Secret oats

April 4, 2011

Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

We were quick to discover that babies draw crowds. Family. Friends. It’s lovely for many reasons.

People coming together makes me happy. Much as I appreciate down time, I love gatherings. I love when family and friends stop by. It’s what makes a house a home.

Anticipating visitors also means the house is (usually) clean. The first floor anyways. Please don’t open our bedroom door.

And who can deny that visitors mean temporary baby-holders (and diaper-changers, if they’re brave and you’re lucky). So you can put the dishes up and go to the bathroom. That’s always nice.

So when folks stop by to play, the least I can do is have a little something for them. A cup of hot coffee and a toffee bar, slice of banana bread or chocolate chip cookie.

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New Mom Lesson #27

March 2, 2011

Chocolate Bark with Dried Cherries and Tangerine Zest

I have bags under my eyes that keep getting darker, a laundry pile that keeps getting deeper, and a miscellaneous to-do list that keeps freaking me out (New Mom Lesson #43: DO NOT put in writing all the things you think you can, but never ever will, accomplish with a two-month-old in tow). During his sporadic 20 minute nap here, 10 minute nap there I should consider my impending so-long-uninterrupted-sleep-until-2018 fate and nap, or the fact that I will surely run out of clean underwear, like, yesterday, and do a load of wash. Instead, I find myself back in the kitchen. It’s my sanctuary of sorts, with cooking being the next best relaxation therapy to shuteye. Or a solo Target run (I totally underestimated the thrill of wandering the aisles alone on a Friday night; Their selection of small kitchen appliances is quite impressive; The people watching ain’t bad either).

So, right, New Mom Lesson #27: If you choose not to nap during naptime, and are thus a bit sleep deprived, and thus a bit loony, commit to doing something that brings you a great deal of satisfaction once in a while. Loitering around Target sans bambino totally applies. As does finding your way to the kitchen to concoct a batch of couldn’t-be-simpler chocolate bark, revved up with dried cherries, toasted almonds and tangerine zest. Sharing is optional.
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Where I’ve been (and a loaded banana bread)

October 2, 2010

Chunky Monkey Banana Bread

I really and truly have not forgotten about you. Scout’s honor.

While I have every intention of finding my way back to this fun space on a more regular basis, at the moment I’m a bit indisposed. Aside from the fact that my appetite and desire to cook has waned a bit (and at times, a lot) over the past few months, I’ve also chosen to spare you from notes about the gourmet delicacies emerging from our kitchen. I can’t imagine you’d have found my saltine, spicy pickle relish and sharp cheddar cheese tea sandwiches all too appetizing. I’m also a tad reluctant to divulge a recent interest (er, obsession) with Cheetos, french fries and meat (roasts, steaks, meatballs, the whole nine).

And if you still haven’t caught my drift, about six months back a little something of a blue line, or double blue line, or exclamation point, or smiley face or some other nondescript abstract symbol appeared one Monday saying “wake up, kiddos, you’re, uh, havin’ a kiddo”, and indicated we had about nine months to fuss over names and nursery colors and colleges (teasing – kind of – and not before we stared at each other blankly for about three weeks, hoping the other would have a rational response to “well, what do we now?”). This puts us a mere thirteen weeks away from adding diapers and wipes and extra bold coffee, red wine and feta cheese to the top of the shopping list. I can’t promise two to three recipes/posts per week in the coming months (er, years) as I did so ambitiously following this blog’s launch, but I hope to drop by weekly at minimum. For my sanity’s sake, at least.
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Recipe Remix: Almond Joys

August 19, 2010

5 Ingredient Almond Joys

Growing up, my grandmother was lovingly known for, among many other things, her candy bar stash. After dinner my brothers and I could always count on our pick of the loot, which usually included an assortment of full size Kit-Kats, Three Musketeers, Chunky Bars, Mr. Goodbars, Raisinettes and Almond Joys. I think we were always a little awed by the fact that one person could have such an assortment of candy at any given time. We were probably also stunned by her ability to resist consuming it all in one day. I mean, hello! there’s like 20 candy bars in there! But to be honest, I don’t remember Grandma eating a candy bar. I don’t think it was really her thing, and I can say with a fair amount of certainty that she got much more pleasure out of giving them away.

For a while I wanted nothing to do with nuts or any other distraction crowding my chocolate, so Three Musketeers was my go-to for a long time. Then I matured and, you know, realized nuts were pretty much made to be mixed with chocolate, so Chunky Bars became my pick of choice (they inspired this recipe, posted back in January), followed by Raisinettes. Then I warmed up to Almond Joys. There was something so enticing about that creamy coconut filling topped with a crunchy almond, covered in silky smooth milk chocolate. The combination of coconut and chocolate has since been a favorite, and I wondered for a long time about how difficult it would be to recreate that candy. After glancing at the back of an Almond Joy wrapper and scanning the hefty list of ingredients, many of which I wasn’t too fond, it became my mission. And so I came up with what I consider to be a “healthier” version containing a mere five ingredients. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, caramel color and sodium metabisulfite need not apply.
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Citrus Cornmeal Cake

June 15, 2010

Citrus Cornmeal Cake with Blueberry Sauce

I waivered on this recipe. A cornmeal cake? That’s not really my thing. The desserts that emerge from my kitchen are typically of the chocolate variety or involve frosting, or at the least call for butter. (I maintain a mostly healthy kitchen, after all, and wouldn’t have it any other way.) This cake is unconventional by those sweets standards. No chocolate, no frosting, no lick of butter in sight. And I’m happy to report it wasn’t missed. At all, really. 

It all started with the bag of cornmeal I purchased in preparation for a healthier onion ring (oh yes) recipe that remains to be tested. (I have high hopes, friends.) That bag of cornmeal got me thinking about cornbread. And cornbread got me thinking about a big steaming pot of chili. And visions of chili conjured up thoughts of autumn and then whack, back up the train, Carolyn. It’s June. I’ve resolved to save cornbread and chili for fall, but this cake satisfied those cravings. It’s sweet enough for a light summer dessert but works just as well for breakfast or as an afternoon pick me up. At least that’s what a little bird told me.
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