Thursday, February 26, 2009

Churned by the Devil Himself

Save yourselves. Run from this ice cream like your life depended on it. It's evil, I tell you. Evil.

Dwight and I devoured one of these last weekend in two sittings. And that was while exercising restraint. I swear this stuff is laced with crack because I think I could have eaten until I threw up. It was bad. But SOOOOOO good. So good — and clearly addictive — that the next time we were at the grocery store, we picked up another carton.

Somehow it's managed to go untouched, but it keeps calling to me from the freezer. It's seductive minty-ness beckons, teasing me with chocolate chips then going in for the kill with chewy chocolaty bites of rich brownie.

Damn you Edy's! Damn you all to hell!

p.s. I checked the stats on this... poison, and it turns out there are 14 servings in a container. Chyeah, right. Try two—four MAX.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I've Been Tagged!

By Susie!

Here are the rules:
1) Post rules on your blog
2) Answer the six '8' items
3) Let each person know by leaving them a comment.

8 favorite TV shows:
1. American Idol
2. So You Think You Can Dance
3. House MD
4. The Simpsons
5. Bones
6. 30 Rock
7. The Office
8. Antiques Roadshow (yes, I'm that lame)

8 Things I did yesterday:
1. Woke up
2. Showered
3. Worked
4. Ate
5. Made mashed potatoes
6. Watched "House MD"
7. Washed my face
8. Went to bed (don't hate me for my thrilling life)

8 Things I'm looking forward to:
1. Spring!!
2. Summer!!
4. Green Grass!!
5. Open windows!! (sensing a theme yet?)
6. Lunch
7. Feeling Better
8. An upturn in the economy

8 favorite restaurants: (I rarely eat out, so this will be interesting)
1. Taco Bell (what?)
2. Legal Sea Foods, Boston
3. Bruno's Pizza, Elkhart
4. Cracker Barrel (for breakfast)
5. The Gumbo Shoppe, NOLA
6, 7, 8. Various restaurants in other cities I've been to but can't remember the names of (helpful, no?)

8 Things on my wish list:
1. A new-to-me car, preferably a MINI Cooper
2. New lens for my camera
3. Thinner thighs
4. Patio furniture to replace ours that got stolen
5. New backyard patio/fire pit/grill area (not going to happen, but a girl can wish)
6. A new job
7. Various books
8. World peace

8 people I tag:
1. I'm a loser, baby, so I don't have anyone to tag. ;)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Martha Stewart's Outrageous Chocolate Cookies

Grab a big 'ol glass of milk (or Diet Coke if your name is Barb) because you're going to need it with these cookies. Oh, and you'd better really like chocolate because these babies are PACKED with it.

Outrageous Chocolate Cookies
from Martha Stewart

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped ( had about 6-7 oz left of a bar of 65% cocoa bittersweet chocolate and used it)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used coffee liqueur instead)
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chunks (I used Hershey's Special Dark chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat chopped chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl in 20-second increments, stirring in between, until almost melted; do not overheat. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; beat in melted chocolate. Mix in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chunks.

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough 2 to 3 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are shiny and crackly yet soft in centers. Martha says 12- 15 minutes but that was way too long. Max 10 minutes in my oven, but it might vary for you. Check them at the 8 minute mark and see where you're at.

The good thing is that if you accidentally forget about them (ahem) and they DO bake longer than needed, they still taste good. BUT they're super gooey and Oh-My-God delicious if you keep them this side of done. Seriously.

These are incredibly rich and just the thing when you want a chocolate fix—the perfect alternative to a box of chocolate on Valentine's Day.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

It's like an episode of House

Except without the witty banter and impossibly rude yet somehow likable doctor.

I'm the girl in the room next to the guy that has what she has, except he's further along, so she sees what's coming.

Dwight is that guy.

We're both sick with the same thing, which is really unusual for us, and his symptoms are about 24-28 hours ahead of mine. It started with a cough, out of the blue—BAM! Which lead to lots and LOTS of coughing which lead to a sore throat, chest and back.

Then yesterday, he started sneezing and his nose started running like crazy. I thought I was clear because I had NO signs of that. Until this afternoon. Gah!

He says he's feeling better, so I have that to look forward to—in 24-28 hours. Until then, I feel like I got hit by a truck. A truck that made my nose run. Like, a LOT.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Spicy Pumpkin Cranberry Walnut Bread

I had half a can of leftover pumpkin puree in the fridge and wanted to use it before it went bad. I looked through the various pumpkin recipes on my computer and flipped through a couple of cookbooks. I asked Dwight if he wanted cookies or bread, and bread it was.

So I went to one of my go-to baking experts—Betty Crocker. The other is Alton Brown. Aww, isn't he just the greatest? I'm going to have to bust out some of the blueberries we picked and froze last year and make some famous Alton Brown blueberry muffins. But I digress.

The recipe called for a whole can of pumpkin, so I halved it. I made a few other mods along the way, as well, like adding way more spices. I love me some spicy pumpkin bread. It turned out wonderfully. It's some of the best pumpkin bread I've ever made. The only change I would make is cutting the sugar a tad because the dried cranberries are very sweet.


Spicy Pumpkin Cranberry Walnut Bread
Adapted from Betty Crocker

1/3 cup butter flavored Crisco
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup canned pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/3 cup water
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4-1/2 cup dried cranberries (guessing on the amount—I just dumped some in there)
generous 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (ditto on the measurement here—who says baking has to be precise? Not me! And, yeah, those spice measurements up there? Total guess. Dump, dump and dump. That's how I roll.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream shortening and sugar in mixing bowl. Add eggs and beat until well incorporated. Add pumpkin, water and spices. Beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, mix flour, soda, powder and salt. Add to pumpkin mixture and blend on low only until mixture is mostly incorporated. You should still see dry flour. Add nuts and cranberries and finish mixing by hand just until blended through. Do not over mix.

Pour into large, greased bread pan. (The cookbook said to only grease the bottom, but I wasn't taking any chances. I used butter flavored spray on entire inside of pan.)

Bake 60-70 minutes or until toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Turn out onto cooling rack and cool completely before slicing. It'll be tough to wait, but it's worth it. The flavors aren't as good when it's too hot. You gotta trust me on this.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Congratulations, Diane & Jim

One of my best friends is now a married lady. At this moment, I suspect she's blissfully happy, sipping some good wine or champagne, enjoying time with her family and friends at the place she and Jim went on their first date, nearly three years ago.

I'm so incredibly happy for both of them. They deserve every happiness in the world, and I suspect they'll find it, day after day—together—for as long as they both shall live.

Congratulations, guys!

A taste of the days to come

Today was lovely. The sun was shining and it was so warm that much of the snow has melted, at least where the sun could reach it most of the day. The piles, especially the very large ones, are still there, but I can see grass. It's matted, dull and in many places completely sodden, but it's there. I just checked and it reached 54 degrees today—a veritable heat wave. Balmy...heavenly.

It's been an unusually cold winter and getting a taste of the spring to come was wonderful. I even went for a walk after coming home from work. I only needed a sweatshirt and I did wear one of those headband thingies to cover my ears because they're unusually sensitive to cold and wind, even if either or both are slight. I brought light gloves, but only wore them briefly. I eventually had to unzip my sweatshirt. It's been too long since I've been able to go for a walk like that and it was so refreshing.

I did have a scare at the end of it, though. I came home the "back" way—a road that is bordered on one side by vacant land and the other by approximately 12 acres of wetlands. I turned the corner and my heart—and feet—stopped. In the middle of the road, about 40 yards away, I saw what I thought was either a tall dog or some sort of wild animal, like a coyote (I don't even know if we have those around here, but that's what it looked like from a distance). The light was waning and it was hard to make out, but I was literally terrified. (I've had dogs run at me, snarling and barking, while on walks, and I'm now petrified of being attacked by one.) It had definitely seen me since we both stared at each other when I rounded the corner.

As I turned to walk away, glancing over my shoulder for sign of a chase, something else caught my eye off the side of the road. Deer. Probably 6 of them. Oh, thank God. The creature in the road was a small deer NOT a vicious beast. They all saw me and turned back into the wetland area. I thought about continuing that way since I figured they were just as afraid of me, but I decided not to chance it.

My heart was racing and my legs were shaking. In a matter of seconds, even fractions of a second, my flight or fight mechanism was working overtime, flooding my system with needed adrenaline. I decided to put it to use and ran the rest of the way home, back the way I came.

Despite the scare, it was still a great walk. The moon was out and almost full, the clouds were a lovely shade of pink and the promise of spring was in the air.
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