Categories
Easy Baking Fancy Pantsy Grown Up People Desserts Jams and Jellies No-Bake Recipes Sort of Healthy Strange and Yummy Stuff Your Parents Would Like

Champagne Problems On A Jello Shots Budget

I’m sitting at home along writing this post on a Monday evening, eating Cookie Butter out of a jar, reminiscing about the days when I was single, living alone, and eating various combinations of bad-for-me-and-definitely-not-meal-worthy “snacks” for dinner. As soon as I walked into my apartment from work, I’d wash my hands furiously (this is the one part of my night that has not changed and will not change as long as New York City remains the glorious petri dish of filth that it is), turn on the television, and start dinner– usually a bowl of cereal or something else equally pitiful. I’d zone out in front of a cooking show or a crappy procedural drama, barely paying attention, and then I’d go to sleep at a pathetically decent hour. My life was not that bad, but it was also not that great.
Those are the lame ol’ days that I try to remember when I go through rough periods now. As much as I sometimes miss living alone, I would never trade that for the guy and the life that I very fortunately have now. I’ve got a best buddy who has turned so many of my horrible days around with tiny surprises and giant hugs. I know how sappy I sound, believe me, and I hate me too for it, and believe me when I say that I do realize it could all go away tomorrow. But since my last post, I have had the blues in the absolute worst way for more reasons than I can count– I’ve had a nasty cough for what has felt like forever, I’ve had a million mini-crises related to my professional life, I’ve seen people I love get very hurt, and I’ve had people I love suddenly just sort of disappear from my life without explanation. Writing out what the past was like compared to the present helps sort it all out in my mind. A lot has changed, but things aren’t worse, they’re just different. In some ways (Hi Jimmy!), they’re better.

One of the many tiny surprises.
One of the many tiny surprises.

So, with that in mind, I’m going to hearken back to an earlier post and once again talk about celebration. As rough as life’s been, I’ve been fortunate to still have some things to celebrate, be grateful for, be happy about as of late (see: above Troll, which I will treasure forever, and no, you may not make fun of me for being so dorky about this. Ok, yes, yes you can). For this reason, I believe it is time to pop the bubbly.

Around Christmas, my parents came over to our apartment and very kindly gave my boyfriend and me a bottle of champagne (I guess the correct term would be “sparkling wine” because geography and whatnot, but I’m just going to be comfortable being wrong for the rest of this post, so purists, deal, please). My mom emphasized that we should always remember to celebrate, which was really touching, given that my parents have come to support and champion us even when we haven’t felt the same love elsewhere. I always kept those words in the back of my mind, and we mutually decided to save the bottle for a special occasion.

Then, after realizing that there was no way we’d be able to kill a bottle of Brut in a night, and that neither of us really drinks champagne all that much, and that there are only so many sort-of-mimosas one could make and imbibe, I decided to get creative. CHAMPAGNE. JELLIES.

Champagne Jelly Shots (makes about 18 1-ounce shots) 

2 envelopes of unflavored gelatin

1 cup of boiling water + 2 tablespoons of sugar, more if you’d like this sweeter

1  1/2 cups of champagne/sparkling wine/you know what I mean (Note: if you’d like to keep this booze-free, substitute some sparkling cider)

Raspberries or berries of your choice, if you please

Pour boiling water into a large, heatproof bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over water, and let cool slightly. Pour champagne or whatever bubbly drink you choose over the mixture, then stir gently to incorporate any clumps of gelatin that may have formed. Pour into mold of choice (I used a mini-muffin pan), and place a raspberry or berry of your choosing in the middle of each mixture. Refrigerate for at least an hour, until the jellies have set.

The following is a series of “artistic” photos that we took of these shots, because they’re friggin’ gorgeous looking.

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I feel like the photos don’t even do these justice, but let me tell you, these came out looking magical. The bubbles stayed put, giving these shots a sparkly, glowing look. Oh, so how’d they taste?

Um, AMAZING. The shots were bubbly, only very slightly sweet, and way more fun than just a regular ol’ glass of bubbly. But, uh, just slow your roll a bit with these, or you’ll end up downing five in the span of a minute and then waking up in the middle of the night with a faint recollection of drunk-dialing your parents. Not that that happened. Just saying it could.

Categories
Easy Baking Fancy Pantsy Grown Up People Desserts Jams and Jellies No-Bake Recipes Sort of Healthy Strange and Yummy Stuff Your Parents Would Like

Champagne Problems On A Jello Shots Budget

I’m sitting at home along writing this post on a Monday evening, eating Cookie Butter out of a jar, reminiscing about the days when I was single, living alone, and eating various combinations of bad-for-me-and-definitely-not-meal-worthy “snacks” for dinner. As soon as I walked into my apartment from work, I’d wash my hands furiously (this is the one part of my night that has not changed and will not change as long as New York City remains the glorious petri dish of filth that it is), turn on the television, and start dinner– usually a bowl of cereal or something else equally pitiful. I’d zone out in front of a cooking show or a crappy procedural drama, barely paying attention, and then I’d go to sleep at a pathetically decent hour. My life was not that bad, but it was also not that great.

Those are the lame ol’ days that I try to remember when I go through rough periods now. As much as I sometimes miss living alone, I would never trade that for the guy and the life that I very fortunately have now. I’ve got a best buddy who has turned so many of my horrible days around with tiny surprises and giant hugs. I know how sappy I sound, believe me, and I hate me too for it, and believe me when I say that I do realize it could all go away tomorrow. But since my last post, I have had the blues in the absolute worst way for more reasons than I can count– I’ve had a nasty cough for what has felt like forever, I’ve had a million mini-crises related to my professional life, I’ve seen people I love get very hurt, and I’ve had people I love suddenly just sort of disappear from my life without explanation. Writing out what the past was like compared to the present helps sort it all out in my mind. A lot has changed, but things aren’t worse, they’re just different. In some ways (Hi Jimmy!), they’re better.

 

One of the many tiny surprises.
One of the many tiny surprises.

 

So, with that in mind, I’m going to hearken back to an earlier post and once again talk about celebration. As rough as life’s been, I’ve been fortunate to still have some things to celebrate, be grateful for, be happy about as of late (see: above Troll, which I will treasure forever, and no, you may not make fun of me for being so dorky about this. Ok, yes, yes you can). For this reason, I believe it is time to pop the bubbly.

Around Christmas, my parents came over to our apartment and very kindly gave my boyfriend and me a bottle of champagne (I guess the correct term would be “sparkling wine” because geography and whatnot, but I’m just going to be comfortable being wrong for the rest of this post, so purists, deal, please). My mom emphasized that we should always remember to celebrate, which was really touching, given that my parents have come to support and champion us even when we haven’t felt the same love elsewhere. I always kept those words in the back of my mind, and we mutually decided to save the bottle for a special occasion.

Then, after realizing that there was no way we’d be able to kill a bottle of Brut in a night, and that neither of us really drinks champagne all that much, and that there are only so many sort-of-mimosas one could make and imbibe, I decided to get creative. CHAMPAGNE. JELLIES.

Champagne Jelly Shots (makes about 18 1-ounce shots) 

2 envelopes of unflavored gelatin

1 cup of boiling water + 2 tablespoons of sugar, more if you’d like this sweeter

1  1/2 cups of champagne/sparkling wine/you know what I mean (Note: if you’d like to keep this booze-free, substitute some sparkling cider)

Raspberries or berries of your choice, if you please

Pour boiling water into a large, heatproof bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over water, and let cool slightly. Pour champagne or whatever bubbly drink you choose over the mixture, then stir gently to incorporate any clumps of gelatin that may have formed. Pour into mold of choice (I used a mini-muffin pan), and place a raspberry or berry of your choosing in the middle of each mixture. Refrigerate for at least an hour, until the jellies have set.

The following is a series of “artistic” photos that we took of these shots, because they’re friggin’ gorgeous looking.

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(We kinda ran out of raspberries.)

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I feel like the photos don’t even do these justice, but let me tell you, these came out looking magical. The bubbles stayed put, giving these shots a sparkly, glowing look. Oh, so how’d they taste?

Um, AMAZING. The shots were bubbly, only very slightly sweet, and way more fun than just a regular ol’ glass of bubbly. But, uh, just slow your roll a bit with these, or you’ll end up downing five in the span of a minute and then waking up in the middle of the night with a faint recollection of drunk-dialing your parents. Not that that happened. Just saying it could.

Categories
Cookies Easy Baking Holiday desserts Sort of Healthy

New Year, New Me. Just Kidding, I’m Still Grumpy and Indian.

AND I STILL LOVE SUGAR. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

Guys, I have been on a steady diet of cookies, maple syrup, chocolate chip Belgian waffles, peanut butter and Neuhaus chocolates since, like, I don’t even know when. I’ve lost all sense of time. I can’t grasp simple concepts anymore. Which one is the minute hand and which one is the hour hand? What’s a deductible? Can someone teach me how to properly use my Twitter? I can teach you how to Dougie in return.

elfeating
Me for the past few weeks. Except without the hat. That’s the only difference.

All of these problems are, very likely, sugar-induced. And I just don’t give a damn. Eventually I’ll probably wake up and start force-feeding myself whole grains and bell peppers again, but for now I’ll just stick to congratulating myself on begrudgingly taking down daily glasses of V-8 [with my aforementioned Belgian waffles]. 

So anyway, HAPPY NEW YEAR! 2014– wild, right? Maybe? I’m personally hoping it’s a much calmer year than the last. Here’s to a(n) emergency room/ulcer/scary crazy folk/general overall disaster and tragedy-free year for ALL of us, people! I really do wish you all the very best and cannot thank you enough for continuing to read and like this blog. One of my best friends touched my heart and made me tear up a little when he thanked me for my last post, in which I talked about the importance of celebration and gratitude. Moments like that are exactly what keep me celebrating and keep me grateful. So here’s to popping the literal or figurative bubbly all crazy year, loves.

And if you need a little something to accompany all of that Cristal, why not try these easy-peasy cookies? FIVE ingredients, a MILLION fans. Maybe not a million. In my case it was like twenty. But that’s because I only gave these to twenty people. That’s a 100% success rating, so it might as well be a million people. Feel me? Let’s make some easy meringues.

White and Dark Chocolate Chip Meringues (makes about 30 cookies)

3 large egg whites at room temperature

1/2 cup of granulated white sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1/2 cup of white chocolate chips

1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 300°F and cover a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat egg whites on high until soft peaks begin to form. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m going to stress it again: it is super important to be working with clean, dry instruments when making a meringue. I am not calling you gross or anything, but even the slightest bit of moisture can ruin a meringue. When you’re happy with your peaks, gradually add in sugar, a little bit at a time, then beat in vanilla until your peaks are very stiff.

Like so
Like so

The peaks should be so stiff that you’re able to hold the bowl almost completely upside-down without having any of your batter budge. Do this slowly if you’d really like to test it, and if the batter starts to slide down, keep beating. When you’re satisfied, gently fold in your chocolate chips.

Pretty!
Pretty!

Drop the mixture by tablespoon onto your cookie sheets. It’s easiest to use two, like this:

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You can keep the cookies fairly close together since they won’t really spread. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or just until the cookies are slightly browned and don’t look shiny. Mine took about 37 minutes to get there.

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Cute, right? And I’m betting that if you’re a sugar fiend like I am you probably have all of the ingredients on hand. ALSO these aren’t terribly bad for you– no butter, oil or egg yolks necessary! I think I may have accidentally convinced multiple people that this was a health food. Don’t do that. Especially since these taste anything but healthy.

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They’re crunchy on the outside, with a light, dreamy-creamy inside. Given that these are one-bowl-baking cookies, and given that there are so few ingredients, there really aren’t any excuses not to make them. Unless you’ve already had too much sugar. Um…but even then….

Categories
Desserts with Fruit Easy Baking Fancy Pantsy Grown Up People Desserts No-Bake Recipes Sort of Healthy Strange and Yummy Stuff Your Parents Would Like

Bad Things Happen In Threes. Lemonade Jellies Happen In Ramekins. I Happen…To Be Freaking Out.

Last weekend I was strolling along the Hudson River with my boyfriend when the skies opened up and dumped a monsoon on us. Fortunately, there was a random tent nearby that we and a bunch of other drenched pedestrians discovered at precisely the right moment. The rain lasted about ten minutes, and then this happened.

rainbow

That, I thought, was a signal that all would be fine.

Instead, it ended up being a semicircular, multicolored middle finger directed squarely at me.

I’m not sure how comfortable I am talking about the exact three bad things that have happened. There may be even more than three, but typing them all out might result in me freaking out even more than I already have in the past, oh, six weeks or so. Yep. Six weeks of on-and-off nonsense.

This past week has been one of the most trying I’ve experienced in about seven years. I’ve had to deal with disturbed individuals whom I’ve never met contacting me through this blog, using something that’s very dear to me to basically, well, harass. You all know how well I deal with scary fools coming after me. It’s not cool. Plus, I am a boring person. Trust. I am also sort of broke, really quiet and pretty reserved until I am hungry or SUUUUPER pissed off. There is really nothing to be gained from randomly lobbing the crazy this way. So, if you’re reading this with the sole purpose of, I don’t know, being mean or causing trouble, this way to the egress.

Sylvapotamus has left the country for the week, leaving me stranded and lost and even sadder than I would be had she not left. Somebody help! Tell me a joke. A good one. Or a bad one, I don’t care. Just give me something to work with, people! I’ll give you a delicious, healthy, addictive dessert in return!

Basil Lemonade Jellies (makes six 1/2 cup servings)

adapted from Serious Eats

3/4 cup of freshly-squeezed lemon juice (about 4 to 5 large lemons)

1/2 cup of sugar

1 1/2 cups of basil leaves, loosely packed

1/2 cup of no-pulp orange juice

3 teaspoons of powdered gelatin

Fresh whipped cream or ice cream to serve, optional

6 small basil leaves for garnish, optional

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In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together lemon juice, 1 1/2 cups of water, and sugar over medium heat until the mixture reaches a boil. Stir until the sugar completely dissolves.

Tear basil leaves roughly and place in a small glass or metal bowl. Pour lemon juice mixture over basil leaves and let steep for at least 15 minutes.

Pour orange juice in a small saucepan and sprinkle gelatin over the top. Let sit for five minutes, then place pan over medium heat, stirring until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat.

Strain the basil out of the lemon juice mixture and stir juice into the gelatin-OJ mixture. Pour into six small ramekins or a 1-quart dish. Refrigerate until softly set, at least two hours, then serve, either with ice cream or whipped cream. I recommend ice cream. Or nothing. Or just not even thinking about it and going to town on these.

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So I cut the sugar down from what the original recipe called for, and I am so glad I did. The basil flavor came through very nicely, giving the jellies a very complex flavor. The tartness of the jellies combined with the sweet, cold creaminess of the vanilla ice cream I used made for a perfect, perfect summer dessert. I cannot wait to make these again.

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Note: The below was just brought to my attention, explaining almost all of the heartache I’ve been experiencing lately.

Oh f*ck you, Stamos.

Categories
Desserts with Fruit Easy Baking Fancy Pantsy Grown Up People Desserts Sort of Healthy Stuff Your Parents Would Like

In Which I Discover A Rather Healthful Dessert… And Slather It In Butter.

For all of us. You're welcome.
For all of us. You’re welcome.

Hopefully, by the time you read this, I will be en route to Denver, Colorado, in order to visit some lovely people and bask in the Rocky Mountain air. Hopefully, by the time you read this, I will not be mid-asthma attack, nauseous and angry due to the lack of oxygen in the air and a case altitude sickness. You can always count on me for a healthy dose of optimism cynicism.

Personally, the week was one big bag of failure. I think the ugly cry may have come to visit my abode about seventeen times. I also yelled at exactly five customer service representatives and five customer service supervisors. I seem to be falling apart?

There are, I know, bigger problems. Jesus, this week. 😦

For information on how to help victims of the Boston marathon, please click here!

All of this sadness, all of the chaos can just become too overwhelming. I could go on and on, but this is not my Livejournal,* this is a baking blog.

As you can all see from previous posts, this blog has been a bundle of jiggly lard lately. For this reason, and with the assumption that warm weather will, in fact, eventually debut in NY at some damn point, I have decided to go for a healthier dessert…. aaaand then coat it in butter. Also I chose pears because I had a few that I needed to use before they spoiled and you KNOW I was not able to let them go to waste. Pears cost dollars.

*I never had a Livejournal. I was a Xanga girl. Please do not Google this. I am sparing you, trust.

Sautéed Pears in a Balsamic Reduction With Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (SO FANCY! SO FRESH!)

2 pears of your choice, cored and sliced

2 tablespoons of butter

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of brown sugar, more if you like

1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon of roasted pumpkin seeds, optional

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Now, in a large lidded saucepan, melt your butter over medium heat. When fully melted, add pears. Try to lay slices with no overlaps, if possible. When the pear slices begin to heat up, add just enough water to barely cover them, and then cover the pan for five minutes.

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Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, bring balsamic vinegar to a simmer. Swirl the vinegar in the pan for a few minutes, then let it simmer and lightly boil for about ten minutes. Remove from heat when it looks thick and appears to have reduced.

Back to your pears. Using a wooden spoon, carefully flip your slices, which should be lightly browned and softened by now. Sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar, then remove from heat, plate, and sprinkle more cinnamon and sugar, if you please (you please, trust me you please). Drizzle with balsamic reduction and add pumpkin seeds.

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Now, you would think, or at least I thought, this would be a disaster. I kind of thought the balsamic would take this thing to a place I would never ever want to visit. Instead, it took this thing to a place I’d like to turn into my summer home, if that makes sense.

No joke, as lame as this sounds, I felt super fancy eating this. Also, if I were a person who ever felt remorse over eating dessert– and I am not this person, but if I were– I would certainly not feel guilty over this delicious, light, sweet treat.