Noses are Deceiving

Now that [almost] all of the boxes are unpacked and I’m slowly able to start accessorizing rooms, I’m feeling more settled. Adam’s old “grandma chic” bachelor pad apartment is starting to feel like the home in which we’ll start our life together.

Every day this week I’ve made a concerted effort to make a visible dent in a random room as far as organization goes. I’ve stored books and papers from my old cubicle in my old dresser we refinished, hung pictures, replaced lamp shades, put away our china, and pulled out my Scentsy.

Y’all have one of these, right? I’m obsessed with mine. I love letting the scents permeate my apartment and now that I’m working from home all day you better believe I have it on all day every day.

Back in September, on a rare trip to Wal-Mart, I bought some wax cubes by Better Homes & Garden. I wanted to have seasonal fragrances like Apple Strudel, Pumpkin Pie, Blueberry Muffin, and Gingerbread. Tuesday, was my first day to use my Scentsy warmer since moving and I chose to put in a Gingerbread cube. I put it in mid-morning and had forgotten about it until Adam came home from work that evening.

He walks straight to the kitchen looking for a freshly baked batch of cookies. I felt horrible that the Scentsy led him astray so that night, we worked late cleaning the counters and putting away the remaining wedding gifts and serving pieces I already owned. Essentially, we made the kitchen usable.

And yesterday? Because I wanted an excuse to use my KitchenAid Stand Mixer, Adam got his cookies. Dark Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip.

This time, the scent he smelled as he walked through the door is edible! Given the fact that he ate almost an entire dozen by himself in one hour, I’d say he thought they were scrumptious!

Dark Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 and 1/4  cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate morsels

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat butter and sugars at medium speed until creamy.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla until all ingredients are blended.
  4. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
  5. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating well as you go.
  6. Stir in chocolate.
  7. Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  8. Bake for approximately 12 minutes.

Yield: 5 dozen

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Road Wars

This morning I risked my life for a bagel.

I woke up craving the cinnamon-y, sugar-y deliciousness of a Panera Bread Cinnamon Crunch Bagel. I got ready in record time – for a Monday – hopped in my car and headed to Panera.

Panera is relatively new in Conway and in a new development of both residential and commerical properties. [Which, by the way, is quite possibly the cutest little neighborhood I’ve ever seen.] This development has sparked the installation of some roundabouts and due to those roundabouts there is understandably some construction to navigate through. I’m okay with that, as normally it doesn’t cause that big of a delay.

But today, this is what I encountered as I approached my turn:

What you are looking at is a roundabout where the middle is blocked, making it impossible to make my left-hand turn to get to Panera. [Also notice there’s a curbed grassy median preventing me from just making my own turn lane]

Frustrated, I continued to drive a bit further as there is a second roundabout just up the road, it’s also new. Unfortunately, that roundabout was similarly blocked preventing me from making a U-turn.

This would be where I developed road Tourette’s.

I was bound and determined to make that left-hand turn and buy a bagel, so at the first opportunity I had where there was no longer a grassy median blocking me, I made a U-turn through an opening in the traffic barrels and into oncoming traffic narrowly avoiding a collision, but also starting a trend of 6 other cars making the same manuever.

I got skills. And I know how to use them.

At lunch I risked my life for a salad.

Now that my favorite Little Rock restaurant has opened a location in Conway, it’s pretty much become my regular lunch spot. To get there I take a series of side streets from work to get back to the aforementioned cluster-*bleep*. You’d think, since I’m making only right-hand turns this time it would be a breeze to get to ZAZA.

Well, you’d be mistaken, because this is what that same area looked like at lunch:

This time, the entire northbound road is blocked off. Not only that, what you don’t see is the madness I had to get through just to get on the road. The last 20 feet or so of the side-street I took was blocked off and had detour signs up. What these detour signs didn’t tell you, until it was too late, is that you were being taken to a coned off area that was running out of road; where making a right hand turn was virtually impossible given how close the cones were together and the narrow lanes of two-way traffic you would have to fight. You also had no option of backing up and turning around, because there was a line of cars in the same predicament as you.

As soon as I could make a left-hand turn, as it was much easier to make than a right, I bolted into the traffic then quickly made another left into a parking lot so I could finish my U-turn. And, wouldn’t you know it, I started a trend yet again. Skills.

I’m giving myself an imaginary pat on the back for being so resourceful when faced with adversity when I realize that the entire half of the roundabout I need to drive through to get to ZAZA is blocked. I do a quick scan for construction workers and equipment, of which there  is NONE, and bolt through a gap in the barrels just large enough for my car to fit through.

Which brings me to this question:

Seriously, “road people”. What possessed you to block the ONLY entrance to 2 of the newest hotspots in town with construction? Is it to test my analytical thinking skills? Is it a subtle hint that I don’t need to eat a bagel? No? Well then, maybe it’s your way of really testing my patience first thing on a Monday? Either way I deserve an explanation. stat.

Cookies

C is for Cookie…

Cookies

…that’s good enough for me!

Tonight I decided to bake dishpan cookies or, as my coworkers and friends refer to them, Crack Cookies. It’s a recipe my mom came up with after taking her favorite ingredients from different recipes to make a brand new one. These cookies are amazing straight out of the oven and even better if you eat them straight out of the freezer (after baking of course). I think it’s the crystallization of the sugar…at least that’s what I tell myself. In fact, when mom makes these at Christmas, she fills up our Santa cookie jar and places the remainder in the freezer. The ones in the freezer always disappear before the ones in the cookie jar.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups corn flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups oats
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 (12 ounce) package chocolate chips
  • 1 cup coconut

Directions:

  1. Cream first 5 ingredients until light and fluffy in large mixing bowl.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in large pan.
  3. Pour creamed mixture over dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Drop by teaspoon on cookie sheet and bake in 350 oven for 8 – 10 minutes.

Note:  Do not overcook. I spray my cookie sheets with non-stick spray before cooking first batch.

Yield: 10 – 12 dozen cookies

Makin’ Banana Pancakes

HG's Fab Five Banana Pancake Minis

Here’s the thing. I’m not a big whole wheat person. [Almost] Every bread I’ve ever tried that’s wheat has been either too “oat-y”, too “grainy” or tasted too much like chalk. So when I saw the ingredients for banana pancakes, a la HG‘s 200 Under 200 book, I was hesitant. Also, I’ve been afraid to try soy milk. Lucky me, this recipe calls for both.

As soon as the cinnamon-y dry ingredients combined with the banana-y wet ingredients I knew this would be a winner. Boy was it ever, if I hadn’t made them myself I wouldn’t even have known they were low-cal and healthy. The texture was perfect, no grainy or chalk taste here, only fluffy pancake goodness.

As for my topping, I didn’t leave them plain as you see in the picture above, nor did I drown them as syrup (because? as much as I wanted to do that I wanted to NOT go to the grocery store more). Instead, I sprinkled them with Splenda, it added the extra sweetness the syrup would’ve provided, without all those calories.

Orange Chocolate Cupcakes

Orange Chocolate Cupcakes

Orange Chocolate Cupcakes

A blog I follow almost daily is Design*Sponge. Last week they featured these cupcakes and I fell in love with them immediately. Long story short, tonight I finally had time to bake them, and boy were they worth the wait! The cake is moist and fluffy, the frosting has just the right balance of orange flavor, and the smell, oh the smell! My apartment smells phenomenal! Who knew adding/subbing a simple ingredient could make a seemingly perfect cupcake something unexpected and fabulous? Best of all, you won’t believe how simple these were to make!

Here’s the recipe:

Orange Chocolate Cupcakes
adapted from Day to Day Wonderments

  • 1 Box Chocolate Cake Mix
  • Replace Water with Orange Juice
  • 1/2 Orange Zested

Follow box directions, replacing and adding the ingredients listed above. I’m blaming the fluffiness of the cake on the orange juice, I’ve never had cupcakes turn out like this!

Orange Zest Frosting
adapted from Day to Day Wonderments

  • 4 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • 8 Tablespoons Butter, Softened
  • 3 Tablespoons Orange Juice (add more juice if needed)
  • 1 Orange Zested
  1. Mix all the ingredients until smooth.
  2. Use a round piping tip to pipe the icing.
  3. Zest an additional orange for to garnish and sprinkle a little sugar on top.

Servings: 24 cupcakes

Comfort Food

Last week I had a hankering to cook up some comfort food.

I wanted something easy, that used ingredients I already had in my pantry, and was quick. I dig through my cabinets and see some whole wheat/whole grain bread, sugar and cinnamon. I immediately become reminded of my childhood and having breakfasts of Cinnamon Toast.

The memories flood my mind as soon as the aroma fills my apartment and I’m in a nostalgic heaven. Memories of flouring the kitchen while “baking” before mom wakes up, helping my grandmas bake on the weekends, and more recently finding my love of cooking – one recipe at a time – bring a smile to my face.

This cinnamon toast is the epitome of comfort food to me and has quickly become my breakfast staple.

Meggie’s Cinnamon Toast

Ingredients

  • 1 slice Whole grain/whole wheat bread
  • 1/3 tsp Cinnamon
  • 2/3 tsp Sugar
  • 0 calorie fake butter spray (as much as you prefer)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven broiler to high.
  2. Place bread on baking sheet and spray with the fake butter
  3. Mix cinnamon and sugar together, then sprinkle onto the bread.
  4. Place in oven and cook until toasted. Be careful not to burn.
  5. Devour.