Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Five months later...

Do you hate me?

I'd probably hate me after abandoning you for so long. It's a ridiculous truth but the truth all the same. I don't have air conditioning and I couldn't stand to turn on the oven this summer. I really didn't do any baking (or cooking) for months.

It was a salad filled summer to tell you the truth.

My docket girls (BBQ chicken pizza)

You know that one friend who always had the parties, or the sleepovers. Whether it was chosen because there was a separate space for all of you to hang out away from the prying eyes of parents or simply because they just had the best snacks, Whatever the reason, in what will probably surprise no one by now, nine times out of ten that was my house.

I was so used to any house I live in being known as a flop house, a house where everyone is included and welcome, that when you're friends move on or get busy (such is life) it's really strange when you go back to having an empty house. Roommates on opposite schedules doesn't help either.

Then came the saving grace that is the docket department. My office hired three college-aged women almost at the same time. It took a few months to really fall into something, but once we did (at least in my opinion) we really fell into something good.

Late nights, laughing and (drinking) eating this pizza. This excellent, thrown together at the last minute, I totally didn't forget to buy pizza dough at the store last night pizza.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Baking for the health conscious (lemon bars)

"Oh no thanks, I don't eat sweets."

How a baker (whether amateur or professional) reacts to this is wholly dependent on their personality. To some it would be like a kick in the teeth, "what do you mean you don't eat sweets? I don't understand. But I made them". Others can be more relaxed about it, "oh yeah no worries. Have fun with your kale". But when it's told to someone as, admittedly, stubborn as I am, my response more often than not is "challenged accepted".

Growing up with a health-nut for an uncle has definitely shaped that. I say health-nut but really he just tries to be aware of what he's putting in his body combined with someone who actually doesn't really like sweets. He's the type that will never eat the cake and always brought a fruit tart whenever we had a family dinner. (Something I hated as a kid but now find myself eating it more often than not. They're so good.) He actually portions his meals out the way people should be doing as opposed to doing it based on how big the plate is. He's apparently always been this way because somewhere along the way my mom figured out that there was actually something that she could bake and he would eat. Lemon bars.

I think it's because of that crisp lemon flavor. The citrus family help lighten up your desserts in terms of flavor and can, at least I think, trick your mind into thinking you're eating something healthier than  you really are.

Which is why they've become my go-to baked good anytime I'm baking for someone who doesn't like sweets. You may not like sweets but I bet you'll still be eating these days later (you know, after I've sent you home with all of the leftovers). And you can't even be mad about it, that's their superpower.

Man do I love these lemon bars. They're not too sweet and full of lemon, two things I demand in my lemon bar. They have a more gooey texture over a cake-y one but the shortbread-like bottom help hold them together.

Just don't cut them when they're still warm. Disaster may ensue.

And they can be gluten free! Just switch the all-purpose flour for a 1-1 gluten free flour (I used Bob's Red Mill the last time I made them gluten free) and there you have it!

Lemon bars
makes 16 squares

1 stick butter
1 C flour
1/4 C powdered sugar

Combine, either by hand or in a mixer, until the dough is the consistency of shortbread. It's one step further than when you combine them so the dough feels like sand. Once you get to the sand texture, keep mixing and it'll come together in a ball which makes it way easier to work with.

Press the dough into a greased 8x8 pan and work it until the dough is up around the sides and even. Prick with a fork and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

2 eggs
1 C sugar
2 T flour
1/2 t baking powder
juice of 3 lemons (mine were SUPER juicy, you may need 4)

Mix together the remaining ingredients, poor over baked crust and bake again at 350 for 25 minutes. Finished lemon bars will have a golden crust, and the top will appear solid but if you move the pan there's still a slight wobble. Leave them to cool, cut and serve.

What leftovers?

If you have a desire to follow me on the tweets and instagrams you can do so at @npalmerco08 (or, you know, follow the hyperlinks)

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Summer girl (tequila lime chicken)

I'm known as a few things: Momma Nora, a Ravenclaw, a techie, loud and what's most relevant to this week, a summer girl. And no, people do not know these things just through my telling them whenever I meet anyone...why do you ask?

I'm not  a summer girl as in someone who prefers hot weather to cold; but someone who would spend every day at the beach (even if it's by myself) if I could (and wouldn't get fired), who gets up in the mornings and throws open the porch door just to get that early morning breeze. I drink iced coffee all year round. I wear season-inappropriate shoes (and more often than not - flip flops) because I would much rather be barefoot but then my local bar might take issue with that, and so would my job for that matter. And I love being outside.

Especially if I'm with good friends and have something on the grill and another (cold) something in my hand. That's where this chicken comes in:

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The reason we need smell-o-internet (Spicy beef)

Oh the slow cooker. 
This amazing kitchen tool is my favorite. It even beats out my stand mixer, which I would probably marry if Congress would let me (baby steps).  In the winter I can set it before I go to work and come home to warm soup, but my favorite time to use it is in the summer. No need to heat up the oven or stand over the stove; just toss in a protein and some kind of liquid, sleep for eight  hours and wake up in the morning to that day's lunch (and possibly dinner). 

It's magic.

Friday, May 20, 2016

You could make maple syrup with all of this sap (Oreo balls)

Surprise! It's a not-Tuesday post.

You know those people you meet in life and you just instantly click with? There's no friendship version of the dating game, no rules of having to wait two days before you can text them without coming off as a stalker, you spend so much time together you've instantly got inside jokes and "you had to be there" references. People think you've known each other for ages. Almost eight years ago I was lucky enough to find an entire office full of them. And we lived not only in each others' pockets but we also lived in one building of the school. Well practically at least, (but not enough to get any of us in trouble), naps have been taken there.

That just happens to be one of the buildings that my college has decided to sell. And today some of those same people are having a "Done with Donahue" send off party. Confession: I was this close to buying plane tickets last week.

Spoiler: I didn't. Although it did get very dusty in my office all of a sudden.

What I did instead was make something that is affectionately known as "crack!". (And yes, the "!" is necessary).  The simple 8th wonder of the world that is the Oreo ball.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Peanut butter bacon time (Peanut butter bacon cookies)

Let's talk bacon.

I am not from a bacon household, we always had sausage growing up and when there was bacon it was always fried to a crisp which never appealed to me. I've come to realize it's because I want something that has two textures to it as opposed to being just soft (or crispy!) all the way through. Go ahead and tell me that the crunch of a pretzel covered in soft chocolate isn't the best of both worlds.

In that binary world where people think you can only be one thing or another, say liking salty or sweet things, I have always been the anomaly. I like that contrast of something sweet balanced out by a healthy pinch of salt. It's why I always include salt in my recipes, it enhances the other flavors and can add another dimension to your baked good.

I also happen to know way too many people who have stopped eating gluten, whether by allergy or by life choice. I know, in 2016, shocker.  So in my refusal to stop baking just because people have stopped eating gluten, I found a recipe that makes everyone happy (except for vegetarians, and people with peanut allergies. Whoops). Peanut butter bacon cookies.