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Kids mountain bike ride Meet in this 2 hour ride at 10 a nice.m. the Velodrome. Open to kids ages 7 and older, all skill values. For more information, click on this link.
The website for the granite man triathlon stated that an auto would start at 8 Am. We arrived at 7 AM, set up our bikes and our run transitions and went down to test the fluids.
The granite man triathlon was an extremely good experience. Made relatively smaller than average and felt very local. Hopefully this venue will be around next year and quite a long time to be. It’s a diamond in the rough, might really pull off if it ever gets discovered.
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Month two of my resolution to send goodies to good people was a disaster until it wasn’t. This month’s recipient, my lovely and talented friend Amy, loves all things chocolate, and especially Oreo. I honestly thought it was going to be a piece of cake. Chocolate lovers are easy to please, right?
Well, when you are an able baker, yes. Turns out, I am not.
Truffles need to be refrigerated and thus do not travel to Texas very well. My next thought was brownies, but in cookie form to be a little more creative.
So I settled on plain brownies. They aren’t very creative, but I figured they would travel well and would give that chocolate kick that I wanted.
They were a gooey, sticky mess.
As you can see, I was not in a good baking place that week. After multiple batches of batter and all of the chocolate I had, I gave up. Am I already falling down on my resolution, this, the second time I try?
What else can be sent across the country that is handmade?
A painting! I decided that homemade doesn’t have to mean edible. This recipe for banana bread is a treasure. To me, it’s the end-all be-all of banana bread, and the reason I haven’t really experimented with the stuff on this blog. As far as I’m concerned, Amy’s family has perfected it, and any time I can get a slice, preferably slathered with butter, I consider myself lucky.
Lucky for me, I have a copy of the recipe, so for Amy’s treat, I illustrated her family’s special recipe. With watercolor and felt-tip pen, I showcased the recipe with whimsical drawings and hand written ingredients and instructions.
I wrapped it in parchment paper secured with cute tape and a little note letting my dear friend know how awesome I think she is, and that while my phone skills need work, I think about her often.
While she didn’t get to eat this treat (hey Amy, don’t eat it!), I still got to talk to her and that is what this is all about–staying in touch with friends throughout the year.
Do you have a favorite recipe or a family heirloom? Do you want it illustrated? I’d love to do more of these, so let me know. Leave a comment or email me and we’ll create recipes together!
The Schnitman’s Famous Banana Bread (from my dear friends The Schnitman’s–Hi Donna! Hi Amy and JR! Hi Paul! Hi Kyle!) Makes 2 loaves Ingredients
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup butter
3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp salt
8-9 very, very ripe bananas, mashed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 loaf pans with cooking spray and set aside.
Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and mix well. Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix well. Add mashed bananas and stir into mixture.
Pour mixture into the pans and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Cover pans with foil and bake for another 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
My first few weeks in Pittsburgh have been a whirlwind. Between setting up the new apartment and starting a new job, I’ve been pretty busy, but in the best way. Getting back into a routine in a kitchen that, quite frankly, I still can’t get over, has been fantastic. I’ve got a dishwasher, people. A dishwasher!
I think the most important thing to do when one completely changes one’s life is to keep old routines in place to make the transition smooth. For me, that meant that even though I was starting a new job, and even though I was, at the time, between cities and homes, the month was coming to a close and that meant that I got to send a treat to a friend.
My sweet friend Catherine is so very lovely. She and I met in college and became fast friends. As I’ve gotten older I am more and more thankful for her friendship. I know that even though I may not talk to her every day, every week, or maybe even every month, she’s on my side. I’d say that’s deserving of some granola, don’t you?
Plus when she got the granola in the mail, she called me and her first words after I said “Hello?” were, “Can I tell you a secret? I bought some yogurt today and forgot to buy my granola.”
I like a person that can jump right into a conversation like that.
Let’s talk granola. Did you know it might be the easiest thing to make, ever? It’s a dump and stir situation, but the end result is incredible. This granola is sweetened with honey and maple syrup and is crunchy, crispy, good.
Main ingredients include:
Unsweetened coconut flakes, dried cranberries, pecans, and old fashioned rolled oats…
…good maple syrup, honey and olive oil. I feel like Ina Garten telling you to choose good maple syrup. It’s important though.
You’re going to need a very large bowl, because this does not make just a little granola. In your large bowl, add oats and then season with salt and cinnamon.
Chop up some pecans, which are, incidentally, my absolute favorite nut. Add those to the oats mixture. Throw in the coconut too. By the way, do you know about these big fat coconut flakes? They’re fantastic. If you can find them, I highly, highly recommend.
Meanwhile, combine olive oil, maple syrup, and honey into a small sauce pan. Heat over medium-low heat until well combined.
Once the syrup mixture is combined, pour over the oats slowly.
Until you’ve got every last drop. Mix together until the oats are well coated in the syrup mixture. Spread out in one even layer on 2 baking sheets and bake at 325 degrees for about 45 minutes to an hour, taking the pans out periodically to stir it around.
While that’s making your entire house smell like the best Christmas story ever, you could either clean your kitchen, or make cute containers for your granola.
I made tags out of card stock and decorated them with washi tape and sharpie markers, then tied them to mason jars with cute twine. This recipe will fill 6 16-ounce mason jars.
As the granola slowly toasts up, remove from the oven and let it completely cool. It will get crunchier as it cools, but if you wanted to stick a fork in it while it was warm, I wouldn’t be mad at you.
That toasted coconut is everything. I fell in love.
When the granola is completely cool, put it in a big bowl and add the dried cranberries. Stir to combine.
Now the granola is ready to be packaged. Spoon it into the mason jars and secure tightly with the lid. This granola will keep for several weeks in an airtight container.
As you can see, this made a lot of granola. I sent two jars to Catherine, left one with my parents, kept one for myself, gave one to K’s parents over Easter, and saved one for my new co-workers, because nothing says “Hi!!! Like Me!!!” like homemade goods.
Granola is the perfect treat to mail across the country because it lasts a long time and as long as you wrap it tightly in bubble wrap, it will make it to your destination in one piece, just in time for your friend to enjoy her morning yogurt.
Add a matching card (I went a little overboard with the washi tape that day), and voila, you spent an afternoon crafting and cooking. It’s relaxing.
This has become, by far, my most favorite resolution, and the one I am most excited about keeping.
I love you and I cherish you, my Boston people. My heart is with you, even if my body is in Pittsburgh.
Here’s the recipe.
Coconut Maple Granola with Pecans Ingredients
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup chopped pecans
8 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup honey
1 cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with either foil or parchment paper. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine oats, chopped pecans, coconut flakes, cinnamon and salt. Stir to combine. Add olive oil, syrup and honey to a small sauce pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring, until melted together, about 5 minutes. Slowly add the syrup mixture to the oat mixture. Stir until well combined.
Spread granola evenly between two baking sheets in a single layer. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until the granola is deeply golden brown. Stir 2 times while baking to ensure even browning. When the granola is done, remove from the oven and let cool completely. Add granola to a large bowl then add the dried cranberries and stir to combine.
Store in air-tight containers for several weeks, or mail it to your friends, because can I tell you a secret? They might have forgotten to buy granola that morning.
Pretend it’s a month ago, and I’m telling you how I totally fulfilled my monthly resolution to send a treat in the mail. Except this time last month I was on the road, and while I had the best intentions to get it done before I left, well, I didn’t. However, I sent out double love in the mail this month to make up for my slack. These cookies went to K’s sister, Michelle and her family. The other treat went to K’s sister, Lisa, and her family. Matching mail treats are how I make sense of sending two in one month, and also I really like them and their families.
I feel pretty lucky that K’s family lives close enough to see them often. I first met them when they invited me to spend Easter with them. Everyone was incredibly welcoming, sweet, and made me feel at home right away. Since then, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be welcomed into their home both for holidays I couldn’t make it home to Texas and for other weekends away. There’s trivia, drinks on the patio, food and lots of great conversation.
I decided to send Michelle, her husband, and her girls a batch of cookies that sounded so crazy and so good I had to try them out. These cookies start pretty straight forward–sugar, butter, eggs, flour–then they go off the rails a little bit and include marshmallows, dark chocolate, toffee pieces, and, wait for it, cornflakes. I almost called them everything cookies, but felt that even everything didn’t describe all their glory.
They’re inspired by the compost cookie at Momofuku Milk Bar in New York, which I have never actually tried or seen in person, but I’ve also never seen the Grand Canyon and I’m pretty sure it’s nice. How can you go wrong with cookies that have all the things a cookie should have, plus crunch. You can’t. That’s the answer.
Let’s get started.
When I bake I like to assemble all of my ingredients so I don’t have to go back and forth from the pantry a million times.
Here we have sugar, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla, salt, an egg, brown sugar, AP flour, toffee pieces, dark chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, and CORNFLAKES! Not pictured because it was sitting on the other side of the oven in order to arrive at room temperature: unsalted butter.
Begin by adding 2 sticks of room temperature butter to the bowl of your mixer and add sugar. Mix on medium for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the egg and the vanilla extract and mix well, scraping down the sides once.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Whisk that all together.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients all at once and mix on low until combined then increase speed and mix, scraping down the sides as needed, until just combined.
Next, add the good stuff. Add 1/3 cup of chocolate chips, 1/3 cup toffee pieces, and 1 1/4 cups mini marshmallows. Mix on low until combined, or fold in with a spatula.
Add the cornflakes and mix gently again until everything is evenly distributed.
I shouldn’t advocate eating raw cookie dough, what with the raw egg and everything, but who doesn’t sneak a bite when they’re baking? I’m telling you, that if you do, (when you do), this is the best cookie dough I’ve ever tried. Ever.
Scoop the dough out with a large spring-loaded ice cream scoop or a 1/4 cup measuring cup. These are pretty sizable cookies that spread a lot–you want a thin, crunchy, chewy cookie. Portion all the dough out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap well and push it down slightly to flatten the cookies. Refrigerate for at least one hour, but up to a week. This is super important–do not bake these cookies at room temperature. They have a high butter-to-flour ratio and will not hold their shape if they’re not chilled.
After they have chilled in the refrigerator for a while, place the dough balls on another baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spaced 4 inches apart.
Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies have puffed and flattened and the edges are crispy.
Remove the cookies from the oven and let them sit for 5 minutes. Transfer them to a wire cooling rack and let them cool completely.
Repeat until all the cookies are baked. They’ll crisp up as they cool, but because of all the stuff inside, they’ll stay chewy in the center. My favorite type of cookie.
These cookies have it all. They’re accessible enough to be loved by even the pickiest of palates, but have enough going for them that they diverge from the typical run of the mill chocolate chip cookie.
I personally couldn’t keep my hands off of these, and will willingly admit that they served as lunch one day because I made them around lunch time and by the time I was done I was full of cookies and feeling the onset of a pretty brutal sugar crash. It was totally worth it.
K was a fan too so I saved a couple for us and wrapped the rest up tightly in plastic wrap and placed them in a white baker’s box to send off to New Jersey.
They arrived today and I was thrilled to hear that everyone enjoyed them. Cookies are great travelers and these were no exception. If you find yourself thinking of someone and want to let them know, bake some of these and send them out. It’s a great way to send some love.
In the bowl of a mixer, cream together the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and mix, scraping down the sides as needed.
In a separate bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add all at once to the wet ingredients and mix on low to medium speed until the dough just comes together. Scrape down the sides to ensure all the flour gets incorporated.
Add chocolate chips, toffee pieces, marshmallows, and cornflakes and mix on low until just combined, or fold them in with a spatula.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a large spring-loaded ice cream scoop or a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop the dough out onto the parchment paper. Once all the dough is scooped, cover tightly with plastic wrap and lightly press the dough to flatten. Refrigerate for at least an hour, but up to a week. Do not bake cookies at room temperature–they will not hold their shape.
When the dough has chilled, preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the dough 4 inches apart. Transfer to the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies have puffed, spread, and become crisp on the edges. Let them rest on the baking sheets for at least 5 minutes then transfer to wire racks and let them cool completely. Store in an air tight container for up to a week.
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I’ve made Asian inspired noodles before. I was so proud of myself for finding a satisfying Asian-inspired meal that I didn’t have to order from a take-out menu. The pad thai-esque dish was delicious and really only required ingredients that I already had in my pantry.
With this ease of execution in mind, I went round two with Asian inspired noodles last Tuesday when I got home from class. I’m usually starving when I get home after a 13 hour day and don’t have the energy to make something that takes longer than 15 minutes, so this was perfect. The only thing I had to cook was the pasta, and while that was boiling, I whisked together the sauce, then tossed it all together and was happy and full within half an hour. Perfect Tuesday night.
Asian Sesame Noodles
1 Box Angel Hair Pasta
¼ cups Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Sugar
4 cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Tablespoons Seasoned Rice Vinegar
3 Tablespoons Pure Sesame Oil
½ teaspoons Red Pepper Flakes
2-3 Tablespoons Canola Oil (this doesn’t add flavor, just volume, so if you think you need more liquid, add more Canola oil. You can also add hot water. See next ingredient)
2 Tablespoons Hot Water (From the pasta water)
Whisk all ingredients (except noodles and cilantro) together in a bowl. Taste and adjust ingredients as needed. For instance, I thought it needed more soy sauce, because I love soy sauce, but that will depend entirely on your taste buds. I also thought that 4 cloves of raw garlic was a lot, and while I did use that amount this time, next time I would cut it down to 3, probably even 2 cloves. The raw garlic packs a punch, and I had garlic induced nightmares all night long. When the pasta is done, drain and add the pasta to the sauce. Toss with tongs well, until all the sauce is soaked into the noodles. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro (again, to taste. I used a lot because, like soy sauce, I love cilantro) and toss to combine. The original recipe calls for green onions, which I’m sure would be delicious, but chopping onions was a little too much work for me that night. I need simple on Tuesdays. I can’t be bothered with chopping.
By the way, can we talk about Sesame Oil for a second? What a revelation! It’s nutty and rich and smells like peanut butter but with class. I was blown away by the flavor it imparted. Now that I have some, I will look for any and all recipes that include it.
Like I said before, this was the epitome of Quick and Easy yet delicious cooking. The sauce is simply whisked together, and because Angel Hair pasta really only needs about 5 minutes to cook, this entire meal can be prepped, cooked, and served in less than 15 minutes. Sometimes, I want something that’s involved and has many steps. Tuesday nights are not those times. This was the perfect Tuesday night meal.
I think the resolution that I’m most excited about is the one in which I send treats to friends. So far it’s going swimmingly–a quick Wednesday afternoon project and a cold but short trip to Fed-Ex turned into over an hour-long phone conversation with my dear friend Katy who, while I think about often, I don’t talk to nearly enough.
My suspicion was correct–people like to get mail. I know this because I got an unexpected letter in the mail from one of my sweet friends just saying hello and it changed my whole outlook this week. It’s so simple, takes so little time, but the results are huge.
My first mail-treat was something simple that I knew would mail well. Popcorn! It’s perfect for mailing; it’s light, it lasts a while, it’s endlessly customization, and it’s perfect for snacking once it arrives to its destination. Katy loves all things truffle, so I knew her unique batch of popcorn would be spiked with earthy truffle salt and freshened up by some chopped rosemary.
Do you make popcorn on the stove? If you don’t, do. It’s very easy and much healthier than the bagged stuff.
Start with about 1/4 cup of canola or vegetable oil in the bottom of a medium sauce pan. Add about 1/2 cup of popcorn to the oil, or enough to where the oil is just covering the popcorn. In my humble opinion, white kernel popcorn is the only way to go. It pops smaller and more tender than regular yellow kernel popcorn, which I think is key.
Cover with a tight-fitting lid and heat over medium heat. Medium heat is important here; if you cook it over high heat it will pop too quickly and become tough. As the popcorn begins to pop, gently shake the pan so that the popped corn rises to the top and the kernels fall to the bottom so that they can, you know, pop. The popcorn will begin to push the lid up, at which point you should carefully pour some of the popped corn into a bowl then return the pot to the heat so that the rest of it can pop. Sure, you could use a larger pot, but that’s not how I’ve always done it.
While the popcorn is popping, assemble your flavors. You could go classic with salt only, or movie-theater style with some melted butter, although that’s never been my thing. You could also add some seasoned salt, Cajun seasonings, or lemon pepper. One time, when I was a kid, my friends mom put mac-and-cheese powder, you know the kind from the blue box? She sprinkled that on top and it was glorious. My mother makes some with melted white chocolate and pretzel bits. It’s basically a blank canvas, in that it’s not interesting at all unless you add something to it, namely, salt. Popcorn only becomes good when it meets salt.
For Katy’s batch I used truffle salt and rosemary. As the popcorn was poured into the bowl, I sprinkled the truffle salt over the hot popcorn, then added the rosemary. Toss to combine with your hands, being careful because the popcorn on the bottom will still be pretty hot.
I filled a bowl for photography purposes, and also because I was hungry, but I’ve been known to eat it right out of the giant popcorn bowl as dinner. However, it’s not feasible to send a giant popcorn bowl to Dallas, so I let the popcorn cool, then packed it in zipper bags and made cute little labels. It’s about as crafty as I ever get.
This popcorn is crunchy, salty, and savory. The truffle salt, which you can find online here, is incredibly flavorful, which is surprising because when you look at it you just see these tiny black flecks of what I assume to be truffle. But those little black flecks pack a punch, and the truffle flavor was definitely pronounced.
Katy got her popcorn in tact and ate it for dinner while talking to me on the phone, which was the best treat of all. You know those friends who you can not talk to for weeks and then pick up right where you left off? She’s one of those. The good kind.
Even if you didn’t make a resolution to send treats to friends every month, maybe this month you could send some popcorn. It’s easy and fun and you’ll let those people that you think about all the time know that you think about them all the time. Spread the love!
Here’s the (basic) recipe:
Stove-Top Popcorn with Rosemary and Truffle Ingredients
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup white kernel popcorn
Desired Toppings (anything works, just make sure there’s salt!):
Truffle Salt and chopped rosemary
Cajun seasoning salt
Old Bay + salt
White Chocolate and pretzel bits
In a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, add oil. Cover oil with popcorn kernels and cover with lid. Heat over medium heat.
As popcorn begins to pop, gently shake pot by the handle to shake the un-popped kernels to the bottom. When the popcorn begins to push the lid up, pour half of it into a large bowl and return pot to the heat. Continue this process until you don’t hear popping for 30 seconds or so. Season the popcorn when it’s hot, as you go.
Serve right away or let cool and store in zippered bags for up to a week!
If you will do not have delicious recipes with pressure cooker use a pan with lid. Add chicken, mix well and cook for one more 5 minutes to sear flavors to meat. As opposed to butter you can use margarine.
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There are a few activities that beneficial compared to keep in mind essential for your pressure stove. First you want to make that it lets you have approximately two safety features. One of apparently features in order to a lock that doesn’t allow to be able to open it when is usually pressurized. Should certainly also search one that is not too large ? so who’s is seems that you cope with in the kitchen.
The cover or the lid, one more part for the delicious recipes with pressure cooker. Duvet cover off should possess a similar handle to that of the base, a mechanism for locking the two handles together, and a rubber seal (gasket) which fits in with the lid. Check the lid for signs of damage, and examine the “teeth” beneath the rim. These teeth coordinate with people in human body in order to lock the phone.
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Follow this up by heating oil in a pot and add the carrots, celery and rosemary oil. Stir fry these ingredients in the pot around half an hour and increase the veal.
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