Merry Christmas!

IMG_6098

Merry Christmas everyone! Christmas is a wonderful time of year. A time away from work. A time to spend with family. A time to catch up with old friends. A time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) The whole reason for Christmas is to celebrate Jesus coming down to earth as a human. Fully God and fully human.

I remember 3 years ago that verse was the main them of Urbana ’09. I was a junior in college and had no idea where my life was headed. Now, three years later I’m headed to Urbana ’12 and I’m still not so sure where I’m going in life. I think this time though I’m going in with more of a purpose so I’m pretty excited for how God’s going to speak to me this time!

Anyway, it’s Christmas, and in my family we had this tradition where my brothers and I made breakfast for my parents. At some point that tradition died because we started sleeping too late and couldn’t get up before my parents. This year I decided to start up that tradition again. Back when we were kids we used to make “egg mcmuffins” which consisted of english muffins, a slice of Kraft singles, a slice or two of ham, and a microwaved egg. I thought it was gross (I used to not like ham or eggs) and never actually had one. Recently I tried making my own version and it turned out really well.

IMG_6117

First off, I used sharp cheddar cheese instead of Kraft singles. I’m not sure Kraft singles should ever be used for anything. Real cheese is so much better. Secondly, I fried the egg instead of microwaving it. I’m still perfecting my egg frying technique, but a fried egg with a nice and runny yolk is just infinitely more delicious than a microwaved egg. So I broiled the english muffin, ham and cheese until the cheese melted, then added the egg. Yum yum! Blows fast food breakfast sandwiches out of the water!

In addition to the traditional sandwiches, I also decided to make banana nutella bread (we also happened to have some bananas that were a little past ripe). I pretty much used this recipe from allrecipes.com so I’m not going to repost. I decided to add some nutella because a) nutella is delicious, b) I kept seeing recipes that involved bananas and nutella and c) I wanted to switch it up from the usual of chocolate chips.

The picture is pretty bad and I clearly didn’t swirl in the nutella very well (too much on the top half, none on the bottom half… oops!), but I like banana bread and nutella, so I still thought it tasted pretty good.

Advertisements

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

This year is the first year (I think) that I wasn’t home for Thanksgiving. My family has lots of Thanksgiving traditions, so it was kind of sad to not be there. But neither of my brothers would have been home anyway, so even if I had gone home it wouldn’t have been then same.

Instead of going home I went to Deerfield, Illinois on Thanksgiving day to hang out with my brother, my sister-in-law, and a bunch of my brother’s friends. We played a lot of games and ate a LOT of food. All in all it was fun, but it wasn’t the same as being at home.

The rest of the time I stayed (am staying? I guess the weekend isn’t over yet) in Madison. Worked yesterday, then had dinner with a student and made these chocolate chip cookie bars.

Don’t have a whole lot planned for the rest of the weekend… just relaxing, hopefully.

This recipe came from Cate’s World Kitchen. The only thing I changed was instead of using 2 cups of regular chocolate chips I used 1 cup of milk chocolate chips and 1 cup of dark chocolate chips. Otherwise I followed the recipe exactly, so I’m not going to re-post.

Millionaire’s Shortbread

It’s late, I’m tired (worked until 9 today) and I just posted two minutes ago, so this will be brief.

This recipe was quite good too. The shortbread base was good… and very buttery. I didn’t deal with the white chocolate swirl because I’m lazy. They reminded me of Twix bars, but they’re really sweet and rich.

The original recipe said to prick the shortbread with a fork, but I wouldn’t do it next time. Also, it took more time to make than I thought it would because it took longer for things to cool than I thought it would.

Anyway. It’s 11:30 and I have to be up at 6:30… plus I have to drive an hour and a half to get to Green Lake, WI tomorrow night after work, so I should get some rest!

Recipe adapted from KitchenSter

Ingredients
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 (3/4 cup) sticks of butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
7 tbsp butter
3 1/2 oz semisweet chocolate chips
3 1/2 oz milk chocolate chips

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix flour and powdered sugar. Mix in softened butter. Press into the 9×13 pan and back 20 minutes or until light brown. Set aside to cool.

In a saucepan, put sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar and remaining butter and heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Simmer, stirring constantly until it reaches the desired consistency. Be careful not to burn!

Pour mixture over the shortbread and let cool.

Place all chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on 50% power in increments of 1 minute, stirring time until the chocolate is melted and mixed together. Pour on top and let cool again.

Chocolate Chip Cookies Stuffed with Tim Tams

It’s a Wednesday night (well, Thursday morning). It’s past midnight. Why am I not in bed? I’ll tell you why – I’m headed out to my alma mater tomorrow for a recruiting trip! I’m sooooo excited! Traveling tomorrow, career fair on Friday, then chillin’ for the weekend with old friends!

This week has felt so long… and it’s only Wednesday. Had family group tonight, studied Romans 7… always an interesting passage to read.

I’m actually really tired, so I’m going to wrap this up. I came across this recipe in my routine browse through Tastespotting and Foodgawker and it made me think of a friend here who’s from Australia, so I showed it to him. He hooked me up with some Tim Tams so I decided I had to try the recipe.

A few notes:
– I only use 10 Tim Tams, so 20 cookies. All the other ingredient amounts were the same. I only had 11 to begin with (they come in packs of 11) but I ate one because I’d never had one before. They’re quite good by themselves too.
– Because of the first note, I thought the cookie-to-Tim-Tam ratio was a little too high. The mix of the cookie and Tim Tam together is really good, but you have to eat too much plain cookie to get to it.
– There was no temperature listed, so I ended up baking at 375 degrees for around 12-15 minutes.
– They were delicious, but there was also ice cream, red velvet cake and apple pie at family group today, so I have leftovers. College friends (if you’re reading this), I’m bringing a bunch of these with me tomorrow. Find me!

Not going to repost the recipe. Just follow the directions from The Cherry on Top.

Knock You Nakeds

It’s weird to think that it’s September. I still feel like I’m “new” to this place (as in it still doesn’t quite feel like “home”) but I’ve been here for over a year now. Part of the whole not feeling like I’m from here is the occasional bouts of Williams nostalgia. It’s about that time of the year where students are heading back to school, and I start to miss the whole student ritual of starting a new semester. It’s even weirder to think that the kiddies who were wee l’il freshmen when I was a senior are now about to start their junior year. It’s crazy how time passes so quickly. I feel old.

Labor day weekend is drawing to a close, and as much as I wanted to get away for bit, I had a really good, relaxing weekend right here in Madison. Had drinks with a few friends, did a little shopping, played some cards (nerts!), tried some Ethiopian food, did some baking, and had some really good conversations. Sadly it is Monday night, which means the long weekend is over and it’s time to go back to work.

And now, on to the recipe. As I mentioned earlier, I sort of have these moments when I miss certain things about Williams. This time it was knock you nakeds. I remember the first time I had one was the first night of my WOOLF trip (Williams Outdoor Orientation for Living as First-years). I remember thinking they were the most delicious things ever. Gooey, chocolate-y and crunchy all rolled into one dessert. So. Good. My friend/roommate senior year worked in the bakeshop on campus for the four years we were in school together and she had this recipe. She sent it to me a while back, but I didn’t get around to trying it until now. I made it for a labor day barbecue at my pastor’s house and they were quite a hit. Note: the method I used to make caramel took 8 hours, but there are faster ways. Also, they turned out thicker than I expected. Next time I would think about using a large pan.

Warning: this recipe is not for the faint of heart or for anyone who claims to be on a diet or watching their weight. Eating more than a cubic inch at a time may cause sugar highs, artery clogs, and in some serious cases, death. (Probably not, but you should be careful.) Continue, if you dare to the recipe below!

Ingredients
2 lbs 7 oz devil’s food cake mix (~2.5 boxes)
13 oz melted butter
2.5 cans (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
2 cups chocolate chips

Make caramel from 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk (it’s actually more like dulce de leche, but in essence they’re the same) using some method from this wikihow. I used the slow cooker method which worked really well. If using the slow cooker method, make sure to peel off the can labels. I also opened the cans and covered them with aluminum foil. After 8 hours or so, remove the cans (I used tongs) and spoon the dulce de leche into a bowl and whisk to get a smooth consistency.

Mix the devil’s food cake mix, the butter, and 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk. Press half the mixture into a 9×13 pan and bake at 350 for 8 minutes.

Let cool and spread the dulce de leche over and sprinkle the chocolate chips.

Crumble the rest of the cake mixture on top. (My friend suggested pressing it through a metal cooling rack to make a fine crumble, but I don’t own one, so I just did it by hand, which worked ok.) Bake at 350 for 18 minutes.

Enjoy! (And try not to think about how many calories you’re probably ingesting!)

Bailey’s Cheesecake

Today was my friend/future roommate’s 22nd birthday. We did the obligatory trip to the Nitty Gritty, a restaurant that everyone goes to on their birthday. The food isn’t that great, but you get a free mug and free drinks on your birthday, so it’s a pretty popular spot. Sadly I was planning, so it was a small “party” (not really a party, just dinner)… I’m not good at planning things… and it really stresses me out to be in charge of planning things… I guess I should work on that.

Anyway, I’m not sure why, but I decided to make a cheesecake. Maybe it’s because another friend recently gave me his springform pan. I’m not generally a huge fan of cheesecake, and they’re definitely not my forte when it comes to desserts/baking, but I thought it’d be interesting to try and this recipe got great ratings and sounded pretty delicious.

I followed this recipe from Allrecipes.com and it turned out alright. Throughout the process I was kind of scared that it was going to turn out horribly. I don’t own a handmixer or a stand mixer (weird given that I cook a lot), so mixing all the ingredients was pretty difficult. It certainly didn’t seem “well-blended” or “smooth” to me.

I also went to rock out with the Urbana 12 worship team and hear Paul Tokunaga speak and in the middle of the evening, so after mixing everything I shoved the bowl in the fridge and ran off for a few hours.

When I came back, I put the cake in the oven, and put a large water bath on the rack below it. I was reading lots of comments on the recipe about how that was supposed to prevent cracks, but sadly when I opened the oven there was a GIANT crack right in the middle! 😦 To cover it up I stealthily spread Cool Whip* on top and drizzled some chocolate sauce. All in all I think it’s a pretty good recipe. I hope my friend thinks so too- happy birthday!

*Normally I never would use Cool Whip because making homemade whipped cream is so easy and delicious (just whip heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract together) but I was under a time contraint and as I mentioned before, I don’t have a handmixer or stand mixer, which would have made whipping the cream rather difficult.

Beer Batter Chocolate Cupcakes with Maple Bacon Frosting

My friend had his 26th birthday party today and for his birthday celebration we had a cooking competition/potluck where the “secret ingredients” were bacon and chocolate. The prize was the winner and up to two friends got dinner either cooked by the birthday boy man(?) or at a restaurant of his/her choosing. Seems counterintuitive that someone would give out prized to others on his birthday, but I do love a cooking challenge.

So I decided to make an appetizer (next post) and these cupcakes. I’ve always been a little bit of a skeptic when it comes to putting bacon (or other salty things) in my desserts, but a) I have two friends from college who would always get bacon with a little cup of maple syrup for dipping at Sunday brunch, and b) I kept seeing maple bacon dessert recipes popping up all over Tastespotting and Foodgawker, so I decided to give it a try.

I pretty much stuck to the recipe I found, with a few very minor exceptions listed below. It was definitely a success- I got a lot of compliments throughout the night, and I did end up winning the competition (caveat – there were only two other competitors, so don’t be too impressed).

– I didn’t have Guinness and last night when I was getting the ingredients I got to the supermarket after 9pm. Little did I know that there’s some state or city law that prohibits stores from selling alcohol after 9pm. I didn’t really feel like going out again today to the supermarket, so I just used a cup of Leinenkugel’s Creamy Dark. I guess it gives the recipe a bit of Wisconsin flavor 🙂

– I used four strips of bacon instead of three.

– I guess I measured poorly because I only made 21 cupcakes instead of 24.

– I don’t own a piping bag, a gallon-sized ziplock bag sufficed.

– When I baked the bacon I just put it in a 9×13 pan lined with aluminum foil and drained the grease every 5 minutes when I took the pan out to re-baste.

I’m too lazy to copy over the ingredients and instructions, so I’m just going to link to the original recipe.

Previous Older Entries