Bribing My Friends Blueberry Rolls

Hiya eaters!

Boy, have I got a recipe for you. And it’s from Pinterest.

Ya see eaters, I miss one of my best friends, Marisa. I haven’t seen her in months. And since I’m now working every single Saturday and she lives all the way down in Georgia, I can’t go visit her anytime soon. That means I’m constantly trying to entice her to come visit me in good ole Greensboro.

This is my newest way of convincing her to visit me — by bribing her with Pinterest desserts.

A few days ago Marisa pinned a recipe for raspberry cinnamon rolls. I normally don’t bother with any of the dessert recipes from Pinterest because they’re always so complicated and time consuming and that’s not my bag (baby), but this dessert was pretty straight forward and I have a ton of blueberries and blueberry jam on my hands (for reasons I’ll explain later) so I figured why not! And I figured that if she saw these delicious rolls that I made with my very own hands she would immediately hop in her car and speed straight to my house to eat them.

Is it working, Marisa?

Here’s what I did: I followed From Here to Paris’ recipe to a T except for a few things.

I halved the recipe for the dough.

For the filling I used ¼ c blueberry jam, ½ c fresh berries smashed with a spoon, and 1 T vanilla extract. I didn’t cook it down or anything. It was a little liquid-y when I was rolling the dough, but I managed just fine.

I cut the powered sugar in the frosting to ½ c because that’s all I had, but I added 2 T granulated sugar to sweeten things up. Oh, and I didn’t wait until the rolls were cooled to frost them. Warm is best for frosting cinnamon rolls.

And then I ate them.

blueberry sweet rolls1

Imagine me saying “o’m’gosh, so good!” with a mouth full of roll while giving you a thumbs up. Because that’s kind how it would have gone if Marisa were here.

Since she wasn’t here, though, I just stuffed the whole thing in my mouth really fast. It’s kind of the same thing, except not as amusing in hindsight.

So there you have it, eaters — bribing my friends with Pinterest things. I’ll let you know if it works. If it doesn’t work, at least I have a bunch of really sweet sweet rolls to keep me company and laugh at my jokes.

Your turn, eaters:

What was the last recipe you made from Pinterest?

How do you keep in touch with long distance friends?

Later eaters!

Taco Truck Tortas

Howdy-doody eaters!

That was kind of a weird greeting. Let’s move on.

There’s a taco truck that parks down the street from my house every night — the La Azteca truck, for any locals who are interested. It’s actually right across the street from my Crossfit box and there have been many nights during running WODs that I’ve very seriously considered just running right over and getting some tacos.

Leon and I have been there a few times. We walk down with Charlie and sit in the folding chairs. The food is pretty great. It’s not like our regular dollar tacos, but since the truck is owned by the same restaurant the food is just as good.

Charlie has pretty bad manners.

Charlie has pretty bad manners.

And it only took us a couple of visits to establish our favorite dish — the torta with chorizo.

It’s this ah-maze-ing sandwich made with ground meat, jalapenos, tomatoes, lettuce, mayo, and refried beans.

The torta.

The torta.

The refried beans really make the sandwich. They take it from being a lame ground meat sandwich to being a serious thing.

One of us has gotten it every time we’ve gone to the taco truck. It’s that good.

(The fish tacos, which I think is what they were originally known for, were good, but not phenomenal.)

Fish tacos.

Fish tacos.

And while I’m not normally one to try to re-create my favorite restaurant dishes at home (because they’re really never as good and it takes away my excuse for getting take out), I figured that this sandwich was an easy one to make myself.

Ingredients:

Ground chorizo, red cabbage slaw with lime, jalapenos, plain yogurt, and refried beans on a small loaf of wheat bread.

Red cabbage slaw.

Red cabbage slaw.

Verdict:

Ehh, not as phenomenal. I could have gone with a firmer, less doughy bread. The slaw was good, but I think I should have gone simpler and stuck with lettuce and tomato. But even with those little misses, m’gosh this was a delicious sandwich.

This is one serious sandwich.

This is one serious sandwich.

A really, really delicious sandwich.

So delicious that I literally inhaled in. It was messy and beastly and amazing. Not quite ah-maze-ing, but close enough. And it still gives me an excuse to walk down to the taco truck.

taco truck torta6

Your turn, eaters:

Do you like to re-create restaurant meals at home?

What’s your favorite kind of food truck?

Later eaters!

Banana Bread

G’day eaters!

I meant to post the delicious banana recipe last night, but I got a killer headache.

Stupid changing weather systems!

But after some time cradling my head on the couch and some Ben & Jerry’s, my head was fine enough to…go to bed.

Have I mentioned how unbelievably exciting my life is?

Anyway, onto the recipe. But first, a rant.

There is a huge difference between banana bread and banana cake. A banana baked good in the shape of a loaf is not always banana bread. Far too often it is banana cake sans frosting masquerading as banana bread.

Banana bread is bread. Cake is cake.

Blergggg!

Don’t get me wrong; I love a good slice of cake. Cake is awesome. But cake is cake.

Bread is good, too. Bread has its place. That place is on a breakfast plate next to some eggs. Or with an afternoon cup of tea/coffee.

Or in my mouth when I don’t want to eat a giant baked loaf of sugar!

So let me be very, very clear. This recipe is for banana bread. It has minimal sugar. It is not overly sweet. It tastes nothing like the stuff you buy from Starbucks.

But it is really damn good and has a nice, almost crispy outer crust. Ya know, like bread.

Okay. End rant. Here’s the recipe.

Banana bread masquerading as cake with some pb frosting.

Banana bread masquerading as cake with some pb frosting.

Banana Bread

Yields 1 small loaf, ~5-6 servings

¼ c butter, softened

1 egg

1/3 c sugar

2 t vanilla extract

1 c whole wheat pastry flour

1/8 t salt

1/8 t baking soda

¼ c milk

1 ½ bananas, thoroughly mashed

Put the butter, egg, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl and beat on medium, using an electric mixer, until everything forms an even cream.

In another bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda until there are no clumps.

Turn the electric mixer in the butter mixture on low. Alternate adding the flour and the milk, beginning and ending with the flour, until everything is added and clump free.

Gently fold the pureed banana into the batter. Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan.

Bake the bread at 350F for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

What do you think, eaters:

How do you distinguish between bread vs cake, or a muffin vs a cupcake?

What’s your favorite breakfast loaf?

Later eaters!

Simple Couponing 101

Okay eaters!

Tonight we’re talking coupons and it’s going to be a bit of a lengthy one, so let’s skip the pleasantries and get right to it.

Ready…set…go!

I started couponing last summer because I was barely employed and I thought it sounded like something a pre-books, TV shows, insider trading Martha Stewart would have done. I was then, and still am, a very simple couponer.

Where I get my coupons:

As of right now, I get almost all my coupons from the newspaper. I get some from catalinas (those coupons the print out with your receipt) and some from off packages or the random store advertisement.

I’m lucky that my local newspaper puts the potential coupon savings amount on the front page. If it’s less than $100, I buy one paper. Between $200-$300, I buy two. More than $300 and I buy three papers. Once, and only once, the count was $608, at which point I bought five.

What coupons I clip:

I don’t clip every coupon.

Let me repeat that — I do not clip every coupon!

Those couponers from Extreme Couponing clip every single coupon.

“Cat liter? Sure. Diapers and baby food? Of course! Yogurt? The more the merrier. It doesn’t matter if I’m childless, cat-less, and allergic to dairy. If there’s a coupon, I’m clipping it!”

That’s not the best way to go about it.

I only clip the coupons I will use. That means that I rarely use coupons on food, because most food coupons are for crap meat and sugary snacks. I don’t have too much brand loyalty, which makes it easier to find coupons I’ll use. I mainly find and use coupons for house goods and toiletries. I also find a ton of coupons for coffee.

How I use coupons:

I use coupons two ways — the right way and the more right way. The right way is when I use them to save money. The more right way is when I use them in connection with a sale on an item (and sometimes also at stores that double the coupon value and/or have some kind of buyers’ rewards program) to save even more money.

Do you see what I’m getting at here?

There’s no wrong way to use coupons. Anytime you save money is good.

But to save the most money I go through store flyers, most of which come in the same newspaper as the coupons. I take a Sharpie and circle whatever sale items I also have coupons for, I write what the coupon is (i.e. how much it’s worth, how many I have to buy, etc) next to that, and then I write how many total sale-plus-coupon opportunities I find on the front of the flyer. Then, after going through all the flyers, I pick the one or two best stores.

By “best,” I mean the store with the most items to buy and/or the store with the highest percentage of savings. I absolutely refuse to go to more than two stores. I’m a little lazy and I’m not trying to build an apocalypse-grade stockpile. So I force myself to be picky about what deals I go out of my way to get, which ultimately ends up saving me more money.

Once I have my stores and items selected, I make a neurotic list. I list the exact brand, type, and count of the item along with the sale price, the coupon value, the quantity I plan on buying, and what the final price should be. I break things up into different transactions, if necessary, and list the total estimated cost for each transaction.

When I go shopping:

Whether I’m going on a couponing-specific shopping trip or not, I always make sure to take my little coupon folders. Because there’s no wrong way to use coupons, and since it’s common for me to find a surprise sale item, I always want to be prepared to save money.

When I’m going on a couponing-specific shopping trip, I take all my coupons, my neurotic list, a calculator (on my phone), my frequent buyer card, and the sale flyer. This way, when I’m feeling extra neurotic, I can double and triple check the coupon against the item against the advertised sale.

That’s about all the tips I have.

A lot of couponers will tell you that to get the most out of couponing you have to change the way you think about shopping and only buy what’s on sale and what you have a coupon for.

That’s not how I go about it at all. I changed my thinking to allow me to buy things that I normally would when they’re on sale, even if that means going a little over budget one week, in order to save money in the long run. And once I started I had to change my thinking so I wasn’t jumping at every single sale-plus-coupon opportunity and wait for the really good ones.

More than anything, I had to learn that couponing is about restraint and persistence.

So enough talk, let’s see all this in action.

Everything I bought from Harris Teeter.

Everything I bought from Harris Teeter.

coupons2

Everything from Harris Teeter that was on sale (plus the creamer and salsa).

coupons3

Everything from Harris Teeter that I used coupons for.

My total from Harris Teeter was $35.65. I saved $16.58, which was a 32% savings. Not too bad considering I made my list without thought to what was on sale or what I had coupons for.

Everything I bought from Whole Foods.

Everything I bought from Whole Foods.

Nothing from Whole Foods was on sale. I didn’t use any coupons. That’s fine with me.

Everything I bought from Walgrees, all of which was on sale and I did have a coupon for.

Everything I bought from Walgrees, all of which was on sale and I did have a coupon for.

My total for Walgreens was $43.62. I saved $58.09, which was a savings of 57%. This shopping trip was specifically for couponing.

As you can see, I don’t live off my stockpile, nor do I eat crap because it’s cheap. I still buy things that are full price, but I manage to save a good bit of money nonetheless. And now that I finally have a printer, which means I have access to a whole world of healthy coupon websites now, hopefully I’ll be able to save even more money.

coupons6

What do you think, eaters:

Did I leave anything out?

How do you feel about coupons?

Later eaters!

Thesis Eggs

Holy mole-y, eaters!

I just finished my thesis. My 106-page, sweat, tears, and butter-filled work of foodie, neurotic passion is done.

Last night I edited out the last typos and checked all the margins and now I’m done. It’s bizarre that this thing that I’ve been thinking about and scratching out for almost a year now is finally complete. It feels too easy.

And since I know that I have been dangling this vague project in front of you for months, peppering my posts with off-handed references and talk of my “thesis recipes,” I have decided to give you a little taste of what has consumed so much of my time for months.

This is the first story in my thesis. Please excuse me if this is self-indulgent of me. If you’re not interested, check back on Wednesday when I will actually be doing a WIAW.

—————————————————————

scrambled eggs1

“What if I don’t make it,” I often asked myself in the days after I graduated high school, when graduation and getting into college were no longer gleaming gems floating over my head like in a video game.

“What if I screw up? What if I can’t do it? What if… What if… What if… What if…”

All the probable, improbable, awkward, terrifying, and fantastical possibilities that could/would become the life I was creating for myself in that 11’ by 10’ off-white cinderblock dorm room that I would share with one other girl who I’d never met, circled in my head like water that won’t go down a drain. No number of self-help, college survival books that I read while trying to fill that last, hot, endless summer gave me answers to sink my teeth into.

“Be outgoing.” “Don’t steal your roommate’s food and confront them if they steal yours.” “Join clubs.” “Take whatever classes interest you.” “Don’t feel bad if you don’t know your major the first day.”

All of it rang more phony and cheap than the Ramen noodles they encouraged me to buy by the boxful.

I wanted to know that I was going to be okay. I wanted to know that this new life that I had purposely chosen to make so far away from everyone and every thing I had ever known was going to be a good one. I wanted to know that I wouldn’t look back on College — that weighty and oft-recalled time in so many people’s lives — and regret anything, while also not looking back and thinking they were the best days of my life.

I wanted to know.

But I didn’t, so I set about preparing myself for everything that could happen by buying a wireless printer and a new backpack with lots of pockets and a duvet cover that matched the little rugs I bought and several eclectic-looking plates and bowls and a rice cooker and a decorative trunk for my shoes and and and and and and and. Until I was sure not a single thing else could fit in my half of the 10’ by 11’ off-white cinderblock room that I was going to be sharing with another girl that I’d never met, who ended up bringing a black light and a chair and few other things.

Somewhere between buying two sets of cream colored twin extra long sheet sets and picking out the extra large mini-fridge, I started to know I knew something.

I knew how to feed myself. I knew how to do my own laundry. I knew how to get myself up for class in the morning. I knew how to write papers with appropriate MLA citations. I had a car and I knew how to fill it up with gas and when to get an oil change.

These things I deemed the basic, fundamental life skills that I would need to survive. Because of these things, I convinced myself that I wouldn’t die or in any other way totally fuck up College.

I knew that even though I’d never met the other girl with whom I was to share the 10’ by 11’ room, I had talked to her online and she seemed nice enough. So I knew I was going to be friends with her and eat in the dining hall with her, at least until I had found other friends. I knew that I wanted to write for the newspaper and that someone could help me figure out how to do that. I knew that I had enough money to not have to turn down social invitations for dinners and lunches out or movies on rainy days or shopping trips. I knew that I could offer to drive and that people would like that. I knew that I was showing up to College with a small amount of liquor, so I didn’t have to worry about finding someone of age immediately.

These things I deemed less basic and fundamental, but almost equally important in my pursuit of not screwing up College.

So whenever the “What if…” started circling and circling, but refusing to drain, I poured these facts that “I knew” in like Drain-o. I poured and poured and repeated and rephrased until the “I knew”s so far out-measured the “What if…”s that the crippling, anxiety-producing, all consuming blockage was forced out and the drain could drain and the sink emptied and I could breathe.

Inhale. Exhale.

Inhale. Exhale.

Feed. Myself.

Inhale. Exhale.

Feed. Myself.

Feed. Myself.

Inhale. Exhale.

Feed. Myself.

 

Scrambled Eggs

Yields 1 serving

Scrambled eggs were the first thing I ever learned to cook. Before I could do anything I could scramble an egg. And while the method I use to make scrambled eggs has changed pretty drastically over the years, it still remains one of my most made, most fundamental recipes.

Ingredients:

2 whole, fresh eggs

salt and pepper

oil/non-stick cooking spray

Heat a (teflon) pan to medium-low heat. Crack both eggs into the pan, wiping out the inside of the shells to detach all of the whites from the membrane.

Quickly break the yolks and whisk the eggs together using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Whisk quickly, taking care to scrape the bottom of the pan, every 30 seconds or so, until the eggs start to set up.

Turn off the heat of the stove, leaving the pan on the burner. Add salt and pepper and whisk continually until the eggs have reached the desired consistency.

——————————————————————————–

Thanks for indulging me. You’re wonderful, eaters.

Science and Beans

G’day eaters!

How have your lives been?

It still feels a bit weird to me that I only post once or twice a week now. But now that I have cut back I marvel at the fact that I used to come up with things to post about 5 days a week.

But then again, I’m doing a lot less experimenting and recipe creating these days. I’ve gotten busier and dinner has to be on the table every night, so playing and picture taking has taken a back seat.

I did get to play a little yesterday, though, which was…interesting.

Actually, the words I used to describe dinner when I texted Leon was that it was a “science experiment.”

Doesn’t that sound appetizing?

Yeah…

My plan was to make a big pot of black beans similar to these delicious ones and serve them along side some tofu tacos.

Doesn’t that sound like a really great dinner? I sure thought so. And I’d been excited for it since I planned it out on Sunday.

Unfortunately, I had a little bean hubris.

As I was draining and rinsing my soaked beans I kept thinking to myself, “Wow, I’m so glad I cook my own beans. I don’t know why everybody doesn’t cook their own beans. It’s so easy.”acid and alkaline beans1

I totally jinxed myself, because at 6 o’clock (we eat around 8 o’clock), after literally multiple hours of boiling my beans, the beans were still hard.

They weren’t little rocks, but they were far from the soft pillows that these black beans are supposed to be.

So I Googled. And here’s where the science comes in.

Did you know that adding acidity to beans stops them from tenderizing? You’re supposed to fully cook beans and then add wine or lime or vinegar or whatever acid you’re adding.

Did you know that adding something alkaline (like a pinch of baking soda) to the cooking water speeds up the tenderizing of your beans?acid and alkaline beans2

Did you know that if you totally screw up your beans by adding the juice of a whole lime after only boiling them for a few minutes you can add a couple of pinches of baking soda and it will help (but not totally save) your beans?

Did you know that since I learned this I have been obsessively looking up the alkaline levels of foods? And doing that has confused me a lot, which is just one of the many reasons I’m not a scientist. (Another reason is that I got a 25/100 on the botany exam I was studying for in that original black beans post.)

Yeah…

Now we know!

And luckily, Leon claims to like his beans a little crunchy.

Isn’t he sweet?

Your turn, eaters:

What was the last cooking trick you learned?

Are you any good at science?

Later eaters!

A Berry Vibrant Glaze

O’m’gah eaters!

I kinda feel like my head is about to explode.

School and work are kicking my ass — three huge assignments all due the same week and 25 boxes of shoes we don’t sell and weren’t expecting arriving after I gave the stock guy the day off.

Yeah, I’m a wee bit stressed.

But there will be a time, soon, when I’m not stressed. And there was a time, not too long ago at all when I wasn’t stressed.

And during that time when I wasn’t stressed I hosted a little dinner party.coconut pound cake with berry glaze3

And there were appetizers and festive napkins.coconut pound cake with berry glaze4

And there were fresh flowers (as opposed to the half dead ones I have now).

And there was cake.

Isn’t that cake gorgeous?coconut pound cake with berry glaze1

Oh, and it was so delicious.

And while the prudent thing would have been to make a recipe from my thesis (though I did make my version of engagement chicken, which is from my thesis) because I have a couple of cake recipes that need testing and never feel like having a whole damn cake around the house, I decided not to.

I decided not to stress about making a two-layer vegan chocolate maple cake or a big peach cobbler or…um…any of the other dessert recipes I wrote.

I decided to keep it amazingly simple instead. And amazingly vibrant.

Because there is nothing that makes you feel more capable and accomplished, more like a sexier, less khaki Martha Stewart than uncovering a cake that took you no time at all to make and having a handful of grown ass men “wow.”

So while I’m literally pulling my hair out and charting out (and then ignoring) my days in 10 minute increments on post-its, at least I know that in the not so distant future, there will be more cake.

(Or in this real life situation, beer. And Jell-o shots. And a rock wall and inflatables.)

Coconut Pound Cake with A Berry Vibrant Glaze

Cake

1 c butter, softened

1 ½ c sugar

1 t vanilla extract

5 eggs

1 ½ whole wheat pastry flour

1 c AP flour

1 t baking powder

½ t salt

1 c canned coconut milk

Put the butter, sugar, and vanilla into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on low until smooth. Continue beating on low while you add each egg separately.

In a mixing bowl quickly whisk together the flours, salt, and baking powder.

Add half the dry mixture to the bowl with the wet and, using a rubber spatula, gently mix in the flour until mostly incorporated.

Add the coconut milk and fold everything together.

Add the remaining flour and mix gently until there are no clumps.

Pour the batter into a well greased bundt cake pan. Bake in a 325^F for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let the cake cool completely before removing it from the pan.

Glaze

1 c frozen mixed berries

1 T sugar

1 c water

½ t lemon juice

½ t vanilla extract

1 ½ c powdered sugar

Put everything except the powdered sugar into a sauce pan over low heat. Stir slowly until the mixture forms a kind of sauce.

Once the berries have broken down strain the mixture through a fine strainer or a cheese cloth to remove seeds. Mix the seedless sauce in with the powdered sugar until all the clumps are gone and a smooth glaze forms.

Drizzle the glaze generously over the top of the cake. Serve any remaining glaze in a bowl on the side.

Trust me, people will want more of this sauce.coconut pound cake with berry glaze2

Your turn, eaters:

Got any tips for handling stress? I’m sure we could all use some.

What are you looking forward to?

Later eaters!

Multi Purpose Dough

G’day eaters!

So…I know I said I’d pick the GoodBelly probiotic giveaway winner on Wednesday or Thursday, but that, obviously, didn’t happen. Other things happened and now suddenly it’s Sunday.

So here goes:

Georgiana, you are the winner of a 12 day supply of GoodBelly shots! Email me your mailing address at kara_h_thomas @ yahoo.com.

And another thing that I said I would do, but haven’t yet is to share a recipe I created for my thesis. And since I have my first full draft due in a week or so, my mind is thoroughly saturated with thesis things.

So here goes:

Do you know the crappy pizza buffet restaurant CiCi’s Pizza?

When my brother and I were much younger my mom used to take us there a lot. We all loved pizza. It was cheap. And there was a huge TV that always played cartoons. So understandably, it was the perfect place for my mom to take us kids when she didn’t feel like cooking.

It’s been quite a few years since I’ve been to CiCi’s, but for some reason I remember them having these really great cinnamon rolls on their dessert buffet. They also had some kind of goopy chocolate dessert pizza and maybe something with apples, if I remember. But for some reason the idea of cinnamon rolls really stuck out to me.

More importantly, the idea of cinnamon rolls made out of pizza dough really stuck with me. Because, ya know, I’m positive that if there were cinnamon rolls they were made out of the same dough at the pizzas.

So with that in mind…

One Dough Two Ways

1 packet (2 ½ t) dry active yeast

1 ½ c warm water

2 T honey

2 T oil, plus a little extra

2 t salt

2 ½ c whole wheat pastry flour

1-2 c all purpose flour

Mix the honey into the warm water and then add the yeast, giving it a quick stir to break up any big clumps. Let this mixture proof for 5-10 minutes, or until there is at least an inch of foam at the top.

In a large mixing bowl stir together the whole wheat flour and 1 c of the AP flour with the salt. Once the yeast has proofed add in the oil and then pour all the liquid into the bowl with the flour. Stir the mixture a few times until it starts to form a ball and them use your hands to mix it until it forms a cohesive ball. Add more flour, about ¼ c at a time, as needed.

Once the dough has become a slightly sticky ball, remove it from the bowl and place it on a well-floured surface. Begin kneading the dough, adding flour as needed to keep it from sticking, for 10 minutes.

Line a bowl with a piece of plastic wrap. Drizzle a little oil into the plastic wrap. Place the ball of dough into the bowl and cover with a towel. Leave the dough to proof in a warm spot for 1-2 hours, or until it has about doubled in size.

Pizza

The pizza part, which is made using half of the dough you just made, is pretty self-explanatory. Make it and then bake it at 500^F, on a pizza stone if you have it, for 10-13 minutes.

Cinnamon Rolls

½ batch of dough

¼ c butter, melted

3 – 4 T sugar

1 ½ T cinnamon

Bring the dough to room temperature. Lightly flour a big, open surface and a rolling pin and roll out the dough into a rectangle. Pour the butter onto the dough and, using the back of a spoon, spread it evenly over the rectangle. Sprinkle the sugar and the cinnamon evenly over rectangle.

Then roll the dough by slowly and evenly rolling the long end furthest away towards you. Once the two long ends meet, gently pinch the seam closed. Them using a sharp knife cut the roll into ~2” segments and place an inch or so apart in a buttered cake pan.

Let the pan of rolls proof for an hour in a warm spot, until the rolls are touching.

Bake at 375^F for 7-9 minutes, or until the tops are just barely golden brown and the outsides are firm, but not hard.cinnamon rolls1

I ate a few of these rolls plain, but then Leon suggested they needed a glaze. So I whisked up some powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla, a glaze similar to the one I made for my pumpkin donuts, which is why I didn’t write down any measurements.

But glaze or no glaze, these were really good cinnamon rolls. They become amazingly good when you consider how complicated normal cinnamon rolls are — lots of scalding milk and excess sugar — and how simple these were.cinnamon rolls2

The trick in these rolls really is to not over bake them. A minute or two too long and you’ve got cinnamon-y dinner rolls.

And then eat them within a day or two.

And eat them warm.

Maybe with a side of bacon. Or after pizza.

Or just eat them at every meal, like I did for a day or two.cinnamon rolls3

Your turn, eaters:

Do you have an unconventional way of making something?

What’s a meal you remember loving when you were a kid?

Later eaters!

Valentine’s Treats! And Sprinkles!

Sup eaters?

I’m going to make this a quick one because it’s all about Valentine’s Day, which means you have roughly 48 hours to make these before they become unseasonable.

First, I f’ing love Valentine’s Day! Seriously, it’s great.

You give people candy/flowers/stuffed animals/cards. You get candy/flowers/stuffed animals/cards.

And I’m not just talking about trading gifts with your better half. Until this year I’ve only given treats to my friends and that hasn’t made it any less fun.

It’s a not-so-subtle reminder to tell people you appreciate them (and to feel appreciated!) because chances are you don’t tell them enough and who gives a crap if you’re telling them on the same day as everyone else in the world.

And seriously…did I mention the cutesy, girly treats? And the sprinkles?!

valentines candy5

Sorry for the poor photos. I was too impatient to eat them to wait until the morning.

Oh the sprinkles!

So if you’re not the V-Day equivalent of a Scrooge, I HIGHLY suggest you take the less than 2 hours it took me to whip up about 5 dozen peanut butter cups and about 3 dozen pretzel bites.

I used this awesome little tutorial to make the peanut butter cups.valentines candy1

A few little fyi-s about the recipe:

A whole bag of Wilton chocolate melts will yield roughly 5 dozen chocolates.

I only used ½ c powdered sugar and used coconut oil instead of butter, which worked great.

Also, I definitely suggest you buy two candy molds.

And beyond that, make sure you let the chocolate in the bottom of the mold harden a little before you put the peanut butter in or else it’ll show through the bottom.

Oh, and don’t forget to add sprinkles as soon as you put the top layer of chocolate on.

valentines candy3The white chocolate pretzel bites are even easier than that.

All I did was crush up some pretzels in my grubby little hands and put a few pieces in the bottom of the mold. Then I spooned a bag-worth of melted white chocolate over the pretzels and added sprinkles!valentines candy2

Have I mentioned that I love sprinkles?

Because I really do.

I made all of these little cuties on Saturday and then passed most of them out that night. And while it did take me about two hours from start to finish it certainly wasn’t a grueling two hours.

You could easily do this after a day at work when you brain is a little mushy. Which means…you have no excuse not to make something cute for Valentine’s Day.valentines candy4

But if for some crazy reason you actually have other things to do — like cleaning or having a social life — and you don’t make these little cuties by Thursday then just swap the sprinkles for something more all-occasion and you’re golden.

Like Willy Wonka’s chocolate.

(That worked in my head. Just go with it.)

Your turn, eaters:

How do you feel about Valentine’s Day?

Which chocolate will you keep for yourself — peanut butter cups or pretzel bites?

Later eaters!

Help Me With My Homework

Hiya eaters!

Things are chugging along nicely over here. I’m working and working out as much as possible before classes start back and it was warm enough on Saturday for Leon to smoke up a big rack of ribs.

So yeah, things are good.

And now, here’s a blog:

Yup, this is for real. So please, m’dear eaters, help me.

Email me at kara_h_thomas @ yahoo . com and let me know about any dietary restrictions or allergies, and I’ll set you up with a recipe from my little cookbook.

 And then I’ll thank you personally in my thesis/cookbook. You’ll be like a celebrity. Except on a very small scale.

Fried Pumpkin Donuts with Maple Glaze

Yields ~2 dozen

Donut Ingredients

2 ½ c all purpose flour

1 c whole wheat pastry flour*

4 t baking powder

½ t baking soda

1 t salt

1 t ground cinnamon

½ t ground ginger

1 c sugar

3 T unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 large egg

2 egg yolks

1 t vanilla extract

½ c buttermilk**

1 c pumpkin puree

canola or vegetable oil, for frying

*Regular whole wheat flour is too coarse for this recipe so only use whole wheat pastry flour or more all purpose flour for this cup.

Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger in a large bowl and whisk together until evenly combined.

Put the sugar and butter into a bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium until the sugar is dissolved and everything is smooth. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla to the bowl and then use the electric mixer to beat everything on medium until evenly combined.

In a small bowl whisk together the buttermilk and pumpkin puree until it is clump free.

Turn the electric mixer on low and add a third of the dry mixture to the bowl and beat until everything is evenly incorporated. Add half of the pumpkin-buttermilk mixture to the bowl and beat until it is evenly incorporated. Continue alternate adding the dry mixture and the pumpkin-buttermilk mixture until everything is added and mixed until completely incorporated.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

With floured hands, scoop out half the dough onto a very well floured surface and, using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to a ½” thickness. Using a ~3” circle cutter, cut out as many circles from the dough round as possible. Then using a ½”-1” circle cutter, cut out a circle from the middle of each large circle. Remove the small rounds to fry as donut holes. Continue rolling out more dough and cutting out donuts and donut holes until all the dough is used.

Heat ~4” of oil in a pot or deep pan to 360F-375F, as gauged by an oil/candy thermometer.

Carefully drop 4 donut holes or 2 donuts at a time into the hot oil and fry for 3 minutes, using tongs or a large slotted spoon to flip halfway through. Once done remove the donuts to a baking sheet lined with paper towels.

Glaze Ingredients

2 c powdered sugar

1 T maple syrup

½ t vanilla extract

3 T buttermilk

Put the powdered sugar into a small, cereal-type bowl. Add the syrup and the vanilla and mix everything together with a fork or a whisk. Add the buttermilk, half a tablespoon at a time, and mix thoroughly until the glaze is free of clumps and thick enough to coat the fork or whisk.

Carefully dunk the top of each donut into the glaze.

This recipes produces a mountain of absolutely delicious donuts. They’re not huge like Dunkin Donuts and they’re not super pumpkin-y, both of which are positives in my book.

And in case you’re wondering, this recipe will accompany an essay about my, and a lot of women’s, struggle to have it all and to decide what “it all” is. And it starts by discussing the Queen of England.

Your turn, eaters:

If you could write a book, any kind of book, what would it be?

You wouldn’t happen to know anyone in publishing who you want to pass my name along to, would you?

Later eaters!