Brown Sugar Cookies

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Warning: if you’re not a Christmas movie buff, then this post probably won’t make much sense to you. Sorry.

Me and my sister have a thing for running inside jokes related to movie one-liners we think are funny.When we come across one that we all find hilarious, we’ll always find ways to frequently and randomly stick it into conversations to make each other laugh.

Remember that part in the movie My Best Friend’s Wedding where Dermot Mulroney is arguing with Cameron Diaz in the restaurant while Julia Roberts looks on and he screams at her, “My job’s not good enough- I’M NOT GOOD ENOUGH!”? Yeah, we use that one all the time. Then there’s the scene with Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz at the end where she’s talking to her in food metaphors. I don’t know how many times I’ve screamed at my sisters, “You’re NEVER gonna be jello!”

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The same goes for Christmas movies. In fact, the classic Christmas movies have so many memorable one-liners to choose from, it’s almost not even funny. Except, it really is.

Take the movie “Love Actually”. Jas and I cannot go a single Christmas season without throwing out a few “I HATE Uncle Jamie!”s at each other. (In British accents, of course.)

Remember in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” where Snoopy is mimicking Lucy as she lectures the gang about the Christmas play until she finally stops and screams out, “No, no! LISTEN all of you!” We throw that one out at each other all the time when we’re trying to get each other’s attention.

We have the entire scene from “A Christmas Story” where Ralphie goes to visit Santa in the department store memorized, but our favorite part is definitely at the end where Ralphie climbs back up the slide to tell Santa he wants the BB gun for Christmas and Santa says: “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid. Merry Christmas. Ho, ho, hoooo!” Yeah we mimic the foot shove too. Cause we’re weird like that.

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The newest favorite is from the movie “Jingle All the Way” starring Arnold Schwarznegger where Phil Hartman is in the car at the end with Rita Wilson, “You asked me how to marinate ahi tuna. And I said, all you need is Italian salad dressing.” I don’t know why we find out so funny, but we do. I guess Phil Hartman could literally make anything hilarious.

And of course, what would Christmas be without throwing out a great big, “Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color?” or calling each other a “cotton headed ninny muggins” at least once? (I don’t think I have to say which movie those come from, right? I better not.)

All of those inside jokes and quotes with my sisters have over the years come to make for a lot of fun, hilarious memories for us-and hilarious memories are one of the very best parts about Christmas, am I right? Of course right.

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This past weekend, I was the in-house Cookie Elf…or at least that’s what it felt like. I was in the kitchen from Saturday morning to late Saturday night baking up batch after batch of cookies both for the blog as well as for a community outreach effort to spread some Christmas cheer to some kids. Because if Christmas cheer tastes like anything at all, I’m pretty sure it tastes like cookies. These cookies take on the classic sugar cookie and give it a creative spin, using all brown sugar rather than white. I was really impressed with the results. The cookies bake up thick and brown and almost take on a dark, robustly praline flavor from the brown sugar caramelizing while baking. The original recipe calls for them to decorated using sanding sugar but because I’m super complicated and can’t follow simple instructions, I whipped up a quick confectioner’s sugar glaze and spread them on the cookies instead. I then sprinkled on some Christmas nonpareils. I think they look much better this way than with just plain old sanding sugar, don’t they?

Holy Crap, we’re over ¬†halfway through the 12 Days of Christmas already! 7 days down, just 5 more to go. Thanks to all those who’ve been faithfully following along, but for those that missed a day or two (or more), I’m again including a list of the past days below with links to the previous posts. ūüôā

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Day 1: Cranberry-Clementine Toaster Tarts

Day 2: Honey Roasted Peanut Popcorn Balls

Day 3: Mexican Chocolate Popcorn Balls

Day 4: Giant Molasses Cookies

Day 5: Crustless Cranberry Pie

Day 6: St. Lucia Buns

Day 7: Brown Sugar Cookies

Brown Sugar Cookies

Recipe Courtesy of Christmas with Southern Living (1997)

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

 Directions

1. Beat butter at medium speed of an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add brown sugar, beating well. Add egg and vanilla, beating well.

2. Combine flour, baking sofa and salt; add to butter mixture, beating just until blended. Refrigerate dough for at least one hour, or preferably overnight.

3. Roll dough to 1/4‚ÄĚ thickness between two sheets of wax paper. Cut with 4: cookie cutters. Place 1‚ÄĚ apart on parchment paper lined cookie sheets.

4. Bake at 350¬į for 10 to 12 minutes. Let cookies cool 1 minute on cookie sheets and carefully transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Checkerboard Layer Cake

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One year ago today, I thought that I was absolutely crazy.

I had tried to talk myself out of it for months, giving all kinds of excuses as to why the idea in my head was a bad, terrible, even abysmal one that would never lead to anything.

I didn’t know anything about blogging. I mean ANYTHING.

WordPress or Blogroll? How should I know? Wait. What’s the difference between them anyway? (This was a serious, actual conversation I had with myself at the time, I kid you not.)

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I didn’t know anything about photography. ¬†I got my first real digital camera for my 24th birthday, and I knew virtually nothing about operating it besides pressing the button that would actually take the pictures. Food styling? Natural Lighting? Props? What were those things? I sure as heck didn’t know.

There were literally millions of other food blogs out there; what reason did  I have to think that anyone out there would take any notice of it? Not a single one.

Despite all of those misgivings and factors working against me, a year ago today I pressed the ‘Publish’ button. A year ago today, I published the very first blog post on Cooking is My Sport.

My tiny blog baby is one year old, guys. I can’t believe it. When I first started this thing, it was purely an experiment- I told myself that if no one showed interest in my posts, I could always just quit and delete the whole thing, with the world being none the wiser. And for some strange, but wonderful reason, that didn’t happen.

And it’s all because of you people.

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I’ve said it before, but today on my blog’s anniversary I can’t help but say it once again: to every single person who has ever visited CIMS, liked a post, commented on one, or followed my blog- you have my immense gratitude.

Thank you. Thank you. And THANK YOU.

Most of all, thank you all to the wonderful new friends and buddies I’ve made through blogging. Thanks for sharing your wonderful blogs with me and always showing mad support ‚̧

This has been such a wild ride of a year. I feel like I’ve learned so much- not just about blogging, but photography as well. Check back to my first posts if you don’t believe me.

Wait no, don’t do that.¬†My photography is horrifyingly God-awful on several dishes.

Eh, whatever. ¬†You’re welcome to look if you’re brave enough. And regardless of poor pictures, the food is still spot on, so there’s that.

I knew I wanted to make a special cake to celebrate my blogs’s birthday, and this one certainly is special. The checkerboard layer cake is one of those things that for a lot of people that haven’t made it before, is a real mystery. They just can’t figure out how it gets done. I used to be one of them myself. Then, earlier this year, my grandma and grandpa remodeled their kitchen. While emptying it out for the contractor, my grandma decided to get rid of a good number of her old appliances and cookware- fortunately, most of them got passed on to yours truly. One of the things I got was her checkerboard cake pan set. When I was trying to think of what type of layer cake to make for the blog anniversary, I thought of the set and immediately decided that this would be the one.

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Now, if you don’t have a checkerboard cake pan set, have no fear: you can still make this cake. All you really need are 8″ or 9″ layer cake pans, and bowls/cookie cutters that measure 4-5″ and 2-3″ inches. You also don’t have to automatically go with white and chocolate cake as your flavors: as long as they’re different colors to create the checkerboard pattern, it’s fine. I will say this though: try to use cake recipes that aren’t overly moist. Since this cake requires multiple steps of assembly, super moist cakes can have the tendency to be really fragile and crack with too much handling. The cake shouldn’t be as dense as pound cake, but not as soft as a twinkie either- a perfect medium is what you’re looking for.

I didn’t think I would like this cake a much as I did. Chocolate cake isn’t my favorite, and I’m honestly more of a yellow cake lover than a straight white one. However, I found this to be VERY good. There’s just something about the blending of flavors that creates the perfect blend between the sweetness of the white cake and the slight bitterness of the chocolate cake that just really works together. The vanilla butter cream is delicious enough to eat by itself on a spoon- straight up.

So, I know what you’re thinking: there’s a crap load of frosting on this cake. I know. And I can explain. See the original plan was to use the butter cream to make these lovely, artistic peaks with a spoon, and ¬†needed a rather thick layer of frosting to do so. I just forgot one thing:

I am not artistic by any stretch of the imagination. It took me about 5-7 minutes of attempting this elaborate, peak design to figure out that it just wasn’t going to work. I wasn’t making peaks- more like craters. And no one wants to see craters on a layer cake. So, I just smoothed it all out and called it a night. Yeah, it’s thick, but so what? You get extra vanilla butter cream to eat- who’s gonna complain about that? Not I, said the Jessica.

I guess this about wraps this post up. Once again guys: thank you SO much for all the support you’ve given Cooking is My Sport over the past year- I can’ wait to see what next year holds ūüėČ

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Checkerboard Layer Cake

Recipe Adapted from Hershey & Melissa@My CakeSchool

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION: Page 1, Page 2

Ingredients

For Chocolate Layer:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup, plus 6 tbsp. flour
  • 6 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup veg. oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup boiling water

For White Cake Layer:

  • 6 tbsp. unsalted, soft butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 6 tbsp. milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream:

  • 2 lbs. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups solid vegetable shortening
  • 2 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup milk

Directions

For Chocolate Layer:

1. Grease & flour 1 9-inch cake pans. Preheat oven to 350¬į.

2. Mix sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add egg, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed in a stand mixer for 2 min.

3. Stir in boiling water and pour batter into pan (it‚Äôll be thin). Bake for 30‚Äď 35 min, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool 10min, then remove to wire rack.

For White Layer:

1. Keep oven at 350¬į. Grease/flour 9-inch cake pan. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Combine the egg whites, milk and vanilla extract.

2. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, then add half of the milk mixture. Add the rest of both, continue to alternate beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

3. Pour batter into pan and bake for 25-30 min, until cake passes toothpick test. Cool in pan for 10 min, then move to wire rack.

For Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream

1. Cream shortening, butter & vanilla until smooth. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time and milk. Mix on medium speed for 8 min, scraping bowl sides & decreasing speed to slow on last two minutes.

My Grandma’s Banana Pudding

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Happy Fiesta Friday #26, you guys! I am SO honored to be co-hosting this week’s party with the lovely Prudy@ButterBasilandBreadcrumbs. She’s one of my closest blogger buddies and I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather co-host with. I hope most of you guys that are following me are joining in the fun with us- if you’re not, you’re just really missing out. Go ahead and click on the picture link at the bottom to find out how you can link up with us, we’d love to have you. As this is my first time hosting, I wanted to make my contribution to FF a special one and I really think I succeeded with today’s post.

When I shared the recipe for Banana Yogurt Popsicles, I said that it was based upon an original recipe for Southern Style Banana Pudding that my grandma makes for our family, albeit, a more ‘healthier’ version. I received a lot of requests from you guys asking for the real thing, and because I love when people ask me about food, I decided to go ahead and make some for a photoshoot to share on the blog.

I’ve already shares several of my grandmother’s recipes with you guys, but I never really went into any detail about the cook behind this oustanding food that I was blessed enough to grow up with and in turn, learn to make myself. Behind all food is a story and here is no exception. Yesterday I called up my grandma to ask if she’d mind if I shared a bit of her story, and fortunately she said ¬†it was okay. I’d love to share some of the story with you guys, if that’s okay.

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This is my grandmother, Selma Leander Sanders. She’s my mom’s mom and probably one of the strongest, bravest people I’ve ever met. Her smile and laughter are some of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. She’s the first of 3 daughters born to Isaac and Lily Mae Haynes 79 years ago in ¬†Carson, Mississippi. Isaac was unique among many African Americans in the Jim Crow South in that he not only owned his own land, but also employed black and white laborers to help work his farm that Selma and her sisters grew up on. I only met him once in my life and by that time he was in his nineties and ailing in health. But my Mom tells me that when he was younger, he was a real riot, always telling funny stories and playing practical jokes. He was a real family man, willing to do any and everything for his children. My great grandmother Lily was very quiet and reserved. She died before I was able to¬†meet her, but my Mom said that she had an uncanny sixth sense about everything. If you were having a bad day, she’d call you and ask if everything was alright. My grandma definitely inherited that from her, she can take one look at me and know whether or not something’ wrong with me or not.

My grandmother attended Alcorn College, where she met my grandfather, Willie John Sanders. (Random fact: my grandfather attended Alcorn at the same time as Medgar Evers; he still has his yearbook and Medgar Ever’s picture is right there. How cool is that?) When they married they, like many Black people in the South at the time, migrated up north where there were more employment opportunities in the car assembly plants.

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After settling in Lansing, MI, my grandparents soon began having children of their own; three daughter to be exact. While my grandpa worked at the GM auto plant, my grandma worked at home as a homemaker and mother to their children. There, she consistently cooked and baked both simple and elaborate foods for her family, that they still rave about to this day.

My grandma’s cooking is the reason why ¬†never had any problems with eating my vegetables growing up as a kid. My grandpa is 80 and she’s 79, and to this day they still keep a vegetable garden in their backyard that we all love to eat from. One of the only foods I could eat every single day for the rest of my life and never get tired of is a bowl of cabbage greens from the garden, with a hunk of her cornbread- literally one of the best things I’ve eaten in my life, hands down.

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My grandma knows how to make stuff that would make both inexperienced and experienced home cooks break out into a sweat. When I first began seriously cooking for myself, it was one of my greatest hopes that I would someday, somehow get proficient enough to be able to pull off her ‘signature dishes’; the foods that we as a family always attribute to Grandma and all look forward to eating whenever we see her. To date, my proudest moments in the kitchen have been when I’ve succeeded when trying out some of her recipes. She’s getting up there in age and there are times when she doesn’t feel as able to make some of the more complicated things that she used to when she was younger. I’m grateful that I’ve taken the initiative to learn how to do these things myself so that the tradition of her food can continue to be enjoyed by our family without exhausting herself. This Banana Pudding is one of her best ‘signature dishes’. I recently made it for the 4th of July and when I took it over to her house for dinner, I received her stamp of approval-which is how I know for sure that I did it right.

The custard is definitely the star of this banana pudding. It’s sweet, smooth and the ‘glue’ that makes the wafers and bananas mold together perfectly. Guys, this stuff is so good, you won’t even have words. You’ll just sit there, shaking your head back and forth as you keep spooning the pudding into your mouth. That’s what everyone at the table was doing when I last made this, and I’m pretty sure that it’s the same thing you’ll be doing too. Even people in my family who don’t really eat bananas love this pudding. I’m super psyched and proud to share this recipe, as well as the inspiration for my cooking at today’s Fiesta Friday- because it all really does start with my grandma.

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My Grandma’s Banana Pudding

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, plus 2 tbsp
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp banana extract
  • 5 large bananas, sliced
  • 22 oz. crushed vanilla wafers, (2 11 oz. boxes)

Directions

1. In a large saucepan, combine evaporated milk, cornstarch, brown sugar and salt over medium high heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. Mixture will begin to thicken and form a thin foam across the top.

2. As mixture thickens, transition to mixing with a wooden spoon until it is smooth and thickened. Remove from heat and set aside for about 2 minutes.

3. Add 1/2 cup of milk mixture to the egg yolks and whisk together to temper. Pour egg yolk & milk mixture into the saucepan, then add the extracts.

4. Pour custard into a separate container and place in the freezer for about 20 minutes, or until moderately cooled down.

5. To assemble: using a glass trifle dish, punch bowl, or other large container, layer the pudding in this order: 1) crushed vanilla wafers 2) sliced bananas 3)custard. (See notes for layering tips)

6. Once you have finished layering the pudding, cover with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight until set. Serve with whipped cream.

*Use a spatula to spread the custard evenly

* Don’t worry about the bananas, wafers, or custard covering each other completely; they’ll mold together perfectly when setting up overnight.

 

Banana Yogurt Popsicles

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Whenever summer comes around, I get really nostalgic for my childhood. I know I’m probably not the only one to feel this way, but I feel like summer time was just so much more awesome when I was younger.

Of course, this may have something to do with the fact that it was at a time when I was still in elementary school (and thus on summer vacation), and also was too young to have a job (that has no summer vacation). Still, childhood summertime nostalgia is the best. Here are just a few memories that I have:

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Back when Will Smith was¬†still rapping¬†(and also The Fresh Prince of Bel Air), he came out with a song called “Summertime”. Yes, I still listen to it now every summer. It’s a classic. It never gets old.

Please tell me there’s someone out there that remembers when this commercial used to come on The Disney Channel. It was ¬†back when The Disney Channel was actually good to watch.

I remember when Nick at Nite used to come on after Nickeldeon shows were over late at night. During the summer, there was this special marathon of shows that came on called the Nick at Nite Block Party Summer. Each night featured a different show; the Munsters were on Mondays, I Love Lucy was on Tuesdays, Bewitched was on Wednesdays, I Dream of Jeannie was on Thursdays (I didn’t watch Bewitched or I Dream of Jeannie, but I still remember them), and Friday was for The Brady Bunch. It may have seemed weird for a 9 year old to like watching shows that old, but for some reason I was just addicted to the Nick at Nite Block Party Summer.

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Summertime meant that my grandpa would go and buy watermelons from the grocery store at least once a week that we could all eat. I can’t even think of how much watermelon I used to eat. It was a lot, suffice to say.

I remember playing outside when it was hot. Me and my sisters would turn our frisbees upside down and fill them up with¬†grass, weeds, dandelions and other yard waste. We chopped them up together and pretended we were cooking some kind of food dish (no, we didn’t eat it). Then when the sun set and it became cool, we caught fireflies and ate popsicles.

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The popsicles I ate when I was younger were mostly the red, white, and blue Turbo Rocket ones that were mostly just made of sugar and water and turned your tongue and lips different colors. Now that I’m older, I find that my popsicle palate (if that’s even a real thing) has become somewhat more ‘refined’…or just pickier. I still get cravings for popsicles- I just want them to be a little more complex than the ones I was glad to settle for when I was younger.

I’d been meaning to buy popsicle molds for a while now, but they’re just one of those things that you continually walk past in the store telling yourself, “One of these days, I’ll getcha.”

And then you never do. Except this time, I did, if for nothing else, than to make me come up with recipes to use them for this summer. Today’s post is the first of what I hope will be a nice, delicious collection of popsicle recipes.

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This recipe was inspired by one of my favorite recipes: Southern Banana Pudding. I hope to God you guys have had at least one good Southern Banana Pudding in your life. If you haven’t, then you’re really missing out ¬†and I really do¬†feel sorry for you- cause it is that serious. Rest assured, I will be sharing my grandma’s banana pudding recipe on the blog, but for now let’s just stick with these popsicles.

I think that the one thing that turns me off about most standard issue popsicles today is just that they’re either really, really, really, sweet or just really, really, really watered down and bland. I wanted to alleviate both of these problems in my popsicles, especially given that they’re inspired by banana pudding, which shouldn’t be too sweet or watery in and of itself. The yogurt base really gives these a smooth, but robust and creamy taste that’s further enhanced by the mashed bananas. I added the vanilla wafers to the recipe to give them even more texture to compliment the smoothness of the yogurt base and to add to the banana pudding inspiration.

There is one way that this recipe differs from both regular popsicles and Southern Banana Pudding, and that’s that these popsicles are actually healthy so far as ingredients go. They make for a really light, cold and satisfying snack or dessert for the hot summer days that are upon most of us nowadays. They’e also my contribution to this week’s Fiesta Friday #22 hosted by ¬†Prudy@Butter, Basil and Breadcrumbs¬†and Elaine@foodbod. Enjoy , guys ūüôā

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Banana Yogurt Popsicles

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 tsp banana extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup finely crushed vanilla wafers, plus 3 tbsp, divided

Directions

1. Combine all ingredients except for 3 tbsp of crushed vanilla wafers in a bowl.

2. Sprinkle 2 tsp of crushed wafers into the bottom of your popsicle molds.

3. Pour in yogurt and banana mix, leaving a little bit of space in the top of the molds. Sprinkle the remainder of the crushed wafers over the top of the molds. Insert popsicle sticks and cover each mold with aluminum foil.

4. Place in freezer until hardened, a few hours. Remove and enjoy!

(Tip to remove popsicles from plastic molds: run molds underneath hot water or place molds into a bowl of hot water for about a minute. Gently tug on popsicles sticks, the popsicles should come out.)

 

 

Vanilla White Chocolate Blondies

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Game of Thrones Series Week 8

Well, here we are at the end of another season of Game of Thrones that feels like it came and went far too quickly. This I think has been the strongest season yet, with something jaw dropping and shocking happening in just about every episode. I say ‘just about’ because of last week’s episode “The Watchers on the Wall”. If you guys have been following the GoT I’ve been doing on the blog so far, then you’ll know that I’m not as interested in the Jon Snow/Sam and Gilly/Castle Black storyline as I am in some of the other ones in the series. Of course, Jon Snow¬†and his curly black hair make it pretty interesting to look at, if nothing else. (Random fact: I read in an interview with Kit Harrington that it’s literally written in his contract for the show that he is not allowed to cut his hair. Clearly, the producers are thinking of us ladies in that stipulation and for that, I say bravo to them.) However, I’ll still recap some of my thoughts from last week’s episode, as it did have some pretty important plot twists happen.

  • I know I’m not the only one who was glad to see Sir Alliser Thorne humbled when he realized that Jon had been right all along in his pushes to strengthen the defenses at the wall and that the hazing¬†Throne’s been subjecting him to have really placed all of his men and their fortress in danger against nearly insurmountable odds. However, I will say that the speech that he gave him about feeling the need to defend his leadership against every snot nosed kid who dares to challenge him did resonate with me. Under any other circumstances, it’s fair to say that Thorne would be right in what he did; he’s older with more experience. Jon Snow just happens to be one of those young people who seem to have ‘old souls’, if that makes any sense. Such are the benefits to being raised by Nedd Stark, I guess. I also felt like Thorne’s speech did seem like a subtle apology to Jon, or at least the closest to an apology as someone as proud as him can get. If nothing else, Thorne did prove himself to be a leader in the strong, fearless fight he put on with Tormund. True he was wounded and forced to be pulled out of the battle, but he went down fighting well.
  • Well color me happy, Sam finally got his first kiss with his beloved Gilly. He also had “The Talk” with Jon. Coincidence? I think not. I don’t sense¬†very much¬†chemistry between the actors playing Sam and Gilly (at least not on her part),but¬†I’ve seen enough GoT episodes to know where this is going.

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  • Whoa, GIANTS. Giants that go crazy when you kill one of their friends. And elephants. The Wildlings just pulled¬†out all the stops. They really wanted to win this thing.
  • And yet, they didn’t. At least not that night. Bravo to the Crows for holding that Wall at any cost- and it cost them a lot. I’m pumped at Jon’s plan to go and (try to) kill Mance Ryder because it means we’ll be seeing Ciaran Hinds again. He’s one of my favorite, most underrated actors and I love watching him perform.
  • Finally, the most important moment of the episode: Ygritte finally confronts Jon. Ah Ygritte, you made the classic, same mistake as our beloved Prince Oberyn last week: YOU FRIGGIN HESITATED. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVERRRR hesitate before killing your enemy if you are a character in a GoT book. It will (literally) be the nail in your coffin. However, Oberyn’s and Ygritte’s reasons for hesitation were different from each other. Oberyn hesitated¬†before finishing off The Mountain because he wanted vengeance and a confession. Ygritte hesitated¬†out of love that she still felt for Jon. Now even though she hesitated, I’m still not sure she wouldn’t have pulled the trigger, so to speak. There was love in her eyes as they looked at each other, but there was also a lot of anger and pain. Ygritte’s one of those women that I think would rather kill the guy that hurt them rather than let him live and perceive her as weakened by love. However, we’ll never know for sure, will we? I knew that “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” would be her last words to him. They felt like a subtle, but even more poignant way of saying “I love you.”

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I knew that the last recipe for the series would have to be a big one. I was trying to go out with a bang with this thing. And guys, whoa. Whoa, whoa, WHOA did I ever. ¬†This is one of those foods that make you feel as though you’re literally committing a crime for even making. The first thing that passed through my¬†mind was something along the lines of: “Ummm, food like this just shouldn’t be¬†legal.

Keeping all of that in mind, today’s ¬†final post for the GoT series on the blog is dedicated to the entire Lannister clan. First, the name itself should say it all since one of the chief physical traits of the Lannisters is their golden hair. Second, these blondies are some of the most decadent, rich things I’ve ever made- and as we know, decadence and richness is what the Lannisters are known for. Third, the blondies taste just as ‘bad’ and scandalous as they look, and no one does bad and scandal like the Lannisters. So yeah, these are Lannister Blondies to T. Now onto the taste: you guys may think you’ll be ready for how a blondie is supposed to taste. But you.are.not.ready.for.these. I’ll say it right up front: there’s a crazy amount of sugar in them. In-sane. I think¬†the amount of sugar¬†does a lot to make these extra gooey and soft in the middle, while the outer edges are juuuuust enough to have a little but of chew. The brown sugar gives the blondies a rich, molasses flavor. The white chocolate chips and toffee bits give the perfect amount texture to contrast with the softness of the blondies themselves.

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My thoughts after that first bite of the blondie. Seriously.

Word of warning: these are NOT your average ‘cookie’ like blondies. I myself could probably only handle a couple of bites of these, so feel free to make them for a large crowd, then cut into tiny pieces. It’ll be plenty enough, trust me.

Last week of GoT for a whole year-WHAT?! Are you telling me I won’t be making a GoT recipe next week to share? How did this happen? What I am supposed to do with myself now?! ¬†(I suppose the answer would be to find another focus for another series of themed recipes.)

Anyway,¬†I hope you guys have enjoyed the Game of Thrones series that I’ve done on the blog for the past 8 weeks. I know I’ve had a blast making and testing new foods, and linking them back to one of my favorite shows. I’ll post all of the recipes one more time below for all those who wanted to catch up or remember what’s come already. Thanks guys- until next season!

Game of Thrones Series

Week 1: Pigeon {Chicken} Pies

Week 2: Winterfell Brown Bread

Week 3: Southron Spinach & Plum Salad

Week 4: Baratheon Smothered Pork Chops & Apple Gravy

Week 5: Lemon Cakes

Week 6: Dothraki Flat Bread

Week 7: Dornish Garlic Strata

Week 8: Vanilla White Chocolate Blondies

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Vanilla White Chocolate Blondies

Recipe Adapted from Bobby Flay

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for buttering the pan
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons toffee chips

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and line a 9-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan with parchment paper, allowing a 2-inch overhang. Butter the lining too.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

3. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan; add both sugars and whisk until combined and the sugar is melted, about 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and let cool slightly.

4. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract until combined. Add the flour mixture and whisk until just incorporated.
Fold in the chocolate chips, almonds and toffee chips and transfer the mixture to the prepared pan.

5. Bake until the top cracks slightly and is firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the center comes out with moist pieces clinging to it, 24 to 27 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and let cool completely. Remove the bars from the pan using the parchment handles, transfer to a cutting board and cut into 2-inch squares

 

Classic Vanilla Cupcakes

Vanilla Cupcakes1

Do any of you guys watch the show ‘Cupcake Wars’ on Food Network? It gets a pretty bad rap, but I still enjoy it. Apparently there are a good amount of other people that do too, because it’s been on for a few years now. I like to see the creative ideas that the competitors come up with for crazy ingredients, then I like seeing them create 3 of their own signature cupcakes with the different fillings and flavors and frostings. Of course it’s not a perfect show: for one, the host really gets on my nerves with his lame jokes at the different time markers throughout the competition. I feel like if one of the other Food Network personalities were hosting it, the show would be stronger. Just my opinion.¬†This may be just me and my suspicious nature, but I’m not so sure that I buy the whole “1,000 Cupcake display” that they claim to make the competitors put together at the end for a special event. Maybe it’s a few hundred cupcakes, but ¬†from what I’ve seen in most of the episodes, it really just doesn’t look like that many.

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Before I watched the show I didn’t know that there were such things as ‘cupcakeries’ that specialize in putting out gourmet style cupcakes.¬†I blame it on my hometown. It’s lame when it comes to Foodie Culture. But even if we did have a cupcake bakery that sold $8.00 cupcakes, I’m not so sure that I would be bum-rushing the doors to get some every week. #1, when it comes to desserts, I don’t usually have extreme cravings for regular cake- pound cake is ALWAYS welcome, but my cravings for typical, moist cake are far in between. #2, I’m a simple girl when it comes to my favored cake flavors. My favorite type of cakes are a golden yellow cake with milk chocolate frosting, and ¬†a french vanilla cake with white frosting- both of which I think would be a waste of money to buy at a cupcake bakery. If I buy something from there, I’ll probably try to get a wacky, loaded flavor like a caramel apple pie cupcake, or a banana pudding style one, or something like that. If I want a ¬†normal, ‘plain’ cupcake, chances are I’m just going to make it myself.

Vanilla Cupcakes2

This may sound weird, but I actually really love it when people I know specifically ask me to make them something that they’re craving to eat. It makes me feel kinda special that they’re letting me feed the craving of something that they love. ¬†Good food ¬†makes us happy. When I serve someone good food, I get to be apart of making somebody happy- and even if the happiness is temporary, that’s not something I think should be taken for granted. We could all use a little bit more of making somebody else happy especially when so many of us struggle (and fail) to make ourselves happy. Focusing on other people’s happiness is a lot less trouble than focusing on our own, am I right? Of course right. One of my friends recently had a birthday and she wanted some vanilla cupcakes to celebrate it, so I was happy to make these for her.

Vanilla Cupcakes4

I’m really happy with how these turned out. The cake itself is moist, soft and golden. This was also my first time making real buttercream frosting, and I think it was ¬†a huge success. It’s not like that lardy, crap that they make in store bought cupcakes that makes you want to barf and that you just end up scraping off- no, I’m pretty sure that this is the kind of frosting that you may even like more than the cupcake itself. Yep, it’s that good. And the nonpareils? Well they’re there because I think they look pretty and cute- just like the whole idea of cupcakes themselves.

These little babies are my contribution to this week’s Fiesta Friday, hosted by¬†Fae@Fae‚Äôs Twist and Tango¬†and¬†Suzanne@apuginthekitchen. Every week I get so pumped about bringing my dish to this awesome link up, as well as getting the chance to see what everyone else has been up to in the kitchen to bring. Have a good weekend guys!

fiesta-friday-badge-button-i-party

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Classic Vanilla Cupcakes

Recipe Courtesy of ‚ÄėBake‚Äô by Edward Gee

 CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 extra large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

Frosting

  • 1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
  • Nonpareil sprinkles, to decorate

 Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350¬į. Place 12 paper liners in a muffin pan.

2. Put the butter and granulated sugar in a bowl and beat together until pale and creamy. Gradually beat in the eggs and vanilla extract. Sift in the flour and baking powder, then fold in gently.

3. Divide the batter evenly among the paper liners and bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until risen and firm to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

4. To make the frosting, put the butter into a bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes, or until pale and creamy. Beat in the cream and vanilla extract. Gradually beat in the confectioners sugar and continue beating until the buttercream is light and fluffy.

5. Use a small spatula to swirl the frosting over the tops of the cupcakes. Decorate with sprinkles.

 

Jumbo Banana Cookies

Banana Cookies1tagged

When I was really young, there was this song that came out by the R & B singer Monica, called “Don’t Take It Personal (One of Them Days)”. The chorus goes like this:

“It’s just one of them days
That a girl goes through
When i’m angry inside
Don’t wanna take it out on you
Just one of them things
Don’t take it personal
I just wanna be all alone
And you think i treat you wrong”

Banana Cookies2tagged

¬†As someone who writes in her spare time, I can usually come up with something pretty witty/interesting to begin a post with, no matter if it’s random, awkward or even self depreciating. It’s usually my goal to do so anyway- I know we’re all mostly here for the food, but it doesn’t hurt to say a little bit more about anything.

However, that’s just not going to be the case¬†for this post. As my girl Monica says, it’s just “one of them days.” Long story short, on a scale of 1 to 100, today (and the past few days to be honest) were…definitely not 100. Or 80. Or 50.

Banana Cookies3tagged

When these kinds of days happen, my propensity towards creativity is virtually nonexistent. It’s difficult for me to even say much of anything to anybody in real life when I get like this, so my online communication skills are also kinda taking a hit. I did try to come up with a witty, interesting post. I tried. But I just got nothing for you guys today. It just wasn’t working. I finally threw up my hands and decided to just post and let the recipe and pics speak for themselves.

Please don’t take it personal. It’s just one of them days. Hopefully I’ll¬†be feeling better next time I post.

Banana Cookies4tagged

This recipe was actually a follow up to the Banana Bread Scones that I made earlier. I had a couple of leftover bananas, so I just decided to make another dessert with them. Waste not, want not.

I”m very picky when it comes to my cookies. I know what I like and what I don’t like and there’s usually not a lot of wiggle room allowed. It’s pretty simple really: I like them thick and I like them soft. And iced- I actually love them when they’re iced. Because as I keep telling my sister Ashley, life is just better with icing.

I must say, these banana cookies did not disappoint. Thick, soft and and yet sturdy, I would have to say that they’re like a much denser & slightly chewy banana bread that still manages to just melt in your mouth. I think you’ll like them should you decide to try them out.

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Jumbo Banana Cookies

Recipe Courtesy of Allrecipes.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • ¬†1/2 cup¬†shortening
  • ¬†1/2 cup¬†butter, softened
  • ¬†1 cup¬†white sugar
  • ¬†2¬†eggs
  • ¬†1 cup¬†mashed bananas
  • ¬†1/2 cup¬†evaporated milk
  • ¬†1 teaspoon¬†vanilla extract
  • ¬†1 teaspoon¬†distilled white vinegar
  • ¬†3 cups¬†all-purpose flour
  • ¬†1 1/2 teaspoons¬†baking soda
  • ¬†1/2 teaspoon¬†salt
  • ¬†1 cup¬†chopped walnuts
  • ¬†2 1/2 cups¬†confectioners’ sugar
  • ¬†2 tablespoons¬†butter, softened
  • ¬†1/4 cup¬†evaporated milk
  • ¬†1/4 teaspoon¬†vanilla extract

 Directions

1. Cream together shortening, 1/2 cup butter, white sugar.

2. Add eggs, bananas, vanilla, 1/2 cup evaporated milk and vinegar and mix until light and creamy.

3. In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to other mixture. Add nuts.

4.Chill dough one hour in refrigerator.

5. Drop by teaspoonful on greased cookie sheet about two inches apart. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 15 minutes. Let cool then, frost them.

6. To Make Frosting: Mix 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar with 2 tablespoons soft butter or margarine, 1/4 cup evaporated milk, and 1/4 tsp vanilla. Beat until soft. Spread on tops of cooled cookies.

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