Category Archives: Dessert
Posted by Mel
I know, I know. I’ve been very bad about posting lately—I can explain, I swear!
Actually, my explanation is a total cop out. I haven’t been posting because I’ve been tired. Work is ridiculous right now, with lots of things to do and not enough time to do it in. Half the time, I’ll come home from work and just not want to cook. And the other half of the time, I start cooking without writing down what I’m doing. Let’s not even talk about the lack of photo taking.
But I’m back and my night shift buddies once again have something to read on their down time.
The fun thing about being able to cook and bake is that when birthdays roll around, you don’t have to buy gifts, you can bake gifts! And such was the request of PWS (Platonic Work Spouse, for the uninformed) when his birthday rolled around last week.
I’d like the opportunity to announce that PWS is now officially old. (Backstory: I’m two months older than PWS, nearly to the day. For the past 60 days, he’s made old woman office cougar jokes, all at my expense. Pay back is sweet. Sweet like cookies.)
During our near-daily coffee date, I asked him what he wanted for his birthday cookies.
“Plain cookies.” Plain cookies? What the hell did that mean?
“I don’t understand.”
“Plain, chocolate chip cookies. No health food!” PWS beamed a smile and paid for our coffees. I rolled my eyes.
Whenever I bake for the office, I make sure to save a handful for my closest friends on my corporate team. For the non-DC area residents, government contracting is different than working in a normal office. As a contractor, I work along side with multiple other companies to get the job done. My corporate team is actually scattered throughout the building in a strangely cooperative conglomeration of contracting joy.
Like I said, with my corporate team sprinkled about on other programs within the building, I always make sure to save a few cookies for them. I love messing around with recipes and exploring unique flavor combinations, and much to PWS’s heartbreak, this has stretched into incorporating fruit into the batter.
PWS hates all things healthy. He detests fruits, vegetables, and whole grain anything. Actually, I shouldn’t say that. He likes vegetables, but in his mind, anything green is a vegetable.
This includes green M&Ms and cupcakes with green icing.
Ordinarily, I love sneaking in a little nutritional value into something I know he’ll be eating, but with it being his birthday, I decided to indulge his poor eating habits a little.
And so I give you…
PWS’s Birthday Cookies
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups Reeses Pieces
In an electric mixer (currently taking suggestions on what to nickname mine), cream together the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until it looks like that delightful dairy cloud of happiness. (Remember from the hazelnut cookies? It’ll look like that, just darker due to the addition of the brown sugar.) The mixture should be as uniform as possible—if the batter isn’t even, the flavor won’t be even either. Add in the vanilla and continue to mix.
Slowly add the eggs, one by one.
I suck at cracking eggs. Like, a lot. I can never break them cleanly. Undoubtedly, no matter how hard I try, I get eggshell in that damn egg white. If they’re small chunks (which they always are), it’s a bitch and a half to get those shards out. But it’s near impossible to pick them out of dough. I’ll take damn hard over impossible any day of the week, so prep bowls are where it’s at. So there.
The mixture is going to get a little mushier at this point. You’re adding liquid, duh! Give it a second to incorporate fully into the rest of the batter, and things should begin to firm up.
In a separate bowl, combine the rest of the dry ingredients, minus the Reese Pieces. Very carefully, slowly add small amounts into the batter. When this is all done and happy, remove the bowl from the mixer. Add in the Reeses Pieces, and mix together by hand. I guess if you don’t want to do it the old fashioned way, you can still use the mixer at this point. I don’t because I don’t like the noise it makes when the chips are slammed against the side of the bowl by the mixer paddle.
10 minutes in a 350 degree oven (rotated halfway through), and life is good.
Happy birthday, PWS!!
Posted by Mel
Is there anything better than hanging out for an evening with a close friend, watching an awards show for actors, starring actors, voted on by actors, and attended only by actors, while making catty comments about dresses, bushy eyebrows, and horrible hair dos? Of course. Doing all of the above while eating amazing food.
I think Hollywood is stupid. Don’t get me wrong, I love movies. What I also love is when
Hollywood-types think their work is somehow integral to society. “This movie is IMPORTANT because it shows the horrific atrocities suffered by the pigmy mushrooms in sub-Saharan Africa and their plight.” Uh, no, honey. Pretty sure you could not make that movie and I’d still wake up in the morning.
And so, in celebration of these crazy, over-paid, self-important stars (and the random actors who don’t take themselves seriously), I invited my buddy Missy over for dinner and a fun night of bitchy commentary and good food.
I give you…Oscar Night Shrimp ‘n’ Grits with Roasted Berries for dessert!
Bee tee dubs, I want to be Anne Hathaway when I grow up. Or at least wear her clothes
Oscar Night Shrimp’n’Grits
½ cup quick cooking grits
2 ¼ cup water
¼ cup mozzarella, grated
2 good sized tomatoes, chopped
½ a red, yellow, and orange pepper, chopped
2 jalapenos, chopped
½ onion, chopped
schlock of garlic
3 Tablespoons butter
Sprinkling of parsley, chopped
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Olive oil for the pan
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
Missy was planning on being at the studio approximately 7pm, just in time for the Oscar
pre-show. I wanted to be able to visit with her rather while watching Tim Gunn’s gushing over beautiful dresses, not chopping in the kitchen while Missy chilled out on my couch. The solution? Prep it at 630! Everything got chopped, minced, measured, and portioned out ahead of time, so all I’d have to do is dump and cook.
Missy brought along appetizers of pita, sugar snaps and her boyfriend’s homemade hummus (note to self: get that recipe), so we enjoyed a leisurely snack during the Oscar’s pre-show. With a [couple] glass[es] of wine. But with the stars beginning to take their seats, it was time to get this show on the road.
First, I brought the water to a rolling boil, then added the grits. A quick stir, then I brought the heat down to low and let it simmer for about 12 minutes.
I love grits. I don’t know if it’s the half-southern chick in me but damn, they’re good. I love how it’s the redneck’s polenta. There is absolutely nothing pretentious or pretending about it. It is boiled mush, maybe with a little cheese, in a pile, on the plate. Or a bowl. Whichever. A little butter, salt and pepper—that’s all you need and life is good.
While that was simmering, I set to work on the shrimp part. Two tablespoons of butter went into my new All Clad (I’m deeper in love now that I’ve used it!), then tossed in the garlic for a hot minute. Almost instantly, my apartment was filled with that beautiful aromatic music that just makes the time spent cooking 100 times better than grabbing a Big Mac.
Onions got to join the party next, and when those were nearly translucent, I added the peppers and jalapenos. After about ten minutes, they were perfectly soft and absolutely beautiful. In went the tomatoes—such gorgeous tomatoes—for another five or so, until they had almost melted into the rest of the mix.
I’ve disliked tomatoes for nearly as long as I can remember. My parents, always frustrated with their one-time picky eater daughter, would attempt to force me to eat them. Maybe they thought I’d take a taste and go “oh hey!! They’re not that bad!” Maybe they thought if I was eating something, I’d stop talking for a second and they could get some peace and quiet. Either way, I hated them for the first 26 years of my life. I didn’t start liking them until sometime last year, when I began doing the whole super healthy diet thing. I don’t think I so much started liking them as I just ran out of foods to eat and got bored. I’m still not a total convert—they have to be certain kinds, full of flavor, and usually cooked in some way.
By this time, the grits were done simmering. I moved them off the heat and stirred in the parmesan and remaining tablespoon of butter. I kept the lid on to keep it warm. Cold grits are the worst and should be outlawed.
With the vegetables on the edge of doneness, I tossed in the shrimp, spiced it to taste, and covered the pan. I don’t think I actually needed to cover it, I just wanted to do it because it’s new and it looks cool.
Nicely plated with a sprinkle of parsley, and it was time for some Oscar magic.
But no dinner party is complete without
dessert! I’m trying to back off on the sugar consumption again, especially considering the cold winter has put a pinch on my running, resulting in a little more squishiness than I’d like. My challenge was to put forth a great tasting, healthy dessert that wouldn’t make me hang my head in shame as Missy unfriended me on Facebook.
Baked Berries with Honeyed Granola
Handful of strawberries, sliced
Handful of blueberries
Drizzle of honey
A quick chop of the strawberries into bite sized pieces is really all you need. Fill small
ramekins with the berries, top them with as much granola as you’d like, and drizzle a bit of local, organic honey for sweetness. 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven, and that’s all you need.
I made this up almost last minute, and I was worried they wouldn’t turn out. I didn’t add any sugar or cinnamon to the fruit, so I was concerned they’d turn out flat. Or the granola would have that woodsy bark taste that would only be emphasized after baking.
But you know what?
It’s fricken amazing. And it’s so fast to make, I feel like that this might make me get out of bed in the morning for a warm breakfast or even a quick snack in the afternoon.
Someone once said, “to live well is to eat well.” If that’s true, I’ve got the best life around.