Guess What?

I’m going to bake stuff. And it’s going to have lots of butter and lots of sugar and lots of calories. And I don’t care.

Coming soon…..classic pumpkin roll and an overnight coffee cake. I’m back in the kitchen with my camera charged, so get ready bitches.

It’s Been Awhile

An Open Letter to My 8 Subscribers:

I’m sure you have all been sitting at home, wondering each and every day when I was going to post something again.  It’s okay, you can admit it. I know there’s been a deep and aching void in your heart because of my lack of posts recently, and I apologize for being the cause of such pain.  The truth is, friends, I can’t think of a damn thing to say.  I’ve taken some pictures and tossed around some ideas, but nothing seems to click into place.  And if it doesn’t click, in my opinion, then it’s not worth writing about.  I did feel, however, that I needed to post SOMETHING, which is why this letter is happening.

Since I still seem to be unable to come up with anything of substance, here’s a look at a few of the people/places/things (i.e., NOUNS.  What? I’m an English person) that have been keeping me occupied and thus unable to form a coherent post:

We went to the City Market a few weeks ago, and I gotta say, I love that place.  I wish we lived closer so we could go more often.  I doubt I would even buy stuff every time, because most of the appeal for me is the people.  I love watching the people; in fact, I have something of a staring problem.  Thank God for dark sunglasses.

Also, I found this drawing interesting.  It was in sort of the main walkway area of the market:

Clearly, this is the work of a master.

The next two pictures represent essentially what my life has become in recent weeks:

The kids in the first picture have chosen an activity that takes up all my time, and the kid in the second picture has chosen an activity that takes up all my money.  I’m not complaining….I’m just saying.

By the way, there was a post on here yesterday called “Please Stop Just Saying,” and it was about the most annoying pop culture phrases.  “I’m just saying” was included, as was “epic fail,” “I know, right?” and “ridic.”  I thought it was funny, and quite true, even though I am totes guilty of using some of these phrases from time to time.  I would point out though, that the #1 most annoying pop culture phrase for me personally is “It is what it is.”  Ugh.  Please don’t ever say that in my presence.  It’s stupid, and annoying, and redundant, and everyone already knows that it, whatever it may, actually is what it is.

But I digress…

Okay, so finally, I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to come up with vegetarian dishes that won’t taste like shit.  Since we have basically switched over to a meat-free diet (with the exception of a few times, like yesterday when I temporarily lost my mind and somehow found myself at Wendy’s ordering a spicy chicken sandwich), I’ve had to try out a lot of new recipes.  Some of them have been pretty tasty, while others have been EPIC FAILS.  This book has yielded some good ideas:

I’ve made a couple of different dishes from here, including a butternut squash and potato side dish that ranked somewhere between okay and good.  I thought it just needed more cheese, which also cemented my belief that I will never, ever be able to live as a vegan.  Sorry, Trent, but it’s not happening.

Here’s one of the meals from the book:

This would probably be easier to see if it were on a plate, but I didn’t have any clean plates so you’ll have to use your imagination.  It’s pasta (I used rotini) topped with sauteed eggplant, onions, tomatoes, garlic, and I can’t even remember what else.  I put some fresh basil and spinach in there too, and then a sprinkling of grated Parmesan.  I rather enjoyed it.  My kids didn’t, but I don’t care, because I also rather enjoy the dramatic expressions they make and the impassioned cries of “Mom, you’re killing us!” while I force them to eat it.  Dinner and a show, as far as I’m concerned.

And that’s pretty much all I’ve got right now.  I hope to be feeling the writin’ vibe again very soon, and trying out some new recipes to blog about in more detail.  In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this:

Toodles,

Chandigupti

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies

So…it feels like it’s been awhile.  Possibly because it has, but I’m just hypothesizing here. 

Basically, there are two main reasons why I’ve been absent for awhile.  1) I’ve been really busy since school started, and it’s all come as a complete shock to my system to get out of lazy summer mode and into busy-as-f**k fall mode.  Pardon my language, but that’s the best way to describe it.  2) I watched a life-changing documentary that has essentially ensured that my love affair with butter is over.  I thought I would be way sadder about this, but I’m really not.  I’m not going to get into all the details about it because you can check it out for yourself (here’s a trailer for film), or not.  All I know is that I am in the process of doing a complete overhaul on not only my kitchen and the foods I put in it, but my recipes, and my entire perspective on food as well.

So this is probably my last wholly unhealthy recipe that I’m going to blog about.

Sigh.

I guess I’m a little sad, maybe….but I’ll be okay.  There is a fair to middling (read: definite) chance that you’ll be seeing some vegetarian recipes soon.

Also, vampires aren’t real, but horses are.  My 4-year old nephew told me that the other day, and I feel duty-bound to share this knowledge.

Anyway.

Let’s talk about cookies.  Now, the person I got this recipe from might be a tad pissed that I’m blasting it all over the internets, but I don’t care.  I think it’s uncool to recipe hoard.  If you want to make the absolute best chocolate chip cookies in the whole wide freaking world, then there should be nothing stopping you, butyou HAVE to know about this top secret ingredient before you can do that.

DRUMROLL, PLEASE…….

Voilà.  Wal-Mart brand, smashed, old (?) instant vanilla pudding mix.

That’s it.  That’s the big secret.  Pretty crazy stuff, huh?  Throw a package of this in with the dough, and you’re golden.  Your husband will bow at your feet (not really, but almost), your kids will declare that you (or Phineas and Ferb, it’s still undecided) are their new hero, and anyone else who eats them will make sounds that should really be limited to the bedroom only.  It could get awkward.

I use the Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie recipe, and here’s how it goes:

Take two sticks of butter (wah!!!!), some brown sugar, and some white sugar, and mix it all up.

Then add two eggs and some vanilla, and mix that up too.

Now just add the dry stuff: flour, salt, baking soda, and the pudding mix.

Mix again.  All this mixing is getting really repetitive, isn’t it?  Fear not, though, relief is coming in the form of chocolate chips, which you get to STIR in.  Exciting, huh?

After you stir in the chocolate chips, if you need to take a break and eat some dough, I understand.

While you’re doing that, please take a moment to observe what was on my ceiling:

Ew.  Yes, there was panic and heart palpitations and sweaty palms when I realized that the stuff of my nightmares was directly over my head (and my cookie dough!), but I did have the presence of mind to take a photo so I could share the moment with you.

Then I fled the kitchen and made Trent deal with it, because that’s why I married him.

Anyway.

Drop the dough into rounded tablespoons, or use a fancy-schmancy cookie dough ball scooper thingamajig if you want them all uniform. 

The recipe says to bake these for 9 to 11 minutes, but I like soft cookies and my oven cooks slightly unevenly, so I put them in for 8, then turn the cookie sheet, and let them go for another 30 seconds or so.  It’s what works for me.

Well hello there.  And hello to you too, and you, and you, and you…….

Oh my.  I just love these cookies.  It’s not unheard of for the entire batch to be half gone within an hour.  Trent is SUCH a pig. I have nothing to do with it.

So there you have it.  Those are my not-so-secret-anymore ingredient chocolate chip cookies, and in my vast experience with cookies, these are definitely in the top three.  Prepare to stuff your face.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 sticks of butter, softened
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
3/4 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 package instant vanilla pudding mix (3.4 oz.)
2 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375.  In a large bowl, mix butter and both sugars; add eggs and vanilla and combine completely.  Add flour, salt, baking soda, and pudding mix; mix.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Drop dough in rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 9 to 11 minutes.

Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips

These have been sitting in my house for the last week or so.

They’ve been speaking to me, telling me how wonderful they are, how happy they can make me, how just a few of them at a time aren’t bad for me. 

They want me.

And I want them.

Do chocolate chips talk to you all too?

Okay, so instead of just stuffing handfuls of them into my face (which, believe me, I am not above), I decided to bake with them.  Originally, I was going to keep it real simple and just do chocolate chip cookies, because I haven’t made those in awhile and I have a CLASSIFIED recipe that is super TOP SECRET and so CONFIDENTIAL that I can never, ever, ever post it on here.  Just kidding.  I’ll probably do that in the very near future.

I just didn’t have the secret ingredient handy for chocolate chip cookies.

But I did have a can of pumpkin available, and if I could name two of my favorite foods, it would probably be a superclose tie between chocolate chips and pumpkin, or mozzarella and crème brûlée.  (Do you know how long it just took me to 1) find out how to spell crème brûlée and 2) look up those f’ing symbols?  Please take a moment to appreciate my efforts in correctly spelling this divine French dessert.  Thank you for your cooperation.)

Anyway.

I had a can of pumpkin, and I am obsessed with pumpkin.  Pumpkin pie, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin bagels with pumpkin cream cheese, hell, I’ve eaten just straight up pumpkin out of the can before.  (I do not recommend that, by the way, because it is nasty.  I was pregnant, however, and having an in-freaking-tense pumpkin craving, so shoveling a spoonful of raw pumpkin into my yapper is excusable.)

So if chocolate chips and pumpkin were to bang and the pumpkin got knocked up, pumpkin bread with chocolate chips would be the love child of this blessed (and messy?) joining.

Also, just so you know, it’s been a long day and I’ve had one two three glasses of wine.

Soooooo……I got onto my most favoritest recipe website ever, and I found this recipe for the bread.  Take a stick of softened butter and some sugar and throw them in a bowl.

Then you mix it all around like you just don’t care.

Now add two eggs, cause that’s what it says to do.

Beat those in and then prepare yourself, because the pumpkin is coming next. 

Is anyone wondering why I’m holding a cup of pumpkin puree in my hand?  Well, do you remember how I said a moment ago that I  have an obsession with pumpkin?  I may not like the taste of raw pumpkin, but I LOVE THE SMELL.  I’m holding it because after I took that picture, I had to stick my schnoz in there and take like 12 big whiffs.

It was heaven.

So toss in the pumpkin, mix it, and set it aside.

Goodbye for now, my pumpkiny friend.

Now we need to get together the dry ingredients.  Grab another bowl and toss in some flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.

Gradually add this dry mixture to the pumpkin mixture, folding it in and mixing until it’s all combined.

Add the chocolate chips and some walnuts if you want to, and then scrape the whole shebang into a greased 9x5x3 loaf pan.

Pop it in a 350 oven for about an hour, savoring the aroma that will fill your house for the last twenty minutes of cooking.  Seriously, people, SAVOR IT.  It’s so much better than any of the autumn scented Febreze products. 

Oh baby.  You had me at hello.

Make this next time your chocolate chips speak to you and you find a forgotten can of pumpkin in your pantry.  You’ll be so glad you did, PROMISE.

Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 c. canned pumpkin
1 3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. cloves
1 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9x5x3 loaf pan.  In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, eggs, and pumpkin.  In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients except chocolate chips.  Gradually add dry mixture to pumpkin mixture, mixing until completely combined.  Add chocolate chips, and pour into loaf pan.  Bake for approximately 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Thanks to Michele McFie for sharing this tasty recipe.

Dreamy French Toast

Last night I dreamt of homemade bread, coated in eggs and buttermilk and spices, pan fried to golden perfection, smeared with cream cheese, and smothered in blueberry syrup.

There was a significant amount of drool on my pillow when I woke up.

Is that weird?

Anyway, I knew what I was going to do this morning….nay, I knew what I HAD to do.  Now, I’m no chef, and I’m sure there are a thousand recipes for French toast out there that are far more creative than this, but this is what I’ve done for years.  In fact, this was one of the first things I learned how to cook from my Grandma Doris Wanda Mae.  It’s a pretty basic recipe, which suits me just fine.  Sometimes I think people are so concerned with making things different and unique and exotic and whatever, and just the old-fashioned simple version is often the best.  When it comes to French toast, I’m stickin’ to my roots, man.

The first thing I did was get the syrup started.  I threw some frozen blueberries, sugar, and a little bit of honey in a saucepan and turned it on low.

Put a lid on that and walk away.  But come back every now and again to give it a stir, okay?

Now we need to mix up the batter (is that what you call it?  Batter?) for the French toast.  Crack a few eggs in a large bowl, add some buttermilk, vanilla, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  You can even make your kids do it for you if you don’t feel like touching slimy eggs so early in the morning.

Whisk it all together, then dip both sides of a piece of bread in it.

In case anyone is wondering (and I know you’re not, but I’m going to explain this anyway), the reason my bread has such an odd shape with that chunk missing from the bottom is because it came out of a bread machine.  Every loaf of bread I make has that indention from the paddle at the bottom of the pan.  It sort of offends my aesthethic sensibilities.

Anyway.

Your skillet should already be hot at this point, so if it is, slap a coated piece of bread in there.  If it’s not, don’t put the bread in it.  I repeat, DO NOT PUT COATED BREAD IN A NOT-HOT SKILLET. 

There was absolutely no reason for me to put that in all caps.  It’s really not that urgent.  But seriously, fire up your stove before hand, kay?

These will cook for a few minutes on each side, and you just want to get them nice and golden brown.  Watch out for soggy spots, cause those are icky.  If you have one, keep cooking it.

Now here’s where things got exciting for me.  I’m not exaggerating.  There’s a very real possibility this will be the high point of my Saturday.  I got out some cream cheese, and I spread it on one piece of French toast.

Then, I took my other piece of French toast and I put it on top of that.

Whoa.  It’s like a culinary mathematical equation.

1 French toast + 1 layer cream cheese + 1 French toast x 13 bites of bliss ÷ 1 weird dream to the 14th power square root denominator fractational numeral EQUALS…….a seriously happy tummy.

Almost.

We still need the blueberry syrup.  Put some of that on and you’ll have the real answer to the equation, friends.

Hello, you.

I think I’m in love.

French Toast with Cream Cheese and Blueberry Syrup
(For the French toast)
5-6 pieces sliced bread, stale is fine
4 eggs
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract

(For the blueberry syrup)
1 c. frozen blueberries
1/3 c. sugar
1 tbsp. honey

For the French toast, beat eggs, buttermilk, brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla in a large bowl.  Dip bread in, one slice at a time, coating both sides in the egg mixture.  Transfer the bread to a hot skillet, and cook until golden brown and not soggy.  Flip, and cook the other side.

For the syrup, mix blueberries, sugar, and honey in a saucepan.  Cook on low heat until berries are thawed and syrup forms, about 5-10 minutes.

To make this all truly dreamy, add cream cheese between two pieces of French toast and top with blueberry syrup.  Heaven awaits you.