March 31, 2010

More Mint...Less Chocolate

spring mint chip delights

I love my dad, but his dislike for mint and chocolate on the same plate really blows my mind.  I for one, love love love mint chocolate chip ice cream, Andes mints and mint oreo blizzards from Dairy Queen.  I swear I am not his child. I really his?  I realize we have matching blue eyes, super thick hair, and an incredible love for cheese, but really?  I'm quite concerned by this.  It's not that he doesn't like chocolate.  Give him fudge, chocolate chip cookies, or chocolate cake, and he'll clean his plate.  But somehow he hasn't managed to acquire a palatte for mint and chocolate together in his 50+ years on this planet.

This really put me to the test when I was going through the items I brought over to my parent's house from my pantry.  While most of the food items went with my other half to New Jersey a few weeks ago, I kept my baking stash, knowing that he wasn't going to be baking anything that doesn't involve slice and bake.  One of the items I bought a while ago was Guittard Mint Chips.  I remember buying them only because they were on sale at Cost Plus, and let's face it.  Guittard.  Ain't.  Cheap.

Not knowing what I was going to do with them after I realized that the only recipe on the bag included a whole bunch of chocolate, I decided to create something on my own.  Something without chocolate, but with plenty of mint.  I ended up taking a recipe from Sunset Magazine, and changing a few things to make it work for me.  These would be great for Easter, since they end up looking like the perfect spring cookie.

Spring Mint Chip Delights

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 large egg whites
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup Guittard mint chips
  • Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer if you don't possess a stand mixer) beat butter, powdered sugar, peppermint extract, and vanilla until smooth. 
  • Beat in egg whites until blended.  Then beat in flour, salt and mint chips.
  • Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes or so, until dough is firm, but easily scoopable.
  • Using a cookie scoop of your choice, or a spoon, roll into balls and place on cookie sheet.
  • Now here's the part where your personal preference comes in.  You can either take a glass, dip it in colored or white sugar, and slightly press the cookies down OR you can simply leave them.  I found that either way, they will flatten out.
  • Bake in a 300 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are barely brown and the middles look set.  Let them cool on a cookie sheet for 5 or so minutes then transfer to a rack to cool completely.         
minty goodness on a plate

March 29, 2010

Searching for Answers

This is something I've struggled with for at least the past 2 years and as much as I hate to admit it, I'm desperately searching for some answers.   No, it's not my addiction to sweets.  Trust me, that's something that I will never be able to cure.  Unless they come up with a show called "Intervention - I Can't Curb the Urge to Bake".  Not sure it would get many viewers though.

My real struggle comes with my food photography.  Here in the desert, houses are not made to accomodate natural light.  In fact, it's quite the opposite.  We like to hole up in our dark houses in all hope to avoid those 115+ summer temps.  We don't have huge windows.  Most of the windows have shade screens anyway, limiting the light that comes in to almost zilch.  And about 95% of the time we like it that way. 

At my house (and I use my very loosely considering nothing about it is mine) the kitchen is right in the middle of the house.  This gives little if any access to natural light for photography purposes.  I have the Lowel table lights, which are great for finished products.  Wait.  At this point I have to admit that while I was given these lights for christmas, I've only used one of them once.  I blame life...and a broken lightbulb.  So assuming that I have used them, this light issue still makes it extremely difficult to do step-by-step shots in a kitchen filled with artificial light.

So here's my question to you all...

How do I possibly improve my step-by-step or even finished product photography using little to no natural light? 

Please post any ideas you have to the comments section.  Any ideas at all.  Please.  Pretty please with a cherry on top.  Danke!   

March 26, 2010

Introducing "Me"

Welcome Freuden!  In order to get better acquainted before we start on this journey we all call obsessive blog reading...oh wait, the obsessive part is just me, carry on my liebes... I thought I would introduce myself.

Oh but wait, I've already used two German words that most people who didn't live in Germany, because let's be honest German is not a commonly used language in the Americas, might not know.  First came freuden which means friends.  Second came liebes which means loves, as in darling or sweetheart.  Remember that word.  I plan on using it a lot.  In fact, if that's the only German word you ever learn from my antics, remember it.  It's a good one.

The baby and the pudding
Before we continue, I have to show everyone this photo. This is me, at 3 months old, eating pudding with my dad. Apparently you aren't supposed to give 3 month old babies puddies these days. But I think this gives you pretty good glimpse into my life. Don't worry, I plan on discussing the topic in detail later.

***I take this opportunity to write this little disclaimer...I am not a master of the German language...far from it.  If my grammer is wrong, and it often will be, don't bother to correct me.  I'm not saying this to be mean, but I'm lucky I can remember the vocabulary.  I mean who puts all the verbs at the end of the sentence?  And really, grammer is overrated.  Sorry grammer nazis, but when you are learning your third language, it all starts to run together.  There.  I've said my piece.***

Instead of doing a nice long boring paragraph (and I'm being honest when I say I can write a mean run-on paragraph.  I mean really...have you read the above two yet?) a 50 item list will have to suffice.  Don't want to read all 50 things about me?  Honestly I don't really blame you...but I might surprise you.  You might find me incredibly charming, talented and intriguing.  On the other hand you might find me crazy, detestable and boorish.  Please just don't tell me if it's the latter.  I'd really rather not know my readers think ill of me.  So with that drum roll please...............
  1. Am an only child.
  2. Won a poetry contest in 4th grade.
  3. Brussell sprouts are not my friend.
  4. Dad was a rodeo clown.
  5. Can recite all 50 states in alphabetical order.
  6. Incredibly accurate with a .22.
  7. Spent sophomore year of college in Germany.
  8. Speaks a touch of German, but speaking it out loud makes me very nervous.
  9. Hate and refuse to eat rice.
  10. Unless it's in sushi.
  11. Was on the university dance team.
  12. Years 10-18 were spent living in Las Vegas.
  13. Weighs approximately 15 lbs. less than I did in high school.
  14. Lost 30 pounds since leaving Germany.
  15. Can and will eat an entire tube of Pillsbury Cinnamon rolls in one sitting.
  16. Trys to find the best pancakes in every city.
  17. Worrys about the next meal while or before eating the current one on every vacation.
  18. Took 7 years of Spanish and still turn red when I speak it out loud.
  19. Been to Hawaii 3 times but never the Caribbean.
  20. Can fall asleep anywhere.
  21. Is buying an antique pie safe as my next piece of furniture.
  22. Can't live without Tivo
  23. Played Wendy in my high school's version of Peter Pan
  24. Got to fly with wires.
  25. Won a baking contest in high school.
  26. Believes my great aunt's potato casserole could solve the world's problems.
  27. Has never made cinnamon rolls from scratch, but it dying to try.  Did this last week :)
  28. Loves surfing but is deathly afraid of sharks.
  29. Drives a very practical sedan.
  30. Is the proud mother of one very spoiled, very loving chihuahua / italian greyhound mix.
  31. He might have more clothes than I do.
  32. My closet is color coded.
  33. Was in a sorority and loved it.
  34. Jumped in a pool backwards, hit my chin, and now have a 24 year old scar to prove it.
  35. Thinks one can never have enough baking pans.
  36. Can't figure out how to bake a whole chicken and like it.
  37. Doesn't like ketchup except on hashed browns.
  38. Thinks family events are the best.
  39. Have never been able to touch my toes.
  40. Think running and crossfit are the best things since sliced bread.
  41. Could ride a horse by myself at age 2.
  42. Thinks you can save the drama for yo mama
  43. Cannot throw away food if it's still good.
  44. Want to own a bakery/pizza parlor/antique shop/winery/cheese shop one day.
  45. Rarely uses measuring spoons...I just wing it.
  46. Have two cats with military names.
  47. Live with my parents, but just temporarily.
  48. Have a stigma that wearing my hair up is unacceptable.
  49. Loves the beach but hates sand.
  50. Could spend my life savings on cheese.