Monthly Archives: December 2008

Last hours of 2008

As I get older, time really does seem to speed up. 2008 went by very fast. I can’t believe it has been over 2 years since I graduated from TCU and moved to Chicago. Or that I am a semester away from having a law degree.

I think it is nice to reflect and remember everything that went on this year. This year included many firsts.

I ran my first race: Shamrock Shuffle 8K with Brian and Julia.

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I visted NYC with Dave which included a Yankees game in the old Yankee Stadium…

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…and Carrie’s apartment steps of course.
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I enjoyed the farmer’s market throughout the summer and fall and tried to educate myself about living a more sustainable/ethical eating lifestyle.

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I started this blog and greatly expanding my cooking and baking knowledge.

I voted for our next President and for the first woman to run for President.
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We saw the fall of many historical financial institutions and a frozen crumbly economy. I lost a job for the first time.

Even though there is a lot of uncertainity coming in 2009, I am excited for the new year to come. I will likely be done with school, begin my legal career and turn 25 (how is that even possible?!).

Here are my hopes for 2009:
1) Continue to try to love running by training to finish the Shamrock Shuffle with a 10 min. mile time and the Soldier Field 10 Mile.
2) Lose 10 pounds by graduation and 20 by this time next year (#1 should help)
3) Pass the bar!
4) Learn to make fresh pasta and good pie dough
5) Try not to dwell on the bad things in life (finding a job, BarBri, student loans) and focus on the good things (Dave, my Mom, FaceLucy, my friends, my kitchen)
6) Take better food pictures to hopefully appease the tastespotting/foodgawker gods

I hope you are enjoying your NYE. I am probably not even going to make it to midnight because I have a 9AM flight to Orlando for a vacation with Dave and his family.

See you in 2009!

“Best” Cookies

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I know that everyone is probably cookied-out by this point, but these are really a great cookie for all year long. They are crumbly, crunchy and not too sweet. My mom had already baked a batch but the time that I got home but those were quickly gone so we decided to make some more.

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Santa brought me and my mom a Silpat for Christmas and I am so excited to finally have one. It really does make cookies cook more evenly without having to wasteuse parchment all the time. The white kitty in the background is Charlie, the Texas kitty :)

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Perfect with your morning coffee or a big glass of cold milk. Give them a try when you are in the need for an easy recipe that yields lots of cookies.

Best Cookies
From my Mom’s recipe box
1 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup rolled oats, regular
1 cup crushed cornflakes (crush, then measure)
1/2 cup shredded coconut (angle flakes)
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
3 1/2 cups AP Flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Preheat over to 325. Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg, beat well. Then blend in oil, mixing well. Add oats, cornflakes, coconut and nuts, blending well. Add flour, soda and salt, Mix well. Form into small balls on cookie sheet then flatten with a fork. Bake for 12 minutes. Allow to cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes before removing. Makes 8 dozen.

Hints: You will think the batter it too goopy to roll into balls, but it will fool you, especially after it stands for a little while.

A Merry Christmas Indeed

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I just wanted to share my happiness of the TCU victory over Boise State last night. It was an INTENSE game but I was so glad that we won in the end!

I have also been enjoying lots of the amazing holiday style Shiner called “Shiner Cheer”. I actually found it at a bar in Chicago before I was home. If you live in a state that distributes Shiner, look for it. They describe it as “an Old World Dunkelweizen brewed with Texas peaches and roasted pecans. The malty flavors of this dark wheat ale are enhanced through the use of malted barley and wheat. And Kräusening ensures a smoothness that makes the subtle peach and pecan flavors all the more satisfying.” You can really taste the peach strong at first but then it mellows out to a rich beer.
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I hope that you are enjoying friends and family where ever you are. I am heading back to Chicago tomorrow but I have enjoyed hanging out with my Mom in Texas. I have packed 8 jars of salsa and I am bringing back 60 flour tortillas to stick in the freezer. I forgot how much Tex-Mex is really something that you can only get in Texas!

Back in Texas

I am home in The Woodlands for a week, hanging out with my parents and stocking up on all the Texas goodies that I can’t easily find in Chicago. Just today, I bought 8 jars of salsa that I am going to attempt to get into my checked bag without hitting the 50 lb limit…should be tricky. Last night my Mom and I made a very typical meal, at least for my steak loving father…T-Bones and Potatoes. My Mom had a couple of leftover yellow potatoes from Thanksgiving so I decided to cook them up in a way that I had read about a few months before. Check out this recipe from Noble Pig…super easy and very tasty. I used some cajun seasoning called “Slap Ya Mama” and some salt and pepper instead of paprika.

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Then I used some great grill rub from the Spice House that I brought home to put in my Dad’s stocking…he got it a little early so that we could use it.

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Then even Ginger got to enjoy a good T-Bone leftover.
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It is nice to be home with my Civic to run errands and to avoid the -30 windchills in Chicago today.

It is finally looking like Christmas!

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After pretty much going non-stop from Thanksgiving on, I am done with finals.  I am trying to not gloat too much because some of my friends aren’t done until the 18th or even the 22nd.  I can’t help it that my 4 finals managed to wrap up by the 2nd day of exam period.  Now I am just working my last few days at my law clerk job and looking forward to spending some time in Texas.  I have been admiring all the cookie posts that have been piling up in my Google reader, eagerly anticipating getting to try my hand at them. Continue reading

The light at the end of the tunnel

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I’m off to take a Secured Transactions final at 6PM tonight and a Bankruptcy final at 6PM tomorrow…and then I am done!

I can’t even tell you how excited I am to Christmas Shop, workout, bake LOTS of cookies, and NOT sit at my desk for a while.

Almost there!

Quick White Bean Soup

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It has been cold in Chicago this week. Granted it is only my third winter since moving from the Lone Star State, but it hasn’t been this cold for so many days in a row in Dec. I have a feeling its going to be a long winter. Brrrzees!

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Since I am in finals mode, I am loving quick, easy and satisfying recipes. This one fits the bill. You quickly dice up some onions, garlic and two kinds of peppers (red bell and poblano). I find vegetable chopping very therapeutic and stress relieving. Is that weird?

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Then you saute them in some olive oil for 5 mins, dump in a box of vegetable broth (I like the TJs brand but if you are super fancy you can make your own). Simmer for another 10 then add in 2 cans of white beans, cumin and lime juice.

Serve it with some grated Monterey jack and a dollop of sour cream. Its the perfect light december dinner. And if you are lucky, there will be plenty leftover for a quick lunch tomorrow.

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White Bean Soup
From Cooking LIght Magazine

2 cups chopped white onion
2 cups chopped seeded poblano chile
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 (14 oz) cans of navy or great northern beans, rinsed and drained
2 (15 oz) cans low sodium vegetable broth (I used 1 box worth of TJs brand)
1/4 cup lime juice (I just squeeze the juice from one lime)
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 cup shredded queso chihuahua or Monterey Jack
2 1/2 tablespoons sour cream

Heat a dutch oven (or a big pot if you don’t have one like me) with a little olive oil. Add the onion, poblano, bell pepper and garlic and saute for 5 mins. Add broth, bring to a bowl. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 10 mins. Remove from heat. Add the beans, lime juice and cumin. Cover and let stand for 5 mins. Ladle soup into a bowl and top with cheese and sour cream to taste.

World Peace Cookies

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As a 3L, it is very hard to get motivated for my finals but I will be done in 8 days (which really means that I’m very far behind).  I seem to find any excuse to do anything other than outlining.  Today was my last day of class and I decided that is would be fun to bake cookies to bring to pass around to my Bankruptcy classmates. Last night,  I turned to my trusty “Baking: From  My Home to Yours” and decided that it was time to try the famous “World Peace Cookies”.  I was a little intimidated since I have never made sables-style cookies but they turned out to be pretty easy.  The thing that makes these cookies extra special is the hint of salt that you taste in every other bite. It really adds something unexpected to the dense chocolate flavor. The only thing that I will change for next time is to mold the logs into a more round shape, but other than that I wouldn’t change anything.  If you want a procrastination tool, or just a really fabulous chocolate cookies…give them a try.  You won’t be disappointed.

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World Peace Cookies
From: “Baking-From My Home to Yours” p. 138

1 1/4 cups AP Flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.

Turn off the mixer. Pour in the dry ingredients, drape a kitchen towel over the stand mixer to protect yourself and your kitchen from flying flour and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. Continuing at low speed, mix for about 30 seconds, just until the flour disappears into the dough–for the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don’t be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours or stick them in the freezer.

Center a rack in the over and preheat the oven to 325. Line baking sheet with parchment. Using a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that 1/2 inch thick. Don’t worry if they crack a little, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie. Space the slices with 1 inch between them on the baking sheet.

Bake the cookies for 12-13 min–they won’t look done, nor will they be firm, but that’s just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest. Serve warm or at room temperature.