Saturday, December 28, 2013

Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips: Go Buy Them

Now that Christmas is over all the candy canes and peppermint nougats will go on sale.

You are going to brave those sales and you are going to buy every bag of these you can find:


You are going to send half of them to me (because you love me) and you are going to save the rest for a secret recipe we will be doing later.

Stay tuned!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Whole Foods Haul

Today I went to Whole Foods.

This is a big deal.

Why is this a big deal?

Because I don't have a Whole Foods. I drove an hour and a half (each way) to get to a Whole Foods.

This is what I have to show for it:


Not my biggest Whole Foods haul ever, but I got some good stuff. I skipped out on produce this trip, because even though it all looked beautiful and delicious, it was pretty pricy. (I hear not being able to grow veggies in November on the East Coast may have something to do with this.) I also am incredibly proud of myself for not buying anything in the bakery. Because none of that was out of season. None of it. Like, at all.


Droooool.

Okay, sorry, back to business.

Here's a rundown on the things I bought for my mother, who didn't want to make the voyage alllllll the way to Whole Foods:

2 jars of 365 Roasted Vegetable Pasta Sauce - $1.99 each
Engine 2 Roasted Red Pepper Hummus - $2.99
Engine 2 Rip's Big Bowl Banana Walnut Cereal - $4.99
365 Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette - $2.99
365 Butternut Squash Ravioli - $3.69
365 Spinach Ravioli - $3.69
Subtotal: $22.33

Here's a rundown on the things I bought for myself:

365 Organic Whole Cashews - $6.49
365 Blue Corn Tortilla Chips - $2.69
365 Quinoa - $4.49
3 cans of 365 No Salt Added Garbanzo Beans - $0.89 each
2 cans of 365 Cheese Ravioli in Tomato Sauce - $1.49 each
365 Fake Spaghettios - $1.49 (these probably have a name, but really, they're Spaghettios)
365 Coconut Oil - $5.99
365 Tahini - $5.99
Zevia Grape Soda - $3.00
Whole Foods Spinach Dip - $2.99
Subtotal: $38.78

Grand Total (after tax and 5-cent thank-you-for-bringing-your-own-bag discount): $62.59

You know what I'm most excited about? The tahini.

Actually, that's a total lie. I am most excited about the spinach dip because the Whole Foods spinach dip is a gift from the gods and I firmly believe the gods do not love me because I have to drive so very very far to obtain the delicious nectar that is the Whole Foods spinach dip.

But anyway, back to the tahini. I've been looking for tahini in my local grocery stores and haven't been able to find it. Procuring tahini was one of my primary incentives for making the trip out this week. So I go through the whole store looking for tahini. I look in condiments. No tahini. I look in ethic foods. No tahini. I look in salad dressings. No tahini. I look in the other case of salad dressings. Also no tahini. I look in the seasonings. Still no tahini. It wasn't until my roommate (aka Whole Foods Caddy--what? that bag gets heavy!) pointed at the tahini jar sitting right in front of my face in the peanut butter section that I found it. Now I can make hummus. Or, you know, have the capability and ingredients to make hummus but continue to purchase it already made from the grocery store because I want to keep all the lovely hummus makers in business so they can feed their families things like hummus.

The one other thing I was specifically hoping to find at Whole Foods was nutritional yeast, which is called for in one of the recipes I'm looking forward to trying. I heard (from the girl who posted the recipe, no less) that you could buy nutritional yeast at Whole Foods in the spices section, but I had no luck finding it there and really hope I can find it at one of the super-spiffy grocery stores here. Really hope. Really really hope. You hear that, Giant? I'm hoping. You wouldn't let a nice girl like me down, now would you?

That's it for today, folks. I'm going to go park the crazy train on the couch for the evening and eat all of the spinach dip and not share any of it. Nope, not even with you.

Have a great day!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

50 Bottle Water Challenge Recap

I wanted to touch base with you guys about my experience with the 50 Bottle Water Challenge.

First of all, I know now that it is possible to drown from the inside out.


Second of all, drowning aside, I think the challenge was a really good thing for me. We're not talking super-miraculous life-changing results or anything, but there were some definite improvements after the full seven days. Here's how:

1. My lips healed up....mostly. I still have a little dry patch, but overall they are much less lizzardy.

2. My skin improved. I was recovering from a makeup-related breakout, so my skin wasn't perfect, but my complexion did seem to even out a bit.

3. My hair was happier and much more cooperative.

4. I got thirsty. By the end of the seven days, when I hadn't had water in a couple of hours I felt legitimately thirsty, unlike before the Challenge when I'd look up at six o'clock and go, "Oh, I wonder if I've had anything to drink today."

I ended up completing the challenge at 11:30pm Day Seven, and despite my original intentions, I did not consume any alcoholic beverages (or any non-water beverages) all week because by the time I got my daily water quota in, the last thing I wanted was more to drink.

I encourage you to take on the Challenge for yourself and let me know what differences it makes for you!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas Eve!

This holiday...


...I hope you survive celebrations with your family...


...I hope the reindeer don't tear up your lawn...


...and I hope Santa likes your cookies.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Best Oatmeal Raisin Cookies in the Whole Wide World

Earlier this year we discussed edible oatmeal, however, if you are looking for truly delicious oatmeal, stop right here and soak up the realization that your life will never be the same again. From now on you will always know that you possess the secrets of the universe wrapped in the fresh baked goodness of these oatmeal raisin cookies.


Now, one might argue that oatmeal raisin cookies are not the prettiest cookie...

http://saltycod.blogspot.com/2008/07/raspberries.html

or the most colorful cookie...

http://anunconventionaljune.blogspot.com/2012/03/rainbow-cookie-sandwiches.html

or the most popular cookie...


but they are most definitely the best cookie.


So there.

Quaker Oatmeal has had the world's most renowned oatmeal raisin cookie since the dawn of time. The pilgrims brought these oatmeal raisin cookies to the new world and shared them with the Native Americans at the first Thanksgiving.*

Since you can't beat that kind of legacy, I present to you my only mildly-tweaked version of the Quaker Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookie recipe.


Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tbs softened butter (that's fourteen tbs total)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups Old Fashioned uncooked oatmeal
1 cup Quick Cook uncooked oatmeal
1 cup raisins


Instructions:

1. Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Use too much cinnamon on purpose. I used approximately one heaping teaspoon.

2. In a separate bowl cream together butter and sugars.

3. Add egg and vanilla to butter mixture. Use too much vanilla on purpose. I probably added an extra half teaspoon in overspill. Mix well.

4. Add flour mixture to butter mixture. Mix well.

5. Stir in oats and raisins.

6. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Scoop dough onto sheet by tablespoonfuls. Bake at 350 for 8 minutes. Take them out whether they look done or not.

7. Cool cookies on the sheet for 1 minute, then transfer to a cooling rack. Try not to eat all of them.


I usually get 40-42 cookies from this recipe, opposed to the Quaker's 48. That's okay though, because when I inevitably end up eating all the cookies, I've only eaten 40 instead of 48, and, obviously, that is soooo much better than eating 48.


What's your favorite cookie?

*Historical data may be fabricated.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

50 Bottle Water Challenge

For the next week I will be participating in the 50 Bottle Water Challenge.


The 50 Bottle Water Challenge is based on consuming 50 bottles of water in seven days. This ends up equaling approximately 25 liters/6.5 gallons. Allow me to share with you my reasons for embarking on such a challenge:

1. Water encourages healthy skin, and based on my current blotchyness, I can use all the happy skin mojo I can get.

2. Hydration repairs dry lips. The first sign I'm getting dehydrated is usually sore, cracking, flaking lips. I, being the resilient badass I am, tend to power through this and wind up eating my own lip scales until I bleed. This is not pretty.

3. Adequate water consumption encourages loss of water weight. Supposedly the human body can carry a few extra pounds of water weight because most people aren't giving their bodies regular watering, thus causing the body to hoard water like a camel. This is also not pretty, and I don't know about you, but I can get down with skinniness for Christmas.

4. Water curbs appetite. Now that I'm unemployed and spending the vast majority of my time chillin' on my couch, I've been boredom eating. This new hobby of mine is undoubtedly delicious, but also undoubtedly hazardous and should be nipped in the bud as soon as possible.

5. My toilet and I just haven't had enough bonding time lately and I would like to visit it as much as possible during the next week. (Can you taste the sarcasm there?)

What are the rules of this 50 Bottle Water Challenge, you ask?

Well, that depends on just how committed you are. If you're really, really committed you can choose to eliminate all other fluids from your diet and consume solely water for seven days. If you're not really down with that you can take the more taste-friendly route and drink whatever the hell you want. The only real "rule" with the second camp is that alternative beverages don't count toward your daily water consumption. Personally, I've decided to adopt the second method, with the added rule that for every alcoholic beverage consumed I must drink one additional bottle of water. I'm hoping that by painstakingly doing this for a week I will be reminded to keep the H2O flowing during my future alcohol-enjoying endeavors.

Before you health freaks and scientists rip me to shreds in the comments, I would like to remind everyone that I am NOT a health freak or scientist or doctor or dietician or circus performer. Everything I do is subject to my own stupidity and subsequent failure. As such, I can not be held responsible for your stupidity and failure. I will, however, happily take full blame for your success if you choose to let me.

Also, I know many people recommend consuming a gallon of water per day, every day, always, but the reality of the situation is that most average Joes (like me) don't do this and taking up the 50 Bottle Water Challenge is a great jumping off point to make you aware of your own water consumption.

If you have any questions about the Challenge or if you decide to take it on yourself, let me know in the comments. I'd love to hear how you do.

In the meantime, I will do my best to keep my updates posted here and on Twitter. I give you full permission to hold me accountable in publicly embarrassing ways!


UPDATE: I finished the challenge! Read about my experience here.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Banana Twinkies and Minions!

I have fallen prey to the marketing ploy of little yellow minions.


These are banana Twinkies. Endorsed by minions.

This can't possibly go wrong.


Okay, it went a little wrong.

If you like Twinkies, you're in luck. These are Twinkies.

If you like banana flavored Runts morphed into delicious pastries with cream fillings, you're out of luck. (but, also, if you could please invent that I would love you forever)

These do, indeed, taste like Twinkies. They taste like eating a Twinkie after eating a banana. Or, more likely, like somebody took a banana slice and squished it into some frosting and then injected it into an unsuspecting snack cake.



Don't you want to eat one now?

No, me neither. I didn't even finish this one.

The minions have failed me.

Maybe I should buy a fart gun instead.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Homemade DIY Sugar and Spice Body Scrub Recipe

Not gonna lie. This kind of looks like poop.


I promise, it's much better than poop.

As a matter of fact, this is a super-spectacular DIY beauty treatment that will make your already-gorgeous self especially smooth skinned and glowy.

Glowy, not sparkly. We can't all be Edward.

There's a good chance you already have all of the ingredients in your house waiting to be made into scrubbiness....that is, if you're the kind of person who already has coconut oil and adorable teeny tiny baby food jars in their cabinets. If you're not, that's okay. I wasn't either.

In case you haven't gotten to know coconut oil yet, I'd like the honor of introducing you.

You, this is coconut oil. Coconut oil, this is you.

There. Now that everybody knows everybody, you can read this list of all the amazing things the two of you can do together and then make this scrub, which I have been so nice as to write into a small recipe and a big recipe. Don't you love me?


The Small Sugar and Spice Body Scrub Recipe

Ingredients:

2 tbs coconut oil
2 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ginger

Instructions:

1. Put your coconut oil in a little bowl. Warm it up if necessary. Soft is good, liquid is liquidy. In layman's terms that is approximately fifteenish seconds in the microwave.

2. Dump your sugars and spices on top of the oil.

3. Stir.

4. Test the texture. If it's too harsh for your skin add some more oil. If it isn't gritty enough add some more sugar. In my experience the brown sugar is gentler than the white sugar.

5. Scoop the whole thing into a pretty little jar.

6. To use, rub mixture into wet skin and rinse off. A light layer of oil should be left on the skin for moisturizing awesomeness.


The Big Sugar and Spice Body Scrub Recipe

Ingredients:
1 cup coconut oil
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
3 tbs cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
2 tsp cloves

Instructions:

1. Put your coconut oil in a bowl. Warm it up if necessary. Soft is good, liquid is liquidy. In layman's terms that is approximately fifteenish seconds in the microwave. Probably more. You be the judge.

2. Dump your sugars and spices on top of the oil.

3. Stir.

4. Test the texture. If it's too harsh for your skin add some more oil. If it isn't gritty enough add some more sugar. In my experience the brown sugar is gentler than the white sugar.

5. Scoop the everything into pretty little jars to give to your friends.

6. To use, rub mixture into wet skin and rinse off. A light layer of oil should be left on the skin for moisturizing awesomeness. 


That's it, folks. If you give this a try let me know how it works for you, especially if you tweak it in fantastic new ways.

Happy scrubbing!


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Triple Cheese Baked Ziti

I'm going to tell you right now, my pictures of this suck. Mostly because it was cold and the sun was setting and my lighting was off, but also because it smelled so good I couldn't wait to eat it and subsequently got sloppy. If you want better pictures, make it yourself.


This is super simple to make. It may not even require half your ass.

You start by gathering your ingredients. It is fully acceptable to steal ingredients from friends and neighbors to avoid the grocery store.


Then you cook your pasta (if you need to learn how to boil water click here) and dump all your ingredients into the pot and stir. Do not burn your hands on the absurdly hot pot handles.


Then you dump it all in a pan and put more cheese on it because cheese is an amazing thing and you can never have too much of it.


Then you put it in the oven and then you take it out of the oven and let it cool off so all the cheesiness doesn't cause permanent burn damage to the roof of your mouth.


And then you eat it and you tell everybody you know that it's terrible so that they don't eat it and there's more for you.


 Did you get all that? No? Oh, fine. Read the recipe then:


Ingredients

1lb box of ziti
15oz ricotta cheese (approximately 1 3/4 cup)
3 1/4 cups of tomato sauce (that's more than one jar, just FYI)
8oz shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp pepper
Parmesan cheese to taste (I used the stuff in the green shaker can that may or may not be real cheese, but you can use the fresh stuff if you're fancy like that)

Instructions

1. Cook your pasta in a great big pot according to the directions on the box. After draining noodles, return them to the pan.

2. Add approximately 2 1/2 cups (24oz) of tomato sauce to the pot along with ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, and seasonings. Stir until well combined.

3. Pour the additional 3/4 cup of tomato sauce into a 9x13 pan. Spread it across the bottom and up the sides.

4. Dump the ziti into the 9x13, spread it out, and then sprinkle the Parmesan cheese across the top.

5. Cover pan with foil to keep cheesiness from escaping and bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

6. Serve with leftover Thanksgiving punch.


Enjoy!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I Might Love Macaroni and Cheese

I have a thing for macaroni and cheese. It's not a fetish, exactly, more of just...a love. A deep, creepy, stalker love, granted, but isn't stalking the truest expression of admiration? Although, I suppose since macaroni and cheese is generally quite incapable of independent movement I'm not so much a stalker as a kidnapper. No, not a kidnapper. I don't sit outside the playground trying to lure delicious bowls of macaroni and cheese into my creepy van. We'll come back to titles later.

At any rate, I woke up this morning with an undeniable craving for macaroni and cheese. I had to have macaroni and cheese. But not just any macaroni and cheese. No. I needed the Great Value (aka: Walmart) Rich and Creamy boxed macaroni and cheese. Thing is, I want it circa five years ago, and as we all know, grocery store brands are notorious for changing their recipes as soon as they have you hooked.

In an attempt to satisfy my craving, I perused my collection of macaroni and cheese. (That's it! I'm a collector, not a stalker kidnapper.) Nothing in my collection could even come close to the tangy deliciousness wrapped around chewy macaroni noodles that lived in the red box back in 2008.


You want to know what the really embarrassing part is? I have more than one of each of these mac-and-cheeses in my kitchen cupboards. I almost don't have enough space in there for the Oreos.

Disappointed and still hungry, I reluctantly put on a pair of real pants and made my hair look semi-presentable and went to Walmart. Except that I remembered that it was the weekend and I needed, like, ten things from Walmart and Walmart never has any baskets, which meant I'd either have to juggle or use a cart, neither of which I'm particularly good at and both of which would probably have disastrous (albeit comical) results. So I changed my mind. I went to Target. When I got to Target I realized I forgot my list of the other nine items I needed, so I just grabbed what looked good (came home with a candy bar and some cinnamon flavored gummy bears....don't know how) and selected a box of macaroni and cheese.


Before I tell you about this particular box of macaroni and cheese, I would just like to say for the record that Target has a terrible macaroni and cheese selection. Terrible. They have, like, three kinds. It's sad, really.

But anywho, about this macaroni and cheese. It was tangy. It was creamy. It was even chewy, thanks to the funny-shaped noodles, I think.


It also tasted a little over-processed, but what do you expect when you're eating neon orange ooze out of a tin foil pouch? All in all, it was an adequate replacement, and--hold on to your hats, here--a craving quencher.


You know what's ironic? I had the opposite problem as a child. Yes, I still loved macaroni and cheese (what kid doesn't?) but I only liked one kind at a time. One. That's it. And it was always the store brand, because I was a broke kid. At first I loved the Food Lion brand, then they changed it, and then I loved the Walmart brand, and then they changed it, and as far as I know the Giant brand has always sucked. Once somebody gave me a box of Spongebob macaroni and cheese that had blue cheese sauce, and I thought that was pretty sweet, but mostly only because I was allowed to eat blue macaroni and cheese for dinner. Maybe that's why I eat thirty-seven different kinds of macaroni and cheese now: I've never truly had a favorite. Sad thing is, I could never pick a favorite now. I wouldn't want to hurt another brand's feelings and then live through the rest of eternity without tasting the deliciousness of that brand again.

I'm not expecting any of you to have a love of macaroni and cheese to match mine, I only hope you will accept me for who I am, and let me love my many favorite macaroni and cheeses.

Also, my inner junkie wants to know: what kind of macaroni and cheese is your favorite? Any recommendations for me?