baking · bars · dessert · easy · quick · snacks · vegetarian

Blondies

The snow has been out of fucking control here in Minneapolis. We didn’t get much snow at all this winter until about 2 weeks ago, at which point it dumped all the snow we should have gotten over the course of 3 months in 2 weeks. On top of that we also had the coldest day on record since the fucking 1800’s* or some shit. I HAD ICE ON THE INSIDE OF MY APARTMENT WINDOWS.

THIS IS NOT OKAY.

Today the city issued yet another snow emergency, which just means the street parking situation will be all fucked up. My tiny ass Honda Fit is missing her cushy life with the retired couple that bought her new 10 years ago. She used to live in a garage for fuck’s sake. But she’s a fighter! It only took 3 tries (and a little pep talk) to get her started on the coldest day in recent history (it was a high of -15… that’s NEGATIVE FIFTEEN DEGREES).

The day prior to the icy windows day was a balmy high of -2, so I thought it’d be a great idea to walk to therapy. After all, it was only 4 blocks from the gym, which was already charging me for parking, so why pay a meter too? I layered up with my base layer first, which consisted of leggings, wool socks, a tank top, and a long sleeved t-shirt. Then I had a cheap-ass peacoat, a very warm knit hat that covered my ears, a chunky hand knit infinity scarf (also pulled over the hat), and super warm mittens. Oh, and snow boots of course. I don’t fuck around with footwear in the winter. It’s always North Face now that I’m an adult. In New York, my tiny 23-year-old brain thought discount store fashion boots were acceptable footwear in the snow. I was a goddamn moron. Clearly I haven’t learned much yet, though. Because, if you know anything about winter, you’ll know that my attire for that 4 block walk was absolutely not sufficient. My legs were literally only covered with LEGGINGS. Not even thick yoga leggings, but fashion leggings. I might as well have been out there pants-less. That millimeter of fabric was doing absolutely nothing to cut the wind. At first I thought I’d be fine, because it’s only 4 blocks. I can handle anything for 4 blocks. Halfway through the walk I realized I’d made a huge mistake. My thighs were starting to hurt, and I was getting nervous. By block 3 my thighs started to sting. Waiting for the crosswalk across the street from my therapist’s office they started to feel warm again. That’s when I really started to panic, because I had some elementary school memory flash before me of being told that was a bad sign (which is completely false, but try telling that to my anxiety). I couldn’t cross that street fast enough, and silently cursed every single car that made me wait.

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Bourdain likes to help.

I finally made it to my appointment, and even back to my car afterwards (with a stop at Chipotle to warm up). This week I opted to pay for parking across the street. Plus, it gave my car a chance to warm up in the parking ramp. She deserves it. She didn’t ask for this life.

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After therapy last week, I decided to bake yet again. I’ve been baking a lot due to the weather. Plus, it calms me down when I’m anxious or overwhelmed, which has also been an issue lately. I’m also hoping to get a spot in the local farmer’s market to sell baked goods, which means I need to practice different recipes. I’ve been feeding T like crazy, and also bringing things to work. These blondies were not heavily shared, though. I was feeling selfish, and that’s okay. Plus, the recipe only makes an 8 x 8 pan of them, which is so much more manageable than most brownie and blondie recipes.

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Feel free to mix in whatever you’d like instead of the vanilla chips and pecans. Chocolate chips would be awesome, as well as various candy and nuts. I chose vanilla chips and pecans because I wanted to keep these “blonde” rather than just making a variation of a chocolate chip cookie.

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Blondies (originally from here)

1 stick butter, melted

1 cup packed dark or light brown sugar (I used dark because it’s better)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

Dash of salt

1 cup flour

1/3 cup vanilla chips mixed with chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 pan and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together butter and sugar. Add in egg and vanilla. Whisk well. Then with a large spoon, slowly incorporate the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Finally, fold in the vanilla chips and chopped pecans.

Press into greased baking dish so that it’s one even layer (it will be the consistency of cookie dough). Bake for 25-30 minutes. Scoop a big bite out as soon as it’s cool enough to not burn your face off. Cut the rest into cute little squares and serve on a plate/tray so no one else knows you weren’t able to control yourself before it was fully cooled. Or don’t and own it. You’re allowed to eat blondies at any temperature you choose.

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*This “stat” was pulled right out of my ass. I believe it was the coldest day since the 90’s. Same thing though, right?

baking · comfort food · cupcakes · dinner · easy · gluten free · healthy · lunch · mushrooms · pasta · potluck food · vegetarian · veggies · Yummy

Mushroom and Oat “Meat”balls

The snow situation has been out of control lately. Last weekend Harriet (my cat) and I decided to hibernate at the boyfriend’s place while a blizzard raged outside. Is there anything better than eating comfort food, snuggling inside, and watching Netflix for hours while it snows like mad outside? Yeah, actually… it gets better when you add booze. I drank nearly an entire bottle of vodka over the course of the weekend, mixing it with grapefruit juice and laziness. We spent our time in various reclined positions on the couch, watching anything we could find on Netflix or HBO Go, only getting up to refill our drinks or play a rousing game of Super Mario Brothers. We also got up once to give all three cats “meowtinis” for the fluffy one’s birthday, which was really just tuna and tuna juice in a martini glass.

This is the only photo of these two getting along. Not pictured: The birthday boy (he doesn’t give a fuck about tuna, and just wanted his crunchy treats)

The plan was to stay Friday and Saturday night, then get the hell out of his way on Sunday morning. He and I walked out to my car Sunday morning, and found it under a mound of snow. It took 30+ minutes, lots of pushing, the help from a bobcat (that didn’t help AND scratched my car, me almost crying, then my BF finally maneuvering it that last few inches out of the snow. I was trying to get to Acro, but wanted to stop home first to shower. I wasn’t going to have time for a shower, but would still have time to clean up at home and change cloths. WRONG. There were two snow storms back to back, and this was the second one. That means that there were tons of open parking spots on my street, but they were filled with so much snow that my car wouldn’t be able to get into them (much less out again).

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ARE YOU SEEING THIS?

I would not be stopping at my apartment due to lack of parking, so I had an extra 20 minutes to kill. Filled with rage, I drove over to the fancy grocery store for a latte and a cupcake. I walked into the store, past the bouquets of flowers, $40 teddy bears, gourmet cheese, fresh baked bread, and made a beeline for the bakery counter. There were perfect little cupcakes lined up behind the glass, and I wanted one. There was no one at the counter, so I took my time making my decision. After circling the display several times, I made a choice. Chocolate cake with salted caramel buttercream. But where the fuck is the bakery clerk to help me? What the fuck is happening right now? While the individual cupcakes are behind glass, there are 4 packs of cupcakes sitting out for anyone to grab. Since my rage level was already at capacity, I ripped a 4 pack from it’s stack, and stomped to the register. When I got to the car, I decided to share the other 3 cupcakes with my acro friends.

When I got to acro, I decided I wanted to eat another cupcake after class. Seems silly to share 2 cupcakes with a group of people. So I decided to leave them in my car for whenever I had a cupcake craving next (they would obviously be gone within a day). I referred to them as my car cupcakes, and stand by that as one of my best ideas to date.

I wish upon you all the joy of car cupcakes.

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Mushroom Oat “Meat”balls

24oz mushrooms, finely chopped (if you have a food processor – use it!)

1/2 to 1 onion, finely chopped

1 cup breadcrumbs

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup quick oats (or regular oats pulsed in the blender a couple of times)

1/4 cup parsley

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons parmesan

2 eggs

Olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Chop the fuck out of those mushrooms (and onions). This shit took me nearly an hour. Twenty-four ounces is a LOT when you’re chopping. So maybe invest in that food processor before embarking on this journey. Or just cut the recipe in half like a normal human. When you’re done chopping, throw the onions into a large skillet along with a drizzle of olive oil and crank the heat to medium-high. You ever play that Wii game Cooking Mama? It’s like that right now… you gotta time it right otherwise everything gets fucked up. The original recipe says to cook the mushrooms first. Well, that’s bullshit. The onions take longer to cook, so get those rolling first. Stir ’em around a bit and let ’em cook for a few minutes. They’ll start to soften and become slightly translucent. That’s when you want to add the mushrooms. Let everything cook down. Once it’s all starting to brown slightly, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Now it’s time for the garlic. Once you’ve added the garlic, you’ve only got maybe 3-4 minutes before it burns. I suggested cooking for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, and then removing from heat. Scoop everything into a large bowl and add all the other dry ingredients (wait to add the eggs!). Stir it all together. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl, then mix into everything else. Grab a spoonful of the mixture and roll around in your palms until it forms a ball. Line up as many balls (lol) as you can onto a greased baking sheet.

Original recipe says to refrigerate for 2-12 hours. I did not do that. It turned out fine. This recipe also makes an obscene number of balls. I believe it was about 32 total, which is great if you have a large family or a potluck to attend. I do not, so I shared with my boyfriend and only baked a few at a time (keeping the mixture in the fridge for a few days). You could also just cut the recipe in half.

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through. Throw ’em on top of some pasta,  maybe stuff ’em into some French bread for a meatless meatball sub, or crumble some up onto a pizza. Get creative! Then shove as many balls into your mouth as you can!