Purim Time!

It’s that time of year again – PURIM TIME! I love Purim. It’s always so much fun to get dressed up, give out mishloach manot to give to friends and family and to have a big old party. I love making hamantaschen. They are a fun family or group project. Last year, my youth group had a big event were we made lots and lots of hamantaschen to donate to the elderly in our community.

Here is a look at the recipe I posted last year so you can get a head start. Hamantaschen, as I said are really quite simple to make, just make sure your rolling surface is well floured and that you have many different fillings, because the more fillings the more fun!

HAMANTASCHEN

(Adapted from my Grandma’s ancient recipe book)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • Any filling that you would like
  • Egg white

DIRECTOINS:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2) Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it is in small pieces

3) Add the egg and orange juice and beat on medium until well incorparated

4) Roll out dough onto floured surface

5) Cut out round circles with a glass or any other cookie cutter about 2-3 inches in diameter

6) Put 1 tsp of filing into center of dough

7) Pick up edges toward the center to form a triangle and pinch the dough together to form a triangle

8 ) Brush the top with a beaten egg white

9) Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until lightly brown

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Banana Bread

It’s been a rainy and dreary week here in New York City. I was almost blown over yesterday on my way to class by the wind and my jeans were soaked through by the time I got home in the evening. I keep looking at the sandals in my closet, wishing I could wear them instead of my rain-boots and sneakers everyday of the week. I think it might be just about time to break out the Birkenstocks and socks, but I know I’ll receive the wrath of my roommate who says I look ridiculous when I do that. I’d say it’s time that spring break get here ASAP!

I love banana bread. It’s the perfect breakfast accompaniment, but is also sweet enough to add to a dessert. I had the chance to sample this recipe a few weeks ago when I was babysitting and it was delicious – perfectly moist and sweet. I’ve been hoarding bananas from the dining hall and they finally turned the perfect shade of black and brown. I was able to use them the other night and the banana bread  was gobbled up by my suite-mates by the time I woke up the next morning. I always use the lesser amount of sugar, as the natural sugars in the banana compensate for additional sweetness. It’s quite simply and is easily mixed all by hand. I split my batch into two baking tins, but it could have easily all gone into one classic loaf pan. Keep an eye on the oven – I almost over-baked mine because I didn’t hear the timer go off. This is going to be my go to banana bread recipe from now on 🙂

BANANA BREAD

(Adapted from smittenkitchen.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 to 4 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1/3 cup melted salted butter
  • 3/4 to 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cup of flour

DIRECTIONS:

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2) With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl.

3) Mix in the sugar, egg, vanilla and bourbon, then the spices.

4) Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix.

5) Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan.

6) Bake for 50 minutes to one hour, or until a tester comes out clean.

7) Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

Nutty Granola

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to head upstate to spend some time at my uncle and aunt’s country house with a friend from school. I was so nice to be able to get out of the city for a bit. Their house is so nice and relaxing. We played in the snow, had a feast of a dinner on Saturday night and got to take a NIA class that my aunt teaches. It was an excellent way to spend any weekend, and if I could, I would go up all the time. Not as much homework was done as I would have liked, but oh well. The view up the Hudson was far too nice to allow me to sit down and write my essay 😉

One of the my favorite parts of our Saturday evening cooking escapades was the fact that I got to use my uncle’s nice big camera to take lots and lots of pictures of food. My aunt was making fun of me for taking pictures of food and not people, but there is just something about a good camera and food that seems to go together so well. I took so many photos of just about everything we were making – granola, ribs, veggies, even the butter. I can’t wait to someday get a good camera to use for taking pictures of food. I added a few of the other photos in addition to the granola at the end of this post. As I said, it was quite a feast. And no, I did not eat the ribs, I’m still vegetarian,  just incase you were wondering.

My uncle is the master of making granola. Everytime I go their house upstate, there are always huge canisters of the most delicious granola ever. I’ve made it with him before, but have never watched carefully what goes in it. This time, we made it together and he showed me the techniques for how he makes the best granola. As he reminded me over and over again, it’s very easy to customize granola to however you like it. If you like it extra nutty – add more nuts. If you like it more fruity – add more craisins or raisins or any other dried fruit you like. We made a huge batch, but given the rather intensive baking time it takes, it’s worth it to bake a whole big batch at once so it can last a longer time. When baking, be sure to keep an eye out on it as the edge can burn rather quickly. Once again, it’s nice to have a recipe, but granola is very adaptable, so have fun! 

UNCLE DOUG’S NUTTY GRANOLA

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 3/4 cup flax seed meal
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 3/4 cup cashews
  • 3/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (Don’t chop to finely)
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup water
  • up to 2 cups raisins or dried cranberries

DIRECTIONS:

1) Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F

2) In a large bowl, mix together the oats, wheat germ, flax seed meal, coconut, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pecans, almonds, and cashews.

3) In a separate sauce pan, bring to low simmer,  the oil, honey, molasses, brown sugar, maple syrup, spices, vanilla and water.

4) Slowly pour the wet ingredients over the dry, and mix until evenly blended. Spread in 2 9×13 greased cookies sheets.

5) Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, stirring every 20 minutes, or until toasted. Beware of granola browning too much a the edges.

6) Reduce heat to 200 degrees F for 30 minutes

7) After 30 minutes, turn oven off and let sit for another 30-90 minutes

8 ) Store in an airtight container

9) Enjoy 🙂



Fancy Valentine’s Dinner

I know it’s a little late, but I forgot to write about our fancy Valentine’s dinner we had last week. My whole suite plus a few other friends got together Sunday night and had a lovely dinner full of fancy food. We had chile, pasta, mozzarella skewers, lox pastry puffs, strawberries and more. It was a lovely way to end our Valentine’s day. Having these little dinner parties are one of my favorite parts about living with other people. Everyone always has something unique to make and we are never lacking food.

I decided to make red velvet whoopie pies that I had seen and stored away in my recipe tab weeks ago. While they seem complicated to make, they are actually quite simple. Having some basic piping skills is a plus, but is not necessary. This recipe could easily be done for other holidays if you wanted to color the batter a different color and make different shapes – perhaps green for Saint Patrick’s Day or any other dark color that can mask the cocoa powder. It required a whole heck of a lot of red to achieve the right color, I think I achieved the proper Valentine’s Day color red. The frosting between the two layers was just a basic cream cheese icing. They are a little time consuming, but a fun and colorful accompaniment to any Valentine’s Day dinner.

RED VELVET WHOOPIE PIES

(Adapted from Annie’s Eats)

INGREDIENTS:

cookies:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 oz. red food coloring

frosting:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

DIRECTIONS:

1) Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.

2) Using a heart template cut out from card stock, trace evenly spaced hearts onto pieces of parchment paper sized to fit two cookie sheets.  Place the parchment on the cookie sheets so that the side you have drawn on is facing down; set aside.

3) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

4) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the egg until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Blend in the vanilla.

5) With the mixer on low speed, beat in about a third of the dry ingredients, followed by half of the buttermilk, beating each addition just until incorporated.  Repeat so that all the buttermilk has been added and then mix in the final third of dry ingredients.  Do not overbeat.  Blend in the food coloring.

6) Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip.  Pipe the batter onto the parchment paper using the heart tracings as a guide.  Bake 7-9 minutes or until the tops are set, rotating the baking sheets halfway through.

7) Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets at least 10 minutes, until they can be easily transferred to a cooling rack.  Repeat with any remaining batter.  Allow cookies to cool completely before proceeding.

8 ) To make the cream cheese frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.

9) Transfer the frosting to a clean pastry bag fitted with a plain, round tip.  Pair the cookies up by shape and size.  Flip one cookie of each pair over so that the flat side is facing up.  Pipe frosting onto the flat-sided cookie of each pair, leaving the edges clear.  Sandwich the cookies together so the flat sides are facing each other and press gently to help the filling reach the edges.

10)To store, refrigerate in an airtight container.

11) Enjoy!


Great Brownie Debate

For some reason, I’ve always been a cookie person. They’re easy to make, you can throw just about anything into them, and you don’t have to fuss too much over them once you put them in the oven. Somehow, brownies have always struck me as incredibly complicated and intimidating. I think it’s more my fear of over-baking them in the oven and having a dry, sticky mess of brown rather than beautiful squares of deliciousness that you find at BAKED. After reading an article that my lovely father sent me about the great brownie debate, I think my fear has deminished. You really just have to know what type of brownies you want – cakey, fudgy, gooey, etc. As long as you keep an eye on them in the oven and use top quality ingredients, I’ve discovered that it’s difficult to go wrong.

I decided on fudgy ones, because I figured they would be good to pair with a scoop of ice cream. They were actually incredibly easy to make – I didn’t even have to break out the mixmaster, I just hand mixed everything. I baked them for about 38 minutes and that seemed like good timing for a rich fudgy texture. With fudgy brownies, I think it’s hard to go wrong, because even if they are under-baked, they’ll still be thick and gooey and of course – fudgy. When melting the butter, make sure you use a large enough pot, because you’ll add all the ingredients to it. I nearly had a small catastrophe when my mixture almost came pouring over the sides of the pot. I brought them up to my brothers for dessert with two pints of ice cream. Yum Yum 🙂

RICH FUDGY BROWNIES

(Adapted from Finecooking.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter; more softened butter for the pan
  • 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pan
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt

DIRECTIONS:

1) Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch-square metal baking pan, tapping out the excess flour.

2) Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat. Whisk or stir in the sugar, followed by all four of the eggs and the vanilla. Stir in the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt, starting slowly to keep the ingredients from flying out of the pan and stirring more vigorously as you go. Stir until the batter is smooth and uniform, about 1 minute.

3) Spread the batter into the prepared baking pan, smoothing it so it fills the pan evenly.

5) Bake until a toothpick or a skewer inserted 3/4 inch into the center of the brownies comes out with just a few moist clumps clinging to it, about 40 minutes. Let the brownies cool completely in the pan on a rack.

6) Cut into 16 squares. Keep the brownies at room temperature, well wrapped.

Baked Apples

This past Wednesday was one of the first days in the past 13 years that NYU has had a snow day. All classes after 12:30 were called off, so although I still had to go to one class in the morning, I spent the rest of the day vegging out with my roommate as the blizzard raged on outside our window. In total, I think it snowed about 8″ but it’s hard to tell since they plow the streets so quickly here. It sometimes feels like New Yorkers are just scared of snow. Can’t they let it accumulate just a bit before they have to plow it all away? Next time it snows, I’m heading up to Central Park, so I can make snow men and go sledding 🙂

Anyway, after watching 4 episodes of GLEE in a row, I decided it was time to bake. I’ve been thinking about making baked apples for ages. I guess they’re more of a fall food, but on such a blizzardy day, they seemed like the perfect idea. I looked at a few different recipes, but kind of came up with one on my own based on the ingredient we had. It’s pretty hard to go wrong with these. They are the perfect dessert if you’re in need of something quick and don’t want to go out to the store. As long as you have some apples, it’s likely you’ll have the rest of the ingredients in your pantry. I baked mine for about an hour and they came out nice and smushy. It was the perfect companion to our movie night as my suite mates and I braved what was for some – their very first SNOW DAY!

BAKED APPLES

(Adapted by ME!)

INGREDIENTS:
  • 3 or 4 apples
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbs. cinammon
  • 1tsp. apple pie spice
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup crushed pecans
  • 4 tbs butter
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1/3 cup orange juice

DIRECTIONS:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1) Core the apples with either an apple corer or a knife. Make sure to leave about a1/4-1/2 an inch of apple at the bottom, so the brown sugar mixture doesn’t fall through

2) In a small mixing bowl, mix together all dry ingredients plus 1 tbs. melted butter.

3) Place apples in a small baking dish. Scoop heaping spoonfuls of the brown sugar mixture into center of apples, packing down until apples are full. Using remainder of butter, add a small pad of butter to the top of each apple.

4) Pour water and and juice into the baking dish around the apples. Cook until soft – about 50-65 minutes. Baste apples with liquids about half way through the baking time.

5) Enjoy 🙂

5 Minute Cup of Heaven

You know that feeling when it’s 10:30, you’re in the midst of a mound of homework, it’s cold and snowy outside and you just must have a piping hot cup of hot chocolate/something incredibly chocolatey or else the world might just stop? Ya, I know you know what I’m talking about. Somehow, I find myself in this situation often and that was exactly where my roommate and myself found ourselves this evening just as the start of what is hopefully going to be an epic snowstorm begins.

Instead of turning straight to the Swiss Miss box, like we usually do, I opted instead for a microwavable cake. No, not the kind you buy in the box at the store like a Lean Cuisine, but an actual, homemade microwave chocolate cake. Within ten minutes of taking the initiative to eat cake, my roommate and I were sitting in bed eating cake. I decided to add some white chocolate to counter the dark and as my roommate so aptly put it “it was like a guilty pleasure in a poodle mug.” Make sure you keep an eye on the microwave, because it will puff up quickly if you’re not careful. This is now my go to treat when I don’t want to labor at baking a more elaborate treat, and need a quick fix.

5 MINUTE CHOCOLATE MUG CAKE

(Adapted from Not Quite Nigella)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coffee powder (optional)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 3 tablespoons oil (Opted for melted butter instead because I was out of oil)
  • 3 tablespoons chocolate chips (I used white chocolate)
  • A small splash of vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

1) Mix dry ingredients together.

2) Pour in the egg, milk, oil, chocolate chips or flakes and vanilla extract and mix well.

3) Pour batter evenly between two microwave safe mugs.

4) Do one mug at a time. Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 1 minute on medium heat. Let rest for a few moments. Then microwave for another 30 seconds on medium heat.

5) Check on the consistency-it should be cooked but still moist and gooey. If it is still not cooked, microwave on another 30 seconds on medium heat. Remember, it will cook further on standing.

6) Allow to cool a little, then enjoy 🙂

Cheesecake

Today is two of my really good friends’ birthday. They are roommates, look alike, and have the same birthday – they seriously could quite possibly be twins. Last night we decided to throw them a party in our room. Our main course was sushi, which we made, because they are both part Japanese. Sushi is really quite simple to make, although I did burn 2 batches of rice before I figured out at what temperature it needed to be. In addition to the sushi, we also had THREE cakes! I kid you not. There were only 9 of us, but three cakes. We had two cakes from Amy’s Bread (which I must go to – I have a gift card) and then I made a cheesecake! It was quite a sugar rush, but I think everyone thoroughly enjoyed it.

I have never made a cheesecake before, so I was hesitant at first because I didn’t want to make a fool of myself at a birthday party. All my stress turned out to be unfounded. Not only was this cake easy to make, it turned out to be delicious. It was a much lighter and fluffier cheesecake than I was used to. I guess I usually imagine cheesecake as being dense, almost like sticking a fork into an actual block of cream cheese. This cake was much lighter, more like a mousse. It’s important to whip the cream cheese for a good 8-10 minutes if you want this fluffiness, and I guess the extra cup of sugar I accidently added doesn’t take away anything either 😉 I kind of ad-libbed the crust with choclate tedddy grahams that didn’t turn out so well, but I don’t think it was any loss to the cake itself. Next time I’ll try and make a more stable crust. This was really a super easy cake to make, although it does need to sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours if not overnight. I made it the evening before to ensure it chilled long enough. Using the blow dryer might seem ridiculous, but it really does work.


CHEESECAKE

(Adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours)

INGREDIENTS:

crust:

  • 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

cheesecake:

  • 2 pounds (four 8-ounce boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups sour cream

DIRECTIONS:

crust:

1) Butter a 9-inch springform pan—choose one that has sides that are 2 3/4 inches high (if the sides are lower, you will have cheesecake batter leftover)—and wrap the bottom of the pan in a double layer of aluminum foil; put the pan on a baking sheet.

2) Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. (I do this with my fingers.) Turn the ingredients into the buttered springform pan and use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs along the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Don’t worry if the sides are not perfectly even or if the crumbs reach above or below the midway mark on the sides—this doesn’t have to be a precision job. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven.

3) Center a rack in the oven, preheat the oven to 350°F and place the springform on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake.

4) Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

cheesecake:
1) Put a kettle of water on to boil.

2) Working in a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft and lives up to the creamy part of its name, about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition—you want a well-aerated batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in the sour cream.

3) Put the foil-wrapped springform pan in the roaster pan.

4) Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure that nothing has been left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the springform pan. The batter will reach the brim of the pan. (If you have a pan with lower sides and have leftover batter, you can bake the batter in a buttered ramekin or small soufflé mold.) Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water into the roaster to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

5) Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, at which point the top will be browned (and perhaps cracked) and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven’s heat and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.

6) After 1 hour, carefully pull the setup out of the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roaster—be careful, there may be some hot water in the aluminum foil—remove the foil. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack.

7) When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and chill the cake for at least 4 hours, although overnight would be better.

Serving: Remove the sides of the springform pan and set the cake, still on the pan’s base, on a serving platter. The easiest way to cut cheesecake is to use a long, thin knife that has been run under hot water and lightly wiped. Keep warming the knife as you cut slices of the cake.


Sweet Revenge

Now I like to think that I’ve tried my fair amount of cupcakes in my time here in New York City, and I’ve even had one from Sweet Revenge before, but something about the cupcake I had there on Friday night was just OUT OF THIS WORLD! My roommate and I had just been to this a small show down in the West Village and we decided upon Sweet Revenge since it was only a few blocks away. For those of you who have not been in New York City the past few days, let me just say that it has been very cold as of late, and Friday night was no exception. It was honestly one of the coldest nights I can recall in recent history. I’d say it was hovering around 5 degrees because of the wind chill. Anyway, enough about the weather. As we entered into Sweet Revenge after our mad dash from outside, we were struck with how sophisticated yet cute it was. With only a about 6 tables, an exposed metal bar, and a small selection of cupcakes, Sweet Revenge is definietly not your childhood bake shop.

I started with a Fleur de Sel cupcake and my roommate had a Dirty – which was basically all ridiculously dark chocolate. Both of them had a dark chocolate cake which was so moist and delicious, they tasted like they’d just been baked even though it was 10 o’clock at night. I find that often times the cake of cupcakes itself can tend to be a little dry, but this cake was on a whole different level. It was an actual mini cake, instead of a cupcake trying to impersonate a cake. The frosting on mine was a mix of caramel, butter, and the slightest hint of the most delicious salt. As I got to the center, an oozing ball of caramel drizzled down from the inside of the chocolate cake. It was outstanding. The Dirty cupcake has the same cake component, but a dark, rich, and creamy icing that was out of this world. If you are a fan of dark chocolate, this is the one for you. Often times, chocolate icing can become overwhelmed with the taste of butter, but this was all chocolate. It was liking biting into a piece of fudge on top of the most amazing cake ever. On the menu, it even had wine and beer pairings to go with all the different cupcakes they had. I’d say this would be the perfect place to go on a first date 🙂

All in all, I’d say it was a pretty successful trip to the West Village. We saw a very funny play and were treated to the most amazing cupcakes. As we exited the shop, I’d say it was once again about 5 degrees outside and we ended up taking a taxi back to the East Village because it was just SO cold. I’m sure that the next time I find myself on that side of town, I will also be finding myself at the bar of Sweet Revenge.

Monster Cookies & Birthday

So yesterday was my birthday! I’M 20 YEARS OLD! I can’t believe  it. I feel so old, but at the same time, no different then I did last week. I guess it will just take a little time to settle in the fact that I’m now in my 20’s. My dad joked that he doesn’t think I’ve changed in 20 years, except for maybe a little more hair and my grandfather said he wasn’t sure I’d make it this long 😉


Saturday night, my roomies threw me an incredible party! My lovely roommate took it upon herself to go to four different cupcakes shops in the city to get different cupcakes so that we could have a sampling. It was so much better then cake. Instead of one type of cake, we all got to try chocolate, vanilla, red velvet, mocha, s’mores, and many many more. She got them from Butter Lane, Crumbs, Cupcake Cafe, and Chikalicious. It was amazing! We played a massive game of charades and then broke out the karaoke machine and sang some amazing songs. There was a slight damper on the evening when the fire alarm went off at 1:30 in the morning, but once we got back inside, I got to open all my presents! All and all, I’d say it was one of my most memorable birthdays.

Now of course, even I couldn’t go without baking for my own birthday. I decided on some cookies that I had planned on making weeks ago, but couldn’t because the dough has to be fridgerated for hours. Basically a mix of oatmeal, peanut butter and some M&M’s, monster cookies are bound to become my new comfort cookie. Except for the fridge time, they were incredibly easy to make and to add to the peanut butter, I decided on peanut M&M’s instead of plain ones. The 5 cups of oatmeal lends to many many cookies – I’d say about 40 cookies. I gave a bunch away to my family because there was no way we could finish them all. Hopefully they’ll enjoy them 🙂

MONSTER COOKIES

(Adapted from BAKED)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 ¾ cups rolled oats
  • ¾ cups (1 ½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 ½ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • ¼ tsp light corn syrup (I didn’t have any, and didn’t feel like venturing out to get any, and they seemed to turn out fine without)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups chunky peanut butter (I used smooth)
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) milk or semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) M&M’s (Decided on peanut M&M’s instead to give it even more peanuty flavor – used three packages)

DIRECTIONS:

1) In a large bowl whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together. Add the oats and stir until combined.

2) In the bowl of electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth and pale in color.

3) Add the sugars and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Do not overmix.

4) Scrape down bowl and add eggs one at a time, beating until smooth (about 20 seconds) and scraping down bowl after each edition.

4) Add the corn syrup and vanilla and beat until incorporated.

5) Scrape down bowl and add peanut butter. Mix on low speed until just combined, add the oat mixture in three additions, mixing on low speed until just incorporated.

6) Use a spatula or wooden spoon and fold in the chocolate chips and M&M’s.

7) Cover bowl tightly and refrigerate for 5 hours.

8 ) Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

9) Use ice cream scoop to scoop out dough into 2- tablespoon size balls on two baking sheets – 2 inches apart. (I just used my hands)

10) Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking time. Let cool on pans for 8-10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.