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Sundays with Joy/Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Cookie

I know, I know…late again but this time, besides life, I was swept away by sci-fi and you’re all going to her about it…

Friday was the season premiere of the last season of my beloved Fringe.  The show itself is changing, because of a shortened season, from a procedural with a background mythology (a la The X-Files) to a serialized show that will hopefully wrap up the mythology portion of the story.  I thought the premiere was awesome and I am so excited for the rest of this final season.  It is worth checking out the show purely for this underrated cast’s stellar acting (I’m looking at you John Noble and Anna Torv)!  Many of them have played a few different “versions” of their original characters, with the BEST results!

Saturday, my daughter and I had to deal with an ending on another of our favorite shows.  After soccer and a family party, we came home and caught up on the last episode of the “Ponds” aka Amy and Rory Williams on Doctor Who.  While I love the Ponds, I would agree that it was time for them to move on.  I did have one criteria for their exit, though, and it was met by the show so I was not disappointed.  For me, the most devastating exit was Donna’s.  I just couldn’t have anything like that again.  However, I wouldn’t really have cared if Rory or Amy had to forget the Doctor.  SPOILER ALERT:  In truth, I didn’t really care how they left the Doctor, I just wanted them to be able to leave him together, even if they had died.  So they kind of gave us a few endings (time paradoxes and all) but the final one, the fixed point, was one I could deal with.

That brings me to Sunday when I just HAD to watch them both again (and cry at both again) and I didn’t start making my cookies until the late afternoon.  We just had leftovers that day so these pretty much ended up being my dinner.  My girls had gone to bed before they were done but my son had three (he snuck one, or at least he thought he did) before he went to bed.

I really loved how they turned out.  There was not too much spice to overwhelm them, just enough to make you think you were eating an ordinary soft cake like chocolate chip cookie instead of a bit healthier sweet potato one.  It is kind of amazing.  I did use all white whole wheat flour instead of half and half like Joy suggests and they came out fine.  I also used mini chips because that was all that I had.  As always you can find the recipe in the Joy the Baker Cookbook.  Also, please check out some of our group’s adaptations on Bakeaholic Mama.


Peach Nectarine Crisp

If I am going to bake lots, it really helps if I am inspired.  Inspiration is a long time coming when it is 100° outside and you don’t feel like turning your home into an oven.  I know I could make ice cream but I didn’t really have many ideas for that either (actually just typing that gave me one, we shall see).  There are lots of no bake cookies out there but nothing captured my fancy.  One thing I really do want to make before it starts to cool down (sometime in late October over here) is an icebox cake.  I still don’t know what flavor or anything but I am working on it.

I left the skins on the nectarines and you can’t see the peaches but they are at the bottom.

This recipe isn’t all that original.  It isn’t reinventing the wheel or anything.  It is just a basic crisp.  I wanted to use the nectarines and peaches, though, because as long as I can remember peaches and nectarines scream “SUMMER!” to me.  My dad’s mom lives four hours north of us.  So growing up, unless it was every other Christmas, a bit during the summers, or a special occasion (luckily for me, most of his siblings were younger so we had lots of weddings to go to) we didn’t see his family much.  Whenever we did, we had tons of cousins to play with, a couple of younger uncles, and a great big pool (the only pool that anyone I knew had).  My grandma without fail would ALWAYS make us homemade tortillas whenever we came over even when we shouldn’t have asked.  Those tortillas are by far my favorite memory of her and the times spent at her house.  Unfortunately, I can’t make a tortilla to save my life.  I mean I have, they’re edible, but they’re not hers.  Maybe that is an impossible standard to set for myself but…

This I can do, celebrate the peaches and nectarines that make up my second favorite memory of my grandma’s house.  The smell.  Beyond her kitchen there was a sun room.  In it, just before you walked out the door to go outside were boxes of peaches and nectarines stacked about three high against the wall.  Sometimes there were other fruits like plums but the smell of peaches and nectarines every single time to this day turns me into a little girl standing inside that sun room deciding whether to go left to the backyard or hang with my uncles and cousin in their room off to the right (I say hang but they were teenagers so it was more like watch TV till they made me leave).  I swear that smell filled the entire house, sometimes overpowering awesome homemade tortillas.

Before baking…

I was lucky though, that when Justin and I lived up north for awhile, I finally got to spend lots of time with my dad’s family.  It is really a disappointment that now I don’t.  I have a handful of boy cousins around my age and now they have (amazing) wives and children of their own.  A handful of their kids are the same age as mine.  Okay, well to be more accurate, each of my kids pretty much has a handful of cousins their age, on my dad’s side alone.  Mostly I am bummed and am writing this because I am missing out on two of my cousins weddings this month for a variety of reasons (school, soccer, money).  What makes those weddings special to me is that 14 years ago, one of my cousins and I also got married less than a month apart.  Both of us are still married and both of us have three kids.  It is just one of those things.  I wonder if my little cousins (and yes, “little” cause they are still younger than me) will have any other parallels like that.  *Sigh*  Congrats Nicole & Eddie and Jonathan & Renee!!!

My GeekyLinks for today are trailers for shows that are coming up that I can’t wait to see.  First up is Fringe, cause duh it is Fringe and I love it to pieces.  It is coming back to TV on September 28st.  Up next is Downton Abbey, which will premiere in the UK next week but not here till January.  What is up with that?

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Banana Strawberry Oatmeal Muffins, Camouflage Cupcakes and Fringe

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I have had a hankering for some muffins for awhile now seeing as I spent all of last Sunday trying to adapt some.  I really wanted to get back to doing some baking with whole wheat flour and I just couldn’t make it work.  So I tried to think of some other whole wheat muffins that I have made and loved and then lightening struck. As always Joy was the answer.  Of course everyone knows of Joy’s Browned Butter Blueberry Muffins (I have even made a batch or two) but she also has another Blueberry Muffin that is a bit healthier with whole wheat flour and oatmeal that was ripe for the adaptation I was trying to do.  And even though I am thrilled with how they came out, I had to go and make them a tad unhealthier (but also a tad more awesome) by adding a streusel topping (that you can totally omit if you want).  Next time I think will use a berry that has a bit more kick and still goes with bananas, like well, maybe a blueberry.  You could even add some chopped nuts and make this a classic banana nut muffin.  It would be FANTASTIC and (kinda) healthy!

Those beauties had to wait till Monday morning, however, because Saturday I baked Camoflage Cupcakes for my nephew’s 11th birthday party on Sunday.  I got this idea from My Creative Way.  The cupcake was just yellow cake Cake Mix Doctored with a green basic buttercream frosting.  My Creative Way used brown and green food coloring but I used about two tablespoons of cocoa powder for the brown color.  Just spoon it into your muffin tin, alternating colors.  So easy and it looks great!  I frosted each cupcake with a thick layer of buttercream (piped on, then smoothed out) and then just one quick go round on each with a grass tip (Wilton #233 ).  I also sprinkled some green colored sugar on top which I had wanted to put on these just because but really worked out great because it helped make the grass look darker and added a little depth to it.  Top with a random army dude and you got yourself some Camo Cupcakes.

My GeekyLink this week is all about Fringe.  First of all, I am absolutely THRILLED that it was renewed for a fifth and final season.  Unfortunately, it is only for 13 episodes but something is better than nothing.  Yes, I was one of the first to find out via Twitter and it was one of the most awesome things to share among likeminded people.  If you are a fan you need to live Tweet it on Friday nights, it is one of the reasons it was renewed!  The fans came together and made it an event every Friday and aside from trying to avoid spoilers since I am on the west coast, it has just been one of the most fun fan experiences EVER and we do it every week.  Also, I am a big fan of The Fringe Podcast and I love, love, love their live show on Sunday.  Check it out!  So here is the trailer for the second half of the Fringe Season Finale.

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Andes Mint Brownies and Cookies (and Fringe and Star Trek and Doctor Who)

O man, sometimes my husband’s job takes its toll.  Not just on him but on all of us as well.  He mostly works at night but one day of the week he works in the early evening and on his days off he tries to keep to his sleep schedule as much as possible while being awake with us in the afternoon, so basically his sleep patterns are all mixed up.

I would be fine with that.  I am a mom.  I get up with babies that need to be sleep trained or are sick, kids that need to get up for school, up early with three kids dressed and prepped for a random day at Disneyland or family function, and also on occasion try to stay up late and spend time with my husband.  When I am tired, I sleep.  He is not one of those people.  If he NEEDS to sleep, he feels the pressure of having to sleep and then he CAN’T sleep.  The weird hours he works just make it worse.  Some days it is not a problem, or mostly just a problem for me trying to keep the 3 and 4 year old as quiet as possible while he is sleeping.

Some days, the days that he can’t sleep, o geez, we are all in for it.  It will be quiet, for an hour or so and then he will come out of the bedroom to use the restroom.  Quiet for another hour and he will come down and get something to eat, saying that food will help.  Quiet for another hour, then just rail about how he is in for it and he will NEVER get to sleep.  At this point I know I am going to have to take my son with me to my daughters’ dance class (which I HATE because what is a 3 year old boy supposed to do in a confined space for 2 hours with limited distractions?), I know I am going to have to make his lunch, and feed him dinner after everyone else is finished.  It ends up being such a mess.  It has to be done, though.  I do feel bad for him but sometimes I feel like he makes it worse.  He claims this current schedule (his schedule also changes every 6 months!) is worse but actually I think he hasn’t had as many of these kind of days lately as he has in the past.  However, today is one of those days, ugh.

Overall this week has also been kind of weird (let’s not even talk about Valentine’s Day).  I usually have my kids chomping at the bit for the things I am baking.  This week was WAY different.  My nephew was the one that had asked for mint buttercream on his Despicable Me cupcakes, the cupcakes that my daughters wanted nothing to do with because of said (completely yummy!) buttercream.  No fun.  So I knew when I decided to use my Andes Baking Bits that I bought at Target about a month ago, that the bulk of these treats would be going to my sister’s house.  My baby boy had a couple of cookies and my husband sampled some brownies but my girls wanted nothing to do with them, I don’t know what their problem is.  As a mother and a baker, it is really disappointing.  Really? I can’t get you to eat a chocolate brownie or cookie, geesh!

Anyways, I was thrilled and happy with both.  If I had to pick a favorite though, it would have to be the cookie.  I adapted the recipe from one that called for peanut butter in it and replaced it with Nutella.  I just love the flavors of that cookie and it is a nice chewy cookie.

The plate that went to my sister's house.

I have a backup of GeekyLinks right now so you will get a few and also wanted to tell you about all the nerdy and exciting things that I have been doing lately.  First off, my Friday nights and Sunday lunches have just gotten FABULOUS!  I have been watching Fringe live on Fridays (as much as I can because Justin is trying to get out the door during the first 20 minutes and it is all “bye daddy” and “can you help me with my lunch”) and have been following along with The Fringe Podcast at the same time (Tweeting as well, whatever it takes to keep the show on the air!)  At the end of the show, you send in your Bunsen Burners (your ratings for the episode) and during the show you can try to figure out what the glyphs spell out.  Sundays, Clint and Darrell do the podcast live and you can chat and comment during it and sometimes they will ask the chat room questions and such.  If you sent them feedback about the show either Friday or Saturday, they may play it and comment on it during the feedback show immediately following the recap show.  It is a fun few hours if you are a fan of Fringe.

My other GeekyLinks just go to show how GREAT science fiction just goes together 10 actors with roles in both Doctor Who and Star Trek and Doctor Who/Star Trek – The Official Crossover.

Also, hopefully I will be able to go to this on Friday with my daughter who has the day off from school.

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Mexican Chocolate Cookies

With Thanksgiving upon us and with the prospect of apple and pumpkin baked things in the forefront, I just really wanted some chocolate.  I have seen recipes using Mexican Chocolate in cupcakes but not cookies.  I have seen a recipe for cookies with this type of flavor profile but it didn’t use any Mexican chocolate.  So I found my new favorite chocolate cookie Pretzel Coated Chocolate Cookies and set out to adapt it (I still want to make those cookies as is though, it seems like a great idea).  It was super easy.  My cookies look flatter than hers but they have a nice soft chewy texture that is just pretty darn good if I do say so myself.

Abuelita chocolate, I prefer Ibarra but Costco had a mega size container so...

I don’t know how familiar you all are with Mexican chocolate, but it is awesome.  It is slightly spicy and cinnamony and it comes in big circles that you place in a saucepan with milk and you let it slowly cook on the stovetop till it melts and makes THE BEST hot chocolate ever!  I always dip my Mexican cookies and Pan Dulce in it and yes, suck out the warm chocolate milk that gathers in the crevices before biting into what has now become a warm softened and chocolatey cookie or bread.  It is like dipping a donut in regular milk or hot chocolate but ten times better (my husband would disagree but he is WRONG!).  It is just magic food.

Ground up, with added sugar and cinnamon for topping.

So making a cookie that can taste like that was such a personal victory for me.  Although, give me Pan Dulce and a mug of Abulita and I will pick that over anything anyday, mostly because of the whole sensory experience.  Even just smelling these cookies though, it is like sniffing the chocolate milk as it is cooking, I couldn’t even believe it.

Right out of the oven!

My GeekyLink today is all about Fringe.  I listen to the The Fringe Podcast, if you are a fan, I highly recommend it.  I am sorry, I have been watching Fringe since season one and never knew till listening to the podcast that the pictures, going into commercials, were a FRICKIN CODE!  Here is the link Fringe Glyphs to decode it if you want or you can just listen and they will tell you what it is each week.  Now I want to go back and decode all the stuff from previous seasons.  I feel like such a moron!  Also, they mentioned that there is going to be a Fringe/Spongebob Squarepants crossover coming in February.  Yup, you read that right, Fringe and Spongebob Squarepants!  No official pictures or anything yet, just an IMDb page.  IMDb can be wrong sometimes, O but I hope, I hope this is right.

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Crumb Cake, Bad Lighting, and 13 Years

Have you ever had a block of time that you wish would never have happened?  When things just go down and make you feel yucky for a good amount of time?  Yeah, well that time is now.  Plus, this whole time is falling on my 13th wedding anniversary!  It all started last week when I read the blog about the Mexican cookies.  I really took it personally and it took me a few days to get the downer feeling off of me.

Crumb Topping

I was ready for that feeling to be gone and to make this New York Style Crumb Cake from Brown Eyed Baker for my husband for the morning of our anniversary when I literally went into the kitchen at 11:55pm the night before.  The lights didn’t come on.  Actually, the last two beams that hadn’t gone out completely flickered sadly and wouldn’t stay on.  Five minutes later, exactly on our anniversary, my husband comes home from work and I give him a kiss and give him the news.  No biggie right?  Except for the fact that he wouldn’t watch Breaking Bad with me, it was a nice night and I knew that I probably wouldn’t make the crumb cake in the morning because it would be a Home Depot day.  So the next day I buy a big box of fluorescents, right size and wattage and everything, and head home.  Justin was eager to get the new lights in, then we flip the switch, and NOTHING happens!  Are you kidding me!  We still don’t know what is wrong, have no idea what to do, and we would rather not call an electrician because, well, we have three kids to feed.  So after realizing then that my anniversary was going to suck (we weren’t going to celebrate that day anyway and homeowner issues really ruin the mood), the next thing I thought about was my blog.  I know my blog doesn’t have the best pictures, but I also know that the best pictures that I can take don’t use the flash from my camera.  Seeing as my kitchen is dark with a small window, I just went into a funk thinking that I couldn’t post anything.

Just before I cover the entire cake with crumbs.

You know what finally got me out of my funk?  This cake!  As soon as I was finished making it, even before I tasted it, I knew things would be alright.  I knew I could just tell you why my pictures would be crappy for a couple of posts and just trust that you would give me a pass.  Hopefully, sooner rather than later, everything will be fixed and not only will I have usable light in my kitchen but good light.  Also, when my husband came home last night, he said, “Oooh, is that crumb cake?”  That went a long way for me in reigniting the anniversary mood and seeing as we are supposed to celebrate today…fingers crossed!

Crumb Cake Baked!

GeekyLink for today is a Fringe reference.  Seeing as I completely glossed over the season premiere of one of my favorite shows, I figure I owe it to them to give a shout out.  This T-shirt just cracks me up My Two Dads!  Also, for my money RedBubble has some of the best nerdy T-shirts out there in terms of variety.  There are plenty more sites and I may reference them in the future but at least compared to a site like CafePress, RedBubble has more interesting Fringe and more overall Dr. Who shirts.  As for the episode, if I don’t get more than one cumulative minute of Joshua Jackson in an entire episode, I am gonna freak out!  Seth Gabel will do for now, I guess.

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Pepperoni Pizza Puffs and Dessert Kabobs

Geez, well, the days leading up to my party were completely a blur.  I was going back and forth from Stater Brothers to Target and back over and over again.  My oldest had soccer practice and then I had a meeting for my other soccer player the next day.  The day after that, my girls had auditions at their dance studio, and getting all their stuff ready that they needed was a bit nerve-wracking.  All the while, I was trying to shop for, and finalize the menu for, and prep for, the meal that I was going to make for my family when we celebrated my birthday.

First off, I actually got a card from my husband for my birthday!  It was unexpected, and I am a sucker for them, so that made it awesome.  Of course, the gift he got me didn’t come till the next day but I loved it because I picked it out and it was something that I needed and wanted.  An apron!  An Anthropologie apron!  The price was comparable to others I had looked at and shipping was free plus they have a really nice selection so hopefully this won’t be the last.  It really came in handy making this big meal.  I do feel a bit bad, my husband didn’t get to celebrate with us.  He had to work, but usually my birthday isn’t a big deal.  My family and I go out to eat and that is it.  I just wanted to cook this year. Read the rest of this entry

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