brunch with my friend Stacie at Stephi’s in Southie. So that’s it. Not as much hilarity as normal, blame it on the adjustment of not being funemployed. Fingers crossed for good travel weather tomorrow and more importantly, that I get some thumbs up ratings from my new coworkers.

Browned Butter Salted Caramel Blondies

Sunday night. And I’ve got a case of the Sunday Scaries special edition: early Monday morning flight. So I am doing my best to binge watch as many Gilmore Girls episodes as humanly possible. Because how can you have anxiety about Monday when entertained by the comedic fast-talking of Lorelai, Luke and Rory in the cozy made-up-town of Stars Hallow, Connecticut. Which is nothing like the ghetto of southern Connecticut which I actually grew up in. In the hometown of the wiffle ball.

So let’s get right to the baking, and I’ll include a recap of my adventure-filled first week of work with some pictures below. I was perusing the interweb this morning trying to figure out if I was going to bake and what would be something easy to bake. You see, I don’t know if TSA agents like cookies. I also don’t know if I am skilled enough to find a way to bring any baked goods through security and get them on a flight to Philly without having them be confiscated or just end up super smushed by the time I got to work. And let’s be clear, if I am going to let my new coworkers know about my super fantastic baking skillz, I am not going to show up with some half smushed cookies. I am the real deal. But this week I have to travel the full week, so I need the extra potential-cookie-space in my carry-on for gym clothes I might not use and 2 pairs of work shoes I will also probably never use. So I needed to bake something that if I found someone to give to, great, but if these end up going uneaten (minus my taste tester cookie) then I wouldn’t be heartbroken. I debated some new take on rice krispie, but then I rummaged through my baking drawer and found these Kraft caramels I forgot that I had, so salted caramel was on my mind. Now that I’ve made these, and they are really good, but I didn’t end up getting them done in time to give them to someone, I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with them. Either freeze them to potentially use in an ice cream recipe or something. Or maybe I’ll shove them in my bag and attempt bringing them to Philly. Only time will tell.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter (browned or melted)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 15 caramel candies, unwrapped and cut into fourths
  • Sprinkle of se salt

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8×8 glass baking dish with non-stick spray and set aside. Melt the butter in a saucepan over the stove on medium heat. Continue whisking while it foams and turns to an amber color. Once the butter is browned, transfer to another bowl to let it cool to room temperature.

Step 2: In a mixer, combine the melted butter and sugar. Add in the egg and vanilla extract and beat well.

Step 3: Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt. Slowly add into the wet batter and mix on a low speed until incorporated.

Step 4: Fold in the chocolate chips and the caramels and mix until evenly distributed. Spread the batter in the greased baking dish and press down. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. I found this special sea salt in my cabinet that my brother and sister-in-law brought me from their vacation to Hawaii last year. Delish. IMG_1956

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Step 5: Bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

IMG_1960Let these cool before cutting into them. haha, just kidding. Just use your fork, you know you want to. These are best served warm. Microwave them for 15 seconds so the caramel gets all ooey-gooey and melty.

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Look at that browned butter salty glamour shot. Work it for the camera sea salt. IMG_1964

About 3 seconds after I snapped this shot, the cookie broke in half. So I had to eat it. Tough life.
IMG_1966Really debating now about bringing these on the flight tomorrow morning. I think I could leverage the jet lag of some of my other traveling coworkers who would think these are better than they really are given the hangry state most of us end up in when our Monday commute starts with a flight. (Blog update: I’ve arranged for my friend Amanda to pick these up tomorrow morning when I leave for the airport, so my old coworkers are in for another treat. I love that I have organized a Southie cookie black market.)

Speaking of Monday flights, let’s do a quick recap of last week, which can be summed up in one word: intense. Remember, it was my first week at the new job? So I started my week off in beautiful downtown Boston. One block from my former job, which made for a nice morning commute. I dropped off my cornflake cookies with a former coworker, which felt like a legit drug trade in front of the office, which I loved. And then I went to my morning orientation at the Hancock Tower. I kind of wanted someone to take a picture of me in front of the building like my first day of school, but people in Boston are notoriously unfriendly, especially in the morning, so this was good enough. IMG_7757

So then I had a flight to Atlanta for two more days of training in the afternoon. Now, a few things you should know about me:

1) I like to travel to places that involve flying

2) I do not like flying. It’s a control thing. If a pilot can manage my expectations and tell me when to expect turbulence, fine. But I don’t like the feeling of being 33,000 feet in the air and having no control over anything.

3) I have wicked anxiety about not getting my carry-on bag in an overhead bin. I will likely one day be arrested for losing my shit at people who don’t follow the rules and I’ll be caught ripping jackets and unnecessary items in the overhead that will force me to gate check my bag.

4) I only like to sit in window seats, which also ties into the fact I don’t pee on flights under 5 hours.

5) I do not like engaging in friendly conversation on planes.

My first day of work after training at Accenture back right out of college, I was flying on a TPOD (tiny plane of death, also known as regional jets, with less than 35 people onboard) and it was my first time flying solo, and my first business trip. And it was 6am on the plane and we go to board, and next thing I know we’re walking on the tarmac. And I’m all confused like, where’s the friggin jetbridge? And what are those tiny planes for? And the flight attendant is trying to take my bag and I am arguing with her that it goes in the overhead, and she explains there is no overhead space on this flight. And then I am seated in the emergency exit row (which includes 3 people total) and then I started freaking out. You know, because I start thinking this plane is small enough that I should probably make sure I am capable to fulfill exit row duties. And the guy next to me is telling me to chill that these planes are totally safe and not to worry. And we’re sitting there and they announce that they need two volunteers to get off the plane because it is overweight. So I call my parents (at 6am) and I’m freaking out asking Skip if I should get off the plane, because it’s overweight and the only people who volunteered to get off were the thinnest people on the plane, and my death glares to Tubby two seats over didn’t encourage him to get off the plane. So both Skip and the guy next to me said this happens all the time and to stay on the plane and everything would be fine. And it was. Even though every time we hit a tiny bump or the plane made a noise on the 90 minute flight to Raleigh, the guy next to me had to tell me it was normal. Then he told me that he likes the tinier planes where you can feel some of the small bumps because then it kind of reminds him of getting rocked to sleep. Which I still to this day think it a freaking weird thing to say. But now anytime I hit turbulence on a flight, I try to remember random businessman stranger from my first flight back in the day telling me about just thinking of how the plane would rock me to sleep.

Okay, so with that long-winded context. you know what you cannot prepare for or talk yourself out of when you have anxiety on a plane? SOMEONE DYING MID FLIGHT. Yes. That happened on my flight Monday to Atlanta. We were all smooth sailing and then In the last half hour of the flight, they announce there is a serious medical emergency so no more cabin service and no more standing up. And we land, and speed to the gate, and you can see people in the back doing CPR on this old lady. And then we can’t stand up for a half hour, because the paramedics come on and work on the lady. And then they carry her limp body off the plane after a half hour and the stewardesses were crying, and ugh it was awful, just awful. So that was the first day. Let’s hope that never ever happens again

Wednesday night I flew to Philly to join my new project team. It took me a lot to not start every sentence with the theme song to the Fresh Prince … you know, “innnnnnn west philadelphia, born and raised.” But it legit plays in my head, over and over every time I hear the word Philadelphia. And given I will likely be traveling to Philly frequently for the next few months, I am sure that is going to get annoying soon. Even though I love Will Smith. Here’s a shot of arriving in Philly Wednesday night. IMG_7773And then the morning view of downtown Philly. IMG_7776

And then Friday was fly-home-Friday. I hate everything about the Philadephia airport, minus the fact they now have a Pinkberry. But I worked in the Philly suburbs for a few months back in 2009, and they should just rename it “The Most Frequently Delayed Worst Airport Ever.” Chance of rain? DELAY. Too sunny? DELAY. That’s why the flight is only 43 minutes but it looks online like it’s almost 2 hours. Well, I get on the plane after not being able to get on any earlier flight, since I don’t have status anywhere anymore, and the captain tells us that there is no cabin service or getting up on the flight because it’s going to be turbulent. Joy. And bumpy it was. I felt like I was being punked. I am typically fine on flights, but when the guy across the aisle from me grabbed the air sick bag, I just started asking the guy next to me (who had the window seat) every 2 minutes if we were there yet. So needless to say, I was happy happy happy to see my bed Friday night.

I tried to take it easy this weekend. Got in a few solid workouts, which felt great. Shopped in Chestnut Hill (with a stop for Pinkberry of course, which led me to running into one of my favorite friends Jess.) And then while getting a manicure, my friend Lauren (affectionalitely known as wong-a-long in our inner circle) texted me to see if I was still in Newton, which I was, so I went to hang out with her and her husband Taylor to see their new grown-up house in da burbs. It was great. I stopped at Marty’s liquors on the way and got lots of fancy snacks and wine, because Lauren is one of those friends who requires constant snack foods. Mostly Doritos. This morning I grabbed brunch at Kitchen in the South End with my friend josh, and enjoyed this de-lish cubano sandwich, which I’ve never tried before. hip hip nom-ray! IMG_7787

And then I tried on clothes after that sandwich, which was a bad choice. So I came home, just in time to catch this amazing sunset (at 4:30pm, wtf?) during a nice end-of-weekend run.

IMG_7792So that’s it. I feel relaxed. My cab comes at 6am. I am ready to crush this week. Thank you Lorelai, Luke, Rory, Suki, Michele, Dean, Jess, Paris, Kirk, Miss Patty and the rest of the town of Stars Hallow and cast of Gilmore Girls. And to my newest drug (cookie) runner, Amanda. I’ll leave “the goods” on the front porch in the am.

 

 

Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookies

It’s Sunday. And my last day of funemployment. Bring on the Sunday Scaries. I also don’t have any real idea of what time it is. It is 7:45 or 8:45 or 6:45. Did I fall back or forward? Clearly Mother Nature was cracked out of her mind this morning as well, because do you know what she dropped on Bostonians who were up and out of the house early this morning taking advantage of the extra hour? My LEAST favorite four letter word. S-N-O-W. It’s too soon. It was 70 degrees 4 days ago! What the mother? So there I am thinking I am just crushing Sunday morning, made it to 8am mass and went to Target. Where I was in search of ingredients for cookies and all things travel-sized. And I go to get in my car, and bam. Low-tire pressure light. I drove it around the South Bay parking lot (danger, danger Will Robinson) in hopes that it was just due to the cold and would go off, but it didn’t. And while I might fake being handy at home, when it comes to cars I am the least resourceful person you’ll ever meet. So after I assume I have a heroin needle or something of that sort from the parking lot stuck in my tire, I drive to Braintree to get the tires checked out, because with my luck my tire would be flat tomorrow morning on my way to my first day of my new job.

So there I am on 93 South and IT IS SNOWING LIKE A MOTHER. I’m talking giant flakes, and I’m already having an irrational anxiety attack about how my tires are going to explode on the highway because of the low-tire pressure light. And I am sitting at Sullivan Tire waiting for them to look at my car, and the technician who looked eerily similar to Snoop D-O-double-G, came out and asked me the dumbest question ever “Lady, did you try to put air in your tires? because the pressure is fine.” So I just simply looked back at him, and said “Excuse me, but do I look like I know how to put air in my tires?” So about 45 minutes later I see my car speeding around a curve and into the parking lot. And Snoop comes back out to say he reset the sensors and took it for a test drive (Ricky Bobby test drive? jebus, Someone was going a little fast). So the diagnosis was: It is cold outside. Sometimes that trips the sensor up. Go home Burberry. Thanks snoop-a-loop. Have a gin and juice on me.

Despite all the drama of the morning, I did manage to pick up some cookie ingredients at Target – Cornflakes, mini chocolate chips, and mini marshmallows. After my trip to NYC last weekend, I cannot stop thinking about the cornflake crunch on the Momofuku Milk Bar’s soft serve ice cream. It was just like buttery, sweet, crunchy deliciousness. So I did some searching around the interweb for a recipe for the cornflake crunch, which I found. And then even better, I found these cookies from the Milk Bar cookbook which incorporates the cornflake crunch. Tah-dah! So I made them. And ate a lot of mini marshmallows in the process. A good cure for a crummy morning. Also, the bloody mary that Colleen and I had at brunch helped too. Vodka and mini marshmallows. The solution to, and cause of, all of life’s problems. Amiright?

Ingredients:

Cornflake Crunch Ingredients

  • 5 cups cornflakes
  • 1/2 cup milk powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 9 tablespoons melted butter

Cookie Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 1/4 cups mini marshmallows
  • 3 cups Cornflake Crunch

Step 1: To make the cornflake crunch, preheat the oven to 275 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a sil-pat. Put the cornflakes in a medium bowl. Use your hands (and annoyance at Mother Nature) to crush to about a quarter of their original size. Add the milk powder, sugar, and salt and toss to combine. Add the melted butter and toss to form small clusters.IMG_1934

Step 2: Spread the cornflake mixture in an even layer on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 275 degrees for about 20 minutes, until the clusters are toasted and smell buttery. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely. You should probably taste test to make sure it’s as delicious as it smells. I stuck it in the fridge to expedite the cooling process. IMG_1937

Step 3: To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugars. Add in the egg and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl before adding in the dry ingredients.

Step 4: Mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add to the wet batter and mix on a low-speed until the dough comes together.

Step 5: Add in the chocolate chips and cornflake crunch and mix on a low speed just until combined. Add the mini marshmallows and mix until just incorporated.IMG_1939

Step 6: Now this is an important step. Normally I’d say just skip it, but you really need to do it. Using the medium-size cookie scoop, place even-size balls of dough on a parchment or sil-pat lined baking sheet. I did 8 cookies per sheet, because these will spread, you need to make sure there is sufficient space in between each cookie. Press the top of the cookie lightly to flatten it a bit. Wrap the baking sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. If you bake the cookies at room temperature they will not hold their shape.IMG_1940

Step 7: Bake at 375 degrees for about 12-15 minutes. You need to watch the cookies in the last few minutes and once they just start to turn golden brown, take them out of the oven and let them sit on the cookie sheet to cool and set before transferring them to a cooling rack.

Every time I go to take a picture with cookies and milk, I am reminded that I only own wine glasses. And I fill them with heavy cream. Mmm.
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Now the pictures I post, make all of my cookies look perfect (obviously). But half of them came out a little more spread out than I’d like, but that’s a common risk when baking with marshmallows. It’s about the taste, not the looks. Remember that people. These cookies are very sweet. The corn flake adds a nice crunch, similar to when I used rice krispies in my oatmeal cookies. IMG_1951

IMG_1953The cornflake crunch on top of the cereal milk softserve at Milk Bar was just so unreal. I am going to try to see if I can incorporate this into some other recipes soon. Maybe cornflake crunch on top of corn muffins? Yeah Yeah? (I’m nudging you with my elbow and raising my eyebrow while saying that).

So this is it. Funemployment is over. Back to the real world tomorrow. And not like a fluffy let’s take it easy for the first few weeks while you adjust back into Corporate America and have to put real pants on every morning. Oh no. It’s much more drop you right back into the real world and you better start swimming fast, because you have 6 flights to 4 cities in the next two weeks. #pointspointspoints I spent an hour this afternoon trying to re-perfect my ability to effectively pack a carry-on suitcase. My new TUMI carry-on to be specific. Because corporate america ballers need a solid suitcase to play the part. While I’m consulting in the cloud. Which is actually my new job. Because when you tell people that they stop asking questions, because we all know, no one understands the cloud. Synergy. My old coworkers will be happy tomorrow because I need to go park in my old garage at work for my first day at my new job (which is a half block away from my old job), so I’ve arranged for one of my drug (cookie) runners to pick up tonight’s batch of cornflake cookies at 8:30 am. The return of cookie monday, black market edition.

I think I packed in as much as I could over the past week and a half, saw a lot of people, shopped till I dropped, ate all of the carbs, tried to make up for it with some hardcore gym time (resulting in me now having Trex arms which I can barely move), and spent the past two days watching 18 episodes of Gilmore Girls on Netflix. On Wednesday my friend Sara came over with her adorable baby Avery, for some early morning baking. We made some Reese’s Pieces cookies from Sally’s Bake Blog and then baked Apple Cider Donuts.

This is Sara. She brought me into Sapient almost four years ago, and now we are both part of the Sapient Alumni crew.IMG_1920

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And of course we had a very good taste tester to give us her opinion after her first bite of donut. Avery-approved!IMG_1930

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So by the time Thursday rolled around, I started getting a little panicked that I had spent most of my funemployment being go-go-go nonstop, seeing people, doing things, checking things off my to-do list – all good things, but my sweatpants, couch, and Netflix account were calling my name because I had been neglecting them. So I started watching Gilmore Girls. And I only stopped to go to the gym, and play in a pitiful tennis match yesterday (because of my Trex arms). Which meant I got through Season 1. I forgot how good of a show this was. I was on the same life trajectory as Rory when I used to watch this after school with my mom in high school. When Rory was applying to colleges, so was I. And then we both went to school in Boston. So I do feel like I got in some solid relaxation this weekend, which was good. And despite a crazy morning, I had a relaxing brunch with Colleen today and got myself organized for a week of travel. I’m going with red and black theme with my outfit tomorrow for my first day. (you know, to stay with the Les Mis theme that I like to live my life by).

And on that note, I plan to walk into the Hancock Tower tomorrow morning dressed in my black suit and red blouse singing “Let us welcome it gladly with courage and cheer, Let us take to the streets with no doubt in our hearts.”

No? Too strong? Should I go with “Do you hear the People Sing?” Or just maybe table the whole Les Mis thing until I’ve been there a few weeks?Okay, well wish me luck either way. First day at a new job always feels like the first day of school. Except this first day involves an afternoon flight to Atlanta followed by a flight to Philly later in the week. I haven’t told my new coworkers yet about my cookie baking skillz. I figure that’s a good piece of leverage to keep in my back pocket for when I need to win some people over.

When the beating your heart echoes the beating of the drums there is a life about to start when tomorrow comes …. (come on, you knew that was coming right?)

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