The Inaugural Life on Wednesdays

One of my resolutions for 2014 was to add a weekly feature of sorts to My Sequined Life, in addition to recipes or projects. Don’t get me wrong – I so enjoy writing about those things, but I’m fairly certain it would take quite awhile for whoever regularly reads to get to “know me” by anecdotes sprinkled here and there throughout the site alone. (And if you are a regular reader, well then holy smokes, THANK YOU!).

So, “Life on Wednesdays” it is, a weekly, all-purpose post for a little glimpse of what’s happening outside my blog. Maybe this’ll be about what’s happening in my life, maybe it’ll be some links to other blogs I can’t get enough of, and maybe when all else fails it’ll be a cute picture of my dog. What I can assure you is that it won’t be me spilling my guts into a virtual diary. I’d like to leave the hum-drum of my work life at the office, and while I may personally get jazzed about a sale on pickles at the supermarket, I know that you really couldn’t care less. Capiche?

(First sequined factoid – I LOVED Full House when I was little.)

I’m a firm believer that if you want to learn about someone, then check out their Pinterest. It’s been a few months but it just occurred to me to link my own Pinterest here with the button the right. Duh.

Pinterest wait list
Not to get all mushy gushy about a website, but I just KNEW I’d love Pinterest ever since I first heard about it. You can make LISTS and ORGANIZE with PICTURES. Back then you needed to be on a wait list (which I obviously joined immediately) and was doing the happy dance when I “got in”, but there was one tiny big issue. I had just started studying for the CPA Exam. All four parts. Groan.

Knowing what my studying might be in danger of should I crack open Pandora’s box (Pindora’s box?), I held onto that invite in a super safe corner of my Gmail for EIGHT MONTHS until my exams were over and done with, for good. And I mean business about these things. Hot off taking the last one, I walked in the door, signed up, cracked open a bottle of wine, got comfy on the couch, and proceeded not to move for five hours while I pinned my brains out. If that doesn’t tell you a little bit about me, then I don’t know what will.

Some other things you may surmise about me from perusing my Pinterest:

1. I seem to have an obsession with subtley-ombré hair, glitter nail art, and french bulldogs. Presently, my hair is one shade of dark brown (though I have a hair appointment on Friday…), my nails are a chipped oxblood (but I would jump with joy if I could actually do this awesome gold/glitter job myself), and I have an aging Wheaten Terrier who keeps a eye out for any dropped snacks.

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2. No matter how may times I’ve seen them, I will snort with laughter when I see this and this. I knew they were coming and it still happened just now.

3. I scroll through my quote board when I need a boost. Seeing Donna pop up never ceases to make me smile. Love Parks and Rec! If I ever reach a point on Netflix where there are no more new episodes of New Girl, Mad Men, Parks and Rec, The League, or White Collar, I’ll feel a little bit lost.

But then again I can always pour myself a glass of wine, put on my cheetah-print Snuggie, and pin-binge. That always works. 🙂

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Black Forest Cookies and 2014 Resolution Progress

I know, I know. Posting a cookie recipe when we’re not even two weeks out from Christmas. What is she thinking? But hear me out. I had such a smattering of ingredients left over after my holiday baking, and they were taking up some prime real estate in my fridge. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing – there could be far worse situations in which to find yourself. There was a half-full jar of maraschino cherries here, a little bit of dark chocolate almond milk there (which is a surprise, given the number of times this Healthier Mexican (Dark) Hot Chocolate happened), even some unsweetened coconut flakes were kicking around the bottom drawer (also used in this Oven-Baked Coconut Almond Pancake). Basically, my fridge was full of food odds and ends.

With 2014 rapidly approaching, I felt a strong urge to start fresh. Clean the house from top to bottom, organize everything I own, drink green smoothies daily, double my time on the elliptical, conquer the world, etc. You know, all that resolution stuff. What sprung from the infectious, inspiring spirit of a new year soon overwhelmed me, and quite frankly I was exhausted even before that sparkly, decked-out ball dropped in Times Square.

So, baby steps. I couldn’t clean the whole house without starting somewhere, and I chose the fridge for my starting point. Cherries, chocolate…I mean that just screams black forest right? By my thinking, finishing off these ingredient misfits was in a way cleaning the fridge. Making these was practically a resolution.

Black Forest Cookie
These cookies are chewy, thanks to the untraditional addition of unsweetened coconut flakes mixed into the batter. The unsweetened flakes (which I found at my local natural foods grocer) are smaller than the traditional sweetened coconut flakes, so in this recipe they tend to absorb into the batter rather than stand out on their own. Hence, the chewiness. They also don’t spread much during baking, so if necessary you may drop dough closer together than I did (see picture in recipe steps below).

Black Forest Cookies
Yields 36 cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
2 tbsp Nutella
3/4 cup dark chocolate almond milk
1/2 cup maraschino cherries, quartered
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, divided
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and cocoa powder.

2. In a separate bowl, blend together butter, sugar, vanilla extract, eggs, Nutella, and almond milk. Pour wet ingredients into dry and combine.

3. Stir in cherries, 3/4 cup of the coconut flakes, and 1 cup of the chocolate chips.

4. Drop rounded two-tablespoonfuls of batter onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until tops of cookies spring back lightly to touch. Let cool on wire racks.

Cookies pre-bake
5. To make chocolate drizzle, melt the remaining cup of chocolate chips in microwave for twenty-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Transfer melted chocolate to a plastic bag, seal, and snip corner of bag. Drizzle over top of cookies.

6. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of coconut flakes on top of cookies while chocolate drizzle is still malleable so they adhere. Let drizzle harden before serving and/or packaging.

Finished Cookies
Cookie halved

How to Salvage a Recipe Whoops

salvage recipe whoops text

You know what I really hate to do? Waste things. When I was little, I always wanted to save things, because surely I’d need a stockpile of wrapping paper scraps and empty glass bottles. In case of a decoupage emergency or something. Through the years I’ve (thankfully) learned to part with many could-be craft supplies, because while I can have ideas for days, the reality is that I won’t get around to crafting all of my grand plans.

Food, though…food is a different story. You’ve spent money on ingredients, spent time preparing whatever it is that you’re making, and seeing both of those things thrown into the garbage is all kinds of frustrating. Plus if you’re making something, there’s a good chance that you’re hungry, and your stomach has already set its expectations accordingly. Having to abandon your plans and start fresh is apt to pitch even the most even-tempered into the throes of hangriness. Look. out.

So when you first get that nagging feeling that your recipe is headed off the tracks, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Can you cut it into small pieces and bake it a different way?

2. Is the taste spot-on but the presentation…lacking?

3. Can you cover it in frosting and/or sprinkles to make the whoops go away?

4. Can you cut off the offending piece?

5. Is it feasible to rename whatever it is and pass it off like something else?

Regarding point #5, it’s all about managing expectations. Depending on what you’re making (and how much you talked it up beforehand), you may not have much lead time before you realize your recipe’s going south, so sometimes this is unavoidable. For example, if you’ve been raving about a gigantic cinnamon roll for days and have gotten someone else craving it, having them witness you frantically scurrying around the kitchen in search of your muffin pan might dash their dreams a bit (sorry, B!). Likewise, promising to bring a loaf of banana bread somewhere and showing up with a plate of cookies that suspiciously looked like they contained bananas and chocolate chips might be, well, awkward. So, in the ideal scenario, “Hey guys, I made banana bread biscotti crisps!” sounds a whole lot better than “well, I was going to make a loaf of bread, but then x, y, z happened…”. A whoops indeed (but still better than showing up empty-handed).

In the couple of months since starting My Sequined Life, I’ve encountered SO. MANY. kitchen whoops I can’t even begin to tell you. Under-seasoning french toast so it tastes just like eating…soggy bread. Forgetting to grease the pan so the mini loaves that I envisioned would look so cute in a photo turned into a crumby (and unpictured) mess. Breathing a sigh of relief that we had just the amount of eggs necessary for a recipe…and then dropping them on the floor. The list goes on.

Most of the time these whoops go undocumented (for good reason), but here are two recipes I resurrected by using a mix of the techniques above.

Case #1 – Banana bread beer…bread

Synopsis – I saw this beer in the store. Thought it would be all sorts of clever to use it to make banana bread. Not so.

The Whoops – Everything was seemingly fine – the batter looked normal, the loaf was rising in the oven, etc. Took it out of the oven to cool and the thing deflated until it was barely 1″-tall. A dense banana bread brick.

The Fix – Cut it up and bake it again (#1 above). I sliced the loaf into 1/4″-thick slices, laid the slices down on their sides on a cookie sheet, and baked them until the edges were golden brown and they were crisp throughout. From banana bread brick to banana bread biscotti crisps within 10 minutes.

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Case #2 – Cinnamon Roll Cake

Synopsis – This giant cinnamon roll cake on Sally’s Baking Addiction stopped me in my pinning tracks on Pinterest. Doesn’t it look incredible?? I showed it to B and said I’d make it for New Year’s Day breakfast (setting expectations…my first mistake). The problem with a New Year’s Day breakfast that requires rising time? New Year’s Eve festivities, that’s what. I slept in until 10:00 AM (what!) and thought I could have my cake – literally – and eat it too by still making the cake but taking a few shortcuts (my second mistake).

The Whoops – I won’t even share with you my methodology here, but it involved a tube of store-bought dough, a gloppy, undercooked center, and a few tears of frustration.

The Fix – Grab your muffin tin (#2 above). I ripped my half-crispy-half-raw monstrosity of a breakfast into small pieces and placed them into eight greased muffin tins. I popped them back in the oven, placed a loose tent of aluminum foil over the top halfway through so that they didn’t crisp up too much, and removed when everything was cooked through. Drizzled some glaze over top and voilà – Pull-Apart Cinnamon Roll Muffins were born.


Post-ripping, pre-second-bake.


The finished product – Cinnamon Roll Pull Apart Muffins. Doesn’t look like such a whoops after all, now does it? In fact, got B’s seal of approval!

Of course there are plenty of times when what you’re making hurdles past the point of rescuing (I will run screaming from unintentionally-curdled milk), but hopefully with an assortment of tools and a dash of creativity you can turn your kitchen whoops into something that’s beyond edible, and maybe even a little delicious.

Clink Clink Fizz, See Ya 2013

Well, it’s the last day of 2013. Did you manage to accomplish all the resolutions you set for yourself? Do you even remember what they were? I for one don’t. I’m sure I decided on a few, but this time last year began a real doozy in my work life, and I didn’t quite see my house in the daylight until March. Needless to say, sitting stationary and eating takeout at work for breakfast, lunch, and dinner squashed any health-related resolutions I may have made. Sitting at that same desk over weekends also raised a big middle finger to recreational activities such as visiting the beach regularly or exploring local hiking trails in our new town. Basically, my 2013 resolutions were a big ol’ bust. Whatever they were.

Fast forward a year, and now I have a job where I can A) see the daylight and B) exercise regularly, so I’ll take a stab and say that 2014 will be off to a better start than 2013. Especially with this lower-sugar, fizzy and festive cocktail.

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I’ll be honest – I’m not a big fan of sugary mixed drinks. Sticky sweet concoctions that make my teeth ache and turn my tongue (and lips, and teeth…) an unnatural color. I’d much prefer to order a beer at a bar, but at home I’m apt to toil away in the kitchen testing out lower-sugar drinks. As a bonus, they tend to be lower-calorie, too.

This one combines peach, strawberry, and raspberry, but feel free to mix up the flavors to match your preferences. Whatever the flavor of sparkling water, it, along with the lambic, creates a festive fizz that will look the part at your festivities (whether your definition of festivities is a large party or you and yours sitting on the couch watching Netflix). <– take a guess at what category I fall into 🙂

Ingredients (800x589)
If you’ve never had the framboise lambic, I’ll tell you that it’s delicious. Technically it’s a beer, but its deep-pink color and raspberry flavor would have you thinking otherwise. It’s wonderful to sip by itself or added as an element in other drinks. In this drink, it’s cut with the sparkling water to reduce the sugar, but it still does its job with the flavor and color it imparts.

Taste of framboise

Lindemans framboise lambic…mmmmm

Rasp-Strawberry Peach Fizz
Yields 2 drinks

3 oz peach-flavored vodka
6 oz strawberry-flavored sparkling water
6 oz Lindemans framboise lambic
4 ice cubes

1. Place two ice cubes in each glass (told you it was easy!).

2. Measure 1 1/2 oz of peach-flavored vodka and 3 oz of strawberry sparkling water into each glass and stir.

Without framboise (800x600)
3. Pour approximately 3 oz of the framboise lambic into each glass. Enjoy!

Drink