Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies.

 I first made these for a cookie exchange last Christmas, which I never got to attend because the kiddo was sick so - oh, horrible fate - I had to eat the whole batch. :-) I'd been making lots of Mexican hot chocolate and I thought the spicy flavors would be great in a chocolate cookie. And of course marshmallows are a necessity. I made them again yesterday for Cinco De Mayo and had a hard time finding the recipe I'd used for the cookies so I thought I'd post it here so I'll always have it. Recipe slightly adapted from this one, and by slightly adapted I mean it's the same but with spices. I love these.


  • 12 cup butter
  • 12 cup brown sugar
  • 14 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 14 cup cocoa powder
  • 12 teaspoon baking soda
  • 18 teaspoon salt
  • spices to taste - I use half a tablespoon of cinnamon and a ton of cayenne pepper (I really want the flavors to hold their own against the chocolate) but if you're less obsessed with spicy things half a teaspoon of cinamon and a couple dashes of cayenne would be fine.
  • mini marshmallows


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Make sure that the butter is at room temperature, or put the butter in the microwave for about 15 seconds just to soften it up.
  3. Using a mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  6. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until everything is incorporated.
  7. Make truffle-sized balls and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  8. Bake for exactly 8 minutes.
  9. Let them cool on the parchment paper for about ten minutes or until they're set up enough to handle (they will be gooey straight out of the oven).
  10. Put marshmallows on top of each cookie - I use several little ones so it looks like a cup of cocoa, but one big one per cookie could be good too if that's what you have - and place under the broiler for a minute or two until they're dark golden brown and have that toasted marshmallow smell.
  11. Place on cooling racks and allow to cool completely before storing unless you want your marshmallows to glue all the cookies together.
Makes about two dozen small cookies.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

My green smoothie recipe.

I was telling some friends the other day about how amazing green smoothies are, so I thought I'd share this recipe since it took me a while to perfect. (Doesn't seem complicated but keeping it from tasting too strong, too bland, etc. took a while.) I've been making this almost daily for either breakfast or lunch.
Layers from the bottom:
-Frozen kale or spinach. I use frozen because it's already in little pieces and just seems to blend better and not give you the distracting texture you can get using fresh. Plus I always fail at using up an entire container of the fresh stuff before it spoils. You want the kind that comes loose in the bag so you can just use what you want. (I get mine at WalMart.)
-Banana for creaminess and sweetness.
-Two oranges. I used to use orange juice but that's SO much sugar I don't like to have it every day. But smoothies taste bland to me without the bright citrus flavor. So I use whole oranges now so we're getting them the way God designed them, with all the fiber. :-)
-Frozen fruit of your choice - this is the only thing I change from day to day. (If the green color is weird for you use a berry mix and all you'll see is purple!)
-Not in the photo, but add a big dollop of yogurt. (We use full fat because it's best for toddlers so we just don't buy fat-free dairy products right now. It was weirdly hard to find, but I buy it at the Asian grocery store by the Imax theater.)
-Totally optional add-in: I throw in a mix of chia seeds, flaxseed, and rolled oats. This adds nutrition, makes it more filling, and acts as a thickener so if we have leftovers to refrigerate for a snack later they stay thick instead of separating and getting watery. Just one of these is fine too.
-Top with enough unsweetened almond milk to get it to blend (Two cups? It'll depend on the quality of your blender) and blend it up. You'll want to blend it longer than a regular smoothie to really get those greens to disappear.
This makes enough for two good size adult servings (a light breakfast in their own right, or nice with eggs), plus a sippy cup full for the kiddo.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Baby Recipe: Ginger-Curry Green Applesauce

I've been struggling lately getting enough veggies in our baby food routine. I've always felt that you shouldn't have to "sneak" veggies into food because they're delicious on their own, but from a convenience standpoint it totally makes sense. For the same reason I make green smoothies - to get a well-rounded breakfast in one convenient portable package - I decided spinach applesauce was my next baby food project.

1 package baby spinach
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut, or to taste
1-2 large spoonfuls coconut oil
Ginger to taste (fresh is wonderful, but powdered works fine too.)
Curry powder to taste
32-ish ounces unsweetened applesauce

Heat coconut oil in medium/large skillet. (Since babies need more fat in their diets than adults I have no problem really going to town with the oil!) Add spinach, coconut, curry, and ginger. Feel free to make it super spicy since the applesauce will really tone it down. I'm really into trying to introduce strong flavors before the kiddo hits the picky toddler stage, so I used like a teaspoon of ginger and a tablespoon of curry powder, but I realize that's a lot. Sauté, stirring frequently, until spinach is wilted. (Note: it is delicious at this point, you could stop now and have a wonderful side dish for adults!) Transfer to food processor and blend well. If your food processor is large, go ahead and add the applesauce too, otherwise transfer to a bowl and stir it together. Store a few servings in the fridge and freeze the rest - the applesauce will cool it down plenty so it can go in the fridge/freezer or be served immediately.

Freezer containers on my messy counter. :-)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fall front porch.

I'm excited it's fall, partly because I get to decorate but mostly because I can finally spend time outside without dying. So I decided to combine the two and decorate outside!
Boring front door before.

Pretty after!

I feel like there should be something taller over here. I'd eventually like to add a chair or one of those really petite bistro sets; I have grand plans for a future front yard vegetable garden far away from where kids and puppies will play, so a place to sit out here would be nice.
Fake plant inherited from the previous owners, and a door mat from Lowe's in preparation for muddy winter boots.
Felt leaves from Dollar Tree. I attached them with Scotch Tape and they're already trying to fall down. Not sure what to use that will actually stick to the felt but not hurt the paint...


Thursday, May 2, 2013

The most exciting part about having a house.

We finally have a house! We're about halfway moved in, but it already feels so much more like home than our last place. :-)

Since our apartment had a teeny patio facing a car dealership, we never spent time outside. Most of the parks close at sunset so our only real option for outdoor time in the evenings was a restaurant with a patio. We're so excited to have a real yard now, it's a much better place to hang out than the patio at Starbucks.

Some quick things we've done to make the outside feel like it's ours:
Hanging fern and some flowers out front.
Another hanging fern (we found them on sale for $7.50!) outside the living room window, along with a couple of bird feeders. The suet feeder and suet were under $5 together, and the other feeder plus a bag of birdseed was under $15, so it was a nice cheap way to make it feel like home. (I always had a bird feeder in the yard growing up.)

Our cute family of chairs! Certain people may have rolled their eyes at my insistence on purchasing a tiny chair for our unborn child, but he'll be big enough to use it next summer... and in the meantime it makes a nice ottoman.
Tiki torches to keep the bugs away.
A nice shrubbery. Not too expensive. In fact it was on clearance for $2, but doesn't appear to be even slightly dead.
The best part: a fire pit! It has a cooking grate so we can use our huge cast iron skillet, plus it saves us from buying a grill just yet.

Still to do this year: put in a small vegetable garden (I'm thinking a couple of tomato plants, some peppers and some herbs), get a side table so we don't have to set our drinks on the ground, and plant a hedge by the road for more quiet/privacy.

I'm planning on showing y'all pictures of the inside too, but we probably won't be all the way moved in for at least a couple of weeks. I'm slowly moving all the small things over here, hopefully we get the rest of our furniture moved this weekend and then next week I'll be cleaning the apartment and finishing unpacking boxes.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Nursery Plans

Nursery Ideas

Nursery Ideas by tryallthethings on Polyvore

I'm super excited to decorate the baby's nursery! I've never decorated a room from the ground up, it's just been about what we already owned, so this will be fun and different. (Although it's still all about what we can find at reasonable prices, so sadly I'm sure it won't resemble anything on pinterest.) I made a quick polyvore set of some of my ideas.

1. A red crib. I hate the more formal-looking cribs that are popular now so I hope we can find a cute Jenny Lind crib and paint it.

2. A bookcase, because obviously my newborn will be a voracious reader. I'm keeping an eye out for a nice vintagey one at thrift stores. (I wish I could ask if anybody wants to sell one, but everyone I know lives far away.) Even if it's only board books at first, I want my kids to always have a library.

3. A cozy chair. QUERY: why do all rocking chairs marketed to expectant mothers cost over a thousand dollars? (The one in the picture is from Anthro I believe. Ha. As if. Mine will be from a garage sale.) I don't plan on spending a thousand dollars for the whole room, much less a single chair. Does anyone have specific recommendations for what kind to get? I know I'm going to want a little seating corner but I really don't know if I want a glider, a rocker, or maybe just a cushy chair. And do I need one of those "nursing" ottomans or is a regular one fine?

4. If I get around to it, I want to make a cute mobile inspired by this canopy and mobile from IKEA. (I'm doing a circus-themed room inspired by some toys I inherited from my grandparents.) I like the circus-tent-esque shape of the canopy but it wouldn't be safe over a crib so I need to make my own thing that's going to be ok for a baby.

5. Here is the part I'll be super proud of if I get around to it before the baby is born. A gallery wall. I want to do some art that fits the circus theme (isn't the button elephant cute?) mixed with some family pictures, and then after the baby arrives I can make a shadow box with a tiny hat, hospital bracelet, etc.

6. Fun, colorful toys - I've been creeping on ebay already looking for vintage fisher-price but in real life I know I will give in and allow non-cute non-vintage plastic toys. But at least while the child is a newborn it can have a cute room that is not entirely occupied by a hot wheels track. (Kurt is really excited to buy it a hot wheels track for its birthday eventually. Also, nerf guns.)

My mom has a baby dresser for me, and we have a floor lamp. Besides a crib, bookcase, chair/ottoman/side table, does anybody have suggestions for what we need to have in the baby's room? I know people say you don't need much but it's just like going on vacation, you're always scared you're going to forget something. I need to have my list so I can start hitting up thrift stores for furniture!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Practically-restaurant-style Pad Thai.

Yesterday I was excited to find that my grocery store carries fresh bean sprouts! So naturally I decided I had to make Pad Thai. It wasn't super authentic - no tamarind paste or anything - but definitely the closest to what you get at Thai restaurants that I've ever managed at home. And although it has a lot of ingredients, the only important one that's not fairly standard in American kitchens is fish sauce.

(Sorry for the terrible picture. I can't find my camera lately so my phone has to do.)


  • Package of wide rice noodles. (These may actually be labelled pad thai noodles.)
  • One small steak (I just bought what was on sale), or chicken or pork or shrimp....
  • Half a block firm tofu. Or more if you want.
  • One egg.
  • Oil for frying - I used mostly canola with a bit of sesame seed oil.
  • Soy sauce.
  • Lime juice.
  • Vinegar.  (I used rice vinegar but you could substitute regular white vinegar.)
  • Fish sauce. (Grossest-smelling thing in the asian aisle.)
  • Brown sugar.
  • Paprika.
  • Ginger.
  • Crushed red pepper.
  • Garlic.
  • Green onions and/or cilantro.
  • Unsalted dry roasted peanuts.
  • Fresh bean sprouts.
  • Fresh lime.
  • Thai chili sauce. (Not the sugary sweet chili sauce, the spicy kind that basically looks like crushed red pepper.) Optional but adds a lot to the dish in my opinion.

  1. Prep your tofu by slicing it up and cooking it over very low heat for a while to get the water out. It's important to keep the heat low because you want the water to evaporate before the tofu browns (it will brown later and soak up flavor when you fry it), and also you don't want to use oil here so keeping the heat low means your tofu doesn't stick to the pan.
  2. Put your rice noodles in to soak as per package directions.
  3. Make the sauce! Start with equal parts soy sauce, lime juice, and vinegar. I didn't really measure but probably 1/4 cup each? Then add around a tablespoon of fish sauce and a tablespoon or two of brown sugar. Season to taste with paprika, crushed red pepper, and ginger.
  4. Chop up some cilantro and green onions and grind or chop some peanuts. (However much you want.)   Slice your lime into wedges. Chop up a couple cloves of garlic. Set aside.
  5. Heat up a skillet or wok over high heat with some oil. Slice your steak as thin as possible and fry it. Add the tofu, the garlic, and some soy sauce for color. Let it get a little brown, which should only take a few seconds really.
  6. Drain your noodles and add them (and maybe a bit more oil) to the pan. Stir them around so they all get at least a bit of oil on them which is by far the most unhealthy part of this dish but it's important. Then add the sauce and let it cook, while stirring, until it's all evenly soaked up.
  7. Put the noodles in bowls or plates, however you're serving them, and then mix in the cilantro/bean sprouts/green onions/peanuts. You don't want them to get warm and you don't want the noodles to get cold, so serve it right away.
  8. Lime wedges and chili sauce on the side add a ton to the flavor of the dish. Mmmmm chili sauce.
I added up all the calories on this and it makes four servings at around 650 calories each, depending on how much oil you use. (Unfortunately if there's only two of you and you each eat half because Pad Thai doesn't keep well, you will get fat. This is what happened to me and Kurt.) Anyhow as far as the oil goes - you need to use enough so all the noodles get a little oil or they won't taste right, but as long as you don't deep-fry them you should be ok. Like, there should be a spot of bubbling oil in the pan when you add the noodles, not an entire layer of oil across the whole bottom of the pan. Explaining this would be a lot easier if I measured my ingredients...