Sunday, October 12, 2008

It's almost Halloween...

Well, three weeks from it, anyways. My roommates and I made witch hat cookies yesterday, but when we piled them up on the plate it ended up looking more like Chocolate Island from Super Mario World. So if you're wondering what that little green thing is- it's a Dino-Rhino.
Anyhow, recipe as follows, and a song from Patrick Wolf called Ghost Song to accompany the witch hats.

Witch Hat Cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup packed granulated sugar
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 bag Hershey's Kisses

- Adjust the oven racks to the upper and lower middle positions, and preheat the oven to 350*. Grease two baking sheets.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy, then add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat the peanut butter in until it's fully incorporated, then beat in eggs in one at a time, and finally add the vanilla extract.
- Spoon small balls of the dough, about 1 inch in diameter, onto the baking sheets, then bake for 10 to 12 minutes, switching the pan positions halfway through.
- Once out of the oven, let cookies cool for 1 or 2 minutes, then stick an unwrapped Kiss in the middle of each cookie.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

weird but good

This recipe won 2nd place at UCSD Sixth College's annual Chocolate Festival recipe contest in my freshman year (first place went to a chocolate souffle). Chocolate and caramel go hand in hand, but you'd never guess what this sweet's base is- saltine crackers! That's right. I got this recipe from a swim team kid's mom, who made it at our annual holiday party, and had a very hard time believing it. Of course, the crackers are unsalted, which does make a big difference, but still! How could something that you normally eat when you're sick or with soup possibly make such a sugary snack? I've tried using graham crackers as a base before (easier to break), but I've been told that it's a little too sweet that way.

Chocolate Toffee Crackers

(makes about 1 lb.)
  • unsalted saltine crackers (enough to cover the pan)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups sliced almonds or pecans (optional)

- Arrange a single layer of crackers with sides touching, but not overlapping, along the bottom of a shallow, non-stick baking pan. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a small saucepan, combine the butter and brown sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly until melted. Cook for two minutes once the mixture comes to a boil, then remove from heat and spread the caramel quickly over the crackers. Use a spatula to make sure the caramel covers all of the crackers, then add the nuts.
- Bake for 5 minutes, then remove from oven. Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the pan. Wait several minutes for the chocolate to melt, then spread it evenly over the crackers.
- Refrigerate the crackers in the pan for 30 minutes. Remove and break into pieces- use a butter knife to gently break the crackers apart along the seams if you want neat pieces.

Here's some music to dance to while you bake:
Dizzee Rascal - Fix Up, Look Sharp
Klaxons - As Above, So Below (Justice remix)
Scissors For Lefty - Ghetto Ways

Saturday, May 24, 2008

lazy weekend

Long weekends are a good time to sleep in late and wake up in the afternoon to make breakfast. Here's a recipe for pancakes from Bon Appetit that sounds weird but tastes REALLY good. They've got a lot more texture and flavor than regular pancakes, without being too odd.
It's a little tricky, at least for me, to make these pancakes without burning them- I use a cast-iron pan to make them. You also need to keep a good eye on the heat if you're using an electric stove, because the pan will get hotter even if you don't adjust the temperature. After burning the first few pancakes I made, I turned the heat down to a medium-low and let the pan cool before trying again.

Banana, Raisin & Oatmeal Pancakes

From Bon Appetit
(makes about 12)
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup packed golden brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup plain (or vanilla) yogurt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup raisins (I used golden)
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for griddle

- Whisk the oats, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon into a medium bowl.
- Whisk yogurt, milk, eggs,and vanilla in another medium bowl to blend.
- Whisk the dry ingredients into the yogurt mixture until just blended. Fold in the mashed bananas, raisins, and melted butter.
- Brush a non-stick griddle or skillet with melted butter and heat over medium-low heat. Pour the batter by 1/3 cupfuls onto the griddle, and cook until bubbles form on the top  and the bottoms are golden brown, about two minutes. Flip the pancakes and cook until the bottoms are golden, about another two minutes.

Here's some happy music for the three-day weekend:
- Oh No, Oh My - Jane Is Fat.mp3
The title of this song is so mean it's hilarious, but the song is actually completely different from what you might expect given the name. It's a surprisingly sweet song about love, really, upbeat but quiet.
- Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes) & Britt Daniel (Spoon) - Let The Distance Bring Us Together
This song is from a Post-Parlo Records EP back in 2002 with four songs from this unexpected pair. I don't own the CD itself- it was printed in a pretty limited run- but I did manage to find all four songs on the internet. It's worth listening to if you are vaguely into either band. This song in particular works really well to combine both sounds in a way that ends up being pretty awesome on its own.
- Mount Righteous - When The Child Awakes
I saw this band play with the Modlins just yesterday. I had never heard of them before, but it ended up being pretty incredible. It's a large group of kids from Texas (about 12 of them) who each play a different instrument and sing, kind of a cross between a chorus and a marching band. Sounds really weird, but it was amazing to watch, and a good listen, too.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

slightly quirky

Today I've got two songs and an adapted oatmeal cookie recipe.
It's not always a good thing to deviate from the standard, but sometimes the results are pretty awesome. Of course it's always going to be a matter of personal opinion, but these cookies, which I dubbed Trail-Mix Cookies, were pretty well-received. I took a recipe for oatmeal cookies off the back of a can of oatmeal, then added golden raisins and sunflower seeds. I tend to prefer golden raisins to regular ones, since they're sweeter; the sunflower seeds were thrown in as an experiment in flavor. They add a slightly nutty flavor that isn't overwhelming, and help make the cookie a little less sweet for those who aren't sugar fiends. I baked them into bars since it's faster and gives a nice combination of dry and moist pieces.

Trail-Mix Cookie Bars

  • 1 cup (16 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup roasted unsalted sunflower seeds

- Place the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 340 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs and mix well.
- In a medium bowl, combine the oats, flour, baking powder, spices, and salt well, then add this dry mixture into the butter mixture. Combine well, then add the raisins and sunflower seeds, mixing well.
- Press the batter evenly into a 9-by-9-inch nonstick baking pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the entire top is firm and a light golden color. Let the pan cool before cutting into bars and removing.

The two songs below are among my favorites, and are very catchy, even if opposite in mood. MGMT's song is an upbeat dance tune of the indie genre. You've probably heard of this band if you listen to rock/alternative stations, since their single "Time To Pretend" has gotten decent radio play. The lead singer has a surprisingly high-pitched voice that works really well for such a sexy song. Facing New York is a lesser known band that manages to turn out some of the most interesting yet melodic songs. I saw them live this past summer and they put on a pretty awesome show, including double drumming. The song here is off their self-titled album, which is pretty melancholy overall, but somehow makes me happy when I listen to it.
MGMT - Electric Feel
Facing New York - Cutting My Hair.mp3

Sunday, April 27, 2008

what to do in warm weather

When it's warm outside, I always want good pasta. Here's a recipe I made up for sun-dried tomato "pesto". It's made with sun-dried tomatoes in oil, garlic, and pine nuts. The result is a nice, light sauce that is both lighter and slightly tangier than marinara. You can get small jars of sun-dried tomatoes from Trader Joe's. Personally, I like to have fresh steamed broccoli with the pasta.

Sun-Dried Tomato "Pesto"

  • 1/2 of an 8.5 ounce can of Sun Dried Tomatoes in oil
  • 4 to 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

Place the tomatoes (with oil from the jar), garlic, and pine nuts into a blender or food processor. Add in enough olive oil to almost cover the other ingredients. Blend the ingredients, stopping occasionally to redistribute the ingredients if needed. If the sauce is too thick for your liking or you have trouble blending it, add more olive oil. Serve over warm pasta, tossing well.

And some music to go with the weather as well:
Bob Dylan - Summer Days
TV on the Radio - Staring At The Sun

Monday, April 21, 2008

Extra post because I'm restless

Too much coffee is a very bad thing. Especially when you don't really need it, haven't had a lot to eat that day, and your friend is offering it to you for free. Very, very bad idea. But sooo tempting. So, the result of my useless restless energy is: a bonus entry! More music.

So this band, The Hush Sound, is a piano-pop-rock group from Chicago. Here's the catch- they are labelmates with Panic at the Disco and Paramore, on the label owned by the dude from Fall Out Boy. Why on earth would any person who isn't a teenage girl listen to this, you ask?  The answer is that they're honestly a great band that could stand well on their own, on any other label.
Both the female pianist and the guitarist sing, although they tend to alternate as leads on songs. This results in two pretty different songs, but they're both awesome. Their new album, Goodbye Blues, has a ton of songs that vaguely echo the jazz songs of your parents' favorite radio stations, but are still very much contemporary.  People who are into Jack's Mannequin and Something Corporate will probably like these songs, but I'd encourage people with more eclectic tastes to try it out too.
If you enjoy the music, please purchase the music from the artists!


Welcome to my blog! I'll be posting recipes and mp3s periodically.
Music links are provided for you to listen to a song/artist. If you find that you enjoy the song, please purchase it from the artist.
Recipes that I post are usually adapted from other sources. If you do try them out, I'd love to hear how it turned out for you! I'll usually have extra commentary on the recipe itself regarding tricky parts or quick tips.
Since I just made cupcakes for the first time this weekend, I figured I'd share the recipe, along with a fun song I've been obsessed with lately. Let me know what you think of both!

Vanilla Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting (makes approximately 24)

Cupcake recipe from Gourmet magazine; frosting recipe from Taste of Home magazine)

For the cupcakes:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs

- Place the oven rack in the middle position and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin tin with liners.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the milk and vanilla.
- Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until just combined.
- Add the flour mixture and milk alternately into the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix lightly, until just combined.
- Fill the baking cups two-thirds full and bake until the tops are light golden and firm, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups confectioners' (powdered) sugar
  • 1 scant teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons milk

- In a medium mixing bowl, cream the butter until light and fluffy, then beat in the sugar and vanilla. Add the milk and mix well until the desired consistency is reached.

Tips & advice:

– The buttercream will need to be at room temperature in order to spread.
– The cupcakes are best if consumed on the same day.
– In total, this took me about two and a half hours to make from mixing to frosting.

–Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground - Hey Momma. A fun and interesting song from two members of Gatsby's American Dream. It reminds me a little bit of the Beatles, but updated.