Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas Season To-Do List!



It's here! It's finally here!

CHRISTMAS!

You're right - the actual day of Christmas has not yet arrived, but Thanksgiving is behind us, it is officially December, and since Thanksgiving fell later in the month than usual, we have less than a month to pack in everything that is Christmas. It's a serious(ly fun) business. Since I loved crossing off items from my fall to-do list I thought it would be fun to create a similar list for the holiday season!

- Send Christmas cards (because who doesn't like Christmas cards!)
- Make Christmas treat deliveries. (DUH)
- Go ice skating.
- Go exploring for Edmond/OKC Christmas lights (duh).
- Get dressed up and go out for drinks. (Yes, please!)
- Watch as many Christmas movies as possible. This includes, but is not limited to: Home Alone 1 and 2, White Christmas, and Elf.

What else is quintessentially Christmas/Holiday that needs to be added? Who wants to sign up for things!

I haven't been ice skating since I was 10, but I've been wanting to go for the last few years, so maybe 2013 will finally be the year! I'm sure if I go I will look ridiculous and probably fall a lot, but the chances are high that we'll all laugh about it.

Let's all have holiday fun together!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Food Apologies

I was a fairly picky eater growing up. Don't get me wrong - I loved food, and I had no problem eating. Goodness knows I have loved to eat from day one. I just liked very basic food items when I was a child.
For instance, I loved pizza, but there better not be anything more exotic than pepperoni on that pizza. Mainly I just had eating oddities. I liked pancakes without butter or syrup. And don't bother trying to tell me that French toast was delicious, because I wouldn't touch it.
Butter grossed me out. Yeah. Beautiful, glorious butter. I didn't put butter on anything until a couple of years ago. (This does not include using butter to bake with, because I've been a huge proponent of that since I was an infant. That's not really possible, but you know what I mean). All of that to say that in recent years I've discovered that I in fact love many, many of the food items I used to refuse to eat.
So, I'd like to take this time to apologize to some of my now favorite food items that used to be abhorrent to me.

Sweet potatoes:
Sometimes I think to myself "what if I had never started liking sweet potatoes?" But then I get sad at the thought, so I change the subject. When I think back on all of those past Thanksgivings, I get frustrated at myself for grabbing a spoonful of your plain cousin "mashed potatoes" but skipping right over you. I was so young and naive.

Avocadoes:
I'm almost too ashamed to talk to you. I was such a mean girl to you. I've been sufficiently making up for lost time with you, though, because I put you on everything - even when you cost extra. If that's not love, I don't know what is.

Almonds and Pecans:
I feel bad for lumping you both together like this, because you are both so very different. That's one of the things I love most about you! Almonds, you've been in my desk drawers and kitchen cabinet so faithfully for the past 4 years. Without you I probably would have died of starvation behind my desk waiting for the noon hour to roll around.
Pecans! Oh, pecans. This is my first fall season to love you, so I'm beside myself with excitement to bake with you.

Eggs:
Perfect, versatile eggs. Please don't hold my ignorance toward your greatness against me. I know you're bigger than that, and you'd never do such a thing, but I felt it necessary to ask. You've been such a huge part of my breakfasts, lunches, and dinners now for a few years that I almost can't remember a time when we weren't close. Thank you for sticking with me (but not on my pans).
 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Planning for Friendsgiving






I tend to get ahead of myself when it comes to planning parties. I create lists for all of the imaginary parties I plan to host. I tear out ideas from magazines about centerpieces and place cards that I think would work well for said imaginary parties. I make mailing lists for all of the people who I'd love to see sitting around a table together. I tell you, there is a lot of planning that goes into these imaginary parties that will most likely never happen.

Most of these dinner gatherings end up just morphing into a regular evening of hanging out. People are invited (but not by fun mailed-out invitations), drinks are made (but not in fancy wine glasses), and food is consumed (but not in a three course meal sort of way). Laughter is always involved, so it's never a bad deal.
But Friendsgiving? Friendsgiving has always been the most elusive dinner gathering for me.

I've tried to plan one the past couple of years, but due to all the normal life things that come up between November and December, it has never come to fruition. Has this happened to anyone else? Am I the only one who has failed multiple times to provide a Friendsgiving?

This year Friendsgiving is planned for this Saturday, and I am pretty much super duper excited about it. I feel like I'm jinxing it by talking about it. Food has been planned and discussed and the prepping has begun. My place is tiny, so it will be a cozy (read: packed) evening, but I'm thoroughly excited.

Yay for food! Yay for holidays! Yay for friends!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Food Blogger Wannabe

Every time I bake something I think to myself, "Em. You should blog about this."

You see, I have this blog, but I don't really ever do anything with it. It kind of saddens me. (I realize that is a silly thing to sadden me, but silly things tend to sadden me no matter how much I wish they didn't. Like, it saddens me when I don't have time to sit and read through the magazines I get. See? Silly.)

Moving on! Like I said, I enjoy baking, and every time I begin the baking process I start out with the intention to blog it. It always seems simple enough at the beginning. Just bake, take pictures of the baking, and then write about it, right?
Well, I'm the worst at it. Maybe it's my lack of patience? Maybe I hate treating people like they're 4? (We all know how to mix in flour. Why are you telling me to move my spoon in circular motions until the flour is mixed in?)

Through these thoughts I've come to the conclusion that I will probably never become the next Joy the Baker. Big surprise, right? It's OK. I have other strengths. You know, like Instagramming on occasion and always having candy on my desk at the office. Maybe I should blog about that?
(Ex: Today I brought dark and milk chocolate Dove pieces to the office. Let me show you how I did it!)

I still like baking, though. So if you ever want to see pictures of food but you don't care about how those pictures were made, then follow me on Instagram (emlance).
In closing, I will leave you with pictures of the pie I made on Sunday. It was apple. It was delicious. I ate it for 4 meals straight; breakfast, lunch, dinner, and breakfast again. Can we all say "fat kid" in unison? On three. One, two, three! Fat kid! I don't even care. It was worth it.


 
(Yes, I totally baked this pie while wearing pajamas)
 


 
Thus concludes the picture and writing portion of this post.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Fall To-Do List: Update!

It has been a little over a month since I posted my fall to-do list on the blog. How is it already November 4th?? Like, for real.

- Watch You've Got Mail
Done! It was just me, Joe, Kathleen, Frank, New York in the fall, and the candle that was flickering in the background.

- Carve pumpkins
Done! Jenna and Maddie (aka: 2 of the coolest peeps ever) came over to show off their amazing carving skills. I was put to shame, but it was still a blast!

- Exploratory drive (to discover colors and wonderful fall things!)
This needs to happen quickly. The colors this year have been so gorgeous!

- Picnic with friends (as opposed to by myself)
Done! It was with Sally in Stillwater, and it's as if the universe knew we had planned a picnic for that day, because the weather was beyond perfect. It doesn't get much better than being outside in the fall, in my opinion.

- Run a 5K
I still need to sign up for one. Which one should I sign up for? Is anyone running one in the near future?

- Go to brunch somewhere
I am usually busy with church stuff on Sundays from 7:00 AM to 12:30 PM. It's not fun. If church people tell you that being at church that long each and every week is fun, they are lying. Don't get me started on this topic.
I digress.
I went to brunch at West with my friend BreAnne this past Sunday. I had never been there before, so I also got to knock off a restaurant on my list of places I need to eat in OKC. Two birds, one brunch!
Oh, and mimosas, am I right?

- Meander around a farmers market
Haven't even attempted, yet. There's still time!

- Braid my hair
OK, I've done this twice, but I have failed to go out in public with a braid. Once was just a pathetic attempt at a side braid that I took a picture of and texted my friend to get myself used to the idea of wearing a braid, the second attempt was just me in front of my mirror trying to do one of those braid headband things. I'm still baffled at how people can braid their own hair and make it look good. This is not my spiritual gift, obviously.

I've given myself until Thanksgiving to accomplish these items, so hopefully I'll get my act together before then. We shall see!

And because no blog post can be without pictures, here they be:

 ^ Heisenberg!^

Me and Jenna!

 
Delicious brunch.

 
Octopus plates! Brie! Wine!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Wish List

Items that I wish I had right at this very moment:

Coffee. Always coffee.
 

 Pumpkins. Tis the season.

 
Red glasses. I'm craving them.


 
This blazer. Or any blazer. But mainly this one.

 
SOCKS. I love them ever so much.


Caramel Apple Cheesecake. Because, duh.
 
 Aaaand tickets to Europe. Also duh.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fall To-Do List

 
I have decided that going forth I will no longer feel bad for skipping large amounts of time on my blog. This thing isn't here to stress me out, right?
I admire you ladies who keep up with yours regularly.

Side note - I have had four cookies today. FOUR. I realize that this has nothing to do with anything, but I felt the need to confess my gluttony.

October, which is possibly my favorite month ever, is upon us. This means that my daydreaming and planning of adventures has sky-rocketed (and it's already at a dangerous level).

Since I love lists, I decided that I should make a to-do list for fall-ish adventures.
Because Octobers are meant to be enjoyed and experienced. There's nothing sadder than a missed October.

- Watch You've Got Mail
- Carve pumpkins
- Exploratory drive (to discover colors and wonderful fall things!)
- Picnic with friends (as opposed to by myself)
- Run a 5K
- Go to brunch somewhere
- Meander around a farmers market
- Braid my hair

Who wants in on some of this fall action? Join me, won't you?





Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Gooey Cinnamon Squares

I don't have anything clever to say about these little guys.
They were fabulous. Stop whatever you are doing and go bake them.
Do it for you. Do it for your family. Do it for America. I'm not really sure what these have to do with America, but goodness are they delicious.
They are perfect to serve with coffee, for dessert, take to work, or eat for breakfast.
I'm just guessing on that last point. I definitely didn't eat one for breakfast two days in a row.

The recipe came from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook that I got for Christmas. I've now made 2 items from that book. Only two in an 8 month time frame. Shameful.

I know the recipe is technically called Gooey Cinnamon Squares, but I started calling it "snickerdoodle cake," because, well, that's essentially what it is.
After my last baking attempt ended in failure, I decided I needed to stick with something simple that was bound to deliver regardless of any user errors.

Question - do blogs sometimes make you feel like a failure at presenation? For instance, I feel the need to apologize that my container isn't an antique, white, quirky dish. I also took this picture with my iPhone, not a sweet camera with a crazy lense, and I didn't serve the dessert on cute vintage plates. I just put them in a generic container and took them to the office. I even put one of them in a ziploc.
Oh my gosh.
It feels so good to get that off my chest.

This pic was taken right before they (the squares) went into the oven. Look at the excitement.

 
Until next time!

Cookie Base:
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 milk

Gooey Layer:
1/4 cup light corn syrup or honey
1/4 cup milk, half and half, or cream (I used cream. Duh)
1 Tablespoon vanilla
12 Tablespoons butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Topping:
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Baking Bad

Baking Bad
Episode One:
Caramel Apple Cake
 
9:25 PM, Saturday, August 24:
Me: This cake is turning out to be a disaster. What's my deal?
My mother: I don't know. I'm sorry.
 
Two hours after that fateful text, I emphatically proclaimed to the air in my kitchen that I would never bake again and that I've been living a lie - parading around as a wannabe baker when I couldn't even frost a simple cake.
Despicable.
If this were an episode of Breaking Bad, I am certain that Gus would have shot me for producing a bad batch. Or, even worse, the Mexican cartel cousins would have been sent to keep me from producing such an atrocity ever again.
I'm sure I would have tried to offer a peace offering, and my last words would have been along of the lines of "WAIT! Would you like a piece of mediocre ca..."
It would have been too late.
I had been given my chance.
I would have been found lying in my kitchen in a pool of blood and cake batter the next morning.

 
That's probably a tad overdramatic. But just a tad.
Lets's go back to the beginning, shall we?
First, the back story:
My parents and I always eat Sunday lunch together. Since Sundays are nutsballs for us, we take that opportunity to indulge our food desires.

My mother always wakes up at 4:00 AM, or some other ungodly hour of the morning, to prep the lunch and make sure everything is set for an easy post-church, oven-to-table set up.
This always includes dessert.
Not a Sunday goes by when that woman does not have a delicious dessert prepared for us.

So, when I began this lovely little blog challenge for myself, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to relieve my mother of one task on her Sunday morning schedule. I happily texted my mother to make sure she approved of this idea. She responded with "That would be great!" and I quickly began the planning.

I've been craving fall lately. My thoughts have been consumed with tights, sweaters, football, and party planning. Granted, party planning is always on my mind, but it definitely is hightened during the fall months.
Because of this, I thought it only fitting that I make the Caramel Apple Cake that is from the same Baked cookbook I used for the Cowboy Cookies.

Oh, goodness. Apples! Caramel! Cake! It's a trifecta of deliciousness.

I made the cake, and it was wonderful. Three 8 inch cake pans came out of the oven and patiently waited to be flipped over and frosted. One of the layers stuck ever so slightly to the bottom of the pan, but I wasn't deterred. This was going to be amazing.
I could feel it.
I had a wedding that night at work, so I packed the cakes away and returned home later to make the frosting and finish the process.

Somewhere between work and my house I lost my mind, because when I came back, everything I did was the worst.
I dropped 3 cups of flour all over the floor.
I almost added baking soda instead of baking powder.
I dropped the trashbag as I was pouring the failed batch of frosting into it, so as if to mock me, the failed frosting ended up on the floor, my legs, the bottom of the trash can.
Basically, the frosting was everywhere except in the trash bag, which was the one place I wanted it to be.

I apparently also became illiterate, because I couldn't follow the most basic of instructions.
Sugar? They must mean powdered sugar.
Cook? They must mean don't cook.
Like I said, I lost my mind.

The next morning, I tossed the pathetic attempt at a cake in a carrying device and headed out the door.
I warned my parents of the how awful it would be. Just imagine the scene from Anne of Green Gables where Anne shouts "Don't eat it, Miss Stacy!" Except I shouted "Drown it in ice cream and make sure a strong pot of coffee is on standby!"

All in all, the actual cake was delicious. It was just that stupid frosting. I'm sorry I did wrong by you, Apple Caramel Cake. It wasn't your fault.

I hope you all haven't lost faith in me. I promise to make it up to you somehow.





Friday, August 23, 2013

Cowboy Cookies

Have you ever made a challenge/goal for yourself only to have a slight panic attack when you looked at your schedule only to to see you would hardly be home to make that goal a reality?
That just happened to me.
Yes, I probably take things too seriously, but whatever. 
A goal is a goal!

Step one - Pull out all of the cookbooks to decide which one would be the lucky winner as the first "branch out" recipe. There was much excitement, let me tell you.
(We all know the real step one is choosing which music you will listen to during the baking. For the Cowboy Cookies, I went with a classic Kanye West album).

Step two - Read through all of the recipes and narrow it down purely based on the ingredients that are or are not currently in the kitchen.

Step three - Make sure your music is at an appropriate level and begin!

The Cowboy Cookies were the winner for the first post, mostly because I had all of the ingredients.

Side note: I greatly admire all people who are able to keep a fully stocked pantry.

Back to the cookies.

The recipe came from Baked Explorations, which I love. It's so fun to look through!
Fun fact - I first glanced through this cookbook while I was waiting to surprise the manager at the Borders in Largo, MD. That sounds a lot more scandalous than it was.

So, you know how cookie recipes go. Mix the butter, sugar, brown sugar together. Add the egg(s). Then the other random dry ingredients, and what not. End with flour, oatmeal, chocolate.
The recipe called for two cups of semi-sweet chocolate chunks, but alas. I keep a poorly stocked pantry, so I was devoid of semi-sweet chocolate chunks.
So, I went to plan B - chopping up semi-sweet baking squares.
However, I ended up with only a cup of those, so then I went to plan C, which was adding a cup of milk chocolate chips to the mix. I figure it's chocolate, so how horrible can it be?

Once everything has been mixed together, cover the mixing bowl in a soft blanket (or foil) so the dough can take a cold, four hour nap. It's the luckiest dough ever.

Once the dough's refrigerated naptime is over, proceed to scoop the dough onto a cookie sheet. The dough blobs end up being about 1 inch in diameter. Try not to eat as much of the dough as I did. Blast!

Side note - I hate treating people like they don't know anything about baking. Probably because I absolutely hate it when other bloggers do it to me. Like, "Then you're going to want to put the chocolate chips IN the cookies." Oh, really? I thought we'd just be setting them on the counter to look at while we ate the cookies.
So, please don't be offended if I make a comment about how big the cookies are supposed to be. I am guessing all of you are familiar with the average size of a cookie.

So - fill the cookie sheet with cookie dough blobs, stick the cookie blobs into an oven, wait for a few minutes, then pull out the cookies, let them cool, and then partake in the deliciousness.
If you're like me, you bake them at 7:00 in the morning and take them to work with you so you won't be tempted to eat all of them.
Also, if you are like me again you will forget to take a picture of them as proper bloggers do, so you'll be forced to take one at your office while they are still around.
And you'll love sharks.
We're still playing the "if you're like Emily" game, right?

I digress.

Verdict:
These cookies were a super easy first recipe. I mean, they're cookies, so I kind of feel like I cheated the new goal.
I'll make it up to you next week, Goal! I promise!
Moving on, these were tasty little morsels. My co-worker said "It's like meeting a Care Bear! And he's real!" I'm not entirely sure what this means, but she said it with a smile on her face, so I'll take it as a good thing.
Obligatory photos!






Recipe:
1 3/4 flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups rolled oats
14 Tbs. unsalted butter
3/4 sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. instant espresso powder
2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks
3/4 thin, salty pretzels (optional) to sprinkle on top of the dough blobs prior to baking.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Baking! Challenges! School!

(When someone asks where my happy place is, I describe this picture. Dough! Rolling pin! Flour!)

Two truths and a lie:
1) My hair is unruly.
2) I am super good at keeping up with a blog.
3) I dream about cake.

If you guessed #3 as the lie - you are wrong! It is #2.
(And, yes. #3 is unfortunately very true. Last night my dream was pretty much just me in the kitchen baking a chocolate cake, and then bringing it to work to distribute to people. What does this mean? Other than I am a boring person who dream about real-life experiences) Oh, well!

And now a confession:
I am a cookbook hoarder. It's true. I have so many, but I always end up using a tried and true recipe and tell myself that I'll branch out the next time.
Well, no longer, I say!
I made a deal with myself that I would bake one new item per week from my currently owned cookbooks. I am writing it on here as a way to keep myself accountable. Because I'm sure you all will yell at me when next Monday rolls around and I haven't baked anything. Don't yell! I'll bring you a treat to eat!

I mean, what better time to begin a new goal than at the beginning of the school year, right? Excitement!

Monday, June 10, 2013

2012: A Year in Review - In Movies

 
I realize it has been about six months since my last blog post, but that's only because I'm a horrible blogger. I mean, really. Let's just be honest. But, I come to you today with a topic that is quite near and dear to my heart:
 Stupid movies.

As previously mentioned in a couple of blog posts, my friend Sally and I love watching
stupid movies.
Stupidly wonderful movies. 

At the beginning of 2012, Sally and I decided that we would record each and every movie that we watched during the year so we could look back on the anthology of horrible awesomeness.
What will follow in the coming weeks will both amaze and horrify you.
Probably.
You may just be surprised.
Or angry?
Hopefully not angry.

Our Process
We scientifically decided which movies to watch, then prepared ourselves to be amazed.
(Let the record show that in our case "scientifically" meant closing our eyes while being spun around in the aisle of the movie store, and then renting whatever movie we were pointing at when we were done spinning. The movie store people loved us)
Side note: a few TV shows made their way onto this list. Thanks, Netflix!
By now you're probably asking - Emily, couldn't you and your friend have spent your time doing something more productive? 
Possibly. But when you really think about it, most likely not.
Besides, you can't say that we're not dedicated toward a goal.
For the record, we pretty much only watched movies between the hours of 11:00 PM and 1:00 AM, so we had already accomplished all of our goals during the daylight hours.

Disclaimer for my own piece of mind: Sally was working full time and planning a wedding, and I was working 2 jobs during this year, so we didn't just sit around watching movies.

PS - one of the best parts of watching these movies is trying to dissect them afterwards.
Generally, we can't make heads or tails of them, and we end the conversation with shouting "HOW DO THESE MOVIES GET MADE?!"
But then we think about how we just spent money on the movie, so maybe the joke is on us.
You win again, Hollywood!

Stats
We watched 75 things. 
This included 18 TV episodes and 57 movies.

Point System
As with any wonderful goal, we had a point system in place.
We designated extra points for the following items: 
- If the movie started with the word "the"
- If the movie was a prequel or sequel to another movie.
- If Brendan Fraser or Nicolas Cage "acted" in the movie. 
Yes, I put "acted" in quotes.
For obvious reasons.

Also, we love watching movies out of order. Meaning, if given the option, we chose to watch the third installment of a movie over the first even if we had not yet seen the first or second installments.
It's fairly enjoyable.

Since we want to do justice by these (atrocious) movies, we decided it would be best to break this list down into installments. I'll post the full list of what we watched, and then we'll post a breakdown/description/plea for an explanation of each movie/episode in the coming weeks.
Don't try to hide your excitement.

There will most likely be rewards for people who can apply logic to some of these horrible movies. For instance, if anyone can tell me how the Scorpion King movies coincide with each other, please let me know. Because it kind of seems like they made three completely different movies, and then the Committee to Name Movies was like "Wow, this movie doesn't make any sense, but, they shoot arrows in it, so go ahead and name this one Scorpion King 2. Nobody will ever know."
 
Without further ado, I present to you:
Things Sally and Emily Watched: 2012 Edition
 
Wicker Man: Nicolas Cage points!
Wrong Turn 2: Sequel points!
Scorpion King 3: Sequel/Prequel points!
Boogeyman 2: Sequel points!
White Noise 2:Sequel points!
Lake Placid 3: Sequel points!
The Grudge 2: Sequel points!
20 Bucks: Brendan Fraser points!
The Scorpion King: Prequel/Sequel points!
Twilight 4 Part 1: It's just so ridiculous.
Journey to the Center of the Earth: Brendan Fraser points!
Quarantine 2: Sequel points!
The Mummy: Brendan Fraser points!
The Mummy 3: Brendan Fraser points! Sequel points!
The Cell 2: Sequel points!
Dr. Quinn - Season 3, episode "Money Problems"
I Escaped a Cult (TV Show)
What Lies Beneath (Confession: I legitimately like this movie)
Dr. Quinn - Season 3, episode "Thanksgiving"
America's Next Top Model - Cycle 16, Season Finale
Season of the Witch: Nicolas Cage points!
The Good Son: Truth be told, we kind of didn't hate this one. 
The Mummy 2: Brendan Fraser points! Sequel points!
National Treasure: Nicolas Cage points!
Face Off: Nicolas Cage points! (Between Travolta and Cage I think I understood about 10 words in the entire movie)
Dr. Quinn - Season 3, Episode "Ladies Night"
Dr. Quinn - Season 3, Episode "Customer Come Here"
Dr. Quinn - Season 3, Episode "The End of the World"
Dr. Quinn - Season 3, Episode, "Pikes Peak"
Dr. Quinn - Season 3, Episode, "Cooper vs. Quinn" - a very special double episode
Dr. Quinn - Season 3, Episode, "What is Love"
Paranormal Activity 4: Sequel points!

If you read all of that you deserve a reward. Maybe I'll send you a copy of one of these movies.
You won't be disappointed.