09 May 2010

Everything and the Kitchen Sink Cookies

Sometimes, I just really need to cook. It's a craving.

And sometimes, there are no eggs in our apartment.

And when these two events coincide, bad things happen. Like these cookies. I just kept throwing things in until the dough tasted good. 

The end result? Banana-pecan-apricot-spiced-chocolate-chip-cookies. 

Kitchen Sink Cookies

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped dried apricots
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp nutmeg

Blend butter, sugars, bananas, and vanilla together. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients (except for chocolate chips, pecans, and apricots). Add dry ingredients incrementally to the wet mixture. Once blended, add the good stuff. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes.

Procrastination: Making a Bachelorette Party Cake

Helped to throw and attended my first bachelorette party for an engaged friend.

As if I didn't feel old enough with graduation coming up so soon.

I took it upon myself to create this (lovely? maybe?) cake for the bride-to-be. The reaction by most was "that's a cake?!"

Please oh please don't let me end up on CakeWrecks for this one.

Devil's food "bed," angel food "pillows," fruit roll-up "quilt", and Barbie and Ken.

Talk about a recipe for disaster.

05 May 2010

Getting my rear in gear!

Dear Friends and Family,

While getting ready to begin my graduate career in the biomedical sciences, I have thought a lot about how I ended up choosing research as my life's work.

Dr. V offered me the opportunity to work in one of his clinical research laboratories when I was only 17. That was my first introduction to laboratory work and to research protocols. It sparked my interest in cancer genetics, in which I will be starting to pursue my PhD this June.

Dr. V passed away a year ago from colorectal cancer. His passing was a great loss to all who knew him and to the scientific community at large.

In memory of Dr. V, who opened up the door to a career in research for me, I will be running my first 5K to raise both awareness and money for colorectal cancer research.

Please consider joining me in honoring this great man's memory by donating to Get Your Rear In Gear. Every penny makes a difference.

Thank you for your time and support!

Much love,


03 May 2010

Cinnamon-Sugar Challah

With graduation looming ever closer, I find my time slipping away from me more and more. I hit the brakes last Friday and decided to make myself a nice loaf of bread. There's nothing better to slow down and unwind with than some nice yeast dough and a few episodes of "Say Yes to the Dress" while it's rising.

This was also deemed the best loaf of challah I have ever made by my roommates. Further proof that cinnamon makes everything better.

Cinnamon-Sugar Challah

1 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
1 3/4 cup warm water
1 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp salt
1 cup oil
4 eggs plus 1 egg for egg glaze
6-8 cups flour

Mix together granulated sugar and warm water. Sprinkle in yeast, and allow to proof for 15 minutes.
Mix in 4 eggs, 1 cup oil, cinnamon, and brown sugar.
Add flour cup by cup until just slightly sticky.
Place dough ball in an oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise for at least 4 hours.
Once doubled in size, remove dough from bowl and knead lightly a few times.
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Separate into three balls, and slowly shape the balls into three ropes.
Braid the three strands, tucking the ends under.
Beat the last egg with a fork. Using a pastry brush, glaze the bread.
Bake for 45-60 minutes. The best test for doneness is a hollow sound when the bread is lightly tapped.

23 April 2010

Marbled Banana Bread

Confession: I hate the smell of bananas.

I think it has something to do with that awful organic chemistry lab two years ago. We synthesized artificial banana flavoring for weeks on end. My entire body and wardrobe smelled like banana Runts for the rest of the semester. True story.

Confession: I love the taste of bananas. 

Because of the Banana Oil Synthesis incident, however, I have been unable to tolerate bananas in any form other than in the perfect, unscented raw state. Until this evening, when I came home to find two bananas whose peels were black. 

So when life gives you pitch-black, over-ripened bananas... make this chocolate-y, cinnamon-y banana bread.

Marbled Banana Bread

2 bananas (preferably disgustingly ripe)
1 cup flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp milk
4 tbsp melted butter
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp nutmeg
2 generous tsp cinnamon (I used Ceylon cinnamon instead of Cassia, but the latter should be just fine)

Preheat oven to 350F. Melt the butter, and set aside to cool for a few minutes. Mash the banands into the butter, along with the sugar, milk, and egg. In a separate bowl, mix all other dry ingredients (except the cocoa) together. Add flour mixture a bit at a time. Place half of the dough/batter in another bowl. Add cocoa powder, and mix well. Place batters in a greased loaf pan, alternating between the two. Using a knife, swirl the batters together in the pan, taking care not to blend them into one. Bake for 50 minutes.

21 April 2010

Strawberry Lemonade Granita

Spring seems to be finally hitting the midwest. Squirrels are out, the frisbee team is practicing out on the quad...

And the ice cream stand is open.

Ice cream is my favorite food. Hands down.

Well, okay, that and chocolate chip pancakes. And strawberry lemonade. But other than that, ice cream is definitely my favorite.

Instead of immediately heeding the call of Dari Barn, I decided to try my hand at something as summery, if not healthier: granita. For those not in the know, granita is an Italian shaved ice treat, usually made by hand. I've had it a few times before, and loved it. It's the perfect light treat after an evening run. It does take a while to make, so be patient!

So, without further ado...

Strawberry Lemonade Granita

1 lb fresh strawberries, rinsed and sliced thin
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Continue to heat until berries lose shape and mixture becomes thick. Cool to room temperature. Transfer to a baking dish (the bigger the area, the faster it'll freeze!), and place in freezer. Remove every hour, scrape and fluff frozen mixture with a fork, and place back in freezer. Once at desired consistency (see photos above), dig in!

18 April 2010

Cookie Dough Brownies (for lack of a better name)

I read about these incredible brownie-chunk cookies on Bon Appetit, and started drooling. However, I am definitely more of a brownie-lover than a cookie-lover.

So I flipped it. Cookie dough baked into brownies.

Aww yeah. That's what I'm talking about. Now, I don't really have a name for these... my roommates came up with "brownnooks" and "cooknies"... Neither of which seems to fit.

Regardless, the consensus was this was the best thing I've made in a long time. Do yourself a favor: make these, and put them in your face.

Cookie Dough Brownies

For the cookie dough:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks, 1/2 pound) butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated [white] sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir into dry mixture. Add chocolate chips. Set aside.
For the brownie batter:

1 2/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup butter
2 tbsp espresso powder
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. In a double-boiler, melt cocoa powder and butter. In a separate bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients. Slowly add the cocoa-butter mixture and stir to combine. Stir in chunks of the cookie dough. Pour into a 13" x 9" cake pan, and bake for 50 minutes.