thursday things

resent

Happy Thursday! Tomorrow is not only Friday, but VALENTINE’S DAY! We already know how I feel about Valentine’s Day (and I even have The Oatmeal to back me up!). So I am personally pumped for Valentine’s Day. I’m even making treats for my co-workers. Because, VALENTINES!  I’ll include a quick round-up of recipes for you towards the end of the post in case you want to make something for your valentine, too. 😉

This year FH and I are kicking things up a notch around here and will be eating our Valentine’s dinner off of paper plates, because we’re classy… and also because he came home from the store with these the other day…

owl plates valentine

So our Valentine’s Day will most likely be spent picnicking in the living room with paper owl plates and the new season of House of Cards. Sounds like a pretty solid Valentine’s date to me.

Maybe I’ll even light a couple candles, ya know, for romance.

In other news, Canadians were jerks (and also geniuses) at the Olympics by making a vending machine that would only dispense goodies to people with Canadian passports. They later redeemed themselves by being super nice to Russia. Let’s face it, in these Olympics, Russia can use a little nice right now. 

Doritos is trying to kill us all by essentially making their version of a mozzarella stick. Which is queso encased in Dorito crumbs and fried. I think they have finally crossed a line…

Papa John’s attempts to recycle their dough went horribly awry…

McDonald’s opened an oversized restaurant in Peru to let adults feel like kids again (and I guess kids would feel like… ants? I’m not sure).

This man reinvented the door (who knew it needed reinventing?). I could never have that because I would spend all day opening and closing the door. Open. Close. All day.

Open.

     Close.

Open.

     Close. 

While he was making doors, some other people (for some unknown reason) were making werecats (ie: werewolf + cat), and others were giving cars to fish. Because that’s necessary.

While part of me can’t help but feel like this money should be spent researching a cure for cancer or something, the other part of me now feels the need to buy a fish, buy a car for said fish, and let him terrorize my cats.

It seems like a good investment to me.

I also think I need this stackable condiment holder.

1

Not only does it save space, but it reminds me of the little ring game that babies play. Now it’s an acceptable game to play as an adult. I think I would end up also playing another game called “How many times does Natalie put the salt shaker on upside-down and spill salt everywhere,” though.

Now, to the REAL NEWS: I managed to get my hands on not one, but BOTH new Oreos flavors.

And I did in-depth testing of BOTH of them… for you guys. That’s how much I love you.

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And…?

Cookie Dough Oreos were good, but did not taste like cookie dough. My initial reaction upon eating them (while standing in the store parking lot) was that the Oreo cookie overpowered the taste of the filling. I reassessed the flavor when I reached home and tried them again as a whole, dissected, and then dipped in milk (which is my personal favorite way to consume an Oreo).

I thought the “cookie dough” filling was more reminiscent of a syrup perhaps, maple? No, maybe caramel. FH caught a hint of “coffee or mocha” flavor – so I think we settled on “Caramel Latte.” Not a bad flavor, overall, just not cookie dough. Oreo just needs to stick a “Caramel Latte” sticker over the “Cookie Dough” label and all will be well. Except one issue: graininess (totally a word). I wish I’d taken a zoomed-in picture of the filling, but you’ll just have to take my word for it – the filling is SUPER grainy in these cookies. Which is only semi-off-putting as it was only really an issue in my filling-only version of the taste test.

My verdict? Save your money, and make these instead.

Now, the Marshmallow Crispy Oreos are a totally different story. Since they use the vanilla cookie in this one, there’s no chance for the flavor of the filling to be overpowered. And while some people think these are “too sweet” I would have to ask them when the last time they had a rice krispy treat was… because THOSE ARE VERY SWEET. I liked these cookies and they are a clear winner over the other limited edition flavor. My favorite part about these cookies was the real rice krispies (sorry, “crisp rice”) in the filling – I even had a little “snap, crackle, pop” action while eating them.

Verdict? If you like rice krispy treats – these are worth checking out.

Speaking of cookies, here is a video of Loki from Thor teaching me Cookie Monster about delayed gratification. (Side note, did you know that Loki is actually super nice and not a super evil jerk? What other lies have movies told me!?)

As promised, a round-up for those of you who want to do something sweet for your Valentine (or friend, or coworkers). Here are a few super easy ideas – which means you can throw them together tonight in time to dispense them tomorrow!

Milk & Cookies Snack Mix from Cookies & Cups


 

Valentine Rice Krispie Hearts from FoodieCrush

 

Valentine Trail Mix from A Spicy Perspective

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction 

 

Valentine Popcorn from She Wears Many Hats

Chocolate-Strawberry Cupcakes from Wee Eats

 

Valentine Chex Mix from Betty Crocker

 

 

Lastly, check out this cat and his mad ups.

Unless you’d rather look at pictures of the cutest kitten in the whole world. Or both.

Thursday Things – Happy Valentine’s Day!

valentine

It’s Valentine’s Day and that is the card my wonderful, loving boyfriend got me.  It came all the way from Europe.  It’s extra hilarious because the one that I got him looks like this:

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Same thing… pretty much.  Right?  Right.

I also found these super cute owl printables that I gave out to the people at work (because I’m 5 years old).  Seriously.  So cute.

owlval

And then there’s Rachael over at Movita Beaucoup who posted a link to this pretty amazing love letter to carbs.  I can totally relate.

The BF and I usually don’t do gifts for Valentine’s Day (dinner at our favorite restaurant is enough of a gift), but this year he surprised me with physical gifts, too!  Of course, since he has no self-control, I received them as they arrived.  :)

Gift 1: Miracle Berries!!!

mberry

Have you heard of these things?  They make sour sweet and sweet sour.  I can’t wait to try them!

Gift 2 & 3: An adorable owl bank.  I’m medium obsessed with owls (in case you haven’t noticed yet).  BF also got me these nesting owl measuring cups :)  Aren’t they the cutest thing ever!?

owl  owl 2
AND… if you’re still scrambling around for Valentine ideas, or if you’re planning celebrating late because Thursday is seriously a pretty lame day for Valentine’s Day (BF and I are actually celebrating tomorrow)

Or if you hate Valentine’s Day and I wasn’t able to change your mind… Here are some delicious recipes to make and share, or eat alone (no judgment from me!)

Valentine’s Recipe Round-Up

For dinner…

How about some super easy chicken parmesan?  Even the BF who used to “hate chicken parm” LOVES this recipe (and it’s the only chicken parm he will eat!)

super easy chicken parmesan

Or, if you’re feeling a little fancy, how about some fig and goat cheese stuffed chicken breasts from Love & Olive Oil?

fig & goat cheese stuffed chicken breast from love and olive oil

Or, I guess if you’re not into chicken, you could always do Bakeaholic Mama’s beef bourguignon

Bakaholic Mama's Beef Bourg

Or some stuffed shells for the vegetarian (not vegan) valentine 😉

vegetarian stuffed shells

For dessert…

Make something simple like Brown Eyed Baker’s flourless chocolate cake, and throw on a dash of Valentine sprinkles

brown-eyed baker flourless chocolate cake

or maybe cut some delicious brownies into heart shapes

a periodic table's espresso chocolate brownies

Or, if you’re really low on time, try some heart-shaped strawberry rice krispy treats from Foodie Crush

foodie crush strawberry krispies

In Defense of Valentine’s Day

valentine brownie 2

Valentine’s Day gets a lot of grief from an ever-growing anti-Valentine crowd.  The “nonbelievers” (as I shall call them) seem to think that it’s not a “real” holiday.  Another excuse is that you should show someone you love them every day and “not just on Valentine’s Day.”

So,  maybe Valentine’s Day has become overly-commercialized, unlike  St. Patrick’s Day and Mardi Gras, which are “real” and happily-celebrated holidays (at least by the non-believers that I know).  And maybe it has been hijacked by greeting card and candy companies, unlike those other real holidays (I’m lookin’ at you, Christmas and Easter).

I happen to like Valentine’s Day.  Possibly because I have a severe medium addiction to chocolate and will happily celebrate any holiday that make it acceptable for me to receive an entire box of it, but also because it’s a pretty easy holiday.  I only have one gift to buy, only one other person to feed, and I don’t have to binge-drink 1,000 pounds of green food coloring.  (Red food coloring is way better for your health, true story*)

*Totally not a true story.  Just made that up to support my argument. 

Of course, Valentine’s Day is not about candy or presents, and you don’t need a special day to show someone that you love them (If you are only showing affection one day out of the year, there may be many issues at play there).  The BF and I do little things for each other every day, but going out of your way to not celebrate a day that is dedicated to the one(s) you love just seems like a silly concept.

To me, at least.

So, even if you do something special every day, why not do it on February 14th?  What did February 14th ever do to you?

valentine brownie 3

Even if you don’t have a sweetheart, you can spread the love to your friends and/or co-workers.   What’s wrong with having just one more day of the year that you can show the people you love (or just the people you spend your day with) that you care?

And, even if you’re still not convinced…  Even if you’re still set on being a Valentine Scrooge…

Even if you “don’t believe” in Valentine’s Day…

I’m pretty sure that you probably believe in brownies.

So, Scrooge, make these brownies on the 13th, or the 15th, or make them in April for all I care.

Make the frosting orange or blue or whatever color you want, crush up the hearts and sprinkle them on top, broken and shattered.

But please, don’t take your hatred of Valentine’s Day out on these poor, innocent brownies.  Don’t let your Scroogeness (totally a word) prevent you from trying these delicious, bite-size morsels.

So make these for your sweetheart, or your friends, or your co-workers, or yourself.

valentine brownie 1

Not super into the whole chocolate/strawberry combo?  The frosting recipe for this is like the easiest thing ever and infinitely adaptable.  You can just replace strawberry jam with the flavor of your choice:  Raspberry jam?  Peanut butter?  Nothing at all?  Whatever floats your boat.

After I made these, I totally realized that I did a strawberry and chocolate combo last year for Valentine’s Day, too.  What can I say, chocolate and strawberry is the BF’s favorite combo, and Valentine’s Day is all about him.

Well, for me it is.  Hopefully not for you.  That would just be silly.  (Plus I would totally fight you.*)

*Just kidding.  I love you.  It’s Valentine’s Day.  Have a brownie.

valentine brownie 2-2

Valentine Brownie Bites with Strawberry Marshmallow Frosting

Makes: 24 mini brownie bites with frosting

Note: Following the recipe from its source yielded WAY MORE than the 24 mini brownies that it claimed, I’ve provided the halved recipe below, which should give you enough for 24 brownie bites and frosting for each. 

Printable Recipe

For the brownies:

  • 1 cup  sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For the frosting:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 7-ounce container of  marshmallow fluff
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup seedless strawberry jam
  • pink or red food coloring, if desired
  • decorations, if desired

Make the brownies:
1.  Preheat oven to 350°F and line a mini muffin tin with 24 of the cutest  mini paper liners you can find.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, oil, vanilla, and eggs.  In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just incorporated.
3.  Spoon into 24 prepared mini paper liners and bake  for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes of baking, turn the heat off and leave pan in the oven for another 5 to 6  minutes.  Remove pan from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before removing individual brownie bites to a rack to cool completely.  The tops will be dry and slightly cracked.
(To make in standard muffin tins, bake for 19-20 minutes at 350°F, then turn off the oven and let sit for another 10 minutes before removing from the oven.  Cool in the pan 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to complete cooling.)

Make the frosting:
1, In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until smooth and creamy.  Add marshmallow fluff and continue beating until combined.  Add the powdered sugar and mix to incorporate, then and the jam and continue beating until it is evenly distributed.
At this point the frosting will be a light pink or red color depending on the jam you used, you can beat in food coloring (I did) to achieve your desired color.

2. Top brownie bites with frosting and sprinkles.  I scooped the frosting into a gallon-size ziplock and cut off one of the corners of the bag making an opening between ¼ to ½ inch in diameter.  Gently squeeze frosting into the cupcake, creating a frosting “bubble”.

[ Adapted from: A Farmgirl’s Dabbles ]
If you like these brownies, you may enjoy these other romantic sweets:
dsc_5818small  mocha brownie thumb  chocolate cake thumb