A bad habit

I came home one Saturday morning after a particularly late night out to find that my roommate had, what I assume was mere moments prior to passing out on the couch the night before, decided to put a turkey burger on the stove to cook. It was 3am and she was hungry. She was apparently also tired because she left it cooking the entire night.

The first two occurrences of this, I laughed it off. The house smelled terrible, of burnt plastic and charred processed meat, but what an idiot! I was proud of her for accomplishing such a task an admirable four years after graduating college.

The third time wasn't as funny and neither was the fourth.

More than anything else, I was just really tired of that smell. Sure, it was also a massive fire hazard. That too.

There was need for an intervention. We had pep talks. You can do this! We had coaching lessons. Ok, pretend you're hammered drunk, so you basically have the brain of a small child with a slight mental handicap. You're hungry. What do you do? We thought about hanging signs all over the kitchen with friendly reminders Don't leave the stove on when you're drunk or maybe don't cook at all but resolved that would be too embarrassing when guests were over.

I had accepted my fate, was okay with it even, when one day my roommate realized cooking her turkey burgers Friday after work, prior to going anywhere, was the answer to everything. To deflect the fact that it took us a ridiculous amount of time to drum up this solution I'm going to share a side story with you: Once in college my friend turned on the oven to make pizza bites and then promptly placed them in the microwave in an attempt to cook them and then fell asleep to Antique Roadshow, so that's pretty amazing.

Baking tip: Turn on the oven, put food items in the oven, take food items out of oven, turn off the oven.

Want to know how to make cinnamon mocha biscottis? Somehow my almond biscotti post gets more hits than any other post on this blog, so I've put peanut butter on hold for a second to bring you another biscotti recipe that's equally as good.


Cinnamon Mocha Biscotti
Adapted from Food.com

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbl. instant espresso
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of cayenne pepper - optional but adds some
1 cup toasted almonds
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup semi-sweet or white chocolate chips for topping

1. Preheat oven to 325F.
2. Combine butter, sugars and espresso in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. Add vanilla and mix briefly.
5. Add flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cayenne pepper and mix until well blended. Fold in almonds and chocolate chips.
6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop dough onto paper and form into a large rectangle, about 3/4-inch thick. 
7. Bake 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes.
8. Use a serrated knife to cut the dough into 1/2-inch thick slices.
9. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and return to the oven for 8 minutes.
10. Turn and bake 8 more minutes.
11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
12. Put semi-sweet or white chocolate chips in a ziploc bag and melt in the microwave for about a minute at 20-second intervals. Are you scared this is going to give you cancer? Me too. When smooth, cut a hole at the end, pipe the chocolate on top of each biscotti and spread with a knife.

If you haven't made biscotti before, check out this post for some very inspirational photo instructions being performed by my mother.

Ignorance = bliss (plus my favorite recipe for sugar cookies)

I used to revel in the fact that I was smarter than my brothers. 

I remember, very clearly, laughing to myself while upstairs in my room reading, because my older brother was downstairs filling his brain with nonsense video games. Me, just upstairs getting all knowledgeable and shit. This brought great joy into my life. 

I was also brought a bit of sorrow when I thought about how I would probably have to support him financially and/or spiritually as we got older. Me probably working two jobs as a result of my smart brain, and him creating his 800th Sims mansion most likely.

As it turns out, my older brother is in fact a super genius and it also turns out the internet and technology is kind of a big thing, and those countless hours of Counterstrike and years of LAN parties (what the fuck you guys) set him up for a great deal of success in his adult life.

However, one thing that I will be able to hang over his head until the end of time is the night we set my bed on fire (gypsy role playing accident) and I was the one with enough wits about me to inform the adults that my beloved kitten duvet cover was being engulfed in flames. He, at the time, stood there stuttering because he was too polite and too scared to interrupt my parents who were in the middle of an adult conversation. He also had a mullet. So what I think we can take away from this is the fact that in that moment in time I was smart and he was dumb and I basically saved all of our lives that evening.

As for my younger, well I was just smarter than him by default. Because that's how that works right? Just kidding Brenty. You're a fucking genius with Instagram. Seriously though, he has hundreds of followers. 

Want to know how to make sugar cookies? I'm a wiz at transitions.

This is the only sugar cookie recipe I use because it was created by angels in heaven. But you must (must!) refrigerate the dough overnight. As a Grade A procrastinator, you should know that I have tried to get around this many times only to fail miserably, get pissed, and immediately go turn on the TV where I take out my anger on an innocent Real Housewife. I also try to put the baking sheet in the fridge for 5 to 10 minutes before going into the oven because it helps them keep their shape and I also like to draw out this process as long as possible apparently.

The amount of baking powder is slightly less than most other recipes, and this is because it helps maintain the shape of the cookies once they've been cut. This doesn't matter so much with round cookies, but for other shapes it's incredibly helpful. 

My favorite sugar cookies
Makes 24 cookies

3/4 cup unsalted butter

1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth.
2. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
3. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt.
4. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 24 hours <-- important

5. Preheat oven to 400F.
6. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. Cut into shapes with cookie cutter.
7. Place cookies 1-inch apart on parchment-lined sheet.

8. Bake 5 to 6 minutes (or until slightly golden on the bottom). Cool completely. Enjoy!

PB & J for the people

Why do I do this to myself?

Why do I bake things that I know only I will consume for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? And snack. And snack #2. And snack at 3am on Saturday night. And also why do I continually swallow the stickers that come on apples?  Which just now happened for like the fourth time this week.

A coworker of mine brought a bar like this into work the other day and I flipped because why in the hell haven't I thought of that before? Peanut butter and jelly is my JAM, literally. I searched until I  found a recipe that combines the perfect ratio of peanut butter to jam, because that is very important. Although part of the beauty of these is that you can do to your liking, they're easy. While looking, I was really enjoying the comments I came across about how easy it is to get kids to eat these bars and how they were a hit at my son's daycare! Well, obviously they were a hit. They are made of butter and sugar. Did you serve them with mountain dew as well?

Ah, I know. I have no idea how hard it is to take care of children and get them to consume nutritious food, let alone any food at all sometimes. But until I do have kids I am going to continue living in a dreamland where I believe I will only serve them fresh, local vegetables in their BPA-free glass food containers that never go anywhere near the microwave. They will also eat organic carrot sticks instead of French fries and will fold the laundry for me with their little baby hands and won't ever have snot running out of their nose. What? 

On the real though, plastic tupperware really isn't chill. Whenever I heat something up I can taste the plastic that has leached into my food, which scares me but apparently not enough to get me to stop using shitty food containers. Kind of like how my doctor tells me to I shouldn't drink vodka and redbull because my heart is going to explode and how if I don't stop taking Advil on an empty stomach I'm going to thoroughly destroy my stomach lining <--- two things that continue to happen on the reg. One of which is a product of the other and therefore can't be controlled.

Back to the issue at hand. And really, they are an issue because you are looking at a dense, peanut butter base, sweet strawberry jam, and crumbles of peanut butter with salted peanuts on top. You're welcome and I'm sorry.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars
From Martha Stewart

2 sticks butter, softened
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups jam (I used strawberry...grape would be good too)
1 cup peanuts

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan.
2. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
3. Add eggs and peanut butter until combined, about 2 minutes.
4. Whisk together dry ingredients, adding to the butter mixture until just combined.
5. Add vanilla.

6. Transfer two-thirds of the mixture into the baking dish, spreading evenly. Top with jam and spread to coat peanut butter mixture. Crumble remaining peanut butter mix on top. Sprinkle peanuts on top.
7. Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Allow to cool for a few hours before cutting.

Things from my brain (and some peanut butter cookies)

1. I walked out of Target the other day without having bought anything I didn't truly need, and I challenge anyone to come up with a bigger accomplishment than that.

2. You know when you're so hungover you literally can't stand up straight? And sometimes you can't see? That's the worst.

3. Nights out are super fun. But what's even more fun than the night out is the next morning with your girlfriends when you're talking about the night. And jamming to some Backstreet Boys while you uncover forgotten pictures on your phone of you and your roommate shoving doughnuts in your face at 7-Eleven with a 3am timestamp. I'm pretty sure that's technically stealing but at a certain point it's like, are you really gonna arrest the disabled?

4. Yesterday I put my phone in the freezer and it was a good 10 minutes before I realized what I had done.

5. If I could bring anything back, it would be an excruciating decision between the show Are You Afraid of the Dark? and The Oregon Trail on those super old school Apple computers.

6. You know those people that are magical at convincing you the most idiotic things are the best idea in the world somehow? Like they could probably get you to cut off your own arm if they really wanted you to? My older brother is one of those. And it is to him I owe all of the weekday hangovers I have suffered.

7. I've come to the conclusion that the American language sucks. In the UK they get to say things like lovely, and mate, and holiday instead of vacation. But wait! my British friend said. You guys get to say stoked, douchebag, and gee whiz. Sweet.

8. Yesterday was National Peanut Butter Day.

To be honest, I wasn't planning to ever share this recipe on here. It's my favorite, and I feel it's my claim to fame, if ever I had a claim to fame. But I feel I wasn't truly prepared for a holiday as massively important as this one so I need to make up for my wrongdoings somehow. Therefore, you are about to be graced with a recipe for the chewiest, most flavorful, BEST cookies in the world. I could go on and on about these but I'm almost getting depressed thinking about them right now because I don't have any.

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies
Makes 24 sandwich cookies

1 cup butter-flavored shortening
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
5 to 6 tbl. milk

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. In a large bowl, cream the shortening, peanut butter, and sugars until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt; add to creamed mixture and mix well.
3.Shape into balls and place 2'' apart on ungreased baking sheet. Flatten to 3/8'' thickness with fork. Bake for 7 minutes or until golden. Place on wire rack to cool.

In a large bowl, beat the peanut butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and enough milk to achieve spreading consistency. Spread on half of the cookies and top each with another cookie.

A not-so-secret secret: I use a melon scoop to measure out the dough for these so that each side is even. OCD-ers unite!