thursday things – a better way to chop onions, owl facts, peanut butter pudding, and more

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We are a couple of weeks into spring now so it’s only fitting that we are brushing triple digits, with our highs in the upper 90s. If anyone who does not live in the southwest US is looking for a summer room-mate – I’m free. Totally. Seriously.

Save me?

Please?

In food news I found one of those “kitchen tips” that is actually helpful (instead of rage-inducing). A whole new (to me) way to chop an onion. Seriously. I tried it and it was glorious and I will be chopping onions like this from now on.

I also stumbled upon what might just be the coolest cake ever. If you can call it a cake… It’s like a cake/gyro hybrid (is your brain melting yet?) I mean, they call it a cake so I think we can call it a cake. Let’s just stick with cake, OK?

Also, did you know that honey lasts forever? If so, did you know why honey lasts forever?

Ever confused about how much (or if) to tip? The answer is to always tip, but here’s a chart from Food Republic to help you decide how much.

I’m normally not a fan of videos because they require too much commitment. I mean, a whole minute and half of my time PLUS I have to turn on my sound? Come on now. But this one is worth it.

And this one only requires half of the commitment, because sound is completely optional. I think the moral of this one is that FH and I need to get a ping pong table.

I’ve also solved a problem that has been plaguing me for my whole life. The lack of peanut butter pudding. Has anyone else noticed this?

No? Just me?

There are a million flavors of pudding, aside from the usual chocolate and vanilla you can get butterscotch, pistachio, even cookies and cream and gingerbread… yet for some reason no one has created a peanut butter pudding that I can purchase at the grocery store.

How can this be!?

Well, after enduring this hardship for 29 years, I finally made my own. I wanted to keep it as easy as possible, so I just doctored an instant pudding mix to include peanut butter.

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And it was glorious.

Never again shall I have to endure a life without peanut butter pudding, my friends.

Never again! (But seriously, Jell-o, get on that, will you!? Powdered peanut butter exists, PUT IT IN A PACKET WITH YOUR PUDDING MIX! WHO IS IN CHARGE OF THESE THINGS!?)

peanut butter pudding

Ingredients

  • 1 box instant french vanilla pudding
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter

Instructions

  1. Melt peanut butter in a microwave-safe bowl on 50% power until smooth and runny, about 30 to 60 seconds.
  2. Beat milk and pudding mix in a medium bowl until the mixture begins to thicken, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add peanut butter and continue beating another 2 minutes until combined.
  3. Cover and refrigerate until set, at least five minutes.
http://wee-eats.com/2014/04/10/thursday-things-a-better-way-to-chop-onions-owl-facts-peanut-butter-pudding-and-more/

thursday things – broccoli stems, proper salting, and laser-engraved rolling pins

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Ever since I got my new waffle iron I’ve been wanting to make crazy waffled concoctions, so far this is the craziest I’ve gotten. We will need to remedy this soon.

I had originally intended to include this video for today’s cuteness, but then I found this one (below) instead.

I have no idea how this much cute was packed into less than two minutes of video, but it seriously made my day. Like a thousand times over.

In other news, am I the only one who has apparently been wasting my broccoli stems?? She shouldn’t have posted that on April 1st because I’m still not sure if it’s a joke or not… I’m going to test this for us though. Don’t worry, I’ll be our guinea pig.

And apparently we are all under-seasoning our dishes… I know I’m definitely guilty of that one. No matter how much salt I put into a dish I know that FH is just going to salt it up anyway, so I try to trick him into consuming less salt by under-salting our meals…

Have you seen these amazing laser-engraved rolling pins? I can’t think of a better way to spend $42… can you? DINOSAUR ALL THE THINGS!!!

Some Kitchen Stories has released their April desktop calendar and it is filled to the top with spring. I’m sure staring at risotto all day can’t be that bad, right? Plus, vegetables!

Serious Eats just did an expose (can I call it that? Sure, why not?) on “The Life of a Cook’s Illustrated Test Cook” and I realize I’m a huge nerd but, um, you should read it.

Also, remember Shannon’s post once upon a time ago about how us bloggers “get out there” in the world? Well, we met (kinda) through Serious Eats “Share Your Sweets” slideshows. And you don’t have to be a blogger even to share your sweet! This week’s sweet is the Oatmeal Cookie. I know you all have an oatmeal cookie recipe. Make it, snap a pic, and shoot it over to Serious Eats!

I talked about the @Idafrosk instagram account ages ago, but she’s just been mentioned on 123inspiration so I thought I would give another shout-out since I love her pictures SO MUCH.

In other news, not only have mad scientists reversed aging in mice, but apparently I’m going to live forever. Oh, and fat is no longer bad for us. Well, not as bad as all those low-fat foods they’ve been marketing to us.

Also, apparently I wasn’t the only person who hated Starbucks’ “La Boulange” food items and the company is responding to their customers by bringing back some of the old items (yay!) I picked up a slice of their lemon loaf this morning to celebrate its return. Oh, how I missed you.

Oh, and Kim Kardashian narrowly escaped death (or you know, being touched by an elephant) and made a priceless face while doing so.

Thanks, Kim, for making my day that much brighter. Can’t wait to see that episode next season.

As for the recipes… 

I want to dive into this soft pile of naan pillows

Shower myself in these honey roasted chickpeas

Drown myself in these cucumber + ginger mojitos

Stuff my face with this turkey bacon meatloaf

And devour at least one pan of these Reese’s brownies. Or at least the frosting. Look at the frosting. LOOK AT IT!

 

thursday things – sunsets, new toasters, and rotary phones

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How is it the last Thursday in March already? What happened that April is just around the corner?

Since Phoenix decided to skip “winter” this year and we’ve been steadily roasting in the 80′s we got a slight reprieve today and yesterday with highs only in the 70′s. I’ts like a Christmas miracle!

All of this comes at a price though, like having tons of dust particles floating around in the air which, while hazardous to our health, does make for some beautiful sunsets.

The other night I got a random craving for graham crackers, followed by a desire for graham crackers dipped in peanut butter (pb, graham, and I go WAY BACK) which then morphed into a peanut butter s’more craving. So, I did the only logical thing and made a s’more… using a Reese’s cup… and my hand-held kitchen torch.

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And then I did that about three more times until the monster inside my belly was satiated (and we were out of Reese’s).

Oh, and the most exciting news: I BOUGHT A NEW TOASTER!

This probably isn’t exciting news to you, but our old toaster was a $5 gig from Target that was deemed Mr. Sparky due to his love of sparking whilst shooting our toast up like part of a fireworks finale.

He also enjoyed things like burning our toast for no reason, randomly deciding to cook only one side of the toast, and occasionally smoking (he just couldn’t quit the habit). So, I decided to do myself a favor by buying myself an overpriced fancy new toaster.

After much research and internal struggle, I settled on the Breville Lift & Look toaster, henceforth to be known as Sir Toastington the Second.

I love him. I love him SO. DARN. MUCH.

In food news… 

Pastry chef mad scientist Dominique Ansel is at it yet again with more marvelous pastry creations like this “garden” pot de creme. If and when I make back to NYC, I swear I’m sleeping in front of his bakery to be first in line when it opens.

Google has a (relatively) new tool offering nutrition comparisons which means, yes, we finally can actually compare apples to oranges. It does not work for all comparisons (I tried “Big Mac vs Whopper” and nothing happened).

There is finally science behind my roasted banana muffin recipe proving not only that roasting bananas does make their flavor more intense but you don’t even have to wait for them to ripen. This is a real game changer ending the tyranny awaiting banana ripeness has over all of our banana bread cravings.

Cheetos tried to help Lay’s ”Do us a flavor” campaign with a pretty amazing idea for fiery Cheetos-flavored Lay’s. This could only be good. (I don’t think Lay’s appreciated the joke though).

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In other news…

Watch these kids react to a rotary phone.

Oh, and here is a video of a tiny dog who has the same eating habits as I do (tip: be careful how close you get to me when I am eating)

In drool news… 

These tiramisu brownies from Simply Stacie

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These strawberry jam toaster pastries from Love & Olive Oil.

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This cauliflower & brown rice gratin from Sprouted Kitchen

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These korean chicken nuggets from Spoon Fork Bacon

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These spicy rice noodles with chicken, basil, and lime from The Right Recipe

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thursday things – my birthday and some other things

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Sunday was my birthday – the big ol’ 2-9. I can’t believe this is going to be my last year that I can say I’m “In my 20′s” (although, it just occurred to me that I can totally keep SAYING I’m in my 20′s… it just won’t be true anymore. A minor difference.)

Anyway, you’re only in your twenties once (for 10 years) so I’ve gotta make sure I spend my last year really “living it up” as they say…

First step of “living it up”? Making myself two cakes for my birthday.

TWO!

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I was torn over whether to do Faygie’s fluffernutter cake or the Baked Sweet & Salty cake when Shannon offered up a novel idea – “Why not make both?”

Genius. Pure genius. Or evil genius. I’m not completely sure which type of genius, but there is some sort of genius involved.

The unforseen consequence of having two cakes was that every time I decided to have a piece of cake, I couldn’t decide what kind I wanted to have, so I ended up having a piece of each cake, thus doubling my cake consumption.

Naturally, I mashed them into a hybrid cake to see how they would taste… and they were amazing together.

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Salted caramel chocolate fluffernutter cake. Yes….

Birthday Things…

This is the part where i tell you about my gifts, if you don’t want to read about my gifts, scroll down to the next part where I talk about other stuff.

Future Husband hit it out of the park this year with a FitBit, some fancy make-up, and a 90-minute massage.  He even decorated while I was at my massage! (See that birthday banner up there? All him.)

The FitBit, for those of you who don’t know, tracks your activity and sleep. So it tells me things like how many steps I’ve taken (which is dismally low on workdays, btw), and even tracks my sleep.

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See all those light blue-green lines? Those are all the times my jerk cat wakes me up to pet her.

Jerk.

Oh, and I almost forgot, FH also got me another owl. He is a cookie jar (which is currently holding candy) and his name is Owlbert.

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I feel like this whole owl thing may be getting out of hand…

Meanwhile my BFF traveled all the way to Paris JUST to ship authentic Laudree and Pierre Herme macarons halfway across the world for my birthday!

Ok, that may not have been the motivation for going, but it was still a by-product of going.

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And Shannon sent me some of the best chocolate in THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD – from Askinosie Chocolate.

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Seriously, guys, if you haven’t had Askinosie chocolate. It’s life changing.

Life. Changing.

Then, my grandma who is probably the sweetest grandma in the whole world (she totally rocks your grandma, trust me) sent me my own taste of home in the form of our famous Tony Packo’s hot dog chili sauce and pickles. If, for some god-forsaken reason, you ever find yourself in Toledo, Ohio, you must go to Tony Packo’s. Then you can go to Rudy’s and pick a side.

It’s like a war. People have died defending their side.

Ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. I happen to think they are both delicious.

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The universe also got me a gift – When I logged into Instagram the morning of March 16th, my instagram account had hit 1,200 followers!

I remember when I was excited about 100 followers and now I’m at 1,200! I love each and every one of you (and them) so much!

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And then, my gift to myself, more cake.

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So much cake.

Other things…

St. Patrick’s Day came and went, we were super Irish this year with soda bread and corned beef.

Movita Beaucoup announced this year’s “Bake My Cake” competition and the theme, as only Movita could possibly have thought of, is crappy cakes. In her words, “The crappier the better.” Which means I might stand a chance this year!

Adam Roberts wrote a great post about how food blogs aren’t really food blogs anymore…  It’s definitely worth a read.

Writer’s block seems to be a common thing amongst my blog friends and I as of late. Not only is it the topic of Shannon (A Periodic Table)’s next “Just One Question” project, but Ms. Jennifer Farley (of Savory Simple) wrote about it (and how some people think it’s not a thing)  earlier this week.

Someone finally created an app that I can truly appreciate - where was this app back in college when I needed it?

The video below gets off to a slow start but trust me, if you stick with it, you will be handsomely rewarded.

Things I want to eat…

These peanut butter cup stuffed chocolate chip cookies from Love & Olive Oil

These garlicky avocado grilled cheese sandwiches from FoodieCrush.

These sweet potato straws from Edible Perspective.

These almond honey squaresfrom David Lebowitz.

thursday things – ben and jerry’s core ice cream, kiwi berries, and more

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NEWS FLASH! IT RAINED IN PHOENIX! FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 60+ DAYS! Everyone went crazy updating their Facebook accounts and crashing their cars, even our local news was standing outside “waiting for the rain” to come.

It was big news, people. Big news. Can you imagine having a committed newscaster every time water fell from the sky? Because that’s a thing here.

Big. News.

The weeds in our yard are very happy now that they received some water. Our lemon tree grew some flowers, too!

Have you heard about this guy who pretended to be a chef and ended up on multiple news programs making disgusting meals?  Who knew it was that easy to get on the news?

Surely you’ve heard that Ben & Jerry’s released a new series of ice creams, which I quickly tracked down so I could give them a try…

And after all the hype of the OMG AMAZING CORE… this is what I found in my chocolate-peanut butter ice cream. I believe the “core” is located in the upper-left quadrant somewhere, as you can see there is a slight change in texture there.

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I wish I had taken a picture when I FIRST opened it because it looked like they had forgotten the core altogether.

I will, however, still pick up a second flavor and give them another chance to impress me (I did see salty caramel was on the list, and that jam one looks enticing, too). I will update you with the results.

For now, though, my verdict is: Not life-changing. Save your money unless, like me, you are just excited about having two flavors in the same container. Although, this particular container’s flavors were kinda meh. At least I could pick out the mini peanut butter cups, though.

Oddly enough, in other ice-cream-related-news, FH opened up a frozen Drumstick ice cream cone only to find that IT HAD NO CONE.

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Apparently we are just magnets for food oddities… I’ve even received Reese’s with no peanut butter before… HOW DOES THAT EVEN HAPPEN?

Anyway, while I was buying my Ben & Jerry’s ice cream at Target I also stumbled across two of the coolest shirts ever. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in awhile as it involved two of my favorite things: owls & kittens.

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In the end, I went with the kitten shirt (because, kittens!). And I know everyone at work was super jealous when I wore it last Friday (even if they didn’t say anything).

In other news, I discovered that Donald Trump was on Twitter while I was watching the Oscars, and live-tweeting about how horrible they were. Naturally, I found this hilarious and wanted to ask if he was watching the same Oscars as the rest of us, but I tweeted this instead, which he then retweeted, which caused my twitter to explode with Trump haters and lovers alike… some berating me for “pal-ing up to the Don” while others “agreed” with me…. Meanwhile, one person got the joke (although they did call me a “he”).

Lesson learned: Sarcasm does not translate well to Twitter.

Meanwhile I discovered kiwi berries at our local Trader Joe’s. They resemble what would happen if a kiwi and a grape had a baby.

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A delicious, delicious baby. They taste like kiwi but are bite-sized and no peeling (or shaving) needed!

In other food news, FH told me that Phoenix is finally getting its very first Panera Bread! While I’m sure it seems like no big deal to anyone who already HAS a Panera Bread, there’s a decent bit of nostalgia (and a mild soup-and-baguettte addiction) that is fueling this excitement.

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 We currently have something called “Paradise Bakery” which was technically bought by Panera several years ago but is a lackluster Panera-wanna-be that doesn’t serve half of what Panera does and gives you a side of cookie with your soup or sandwich.

A COOKIE!!!

I mean, it’s no secret that I love cookies (who doesn’t?) but NO I DON’T WANT TO DIP A COOKIE INTO MY SOUP, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!

Long story short, I can’t wait to drown myself in Panera’s chicken noodle soup (or creamy tomato soup) and baguettes. I’m just going to buy gallons of it and take it home and pour it over myself…

Can’t. Wait.

I want to buy this squirrel feeder in hopes that it will lure squirrels into my yard… and then take silly pictures of them.

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While I’m at it I might as well get this pillow for the cats that I have already lured into our home – even though cats are jerks so I know they will never ever use it (except for when I force them into it against their will).

“GET INTO THE BURGER, CAT! GAWD!”

That kitten is unrelated to anything. I just thought he was super cute. HI KITTY!

I woke up this morning with an intense craving for zucchini bread for NO REASON (I don’t think I’ve even had zucchini bread since, like, high school… so, basically, a bajillion years ago.)

And this loaf of zucchini bread [from I am Baker] looks like the perfect cure.

Does that not just make your stomach growl for zucchini bread? Plus, zucchini and banana, so it’s like, good for you and stuff. 

On the other end of the spectrum we have the craziest pancakes I’ve ever seen on Noble Pig.

…which are transformed into pizzas.

Pizzas, people! Out of pancakes! Give this girl a goddamn medal! And I happen to have extremely teeny tiny pepperonis in our fridge RIGHT NOW so it’s basically in my fate that I make these.

Fate.

Then you know I made some darn tasty irish soda bread earlier in the week, and the real reason behind why I made it (besides that I like it) is because I saw this on Foodness Gracious:

Irish. Soda Bread. Pudding.

I die.

And finally, I just realized that my birthday is coming up fast. Like really fast. So I will probably need to bake my cake this weekend.

This cake. [from Life Tastes Good]

Full of peanut butter and marshmallowy goodness.

I need it.