• Mixed Berry Crumb Bars

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  • 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

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?)

Browned Butter Toffee Chip Cookies

So I had every intention of writing this post last night. But then I burned the living shit out of my hand trying to get a skillet out of the oven, so that’s my excuse for writing it tonight. With my mummy-bandaged hand, just in time for halloween. I now have a note to self to invest in real legitimate oven mitts and stop using dinky dishtowels from Target to take things in and out of the oven, because I have now branded my right palm with my cast iron skillet. But damn, those brussel sprouts still tasted good even if I had to eat them with my left hand. So anyways, that’s my excuse for not writing this last night.

Alright, where to begin. So much has happened in the past week. And I’ve been wearing leggings or sweatpants for 90% of it. So, to recap: I quit my job (hooray) and my last day was last Tuesday. My new job doesn’t start until next Monday so I am happily funemployed until then (hip hip hoorah). But because I am incapable of sitting still for more than 3 minutes at a time, I have been packing quite a bit into my days, so the rest of the week might need to have more Netflix and couch time and less running around doing a bazillion things. I’ll include lots of photos of my NYC weekend and a recap of my last day at work and all that fun stuff at the end of the post.

So Sunday rolls around and I’m waiting for the Sunday scaries to hit and then I realize … they won’t. Because I don’t have to go to work Monday. But does that mean I don’t make cookies? I struggled with this for about 4 minutes until I decided if necessary, I could take one for the team and eat three dozen mini cookies so I’d get to baking. After rummaging through my baking drawer of magical goodness, I found a bag of mini chocolate chips and Heath toffee bits. So I decided to adapt my browned butter chocolate chip cookie recipe to have these delish toffee bits. I also like making these mini because you can eat as many as you want and they never add up to a whole cookie, as long as you wash it down with Diet Coke. Science.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup Heath toffee bits

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brown the butter in a medium saucepan over the stove and set aside to cool to room temperature. (If you’re impatient like me, stick it in the fridge for about 10 minutes)

Step 2: Cream together butter and sugars. Add the egg, yolk, vanilla extract, and mix well until creamy. Scrape the sides of the bowl down with a spatula before incorporating the dry ingredients.

Step 3: Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt and baking soda. Slowly add to the wet mixture and beat on a low speed until it is well mixed together.

Step 4: Mix in the chocolate chips and toffee bits until evenly distributed through the batter. Chill the dough for about half an hour in the fridge (or 10 minutes in the freezer for those of us who can’t wait). IMG_1903

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Step 5: On a sil-pat or parchment lined baking sheet, use the medium cookie scoop and place a small scoop of dough on the sheet. Usually for regular size cookies I will use this same scoop and place a heaping scoop of dough. For these, I scrape it along the side of the bowl to make sure it is even. I fit 20 cookies per baking sheet with 4 up and 5 across. IMG_1906

Step 6: Bake at 350 degrees for about 11-13 minutes. The cookies will look slightly undercooked when you take them out of the oven, so leave them on the tray for about 5 minutes to set before transferring to a cooling rack. IMG_1907

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I mean, you can’t go wrong with the salty, browned butter, chocolate and toffee combo. You just can’t. It’s basically a SKOR bar melted into a cookie perfectly. And the mini size cookies are great for these because you want to keep shoving them in your mouth, but there is a lot less guilt when they are in mini form. So you’re welcome for that. IMG_1913

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Now I know what you’re wondering … Did I eat all of these cookies myself? Close, but no. Three lucky recipients will be opening their mailboxes tomorrow to their share of Sunday’s batch of cookies. I don’t like anyone enough to pay the ridiculous cost for the 2-day shipping, but I packaged those cookies tightly enough that they should still taste fresh out of the oven tomorrow as long as the drug sniffing bomb dogs at the post office didn’t rip these packages open, but who could blame them, these are the bomb. (har har har). My Grandpa was giving me a hard time on the phone yesterday about “Where’s my cookies?” which I found funny because of course he was one of the three recipients of the cookies, so I am looking forward to my daily phone call with that guy tomorrow.

Okay, so lot’s of pictures. I don’t really want to talk a lot about my last day of work because I have a reputation to keep up about not being a sappy emotional person who likes hugs. In fact, in my goodbye email, I put in a personal NO HUG request. Which everyone ignored of course. And then I had a few drinks and even initiated a few hugs myself. One day I’ll write a non-cookie blog post on how quitting your job is like a breakup and I’ll go through some of my favorite Sapient moments, the highlight reel was included in my goodbye email. And not that I am the world’s most competitive person or anything, but I got a LOT of email replies that said “best goodbye email ever” – I mean duh, what did you guys expect? I am pretty sure all of my former coworkers were wearing black in mourning of no cookie Monday this week. I’m securing a number of black market drug (cookie) runners to continue some cookie deliveries for my favorite coworkers. Mostly because I expect a lot of Monday mornings for me at the airport coming up and I’m not sure the TSA agents like cookies. I know they don’t like sarcasm, I can tell you that from personal experience. Maybe I’ll write another blog post one day about my absolute disgust for human behavior on airplanes. I should probably get some kind of non-cookie section to this blog. Maybe I’ll call it “fly home Thursday” and document all of my work travel stories. If I had done that 5 years ago when I used to travel every week I would be rich and not sitting here writing a cookie blog in sweatpants right now, because that shit was pure gold. Anyways, I digress. So here are a few shots from the last day:

Meghan was my mini-me for about two years, and left the nest back in February. But she’s still stuck with me for life. We could tell you every item in the CVS circular for a 6-week period with our eyes closed. Disregard the 3 creepy men in the background.IMG_7635

Josh and Molly were my very first friends at Sapient. I met them at orientation in Atlanta. They are also stuck with me forever. IMG_7627

Wednesday and Thursday was raining like a mo’fo. Which meant I worked out one day, and spent the rest of my time catching up on my DVR in sweatpants. Not bad at all. This giant tree fell down two houses up from me. I posted it to facebook saying “This tree fell down, it’s yelling timber. The cops say it better move, it better dance.” and my Mom commented on it saying “The bigger they are the harder they fall.” and there is proof, that I am truly my mother’s daughter. I was also REALLY glad I moved my car earlier in the day when I was lazy and didn’t want to walk 4 blocks to get my hair did. The Southie popo decided to leave the tree all night and chainsaw it at 6am, which was a real treat.IMG_7655

Friday morning I flew down to NYC. Flying to NYC is much faster than taking the train. And I got a flight for $1 on JetBlue because I am the best couponer in the world. The only issue was because you only climb to 22,000 feet for the flight, we flew through a bumpy as a mother cloud of death the entire 45 minute flight. So needless to say I was REALLY pumped when my friend Jackie picked me up at the airport and she put a glass of wine in my hand before 11am. A true friend. Jackie also quit her job and we coordinated our timing of funemployment so we could day drink in the city. First, she took me to Eataly. And I was like a kid in a candy store. I can’t even imagine my Uncle Jimmy there. We also went on Food day which meant there were samples galore. So so so so so good. And then we ate upstairs on the rooftop restaurant and had peach bellinis and it was all amazing.

This is my friend Jackie. We love booze and desserts and hot deals. IMG_7663

And then, we went to Milk Bar. Holy. Mother. Of. Baby. Jesus. I want to remake everything that they had on their menu. I am actually in the process tonight of trying to make the crack pie, in mini form. I mean, it’s called crack pie for a reason. Because I imagine you’d find me at 2am in a kitchen with beady raccoon eyes eating this straight with my hands. So because Jackie and I have a long-standing history of ordering dessert samplers (aka ordering multiple full size desserts) we got a confetti cookie and a slice of crack pie to go, and then ate this swirled soft-serve with corn flake crunch in the middle of the street like homeless lovers. The swirled flavors of ice cream were: crack pie and cereal milk. I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in. And try to imagine that flavor combo. AND TOPPED WITH BUTTERY SUGARY CORN FLAKE MAGIC CRUNCH. GAHHH. Take me back. I will definitely be finding a way to incorporate that corn flake goodness into some future recipes.

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And then we ate the crack pie on top of her roofdeck with a view of the Manhattan skyline. I mean, not a bad Funemployment Friday at all. I tried to remake this recipe tonight but mine looked like a crackhead tried to bake it. IMG_7670

And then after a sushi dinner, we of course needed dessert. So we went to Bar Bacon (um, yumm) and had bacon dusted tater tots (because that’s a normal dessert, right?) and warm chocolate chip cookies with ice cream. I am glad I invested in some fancy durable extra-suck-it-in stretch pants from Jcrew the day before, because I need them.

And I needed them even more on Saturday, because I headed over to Brooklyn to spend the day with my favorite brother and sister-in-law. We went on a NoLita food tour in the city, and it was SO MUCH FUN. It started in SOHO and we went to 6 different stops over about a 2-hour period. Then went home to unbutton our pants and sit on the couch until we could sit up again, and go to a bar to cheer on the Alabama football team (roll tide!). If anyone wants to come visit and do a food tour in Boston, I am game. I’ve already researched a North End and South End food tour. The Chowder food tour looks stupid because it stops at a place where I like to drink vodka and dance my face off, so I don’t want to think about eating chowdah from Lucky’s. Here a few food tour highlights, check out my instagram for more pics:

The Bahn Mi sandwich. This bread tasted like angels hugging me over a giant pit of candy corn. It was so good. Just fresh and flakey and unreal. IMG_7683

Of course there was a NYC pizza stop on the food tour. And it was hot, and cheesy and delicious. A lovely cheese pizza, just for me. (name that movie!)
IMG_7699This is my sister-in-law. She loves food just as much as I do. But she is more photogenic, clearly.

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So that’s it. I took the train back Sunday morning and got a bunch of yard work done in the afternoon. Monday I went to Boston College in the morning to work on a small side project I’m doing with the business school. Today I went to the Wrentham outlets which were more miss than hit, but had a delish dinner with my brother who was in town for work tonight. We always love to get lobster rolls when he’s in town, and usually our go to is Atlantic Fish Company on Boylston Street. He was working closer to South Station today so we went to Row 34 in the seaport, which I have been dying to try for a while now, and had WARM BUTTERED LOBSTAH ROLLS. You can check my instagram for the photo tonight @thesaltedcookie

And now it’s time for bed. My friend Sara is coming over with her little girl Avery for some morning baking which should be fun! I’m thinking of doing Apple Cider Donuts since it’s still that time of year. Oh, and I saw a rainbow yesterday walking Castle Island at sunset. So here you go. IMG_7708

 

 

Cinnamon Spice Rice Krispie Treats

So last week, I really set the bar high with the peanut butter apple crumb bars. I had coworkers swooning and stuffing their faces with multiple bars. So I originally had plans to try to top that this week, but the pressure got to me, and I couldn’t think of a recipe that would top that without having a good chunk of time to dedicate to baking. I saw these CInnamon Spice Rice Krispie S’mores on Food52 and was going to make those, until I realized I didn’t have the right size pan to make them thin enough to turn into s’mores. And I didn’t get home until 7:30 tonight, and last night I landed at 11pm from Texas. So as you can see the excuses are just piling up. But fear not, I did still bake tonight, and my coworkers will be happily sugared up tomorrow morning. I decided to make an easier version of the cinnamon spice rice krispie treats, and then I also threw together some pumpkin chocolate chip bread as a back-up in case my coworkers didn’t love the treats. (but I mean, how could they not, right??)

Why do I care so much about making sure my coworkers are happy tomorrow? Well, they have been spoiled with weekly cookie deliveries for over the past two and a half years since I started The Salted Cookie. And tomorrow, will be the last weekly cookie delivery because it’s my last day at work. Yep, the end of an era. After over three and a half years at SapientNitro as a business analyst, project manager, business consultant, hand model, etc, etc., tomorrow is my last day before I move on to bigger and better things. I’m not going to get all sappy in this post. Maybe another day I’ll write a post about how I think quitting your job is very comparable to a breakup, and people should treat it that way because it is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. I’m bummed to leave Sapient but really excited to start my new job in a few weeks. And excited for the week and a half in between to chill out and see friends and definitely do some baking. So tomorrow is my last day at work. And I’d like my coworkers to feel happily sugared up, which I think they will with these treats.

I love rice krispie treats. They are quick and simple to pull together, and always a crowd pleaser. The cinnamon spice and browned butter combo in these is perfect for the fall, and the semi sweet chocolate ups the ante on making these a little more decadent. Maybe another time I’ll try the roasted marshmallow version of these to make them s’mores, but if you’re looking for a quick fall recipe I definitely recommend these.

Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 6 cups puffed rice cereal
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil

Step 1: Generously grease a 13×9 glass baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.

Step 2: In a pot over medium heat, brown the butter, making sure to constantly whisk so it does not burn. Lower the heat to medium, and add in the mini marshmallows, cinnamon, and nutmeg, stirring with a heat-proof spatula until the mixture is melted.

Step 3: Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the rice krispie cereal two cups at a time, folding in slowly until it is evenly coated. IMG_1893

Step 4: Evenly spread out the marshmallowy mixture in the glass baking dish and put into the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove from the freezer and cut into even squares. Return to the freezer while you melt the chocolate.IMG_1896

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Step 5: In a microwave safe bowl (because it is physically impossible for me to not burn chocolate over the stove) melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil, stopping every 30 seconds to stir. If you don’t have coconut oil, you can add a little vegetable oil at the end to thin out the chocolate. Once the chocolate it melted, dip one end of each rice krispie treats about a quarter way into the chocolate and set aside on parchment to set. Refrigerate for at least an hour before eating. IMG_1897

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The one thing I fear with not working at my current job is not having a large group of taste testers to provide their feedback on a weekly basis. Good thing I have some trusty neighbors. I brought one of these along with the chocolate chip pumpkin bread upstairs to Francesca for some taste testing tonight, so she might have to take over some responsibilities going forward. I’m sure crazy Eddie will help too. Maybe even mama the cat, since he was standing outside my bedroom window at 6am on Friday morning having a conversation with Mama the cat. Hopefully my new coworkers like cookies, and if they don’t I’ll just start shipping them out every Monday to anyone I know. Or eat them all myself, and start applying for the next episode of “my 800-pound life.” 

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So it’s late, and I’m tired and still have a few things to finish up before the final day tomorrow, so I’m going to do more of a photo recap of the past few days than lots of witty commentary. One of my favorite friends from college – Denise – lives down in Houston so about a month and a half ago, we made plans for a visit down to the Lonestar state. Denise and I became friends freshman year at Boston College on a retreat, and then became close when we were part of a notorious copy editor trio with our friend Kasia on the campus newspaper The Heights. Back in 2008 when I was traveling a lot for work, I visited Denise in Houston and arranged for Kasia to surprise Denise at the airport – and we drank cheap Andre champagne like the good ol’ days. This year I half expected Kasia to surprise us at the airport, but she was just with us in spirit this time, as Denise and I ate our way through Houston and our mini roadtrip to Austin.

This was the view arriving into Houston on Friday morning. I don’t think anyone on my plane minded me screaming CLEAR EYES, FULL HEART, CAN’T LOSE  and TEXAS FOREVER for the 15 minutes we were close to landing, as I tried to find Tim Riggins from above.

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You know Denise is a true friend, when the first thing she brings me right to in Houston is this delicious chocolate chip cookie at Tiny Boxwoods. I need to replicate this, because oh man. Just perfection.IMG_7561

My friend Jackie from work who moved to Houston last year just had a beautiful baby girl – Miss Nora – two months ago. So I was so excited to be able to spend Friday afternoon in the park with Jackie, Nora and Mr. Rocky – who loves puddles more than anyone I’ve ever met. IMG_7564Saturday morning Denise and I got up early, fueled up with Dunkin Donuts (which now they have in Texas, yeehaw) and then after a DELICIOUS BBQ lunch at Salt Lick, we ventured to Mount Bonnell to get some sweet views of Austin from high up.

This BBQ. Finger Lickin Good.
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On top of Mount Bonnell.IMG_7576

Not a bad view at all. Now I know why Tim Riggins wanted to just buy a big plot of land and live here forever and make hot little Panthers babies. 
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After an afternoon relaxing in the hotel watching some classic movies like Save the Last Dance and Double Jeopardy, we ventured down to South Congress street to get the real downtown Austin experience.IMG_7583

And while you might think that would involve TexMex … we Northern girls really like our NYC style pizza, so we went to Home Slice to grab a few slices of this delish pizza pie. Denise already perfected the instagram hand model holding food pose. IMG_7585After some live music, margaritas, and Amy’s ice cream, we were happily full and headed back to the hotel. Only to get up early the next morning to finish our food tour of Austin with a DELISH brunch at Kerby Lane right on the University of Texas campus – obviously to celebrate the Longhorn’s win. But mostly to have deep morning conversations over Steve Guttenburg and his acting career. Because that’s the kind of deep thoughts we discuss with our Boston College educations. IMG_7596And then we road tripped back to Houston so I could fly back to Boston, and we listened to lots of good music and had lots of laughs, and I just loved every bit of the entire weekend. It’s just so nice to have such good friends even though we live miles and miles apart.

Speaking of good friends, I’m going to spend my 12 days of funemployment packing in some time with friends, including a trip to NYC this Friday/Saturday to hang with my friend Jackie and then spend Saturday with my favorite brother and sister-in-law.

So now it’s really late, and I am signed up for a 6am spin class, so I need to wrap this up. Tomorrow is a big day. Saying goodbye to a lot of good peeps and ending the era of being “the cookie lady” at SapientNitro. The good thing at least, is I’ll be half a block away in the Hancock Tower at my new job, so maybe I’ll coordinate some kind of black market for Monday morning cookie dropoffs. Actually, that’s not a bad idea.

And now I’ll go back to playing Les Miserables “One day more” on repeat – because for some reason, that’s just how we roll in my family. Quoting Jean Val Jean like the badass he is. 2-4-6-0-1.

 

Peanut Butter Apple Crumble Bars

TGICD. Honestly, sometimes I think I am so caught up in my regular work routine that I think if I had a weekday off I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. Usually when we have these floating holidays at work like President’s Day and MLK Day and Columbus Day, I like to go into work on those days because there are usually a lot less meetings so you actually have time to get things done. But I decided to celebrate Nina, Pinta and the Santa Maria today by observing Columbus Day on it’s actual day. And you know what, being off the regular weekday schedule is fantastic. First, I woke up at 7:30am (that’s called sleeping in as a grown-up). I actually took the time to eat a well-balanced home-cooked breakfast FROM the kitchen table (not the normal curling iron in one hand, smoothie in another). Went to Crossfit at 11am, ran errands, got my nails did, caught up on Homeland, AND found a good use for the giant bowl of apples that was staring me down from the counter.It’s 7pm and I still haven’t put real pants on at all today. Honestly, if some sugar daddy feels so inclined to wife me up tomorrow and let me be a stay-at-home whatever, sign me up.

So, given that I had some actual time to relax today, I decided it was time for some good ol’ fashion baking experiments. Since it’s apple season, I’ve been stocking up on gala apples which are my favorite kind, but then I keep forgetting that I bring them to work for a snack and now I have this giant bowl of uneaten apples. As a kid, apples and peanut butter was my favorite snack. Not in a healthy way, mind you. But with a side of brown sugar for dipping. Oh yes. It’s delicious. I had this awesome babysitter growing up, Tina. Tina lived across the street, taught me how to color inside the lines (important life skill) and make birds nests out of grass clippings (a less important life skill, but still, valuable) and used to make apples, peanut butter and brown sugar as our snack. (This is my I love sugar so much face circa 1988). 542578_10100427432124407_499313792_n I also had this best friend in the neighborhood, Ashley, who I hung out with a lot and also had been babysat by Tina. So Ashley and I obviously became bffers because of our love for riding bikes and dipping fruit into sugar. Once in third grade her mom tried to convince me to wear her brothers boots when it was snowing and I was obviously too cool for that and I went outside in my sneakers, slipped and broke my arm. One thing I will always remember aside from knowing never to defy Ashley’s mom’s recommendation ever again, is that she was a great baker. Not in a “let me whip you up a meringue” kind of way. But she always had these simple recipes that were huge crowd pleasers – like the white trash, which is one of my favorite go-to party recipes. Anyway, I digress down memory lane. The point of time traveling back to Connecticut in the 90s is to just drop some knowledge that if you add a tablespoon (or maybe more, if no one is looking) next to your peanut butter, then dip the apple in the peanut butter, and brown sugar, and take a bite – it will blow ya friggin mind. Guaranteed. Unfortunately, kids these days are probably eating organic raw kale hummus with carrots, so they won’t be allowed this life pleasure. But the nice part of being a grown ass lady, is I can still eat this as a snack like it ain’t no thang.

So I got to thinking. How do I bake this into something that is just as delicious as my favorite childhood snack. There are plenty of apple with brown sugar and oat recipes, but the peanut butter is the key. So I just decided to wing it. And holy bananas, this is even better than the real thing. I made a peanut butter oat crumble, which half was used for the crust, then I chopped up some apples and let them get all happy in some brown sugar and cinnamon, and then topped it with the rest of that PB crumble goodness. It makes me want to put on some rollerblades and get Caitlin, Christina and Ashley (my old neighborhood posse) back together for snack time.

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Ingredients:

Crumble

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Apple Filling

  • 8 apples, sliced and evenly chopped
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a small saucepan melt the butter over a low heat. Once butter is melted, whisk in the peanut butter until it is melted, and set aside to cool.

Step 2: In a large bowl, mix together the sugars, flour, oats, baking soda and salt with a large wooden spoon. Slowly mix in the melted peanut butter and stir until the flour is all dissolved and ingredients are mixed well. Line a 13×9 glass baking dish with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray. Spread half of the crumble evenly in the bottom of the dish and put in the oven for 10 minutes while you are making the filling.IMG_1872

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Step 3: Chop the apples into about 1/2 inch cubes. In a separate bowl, coat the apples with sugar, flour, cornstarch, cinnamon and lemon juice. Fold with a spatula until the flour is all dissolved and the apples are evenly coated. IMG_1871

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Step 4: Spread the apple mixture evenly over the partially cooked crust.

Step 5: Take the remaining crumble and evenly sprinkle it over the apple layer. Bake at 375 degrees for about 40-45 minutes, or until the crust is golden. Halfway through baking, I rotate the dish in the oven to make sure everything is evenly hit with the heat. When these are done, let them cool for a few hours at room temperature, OR just dig in hot. I mean really, why not right? They smell UNREAL. I put mine in the fridge to chill for a few hours after they came out of the oven so that I could slice them tonight.IMG_1881

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Honestly. I know that I just watched Fed Up and I’m supposed to think sugar is the devil, but you HAVE to make these this fall. The apple, peanut butter and brown sugar combination is just so so so delicious and perfect. And its like angels singing, and Shaquille O’Neill in a genie costume and the Fresh Prince rapping in West Philadelphia and all of the beautiful combinations in life. That is the best way I can describe this dessert. So just trust me on this. I have come a long way since the third-grader who chose fashion over function and broke my arm (and a year later faked not being able to see because I wanted glasses that the doctors knew I was lying.) I’m not lying. Make these.

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Okay, so let’s see what’s new from this past week. Wednesday was my 7-year consulting anniversary, which is an accomplishment to have survived this many years of leveraging synergestic buzzwords and not boiling the ocean (also, 7 years in consulting is like 49 years of working in a regular industry job.) My brother sent me the new Thug Kitchen cookbook which I was really excited to get in the mail on Friday. My only disappointment when reading it, is that I didn’t think to start this blog myself and write the ghettoest and most hilarious recipes ever. Given my upbringing in southern Connecticut – aka “da hood” – straight thuggin comes naturally to me. photo 1

My bestie from home Katie came up Friday night and we did some shopping around the city on the rainy Saturday. And in true best-friend fashion, we pretended during the day that we’d be interested/have energy to go out at night, and ordered takeout at 8pm and rented a Zac Efron movie. (because really, without saying words outloud, we had agreed upon this plan well in advance.) photo 2

Sunday morning I got up early and did what all normal 29-year olds do on Sunday — I went to the casino. Because you know who loves the casino? Grandpa. And I love to continue to secure my favorite grandchild spot by surprising him every now and then, so I sat next to him at a slot machine and started talking in my most obnoxious “bahhston” accent until he realized it was me. And then we had a nice lunch together at the Italian restaurant and I show him all the pics on my iphone of what I’m doing with my life, and it’s cool that even though he lives in Connecticut, he is still very up-to-date with all my life happenings up in Boston. photo 3

And I really never thought I’d be one of “those people” who got all addicted to Crossfit … and I’m not there yet, but I will say, don’t knock it till you try it. I’m still the slowest in most of the classes I take, but I’m definitely getting a good butt-kicking workout, I’ve met some fun new friends, and I’m being physically and mentally challenged on a regular basis, which is a good thing. Though today I was pretty sure I was gonna vom that beautiful handmade breakfast all over myself mid-burpee, but I powered through. photo 4

Heading to Texas this weekend to be reunited with one of my favorite college friends Denise! I used my extreme couponing skillz and got myself a free flight to meet Denise in Houston and then we are road tripping to Austin for the weekend. Expect lots of BBQ and other eating for the insta action on Instagram this weekend, y’all! In the words of Tim Riggins, Texas Forever.

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