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.